Welcome to Prospect Octopus week three. As you may or may not know, the Prospect Octopus shares his knowledge of the Minor League world with me, and I transcribe due to his lack of fingers/sticky tentacles. Every Monday we will take a look at eight prospects. This week, much of our focus will be on some players who are not thriving. In weeks past, we have discussed players who are tearing up the Minors, but this week, we need to look at some players who are struggling.
Rochester Red Wings
Liam Hendriks isn’t really a prospect anymore, as he has exhausted his rookie eligibility. However, he is still a promising young player and someone worth keeping tabs on. Hendriks was sent down to AAA last weekend and has had one start with Rochester since his demotion. He went six innings, giving up nine hits and four earned runs. He walked none, struck out none and hit a guy. It wasn’t a great start. Hendriks has little left to prove at AAA, so his demotion was confusing to me. However, if he can put a solid stretch together in Rochester, I bet he’ll be back in Minnesota by mid-season.
Is Joe Benson a prospect anymore? I think this is becoming a sadly legitimate question. He has a .186/.222/.209 line in 45 plate appearances. He has struck out 17 times and walked just twice. He has one extra base hit, one stolen base and one RBI. He is playing more, now that Oswaldo Arcia is playing in Minnesota, but he hasn’t done much with that extra playing time. He is still far too talented to give up on, but this is Benson’s final season with Rochester, one way or another. I am convinced of that.
New Britain Rock Cats
Michael Tonkin was a 30th-round pick back in 2008. He was a starter, but converted to relief in 2011. Since then, he has been a strikeout machine, who limited walks. As a 23-year-old in AA, the Twins likely hoped this would continue. It hasn’t. Yet. Tonkin has struck out about a batter per inning, which is good, but not the near batter and a half as he had been posting the previous two seasons. In addition, his walks are up a bit and his ERA has increased to go with them. It’s only been 7.2 innings, so there is no reason to start crying. Keep an eye on his K and BB rates. If they move toward previous levels, all is well. If they don’t, there could be an issue.
I am convinced that Danny Santana will be the Twins’ staring shortstop next season. It may not be on Opening Day, but at some point in 2014, he will be in that position. His AA debut has gone pretty well. His strikeouts aren’t too high but he isn’t walking at all either. He isn’t showing much power, but that really isn’t his game. He has eight errors in 15 games at short. That is a problem. His offense should stabilize, but his defense is not impressive thus far. If he can’t get the errors under control, then go ahead and ignore the first sentence in this paragraph.
Fort Myers Miracle
If MLB teams decided to make PSAs to promote awareness of ignoring rookie ball stats, then Madison Boer could be an excellent spokesman. Click on his name and check out what he did in 2011. Now, check out what he has done since, playing against non-children. Boer was a second-round pick back in 2011 and is repeating Fort Myers. He is not off to a good start. In 10.2 innings this season, Boer has given up 20 hits, 14 earned runs, seven walks and two wild pitches. He has five strikeouts. He’s basically been awful and if things don’t turn around, he might be looking at a move to the bullpen by season’s end.
ENOUGH! I’m sick of all this negativity! Let’s ask the Octopus for some positive news.
Yeah, Zack Jones. First, I always prefer Zack to Zach. Just how I am. Second, he has been fantastic so far this season. Here is a tweet from Minnesota Prospect Guru, Seth Stohs:
— Seth Stohs (@SethTweets) April 14, 2013
I don’t really care about the saves or the 10-0 record (although that is nice), but I do care a lot about FBs at 97! Jones has pitched eight innings this season. In those eight innings, he has given up zero runs, two walks and one hit. One hit! FBs at 97 indeed! He also has 10 strikeouts. As one of the many college relievers drafted last season, Jones is one of the few who will not get any sort of chance to start. And why would he? If he can produce like this as a reliever, he could be a very valuable player. A cheap reliever with late-inning stuff is one of the most undervalued player archetypes in baseball. Jones just might be that type of player. He could rise through the system very quickly.
Cedar Rapids Kernels
What about Tyler Jones? Tyler is a great Jones as well, almost as impressive as Zack. Tyler was an 11th-round pick back in 2011, and he is a bit old for low A, but his results this season are very impressive so far. Jones was a starter, wasn’t terrible, but now is thriving in relief. In 9.1 innings, he has given up just one earned run, five hits and only two walks. He has 11 strikeouts as well. While he wasn’t a total failure as a starter, if relief pitching is going to work for him, he might as well stick with it. It seems to be working so far.
If Eddie Rosario cannot successfully transition to second base, Jorge Polanco could be the Twins’ future second baseman. Polanco is 19-years-old and getting his first taste of full-season ball. So far, he has looked pretty impressive. He has posted a .304/.328/.411 line in 58 plate appearances. He hasn’t walked much, but he also doesn’t strike out much. Polanco’s career is just getting started, but he has looked great so far and might be a fast riser up Twins’ prospect lists.
The Twins called Oswaldo Arcia up this week, when Darin Mastroianni had to be placed on the disabled list. Arcia might be up for good, depending on how he plays. The Twins would be wise to play him every day, as he is still developing as a player. That means leaving a veteran on the bench pretty much every game. If that is the case, trades should be explored. If Arcia thrives in this audition, I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the following players is gone sooner than later: Ryan Doumit, Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham. Chris Parmelee might lose some at bats as well.
Jose Berrios wasn’t really promoted, but will join Cedar Rapids this week. He will make his first start on Tuesday and I know that I will be listening to that game closely. Berrios was extremely impressive in rookie ball last season. He has a ton of promise and could join prominent top 100 lists with a big Low A season in 2013.
This week in MiLB.tv
Only Rochester will grace the internet airwaves of MiLB.tv this week. They play each night at least. On Monday, they complete their four game series with Pawtucket. They play Syracuse from Tuesday to Friday. They finish the week with Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday.