Top 10 MLB Prospects in the Hobby – March 2012
Spring Training has produced mixed results for the top MLB prospects. However, judging players on a limited number of innings or at bats seldom renders accurate results. Rather, we'll look at each player from February's list based on their respective performances to date.
The power-hitting prodigy was optioned to AAA Syracuse after Sunday's golden sombrero performance against the Detroit Tigers. Bryce Harper was 8-28 (.286) in limited action and had a team-leading 11 strikeouts. A calf injury hampered Harper's production and limited his play, but it was his struggles with plate discipline that ultimately sealed his roster fate. The Nationals are opting for prudence in developing the blue chip of all blue chip prospects. It's the right call. Expect Harper to put up excellent numbers at Syracuse and push for a late-May or early-June MLB debut.
It's been the tale of two starts for Yu Darvish this spring. He dazzled in his first start, allowing just two soft hits in two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. His second start was marred by control issues as four walks and three hits led to two earned runs over three innings. Control issues for starting pitchers are commonplace during the spring as hurlers are often working on developing new pitches or honing their weaker ones. Darvish remains a top American League Rookie of the Year candidate and is a lock for the Rangers' Opening Day rotation.
Matt Moore's spring was delayed by an abdominal strain. Like Darvish, his two outings have produced mixed results. Moore dazzled in his first outing, pitching 1.2 scoreless, no-hit innings with three punch outs. His second start, against division rival Boston, was rough. The 22-year-old southpaw allowed an early home run to Cody Ross in the first inning and walked the bases loaded in the third before getting the hook. Despite his extraordinary polish and mound presence, Moore is young and very inexperienced. There will be bumps in the road in his development, but he still remains the best left-handed prospect in baseball. He is the most talented pitcher in the Rays' rotation.
The Mariners' future cleanup hitter has been as-advertised this spring, hitting .304 (7-23) with three doubles, a homer and eight RBI. Jesus Montero's all-fields approach to hitting has been evident, mitigating concerns of the diminutive impact that Safeco Field may have on his numbers. Defensively, Montero has been decent, committing an error and passed ball in five games behind the plate. Ultimately, his future is going to be carved out with the bat, and that future looks bright.
A nasty bout with the flu has taken about ten pounds from the 20-year-old outfielder. It has also kept him out of action this spring. Mike Trout was already a long shot to make the Opening Day roster as the multi-million dollar trifecta of Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, and Vernon Wells create a logjam
A delay in getting his work visa caused the Cuban outfielder to arrive late to camp and has limited him to just six games. Yoenis Cespedes started Cactus League play with a bang, reaching base three times, including a home run, in his first game with the A's. Since then, though, he's gotten just one hit in 15 at bats with six strikeouts. Cespedes is still slated to open the season as Oakland's starting center fielder. Collectors should expect considerable growing pains early on as Cespedes gets acclimated to major league pitching.
This has been an awful spring for the Braves' top pitching prospect. Teheran has allowed 11 earned runs in just nine innings of work, including eight round-trippers. This, along with the superb pitching of Mike Minor, should surely relegate Teheran back to AAA Gwinnett to start the season. Teheran dominated International League hitters last season, going 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA. If he can approach that same kind of success in April and May, Teheran will find his way back to Atlanta's rotation.
The power and batting average that the former Cincinnati Reds prospect brandished last season has not been replicated with his new club as of yet. Regardless, Yonder Alonso's place atop the first base depth chart has not been compromised. However, one has to wonder if Padres fans will be pining for recently departed Anthony Rizzo (.375 2 HR 5 RBI this spring) at some point this season.
Devin Mesoraco is just 3-20 this spring (.150) with a double and two RBI. That said, there have been enough other positive elements in his game that belie the anemic offensive numbers. Mesoraco has struck out just twice during Spring Training games and has been excellent behind the plate, gunning down three of four potential stolen bases. His ground out to flyout ratio of .36 indicates that Mesoraco is trying to drive the ball for power, which, in the bandbox of Cinergy Field, could render solid power numbers this season.
The Cardinals' ace-in-waiting will probably have to wait a little longer. In two brief starts spanning 4.1 innings, Miller has allowed four earned runs on six hits with a high walks-to-strikeouts ratio. The Cardinals will probably give him one more outing before sending him to AAA Memphis to start the season. Like Teheran, Miller should get his shot with the Cardinals at some point in 2012, though it may as late as September.
Related Topics: Baseball Cards: Prospecting