Desmond Jennings finally made his long-awaited 2011 debut with the Rays, and he certainly showed he was ready for the challenge. The 24-year-old outfielder went 4-for-6 with one RBI, two walks and two steals in his first two games over the weekend. Although the sample size is clearly small, these are exactly the type of stats that have had scouts salivating over Jennings for years. The plate discipline, ability to hit for average and blazing speed on the base paths should make Jennings a household name, and he should even hit a few home runs as well.
Anyway, on to the next one; let's look at this week's Minor League Barometer.
1. Trayvon Robinson, OF, LAD - Robinson continues to rake at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .303/.383/.584 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI and eight steals through 96 games for the Isotopes. He's crushed five dingers and driven in 14 runs over his last 10 contests. Robinson's 113 strikeouts this year might be keeping him at Triple-A for the time being, and the recent failure of Jerry Sands may have also given the Dodgers second thoughts about promoting yet another prospect to fill the current void in left. Nevertheless, Robinson has shown plus-power and the ability to hit for average. Though he has not stolen many bases this year, that could be merely a product of where he is hitting in the lineup. In 2009 and 2010 he batted more toward the leadoff spot and stole 47 bases and 38 bases, respectively. As such, Robinson looks to have all the tools to succeed, and the 24-year-old should be a September call-up at the very least.
2. Wilin Rosario, C, COL - The catching position remains extremely thin, and along with Jesus Montero, Ryan Lavarnway and perhaps the Reds' backstop tandem of Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal, Rosario is among the elite prospects in baseball behind the plate. He has been on fire lately, batting .333/.395/.667 with four home runs and seven RBI over his last 10 games for Double-A Tulsa. Though power is his greatest offensive weapon, Rosario has also shown a nice arm behind the dish, throwing out 35 percent of base stealers in 2011. In fact, over the previous three seasons, Rosario had never thrown out less than 41 percent of baserunners. After battling injury problems last season and early this year, Rosario finally appears healthy and could see Triple-A by the end of 2011, with an eye toward the bigs in 2012.
3. J.D. Martinez, OF, HOU - Martinez continues to get no pub from the pundits, but has remained hot for Double-A Corpus Christi. Over his last 10 games the 23-year-old is hitting .342/.381/.605 with two home runs and 10 RBI. He is batting .334/.412/.526 with 11 home runs and 66 RBI through 84 games this year. Martinez has never hit below his current .334 mark. The knock on Martinz is that he will not be able to hit for much power at the higher levels, but it is tough to argue with the production thus far. The 'Stros are going nowhere, and they have already shown the willingness to move prospects up straight from Double-A (see Jose Altuve). Martinez could see the big club before season's end.
4. Trevor Bauer, P, AZ - How about this for aggressive? Arizona has signed Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, and sent him directly to High-A Visalia. In fact, the D-Backs haven't ruled out the possibility of calling him up to the big leagues before the end of the season, much like the White Sox did with Chris Sale in 2010. Even if he does not make it to Arizona this season, Bauer is a polished pitcher out of UCLA with monumental upside, and a 2012 ETA would not be out of the question. As a result, he becomes a must-own in those keeper leagues that allow 2011 draftees to be added during the season, and a prospect to certainly watch overall.
5. Joe Wieland, P, TEX - Wieland has been lights-out since being promoted to Double-A Frisco, compiling a 1.54 ERA and 29:10 K:BB ratio in 35.0 innings. Believe it or not, that's actually rather wild for the 21-year-old righty, whose biggest asset is his pinpoint control. Before the promotion, he had a 2.10 ERA and 96:4 K:BB ratio for High-A Myrtle Beach. Yes, you read that correctly. He has never walked more than 25 batters in any season since entering the minors in 2008. All in all, the 6-foot-3, 175, righty has been dealing in 2011.
6. Yonder Alonso, OF, CIN - The Reds traded Jonny Gomes to the Nats, meaning they have an extra spot for Alonso to try his hand as an outfielder. Though he is a first-baseman by trade, it is well known that reigning NL MVP Joey Votto blocks his path, and it has been well documented that Alonso did not make the strongest transition to the outfield in the minors. Nevertheless, the University of Miami product has always hit. The 24-year-old batted .296/.374/.486 with 12 home runs, 56 RBI and even six steals in 91 games at Triple-A Louisville. This may finally be Alonso's opportunity to shine after being held up in the minors merely due to lack of a big-league slot.
1. Robbie Grossman, OF, PIT
2. Julio Rodriguez, P, PHI
3. Tim Wheeler, OF, COL
4. Drew Pomeranz, P, CLE
5. Jurickson Profar, SS, TEX
1. Dayan Viciedo, 3B, CWS - Over his last 10 games, the 22-year-old Cuban defector is batting .143/.302/.143 with three RBI for Triple-A Charlotte. Though his overall line is good (.307/.365/.500 with 16 home runs and 65 RBI), Viciedo still has room for improvement with regard to plate discipline. He has a career-high of just 31 walks in 96 games this season. He is not really blocked by superstar talent at the big league level (sorry Mark Teahen and Brent Morel), but I have my doubts about Viciedo's patience at the dish, as well as his ability to handle adversity. The ChiSox also appear to be taking it slowly this season with the 22-year old, as he hit .308 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 38 games with the big club in 2010, but has yet to see the field in the majors in 2011. Likewise, he drew just two walks in 104 at-bats during his time in the Windy City last year.
2. Kyle Gibson, P, MIN - Rumors abound that the Twins will reduce Gibson's innings this year due to alleged fatigue, meaning the odds of him making his big-league debut in 2011 are slim to none. He was already passed over in favor of Scott Diamond last week for a spot start, and he will also miss his next start at Triple-A Rochester due to a strained flexor muscle near his elbow. Over his last three starts, he has allowed 18 runs on 24 hits in just 14.0 innings. Combine all these factors, and Gibson looks destined for a 2012 arrival for the Twinkies.
3. Fabio Martinez Mesa, P, LAA - Considered one of the best pitching prospects in the Angel organization before the season began, Martinez Mesa has not pitched in 2011 due to weakness in his shoulder. The 20-year-old righty showed massive strikeout potential last season for Low-A Cedar Rapids, fanning 141 batters in 103.1 innings. Opposing batters hit just .216 against him, and he posted a 3.92 ERA and 1.38 GO:AO ratio. Though he did walk 76 batters, Martinez Mesa's upside made him an intriguing prospect. However, there is no timetable for his return, and he will have to prove he is healthy before making his way back onto the prospect map.
4. Chris Owings, SS, AZ - As a disclaimer, Owings will not turn 20 until Aug. 12, and he is already at High-A Visalia. So he has plenty of time to mature and improve. That said, his plate discipline has been pretty atrocious over the first two years of his minor-league career. In 85 games with the Rawhide this season, he has fanned 92 times while drawing 12 walks. He drew nine walks in 62 games last season at Low-A, despite hitting .298. However, his average in 2011 has dipped to .256, and he has eight home runs, 35 RBI and seven steals. Though his power stroke appears to be coming around, he will likely not be a 20-home run player in the bigs at 5-9, 175. And with only average speed he likely won't steal many bases either. With poor plate discipline to boot, skepticism abounds as to Owings' future fantasy production.
5. Matt Harvey, P, NYM - Harvey cruised through High-A with a 2.37 ERA and 92:24 K:BB ratio in 76.0 innings earlier this season, but the 22-year-old has had a much tougher time at Double-A Binghamton. In 22.2 innings, Harvey has a bloated 7.15 ERA, and opposing batters are hitting a blistering .330 against him. Though the peripheral numbers are good (2.25 GO:AO ratio, 28:8 K:BB ratio), Harvey hasn't been able to manhandle the hitters at this higher level thus far. Harvey remains one of the best prospects for the Mets and merely needs time to adjust to this level. However, with this bump in the road, his ETA is likely pushed back to late 2012 or early 2013.
6. Brad Peacock, P, WAS - What a difference a level makes. Not overreacting after two starts in Triple-A is probably advisable, but Peacock allowed seven earned runs in his Triple-A debut on July 16, lasting just 4.1 innings. The 23-year-old previously tormented Double-A batters to the tune of a 2.01 ERA and 129:23 K:BB ratio in 98.2 innings for the Harrisburg Senators before the promotion. Peacock was better in his second start at Triple-A on July 22, allowing two runs on four hits in 5.0 innings in picking up the victory. Still, it is important to realize that Peacock is not Stephen Strasburg. Though his days in the bullpen appear to be behind him, Peacock will need some seasoning at Triple-A and is likely not a can't-miss ace of a staff.
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