In the final Minor League Barometer of the season, we'll look at those players who helped themselves the most in 2011, as well as those whose value took a nosedive. We'll try to stay away from super obvious choices like Bryce Harper, Matt Moore and Julio Teheran, who will likely enter 2012 as the top three prospects in baseball. Likewise, Jesus Montero will be left out due to his current cup of coffee with the Bombers, though certainly it is worth noting his two home-run outburst against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 5. Props to Shleby Miller as well, who could make his debut as early as next season. And the 2011 draftees haven't had enough game experience to be included here, though certainly Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer will get their chances when 2012 rolls around.
As always, the following prospects are listed in no particular order.
Jurickson Profar, SS, TEX - Manny Machado gets the pub, as well as the comparisons to Alex Rodriguez. However, Profar is seven months younger and has shown better speed and plate discipline. At just 18, Profar hit .286/.390/.493 with 12 home runs, 65 RBI and 23 steals for Low-A Hickory. Profar showed patience beyond his years at the dish, drawing 65 walks as opposed to 63 strikeouts in 115 games for the Crawdads. His power was also impressive; the still-maturing middle infielder had 57 extra-base hits. Machado might be a safer pick, but Profar could have the upside to trump him.
Joe Wieland/Robbie Erlin, P, SD - I'll cheat a little bit and double up on two pitchers who were traded to the Padres from the Rangers in exchange for reliever Mike Adams. Wieland is a 21-year-old right-hander who posted a combined 1.97 ERA and 150:21 K;BB ratio through 155.1 innings between High-A and Double-A. Meanwhile, Erlin is a 20-year-old leafy who amassed a 154:16 K:BB ratio and 2.99 ERA in 147.1 innings between those same levels. Both pitchers showed pinpoint control in 2011 and will eventually deal in the pitcher-friendly confines of PetCo Park. With Casey Kelly also in the mix at Double-A, and Mat Latos already pitching well in the bigs, the Padres could be on their way to a resurgence, at least from a pitching perspective.
Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN - Scouts have fallen in love with Sano's power, as he is being touted as the next best power prospect after Bryce Harper. The 18-year-old third baseman mashed 20 home runs and driven in 59 runs in 66 games for Elizabethtown of the Rookie League. With regard to pure upside, he's likely got fellow Minnesota prospects Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks beat, even though the latter two are obviousy further along in the developmental process.
Jake Marisnick, OF, TOR - The Jays have shown some savvy with their minor-league scouting with regard to hitters over the last couple of seasons. Anthony Gose looks like he could be the real deal since being acquired from Philadelphia/Houston, while Brett Lawrie came over from Milwaukee and has been raking since joining the big cub. Marisnick, an actual Jays draft pick, could be better than them both in the end. For Low-A Lansing, the outfielder hit .320/.392/.496 with 14 home runs, 77 RBI and 37 steals in 118 games. Marisnick has an intriguing combination of speed, power and plate discipline, along with a cannon arm and graceful presence in the field, that has pundits using the term "Five-Tool Prospect."
Taijuan Walker, P, SEA - Walker induced a bevy of groundballs in his first full season as a professional, posting a 1.54 GO:AO ratio for Low-A Clinton. His other stats were excellent too, though, as the 19-year-old righty had a 2.89 ERA and 113:39 K:BB ratio in 96.2 innings. An innings limit ended his season Aug. 10, but the M's and fantasy owners alike are buzzing at the potential of the California native.
Carlos Martinez, P, STL - Although he's struggled a bit after his promotion to High-A, Martinez has massive strikeout potential for the Cards. The 19-year-old righty posted a 50:14 K:BB ratio in 38.2 innings at Low-A with a 2.33 ERA and 2.21 GO:AO ratio. His 10 starts at Palm Beach did not gone quite so swimmingly, as he had a 5.28 ERA and 48:30 K:BB ratio in 46.0 innings. Still, he won't turn 20 until later this month, and if he can harness command a bit, the Cards could have a future ace on their hands to pair with the aforementioned Shelby Miller.
1. Brandon Jacobs, OF, BOS
2. Gary Brown, OF, SF
3. Brad Peacock, P, WAS
4. Billy Hamilton, SS, CIN
5. Jedd Gyorko, 3B, SD
Tyler Matzek, P, COL - Matzek might have finally turned the corner in his last few starts of 2011, including a 13-strikeout game Aug. 26 for Low-A Asheville. However, that doesn't change the fact that he was completely overmatched to begin the season at High-A Modesto. In 10 starts for the Nuts, Matzek had a ridiculous 9.82 ERA along with a 37:46 K:BB ratio. Even though he tossed five quality starts over his last six outings for Low-A Asheville, he still battled control issues. The 20-year-old lefty walked 19 batters over that span of 41 innings, including a seven-walk outing Aug. 16. He can get away with lack of control at the lower levels, but those walks will haunt him as he ascends the ranks of the Colorado organization.
Kyle Gibson, P, MIN - Gibson will undergo Tommy John surgery and likely not be back in the Twins' plans until 2013. He wasn't having the greatest season before the injury, posting a 4.81 ERA for Triple-A Rochester. Gibson's control was fine; he accumulated 91 strikeouts as compared to just 27 walks in 95.1 innings for the Red Wings. However, he was perhaps catching too much of the plate, as opposing batters hit .282 against him. Gibson also surrendered 11 dingers in the process. At 23 already, Gibson will lose much, if not all of his prospect luster due to the injury.
Stetson Allie, P, PIT - It was a nightmarish first season for Allie, the 52nd overall selection in the 2010 draft. The flamethrowing righty certainly was not advertised as a polished product, but he had all sorts of command issues this season. Allie has posted a 28:29 K:BB ratio in 26.0 innings for Short-Season State College in the New York-Penn League. He also has a 6.58 ERA over that span. Things have gotten so bad for Allie, that he has pitched out of the bullpen his last eight games, throwing an inning or less at a time. Luckily for the Pirates, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Jameson Taillon, was stellar at Low-A West Virginia. Allie is nowhere near as ready to make an impact as Taillon, and he's older.
Stolmy Pimentel, P, BOS - Once considered the best pitching prospect in the Boston system, Pimentel was passed over by Anthony Ranaudo after an abysmal 2011 season. Pimentel went 0-9 with a 9.12 ERA in 50.1 innings at Double-A Portland, and was actually demoted to High-A as a result. His BAA was a staggering .352. He was better for High-A Salem, albeit average at best. In 11 games at Salem, the 21-year-old had a 4.53 ERA and 35:16 K:BB ratio through 51.2 innings. He'll need a better showing to figure into a stocked Boston rotation.
Jean Segura, 2B, LAA - Segura battled hamstring issues for the entirety of the 2011 season, playing in just 44 games for High-A Inland Empire. The 21-year-old batted .281/.337/.422 with three home runs, 21 RBI and 15 steals this year. In 2010, he swiped 50 bases and slashed .313/.365/.464 at Low-A. He even hit 10 home runs and drove in 79 runs. One has to wonder if speed, his greatest asset, will be limited by his nagging hamstring injuries. When healthy, Segura has star potential due to his speed, underrated power and ability to make contact.
Trey McNutt, P, CHC - McNutt entered the 2011 campaign as arguably the best pitching prospect on the Cubbies farm. He likely won't end the season that way after posting a 4.55 ERA and 65:39 K:BB ratio through 95.0 innings at Double-A Tennessee. McNutt struggled to put away hitters at this level; in 2010, McNutt had 137 strikeouts in 116.1 innings between three levels. This season, he had less than half as many Ks, while walking nearly the same number of batters. Opposing batters hit a blistering .319 against him. A 32nd-round selection in 2009, McNutt will have to work his way back into favor to get a shot to pitch at Wrigley in the near future. Follow @JesseLSiegel on Twitter.