My next two columns will feature young players that I anticipate being given a chance to make their big league club next season. This week features the American League. These are players I have not highlighted in a full article profile this season. Many I will profile more completely during the Arizona Fall League season.
Basically, I wanted to share my 2012 "watch list" with my readers. These are players of interest to me. I will watch their progress in the fall and in spring training. There is certainly no guarantee these players will have an impact in fantasy leagues. Each, however, is intriguing.
2011 minor league statistics (combined if the player was with multiple classification teams) are listed.
Joe Mahoney-1B Baltimore Orioles L/L
Few people have heard of Mahoney, but he was the Orioles' 2010 Minor League Player of The Year. Mahoney is a power-hitting first baseman on a club that can certainly use that type of player. Yes, the club traded for former Rangers prospect Chris Davis, but Davis has been battling a shoulder injury. He may be given the first opportunity to start for the Orioles, but Mahoney will be in the mix. Mahoney will be at the Arizona Fall League, and I'll be covering him completely.
.295/ 11/ 68
Felix Doubront-LHP Boston Red Sox
Doubront is being given an opportunity to help the Red Sox in their 2011 stretch run. He's a quality left-hander with the ability to start or relieve. I look for Doubront to get a good look by the Red Sox because of their weaknesses in starting pitching. Currently, Doubront is being used in relief predominantly against left-handed hitters later in games, but that might not always be the case.
Doubront doesn't overpower hitters, but he has a full repertoire of pitches that allows him to change speeds and eye levels with accuracy. He will have to show that he can handle righties as well as lefties to be able to stick with the Red Sox.
77.1 IP/3-5/ 3.96 ERA/ 26 BB/ 74 K/ 1.228 WHIP
Jose Iglesias-SS Boston Red Sox R/R
I profiled Iglesias in the 2010 season after I had seen him in the Arizona Fall League. He has improved at the plate since the write-up.
The key to Iglesias' future is his stellar defense. While the Red Sox have very good middle-infield defense in players like Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, and Dustin Pedroia, Iglesias can still be useful. So where would Iglesias play? He'll probably play short as early as next year. Lowrie is a relatively inexpensive player still early in his career and Scutaro has an option related to his contract following this season. The Red Sox like Iglesias and I think they'll find a place for him. His bat remains anemic at this point.
.235/1/31/ 12 SB
Manny Banuelos-LHSP New York Yankees
There has been lots of head scratching regarding the Yankees' pitching decisions this season. While most critics feel the Yankees should have been active in the quest to improve their pitching, to this point they have chosen to keep the status quo.
Banuelos is the type of lefty that can be lights out for a while and then lose his command quickly. He will have to prove that he can be a consistent, difficult to hit starter before the Yankees give him a shot in the rotation. But there is little doubt he is the cream of the Yankees crop regarding pitching.
129.2 IP/ 6-7/ 3.75 ERA/ 75 BB/ 125 K/ 1.55 WHIP
Travis d'Arnaud-C Toronto Blue Jays R/R
Scouts say that d'Arnaud may be a better overall catcher and hitter than their current starting catcher, J.P. Arencibia.
d'Arnaud has all the skills to be a quality defensive catcher. In addition, he has a powerful bat and he makes very good contact at the plate. He has quick hands, strong wrists and forearms and he has the ability to use the entire field. His batting average and plate discipline along with raw power make him a good candidate to see action in Toronto, even if it's only on a shared time basis.
.311/21/ 78/ 4 SB
Adeiny Hechavarria-SS Toronto Blue Jays R/R
Like the Red Sox Jose Iglesias, the Blue Jays' top shortstop prospect is a Cuban defector.
He may find it difficult to get on base, but as his pitch selection and pitch recognition improve, he will be a much better bet to stick with the Blue Jays. He has good enough defense to play in the big leagues. Like Iglesias, it will be his bat that takes him to a full-time role.
Hechavarria has enough speed to make things happen. It's just a poor on-base percentage that may keep him down for a bit.
.263/ 8/ 56
Eduardo Escobar-SS/2B Chicago White Sox B/R
If the White Sox have seen enough of Gordon Beckham, they may turn to their prospect Escobar to play second base. If nothing else, Escobar may make the club as a late inning replacement in the middle infield.
There is no question the team likes the production of Alexi Ramirez. He will likely be the shortstop in Chicago for the immediate future.
Escobar can hit, field and run. He will make the team for his glove and keep the job if he shows he can hit big league pitching. I have seen quite a bit of Escobar and I like his potential.
.266/ 4/ 49/ 13 SB
Thomas Neal- OF Cleveland Indians R/R
I have always like Neal. I believe he could have a shot to be helpful with Cleveland if they give him a chance. That's a big “if.” I think he can play first base better than Matt LaPorta and actually hit better than LaPorta as well.
Neal came over from the Giants where he never really got a big league opportunity. The same could happen with Cleveland. But he can hit.
.290/ 2/ 26/ 8 SB
Nick Hagadone- LHRP Cleveland Indians
Hagadone has always been high on the Indians' radar screen. He has been given a brief look so far with the big league club.
If Hagadone sticks with the Tribe next season, it will be as a left-handed reliever out of the pen. He could pitch in the late innings, but they have Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez for those times. Look for a big future for Hagadone, but it may take a half season for him to convince the brass.
71 IP/ 6-4/ 2.79 ERA/ 22 BB/ 77 K/ 1.099 WHIP
Wil Myers-OF Kansas City Royals R/R
Myers was supposed to be the best of the best. He was a can't-miss catcher that the club has now moved to the outfield.
Myers didn't have the best minor league season, but he is still on the top of the Royals' prospect list both internally and by scouts and player evaluators.
There really isn't a dedicated spot for Myers with the Royals outfield fairly well set with Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur all performing well this season.
.256/ 8/ 49 /9 SB
Mike Montgomery- LHSP Kansas City Royals
He's another Royals mega star in waiting that didn't really put up big numbers this season. He has the stuff, the mound presence and the ability to break out. The Royals want him to join Danny Duffy in the rotation. Maybe. Maybe not. I still like his chances.
150. 2 IP/ 5-11 / 5.32 ERA/ 69 BB/ 129 K/ 1.500 WHIP
Christian Colon-SS/2B Kansas City Royals R/R
The emergence of 2B Johnny Giavotella (I hope you followed my advice during my fall league articles and picked him up) has made Colon's position of the future shortstop. He has played both positions in the Royals' system.
Having the opposite skill set as Giavotella may help. Colon is more the defender than hitter. I think they'll make an outstanding duo, but the Royals already have a great defensive shortstop in Alcides Escobar. He will be very, very difficult to replace. Be cautious with Colon, but he may be part of a future trade.
.257/ 8/ 61/17 SB
Clint Robinson- 1B Kansas City Royals L/L
Now if ever there was a guy who was buried, it's Clint Robinson (see Lars Anderson of the Red Sox for a similar situation.)
Robinson is an outstanding hitter for average and power. However, he is in the same organization as Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Too bad. He may be good trade bait, because he has a bat that plays. I'd watch him carefully and see if anyone comes sniffing around making trade offers that include Robinson. Caution: don't confuse him with OF Derrick Robinson. Two very different guys.
.327/ 23/ 99
Kelvin Herrera-RHRP Kansas City Royals
Here's a guy with a power arm that had a very good minor league season. It would not be surprising to see him on the major league club at the back end of the bullpen. If your league values "holds" he's a guy to target. Watch in spring training to see if he can help you.
67.2 IP/ 7-1/ 1.60 ERA/ 15 BB/ 70 K/ 0.842 WHIP
Lars Anderson-1B Boston Red Sox L/L
No doubt about it. This guy finds himself in a bad situation. He's sitting behind Adrian Gonzalez in the Red Sox organization. Will they trade him? If they do, where does the first-base depth come from? Maybe that's why the Red Sox picked up Conor Jackson.
While Anderson has not produced the type of minor league numbers the team had hoped for, it is still possible Anderson's future could be in Boston if the Sox fail to renew David Ortiz in the offseason. Anderson would then serve as a part-time DH and backup to Gonzalez.
Dellin Betances-RHSP New York Yankees
With the Yankees' pitching woes, Betances makes sense as a starter as soon as 2012. He and Banuelos have a chance to make the rotation out of spring training.
Betances is currently on the 40-man roster. He may even be recalled this season.
He has a multi-pitch repertoire, but his changeup lags in quality behind his other pitches. Betances might be risky next season, but the Yankees don't have many other options without making a big deal.
126 IP/ 4-9/ 3.70 ERA/ 70 W/ 142 K/ 1.361 WHIP
Tanner Scheppers-RHRP Texas Rangers
Scheppers should be given an opportunity to pitch out of the Rangers' bullpen next season. The big concern now revolves around the bullpen changes and additions the Rangers made this season. With Koji Uehara and Mike Adams both strengthening the right-handed setup roles in the pen, Scheppers will have major competition to make the club. Things may open up a bit if Neftali Feliz starts next season.
Scheppers is a guy to watch because of his big arm, blazing fastball and improving command.
41.2 IP/ 3-1/ 3.24 ERA/ 20 W/ 42 K/ 1.416 WHIP
Leonys Martin-OF Texas Rangers L/R
The Rangers are loaded with center-field candidates for the future. Martin seems to fit among the list of Endy Chavez, Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon, and David Murphy. The position is loaded but it seems that the Rangers really like Martin, having given him the sun, the moon and the stars to sign.
Martin has the ability to put the bat on the ball, get base hits and run. He'll steal some bases and his power will increase as he learns the pitchers and good quality pitching.
.295/ 4/ 42 /19 SB
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