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Minor League Barometer: Patience is Still a Virtue

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Patience is considered a virtue in many, if not all, facets of life. This is no different in the world of prospect analysis. Lack of patience can rear its ugly head in many ways in the baseball forum, whether by pushing a phenom too hard or overreacting to a particularly bad stretch of play. Take the case of Royals neophyte Wil Myers.

Heading into the 2011 campaign, Myers was considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball at the ripe old age of 20. In an effort to save his legs and prolong his career, the Royals converted the former catcher to a corner outfielder, all while he was one of the youngest players at the Double-A level. The combination of adjusting to the pitching at the higher levels, as well as learning a new position, caused Myers to struggle mightily. He even battled an injury and ended up slashing just .254/.353/.393 with eight home runs and 49 RBI in 99 games.

All of a sudden, nobody was talking about Myers anymore coming into 2012. Can he hit for power? Will he be able to field his position? Can he hit for average? Questions abounded for a guy that had never had any resistance at any level, high school or pro, in his short career.

Fast forward to 2012. Guess what? Myers is batting .346/.419/.746 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI through 34 games at Double-A. If my math is correct, he'll be 22 in December. The moral of the story? Practice patience with your prospects. One bad year does not a failure make. Now, if Kansas City could only find some pitching. With that, let's take a look at this week's Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Jake Odorizzi, P, KC
See what I did there? Odorizzi could end up as the next hurler called up for the Royals. Danny Duffy likely needs Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL and will miss at least the next year. Mike Montgomery, though ahead of Odorizzi in Triple-A, has been working on his mechanics to help alleviate some of his command issues. KC may want to hold him back and not rush his progress. That leaves the 22-year-old Odorizzi, with two 11-strikeout games over his last four contests and a 47:10 K:BB ratio overall in 38 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Over his last 27.1 innings, the righty has allowed six earned runs while posting a 33:5 K:BB ratio. Odorizzi has the ability to make an impact this season for the pitching-starved Royals.

Archie Bradley, P, AZ
Unless you're a fan of the Diamondbacks, you might be tired by now of hearing about the embarrassment of pitching riches possessed by Arizona. Bradley is probably the furthest away from the big leagues, but the 19-year-old has been dominant nevertheless. The righty has posted a 2.25 ERA and 44:22 K:BB ratio in 40 innings at Low-A. Despite battling some command issues, his peripherals are excellent. Bradley has a 1.78 GO:AO ratio, and has held opposing batters to an absurd .107 BAA. Once he finds the plate consistently, it's going to be lights out for the opposition.

Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN
Keeping with the teenagers, Sano is likely to see High-A sometime soon despite just turning 19 years of age. At Low-A Beloit, Sano is mashing to the tune of .293/.410/.639 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI through 37 games. His power and plate discipline are eye-opening, particularly due to his youth. Though he's fanned 42 times to begin the season, he has also drawn 23 walks. As we know, strikeouts are a bit less concerning for a power hitter; even less of an issue for a teenaged ballplayer who draws some walks too. Sano is arguably the top prospect in the Minnesota system at this time. While he won't be rushed to the bigs, a 2014 debut is not out of the question.

Christian Yelich, OF, MIA
The 21-year-old has been surging recently, hitting .314/.415/.686 with three home runs, four RBI and three steals over his past 10 games for High-A Jupiter. Yelich possesses an intriguing combination speed, power, plate discipline and the ability to hit for average. The crown jewel of the Miami system hit .312/.388/.484 with 15 home runs, 77 RBI and 32 steals in 122 games at Low-A. While he does need to cut down a bit on his strikeouts, Yelich possesses a vast array of skills that makes scouts salivate.

CHECK STATUS

Steve Johnson, P, BAL
Johnson has not seen the bigs yet this season because wait for it the Orioles have had good starting pitching! Never thought you'd hear that phrase uttered, huh? Johnson, 24, has a 2.17 ERA and 36:12 K:BB ratio in 42.2 innings for Triple-A Norfolk. His last start was a gem, as he tossed a complete game, scattering three hits. He allowed an unearned run, walked one and punched out eight. Will the likes of Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen and company stand up for an entire season? Johnson could get a shot at the rotation this summer.

Juan Carlos Sulbaran, P, CIN
Sulbaran is a potential sleeper who has not shown enough consistency to be mentioned in the upper echelon of pitching prospects. When he's on, Sulbaran is almost unhittable. The 22-year-old righty tossed seven scoreless innings on May 5, scattering five hits, fanning nine while not walking a single batter. Yet in his next outing, Sulbaran walked six batters. His ERA currently stands at 3.89, though he has never posted a sub-4.00 ERA in any of his three previous season. A stellar fastball makes Sulbaran electric, but can also be his downfall at times. If he can put it all together, JC could emerge as an elite prospect. For now, he remains a work in progress.

Tyrell Jenkins, P, STL
A superior athlete, the 19-year-old Jenkins is still learning how to pitch. He has just 88 pro innings under his belt thus far. Despite this small sample size though, Jenkins has delivered. In 2012 for Low-A Quad Cities, Jenkins has a 2.17 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 29 innings. The righty is holding opposing hitters to a .167 BAA, while getting an above-average amount of ground balls. His control has been a bit suspect to begin the year, as Jenkins has walked 15 batters. By comparison, he walked 13 batters in 56.0 innings all of last season. Nevertheless, Jenkins is a prospect to watch in the future.

Kyeong Kang, OF, TB
Kang has had a power surge in 2012. After bashing a career-high 11 dingers in 2011, the 24-year-old outfielder has already hit eight home runs and knocked in 22 runs through 32 games for Double-A Montgomery. He has shown respectable plate discipline to boot, hitting .260/.367/.620. Is his sudden uptick in power here to stay? He has fanned 27 times to start the year, and is hitting just .143 against lefties. The odds aren't in his favor, but if he can continue this production, a power-hitting lefty bat is certainly worth mentioning.

DOWNGRADE

A.J. Cole, P, OAK
The 20-year-old righty has been hammered this season at High-A, posting a bloated 7.15 ERA in 34 innings for the Stockton Ports. Cole came over from Washington as part of the Gio Gonzalez deal along with Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone and Derek Norris. Opposing batters are hitting a blistering .350 against Cole, who has obviously been catching too much of the plate. A 28:9 K:BB ratio is nice, but the fly-ball pitcher has already surrendered six home runs this season. By contrast, Cole allowed six home runs in 89 innings in all of 2011. He's still young, but Cole's 2012 campaign has been nothing short of a disaster so far.

Bobby Borchering, OF, AZ
A power prospect, Borchering has been sluggish in 2012. Switching between third base and the outfield, the 21-year-old is batting just .229/.286/.357 with two home runs and 17 RBI through 38 games at High-A. A first round-pick in 2009, Borchering has fanned 43 times while drawing just 10 walks. Being blocked at the next level by the hot-hitting Matt Davidson, a fellow 2009 first-round selection and six months younger than Borchering, won't help either. Having fanned at least 128 times in each of the last two seasons, while also failing to hit above .270, Borchering is going to at least have to start smacking some home runs to make himself relevant again.

Brett Jackson, OF, CHC
Jackson would like to forget his last 10 games for Triple-A Iowa, as he has slashed just .171/.293/.343 with 16 strikeouts. It appeared following the Marlon Byrd trade that Jackson may have been on the fast track to the majors. However, since that time the Cubs have gone with a combination of Tony Campana and Reed Johnson in centerfield, leaving Jackson to continue biding his time in the minors. Strikeouts remain a concern for the 23-year-old, who has been punched out an alarming 46 times in 34 games. Add in the fact that he has hit just three home runs on the year, and Jackson seems poised to remain in Triple-A for the time being.

Brody Colvin, P, PHI
Colvin has been erratic in 2012, sporting a 5.05 ERA and 29:21 K:BB ratio in 35.2 innings at High-A Clearwater. Walks have clearly been his greatest nemesis, as he is still getting a bevy of grounders (1.48 GO:AO ratio). In his last start on May 10, Colvin allowed seven runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings. He surrendered two long balls, while also walking five batters for the game. He has also been troubled by a back issue, which could still be having a lingering effect on him. All in all, Colvin's stats have been regressing since 2010, when he posted a 3.38 ERA and 120:42 K:BB ratio in 132 innings at Low-A.

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