As prospect forecasters, the search is neverending for those diamonds in the rough. Players like Mike Piazza and Albert Pujols, who weren't early round draft picks (64th and 13th, respectively). Or young free-agents who blossom after years of mediocrity. This season has seen the emergence of more phenoms virtually out of nowhere, from the Reds' Tony Cingrani to the Pirates' Alen Hanson. Neither would have made many top 100 lists prior to the season, or even sniffed a Top 10 organizational ranking. Nevertheless, they'll be in high demand when 2013 rolls around. The moral of the story? Trust your instincts; not every highly touted player becomes a star, while even the best players can slip through the cracks.
Let's look at who else is just beyond the horizon in this week's Minor League Barometer.
Matt Harvey, P, NYM – With Dillon Gee out for the season and Chris Young struggling, Harvey's debut for the Metropolitans could be coming shortly. The top prospect in the Mets system has been stellar for Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 3.39 ERA and 102:42 K:BB ratio in 98.1 innings. He has compiled a 1.21 GO:AO ratio, and opposing batters are hitting just .234 against him. He's been even better over his last 10 contests, accumulating a 2.72 ERA and 64:24 K:BB ratio in 56.1 innings. All in all, it looks like Harvey is ready for the show.
Jedd Gyorko, 3B, SD – The 23-year-old has flat-out raked for Triple-A Tucson, slashing .351/.393/.626 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 52 games. He has only fanned 33 times over that span, rather impressive numbers for a hitter with such power. Gyorko is crushing left-handed pitching to the tune of a .393 batting average. There have been rumblings that the Padres would once again consider moving Chase Headley to the outfield to get Gyorko's bat in the lineup. Gyorko's outrageous numbers could force the Padres' hand very soon.
L.J. Hoes, OF, BAL – Hoes was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk in late May and soon thereafter began a hot streak for the Tides. In fact, he recently had a 20-game hitting streak snapped. The 22-year-old converted second baseman is batting .320/.376/.467 with two home runs, 17 RBI and five steals through 39 games. Hoes has displayed some pop, with 15 of his 48 hits at Triple-A going for extra bases. He also stole 17 bags between two levels, though he has been caught 10 times. However, Hoes' recent stretch has firmly placed him on the prospect map.
Corey Dickerson, OF, COL – Dickerson crushed High-A pitching to the tune of a .338/.396/.583 line with nine home runs, 43 RBI and nine steals in 60 games. That performance earned him a promotion to Double-A, where he has maintained decent stats. Dickerson is hitting .282/.344/.509 with four home runs, 15 RBI and two steals through 30 games for Double-A Tulsa. He has been scorching recently as well; over his last 10 contests, the 23-year-old is slashing .355/.474/.581. Dickerson's above-average power as a left-handed batter, along with his decent speed and plate discipline make him an intriguing phenom, particularly when his future home games will be played in the thin mountain air in Colorado.
Chris Reed, P, LAD – The No. 16 overall selection in the 2011 draft, Reed breezed through High-A in 2012 with a 3.09 ERA and 38:14 K:BB ratio in 35 innings before being promoted. Reed has been placed on a short leash thus far, pitching three-inning stints for the Dodgers. His last outing for Double-A Chattanooga might have been his worst as a professional, though, as Reed could not get through three innings for the Lookouts. He allowed five runs on three hits in just 2.2 innings, walking three and failing to record a strikeout. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old lefty's stock has quickly risen due to his 2.06 GO:AO ratio and .196 BAA this season. Make sure Reed can handle longer stretches, but he is certainly a prospect to watch for the Dodgers.
Jared Hoying, OF, TEX – Hoying has impressed since his promotion to Double-A Frisco, hitting .347/.398/.453 with two home runs and eight RBI in 20 games. Hoying has been inconsistent in his limited time in the minors, though. His 2010 campaign was dynamic, as Hoying slashed .325/.378/.543 with 10 home runs, 51 RBI and 20 steals in 62 games for Short-Season Spokane. However, last season was a rude awakening for Hoying, as he hit just .236/.321/.355 with five home runs, 45 RBI and 10 steals in 116 games for High-A Myrtle Beach. He wasn't exactly destroying High-A pitching in 2012 either before his promotion. Keep Hoying on your radar, but make sure he can produce results consistently before snatching him up.
Chase Anderson, P, AZ – Repeated elbow problems have been the 24-year-old's biggest issue throughout his career; when he is on the mound, he has been effective. He missed nearly all 2011 due to an elbow injury and was shut down for a brief period in June this season with similar problems. However, he has returned and maintained his stellar statistics, posting a 2.48 ERA and 61:17 K:BB ratio in 61.2 innings for Double-A Mobile. His advanced age and injury history, combined with the plethora of pitching potential in the Arizona system, makes Anderson largely a forgotten a commodity. Nevertheless, he is slowly making a name for himself, and will be talked about much more if he can stay on the field.
Andre Rienzo, P, CWS – Rienzo has had a tumultuous 2012 campaign for the White Sox. He began the season by serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance following a drug test. Upon his return to High-A, he dominated the competition in four starts with a 1.08 ERA and 31:7 K:BB ratio over a span of 25 innings. That earned the 24-year-old a quick promotion to Double-A, where he allowed just one earned run over his first three starts for Birmingham. Rienzo has proven human since that time, but still possesses a 2.91 ERA and 37:16 K:BB ratio in 34 innings. If the 6-foot-3 righty can provide this type of success over a larger sample size at the higher levels, he will obviously be worth a look.
Jonathan Villar, SS, HOU – Just as it seemed Villar was finally turning the corner in his minor league career, he punched a door between innings Friday and fractured his throwing hand. The injury could put Villar out for the rest of the 2012 minor-league season. The 21-year-old had finally appeared to tap into his potential too, hitting .261/.336/.396 with 11 home runs, 50 RBI and 39 steals in 86 games for Double-A Corpus Christi. Villar still strikes out too much, and it remains to be seen if he can hit for average at the higher levels. Likewise, he clearly has a bit of growing up to do as witnessed by his antics that caused the injury. Everyone gets frustrated at times, but fantasy owners will share Villar's frustration in not being able to use him until 2013 at the absolute earliest.
Lisalverto Bonilla, P, PHI – Speaking of bone-headed injuries, Bonilla broke a bone just below his right thumb while roughhousing with teammates before the Futures Game. He recently underwent surgery, and it would be surprising to see him on a mound for the Philadelphia organization again this season. Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen in 2012 had already limited Bonilla's fantasy future, but he still posted standout numbers between High-A and Double-A before the injury. The 22-year-old righty had a 1.55 ERA and 64:21 K:BB ratio in 46.1 innings. He held opposing hitters to a .191 BAA. Much like Villar, 2013 will be the earliest Bonilla can help, and he must prove no ill effects from the injury as well.
Mike Montgomery, P, KC – Montgomery skyrocketed to Triple-A in 2010 and emerged as arguably the top pitching prospect in the Kansas City system. Since that time, however, he has struggled mightily. The Royals have attempted to tinker with the 23-year-old's mechanics, but to no avail. His most recent string of ineffective starts resulted in a demotion to Double-A. Montgomery had a 5.69 ERA and 67:43 K:BB ratio in 91.2 innings in 2012 before the demotion. As seen by the numbers, his control has been abysmal. Likewise, he has been bitten by the long ball, allowing 12 home runs at Triple-A. He was rocked Saturday in his first start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, allowing five runs in six innings for the Naturals. Not surprisingly, he also surrendered a home run in that game. Montgomery's prospect star has diminished greatly, and it will take quite a turnaround to put him back on the prospect map.
Taylor Jungmann, P, MIL – The 22-year-old's ERA is not too bad, sitting at 3.59. However, it is the lack of strikeouts that is disconcerting for the 6-6 righty. Jungmann has posted a 65:30 K:BB ratio through 107.2 innings for High-A Brevard County. Certainly one would expect better numbers from a No. 12 overall selection in the 2011 draft with a college pedigree. On the plus side, Jungmann gets a bevy of ground balls as witnessed by his 2.00 GO:AO ratio. However, he has allowed 107 hits and is not missing as many bats as hoped. Jungmann certainly has time to improve, but his upside could be limited.