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Minor League Barometer: Recapping the 2013 Season

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.

Welcome to the final edition of the 2013 Minor League Barometer. In this week's article, we'll recap those prospects who have helped or hurt their respective causes the most this season. Apologies if your favorite player or team is not included, but please feel free to comment below with other players who have had particularly interesting 2013 campaigns. First, here are five Honorable Mentions to the Upgrade side of the equation:

1. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN. We knew Buxton was good, but not many people thought he'd be this good, and this quickly too. Power, speed, plate discipline, this guy has all the tools. In my opinion, the No. 1 prospect in baseball heading into 2014, without question.

2. Zach Borenstein, OF, LAA. Borenstein simply blew away the competition at High-A, slashing .337/.403/.631 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 112 games. Double-A in 2014 will be the real test of his future prospects, though.

3. Eduardo Rodriguez, P, BAL. The 20-year-old lefty mowed down the opposing hitters at High-A and got stronger toward the end of his time at Double-A to finish the 2013 campaign. Rodriguez allowed just one run over his last 25 innings at that level.

4. Kendry Flores, P, SF. The 21-year-old righty showed impeccable command at Low-A, posting a 137:17 K:BB ratio in 141.2 innings. Kyle Crick gets the pub, but Flores and Clayton Blackburn deserve a look for the Giants too.

5. Julio Urias, P, LAD. Urias turned 17 in August, but more than held his own at Low-A this season. He compiled a 2.48 ERA and 67:16 K:BB ratio in 54.1 innings. His poise, command and strikeout stuff as a teenager bodes extremely well for his potential.

And now, some more of the best and worst of the 2013 minor league baseball season.

UPGRADE

Eddie Butler, P, COL -
Butler tore his way through three levels in 2013. The 22-year-old features a heavy, sinking fastball that allowed him to post an absurd 4.84 GO;AO ratio at Low-A en route to a 1.66 ERA and 51:25 K;BB ratio. He then moved up to High-A, where the opposition once again proved no match for Butler, as he compiled a 2.39 ERA and 67:21 K:BB ratio in 67.2 innings. He may have done his best work at his last stop for Double-A Tulsa, notching a minuscule 0.65 ERA and 25:6 K:BB ratio in 27.2 innings. An elite pitching prospect in Colorado is always big news as well, and Butler could make his MLB debut as early as next season after this year's sizzling campaign.

Tyler Glasnow, P, PIT -
Just age 20, Glasnow fanned an astounding 164 batters in 111.1 innings for Low-A West Virginia. The tall, slender lefty did walk 61 batters over that span, but held opposing hitters to a putrid .142 BAA. As long as the 6-foot-7 lefty can continue to repeat his delivery and keep his mechanics in check, there's no reason to believe he won't have continued success at the higher levels. He could be only scratching the surface of his potential, a frightening thought for opposing batters.

Noah Syndergaard, P, NYM -
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Syndergaard will be the best part of the R.A. Dickey trade for the Mets, and not catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud. That is not to say d'Arnaud won't have a productive MLB career, but rather that Syndergaard is really special. Between High-A and Double-A, the 21-year-old righty notched a 3.06 ERA and 133:28 K:BB ratio, a span of 117.2 innings. He's an imposing figure on the mound at 6-7 and has shown superior command with a mostly fastball/curveball combination. With the development of a changeup or other third pitch, he could be an anchor of the Mets rotation for years to come along with Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler.

Rosell Herrera, SS, COL -
Herrera made a mockery of Low-A this season, posting a breakout season for the Asheville Tourists. The 20-year-old hit .343/.419/.515 with 16 home runs, 76 RBI and 21 steals in 126 games. Troy Tulowitzki remains entrenched at short for the Rockies, but Herrera could either be trade bait or eventually find his way to second base or even the outfield. In any event, it's a good problem for the Rockies to have, as Herrera will climb up many top prospect lists heading into 2014.

CHECK STATUS

Andrew Heaney, P, MIA -
Heaney was virtually unhittable after returning from a strained lat in spring training. He posted an outrageous 0.88 ERA and 66:17 K:BB ratio in 61.2 innings at High-A before being promoted. At Double-A, his success continued, as he compiled a 2.94 ERA and 23:9 K:BB ratio in 33.2 innings. His size had previously made scouts question whether he would be able to handle the rigors of a full major league season, but he did not suffer any setbacks upon his return from injury. Still, he tossed a career high of just 95.1 innings in 2013, so Heaney will have to show his durability, and also pitch deeper into starts next season. The future remains promising for the 22-year-old lefty, though.

Oscar Taveras, OF, STL -
It was mostly a lost season for Taveras. He was supposed to make his MLB debut in 2013, but a bothersome ankle injury limited him to just 46 games, and ultimately required surgery. However, he remains a top-flight prospect for the Cardinals. When he was on the field for Triple-A Springfield, he was productive. The 21-year-old slashed .306/.341/.462. He also accumulated five home runs, 32 RBI and five steals over that span. Taveras still has the potential to hit .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBI in the majors, but 2013 was likely a season he'll want to forget.

Albert Almora, OF, CHC -
Almora also missed chunks of time due to injury this season. He had a broken hamate bone removed from his left hand, while also being sidelined with hamstring and groin injuries at different points in his first full season. He tormented opposing pitchers when healthy, though, hitting .329/.376/.466 with three home runs, 23 RBI and four steals through 61 games at Low-A Kane County. The No. 6 overall selection has talent oozing out of his pores, but needs to prove he can stay healthy.

Lucas Giolito, P, WAS -
The initial returns look promising as Giolito makes his way back from Tommy John surgery. The 19-year-old righty posted a 1.96 ERA and 39:14 K:BB ratio in 36.1 innings between the Gulf Coast and Short-Season NY-Penn Leagues. A power arm with the ability to get ground balls, Giolito held opposing batters to a .217 BAA overall. Not surprisingly, his command still needs some fine tuning, but that should come as he gains strength in his arm. When 2014 is said and done, Giolito may be among the best pitching prospects in the game.

DOWNGRADE

Daniel Corcino, P, CIN -
Corcino was all the rage in 2012. After mastering Low-A in 2011, the 5-11 righty went straight to Double-A in 2012 and posted a 3.01 ERA and 126:65 K:BB ratio in 143.1 innings as a 21-year-old. However, the high walk total could have been foreshadowing for Corcino's disastrous 2013 campaign. He completely lost the plate this season, allowing 17 home runs and issuing 73 free passes in 129 innings for Triple-A Louisville. That led to a bloated 5.86 ERA and an eventual demotion to the bullpen to finish the 2013 season, where he fared no better. Corcino is still only 23, but he has a long ways to go to right the ship.

Tyler Austin, OF, NYY -
You could really pick any of the three highly-touted Yankees outfield prospects in this section. Mason Williams undeservedly received a promotion from High-A to Double-A to end the season; he hit a combined .245 with four home runs and 15 steals in 2013. Slade Heathcott was only marginally better, slashing .261/.327/.411 with eight home runs, 49 RBI and 15 steals for Double-A Trenton. Austin gets the nod here for hitting 11 fewer home runs and knocking in 40 less runs between 2012 and 2013. In total, Austin hit just .257/.344/.373 with six home runs, 40 RBI and four steals in 83 games for Double-A Trenton. A breakout 2012 campaign pushed the 21-year-old righty up many top prospect lists heading into this season, but he'll likely fall a bit after disappointing this season.

Mike Olt, 3B, CHC -
No matter where he went this season, Olt struggled mightily. Rumors abounded that he was experiencing lingering headaches and vision problems while with the Rangers. He batted just .213/.317/.422 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI at Triple-A Round Rock. Olt was then jettisoned to the Cubbies in the Matt Garza deal, but things only got worse for the 25-year-old corner infielder. Olt hit a putrid .168/.276/.275 with three home runs and eight RBI in 39 games for Triple-A Iowa. Olt is certainly looking forward to starting fresh in 2014.

Trevor Story, SS, COL -
Story's overall statistics don't look horrible, but he hit below the Mendoza line for the majority of the season in the hitter-friendly California League. Likewise, his strikeout numbers were abysmal. Story fanned an astounding 183 times in 130 games at High-A. The 20-year-old slashed .233/.305/.394 with 12 home runs, 65 RBI and 23 steals in 2013. Story remains part of the future plans for the Rockies, but with Troy Tulowitzki ahead of him, and the aforementioned Rosell Herrera nipping at his heels, Story needs to have a bounce back 2014 season.