People will spend a lot of time talking about Trevor May, and for good reason. He’s the organization’s top prospect and off to a great start. Cesar Hernandez has also had a promising start to the season after a rough year in Clearwater, but prospect followers were already well aware of him. Instead of looking at who could be in the top 10 next season and players people know about already, why not look at some prospects that weren’t in the top 30 to start the season?
OF Gauntlett Eldemire: Eldemire has cooled significantly since his hot start first got him on the radar, but there are still a lot of things to like about his season. He’s been playing mostly right field due to the presence of Kyrell Hudson, but he’s certainly a good defensive player capable of running down balls in center. His athleticism has also played well on the bases, and he’s tied for 2nd in the league with 12 on the season, and he’s only been caught twice.Although his batting average has plummeted to .254 in his recent cold stretch, Eldemire has still been reaching base, a quality of a great leadoff hitter. His OBP of .427 is 12th in the South Atlantic League, but he could still afford to lower his strikeouts. The power he displayed in college hasn’t been there yet, but that could just be a product of coming off wrist injuries.
1B Darin Ruf: Ruf has always been old for the league he’s competing in which makes his prospect status questionable, but over his entire career, especially since the second half of last season, he has always hit. He got off to a fast start with Reading in 2012, batting .372 with a .928 OPS through the first month. The power hasn’t been there yet, and that’s what he needs as a first baseman. He only has two home runs so far, and he got off to a similar start last season when his power didn’t come out until the second half. It’s extremely unlikely that he ever makes an impact because he’s so limited defensively, but he’s proving to at the very least, be a useful minor league player in the organization.
RHP Tyler Cloyd: Tyler Cloyd enjoyed a breakout 2011, striking out 138 while only walking 22 in 146 innings across two levels. He wasn’t particularly sharp, and he was ultimately left off the 40 man roster when he was eligible for the rule 5 draft. He wasn’t taken, and he’s off to another really good start, still with the Phillies organization. He was expected to start in Reading, but Dave Bush was suddenly suspended just before the season started, so he was rushed to AAA and dominated Opening Day for the Iron Pigs. He struck out eight in six perfect innings, and he went back to Reading and continued his success. In 25 innings in AA, Cloyd has 20 strikeouts and only three walks in 25 innings. His ERA is 1.80, and his WHIP is just 1.00. Unfortuantely, he doesn’t have the stuff to back up these great numbers. His fastball sits in the high 80’s, and he works in a cutter, curveball and changeup.
RHP David Buchanan: Last year, David Buchanan got off to a fast start in Lakewood that excited some, but it was important to remember that he was old for the level and a bit short on stuff. That’s not to take away from what he accomplished, and this season he has a more challenging and age appropriate assignment to AA. He’s off to another solid start with similar walk and strikeout rates to last season, but he’s allowing more than two fewer hits per nine innings. This could be luck, and it will take many more starts to find out if that’s the case. He gets groundballs with a sinker in the high 80’s and low 90’s, and he also mixes in a slider.
RHP Kenny Giles: Stuffwise, Giles is probably the second best relief prospect in the system. His fastball can touch the high 90’s, and as long as his slider or splitter develop, he has a lot of potential. He’ll have more opportunities to develop those pitches beginning Monday when he makes his first professional start. A shallow arsenal will almost assuredly prevent him from starting long into the future, but it doesn’t hurt to try. His ERA blew up because he gave up three runs in one inning his last appearance, but he has 15 strikeouts in 13 innings so far, and he’s definitely a pitcher to keep an eye on in the lower minors.
Around the system in April
This is the last day of April, and the first month of the season is in the books. A cold streak has Lehigh Valley sitting at 13-11, tied for third in the division. Their offense, completely devoid of power, is one of the worst in the league. Four players are tied for the team lead in home runs with only two. Domonic Brown does not have any, but it’s still hard to imagine he’s not the team’s best option in left field. Across the board, their pitching has been mediocre. No starter has really been impressive with Dave Bush leading the way with a 1.30 WHIP. After allowing five runs in one inning in his second appearance of the year, Raul Valdes has been the team’s best relief pitcher. He has 15 strikeouts and no walks in 14.1 innings.
Reading finds themselves with the best record in the Eastern League at 15-7. Even though they only have nine home runs, third worst in the league, they have one of the league’s most productive offenses in the early going. Darin Ruf leads the team in doubles with six, and he’s one of two players on the team with two home runs. Unfortunately, the singles have stopped dropping in for Jiwan James, and his average is down to .265 with a sub-.300 OBP. Leandro Castro, another outfielder that got off to a fast start, is now batting just .214. Trevor May has easily been the team’s best starter with a WHIP below 1.00 and a 26:8 K:BB ratio. It’s extremely positive for the organization that he appears to have made a quick transition to the upper minors.
Clearwater is at 10-11, but they’re already seven games behind division leading Dunedin, off to a scorching 18-5 start. After a surprisingly mediocre start, the offense is now sinking to the bottom of the league. It’s not uncommon in the Florida State League, but they’re another affiliate who hardly has any power; the Threshers only have eight home runs on the season. Only five players on the roster have hit home runs, and only Jim Murphy and Anthony Hewitt have more than one. Christopher Duffy has been a shot in the arm to the lineup after his recent promotion to the team. Two 2011 picks, Austin Wright and Adam Morgan, are first and second in the league in strikeouts with 33 and 32 respectively.
Lakewood is just 9-13, and they’ve played much worse on the road than at home. They’re getting caught stealing more often than they were at the start of the season, but they still easily lead the league in steals with 45. Otherwise, the offense is pretty mediocre, but they do have the most home runs in the organization with 14. Brian Pointer is hitting himself onto the map with a great start to the season. His OPS is just a shade under 1.000 with five home runs, a batting average at .307 and slugging right at .600. Harold Martinez returned from injury with Lakewood, and his start has been decent. Ethan Stewart has been the only highlight of the pitching staff. His stuff has shown improvement this year with 19 strikeouts in 20.1 innings, and his ERA sits at 1.33.
Players of the month
Brian Pointer, OF: 23/75, 17 R, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 5/5 SB, .307/.393/.600
Darin Ruf, 1B: 29/78, 14 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2/2 SB, .372/.402/.526
Steve Susdorf, OF: 18/51, 7 R, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1/2 SB, .353/.424/.490
Trevor May, RHP: 4-0, 23 IP, 6 ER, 12 H, 8 BB, 26 K, 2.35 ERA, .87 WHIP
Tyler Cloyd, RHP: 4-0, 31 IP, 5 ER, 22 H, 3 BB, 20 K, 1.45 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Ethan Stewart, LHP: 0-1, 20.1 IP, 3 ER, 14 H, 10 BB, 19 K, 1.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Non-performers of the month
Lou Montanez, OF: 6/41, 3 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0/0 SB, .146/.265/.171
Gustavo Gonzalez, SS: 14/64, 6 R, 0 XBH, 3 RBI, 3/3 SB, .219/.231/.219
Kevin Frandsen, INF: 14/71, 3 R, 4 2B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1/2 SB, .197/.278/.254
Mike Nesseth, RHP: 1-1, 15 IP, 11 ER, 15 H, 15 BB, 12 K, 6.60 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
Lino Martinez, LHP: 2-1, 24.1 IP, 21 ER, 31 H, 13 BB, 13 K, 7.77 ERA, 1.81 WHIP
Ervis Manzanillo, LHP: 0-1, 21 IP, 14 ER, 32 H, 10 BB, 14 K, 6.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
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