Thursday, May 2, 2013

Position Player Round-Up

It’s time for the last installment, where I take a look at the position players (not all of them, just the ones that intrigue me). Now, I understand that is terrible criteria, but fuck it. It’s my blog and I will do what I want.

Let’s start with the catchers. I’ve already typed about Josh Thole and his freedom campaign, so I will skip him and move onto the catcher who has the highest OPS from anyone not named Thole or Arencibia in the Jays system.

Jack Murphy is a 25 year old who was selected in the 31st round in 2009 out of Princeton. Yes, that Princeton. He seems to have a little bit of pop in his bat, but offers a not terrible contact rate. He seems to be a guy that gets moved around a bit to the team that needs a sturdy catcher, as every year he’s been a pro he has split his time between 2 levels. Also, sweet ‘stache bro.

Next up are my favourite Minor Leaguers, the Ryans. Ryan Goins and Ryan Schimpf were both drafted in 2009 (in the 4th and 5th rounds) out of college. They are very different players though.

Goins is more of contact hitter and not as patient. Schimpf appears to be a 3-true outcome hitter, with over 55% of his PA in AA ending in either a K, BB, or HR. Schimpf has brought the thunder to AA with 14 HR in 244 PA. 

Goins has played SS the vast majority of his Minor League career, with only a handful of 2B last season in AA. From everything I've read and the little I've seen, he's not much of a SS in terms of the classical tools. What he gets to, he usually makes the play on. His range is limited, and so is his arm, as he makes throws from deep in the hole look really difficult.

Schimpf was drafted as a 2B and played there almost exclusively his first 2 seasons. Since then, he has seen time at 1B, 3B, and LF. He has only played 3B this season and could be a candidate for a utility role in a couple years.

A couple of guys who were selected high in the famous 2007 draft (the draft that brought JP Arencibia, Brett Cecil, Justin Jackson (now a pitcher!) Trystan Magnuson, and Eric Eiland all in the first 2 rounds) that are kicking it in AA are Jon Tolisano and Kevin Ahrens. 

Tolisano is a versatile defender (he plays a bunch of positions not terribly) and brings a patient approach to the plate. Playing exclusively 2B this season, Tolisano may have finally found the comfort level to help push his game up to the next level.

What can I say about Kevin Ahrens that hasn't already been said while weeping into pillow? The guy has been the definition of a bust so far as the highest pick from that 2007 draft. Ahrens has struggled at every level he has played at and has compounded it with bad defense at 3B. This kid makes me sad.

Next up are a slew of Minor League IF that could one day be Mike McCoy.

Kevin Nolan (creator of the Dark Knight trilogy) is a New Hampshire native playing in front of his home town in AA this season. He has shown a good walk rate throughout his minor league career and seems to be a capable defender at multiple positions.

Andy Burns is another guy who has played a lot of SS, but has bounced to 2B and 3B. He might still be something of a prospect, as he put up a .248/.351/.464 slash in 2012. He's raking to start 2013 and is coming up on my radar. He should be in AA before the end of the season.

Jon Berti came onto my radar last season when he stole 26 bases in 60 games for Lansing and got on base at a .391 clip. He fell flat in Dunedin upon a promotion and has carried his struggles into 2013. He has played exclusively 2B, but has the speed to become a OF/IF utility type if he can improve his bat.

Christian Lopes has played primarily 2B, but dabbled at SS when he debuted. He is the only legit prospect I am mentioning in this post. He's got some gap power and appears to have a good eye. He seems a bit error prone in the field, which might limit him to utility player down the road. He has time to get things straight on that side though.

Gustavo Pierre. That's it. That's the joke. All kidding aside, Pierre is a big, projectable body that was signed as a SS, but has made it insanely clear he is no SS. 44 errors in 2011. Yup, 44. An .857 fielding%. Now, true, fielding percentage is terrible and it doesn't measure range and balls that he got to and then threw away. Blah, blah, blah. Trust me, Pierre wasn't getting to extra balls. He has played 3B since the start of 2012, but he plays that like a DH as well. He could still have a future as a 1B (Eddie Encarnation style), but his offense has been almost as shaky. Pierre has a .239/.285/.378 slash in 1329 PA, all at Lansing or lower.

You just know that ball is ending up in the 3rd row.

Finally, I finish off with a couple of OF that intrigue me.

First, Kenny Wilson. A 2nd round pick out of High School in 2008, Wilson is a speed demon. He has swiped bases at every stop he's made in the Minors, with 195 (49 caught) in 496 games. If that seems like a lot of games, it's because it is. Wilson has experimented with switch-hitting, which ended up being a failure. He also hadn't posted even a solid OBP in a full season since 2012 (.362 across 3 levels). It's possible he's flipped a switch and can become the speedy threat the Jays envisioned when they picked him. It's more likely he's lucky to find success as a 4th OF and accumulate frequent miles traveling to and from Toronto.

Last, but certainly not least, is Kevin Pillar. Pillar is a 24 year old who has torn up competition younger than him since he was drafted in the 32nd round in 2011. He owns a .330/.376/.469 career slash in 929 PA spanning rookie ball to AA. He's finally getting a real test in AA, but is holding his own so far this season. He is one to watch as a potential bench option in the next few seasons. Not bad for a 31st round draft pick. 

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