2011 Minor League Ball Interesting Short-Season Pitchers
My initial plan was to approach the best players in short-season ball with another poll question, but I think it will be more interesting to write reports about 10 Short Season Star Hitters and 10 Short Season Star Pitchers. This is based on a blending of immediate statistical performance as well as long-term outlook, for players that members of the Minor League Ball community expressed interest in, in the previous thread.
I realize there is selection bias, since fans of certain organizations (Blue Jays, Braves) tend to be a lot noisier around here than others. I am also working on a look at sleepers from the 2011 draft. There will be some players in that report that could also be mentioned here, but I'm avoiding duplication and will be covering every team for that article.
DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to be a comprehensive look at prospects in the short-season leagues!!
SHORT-SEASON STAR PITCHERS OF NOTE
Jose Vicente Campos, RHP, Mariners: 19-year-old Venezuelan, posted 2.32 ERA with 85/13 K/BB in 81 innings for Everett in the Northwest League, just 66 hits allowed and a 1.67 GO/AO. Mid-to-upper-90s heat, curveball and changeup coming along, throws strikes, gets ground balls, no statistical negatives. Well on his way to elite prospect status.
Tony Cingrani, LHP, Reds: Left-hander posted 1.75 ERA with 80/6 K/BB in 51 innings for Billings in the Pioneer League, just 35 hits allowed, 1.30 GO/AO. Third round pick out of Rice University this year, relieved in college due to erratic breaking ball but started as a pro. Low-to-mid-90s, was way ahead of younger competition in the Pioneer League at age 22. Could move quickly.
J.R. Graham, RHP, Braves: Fourth round pick in 2011 out of Santa Clara, posted 1.72 ERA with 52/13 K/BB in 58 innings for Danville in the Appalachian League, 52 hits, 2.30 GO/AO. Mid-90s fastball, hit 100 a few times in college, but short stature (6-0, 175) and so-so breaking stuff kept him from earlier rounds. Will he start or relieve at higher levels?
Kyle Hallock, LHP, Astros: 10th-round pick in 2011 out of Kent State, was brilliant at times for Tri-City in the New York-Penn League, posting 2.63 ERA with 61/17 K/BB in 62 innings, 58 hits, 1.95 GO/AO. Threw harder than expected, and he knows how to use his curveball, slider, and changeup effectively.
Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Cardinals: Super-projectable right-hander was supplemental first-round pick in 2010 from high school in Henderson, Texas. One of the best athletes in pro baseball. Posted 3.86 ERA with 55/13 K/BB in 56 innings, 63 hits, 1.83 GO/AO for Johnson City in the Appalachian League. Hard sinker with plus velocity, slider and changeup coming along, usually throws strikes, could be number two starter if all goes well. Breakthrough candidate in 2012.
Nicholas Kingham, RHP, Pirates: 6-5, 220 pound right-hander posted 2.15 ERA with 47/15 K/BB in 71 innings for State College in the New York-Penn League, 63 hits allowed. Fourth round pick from high school in Las Vegas in 2010. Throws strikes, velocity average but should/could improve, has a changeup, still refining breaking pitches. K/IP rate is low, but he did enough to get noticed this year and is just 19.
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Blue Jays: 19-year-old blew away Northwest League for Vancouver, 1.03 ERA in 52 innings with 64/11 K/BB and just 28 hits allowed. Promoted to Midwest League and posted 3.12 ERA with 9/2 K/BB in nine innings with 11 hits. Second round pick in 2010 from high school in Orlando is physically stronger than a year ago, throws harder, and already had a good breaking ball and changeup. Stock rising rapidly.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Blue Jays: Texas prep was supplemental first round pick in 2010, didn't turn 19 until the end of this August. Dominated Appalachian League and Northwest League, and also made two effective starts in the Midwest League, overall posted 1.83 ERA with 68/18 K/BB in 59 innings, 46 hits combined at the three levels. Blue Jays fans are salivating over power right-hander with rapidly improving secondary pitches and command. As with Nicolino, his stock is way up.
Yao-Ling Wang, RHP, Cubs: 20-year-old signed out of Taiwan in 2009, had a fine year for Boise in the Northwest League, 3.22 ERA with 77/20 K/BB in 67 innings, 64 hits, 1.48 GO/AO. Combination of a good ground ball rate with high strikeout rate is notable, hits 92-94 MPH. Could take another step forward in 2012.
Austin Wright, LHP, Phillies: Big 6-4, 235 pound lefty posted 3.38 ERA with 44/13 K/BB in 35 innings for Williamsport in the New York-Penn League, then was even better after moving up to Low-A Lakewood, 2.67 ERA with 41/9 K/BB in 34 innings, 29 hits. 85/22 K/BB in first 68 pro innings overall. Eighth round pick in 2011 from Old Miss, low-90s fastball, secondary pitches, and command were all better than advertised.