Minor League Notes, April 17, 2012
**It's early, but Chicago White Sox outfield prospect Jared Mitchell may have resurrected his status as a prospect. Drafted in the first round out of Louisiana State in 2009, he missed all of 2010 following a horrific ankle injury. He returned in 2011 but was less than effective for Winston-Salem in the Carolina League, hitting just .222/.304/.377 last year with an obscene strikeout rate, 184 whiffs in 477 at-bats.
2012 looks completely different. Playing for Double-A Birmingham, Mitchell is hitting .333/.490/.564 through 12 games, with three doubles, three triples, 11 walks, and 12 strikeouts. He's still fanning too much for comfort, but is drawing more walks and showing more pop this year. He is also reportedly playing better defense in center field after struggling with his routes last year, probably an after-effect of the injury. Right now, Mitchell looks more like the player the White Sox thought they were getting when they drafted him. Even last year, his work ethic and drive to succeed were never in question.
**Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers was hampered by injuries last year for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, hitting .254/.353/.393 with less power than anticipated, although he still impressed scouts with his tools and offensive potential and was only 19 years old. Returning to NW Arkansas this season, he's hitting .333/.366/.641 through nine games, although his BB/K has deteriorated with a 2/14 mark in 39 at-bats. The strikeout rate is much higher than last year, with a lower walk rate. Is he boosting his power output by being more aggressive, and will this backfire at higher levels? Only time will tell.
**Another outfielder with contact issues is Miami Marlins prospect Marcell Ozuna, hitting .227/.292/.409 with two homers, four walks, and 13 strikeouts in 44 at-bats for High-A Jupiter. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Ozuna hit .266/.330/.482 with 23 homers, 46 walks, and 121 strikeouts in 496 at-bats for Low-A Greensboro last year. Scouts love his tools and he has the raw power to be a 30-homer hitter, but the 20-year-old has to prove he can handle pitchers who can spin a breaking ball or command a changeup. Teammate Christian Yelich, meanwhile, was activated from extended spring training a couple of days ago and is 4-for-7 with a triple and three walks so far. He's a much more polished hitter despite being a full year younger.
**19-year-old St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras went 3-for-5 with a triple yesterday for Double-A Springfield in the Texas League, giving him a season line of .311/.326/.622 with one walk and eight strikeouts. So far he's showing no ill effects despite skipping High-A, although his BB/K is less than ideal. I think that's just a matter of experience and adjustment and he remains a personal favorite.