Here are some prospect notes for three players that have nothing in common.
Jaff Decker, OF, Padres: Padres outfield prospect Jaff Decker has been up-and-down the major league roster this month, but has played in just two games, seeing two plate appearances resulting in an out and a walk. In 70 games for Triple-A Tucson, Decker is hitting .265/.382/.408 with six homers, 42 walks, and 59 strikeouts in 271 plate appearances.
This is an injury-recovery season for Decker, who missed much of 2012 with plantar fascitis in his right foot and was limited to just 47 games in Double-A. It seems to veteran prospect watchers like he's been around forever, but he's still just 23 years old. Plate discipline and a high walk rate remain his best attributes, with occasional sparks of power, but scouts continue to say his approach is too passive and that he doesn't fully live up to his potential.
If I had to guess, I'd say that Decker will continue to perform about as he has as long as he's in the Padres system. Eventually he will move on to another organization, and when that happens the combination of the change of scenery and a typical age 27/28 performance surge will make him a useful role player for a few years, as a power/walk guy, but that he'll fade quickly once past 30. Just a guess.
Tyler Pike, LHP, Mariners: Pike was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the supplemental third round last June out of high school in Winter Haven, Florida. It cost $850,000 to buy him away from college at Florida State and so far it looks like a good investment.
Pike has a 2.75 ERA in 14 starts for Clinton in the Low-A Midwest League, with a 61/34 K/BB ratio in 72 innings with just 50 hits allowed. He projects as a typical three-pitch control-oriented lefty, with an 88-93 MPH fastball, a curveball, and a change. His secondary pitches are works in progress and his command isn't always there, but the basics for success are present and he has a good delivery. He hasn't received a ton of attention yet in the Mariners system, but keep an eye on him.
Jake Sisco, RHP, Indians: Another Midwest League pitcher worth tracking is Jake Sisco in the Cleveland Indians system. Drafted out of Merced Junior College in the third round in 2011, Sisco struggled in the New York-Penn League in '12, with a 5.02 ERA and a weak 45/30 K/BB in 77 innings. His K/BB isn't much better this year at 46/31 in 71 innings for Lake County, but his ERA is much lower at 3.55. This is entirely due to a better BABIP; he's given up just 65 hits as opposed to 81 in almost the same number of innings last year.
Luck or improved skill? Sisco has the 90-94 MPH heavy fastball to succeed, but his curveball, slider, and changeup don't stand out. If they had improved significantly this year, it would probably show up with more strikeouts but that hasn't happened. That said, I could see him taking off as a reliever eventually.