Double-A Transition Monitor
The transition from A-ball to Double-A often seperates the wheat from the chaff among prospects. Here are four players making that transition this year. None of them were super-hot prospects pre-season.
**New York Mets prospect Josh Satin: Satin had a decent year in the Sally League in 2008, then hit .316/.406/.459 in 58 games for High-A St. Lucie earlier this year. An older player at age 25, he does not excite scouts with his tools by any means, but has some pure hitting skills. His Double-A transition has gone smoothly: .319/.409/.489 for Binghamton, with 34 walks and 65 strikeouts in 254 at-bats. His plate discipline and component ratios were unchanged after the promotion, a good marker, and on the year he's hit 38 doubles and 11 homers. Satin is being groomed as a utility player around the infield, spending most of his time at second base but also seeing some action at first base and third. His range afield is poor, but he doesn't make many errors.
**San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt: Technically this is a Triple-A transition; he just moved up to Fresno last week. He's just 1-for-17 so far in five games, but has drawn six walks, and his one hit was a homer. Belt earned this promotion with a .337/.413/.623 mark for Double-A Richmond in 46 games, on the heels of his .383/.492/.628 explosion in the Cal League in the first half. He retained strong plate discipline after moving up, and scouting commentary about him is increasingly positive. I'm very impressed, and he has to be ranked among the best first base prospects in the game now, at least if performance means anything. And it isn't like his tools are bad.
**San Diego Padres prospect Jeremy Hefner: He pitched in the California League in 2009, going 14-9, 4.12 with a 142/38 KBB in 151 innings for Lake Elsinore, 165 hits allowed. Moved up to Double-A San Antonio this year, Hefner is 10-8, 3.10 with a 103/49 K/BB in 154 innings, 144 hits allowed. San Antonio is a friendly environment for pitchers and the Texas League in general isn't the high-offense haven it once was. Hefner has a 2.20 ERA at home this year and a 3.86 on the road, but his FIP is actually identical (3.85) in both environments. Overall, he is having a decent transition, although the strikeout rate has declined which is a caution flag for the future. The 24-year-old Oral Roberts product has a 90 MPH fastball and an excellent changeup, but his breaking ball still needs some polish.
**I talked about him in the AQA last week, but Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez is having a decent transition for Corpus Christi, hitting .304/.362/.422 since being promoted from Low-A Lexington in July. His Sally League numbers were remarkable: .362/.433/.598, 15 homers, 31 doubles in just 348 at-bats, 33 walks, 55 strikeouts. He's seen a power slippage since being promoted and his BB/K ratio has deteriorated somewhat, but considering that he was jumping directly from the Sally League without High-A exposure, I think he's doing pretty well. The 23 year old Nova Southeastern product has decent tools and could be more than just a minor league bat.