2011 Minor League Ball Interesting Short-Season Hitters
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 Interesting Short-Season Hitters and 10 Interesting Short Season 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 HITTERS OF NOTE
Yoan Alcantara, OF, Padres: Power-hitting Dominican, didn't play especially last year in the Dominican Summer League but was more effective this year in the Arizona Rookie League with a .348/.367/.586 mark. Strike zone issues are apparent: just four walks, but he struck out just 25 times in 215 at-bats, a good combination of power and contact.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers: Signed for $1.3 million out of Colombia in 2010, Alfaro .300/.345/.481 for Spokane in the Northwest League, showing strong power potential and promising, if raw, defensive skills. He's also got serious strike zone issues, with a 4/54 BB/K despite his gaudy slash line, but at age 18 he has plenty of time to work on that.
Brandon Drury, 3B, Braves: A 13th round pick in 2010 from high school in Oregon, Drury caught the notice of Braves fans with a .347/.367/.525 line for Danville in the Appalachian League, much better than the .198/.248/.292 line he posted in rookie ball last year. He fanned just 35 times in 265 at-bats, but drew a miniscule six walks. He's made substantial progress but more work is needed to carry forward to higher levels.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Angels: Supplemental first-round pick in 2010 from high school in Arizona tore up the Pioneer League, hitting .362/.394/.593 with nine homers and 10 steals while showing steady defense at second base. Pure hitting skills are highly-respected by scouts, and he performed well enough on defense that a projected move to the outfield is not inevitable.
Dan Muno, SS, Mets: Eight-round pick out of Fresno State this year destroyed the New York-Penn League, hitting .355/.466/.514 with 43 walks and 23 doubles in 220 at-bats for Brooklyn. At age 22 he doesn't have the long-term projection of other guys on the list, but he's very polished and could reach the majors rapidly as a utility type.
Joe Panik, SS, Giants: First-round pick out of St. John's was excellent in the Northwest League, living up to expectations, hitting .341/.401/.467 with 28 walks and 13 steals in 270 at-bats, showing his cachet as a future leadoff type. Heading to the Arizona Fall League for further experience, and could begin 2012 as high as Double-A.
Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins: Fourth round pick from Puerto Rico in 2010, drew comparisons on draft day to Bobby Abreu. He crushed Appalachian League pitching to the tune of .337/.397/.670 with 21 homers for Elizabethton, while stealing 17 bases and playing solid defense. Sound tools, looks like one of the big steals of the '10 draft.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins: Just 18 years old but hit .292/.352/.637 with 20 homers for Elizabethton, making a devastating one-two punch with Rosario in the lineup. Enormous power earned him $3.15 million in 2010. Superstar potential with the bat, but will have to watch strikeouts and sharpen up his defense.
Kevan Smith, C, White Sox: Seventh round pick in 2011 from University of Pittsburgh, annihilated short-season pitching at Bristol (Appy League, .396/.482/.740) and Great Falls (Pioneer League, .318/.417/.523). Drew 28 walks against just 30 strikeouts in 203 at-bats. Power bat and physical strength are well-respected, but he needs more polish with defense, and at age 23 he needs to show this wasn't just a fluke generated against younger competition.
Mason Williams, OF, Yankees: Fourth round pick in 2010 from high school in Florida showed exciting tools while hitting .349/.395/.468 in the New York-Penn League, stealing 28 bases. Good throwing arm, center field range, and overall athleticism are big positives, making him one of the most intriguing young outfielders to watch in full-season ball next year.