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AL West Short Season Breakout Players

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This is the first part of a pretty ambitious project I am undertaking as I single out one player from each organization as a having the biggest breakout season. I'm splitting each system up into two parts - the short season leagues and full season leagues - and going through each team by division.

Rangers CF LeDarious Clark.
Rangers CF LeDarious Clark.
WTOK Sports

Everyone loves a breakout player. I wanted to get a look at the entire farm system for each team so I split it up into different sections. We have the foreign rookie leagues which comprise of the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues (abbreviated with DSL and VSL). Then there are the short season leagues - the Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues (abbreviated with an R), the Appalachian and Pioneer Leagues (R+), and the Northwest and New York-Penn Leagues (A-).

I split the full season leagues up as well with the low and high minors, which will be released in a separate post. The low minors will consist of the South Atlantic and Midwest Leagues (A), and the Carolina, California, and Florida State Leagues (A+). The high minors will cover teams in the Eastern, Southern, and Texas Leagues (AA) as well as the International and Pacific Coast Leagues (AAA).

Obviously, some players have split the season between multiple teams. Those particular players will be categorized by whichever team the majority of their plate appearances came from. I would also like to remind folks that scouting the stat line when it comes to foreign rookie leagues is a pointless endeavor. The numbers there will not tell you anything about a player so please don't read too much into the stats. Some of these guys may turn into studs while the majority won't even make it to The Show.

Foreign Rookie Leagues (DSL, VSL)

Houston Astros - 3B/2B Reiny Beltre (DSL and R)

This 18 year old third baseman hails from the Dominican and is listed at an even six feet and 180 pounds. He swings it and throws right handed, also seeing time at second base while splitting the 2015 campaign between the Astros Blue DSL squad and the GCL Astros. He's hit .260/.363/.419 over 215 at bats with 12 doubles, six home runs, 25 BB to 38 K, a 126 wRC+, and .381 wOBA. Beltre has struggled since coming stateside though, only hitting .185 in his first 17 contests. His defense has been spotty as well, committing 20 errors in 46 games at third base and one error in 11 games at second.

Los Angeles Angels - 1B Angel Molina (DSL)

It's only befitting that the Los Angeles Angels signed a player named Angel. The six foot right handed hitter and thrower tips the scales at 175 pounds. Still in his age 17 season, Molina is repeating the DSL and has performed better against the opposition this time around. The Venezuela native is hitting .263/.371/.400 with 12 doubles, four home runs, 21 walks and 39 K's. He's also swiped seven bags, posted a 122 wRC+, and .376 wOBA. He was moved from behind the plate to first base this year and has made seven errors in 434 chances, good for a .984 fielding percentage. He's said to have a strong arm which is somewhat wasted at first, a high baseball IQ, and possesses good speed. His swing is clean and compact, geared for line drives to the gaps.

Oakland Athletics - 2B/SS Javier Godard (DSL)

This was actually a hard selection as there isn't much on the A's DSL roster, but Godard has had a breakout year in a sense. The 19 year old middle infielder is in his third trip through the league, but has improved in every facet of the game. He's hit .268/.347/.371 with 15 doubles, a pair of triples, and a home run. The six foot, 170 pound Venezuelan has drawn 23 walks to 27 strike outs with 12 stolen bases in 22 attempts, a 109 wRC+, and a .354 wOBA. In 26 games at second base, Godard has made three errors and in 21 games at short he's made seven. He's also spent eight games at third base, four at first base, and at least one game at each spot in the outfield. I know 19 year old's repeating the DSL are not a hot commodity, but Godard has been the best of the bunch.

Seattle Mariners - C Ismerling Mota (DSL)

The Mariners signed Ismerling Mota in early July 2014 during the last signing period, snagging a $295K bonus. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Mota bats and throws right handed and is an alumni of the Dominican Prospect League. The 17 year old Dominican native has excelled in his pro debut, hitting .315/.381/.470 with eight doubles, six home runs, and 16 walks to 23 K's. He's sporting a 140 wRC+ and .406 wOBA with a pair of stolen bases as well. A .333 BABIP helps his cause, but he stings the ball often and could be a sustainable rate. He's spent 25 games behind the plate, throwing out runners at a solid 36% clip, but also allowing eight passed balls and making two errors. He's got a good feel for what he's doing behind the plate and has shown a very good approach at the plate. His hands are quick to the ball without much excessive movement. The only thing about his swing that would worry me is the very pronounced load and leg lift that could leave him susceptible to good offspeed if his timing gets thrown off. At the lower levels his good hand speed should allow him to overcome these issues but as he moves up the ladder, the breaking stuff keeps getting better. The YouTube clip below courtesy of FanGraphs will allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Texas Rangers - SS Anderson Tejeda (DSL)

Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $100,000 in September of 2014, Anderson Tejeda was known for his smooth left handed swing with a good approach, and a rocket attached to his right shoulder. The 5-foot-11, 160 pound 17 year old made his pro debut this year in the DSL and more than held his own, hitting .315/.396/.528 with 18 doubles, six triples, and four long balls. He's drawn 25 walks to 47 strike outs while posting a 157 wRC+ and a .437 wOBA. So far he's been successful on just eight of 15 stolen base attempts. I doubt Tejeda will be able to sustain his .395 BABIP, but even a heavy regression there means an average in the .275 range. The majority of his playing time has come in the middle of the diamond, spending 30 games at short stop and 18 at second base. He's made 17 errors at short and six at the keystone so far. Tejeda has been able to use his all fields approach to great effect in the Dominican and his 60-70 grade arm will play many places on the diamond. While error totals are not really something worth worrying about this low in the minor leagues, an .887 fielding percentage is pretty rough. More reps and refined footwork should be able to fix that though and if there's an organization I trust in developing middle infielders, it would be Texas.

Short Season Leagues (R, R+, A-)

Houston Astros - RHP Erasmo Pinales

The first pitcher of the list, right hander Erasmo Pinales was brought into the Astros organization as an international free agent, signing at the age of 18 during the 2012-13 signing period for an undisclosed bonus. Standing at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, the smaller Dominican right hander breezed through the Appalachian League in his age 20 season. Over 31.2 innings of work, Pinales has struck out 32 batters, issued 10 free passes, and has posted a 1.99 ERA, a 2.79 FIP, and .186 opponents batting average on the heels of just 21 hits allowed. Pinales has yet to surrender a home run this year, and while a .259 BABIP is beneficial to him, his 73.5% strand rate is nothing special. I wish I could tell you more about him but getting info on some players is quite difficult. Check back soon for an update.

Los Angeles Angels - RHP Jaime Barria

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Jaime Barria signed with the Angels in 2012 out of Panama. After performing well as a 17 year old last year in the DSL, the brass brought him stateside for the 2015 season. Now, its good to remember that context is important with all things. Looking at Barria's season line requires context as well. The two environments he has had to pitch in this year skew heavily in favor of the guys with sticks than the ones with baseballs. He began the year in the Arizona League and earned a promotion to Orem in the Pioneer League the first of August. Now with 55 innings under his belt, Barria has posted a 3.27 ERA and 3.08 FIP with 42 K's, just five walks, and 62 hits allowed. His BABIP is through the roof at .372, leading to a .303 opponents average and 11.3 hits per nine, and the 65.1% strand rate doesn't help matters. The key things here are Barria has a 7.67 K/BB ratio, and a 17.1 K-BB%. All this while being quite young in comparison to his competition being his age 18 season, especially now that he's in the Pioneer League where he is over three years younger than average.

Oakland Athletics - RHP Bowdien "Bubba" Derby

Bubba Derby joined the A's organization as their sixth round selection in this year's First Year Player Draft, signing to an underslot bonus of just $200,000. The team guide says he's 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, but he can still bring it despite his smaller stature. After signing, the former San Diego Aztec made a pair of tune-up starts in the Arizona League before being unleashed on the New York-Penn League. So far he's thrown a combined 29.1 innings with a stellar 1.23 ERA, a 2.25 FIP, and excellent 0.78 WHIP. He's struck out 33 (10.13 K/9, 30.8 K%) with just six walks (1.84 BB/9, 5.6 BB%), and 17 hits allowed (5.2 H/9, .168 BAA). His command has been on point so far with a stellar 5.50 K/BB and 25.2 K-BB%, two telling indicators of success. Bubba has been able to pull this off with a fastball that can range from 90-95 mph, a slider in the mid-80's, a mid-70's hook and passable change up. Keep an eye on this guy to be a sleeper in the next year or so. You can get a good look at Derby's delivery in the video below from a start in late February this year. courtesy of the San Diego State Aztecs YouTube channel.

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Seattle Mariners - SS Drew Jackson

Another 2015 draftee to make the list, Drew Jackson was previously best known for being the little brother of former Cubs top prospect Brett Jackson. He's making a name for himself now after signing with the Mariners out of Stanford in the fifth round. He garnered a signing bonus of $335,400 and was assigned to short season Everett of the Northwest League. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Jackson has absolutely demolished the league, posting a .376/.448/.478 line so far in 207 trips to the dish. He's knocked a pair of homers, 10 doubles, and has drawn 23 walks to just 27 strike outs, and a 166 wRC+. The most impressive part of his stat line is the 36 successful stolen bases in 39 attempts. This isn't due to blazing footspeed, but incredible instincts on the bases and the ability to read pitchers very well. His speed would grade out as about average on the scouting scale. Jackson isn't the offensive powerhouse his early numbers would indicate as he's more of a line drive hitter that will wear out the gaps. His best tool though is an easy plus-plus arm that was one of the best in the entire 2015 draft class. In the dirt he shows a good first step getting to balls, soft hands, and the previously mentioned .50 cal attached to his right shoulder. He could handle anywhere on the left side of the diamond if a team deems his range to be subpar, and could also be put on the mound with his impressive arm strength.

Texas Rangers - CF LeDarious Clark

LeDarious Clark has been making waves as having one of the best professional debuts in the 2015 class. A two-sport star in baseball and football growing up, the 5-foot-9, 180 pound Mississippi native played both sports up until transferring to DII West Florida for his junior season. Despite the small, stocky stature, Clark packs a serious punch. Drafted in the 12th round this year, the Rangers organization send him straight to the Northwest League where most college players start their career. In his first 241 plate appearances for the Spokane Indians, LeDarious (occasionally spelled LaDarious) has managed a very impressive .294/.371/.507 triple slash line with a 145 wRC+, and an even .400 wOBA. He's collecting extra base knocks like they're precious gems with 23 of his 62 hits going for at least two bases. He's got nine doubles, eight home runs, and six triples while working 21 walks and striking out 55 times. The former UWF Argonaut has also been successful in 23 of 29 stolen base attempts for a 79% success rate. He's spent time in all three outfield spots with the majority of his time coming in center field. Out of his 104 chances, Clark has four outfield assists and five errors. He's holding his own quite well despite playing for a D2 program in college, and has shown the tools scouts look for in someone to roam the pastures. He grades out as above average when it comes to his speed, arm strength, and raw pop, with an average hit tool and fielding ability. LeDarious has shown serious potential and looks to be a fantastic later round find by the Rangers scouting department.

Part two of the Breakout series will cover the full season leagues for the American League West division. Players that are slated to appear include pitchers Francis Martes and Ariel Jurado as well as position players Taylor Ward, Tyler White, and Chad Pinder.