The Comeback Kids

Posted: March 14, 2013 in by J.P. Schwartz

Greetings, fellow prospectors.

In my very first blog, I picked 30 prospects, one for each team’s farm system, who I believe will have breakout seasons this year, and could step into the limelight. In this edition, I will choose 30 different prospects who had what would be considered substandard seasons last year – injuries notwithstanding – and who have a shot at turning things around this season.

Keon Broxton (Diamondbacks) – Played in the hitter-friendly CAL, but pitch recognition worked against him last year, particularly with breaking stuff. Has excellent athleticism, defensive skills and a great arm.

Julio Teheran (Braves) – Had delivery problems which led to reduced velocity last year, as well as a below average breaking ball. Looked much improved in Winter ball, as well as Spring Training, and has a good shot at claiming the #5 spot this year.

Parker Bridwell (Orioles) – He got hit hard the past two seasons, thanks to a delivery in which he struggled to repeat, as well as a larger number of innings than he was used to. He still has a potentially above average curveball, as well as good life on his fastball.

ImageBlake Swihart (Red Sox) – His only real stumbling block was adjusting to tougher competition last year. Very athletic switch-hitter, with good arm strength behind the plate. Has been compared to a young Buster Posey.

Brett Jackson (Cubs) – His strikeout problems were on full display last year, especially after getting his first call up to Wrigley. He is re-working his swing to cut back on K’s, as well as trying to stop chasing pitches out of the zone. He can still draw walks, has good power and is very solid in the outfield.

Jared Mitchell (White Sox) – He has significant holes in his swing (as evidenced by his 362 K’s in two seasons), but has very good raw power and is a solid defender. If he can turn things around at the plate, he could force a call up next year.

Yorman Rodriguez (Reds) – He chased too many pitches out of the zone last year, especially fastballs, and reportedly had bad makeup. Despite this, his tools are for real, especially above average raw power. The Reds still believe in his stuff, as they added him to the 40-man last November.

Tony Wolters (Indians) – Started off on the wrong foot in the first half last year, as he couldn’t reach .200, but rebounded in the second. He had hamate surgery in 2011 (which sapped much of his power), but could still hit 10-15 in a good season. Has a great arm, and plays well at both SS and 2B.

Tyler Matzek (Rockies) – If he had better control and command, he could become one of the best lefties in the minors. He led the CAL league in both walks and K’s last season. Can touch 95 with his heater, and has improved his delivery, which in turn has boosted the effectiveness of his curve. In a best case scenario, he could become a #2-3 starter.

Daniel Fields (Tigers) – Perhaps Detroit pushed him too far, too fast after signing, as he’s languished at High-A Lakeland most of the time since. Despite this, he still has great arm strength, above average power, and is a solid athlete.

Robbie Grossman (Astros) – Despite not having any above average tools, he was putting up impressive numbers all around until being dealt from Pittsburgh’s system last year. He can still become a solid centerfielder in Houston if he can take better routes, and improve his walk rate.

ImageCheslor Cuthbert (Royals) – His patience at the plate took a dive last year, as did his reported above-average power. He still possesses one of the system’s best arms, and with an improved swing, we could see the great potential Kansas City saw in him when he signed.

Cam Bedrosian (Angels) – After coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2011, his control fell apart last year, as did his breaking ball. His velocity also suffered. If he can somehow regain his high school form (touched 96, with good secondary stuff), there’s still hope.

Garrett Gould (Dodgers) – Reports that he’d gotten out of shape since 2011, which led to a drop in velocity and lack of command, combined to make a lackluster year in the CAL. If he can get more movement on his heat and gets back on track physically in AA, he could possibly repeat his 2011 campaign.

Zack Cox (Marlins) – As was the case with Grossman, a change in scenery led to a struggle for him last year, as his hitting mechanics went out of whack. His speed also slowed. If he can regain his form, especially his swing, he could become an asset for Miami.

Jed Bradley (Brewers) – After sustaining a groin injury in his first spring training after signing, the wheels came off for him, especially when it came to his command. When healthy, he can touch 93, with a good mid-80’s slider. He’s deserving of a mulligan back at High-A Brevard County, and could return to his college form, if healthy.

Levi Michael (Twins) – He didn’t come as advertised when Minnesota got him in the supplemental round of the 2011 draft in terms of physicality, according to scouts, but in instructional league he showed improvement in terms of speed and arm strength. He’ll likely return to High-A for another shot this year.

Cory Vaughn (Mets) – Power is his calling card, but his swing was a concern last year, which led to quite a few K’s. He can handle RF though, and has a good arm. He could be up to the task in AA this year with what he’s got.

J.R. Murphy (Yankees) – As he competes with Romine and Sanchez for a future catching job, he shows a good swing and solid receiving skills. If he stays healthy, he’s most definitely in the mix to win the job sometime in the future.

ImageSonny Gray (A’s) – Mechanical issues led to poor command and a flattening out of his pitches last year. He can still hit 97, with a great breaker, and did finish strong. Could still become a #2-3 SP.

Brody Colvin (Phillies) – His pure stuff has never been in question, but consistency hasn’t been his friend the past two seasons. He can still hit the mid 90’s, aided by a good curve and changeup. With improved command, could still have a bright future as a SP, assuming the Phillies retain him in the role.

Andy Oliver (Pirates) – Recently acquired from the Tigers’ system, he led the IL with 88 walks last year, but still possesses a fastball that can touch 96. If he can improve his command and the consistency of his changeup, he could still develop into a mid-rotation starter.

Ryan Jackson (Cardinals) – While his bat and plate discipline have been considered to be only average, he’s widely considered the best defensive shortstop in the system. Should the former catch up to the latter this year, watch out.

Jaff Decker (Padres) – It’s been said he’s more athletic than he looks (i.e., a thick lower half), but his numbers tumbled last year, and he didn’t swing enough at hittable pitches. He has solid power and can play anywhere in the outfield, although speed isn’t his forte. Could become more than a reserve, which some predict will become his role.

Andrew Susac (Giants) – He committed 14 errors in the CAL (a league high last year), and his game calling skills need work, but still managed to throw out Billy Hamilton twice in one game, and possesses good power. Clearly the Giants are still optimistic about him, given their trade of fellow catcher Tommy Joseph to the Phillies.

Francisco Martinez (Mariners) – His first full season with the M’s after being traded from Detroit’s system didn’t go as planned, with injuries and inconsistency at the plate to blame. While not a homerun hitter, he has a quick bat and good defensive skills. Youth is also on his side.

ImageHak-Ju Lee (Rays) – No one questions his above-average defensive skills at SS, but needs to work the count better at the plate and thus, be able to utilize his speed. He lost the last part of the season to injury, but did put up a 21-game hitting streak last year. He should see the Trop at some point this year.

Neil Ramirez (Rangers) – After dazzling in 2011, his 2012 couldn’t have been more different, thanks to shoulder fatigue and a switch in role to reliever. He can still touch 97, with a promising changeup and a developing slider.

Deck McGuire (Blue Jays) – He looked to be a future #3-4 SP two seasons ago, but lost 15 games and gave up 22 homeruns last year, thanks to a repertoire that doesn’t miss many bats. If he can work down in the zone more often, he could still be salvageable this year.

Michael Taylor (Nationals) – He’s been compared to B.J. Upton for his defense in center, as well as his power, but his stroke led to doubts about his hitting ability. If his offense catches up to his defense this year, he could perhaps challenge fellow highly touted outfielder Brian Goodwin for a job before long.


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