Here are eight breakout prospects, and four underachievers from the Class A Midwest League:


Rock Shoulders, 1B, Kane County Cougars (CHC)
.365/.450/.646, 6 HR, 9 2B, 20 RBI
After a mediocre 2012 campaign with the Boise Hawks, it appeared like Shoulders, the Cubs’ 25th round pick in 2011 out of JUCO, would be known solely as the guy who won’s Moniker Madness tournament because of his cool name. He has shattered all expectations this year with Kane County, outhitting teammate and more well-known hitting prospect Dan Vogelbach, and currently in 2nd in the MWL (behind Byron Buxton) in OPS.

Renato Nunez, 3B, Beloit Snappers (OAK)
.318/.383/.600, 6 HR, 6 2B, 18 RBIThe 19-year old Nunez was ranked the No. 8 prospect in the Athletics organization going into this season, and he has done nothing but improve his position as a prospect as he thrives in the MWL. He’s got great raw power and bat speed and has shown improved patience at the plate this year. If he keeps this pace up he could potentially be finding himself in the MLBs Top 100 Prospects list next season/

Devon Travis, 2B, West Michigan Whitecaps (DET)
.356/.419/.554, 5 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 20 RBI, 3 SB
Travis was the Tigers’ 13th Round pick in 2012 out of Florida State where he had moderate success with the Short Season Connecticut Tigers before missing the end of the season with an injury. The 22-year old has proven to be advanced for Low A ball and could progress through the Tigers system quite quickly. While not intimidating in terms of athleticism or physical stature (only 5’9″), Travis makes solid contact and could potentially be a big league caliber second baseman with a little bit of pop.

Jabari Henry, OF, Clinton Lumberkings (SEA)
.377/.490/.584, 3 HR, 7 2B, 16 RBI, 4 SB
It’s starting to appear like the Mariners may have gotten a steal in the 18th round of the 2012 draft by selecting Henry, an outfielder out of FIU. Henry was impressive last year with the Rookie League team in Pulaski, bus has taken his game to another level this season. He has been especially impressive with his patience, shown by a whopping .490 OBP, and a decent amount of power, making him a player to watch in the loaded Mariners organization.

Andrew Toles, OF, Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)
.321/.356/.518, 1 HR, 9 2B, 5 3B, 22 RBI, 13 SB
Toles was a 4th Round pick of the Florida Marlins out of High School in the 2010 draft, but opted to go to Tennessee instead. After a year with the volunteers he transferred to Chipola CC in Florida, where he was drafted in the 3rd Round by the Rays last year. His blazing speed is clearly his best tool, and that alone would make him an interesting prospect, but early this year with the Hot Rods he has proven that he can hit a bit as well. He leads the league in triples, and ranks 4th in total bases. Plate discipline is something that needs to be improved, but Toles’ athleticism and hitting ability makes him one to watch.

Brandon Sinnery, RHP, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI)

5 G, 3 GS, 0-0, 0.67 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 27 IP, 24 K, 5 BB
Maybe the biggest longshot out of this group is South Bend’s starting pitcher Brandon Sinnery, who went undrafted out of Michigan last year. Instead of signing with a big league team last June, Sinnery played in the American Association, where he impressed enough to get a deal with the Diamondbacks this spring.  On Friday, May 3rd, Sinnery took a no-hitter into the 7th inning in perhaps his finest professional start to date. While he is considered old for his league, Sinnery’s success can’t be denied much longer, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Jeff Ames, RHP, Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)
5 G/GS, 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 25 IP, 22 K, 2 BB
In a Bowling Green rotation which also features top prospects Taylor Guerrieri and Blake Snell, Ames has had the most impressive start to the 2013 season. Drafted in the sandwich round by the Rays in 2011 out of JUCO, Ames was dominant last season in the New York Penn League and has continued that success to the next level. This season he leads the MWL with an eye-popping 0.60 WHIP, and has only walked two batters in 25 IP. The 22-year old features a quality fastball and slider, and the command he’s showing this season will allow him to continue to climb the prospect ranks.

Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Quad Cities’ River Bandits (HOU)
7 G, 4 GS, 3-0, 3.03 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 35 K, 9 BB
The Astros’ 2nd Round pick from 2010 has been excellent so far in his first full professional season after being successful in 2012 with Tri Cities of the NYPL. While Velasquez’s ERA is somewhat on the high side, his WHIP and K/BB numbers show that he has been dominant this season pitching in the Astros’ designed “piggy-back” role, where he both starts and pitches in long relief. Vincent appears to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of the 2011 season, with a plus fastball that can hit 97.


Austin Schotts, OF, West Michigan Whitecaps (DET)
.169/.253/.234, 1 HR, 2 2B, 10 RBI, 6 SB
Schotts was the Tigers’ 3rd round pick in 2012, out of High School in Texas, and was ranked by as their 10th best prospect going into the season. His assignment to full season ball this season was a bit aggressive, and he has really struggled at the plate thus far. That being said, Schotts has plus speed and potentially plus defense in the outfield, so if the 19-year old starts to hit a little better, he will still be a prospect to watch for the Tigers.

Patrick Leonard, 3B, Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)
.146/.226/.177, 0 HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI
Leonard was the 4th and most raw player that the Rays received in their blockbuster with the Royals this off-season. Though not as well known as Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi or Mike Montgomery, Leonard was still supposed to be one to keep an eye on, as he was ranked no. 20 on the Rays preseason prospect list. The 20-year old showed good power in the Appy League (14 HRs in 62 G) in 2012, but that has failed to translate to the next level. With an OPS of under .400, Leonard has been just dismal offensively this year.

Orlando Arcia, SS, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)
.198/.245/.242, 0 HR, 4 2B, 5 RBI, 3 SB
After just one season in the DSL in 2011, it was considered an extremely aggressive assignment for Arcia, a big SS with great upside, to be assigned to full season ball. As expected, he has struggled quite a bit offensively, with an OPS of only .487 without any home runs so far. While a good start in the Midwest League would have propelled Arcia into many Brewers top prospect lists, he has failed to turn any heads with his offensive production thus far.

Ismael Guillon, LHP, Dayton Dragons (CIN)
6 G/GS, 0-4, 10.07 ERA, 2.49 WHIP, 19.2 IP, 30 K, 30 BB

There have been some other pitching prospects who have struggled so far in the MWL this year, notably Mitch Brown (CLE) and Daniel Norris (TOR), but Guillon is perhaps most alarming because his strikeout numbers appear dominant. His K/IP ratio is among the best in the league, but he has had huge struggles with control all year. Guillon’s 30 walks not only rank atop of the Midwest League, but are a whopping 11 higher than Zach Bird and Michael Strong, who are in 2nd with 19. Guillon is supposed to feature a plus change-up, and clearly he has swing and miss type stuff. Hopefully for the Reds, he starts commanding and controlling his pitches much better as the season progresses.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s