There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.
The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013′ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’
The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.
The Graduate: Dan Straily, RHP: Straily, 24, is the member of a young but formidable (ie. playoff-worthy) staff that also includes sophomores Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, and A.J. Griffin, as well as rookie Sonny Gray. The right-hander has settled in nicely as a reliable, but unspectacular, back-of-the-rotation starter. He’s benefited from playing in a pitcher-friendly park but he’s also been solid on the road despite an increased home-run rate.
The Riser: Raul Alcantara, RHP: When you think of the A’s organization you don’t necessarily think of them as big players in the Latin market. What they lack in quantity, though, they make in quality and Alcantara is shedding his sleeper label and developing into a top prospect. The right-hander should see his numbers improve even more as he further develops his breaking ball and sharpens his command (His control is already above average).
The Tumbler: Miles Head, 3B: Head was acquired from the Red Sox in the same deal that brought Raul Alcantara (and big league outfielder Josh Reddick) to the organization. The corner infielder’s prospect value took a big step forward in 2012 but then he took two steps back in ’13. He battled injuries throughout the season and hit below .200 in 40 Double-A games. Head’s value is tied solely to his bat so he’s going to need a significant bounce-back season in 2014 to keep moving forward.
The 2013 Draft Pick: Chad Pinder, SS/3B: Considered a polished, offensive-minded infielder, Pinder struggled during his introduction to pro ball. He struck out 41 times in 42 games and hit just .200. The A’s were one of few clubs that saw him as a pro shortstop but he also saw some time at third base in his debut. He should move up to Low-A in 2014 but is currently stuck behind higher-ceiling prospects such as Matt Olson and Daniel Robertson.
The Sleeper: Bruce Maxwell, C: Left-handed hitting catchers are always in demand — especially ones with raw power too — but it remains to be seen if Maxwell can remain behind the dish. The 22-year-old prospect threw out fewer than 20% of the base runners attempting to steal against him and he also needs to improve both his receiving and his blocking. He didn’t embarrass himself at the plate in 2013 but has yet to fully tap into his raw power potential. If Maxwell has to shift out from behind the plate to first base, his offensive contributions are going to have to surge.