Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/14/14

Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 7th
Current Value: Down

This past off-season I spoke with a front office person who had very glowing things to say about Bethancourt – especially on defense. The backstop is continuing to impress observers with his play in the field in 2012 but his offense has been MIA at the double-A level. Bethancourt is hitting a modest .257 and both his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are below .300. His OPS sits at .557. With just three extra base hits on the year (all doubles), the Panama native hasn’t shown any improvements in the power department as the year has progressed with just one of those extra baggers coming since the end of April. Still just 20 years old, Bethancourt has a lot of time to turn things around and Atlanta will almost certainly pick up veteran catcher Brian McCann‘s 2013 option ($12 million).

Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 1st
Current Value: Leveled Off

The former first round draft pick is not having the best year. Brown’s breakout 2011 season (140 wRC+) appears to have been aided by the potent California League. He’s been below average in double-A in 2012 with a wRC+ of just 91 and his power output (ISO rate) has dropped from .182 to .078. Brown has 21 steals – his speed is his best asset – but he’s been nabbed 12 times already. On the plus side his strikeout rate remains solid at 13.8% and he’s been getting better offensive results with each new month. Brown, 23, appears to have the ceiling of a second-division starter – not exactly what Giants fans would be expecting from the 24th overall selection of the 2010 draft.

Didi Gregorius, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 7th
Current Value: Leveled Off

Gregorius, 22, is having a decent season at double-A but has not made a huge impact. Only 12 of his 76 hits have gone for extra bases, which has caused his ISO rate to drop to .060 in 2012. He’s also stolen just two bases on the year, so he’s not providing any offensive value (such as power or speed) outside of his batting average, which sits at .286. The biggest improvement for Gregorius on the 2012 season has been his walk rate, which is up to 8.8% – increased about 3% over last season. Because he’s a slick fielder the shortstop prospect will most likely find his way to the big leagues but his future offensive development (or lack thereof) will dictate what role he ultimately settles into (starter, platoon or backup).

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres
Current Level: AAA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 4th
Current Value: Rising

Gyorko, 23, could receive a promotion to the big leagues in the very near future. With the ability to play both second base and third base, he could help improve the offense at the keystone or fill in the gap at the hot corner if the club receives a good offer for incumbent third baseman Chase Headley. Gyorko began the year in double-A but was promoted to triple-A after fewer than 40 games and currently has a wRC+ of 135. He’s also showing a lot of power with an ISO rate of .246 but he’s likely receiving a boost from the Pacific Coast League (much like he did from the California League in 2011). Even with average power Gyorko has a chance to be an impact player for the Padres, especially if he shows the ability to handle second base at the Major League level.

Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 1st
Current Value: Rising

Lee recently received a much-deserved promotion from high-A ball to double-A. The right-hander survived the California League by showing excellent control (10 walks in 55.1 innings) and missing a decent number of bats (8.46 K/9). His first start in double-A went well with just one run allowed with seven Ks in 6.0 innings of work. Lee, 20, has the makings of a top-of-the-line starter and he could be less than a year away from reaching the Majors, which is impressive for a former first round draft pick selected out of a Texas high school just two years ago.

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