Things are about to get a lot more crowded on the farm
It's been a bit of a rough year for the farm teams so far, as they have a collective record of 110-144 and every team has a losing record. Still, there is reason for optimism, and also reason for excitement, as the two rookie league teams begin play within the next couple of weeks. That will mean the return of Yorman Rodriguez, Juan Duran, and Billy Hamilton, amongst others. It will also mean we'll get our first looks at signees from this year's draft class. So, on the cusp of things getting much busier in the minors, and now over two months and 60 games into the season, who is performing and who is falling short of expectations? BK and I bring you your second State of the Farm of 2010.
LOUISVILLE BATS (AAA) - The Bats are 29-35 at the moment, which is last in their tough IL West division, 9.5 games behind Columbus. Their 63 homers are 3rd in their league, and the staff ERA of 3.77 is 5th in the IL. Chris Valaika is hitting .317, which puts him for a tie for 3rd in the league, and Wladimir Balentien's 10 homers tie him for 9th in the league. Zack Cozart's stolen 14 bases, which is 6th in the league. Now with the big club, Sam LeCure's 2.55 ERA is 5th in the IL, and Travis Wood has been a workhorse this year with 76 1/3 IP so far, 3rd in the league. Jon Adkins has 8 saves, which ties him for 7th in the league, and Wood and Aroldis Chapman are 5th and 6th in the league with 71 and 70 strikeouts respectively.
CAROLINA MUDCATS (AA) - The Mucdats currently sit at 27-36, good for last place, 11 games back in the Southern League northern division. Their team batting average of .255 is in the bottom half of the league, but the bigger issue is the team isn't walking. Their team OBP of .323 is tied for second to last in the league. The real problem, though, is the pitching. Carolina is last in the league with a 4.53 ERA, and all of the walks must be going to the opposition, as the pitching staff leads the league in walks allowed. Basically, aside from Matt Klinker, this staff stinks. Matt leads the league in ERA (1.73) and is 4th in WHIP (.98). He's not leading in any counting stats because of his (too brief) stint in AAA. Offensively no one is in the top 10 of any major category.
LYNCHBURG HILLCATS (A+) - The Hillcats are at 27-37, 11 games back of the Frederick Keys in 4th in their division. Their .268 average is good for 2nd in the league, almost 30 points behind the top team, and they've slugged 46 HRs which is 2nd as well. Devin Mesoraco has been the star there for their high powered offense, batting .335 (2nd in the league) with an OPS of 1.035 (1st in the league). Mesoraco's 10 homers is good for 3rd, and Neftali Soto is right behind him with 9. The Hillcats rotation has 2 players in the top 10 ERA leaders, Matt Fairel (3.04) in 5th and Brad Boxberger (3.20) in 7th. Boxberger's 62 strikeouts is 6th in the league, and Mark Serrano has 61 for 7th.
DAYTON DRAGONS (A) - Dayton's Finest are 27-36, good for 6th place and a whopping 13 games back in the Midwest League's eastern division. Dayton is 4th in batting average and 6th in SLG, but again, a lack of walks means this is a middle of the road offense. The pitching has been better, as the staff is 5th in ERA. That doesn't tell the whole story, though, as very poor defense has led to 60 unearned runs already. Chris Richburg is tied for 5th with 8 homers, and no one on the pitching staff is in the top 10 in anything.
Continue after the jump for updates on the top 25 prospects, top hitters and pitchers so far, as well as 2 guys to watch going forward.
#1 Aroldis Chapman - LHSP - 5-4, 4.22 ERA, 70 K, 36 BB (Louisville)
His control has been suspect, but there's still a lot to like here. His ERA is skewed on a few bad outings, but has only pitched more than 6 innings once this year, and usually doesn't make it that far. The Reds organization will look to stretch him and get his walks down so he can help out somewhere later on in the year.
#2 Todd Frazier-LF/3B- .222/.292/.394, 7 HR, 23 RBI (Louisville)
Things are getting better for Todd, but he's still got a ways to go. His last 10 games he's hitting .351 and OPSing .941, but he's still striking out too much and not walking enough. There's still time to turn it around, but it needs to happen soon.
#3 Yonder Alonso-LF/1B-.254/.341/.379, 5 HR, 28 RBI (Carolina/Louisville)
Hasn't gotten going yet in AAA, but things have looked better recently. I expect the power to return soon, and by the next SOTF, I predict he'll be raking. Still, I'd like to see fewer strikeouts.
#4 Mike Leake - RHSP - 5-0, 2.68 ERA, 52 K, 29 BB (Cincinnati)
If you need an update on this guy, you've been living under a rock. Leake has been arguably the Reds best starter this year, and could be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year. It's safe to say he's pitched well above expectations.
#5 Chris Heisey-.273/.385/.667, 3 HR, 4 RBI (Cincinnati)
Heisey's been very impressive with the Reds, but his biggest problem has been finding playing time. He's been with the team since May 3, but only has 6 starts and 39 PAs. That's really not enough, but hopefully he can keep making the most of his opportunities.
#6 Juan Francisco-LF/3B-.258/.293/.505, 4 HR, 19 RBI (Louisville)
The END has been on the shelf since May 9. Same story as always with him. Needs to walk more and/or strike out less. Hopefully he'll be back soon.
#7 Travis Wood - LHSP - 4-4, 3.77 ERA, 71 K, 19 BB (Louisville)
Wood keeps maintaining the very good K/BB ratio he's had all year, and has been solid in the Louisville rotation. He's working off of 5 straight quality starts, and could be primed for a big league callup sometime this summer.
#8 Yorman Rodriguez-CF (Billings)
One of the prime players to watch when rookie ball kicks off later this month.
#9 Zack Cozart-SS-.238/.304/.406, 8 HR, 27 RBI (Louisville)
Zack has cooled off considerably since his good start. He's walking a decent amount, and is suffering from a bit of a low BABIP. His power is decent, and his defense has made great strides. He only has 4 errors this season after committing 23 last year. I really hope he has a great second half and gives the organization a reason to say adios to Lando.
#10 Matt Maloney - LHSP - 5-3, 3.10 ERA, 54 K, 15 BB (Louisville)
Maloney has been very solid so far this year, and is another great candidate for a big league callup at some point.
#11 Chris Valaika-2B-.317/.350/.401, 0 HR, 22 RBI (Louisville)
Valaika just keeps on hitting, largely due to his low number of strikeouts. Unfortunately, he's also not walking or showing ANY power. His high BABIP means he probably wouldn't hit for such a high average in the bigs, and the lack of power and walks are concerning. I'd like to see both increase with the temperature.
#12 Brad Boxberger - RHSP - 4-5, 3.20 ERA, 62 K, 17 BB (Lynchburg)
Boxy Brown has hit a few snags lately, but is still putting up decent numbers. His K/BB ratio is still very encouraging.
#13 Neftali Soto-3B/1B/C-.261/.302/.441, 9 HR, 34 RBI (Lynchburg)
Soto's had a bit of an up and down year, and currently he's in an upswing. The power and contact skills are there, but the lack of walks is holding him back a bit. He's been moved all around the diamond this season, and he'll probably spend the rest of the year in Lynchburg working on his catching skills.
#14 Devin Mesoraco-C-.308/.382/.587, 13 HR, 35 RBI (Lynchburg/Carolina)
The undisputed hitter of the year so far. Has had a slightly slow start in AA, but that's largely due to a Bruce circa-2009 low BABIP so far. He also already has 3 homers in 43 ABs at the level, so once he gets more comfortable, expect the AA numbers to rise.
#15 Billy Hamilton-SS/CF (AZL Reds)
Another one to watch in a couple weeks, probably in the Arizona Summer League.
#16 J.C. Sulbaran - RHSP - 3-3, 4.94 ERA, 48 K, 29 BB (Dayton)
The walks are definitely still a concern, and not encouraging considering what it took to sign Sulbaran. He's still considered a raw talent, but shouldn't be stalling as much here since he's repeating the level.
#17 Enerio Del Rosario - RHRP - 2-2, 2.41 ERA, 20 K, 9 BB (Louisville/Cincinnati)
Made his major league debut and has pitched well (with his own runners). He's allowed 5 of the 7 runners he's inherited to score (for a staggering 71%), but his ERA is a stellar 2.08.
#18 Matt Klinker - RHSP - 5-5, 2.18 ERA, 66 K, 16 BB (Carolina/Louisville)
Klinker has been one of the top pitchers in AA this year, and earned himself a callup to Louisville. After 2 starts there (and 6 ER in 12 IP), inexplicably, he was sent back down, which is where he's at now. Baffling.
#19 Daniel Tuttle - RHSP (AZL Reds)
Thundering Tuttle is still listed on the AZL roster, and hasn't pitched in 2010 yet. Rookie ball starts in a week, so we could see him debut then.
#20 Juan Duran-OF (AZL Reds)
Needs a good start in rookie ball this year after last year's struggles.
#21 Donnie Joseph - LHRP - 2-2, 1.08 ERA, 59 K, 11 BB (Dayton/Lynchburg)
DoJo has 8 saves through his 2 levels so far, and is still pitching better than almost anyone else in the organization. He's holding opposing hitters to a .149 average on the year, and is still settling in to Lynchburg, but could be a 3-level mover if he keeps this pace up.
#22 Logan Ondrusek - RHRP - 0-1, 5.57 ERA, 20 K, 9 BB (Cincinnati/Louisville)
Lurch hasn't been great in the Cincinnati bullpen in his second stint there, but is showing steady signs of improvement. He hasn't been the answer, but as he gains confidence he could end up being part of a talented bullpen.
#23 Daniel Dorn-OF/1B-.295/.373/.467, 4 HR, 16 RBI (Louisville)
Was actually hitting both righties and lefties before he got hurt on May 11. Hopefully he'll be back soon, because I think he could be a useful utility outfielder/backup first baseman right now.
#24 Josh Fellhauer-CF/LF-.263/.313/.389, 4 HR, 24 RBI (Lynchburg)
Fellhauer seems comparable to this year's 2nd round pick Ryan LaMarre. Both can play CF, but if they can't stick there probably don't have the power to play a corner. Fellhauer certainly doesn't, as he's only slugging .389, but another problem is the lack of walks. LaMarre projects to have more power, better speed, and better defense, and hopefully Fellhauer feels the heat from his rival and picks up his game.
#25 Sam LeCure - RHSP - 6-5, 2.67 ERA, 25 K, 10 BB (Louisville/Cincinnati)
LeCure earned himself a temporary spot in the rotation on Homer Bailey's injury, and has done pretty well for himself. The record is a result of some tough luck, and he's been at least serviceable. Questions remain what happens when Bailey comes back, but if Sam can keep up what he's doing he'll be just fine.
Top 5 Hitters (min 180 PAs):
Devin Mesoraco (C, Carolina)-.308/.382/.587, .969 OPS
Josh Garton (LF, Dayton)-.296/.352/.565, .917 OPS
Cody Puckett (2B, Lynchburg)-.284/.363/.534, .896 OPS
Dave Sappelt (CF, Carolina)-.326/.361/.454, .815 OPS
Drew Sutton (UT, Louisville)-.291/.372/.419, .791 OPS
Hitter to Watch: Drew Sutton
Once Miguel Cairo inevitably returns to sucking, the team will need a utility guy with a decent bat. If Sutton keeps hitting (he’s on a 32 game streak of reaching base safely) he could replace him.
Top 5 Pitchers (Min. 20 IP):
Donnie Joseph (Lynchburg) - 2-2, 1.08 ERA, 59 K, 11 BB
Chase Ware (Dayton) 3-1, 1.39 ERA, 43 K, 8 BB
Jordan Hotchkiss (Lynchburg) - 4-0, 1.58 ERA, 32 K, 10 BB
Scott Carroll (Carolina) - 2-4, 1.96 ERA, 24 K, 17 BB
Nick Christiani (Lynchburg) - 2-1, 2.27 ERA, 26 K, 4 BB
Pitcher to watch: Joe Krebs (LHRP) - 2-1, 2.83 ERA, 25 K, 17 BB
The Cycle was a confusing callup when he came to Louisville, but has shown that he belongs there. He's pitched 11 innings with a 0.82 ERA, and hasn't given up a hit to a lefty in 6 1/3 innings. Could he be an answer to the LOOGY question at the big league level?