Well, since I did a “Stock Up” article, it should follow that I have to do a “Stock Down” one for our minor leaguers. The good news with this one is that it was tougher to come up with 3 guys that work on this list. The records of the Tigers minor league ball clubs might not be good, but for the most part, their better players have done pretty well so far. Still, there are some guys who have seen a drop since the start of the season.
Andy Oliver SP, Toledo Mud Hens (AAA)
Oliver, who looked like a guy who was going to make the major league roster early in spring, has gone down to Toledo and struggled mightily. While most of the national media had Oliver ranked in the top 5 prospects for the Tigers, we here at MCB weren’t nearly as high on Andy. We ranked Oliver our 10th best prospect in the Tigers organization, and while his arm is still one of the strongest in the organization, I think I would be hard pressed to rank him there if we did one today.
Oliver’s issue has always been inconsistency and command, and that has continued in a bad way this season so far. In 14.1 innings so far in 2012, Oliver has walked a whopping 16 batters, leading to a 1.95 WHIP and an ERA of 6.28 in 3 AAA starts. Oliver is going to need to recover quick before fading away permanently, or facing a move to the bullpen that I have advocated for quite some time. While a bullpen move might not help Oliver’s command issues, it could limit the damage coming out in short stints, where he could allow his stuff to potentially play up even more.
Hernan Perez 2B, Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+)
Perez, who is somewhat holding the mantle for Tigers 2B prospects, has gotten off to a slow start in class high A Lakeland in 2012. He didn’t exactly come out of the wordwork in 2011, but he had himself a solid season in West Michigan, and hit around .300 for much of the season before a late season slump decimated his numbers. Perez has solid tools pretty much across the board, but struggles with plate discipline. He didn’t strike out a ton in 2011, but he doesn’t exactly walk a ton either, sporting just a .314 OBP in 2011.
That trend has continued in 2012, but the advanced pitching has made things worse. Perez is hitting just .208 to start the season, and has yet to draw a walk in 12 games, striking out 11 times. He only has one extra base hit so far, a triple, and has committed 2 errors at 2nd base so far. Perez was a mid 20′s ranking for us before the season, and while I don’t see a big fall from that at this point, his stock has dropped in my eyes early on this season. I didn’t expect a .300 hitter, but I didn’t expect the all around ineffectiveness either. The good thing is Perez is just 21 years old, and has plenty of time to get better.
James McCann C, Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+)
McCann, who was ranked #11 by MCB on it’s preseason top 50 prospects list, is proving to be almost exactly what I said in his scouting report. While I personally felt the ranking of 11 was too high for McCann, the fact is he is ranked in the top 10 by some outside of MCB, and so far, I don’t think the performance matches the rankings. Defensively, McCann is solid to above average, but it’s going to be the bat that makes or breaks him as a starting catching prospect for the big leagues.
His bat so far has been pretty pedantic as I had thought of him when coming out of college. So far with Lakeland, McCann is hitting a paltry .205 with one walk and 10 strikeouts in 39 at-bats. Worse yet, the power isn’t there so far for McCann either, he has only 2 extra base hits thus far, and both of those are doubles, leading to an OPS of just .512. For comparison’s sake, Dixon Machado, who is about the size of an average American 8th grader, has an OPS of .580. This of course doesn’t mean that McCann can’t become a good player and hitter, or even have value as a backup catcher, it just means that his ranking on most people’s part was too aggressive, and his stock is down to start the season.