Last November, myself and ex-Motor City Bengals contributor James Chipman, provided everyone with a top 50 prospects list. Well, since the season is almost over, I would like to review how we did. Myself and James collaborated on the list, and like any other, there are going to be some hits and misses. Probably mostly misses simply due to the volatility of prospects. Let’s check it out.
May as well start with a big miss! Villarreal has been a valuable member of the Tigers bullpen this season, and has been downright dominant in stretches. His velocity has seen a jump from previous years, and his slider has sharpened quite a bit, giving Villarreal a chance to be a future closer. Obviously, he should’ve been much higher.
49. Dean Green
Green has been as advertised with the bat. Even with a late season bump to Lakeland this year, he still continues to hit. I don’t feel bad about the ranking however, simply because Green doesn’t have any positional value. He is a DH all the way, as he isn’t a quality defending 1st baseman. Who knows? Maybe he could carve out a career as a Matt Stairs type. That wouldn’t be a bad thing for him. He should be a bit higher but because he is bat only, it’s not a big miss at the time.
48. Daniel Bennett
Another guy that isn’t out completely out of whack where he is ranked. Bennett lives off of deception more than stuff, and even though he had a pretty good year, he doesn’t project as much more than a situational righty. He is going to get passed by some guys in the organization. Really good ground ball rates, but isn’t dominant as hitters in the Midwest League hit .266 off of him.
47. Jesus Ustariz
I feel pretty good about getting Ustariz in the top 50. He can hit. Ustariz posted an OPS of .791 in the Gulf Coast League this season. He has a little pop and controls the strike zone real well, actually walking one more time than striking out. That’s rare for a youngster. Defensively is another story. It looks like he is going to be a third baseman, but needs a lot of work there.
46. Edgar De La Rosa
I felt real good about getting De La Rosa on the list. However, we underrated him quite a bit. De La Rosa has seen an uptick in all of his pitches and is now officially a guy to follow for the 2013 season. He has a huge frame, good fastball, and an improving breaking ball. He needs to improve command, but he has come along nicely. At 22 years old, he might need to pitch well in West Michigan and hopefully get a promotion to Lakeland before seasons end.
45. Robbie Weinhardt
We obviously gave Weinhardt some credit due to his making the major leagues already. And he did have a good 2012 in Erie. However, Weinhardt is going to be 27 this winter, and that means he isn’t going to be a prospect anymore. He will fall off this list in all likelihood, but could still see some big league time again at some point.
44. Justin Henry
This is part of the list where we were giving people credit for performance. Henry again isn’t a prospect really. He has no slugging ability whatsoever, but he did make the list because of his ability to get on base and play multiple positions defensively, and play them well. It also speaks to the weakness of the system that a guy like Henry made the list to begin with.
43. Tony Plagman
Again, a guy who performed well in 2011. Plagman was an RBI machine for the Lakeland Flying Tigers in 2011. 2012 didn’t go nearly as well, and Plagman spent a lot of time in LF this year as well. That actually would suggest that the Tigers might like him a little bit, finding a spot on the diamond for him in AA. Plagman hit just .229 however, and didn’t show near the ability with the bat he did the previous year.
42. Michael Morrison
Morrison is a guy that I think we pegged about right. He is a quality reliever, at least numbers wise in the minors, but doesn’t really have top shelf stuff. His fastball tends to sit in the low 90′s and is able to touch the mid 90′s on occasion. His breaking ball is solid, but he doesn’t have good enough command at this point to be a premium relief prospect. He will get a chance to improve his stock in the Arizona Fall League.
41. Jamie Johnson
Johnson is an extra outfielder type at best, who depending on injuries might get a shot at some point. His best attribute is getting on base, and while he doesn’t have much pop, he isn’t exactly a speedster either. Johnson does a lot of things well, but no particular thing stands out.