Franklin Barreto… I’m pretty sure.
In an official release yesterday afternoon the Jays announced the winners of the 2013 R. Howard Webster Awards, which they hand out to the MVPs of each affiliate in their minor league system. This, then, would probably be a half decent time to do a little prospecting, eh?
Though the Webster Awards, much like MLB’s Rookie Of The Year awards, don’t take a player’s future potential into account, there are still some notable prospects who picked up hardware. The full list is as follows: Ryan Goins (Buffalo), Brad Glenn (New Hampshire), Jon Berti (Dunedin), Dwight Smith Jr. (Lansing), L.B. Dantzler (Vancouver), Matt Dean (Bluefield), Franklin Barreto (GCL Jays), Miguel Castro (DSL Jays). You can see some basic stats for each of the guys in the notes from the press release, but here are some comments of my own:
- The Ryan Goins story we’re all pretty familiar with, but his taking home the award speaks, I think, more to the struggles of Anthony Gose– who is two-and-a-half years younger– and Moises Sierra at the level this year, and the fact that Kevin Pillar was only there for half a season. Goins, for all his flaws with the bat– and they are giant, gaping, wind-flapping… uh… flaws– got on base better than Sierra and hit for more power (Note: ?!!?) than Gose.
- Glenn’s selection also speaks to the fact that Pillar moved quickly through the organization, I think. In his 71 games for the Fisher Cats, Pillar had better numbers than Glenn, but I guess he wasn’t at the level for long enough to get the nod. Glenn had a nice year, with a .793 OPS, but it was his age-26 season and at Double-A, so… y’know.
- Berti is another player who is a bit old for the level he was at– shit, he’s four days older than Brett Lawrie! Older than A.J. Jimenez, too. And his numbers weren’t great, especially from a power perspective– his line was .250/.338/.323– though it should be noted that, with a league average SLG of .370, the FSL isn’t exactly a power hitter’s haven. Still though, Berti mostly benefits from playing the full year with the D-Jays. He led the team with 128 games played.
- Dwight Smith Jr., a supplemental round pick in 2011, is much more an actual prospect than the three guys we just discussed. He was among an intriguing group of players in their age-20 season to play for the Lugnuts this year– the youngest group on the team, save for 18-year-old Roberto Osuna– including Santiago Nessy, Dalton Pompey, Christian Lopes, Emilio Guerrero, and Daniel Norris. Improving on a dispiriting .594 OPS in a 2012 split between Bluefield and Vancouver, Smith put up a .284/.365/.388 line (wOBA of .355), stealing 25 bases (caught 5 times), and walked in 10.9% of his plate appearances. All in all, an impressive rebound from a poor first year as a pro, which will see him improve his ranking on most lists of the top Jays prospects this winter– at least the ones that go deep enough to include him.
- Dantzler had an excellent year for Vancouver, with 9 HR in 59 games, an 11.3% walk rate and a wOBA of .419. At 22 he’s on the older side of his club, but you can’t say he didn’t show some of the raw power he was drafted for in June, nor can you say he didn’t have a great first taste of pro ball. Plus, if you read up on him he’s a late bloomer as a power hitter, and was an Academic All-American at the University of South Carolina, so there’s stuff to like there, if you want. And while it seems like some worry about his ability to make contact at the upper levels of the minors, 2013 was a good starting point for Little Brad.
- Matt Dean repeated at Bluefield this year, but made a huge improvement, going from a .292 wOBA to a .415, increasing his power and cutting down on his strikeouts. He still didn’t walk a whole lot, but perhaps that could be because he was hitting everything in sight, putting up a .338/.390/.519. The fact that he’s older than some of the players who eventually were his teammates (he’ll turn 21 in December, while Franklin Barreto, who moved up to Bluefield at the end of the season, won’t hit 18 until February (!?!)) perhaps takes a little bit of the shine off of his impressive numbers, but this is definitely more like what was expected of Dean when he was given a first-round-like bonus as a 13th-rounder drafted in 2011.
- Franklin Barreto is the Jays position player prospect that it’s easiest to dream on, even if most of what you hear about him says that he doesn’t really have a clear home on the diamond just yet. The bat, though, is what people will talk about, and if you weren’t already aware of him, the fact– which I jut noted above– that he played games in Bluefield at age-17, as one of just four players of that age or younger to appear in the Appalachian league this year, should really drive that point home. But it was in the GCL that he did his damage, as one of only 30 age-17 players to hit in that league this year, and the most successful by a good margin. His .415 wOBA topped the next-best 17-year-old to take more than 100 plate appearances by 58 points. Barreto’s .897 OPS topped, by nearly fifty points, the marks put up by the ten GCL Jays to accumulate 100 plate appearances or more this year– the youngest of whom were in their age-18 seasons. The closest that a 21-or-younger teammate got to Barreto’s OPS mark was 19-year-old Gabriel Cenas, who was 132 points back. Again, Barreto is 17 until February! Of course, that also means that he’s got a long way to go still, but so far so good. He’s living up to his pedigree– Baseball America had him pegged as the top international free agent in the 2012 class, and BA’s Ben Badler, at the time, according to MLB Trade Rumors, wrote “that few amateurs have ever matched the 16-year-old’s history of dominance representing Venezuela in international competitions. Several teams had Barreto as the No. 1 player on their board and some scouts project him as a future plus hitter.” And just yesterday, Baseball America rated him the fifth best prospect in the GCL, ahead of such players as this year’s 16th overall pick, J.P. Crawford.
- All I know of Miguel Castro– which, frankly, isn’t much different than any of these guys– is his stat line, which was head and shoulders above his fellow pitchers on the Dominican Summer League Jays. Sure, 16-year-old Dalton Rodriguez has some impressive numbers, with a 1.80 ERA over 50 innings, with just 14 walks and 32 strikeouts, but Castro– who doesn’t turn 19 until Christmas Eve– was even harder on batters, striking out 71 in 53 innings, with just 12 walks, and a 1.36 ERA. Plus, he kept his impressive numbers up in a stint in the Gulf Coast League as well. So… that’s something, right?
One player who didn’t win an award, but very well could have if he didn’t spend much of the season hurt, or switching between levels, is catcher A.J. Jimenez, who has been in the forefront of a lot of minds lately, given… well… given what was discussed back on Thursday in Keith Law’s chat with readers at ESPN.com. Or, at least, what was Jays-related that was discussed.
Can you please help me put JP Arencibia’s awful excuse-making to bed? I’ve heard this guy say multiple times that his historically awful season isn’t really so bad and that we, as fans, need to “ask people in baseball” as we’ve never played the game. You speak with “people in baseball.” Do any of them honestly think that after 3 years JP is honestly as bad as he seems?
He’s a backup, playing too much because that’s what they have.
For all the hand-wringing about the historically bad play of J.P. Arencibia, that’s about as bang on and as succinct as you could put it. Arencibia has been extremely poor for a catcher who has been given as many plate appearances as he has by the Jays, but fourteen other catchers with a wRC+ within three points of J.P.’s woeful 58, or worse, were given more than a hundred as well, and there are seven more ahead of that group, but still with a wRC+ below 75. Raise the minimum number of plate appearances to 200 and there are eight below 75, with Martin Maldanado set to become the ninth the next time the Brewers send him to the plate.
Now, some of those guys actually play defence well, some were pressed into action due to injury– not, y’know, trotted out there intentionally for 486 miserable PA– but the point is, the magnificent scope of Arencibia’s epic awfulness really only exists in the context of his being a qualified hitter. Plenty of catchers hit just as poorly as he has, or worse.
Then again, there’s also this:
Do you think Yan Gomes can produce enough at the plate to play behind it everyday in 2014?
Given the state of catching right now, yes. Do I think he’ll repeat his rate stats from 2013? No.
So, A.J. Jimenez, right?
Well, maybe not so fast. Batting Leadoff has an excellent scouting report on him from Mike Parnell, who had a glowing report a couple weeks back on Marcus Stroman. And, of course, by excellent when it comes to the Jimenez piece, I mean that it’s comprehensive. Not a whole lot in there that screams “rush him to the Majors now!” And by “not a whole lot,” I mean absolutely nothing.
Money quote: “He likely will never be a great hitter, but should have enough to profile as a backup. Though it wouldn’t be a surprise if he eventually developed into a 2nd division regular after several years in the ML.”
Uh… what does the list of available free agent catchers look like again?
Image via Miaverage.