Wait, These Guys Are Still Prospects?
Manny Machado is not rookie eligible this season because he saw 191 at-bats in the majors last season. Rubby De La Rosa doesn’t qualify because of his 60.2 innings in 2011. Anthony Gose was left off of lists this offseason because he saw 166 at-bats last season.
And yet the ten players you are about to read about – an eclectic cast of characters spattered with dashes of upside but comprised mostly of the tears of defeat – all retain their prospect eligibility headed into 2013.
Sometimes, life isn’t fair.
Odds are you’re aware of most of these players. Most have reached the majors at some point, only to be banished back to the minors for ineptitude or injury or both. Some have yet to receive the call, as their minor league careers have run off the rails for a variety of reasons.
But for some of you, when the synapses connect, I bet your reaction is one of “holy crap, that guy is still around?!
That – specifically the interrobang — is the desired affect.
Joe Benson, OF, MIN
Benson was excellent in 2011, posting a wRC+ of 143 in 472 PA in Double-A before getting 74 PA in the majors. Then 2012 happened, and Benson completely fell apart in the mid and upper minors before being shut down with knee surgery in August. With the likes of Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia surpassing him on the Twins depth chart a change in organization may be in order, but Benson’s mix of speed and power remains intriguing. If healthy, he’s not an entirely different animal from the Cubs’ Brett Jackson.
Casey Crosby, LHP, DET
Crosby is left-handed, can reach the upper 90s, has an above-average curveball and is already in Triple-A. It feels like we’ve been talking about him forever, yet he has just 12 MLB innings under his belt and made nary a Top 100 list heading into the year. A command issue is the biggest culprit here, although a shoddy injury history has done its part as well. Despite all that, if he can throw strikes with more consistency, Crosby could make an impact in an organization with limited starting pitching depth this season
Jeurys Familia, RHRP, NYM
Another player we’ve heard about plenty over the past three or four seasons, Familia should be in the majors for good now, as the Mets have finally wizened up and converted him to a reliever. With a prototypical late-inning arsenal of a mid-90s fastball and excellent slider, Familia has set-up reliever upside and there’s not much of worth in the Mets bullpen ahead of him. I worry that his command will always limit him, but Familia could certainly contribute with strikeouts and holds this year
Jose Iglesias, SS, BOS
Combine his pedigree as a major international signing, his flashy defense and his status as a Boston prospect, and Iglesias was all but assured of being overrated from the beginning. Three-and-a-half years after his signing, Iglesias still retains his prospect status as he’s yet to do anything promising with his bat. He has looked a bit stronger this season, and as everyone in the world has noted he only needs to hit .250 or so to make his glove worth the offensive pain. Still, he’s not worth owning save for AL Only leagues or the world’s deepest mixed league.
Jared Mitchell, OF, CHW
When Mitchell was drafted out of LSU in 2009, he was viewed as a safe bet who was fairly close to the majors, and pegged by many as the White Sox leadoff man of the near future. That’s all gone according to plan, except for the whole “missing all of 2010 with an injury and failing to make the majors yet” part. Mitchell posted some truly horrifying K rates in Double and Triple-A last season but his OBPs were respectable, and he still has 20 SB speed, too. I don’t think he’s an everyday player in the majors, but he’ll carve out a role as a No. 4 OF soon.
Mark Rogers, SP, MIL
Perhaps the best “no way this guy is still a prospect” example on the list, Rogers was the fifth overall pick in the 2004 – yes, 2004 – draft. He had never thrown more than 120 innings in a season until last year, when he logged 95.1 in Triple-A and then 39.0 in the majors, just barely retaining his rookie status three years after making his MLB debut. Rogers entered camp as a favorite to win a spot in Milwaukee’s rotation, but has since been sidelined with “shoulder instability” as he seeks to regain some velocity. Rogers is a time bomb and I doubt he makes more than 45 starts in his career, but he’s good when healthy.
Austin Romine, C, NYY
Also known as Yankees Catcher Of The Future No. 342, Romine was once viewed as one of the more promising young backstop prospects in the game. That was a long time ago, though, as the 24-year-old’s crowning achievement to this point is hitting well in 373 Double-A PA back in 2011. The Yankees currently employ Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli to play in Major League Baseball games, meaning Romine could get the call at some point this season by default. Unless you’re in a 30-team AL Only league, however, I suggest taking a pass here nonetheless.
Josh Vitters, 3B, CHC
Also known as Failed Cubs Savior No. 342, Vitters was drafted third overall in 2007 yet did not make his major league debut until last year. It would be fair to term that debut “disastrous,” as Vitters hit just .121/.193/.202 in 109 PA as a 23-year-old. That’s a wRC+ of four. Lolz. Vitters still possesses plus bat speed and he crushes left-handed pitching, so he may carve out a major league career. It’s likely to come as a platoon bat, though, as his defense at third and struggles against RHP make him an unattractive everyday option. Still, NL Only-ers should take note.
Joe Wieland, SP, SD
Also known as Padres Tommy John Victim No. 342, Wieland made all of five starts for the Friars last year before hitting the shelf with elbow troubles. On the bright side, that surgery came almost a year ago, meaning Wieland could resume throwing by late May or June. A less positive note would include that Wieland is a command/control pitcher, and those two attributes are generally the hardest to re-master post-Tommy John. The upside with Wieland is modest but the numbers could play up in that park, so keep an eye on him if he’s pitching in the majors again come August.
Michael Ynoa, SP, OAK
Ynoa signed for the largest Latin American bonus ever in 2008, nabbing $4.25 million as comparisons to Felix Hernandez surfaced from every which way. Since then, Ynoa has thrown just 39.2 innings, missing all of 2009 and 2011 with injuries and looking unimpressive when he has taken the mound. The A’s added Ynoa to the 40-man roster this offseason so they clearly still believe in his upside, and, to be fair, the pitcher is still just 21 years old. That being said it’s time for him to show us something substantial, and if he’s not in Double-A by years end I’m not sure how Oakland can justify retaining him any longer.