December 17th, 2012
Earlier today MiLB.com released its 2012 Rangers Organization All-Star Team and the RoughRiders were well-represented with six players named to the squad, more than any other team in the farm system (Round Rock, which ironically finished with the worst record of all the full-season teams, was second with five). So how did MiLB.com do with their picks? Let’s take a look at the catching and infield positions.
MiLB.com’s pick: Kellin Deglan, Hickory (92 G, .234-12-41, 25 2B, 2 3B, 46 R, .310 OBP, .438 SLG, .748 OPS, 7 E, 12 PB, 38% CS)
My pick: Deglan
Production-wise, it’s not a stellar crop to choose from but a case could be made for either one of Frisco’s catchers (Jose Felix and Zach Zaneski) and for Myrtle Beach’s Tomas Telis. Felix was arguably the best defensive catcher in the Texas League and made strides offensively while Zaneski’s batting average was over .300 for most of the year and got better behind the plate as the season went on. Telis’ offensive numbers, when observed through the hitter-unfriendly Carolina League prism, were actually fairly comparable to Deglan’s. For me, the difference came down to the numbers that were actually there, and the former first round pick Deglan swatted 12 home runs with 25 doubles, both impressive figures for a 20-year old catcher. It may all be a moot point in the long run, as Jorge Alfaro, who caught just 29 games, is probably the best prospect of the bunch. His lack of time behind the dish hurt him in this exercise, however.
MiLB.com’s pick: Chris McGuiness, Frisco (123 G, .268-23-77, 25 2B, 65 R, .366 OBP, .474 SLG, .840 OPS, 7 E)
My Pick: McGuiness
One of the newest members of the Indians organization, McGuiness had a terrific bounce back season with the ’Riders, giving Texas League hurlers a reason to throw hittable pitches to Mike Olt, who batted before the former Citadel star in Steve Buechele’s lineup. McGuiness established career-highs in home runs, doubles, runs batted in and runs scored while saving numerous throwing errors with excellent glove work at first base. Other fine seasons to consider for this spot belonged to the Round Rock combo of Mike Bianucci and Brad Nelson, Myrtle’s Brett Nicholas and the AZL Rangers’ Ronald Guzman.
MiLB.com’s pick: Yangervis Solarte, Round Rock (130 G, .288-11-54, 28 2B, 69 R, 3-4 SB, .340 OBP, .405 SLG, .745 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Rougned Odor, Hickory (109 G, .259-10-47, 23 2B, 4 3B, 60 R, 19-29 SB, .313 OBP, .400 SLG, .714 OPS, 10 E at position)
My first disagreement with MiLB.com comes at the second base position. Solarte’s first season with the Rangers organization was also his first at the Triple-A level. It was his finest season to date in home runs, RBI and runs scored, but while I tend to give a little extra credit to offensive players in the Carolina League, I have to take some away from Pacific Coast Leaguers. Why? The circuit dramatically favors hitters in most years and 2012 was no exception. The PCL batting average and OPS for this past season were .278 and .775, respectively (the International League, by comparison, was .257 and .717). Solarte should certainly be congratulated for a fine season, but the 18-year-old Odor (he turns 19 this February) put up similar numbers in a less offensively-generous league while ranking among the best defensive second basemen in the South Atlantic League. His numbers did fall off in the second half of the year, but that is often the case for players in their first full season of professional ball. Added Frisco first name bonus: I’m looking forward to seeing Rougned playing for the RoughRiders, perhaps by the end of next season. Other second basemen whose seasons were worthy of note included Frisco’s Leury Garcia, Myrtle’s Odubel Herrera, Spokane’s Cam Schiller and the AZL Rangers’ Janluis Castro. So yeah, the Rangers are pretty well-stocked at this position.
MiLB.com’s pick: Mike Olt, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 95 G, .288-28-82, 17 2B, 3B, 65 R, 4-4 SB, .398 OBP, .579 SLG, .977 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Olt
No brainer here, as a case could be made for Olt being the best third baseman in Minor League Baseball in 2012. After missing a good chunk of the previous season with a broken collarbone, the former UConn Husky was a one-man wrecking crew in Frisco. He looked capable of hitting the most home runs by a Texas Leaguer in more than a decade before the Rangers called him up to the big leagues in early August. He was slowed by a foot injury that he suffered just days into reaching Arlington, but that will likely become just a footnote in an otherwise solid big league career. While Olt was clearly the best at the hot corner for the Rangers, it would be remiss of me to not mention Joey Gallo, who spent time with both short-season clubs. The supplemental first rounder from this past June snapped Cody Decker’s AZL home run record with 18 long balls (he added four more with Spokane) while hitting .293 with a 1.169 OPS for the baby Rangers. Christian Villanueva, who spent most of 2012 with Myrtle before being traded to the Cubs, Hickory’s Drew Robinson and Spokane’s Ryan Rua also had noteworthy seasons.
MiLB.com’s pick: Jurickson Profar, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 126 G, .281-14-62, 26 2B, 7 3B, 76 R, 16-20 SB, .368 OBP, .452 SLG, .820 OPS, 22 E at position)
My pick: Profar
Again, you can’t shoot too many holes in picking Profar, hailed by many as the best prospect in the game at the moment. From his preternatural ability to work a count to his off-the-charts makeup, there isn’t much to say about the 19-year-old Curacaoian (my favorite learned word of 2012) that hasn’t already been said. So how about this observation, for kicks and giggles:
First game of full season ball: Home run in his first at bat of the year for Hickory vs. Asheville on April 7, 2011
First hit at Double-A: Home run at Arkansas to deepest part of the ballpark on April 8, 2012
First at bat in 2012 XM Futures All-Star Game: Home run off top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi in first inning
First MLB at bat: Home run at Cleveland on September 2, 2012
The man knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t he? With apologies to Allen Iverson, not to be forgotten at the shortstop position is Hanser “The Answer” Alberto, who put together a strong campaign between the two Single-A stops on the Minor League ladder.
Coming tomorrow: My thoughts on the outfield and pitching All-Star choices.
– Alex V.