Let’s take a look at three top prospects and see how they are currently fairing in the minor leagues:
Anthony Rizzo – San Diego Padres – First Baseman
Acquired as part of the deal sending Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, Rizzo has done all he can to prove that he can be a viable replacement for the All-Star slugger. In his first 99 AB at Triple-A, Rizzo has hit .384 with 7 HR, 33 RBI, 24 R and 3 SB. The home runs tie him for the league lead. The RBI give him the league lead by five. He’s also added 8 doubles and a triple, as he has absolutely raked in his first exposure at the highest level of the minor leagues. Of course, it has come in the Pacific Coast League, which tells us to take the success in the power department with a slight grain of salt. Also concerning is his struggle against southpaws, hitting just .188 with 0 HR and 2 RBI in 16 AB (just one extra base hit). If he wants to be a full-time Major League player, he needs to improve in this regard. He also has slowed down lately, hitting just .275 over his last 10 games (similar to his .284 career mark heading into the year). Throw in a lot of luck (.431 BABIP), and there are reasons to be concerned as we head into May.
Josh Bell – Baltimore Orioles – Third Baseman
The Orioles third baseman of the future stumbled at the Major League level in 2010, hitting .214 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 159 AB, prompting the Orioles to acquire Mark Reynolds and start Bell at Triple-A. Unfortunately, Bell hasn’t come close to answering his critics as he has gotten off to a slow start. On the surface you may not think hitting .259 with 5 HR and 12 RBI over 85 AB is too bad. However, he has struck out an amazing 29 times while drawing just 2 walks (in his last two games he’s struck out 6 times in 8 AB). It’s an atrocious ratio, making it impossible to imagine him exceling at the Major League level. Until he improves there, it’s a long-shot to see him reach the Major League level any time soon.
Brett Lawrie – Toronto Blue Jays – Third Baseman
There has been a lot of talk about Lawrie reaching the Majors, as the Blue Jays looked to utilize Edwin Encarnacion exclusively as a designated hitter. Injuries have eliminated that thinking, at least temporarily, as has the promotion of David Cooper (who is now filling the DH role). However, the questions surrounding Lawrie aren’t regarding his bat, as he has opened the year hitting .361 with 4 HR, 16 RBI, 21 R and 5 SB in 108 AB at Triple-A. Instead, as he transitions from second base to third base, he simply needs reps to acclimate himself. Of course, he can improve his 23 strikeout to 5 walk ratio, and he will need to in order to thrive at the next level. However, with 14 total extra base hits (leading to a .593 slugging percentage), there is a lot to like, even if it is impossible for him to maintain this type of average. He proved last season he can hit (36 doubles, 16 triples, 8 home runs), so hopefully he can get things together and reach the Majors before long.
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