Prospect Tracker: Bryce Harper, Jason Kipnis & Mike Montgomery

Let’s take a look at how some of the top prospects in the game are currently fairing in the minor leagues:

Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals – Outfielder
Single-A (through May 11): .396, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 22 R, 5 SB, 111 AB
Any questions about his ability to produce have clearly been answered, and rather quickly.  Amazingly he’s been even better in May than his overall numbers, hitting .500 with 2 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R and 1 SB in 10 games.  He has six consecutive multi-hit games and eight in his last 10.  Overall he is on a 15-game hitting streak, which, according to Danny Wild of mlb.com (click here for the article), has been sparked by new contact lenses that Harper received two weeks ago.  His manager, Brian Daubach, was quoted as saying, “It was tough at the beginning of the year. There was a lot of pressure on him, a lot of media attention. That’s died down a little bit. It’s fun to watch right now.”  It’s no secret that he’s not long for the South Atlantic League, but I still wouldn’t expect the Nationals to rush the 18-year old through the system.  As impressive as he’s been, I wouldn’t anticipate him reaching the Majors in 2011 (outside of maybe a September cup of coffee).  Regardless, he is certainly living up to the hype thus far.

Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians – Second Baseman
Triple-A (through May 11): .286, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 22 R, 5 SB, 112 AB
He started off slow (.253, 2 HR, 11 RBI in 75 AB), but he has been scorching hot since the calendar turned to May.  In nine games (37 AB) he has hit .351 (13-37) with 1 HR, 9 RBI, 10 R and 1 SB.  He already has four multi-hit games in the month.  He has struck out a little but too much overall (27 K in 112 AB), which unfortunately has carried into May (10 K in 9 games).  That’s one issue that you would certainly like to see him work on, though he has been doing a good job of getting on base in general.  He has walked 17 times on the season, helping him to a .382 OBP.  It’s not unrealistic to see him reach the Majors in 2011, but right now the strong start by the Indians have suppressed their need to push him quicker than necessary.  This is his first taste of Triple-A, and the team may want to give him a long look there (barring a need arising).

Mike Montgomery – Kansas City Royals – Starting Pitcher
Triple-A (through May 11): 2-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 30 K, 38.0 IP
In the Pacific Coast League you have to love the numbers overall, though there are a few red flags that have to be grabbing your attention.  The biggest issue is his control, with a current BB/9 of 4.97.  He’s managed to survive that, and post usable numbers, thanks to a .259 BABIP but that is obviously not something that we would anticipate continuing.  Control has not been a problem before (he entered the season with a minor league career BB/9 of 2.89), so look for him to correct that issue before long.  Another concern is that he hasn’t gone more than 6.0 innings in any start, though that could be done by design just as easily as anything else.  He’s never thrown more than 110 innings in a season (and threw just 93.0 in ’10), and the Royals are going to try and protect him.  However, the issue there is that it makes you wonder how much value he could potentially have this season.  How many innings are they going to let him throw?  If they don’t let him go deeper into games, wins are going to be tough to come by as well.  Just a few things to keep in mind.

Make sure to check out Rotoprofessor’s Prospect Tracker by clicking here.

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