Prospect Notebook: Eight Surging Prospects For The Second Half

With both Triple-A leagues on all-star break sabbatical and with many Futures Game participants settling back into action following Sunday’s game in New York, the notable performances by prospects on Tuesday were relatively few. Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini went 1-for-3 with a walk and a homer for Double-A Portland, but that’s about it.

For that reason, we’re going off-format a bit to highlight a top batting and a top pitching performer at each full-season classification since the minor league season’s June 18 midpoint.

Triple-A

Wilmer Flores

Wilmer Flores (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Wilmer Flores, 2b, Mets. A participant in tonight’s Triple-A all-star game, Flores has cracked 16 extra-base hits (five HR, 10 2B, one 3B) in the past 26 games for Las Vegas. With an uncharacteristic 22-4 K-BB ratio in that time, he appears to be making a concerted effort to hit for power, and so far it’s been working. Only Albuquerque outfielder Nick Buss has more extra-base hits (17) in this sample. The 21-year-old Flores has played four of his past eight games at first base, suggesting he may be auditioning for a look at that position in New York this summer.

Cody Martin, rhp, Braves. The 2011 seventh-rounder from Gonzaga has missed plenty of bats in five starts for Triple-A Gwinnett, notching 35 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. No International Leaguer has more whiffs since mid-June. On the flip side, the 23-year-old Martin has walked 4.6 batters per nine innings at Triple-A, which coupled with the fact that his fastball/slider combo plays up in short bursts could make him bullpen material if the Braves call on him this season.

Double-A

Alex Dickerson, 1b, Pirates. The MVP of the high Class A Florida State League last season, Dickerson has accounted for more than half of his home-run output at Double-A Altoona this year just in the past month. The 2011 third-rounder has batted .380/.422/.650 with six homers and nine doubles in 100 at-bats since June 18. The 23-year-old ranks second in the Eastern League with 25 doubles on the year, and following a little Triple-A seasoning in 2014 he could interject his name into the Pirates’ first-base platoon of Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez.

Keyvius Sampson, rhp, Padres. With a 10- and a 12-strikeout start on his recent résumé, Sampson owns a comfortable edge in strikeouts—41 in 32 innings—among Double-A pitchers since June 18. The 22-year-old has improved his control dramatically as he takes his second spin around the Texas League, as evidenced by a drop in walk rate from 4.2 per nine last season to 3.3 this time, but has his command improved enough to retire Triple-A batters if he gets another shot in 2013? Sampson ran up an 8.03 ERA in four starts for Tucson in April, walking 12 and allowing 17 hits in 12 1/3 innings.

High Class A

Scott Schebler, rf, Dodgers. A 26th-round pick who signed for $300,000 out of junior college in 2010, Schebler has cracked 19 extra-base hits in his past 26 games for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga while batting .392/.443/.784 in 102 at-bats. Sure, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is scary (27-to-5), and in the past month he’s enjoyed road trips through Lancaster (5-for-17, one HR) and High Desert (9-for-14, two HR), but the 22-year-old also put up a 1.362 OPS and eight homers in 19 games at home, where Rancho plays as a relative pitcher’s park (.932 HR factor) by the standards of the Cal League.

Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Royals. The fifth pick in the 2012 draft, Zimmer has streamlined his delivery in the second half and leads all high Class A pitchers with 42 strikeouts in 31 innings since June 18. He’s gone 3-2, 2.61 in five starts for Wilmington, allowing 21 hits and walking just six (0.87 WHIP) while generally keeping the ball on the ground (two HR, 1.6 groundout/airout ratio).

Low Class A

Corey Seager, ss, Dodgers. Low Class A Great Lakes plays in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the Midwest League, which makes Seager’s recent output all the more impressive. In his past 24 games he’s hit .341/.447/.576 with four homers and eight doubles while brandishing a 14-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio—though that includes three intentional walks. That in itself says a lot about how opposing managers view Seager, seeing as he’s a 19-year-old in his first full pro season.

Severino Gonzalez, rhp, Phillies. The lean, 20-year-old Panamanian flourished when pressed into an emergency bullpen role at high Class A Clearwater in the first half (0.88 WHIP, 11 K-BB ratio), but he’s been even more impressive since moving into the low Class A Lakewood rotation at the end of June (0.61, 10.3 K-BB ratio). Among low Class A pitchers, only Greensboro righty Scott Lyman (34) has more than Gonzalez’s 31 whiffs since June 18.