On to the fun part. This is a pack of promising kids who hit well and fielded even better in Hickory, so now let’s see if they can make consistent contact in air that seems to have weight. I expect DROB, Drew Robinson to manage the hot corner. He had the highest OBP in the entire TEX organization last year and showed a little bit o’ pop. He needs to get the strikeouts down, but mamma mia does this kid draw a lot of walks. I assume, following his Arizona Fall League debut, Luis Sardinas will be at short and both he and DROB will occasionally borrow the second base slot from Enter the Dragon, Roogie Odor, who’ll turn 19 in February. I think the catcher position is a Spring Training decision. If Kellin Deglan looks ready, and depending on free agent signees and, frankly about a bazillion other factors, he could jump Myrtle and head to Frisco. If that is the case, I hope Pat Cantwell is ready for some seaside eating. I think either one of these guys could get an aggressive assignment for 2013. Deglan didn’t hit well in Hickory, so he’s not likely to hit well in Myrtle, but he’s still very young and may not develop into an average hitter (that’s his ceiling) until well into his career, perhaps even at the big league level. Same goes for Cantwell, but he’s older. Regardless of age and experience, I assume both of these guys are keenly aware of the fact that there is not only a catching shortfall within the organization, but there is a human toolshed right next to them who’ll probably feature as the everyday catcher. Jorge Alfaro has a huge arm, tremendous power, and far better than average (for a catcher) speed. He just needs lots and lots of reps, and to stay healthy. His ceiling is very high, unfortunately, his floor is pretty low. He could become special, and I think it’s safe to say, we’re all rootin’ for him to do so. A hamstring injury and general caution (not to mention the presence of Deglan) led the club to get him some familiarity with playing 1st base last year, and though it wouldn’t surprise me to see that happen from time to time with Myrtle Beach, I expect him to see plenty of time behind the plate. He’s a Top 10 prospect in this system and for many people he’s solidly in the Top-5. He just needs to play, often.
The Mytle Beach outfield is likely to feature a couple of kids who, for me and others I’ve spoken with, are on the cusp of losing “prospect” status. I think both Zach Cone and Jake Skole take residence in the Myrtle outfield. Cone will be a 23yr old outfielder who may not have the arm strength or big power profile to play right field, his primary spot in Hickory, and almost certainly doesn’t have the speed to play center field. He has the strikeouts that typically go with a slugger and he did lead the Crawdads in homers with 17, but that’s kind of what you’d expect out of a 1st round draft pick from an SEC school playing in low-A at age 22. 2013 is important for him. It’s also a big, important year for Jake Skole, who may have had the worst 2012 campaign of any prospect in Texas’s system. (Neil Ramirez, Matt West, and David Perez are also candidates for this dubious distinction, but that’s beside the point) Jake was taken with the 15th pick in 2010, yet he played in only 68 games for Myrtle Beach last season before serving a 50 game drug suspension. Before you ask, yes, I’m aware of the circumstances, and I’m not really sure they’re relevant anymore. What is relevant is that he lost 50 games that were important to his development and it’s not like he was setting the world on fire before the suspension. No, as a matter of fact he was hitting .185/.288/.260 in 268 plate appearances. He played centerfield everyday, but most reports on his ability there were middling. In short, like to see ya’ get it goin’ dude.
Do I think any of the prodigious, weapons-grade thunder sticks lurking in the Hickory outfield make a mid-season jump to Myrtle? Not likely. I think, not only do they want those kids to stay together, but the club is already being rather aggressive if they, in fact, send them to Hickory as I suspect. So Myrtle’s outfield is somewhat wide open. Cone, Skole, maybe Chris Grayson, maybe another year of Jeremy Williams. I’m also rather anxious to see, not only the winter development, but also how the pitcher-friendly confines treat young starters Nick Martinez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Victor Payano. I’m the exact same as everyone else who’d also like to see Kevin Matthews not walk a hitter in every inning he pitches. But if you are headed on a “guys golf getaway” and you want to check in on the 2013 Pelicans one night, I’ll tell you to watch the infielders. DROB, Sardinas, and Odor can all play. They’re all likely to be big leaguers if their current trajectories hold true. And don’t forget The Legend. He’s good and 2012 is a big year for him. Catching, hitting, running, throwing, it could be a very exciting season to see a kid develop. As far as his nickname goes, I know it grew from jest and I’ve perpetuated it, like everyone else, but as he began showing up on more people’s radar screens, I received more than a few comparisons to Pudge. Just for the record Alfaro will be 20 next season and spending the season playing high-A baseball. When Pudge was 20 he spent the season catching 116 Major League Baseball games, was an All-Star, won his first Gold Glove and threw out a comical 52% of potential base stealers. Oh, and he caught 88 big league games the previous season, when he was f-ing 19! I love Alfaro, you should too, and Texas needs a catcher, but development takes a long time (especially at that position), so let’s just simmer down now, y’all. Simmer down. I’d tell you a watched pot never boils, but I know you’ll be watching…just like me. So please do me a favor and when he goes 13-for-27 one week in July next season, remind me that I told you to simmer down. Remind me of the numbers Pudge was putting up, and where he was playing while doing so. I’m gonna need it.
Now, everybody to the Beach!!!!