Monday, January 14, 2013

Prospects! part 8: Lansing Lugnuts - hitting

The Doubles Machine: K.C. Hobson
Disappointment: Kellen Sweeney, Michael Crouse
On the Rise: Dalton Pompey, Andy Burns
Gone, baby, gone: Carlos Perez
The Slugger: Kevin Patterson
Photo: Whitecap Wendy

1B K.C. Hobson posted strong numbers in his third year of pro-ball for the Lansing Lugnuts (and is currently playing winter ball in the Australian Baseball League).  The 22 year old repeated in Lansing for the 2nd full season (with 92 ABs in 2010) and showed tremendous improvement, particularly to his power game.  While he posted a 26 point batting average increase year to year, it was his 100 point SLG increase that made people think that he's figured a few things out.  He almost doubled his doubles output (from 24 to 43, setting a Lugnuts record) and more than doubled his HR totals (from 4 to 10).  He also posted a healthy OBP of .346 in 2012 telling me that he should probably make a move to Dunedin in 2013.
Photo: Laura Truax

Since being a 2nd round draft pick in 2010, Kellen Sweeney has not particularly impressed anyone with his performances.  After 2 years in Bluefield (albeit in only 80 ABs combined), he had a grand total of 1 HR.  Still, the Jays felt he could start in Lansing in 2012 and did so to  a rousing failure.  After 140 ABs posting a .540 OPS (with 0 HRs) in Lansing, he was demoted to Vancouver where he did fare better.  For the Canadians, he hit .229 (although posting a respectable .330 OBP) but still slugged only .397, hitting 5 HR over 245 ABs.  On the bright side, Sweeney will only be 21 for most of the 2013 season and showed quite a bit of improvement in Vancouver throughout the end of the summer with OPSs of .706 and .802 for July and August (respectively). 
Photo: Unknown

Michael Crouse was part of the highly touted trio of talented outfielders in Lansing in 2011.  All 3 had a great season and all three were expected to spend 2012 in Dunedin terrorizing pitching in the Florida State League.  This plan was derailed by the players themselves with all 3 starting off slowly and only Marisnick having what could be seen as a decent year before moving up to AA (and being traded in the offseason).  Following up a 2011 in which he stole 38 bases, had 45 extra-base hits (including 14 HRs) and put up an OPS of .827, Crouse had the worst year of the trio, with a .645 OPS (including a .203 BA) in Dunedin over 202 ABs.  He must have taken his demotion to Lansing hard, because he proceeded to hit WORSE there, with a .598 OPS in 124 ABs.  He struck out a lot and is looking to rebound in 2013.  I can't even speculate as to where he's going to be able to land to start the season.
Photo: Daniel Jarrett/MLB Prospect Portal

Dalton Pompey has risen through the ranks to break into Jays Journal top 30 list, which ranks him at #23 (probably before the trades).  Pompey is a 20 year old toolsy outfielder from Mississauga who, despite limited playing time in 2012 (due to injury), has impressed the team's staff.  Since his stats are pretty much irrelevant (although he had a .292/.442/.441 slash line in 11 games in Vancouver), I'll talk about what scouts say about him.  Most believe that he can make good and solid contact with marginal power (some say 10-15 HRs a year), but it's his speed that makes him stand out.  He already shows an ability to steal bases very efficiently (stealing 5 in 6 attempts last season).  Pompey, finishing the season with 22 ABs in Lansing, will most likely start 2013 there, playing in full-season ball at only 20 years old.  With a good season there, he will be on a lot more top prospect lists in 2014.  Oh, and he's Canadian.
Photo: Larry Hook

Andrew (Andy) Burns was a 2011 draftee and had an underwhelming season, mostly in Vancouver, in 2011, but showed some of that talent clicking in 2012, playing a solid season in Lansing.   In 278 ABs, he had a .248/.351/.464 triple slash line with 9 HRs.  Jays Journal bloggers have been impressed with him, and if he shows some more improvement, he could be a useful high minor leaguer. 
Photo: Larry Hook

The only reason that Kevin Patterson makes this list is that he led the Lugnuts in HRs in his age-23 season.  By a lot.  The next closest batter to Patterson in HRs for Lansing was Hobson who hit 9 fewer dingers in almost 100 more ABs.  Scouting reports say that Patterson may still have trouble with the outside pitch, and his advanced age (he'll be 24 for the 2013 season) means that he's most likely an organizational guy who will play wherever the Jays need a 1B in their organization.

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