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Waiting in the Wings: 5 Guys to Keep in Mind

February 28, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Avisail Garcia (33) poses for photo day in the rec room at the Detroit Tigers headquarters.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
February 28, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Avisail Garcia (33) poses for photo day in the rec room at the Detroit Tigers headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

I did an iteration of this in my Tuesday article, the Prospect Preview a couple weeks ago. It's a little bit harder to spotlight guys at Double-A and above that nobody knows about. With that said I tried to mix in a few guys you might not have heard of with a couple guys that had a rough start to 2012 that you may have written off. Let's get to the list.

Avisail Garcia - OF - DET - Garcia only ranked 10th in a very sparse Tigers system (per Baseball America), and it's easy to see why. His 2011 season ended with a slash line of .264/.297/.389 in 488 at-bats at Hi-A. Nothing much in the stat line to get excited about. Garcia's impressive physique and tools were his only saving grace. Standing 6'4/230 lbs, Garcia is very strong and can muscle the ball out of the park. His approach at the plate is very crude, but his hit tool will play and should allow him to access his above-average power. 2012 has been a dramatically different year, as he posted a .289/.324/.447 slash at Hi-A to earn a promotion to Double-A. He hasn't slowed down in Erie, hitting his way to a .316/.353/.463 slash. The statistics are much better in 2012, but the approach is the same, as he continues to walk less than 4% of the time. Where he has shown improvement is in cutting his K% down over 6% from 2011, and even lowered it going from Hi-A to Double-A. He's already hit more home runs than in all of 2011 and he's stolen 23 bases between the two levels. Garcia can be an impact guy on both sides of the ball and he's just beginning to access his tools. Garcia's seasonal age is 20 (using June 1st as a cutoff), making his performance at Double-A all the more impressive.

Read more after the jump...

Brad Miller - SS - SEA - Another guy who has split his 2012 season between Hi-A and Double-A, and has 23 steals to his name, Miller has really elevated his prospect status this year. As a college bat who had a lot to prove he could stick at short, dominance was expected out of Miller in the high octane California League. That's exactly what he provided, hitting to the tune of a .337/.409/.522 slash line, while also posting a double digit walk rate. Miller truly earned his stripes though, upon his promotion to Double-A. He's continued his torrid hitting pace with the bat, smashing his way to a .327/.419/.430 line. The two biggest things to note upon his promotion to Double-A are the evaporation of his power (ISO dropped from .185 to .103) and the escalating walk rate as he moved up a level. Miller was also able to lower him K% as he upped his BB%, a skill that shouldn't be overlooked. The big questions with Miller as a prospect are on the defensive side of the ball, as he doesn't quite have the range desired of a shortstop and has also had some trouble with throwing errors. He is lauded for his makeup and work ethic.

Gary Brown - OF - SF - It might be hard to forget about a guy who ranked atop many Giants prospect lists before the 2012 season, but Brown did his best to make that happen with his lethargic start this year. Well if you checked out after his horrid April, you've missed that he's posted a .309 average starting June 1. After a putrid .227/.333/.284 line in April, Brown has recovered to up his overall line to a respectable .283/.350/.396. Brown's game is predicated on speed and defense, and while he's still provided 32 stolen bases this year, that's come with 16 caught stealings, highlighting the refinements he needs to make on the basepaths. His defense in centerfield is perhaps his best quality, though he's been seeing occasional time in left field recently. That becomes interesting because of Melky Cabrera's recent suspension. With the Giants in the driver's seat for the NL West, they may try to solidify their lineup in the wake of Melky's departure by adding defense and speed to their lineup. It's just a thought, but if he gets the call he could supply some late-season stolen bases.

Shelby Miller - SP - STL - Perhaps the pitching version of Brown early on this year, Miller struggled with a loss of velocity and poor mechanics before recently righting the ship. Miller capped off his ship-righting with a 7 inning, 12 strikeout, 0 walk performance. This is the feather in his cap of a recent string of great performances where we have seen his mechanics and velocity return to form. I'm not going to bother you with what he throws as he's been a very well covered prospect, but his resurgence needs to be taken note of, and it could earn him a September callup.

Adys Portillo - SP - SD - Portillo has been a name in the prospect world since he signed with San Diego as a 16-year old four years ago. He's finally starting to put it all together, turning his electric stuff into real results. Portillo made a two level jump mid season, going from Lo-A to Double-A and making him eligible for this list. Double-A has been rough for Adys, as he's posted an 8.31 ERA and seen his BB/9 eclipse his K/9; never a good thing for a pitcher. Why draw attention to him then? His sparkling 1.87 ERA in Lo-A is one reason. He achieved such good results by refining his command, albeit at the expense of his strikeout numbers. He struck out over 10 per 9 innings in 2011, but also walked 6 per 9. In 2012, his third try at Lo-A, Portillo struck out a less impressive but still respectable 8/9 IP, but lowered his BB/9 to a much more palatable 4.32. None of these numbers (save the ERA) may strike you as impressive, but Portillo throws in the mid- to upper-90s consistently and can touch triple digits. Everything else is a work in progress, hence the struggles versus more advanced Double-A hitters, but if he can make those refinements, you could see those numbers turn in a hurry, because his stuff is for real.

Again, you are almost sure to know at least two of these names, and you might not think Portillo is worth of being highlighted, but this is all about making sure these names are in your lexicon and letting you decide what to do with the information. As I said in the Prospect Preview version of this article, if you like the format I would be happy to do it more often, just let me know in the comments.

Source Material:
Baseball America
Baseball Prospect Nation