With the end of the minor league season coming today, now is a great time to look back at some of the things we wrote during the season (and preseason), and specifically with regard to predictions. Andrew Ball started this process by reviewing his own bold predictions as a part of last week's episode of the Fake Teams podcast, and while I will be looking at each of my own bold prospect predictions, this will happen over three posts, as I actually made 13 different prospect predictions myself. With that, here is a look back at the first four predictions I made, along with how I thought they graded out and what actually happened.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
WHAT WAS SAID
Yasiel Puig is an entirely mixed bag at the plate this season, stealing 25 bases and hitting 32 home runs at AA, but with a .240 batting average and just 18 walks against 145 strikeouts in 130 games - Jason Hunt
PREDICTION GRADE: D-
Well, I can’t say that I was anticipating the Dodgers calling him up, but injuries lead him to the Majors at the start of June and he has not looked back. Between the two levels he has hit 22 home runs and stolen 23 bases in 36 attempts in 120 combined games. While he has not necessarily walked at a high rate all season long, he has shown improvement in this particular category as the season has progressed. He only has 104 strikeouts in the 120 games as well, which in general leads me to give this one a D-. Ray speculated that Puig would be in his top 25 hitters to start the 2014 season, and even with a decent amount of regression I don’t think I can see any reason not to believe in the performance.
Chris Stratton, P, San Francisco Giants
WHAT WAS SAID
Chris Stratton is in the Giants' rotation by season's end, after posting a 2.90 ERA between AA and AAA along with 140 strikeouts in 123 innings pitched in the minors - Jason Hunt
PREDICTION GRADE: D
Stratton pitched well in the Giants organization, as he threw 132 innings while notching 123 strikeouts, 47 walks, and a 3.27 ERA (2.97 FIP). However, all of those innings were for the Giants’ Low-A affiliate in Augusta, rather than AA or AAA. He could make a couple more starts as Augusta did qualify for the playoffs, but I wonder if the Giants try to speed up his movement through the system next year. The team has a large number of pitching prospects at High-A currently, and Stratton could continue to move one level behind them as he progresses.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox
WHAT WAS SAID
Injuries and ineffectiveness combined with stellar production at AA lead the Red Sox to promote Matt Barnes to the rotation in mid-May. He goes 11-6 down the stretch with a 3.85 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched - Jason Hunt
PREDICTION GRADE: C-
Or, you know, he could finish up his year with the AAA team as prospects like Brandon Workman and Allen Webster are promoted to the Majors instead. Barnes did notch 135 strikeouts against 46 walks at AA before making his last regular season start with AAA Pawtucket, and was able to get a lot of groundball outs (1.15 GO/AO) while at AA. I do think that Barnes will get at least some chance to make the starting rotation out of Spring Training in 2014, but there isn’t necessarily a clear opening for him to take unless a trade occurs.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
WHAT WAS SAID
Hak-Ju Lee continues to show a passive approach at the plate, and finishes the season at AAA with a .245/.305/.295 slash line with only 15 stolen bases in 450 at bats. Despite this, he is still promoted to the Majors for the month of September - Jason Hunt
PREDICTION GRADE: Incomplete
This one was looking bad at the start, as Lee got off to a torrid pace, hitting .422/.536/.600 with 6 stolen bases and a home run in his first 15 games. Unfortunately for both Lee and the Rays, he tore ligaments in his knee when a runner slid into his leg on a double play attempt against Norfolk. The Rays have Yunel Escobar under contract (a pair of $5M club options) for 2014 and 2015 if they want him, so I can see Lee returning to AAA for the 2014 season as well. Lee was added to the 40-man roster after the 2012 season, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he arrived in Tampa some time next season.
Alberto Tirado, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
WHAT WAS SAID
Alberto Tirado is given a full-season assignment in Low-A despite being just 18 years old. In 122 innings pitched, he posts a 100:25 strikeout to walk ratio and makes a pair of postseason starts for the Jays' High-A affiliate - Jason Hunt
PREDICTION GRADE: D+
Tirado was not sent to full season ball, but rather returned to the short-season Appy League, where he threw 48 innings, struck out 44 and walked 20. He did pitch effectively there, and made the final start of the year in a playoff loss to the Mariners’ affiliate. I would have to imagine that the Blue Jays will send him to a full season league for 2014, and it sounds like there were positives to be drawn even at the end of his season. From the prospect recap over at Blue Bird Banter:
[A]ccording to the broadcast Tirado was up to 97 mph on the fastball and had a great changeup coming in at around 87 mph.Here's hoping that part three works out better, and you can find the first part of this series here, and can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball.