West Coast bias in this week’s Future Rookies. More specifically, an A’s bias this week, as four featured players are members of the A’s organization. In addition to the four A’s prospects, the Giants have gotten an otherworldly performance at Richmond from an under-the-radar prospect. Finally, a Rangers prospect that has played well all year gets the nod this week.
Chris Carter, 1B/DH, Oakland A’s, 25 years old
A quick glance at Carter’s season line doesn’t inspire much confidence, as he’s basically doing what he has done throughout his career. Looking at his last 10 games and his month-by-month splits, it appears Carter may be making some adjustments. He has always hit for power, and is projected to do so at the highest level. He has also always shown a patient approach that has resulted in high walk totals. Those aren’t the only true outcomes he has been known for; he also sports a career minor league strikeout rate of 23.6 percent, which isn’t alarmingly high, but it ballooned to 33.1 percent in 124 plate appearances in the majors. In April, he did his usual thing, striking out in 31 of 102 plate appearances (30.3 percent) while slugging .511 and walking 12 times. In May, he was able to reduce his strikeout rate substantially, dropping it to 22.0 percent. It would appear he sacrificed power to do so, with his slugging dropping to .467. That wasn’t necessarily the case though, as the drop in slugging was basically the result of a nose dive in batting average. His isolated power (slugging minus batting average) was .216 in April, and was actually up to .233 in May.
All of this brings us to June. He sits at 56 plate appearances this month, and has more walks, 10, than strikeouts, eight. His strikeout rate is at a miniscule 14.3 percent. Looking at a more recent time frame (his last 10 games), he has struck out just five times in 47 plate appearances. Carter’s power has dropped with what appears to be a different approach, as his ISO this month is .155. That said, power has never been a problem, and if the stats are indicative of Carter making adjustments, it could pay off. The A’s have had a revolving door at first base this season. The team has designated Kila Ka’aihue for assignment, eliminating him from the first base mix, and moved Daric Barton up and down this year while he has failed to impress. Recently they’ve gotten electric play from Brandon Moss, but that’s highly unlikely to continue. Moss has a 33.5 percent strikeout rate and has bounced around from team to team toiling in Triple-A for the Red Sox, Pirates, and Phillies the last three years before joining the A’s this year. When he cools down, Carter could be in line for another look at the major league level. He has played in 43 games at first base, per Baseball Reference, and it would seem logical that the rebuilding A’s would want to see what they have with Carter. His play of late could prove nothing more than a small sample size fluke, but it’s also possible it is a conscious decision of Carter’s to change his approach. Keep your eyes peeled to see if updated scouting reports hit the Internet noting changes Carter has made.
Grant Green, 3B/OF, Oakland A’s, 24 years old
Another year, another position change for the former top prospect in the A’s organization. Last year, around this time, the team decided to move him from the infield, shortstop, to the outfield, center field. This year, he makes the move back to the infield, and has recently begun his transition to the hot corner. As the article notes, the outfield is crowded for the A’s, both in the majors and the minors. Green lacks the prototypical power-hitting third base profile, as his only big power year came in 2010, while playing in the hitter-friendly High-A California League. He isn’t a big base-stealing threat, as he has just 22 steals in his career, and he has been terribly inefficient, getting caught 16 times. He has hit for average at every stop, and that includes playing in Triple-A this year, but he doesn’t walk often, and his on-base skills aren’t special. Having a clearer path to the majors is a good thing, and his versatility should help him get on the field and stay in the bigs, but his ceiling is limited.
Daniel Straily, SP, Oakland A’s, 23 years old
Since his inclusion in this article last week, he has pitched another gem, spinning eight frames of one-hit, one-earned run, zero-walk, nine-strikeout baseball on June 15. More importantly, perhaps, he earned a promotion to Triple-A. Kevin Goldstein included Straily in his Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack this week, mentioning that the scouting reports are positive and back up his outstanding play. Straily has proven himself at each minor league stop, and the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (PCL) will be his next challenge. If he pitches well, a September call-up isn’t crazy to speculate.
Chris Heston, SP, San Francisco Giants, 24 years old
At some point, when a pitcher accumulates a 1.00 ERA in over 80 innings pitched, he deserves some attention. For Heston, we’ve reached that point. He’s posting video game numbers that would be impressive in Little League, and Double-A is a slightly higher level of play than that. He fails to grab headlines because he’s an older college arm that the Giants popped in the 12th round of the 2009 draft out of East Carolina University with fringy stuff. John Sickels included Heston in his prospect book, The Baseball Prospect Book 2012, and mentioned that he’ll need to continue to prove his stuff will play at higher levels. He does two things very well, he pounds the strike zone, and induces groundballs at a high clip. There is a decent chance his lack of stuff will keep him from reaching, or succeeding in, the majors, but for now, he’s earned the shot to take his game to the Triple-A level and try his hand at getting PCL hitters out.
Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers, 19 years old
Profar has been a victim of his consistency. By that I mean he probably hasn’t gotten his due because he has put together a fantastic season line by playing well week-to-week instead of going on streaks. His well-rounded statistical contributions are backed by positive scouting reports that indicate he is in the debate for best prospect shortstop, if not best prospect regardless of position. As a teen in the upper minors, he isn’t supposed to be able to do what he’s doing. While we’ve been spoiled as baseball fans by the remarkable, historically good play of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout this year, they are the exception, not the rule. In most other years, people would be marveling at what Profar is doing, but this isn’t most years.
As good as Profar has been, he has been at his best of late. In June, he is sizzling with a slash of .321/.429/.464 with more walks, 13, than strikeouts, nine, in 69 plate appearances. His seven home runs this year don’t do his power justice, as he has added seven triples and 17 doubles as well, bringing his extra base hit total to 31. He has a solid 75 percent stolen base success rate, with nine steals in 12 chances, and all-in-all, has a very well rounded game that will play well in fantasy.
Miles Head, 1B/3B, Oakland A’s, 21 years old
A’s fans have to be delighted with the return they received from the Red Sox for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney. Josh Reddick has rightfully gotten most of the attention as the prize get, but he wasn’t alone, as the A’s also received pitcher Raul Alcantara and Head. Head has the undesirable profile of a short right-handed first baseman (he’s playing third base, but is projected to play first base long term by most reputable outlets), which puts a ton of pressure on his bat. He and his bat have been up to the challenge, and then some. He’s scalding hot, hitting .462/.512/1.077 with seven home runs in his last 10 games for High-A Stockton. Head is eligible for inclusion in this week’s article because his mind-bogglingly good play is reportedly earning him a promotion to Double-A Midland during the All-Star Break. Head will have to continue to fight against his profile, but Double-A will give him the proving grounds to continue to win over his detractors.
Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
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