He has a LONG ways to go to hit .280 and 30 in the big leagues. A LONG way. His plate discipline is beyond poor - you say it's not as bad as Kemp's, but the last time I checked, Kemp has made great strides in not only improving his contact rates but also his plate discipline. Take out Kemp's ML stint, and he's sitting at 31:51 this season. Not particularly impressive, but he has improved DRASTICALLY. He was clearly not ready for his Big League stint and that had a lot to do with his awful BB:K.
Pence has continued to regress as he has been promoted, and has shown no signs of improving his Ks. He has gone from 23:30 (.767 in 199 ABs at A- as a 21), to 38:53 (.717 in 302 ABs at A as a 22), to 18:37 (.486 in 151 ABs at A+ as a 22 - seemed like an anomoly, figured it was from the promotion and adjustment period), to 42:89 (.472 in 419 ABs at AA as a 23) this season. While most prospects are making progress in the contact department, Pence is going backwards. He can get away with that and hit .290-whatever at AA because he has the power and just pure ability to hit that pitching, but there is a slight upgrade from AA to MLB in terms of pitching. As of right now, they'd tear Pence apart.
Pence would not survive in the Bigs right now and could have a LOT of trouble staying next season if he does not work on his contact rate. It's not as though he's young for his level (23 at AA could even be considered slightly above age for a "top" prospect), and a lot of his "top prospect" status is thanks to his hotter-than-hot start. He has slowed in the past couple of months (he's hit what, 8 homers since mid-July?) and is no where near as impressive as everyone is making him out to be.
Baseball Analysts ranked Pence at 44 in their Mid-Season rankings. Galt, as someone who seems to know quite a bit about the Minors, you'd agree that Smith's rankings were pretty much the only "legit" midseason rankings out there. This is what they had to say:
Bryan Smith wrote:At some point, you have to give a guy credit if he continues to have success, despite the naysayers not going away. Pence has legitimate power, and is going to have some success in the Major Leagues. However, there's a gray line between some success and consistent success, and thanks to his BB/K rate, I can't see which side he's on quite yet.
That's my point. He more or less says what I've been [attempting to] prove. He has a ways to go before he'll actually be a stud, or even hit .280 with 30 homers.
I didn't mean to make it out to look like he'll be a bench player. It will take him a while to get it going, possibly even a few years in the Bigs, and even then, he may not be that great of a player - a 3rd OF? Who knows. As for fantasy, there's no question he'll hold LITTLE value in his first couple of Major League seasons. Francoeur is on pace for .260 - 30, and even he is barely a 3rd OF in fantasy. There is no question that Philip Hughes is a much better choice and is much more likely to reach his ceiling. And I also wouldn't be surprised if he's up before Pence.