With the season coming to a close, it is time to take a look at how the players on our Top 40 Prospect list performed this year. It isn't a reorder, we'll get to doing that sometime in the off-season, this is just a look at how the guys we picked out as our best prospects did in 2011.
1. Kyle Drabek: You know the story. Started the season in the rotation. He started our second game of the year and pitched great, 7 inning of 1 hit ball, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts. I thought he'd be in the rotation for years. It all went downhill from there. He made 13 more starts for us before being sent down to Vegas. In his 14 starts he was 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA but the big number was the 52 walks in 72.2 innings. Things didn't improve for him in Vegas, he made 15 starts there, going 5-4 with a 7.44 ERA. He gave up 111 hits and 41 walks in 75 innings for the 51's. That's not to say there wasn't any good starts in Vegas, the game I saw him pitch there was pretty good, and he had some other good starts but all in he was pretty bad. He's been back with us in September but hasn't pitched enough to be able judge him. I'd think he has almost no chance of making the rotation out of spring training next season. He's going to have to go back and get everything working consistently again before he gets another shot with the team. I think it is pretty safe to say that he won't have the number 1 spot on our list next year.
2. Brett Lawrie: Again, you know the story, looked great in spring training and had many of us wishing the team would take him north with them, but they sent him to Vegas. He hit amazingly well in Vegas, .353/.415/.661. He was about to be called up to Toronto then got hit in the hand with a pitch and misses most of month of playing time. When he finally gets to Toronto he doesn't disappoint in the least, he hit .293/.373/.580 before breaking a finger during infield practice, last week. His defense surprised me, I didn't expect him to be this good. He's going to make some error but has really good range at 3rd. Can't wait to see him play next season.
3. Zach Stewart: Traded to the White Sox in the deal that ended up getting us Colby Rasmus. He's 2-5 with a 6.22 ERA with the White Sox but pitched a 1 hitter back on September 5th.
4. J.P. Arencibia: Our starting catcher, set a new team record for home runs by a catcher with 23 (so far) and is just 1 short of the team rookie record. He has driven in 78 runs, good for 3rd on the team. The down side is the .220 average and the .280 OBP. I think he'll improve on those numbers, he battled through a sore thumb in the middle of the season, that effected his swing. The question is: will he improve enough to keep the catcher's job when Travis d'Arnaud is ready to make the jump to the majors. His defense has been a work in progress, he's looked better as the season went along, but good seems a little ways off yet. He has thrown out 24% of base stealers.
5. Adeiny Hechavarria: The most amazing thing happened, somewhere between New Hampshire and Las Vegas, Adeiny figured out how to hit a ball. Maybe Vegas hitting coach, Chad Mottolo, is a magician? Maybe the heat in Vegas reminded Adeiny of home? Well, not that last one, Vegas is dry, I'm imagining Cuba's pretty humid and the 51's didn't play much in Vegas in August. Anyway, Adeiny hit .235/.275/.347 at New Hampshire, then was moved up to Vegas. Why? I really don't know. Nothing in his numbers suggested he should be promoted, but he goes on to hit .389/.431/.537 in 108 at bats for Vegas. Now small sample size and all that, but Mottolo said that he made a change in Hechavarria's swing and it looks like it worked. It would have been nice to see him in Toronto, especially with Yunel hurt, but citizenship issues got in the way. I'm sure we will see him next year, at some point.
6. Anthony Gose: Anthony took a nice step forward this season, hitting .253/.349/.415 in New Hampshire with 70 steals and only 15 times caught. The numbers may not look great but he was only 20, and was playing in Double-A for the first time. He took 62 walks, a nice step up from last year in A-Ball and his success rate in stolen bases improved greatly. Last year he stole 45 bases and was caught 32 times. His defense and his speed are his best selling points, if he can be average with the bat, he will be a very valuable player with the range he has in CF. That great arm doesn't hurt either.
7. Deck McGuire: They told us, when he was drafted, that he would move up the system quickly. His first pro season started in Dunedin, where he went 7-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 19 games, 18 starts. He struck out 102 and walked 38 in 104.2 innings. He finished the year in New Hampshire, making 3 starts and relieving once. He was 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA there, but 22 strikeouts and 7 walks in 20.2 inning looks pretty good. He'll start next year at Double-A, but, if he does well, and if there is a need, we might see him in Toronto by the end of the season.
8. Travis d'Arnaud: Travis didn't put up the greatest numbers in 2010 and we dropped him a few spots in the rankings, this year he was great and he'll move up a few. Catchers do tend to have up years and down years. Part of playing the position is that you play with little nicks and bruises. Sometimes they effect your batting. This year, Travis hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 home runs in 114 games with the Fisher Cats. He was the team and the league MVP. He's at the point that, if JP were to be injured, he could end up seeing some playing time in Toronto next year or he could be a September call up next year. Then, in 2013 he could challenge JP for the starting job.
9. Carlos Perez: Carlos didn't have the best of seasons. After hitting .298/.396/.438 in Auburn last year, he hit .256/.320/.355 in Lansing this year. He is just 20 and has a long way to go. I'm sure he'll have more ups and downs. His caught stealing percentage has gone down, each of the last two seasons. In 2009 he caught 49% of runners trying to steal, last year it was 36% and this year it is 29%. and he made 14 errors this year. I still like him but would really like to see a bounce back year next year.
10. Henderson Alvarez: Who'd have thought he'd be up in the majors already. And who thought he'd have so much success, right off the start of his major league career? Henderson made a couple of starts for Dunedin, then was promoted to New Hampshire where he went 8-4 with a 2.86 ERA for New Hampshire, Henderson struck out 66 and walked 17 in 88 Double-A innings. He's had 9 good starts with the Jays. He's just 1-2 but with a 3.65 ERA, 8 walks, 34 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. He's been a ground ball throwing machine. He's gone at least 5 innings in each of his 9 starts and at least 6 in all but his first 2 major league starts. He hasn't walked more than 2 in any of his starts. The future looks bright.