Prospect writing is about looking forward, it’s that simple. What’s this guy going to hit? What’s that guy’s ceiling? What’s this guy’s secondary arsenal going to feature? How big is that guy's butt going to get? Etc, etc. But sometimes, it's appropriate to turn the periscope backwards, and take a moment to reflect on what you've already seen. So without further ado, or more heavy-handed, poorly constructed prose, here’s 2012, in award form:
The “Well Hello Sir Award” goes to: Joey Gallo. We heard about your prodigious power potential pre draft, but that’s high school. Against high school pitchers. With a metalish bat. Then you showed up, dropped your back shoulder, went for it, AND SOMETIMES GOT IT! There’s holes in the swing, and it’s long and loopy, and we’re a bit concerned about where you’re going to play, but my oh my, folks love the longball.
The “Made for TV Movie Award” goes to: CJ Edwards. A 48th round pick. The draft doesn’t even have 48 frickin’ rounds anymore. Small town kid. Weighs 109lbs. The holder of a movin’ 94mph fastball and a lanky frame that must make hitters think a preying mantis is hurlin’ the bean at them. I’m rootin’ for this kid. Unabashedly rootin’. See ya in Hicktown, dude.
The “Fun Fun Fun Phonetics Award” goes to: Keone Kela. I just really REALLY like saying his name. Keone Kela. Keone Kela. Keone Kela. I also really like 98mph fastballs. Keone Kela.
The “Holy Shit! Award” goes to: Jurickson Profar. Who else? Began the year as not only the youngest player on Frisco’s roster, but the youngest player in all of Double-A baseball. Rattled off a 29 game hitting streak and a 50 game on-base streak, got promoted, and hit a bomb. A pleasure and a privilege to watch the best prospect in baseball play in both a Rough Riders uniform and a Rangers uniform. I think he’s all yours now. Enjoy.
The “Birth of a Beast? Award” goes to: Wilmer Font. The Fontster Monster. Recovering from TJ in 2011, he entered 2012 as a question mark. He ended the year by giving folks a peek at a potential late-inning big leaguer. Yep, the secondaries kinda suck right now. Yep, the control is lagging. Yep, he was overmatched by the disciplined approach of big league hitters. Yep, he is self-listed at 6’6” and 260lbs and yep, he’s the only Rough Rider all season to trip 100mph on Frisco’s stadium gun and he did so using a heavy fastball with late sink. So there.
The “Dang It Man Award” goes to: Jake Skole. Dang it man.
The “Fun AND Harrowing Award” goes to: Ben Rowen. Ben was wildly effective as Myrtle’s closer. Carolina League “Reliever of the Year”, effective. As you know, he is a true submarine pitcher. His pills are normally spinning towards the plate at around 78mph. That will never not make me nervous. Double negatives be damned.
The “Dang It Man” part II award goes to: Jordan Akins. Same “dang it man”, completely different reasons.
The “1St Team All-Bus Award” goes to: IT’S A TIE! Phil Klein and Jose Valdespina! Imagine the look on the other team’s faces when 6’7” Phil Klein and 6’6” Jose Valdespina bound off the bus in a new town. And then the innocent bystanders, alarmed, ask, “Those guys are their pitchers?”
The “I Could Watch You Do That All Day Award” (get your mind out of the gutter, weirdo) goes to: Preston Beck. 12 outfield assists in just 66 games for the 2012 5th rounder from Bishop Lynch. All from right field. You can have your home runs, I love me some outfield assists. It’s literally one of my favorite things to see on a baseball field. I thought about grabbing him at Newberg’s book party last week and trying to get him to throw a ball over Highway 30 into Wet n Wild. (it’ll always be Wet n’ Wild)
The “Dang It Man” part III award goes to: Neil Ramirez. Dang it man. 2013 is a new year. F-it. Move forward.
The “Come On Man, Seriously? Award” [not to be confused with the “Dang It Man” award] goes to: Engel Beltre. In 614 plate appearances, Engel had almost as many triples(17) as walks(26). How the hell is that even possible?
The “I’m Higher On You Than Most Other People Are, So Please Have a Kick Ass Career Award” goes to: Cody Buckel. I know he’s not tall, neither is Drew Brees(BOOM!). I know he isn’t big, neither is Lionel Messi(YEAH!). I know his stuff isn’t electricity on fire, neither is Jered Weaver’s(TOUCHE?). I’m counting on makeup and pitchability, two almost completely unquantifiable traits. This should be fun.
The “L.P. LaDouceur Award” goes to: Joe Ortiz. L.P. has appeared in literally every single Dallas Cowboys game for the last 7 seasons. 112 games. As a player. Yet, I imagine he still deals with snooty indignance when, while out with friends, he tells a stranger, “I play for the Cowboys.” Seriously, he does. Makes money. Travels on the big plane. Stays at the nice hotels. Has one job.
The “Great Job. Now Go Do Even Better Award” goes to: TIE! Jorge Alfaro and Luis Sardinas. Stay healthy, play hard, listen to your coaches, be a good teammate. Get anywhere close to your tools-based ceilings, and you’re going to make like $100 million dollars or something while playing baseball. It’s that simple for you two. Now get back to work.
The “Mysterious Enigma Quandary Award” goes to: Martin Perez. It’ totally cool that you’re still trying to work on your fastball command and refining your secondary arsenal. You’re only 21 years old! And we’ve come to terms with you not reaching what some predicted to be your ceiling- almost no one reaches theirs, including us. But we’re confused and scared that even while grabbing a cup of coffee in the triple-tiered stadiums, you still seem unclear as to what kind of pitcher you are. I know you don’t want to hear this, and you’ll probably pout a bit, but maybe some more time down South would do you some good. You still left handed? You still a starting pitcher? You still crazy young? Ok then, quit worrying, we still love you. We may love you more than you love you sometimes.
Well, I could do this all day, but I doubt you’d want to read it. Plus, if I keep going, I’ll have to include Mike Olt whose future, to me, is about as cloudy as any high ranking prospect I can think of in baseball. I just don’t know where he fits, and I hope he doesn’t strike out a bazillion times, and I hope he hits 25 homeruns a year. But I don’t know if he does it in a Texas uniform. Anyway, it’s been a great year. Arguably one of the best in the history of Texas’ farm system. They are loaded. Again. You already know that. Some of the arms are here now, Grimm, Perez, Font, Scheppers, Ross, etc. Some of the bats are coming in a few years. (Yowza, are they ever. And a bunch of them are left handed!) And Profar, sheesh, Profar. I think he can be an average to better-than-average big leaguer next season and the season after that. Then, sometime after he turns 22, adds the same weight Elvis did, grows accustomed to the routines of the major leagues, understands the expectations, and settles comfortably into his destiny, he could be an All-Star, often. Make no mistake it’s a Top-5 system for most of the bigtime ranking pubs. Most of these kids won’t reach their ceilings, but a couple of them will. And a couple of them will be used as valuable commodities during the latter part of July every year. That’s cool too. Game 5 of the 2010 ALDS is probably my all-time favorite Ranger game. Anytime I see the names Matt Lawson, Josh Shitbag Lueke, Blake Beavan, or Justin Smoak, I smile. They were the chips that bought Texas their first post-season series victory. Yes, I love watching prospects, but I love watching Texas post-season wins more. I understand it’s been a frustrating off-season. I completely get it. But these prospects are good, and the Rangers know it. I appreciate teams that are “going for it”. Kansas City, Los Angeles(both of them), and Toronto, I’m looking in your direction, but I also appreciate teams that stay the course in an effort to be competitive for a long time. That’s Texas right now. I can't tell you they'll probably win the 2017 World Series, but I can tell you the Angels probably won’t. And that’s reason enough for a toast, right? So here’s to 2012, 2013 and beyond! Wooohooo!
As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy baseball. Love Ya!