Can an arrow even go sideways? I don’t know either, but I do know that sideways is a discernable direction. I’ve probably gone sideways in my life as often as I’ve gone forward or backward. For the following prospects it’s not necessarily a make-or-break year, it’s just a year to stay consistent. In some cases, the man needs to stay steady in hopes of earning a big league shot, in other cases he’ll begin learning to toe the line while trying to figure out just how this “professional baseball” thing works. Each case has a different set of circumstances and peripheral influences, nonetheless, I’m expecting all of these guys to have, well, a baseball season.
Leury Garcia: Little Leury has been added to the 40-man roster. The 22 year-old is carving out a niche in the prospect community as a super-utility player. I think it’s feasible he gets a shot at making the big league club as the UIF in spring training, but not necessarily likely. If he heads to his first foray in Round Rock, he may continue to develop beyond super-utility. I think we may be looking at a super-SUPER-utility player. His hit tool is likely to keep him from being an everyday regular, certainly with Texas’ loaded infield, but woweewow, what a weapon he can be when perceived in an alternate framework. I mean, you’re looking at a guy who can be a late-game baserunning replacement, bringing ++ speed onto the paths. Then he can effectively play shortstop or second base. In the 2012 season and especially over the winter in the Dominican, he has played third base and centerfield. Did I mention he’s also a switch-hitter? In the near-certain situation where he begins the season in AAA, it’s going to be interesting to see if he gets reps in CF or the hot corner. His SS play may be the best in the system (yes, better than Profar and Sardi). I think he’s a big leaguer, but I think 2013 is another year of learning valuable positions and improving his plate discipline. The kid’s a human swiss army knife. (UPDATE: since I typed this, Leury has now played his first game ever, in right field. Played the whole game out there on Saturday night in Aguilas’ Dominican playoff match. I rest my case)
Jairo Beras: Jairo is however old he is. He’s something-something tall and weighs whatever. He’s right handed and plays the outfield and throws really far. He hits batting practice pitches hard and over the fence. That’s what we know. We’ll see him in games either in Arizona with the other rookies, or possibly in Spokane. 2013 is an abbreviated season. You’d do well to think of it in those terms. OK, Jairo, nice meeting you. We’ll see you in 2014 for some serious baseball.
Lewis Brinson: Dear Lew, thanks for the glimpses. You’re going all-in with your buddies from the Arizona summer squad. You’re learning one of the most difficult positions in baseball. Move on every pitch, run towards every hit ball, lead, talk, back up every position, throw to the right teammate. Also, be ready for times when you’re not hitting. Consistency is an elusive muse and one you might not meet in 2013. But there will be days-on-end, sometimes even weeks, when it will come together. You’ll think the game is easy and you’re a shoe-in for Arlington, but then it’ll humble you. You may be fitted for a golden sombrero a day after wearing a king’s crown. Other guys will slump, get promoted, get frustrated, get excited, get homesick. You’ll have to get them together, going in the right direction. You’ll have to find the nearest Chipotle. You’re the centerfielder. Skills and leadership are inherent, but they still need to be incubated. Take your time, my man, get it right. We’ll wait for ya.
Chad Bell: the crafty lefty. Chad is going to get a chance on a big league squad. If 2013 sees Texas face the same injuries they saw in 2012 from their starting hurlers, he may be up before you know it. The team didn’t add him to the 40-man and he wasn’t selected in the Rule 5. So there’s work to be done. Fastball command was absent in a couple of winter league outings with Licey. Secondary stuff needs some fine tuning. But it’s all there. The package for a starting pitcher in the big leagues. Not a superstar, but a pitcher. I think he’ll be an important cog in the Round Rock rotation and I think he works hard to improve and adds some finishing touches to the repertoire. A string of 5-6-7-8 or more consecutive, consistent, 5-6 inning starts from Chad greatly raises his stock. Not much more to say about him. It’s not about “being” consistent, it’s about “getting” consistent. Then getting his chance.
Engel Beltre: awwww what the hell, right? Take a damn pitch, whouldya? You damn defensive stud with your straight routes, closing speed, and big arm. You left handed hitter, you. You triples/run scoring machine you. Just do what the coaches tell you to. I’ll be over here, holding my breath.
And there you have it, arrows up and arrows sideways. It’s not journalistic gold, but it’s something. It’s something to get your blood pumping again for minor league baseball. This list is certainly not all encompassing, but as I said, it’s some of the guys I’m thinking about heading into 2013. There are lots and lots of guys, particularly at the lower levels who will jump up and garner recognition. There are also prospects who will plateau and garner no more attention. Tune in Friday for my Arrows DOWN piece when I'll lay out some of the challenges facing a few of the kiddos' upcoming seasons. I’m planning on rather endlessly blabbing about all these juniors throughout the course of the season so stay tuned my friends; it should be another good one.