There’s no Arizona League picture of suitable size, so you’re stuck with what’s actually a better alternative.
Anyway, today I continue my off-season recap of the minor league affiliates, moving on to the hitters of the Arizona League Dodgers after the pitchers were tackled last time around.
I’ll be picking the prospects for the 2012 Prospective Prospect Profiles list from these reviews, so it might be worth reading. Or not.
Chris O’Brien – C – 21
The switch hitting catcher rode his breakout .410/.495/.643/1.138 season in 2011 for Wichita State to an 18th round draft selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Assigned to the Arizona League, he didn’t slow down much as a professional, hitting .291/.356/.470/.826 with a 29/16 K/BB ratio.
There were questions about his defense going into the draft, and he did end up playing DH 18 times out of the 41 games he started in the AZL. In the 23 games he did play catcher, he threw out a respectable 34% of runners, but made 3 errors and allowed 6 passed balls, which basically backs the scouting reports.
O’Brien will be promoted because of his skills at the plate, perhaps as far as A-ball, but his work behind the plate will ultimately determine his future.
Devin Shines – OF – 22
A 38th round pick in 2011 out of Oklahoma State, the center fielder hit .319/.401/.463/.864 in his professional debut, including 13 stolen bases in 17 attempts. He wasn’t free of pop either, as he totaled 14 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs in his 243 plate appearances.
Shines will need to continue to impress in full season ball next year if he’s to make an impact on the Dodgers.
Joe Winker – OF – 21
The 2011 28th rounder out of Mercer University took the AZL by storm, putting up a .348/.416/.591/1.007 line over 192 plate appearances. Certainly an impressive professional debut, especially considering that his walk rate was solid (10.5%) and his strikeout rate was reasonable (18.8%). An especially hot June led to him receiving the month’s Dodger Pride Award.
I suppose his .452 BABIP is a cause for concern compared to the league average of .342, but it was at least partially deserved, as he hit 21.2% line drives compared to the league average of 14.0%.
Alex Santana – 3B – 17
A 2nd round draft pick in 2011, the 17-year-old Santana was the 11th youngest player in the AZL. Age is important context when considering his .238/.298/.339/.636 line, which wasn’t even the worst part about his statistics, as he put up a 30.2% strikeout rate in 202 plate appearances.
The scouting reports are what give reason for optimism, as Baseball America already has him as solid defensively, and most seem to believe he’ll develop good power as he matures. Every single report stresses the fact that he’s still raw, so patience will be the name of the game here.
J.J. Ethel – C – 22
Taken in the 49th round of the 2011 draft out of Louisville, Ethel spent most of his professional debut backing up O’Brien. When he did get his chances though, he made the most of them, posting a .303/.378/.515/.893 line in a mere 37 plate appearances.
He’s not likely to even be a relevant prospect, much less make an impact in the majors, but he has a balanced and quiet approach at the plate to go with a level swing. If he could involve his lower half better and not be so arm dominant, I think it would improve his chances as he moves levels.