High Desert, and the California League in general, is always tough to judge because it’s a frankly ludicrous offensive environment. The high altitude, dry air, and frequently mediocre pitchers combine to dramatically inflate the numbers that batter put out, and make even the few good pitchers that get assigned there looks far inferior to what they are. I’ll be writing a fuller post on this in the near future; in the meantime, let’s see how things look for the Mavericks in 2011.
Prospects To Watch:
- SS Nick Franklin:Franklin had a huge 2010 campaign that silenced a lot of his doubters, and now needs to work on refining his skills. Many, including myself, thought that he’d wind up being assigned to AA Jackson, but the organization decided to ease him along a little bit. If he hits well over the first two months, Franklin could see AA sometime after Memorial Day.
- OF James Jones: Still working through a conversion from the mound, things have gone well for Jones so far. His swing still needs some work before I’m more fully convinced, but he does a lot of things very well. If his swing develops well, he could put up some eye-popping numbers, even considering the environtment.
- RHP Stephen Pryor: A power reliever, Pryor is one of those guys who could really rocket through the system once he gets going. With a fastball that touches the upper 90’s and a slider that should become an above-average pitch, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to say he even has closer potential. He has some command issues, but they mostly seem to stem from needing to get his delivery more consistent.
- RHP Yoervis Medina: While Medina doesn’t have one lights-out pitch, he has three solid ones and another that’s still useful. He’s also got an aggressive mentality on the mound, and is unafraid to use any pitch in any count. While the Cal League tortures most pitching prospects, Medina’s ability to generate grounders should help him survive it in tact.
Other Players Of Note:
- RHP Taylor Stanton: Like Medina, Stanton gets enough grounders that he should do OK. He might have slightly better stuff than Yoervis does, but needs to improve his consistency.
- 1B Dennis Raben: The main thing with Raben is his health. His surgically repaired knee has to hold up, and he needs to keep getting comfortable again.
- 2B/SS Gaberiel Norieaga: The glove whiz is again forced off shortstop by Nick Franklin, but his main concern is if he can ever hit. If he can’t hit in the Cal League, he can’t hit anywhere.
- LHP James Gillheeney: Intriguing stuff and has run good K/BB ratios. Vulnerability to righties and lower ground ball rates might hurt him in this league, though.
- 1B/3B Vince Catricala: A hitter with a good eye and technique, but nothing about him really stands out. Could put himself on the map this season if he can put up good contact and walk rates, as the rest will take care of itself in High Desert.
Breakout Prediction: OF Daniel Carroll
It seems like Carroll has been in the organization forever, but he’s still just 22 years old. Drafted in 2007, he’s struggled with injuries for much of his career, logging only 310 games in three and a half seasons. He was finally able to put together a mostly healthy season in 2010, and put up good numbers in the Midwest League, including 23 extra base hits (nine homers, nine doubles, five triples) and 24 steals.
Carroll is never going to be a star, but he could become a solid, well-rounded player, but to do that he needs to start producing soon. There’s no better place to do that than Stater Brothers Stadium’s friendly confines.
Carroll’s 2011 batting line estimate: .285/.370/.480, 15 2B, 7 3B, 12 HR, 28 SB