While I announced some big news earlier today, that won’t keep me from trucking along with the Post-Season All-Prospect Teams. I’m wrapping up the High-A teams with the Florida State League; a difficult league to survive for young players but one that was absolutely loaded with talent this year.
Catcher: Gary Sanchez (Tampa) – When the season started, Gary Sanchez was being held back in Charleston to aid in correcting some attitude problems and helping his overall development. The instant he was promoted to the Florida State League, Sanchez became the best catching prospect in the circuit and remains one of the best in the game. Still just 19-years old, Sanchez hit .279/.330/.436 in a really tough offensive environment, hinting at the tremendous offensive potential he possesses. Whether he’s a catcher or not is open to discussion, but his offensive upside is an open and shut case. (Pre-Season Pick: JT Realmuto)
First Base: Alex Dickerson (Bradenton) – I said in the pre-season that this league was absent any significant first base prospects and that remains true following the conclusion of the 2012 campaign. Dickerson is by no means a serious prospect but he does have some pop and hitting ability and could be an up-and-down guy or bench bat if he keeps slugging his way up the ladder. (Pre-Season Pick: James Robbins)
Second Base: Starlin Rodriguez (Palm Beach) – I was hearing the praises of Rodriguez when talking members of the Cardinals organization last off-season and probably should have been more attentive to those comments in my treatment of Rodriguez since that time. Rodriguez has a very good feel for hitting, solid approach at the plate and enough strength to find the gaps. He’s behind Kolten Wong in the second-base pecking order in St. Louis but he could still get a shot if Wong falters. (Pre-Season Pick: Ronald Torreyes)
Third Base: Nick Castellanos (Lakeland) – He’s not a third baseman any longer but he still deserves to take this spot. Before the Tigers promoted him to Double-A, all Castellanos did was hit an absurd .405 in 243 plate appearances with 17 doubles and three home runs. He’s a pure hitter that can make hard contact on just about anything, which is the one hurdle he must overcome in his offensive development, not swinging at everything. Now an outfielder, Castellanos should arrive in Detroit next summer and has a chance to hit in the middle of the order for a long, long time. (Pre-Season Pick: Nick Castellanos)
Shortstop: Javier Baez (Daytona) – When the Cubs finally sent Baez to full-season ball, the Midwest League didn’t appear to be much of a challenge for him as he hit .333/.383/.596 in 57 games there. He struggled after his promotion to High-A, hitting just .188 but still slugging three doubles, a triple and four home runs as a 19-year old in his first full season. Ignore the numbers folks, Baez has incredible offensive tools that make him an elite-level prospect. (Pre-Season Pick: Levi Michael)
Outfield: Oswaldo Arcia (Fort Myers), Jake Marisnick (Dunedin), Christian Yelich (Jupiter) – I gave serious consideration to Tampa’s Tyler Austin but decided to go with bat-first Twins prospect Oswaldo Arcia. He has hit at every stop of his career and if not for an injury that shortened his 2011 season, Arcia would probably be more prominent on the prospect radar right now. He’s in line to reach Minnesota next year and could help spark and offense in need of lots of help. Marisnick was an obvious choice given his outstanding tools and long-time prospect pedigree and Yelich would have been an obvious choice if not for an injury that kept him off the opening-day roster in Jupiter. Both players are top flight talents with the potential to stick in center field and contribute in the middle of a big league order. (Pre-Season Pick: Jake Marisnick, Marcel Ozuna, Mel Rojas)
Pitcher: Gerrit Cole (Bradenton), Jose Fernandez (Jupiter), Jameson Taillon (Bradenton) – Cole and Taillon lived up to pre-season expectations, and solidified their spots on this post-season team (as well as the Eastern League squad for Cole). Both pitchers are outstanding talents that have front of the rotation potential. Fernandez burst on the scene this year with an outstanding performance in the South Atlantic League to start the year and another outstanding performance in the Florida State League as a 19-year old. In 11 FSL starts, Fernandez posted a 1.96 ERA and allowed just 6.2 hits and 2.8 walks per nine innings while fanning 9.7 per nine. He backs up the numbers with tremendous raw stuff, including a fastball that reaches the upper-90s and he tops it all off with exceptional makeup. (Pre-Season Pick: Bradenton Marauders Starting Rotation)