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Prospects Who Have Made Underappreciated Improvements

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Here are 4 prospects that are showing major signs of improvement that have generally gone unnoticed.
JaDamion Williams (LF)
2012 (A): 9.6%BB 28.3%K .34BB/K .106 ISO 9.6%IFB .651OPS
2013 (A): 14.5%BB 20.7%K .70BB/K .180 ISO 5.3%IFB .852OPS

JD Williams has made significant improvements in both his BB and K rates, which has allowed him to draw over twice as many BBs per K as a year ago, a staggering improvement. He has also hit for much more power this year, posting a .180 ISO, while cutting his infield fly balls nearly in half. As a result, Williams has increased his OPS by over .200 points to .852, the 9th highest total in the MWL (trailing 3 Twins).

Williams was repeating A ball and at 22 was on the older side for the level, but he was just promoted to Ft. Myers. Although his age will always prevent him from being considered a great prospect, remember that he is a tremendous athlete: he was named the Twins’s fastest baserunner by BA in 2012, only to be unseated by some guy with the last name of Buxton.

Levi Michael (SS)
2012 (A+): 10.9%BB 16.0%K .68BB/K .065ISO 6-6 SB (8 SB in 162 G) .650OPS
2013 (A+): 11.3%BB 14.6%K .77BB/K .122ISO 11-12SB (32 SB in 162 G) .708 OPS

Levi Michael has made small improvements in both his BB and K rates, leading to a noticeable increase in his already good BB/K rate. The big changes for Michael, however, is that he is hitting for significantly more power—nearly doubling his ISO—while becoming a legitimate basestealing threat. Whether or not he can sustain these improvements is yet to be seen, but if he can, he could be a dynamic middle infielder. Just 3 middle infielders posted at least 30 steals with an ISO over .120 in 2012: Jose Reyes, Jason Kipnis, and Jimmy Rollins.

Similar to Williams, Michael is repeating a level this year, and as a result isn’t young for his level. It is important to remember, however, that Michael is a former 1st rounder who has a legitimate chance to stick at SS (he was named the best defensive infielder in the system by BA in 2012). If he can play solid defense at short, his .700+ OPS and good speed would make him a quality starter for the Twins.

It is worth noting that Michael is in an unenviable position: Santana and Rosario are blocking a promotion, Aderlin Mejia is competition for playing time, and Polano and Goodrum are nipping at his heels.

Josmil Pinto (C)
2012 (A+): 9.9%BB 16.0%K .62BB/K .178ISO
2013 (AA): 15.2BB 16.5%K .92BB/K .190ISO

Pinto has kept his K rate constant despite drawing significantly more walks and hitting for more power. His combination of plate discipline and power is incredible (Joey Votto currently has a .86 BB/K with a .188 ISO).

Although Buxton and Sano have received the bulk of the attention (and rightfully so due to their youth and incredible potential), Pinto has probably been the most productive and consistent hitter in the system this year, not named Colabello. Consider his monthly OPS: .975 in April, .936 in May, .857 in June, .972 in 15 games so far in July. That’s consistency. Furthermore, his BB/K ratio has improved every month: .57 in April, .86 in May, 1.06 in June, and 2 so far in July. Oh yeah, in his last 10 game he has an OPS of .943 and an 11:3 K/BB ratio. That’s bordering on absurd.

Pinto’s numbers clearly scream promotion but he probably has to wait for Doumit to be traded.

Trevor May (SP)
2012: 5.4 IP/GS 4.87 ERA 1.44 WHIP 1.94K/BB
April: 5 IP/GS 4.62 ERA 1.62 WHIP 1.5K/BB
May: 5.8IP/GS 3.60 ERA 1.49 WHIP 1.8K/BB
June/July: 6.4IP/GS 3.43 ERA 1.10 WHIP 3.5K/BB

Trevor May had a very discouraging month of April, posting numbers that were across the board worse than his disappointing 2012, that led to him repeating AA and dropping off of top 100 lists. However, May has improved consistently since then, especially in June and July, where he has posted a 3.5K/BB ratio, which included a stretch of four straight starts with just 1 BB. May’s BB/9 ratio is under 4 for the first time since he made 11 starts in A ball in 2010.

There have been concerns about May’s ability to remain a starter, but as the season has continued he has shown improved ability to limit walks and go deeper into starts. It is important to remember that he is just 3 months younger than Alex Meyer, who is generally considered to be a top 50 prospect. If May can finish strong and continue to improve, he should at least be in the conversation for a top 100 prospect. A promotion to AAA this year will probably depend on whether or not the Twins trade any starters at the deadline.

Updated 07-20-2013 at 12:06 AM by Boone

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  1. stringer bell's Avatar
    I've been on the Pinto bandwagon for the long ride this season. He certainly isn't getting the publicity he might if the Twins didn't have Sano and Buxton. A promotion to Rochester has to happen and seeing some big league time makes sense to me. Trade Doumit and ride with Josmil!
  2. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
    Great information. It would be really nice to see Pinto get some time in September. Doumit was a great story last year but has no future with the Twins. Nice to see Trevor Mays stats really improving after a rough April. One thing that stands out for may is the lower WHIP. He still needs to have a little more control.
  3. SurroundedByTigers's Avatar
    What positions do these guys play anyway? Just simple facts would clarify this for the average Twins follower.
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