If you follow me on Twitter you have noticed that I tweet nearly everyday about some of the top prospects in the game and how they fared the previous day or how their season is going so far. Billy Hamilton is a common one to tweet since he is off to a great start and stealing literally a base per game. Other top prospects usually take up the bulk of my tweets but I occasionally throw some of the lesser known prospects out there and here I want to take a deeper at look at some of these prospects.
Tommy La Stella (2B – Atlanta Braves): La Stella ranked 16th in my pre-season rankings and was the Braves 8th round selection in last year’s draft and hit .328/.401/.543 in 270 plate appearances with 13 doubles, 5 triples, 9 homeruns, and 26 walks against just 28 strikeouts in A-ball. His wRC+ was 154. He was a bit old for the Sally League at 22 years of age (the average age was 21.4) and started 2012 in the high-A Carolina League. Still about a half year too old for the league, his hot early start is begging for a move to double-A. La Stella is hitting .357/.482/.571 in 56 plate appearances with 4 doubles, a triple, and a homerun. La Stella also has 5 stolen bases in as many attempts and his incredible plate discipline has led to a remarkable 9/2 BB/K rate so far. His wRC+ currently sits at 192.
Roger Kieschnick (OF – San Francisco Giants): Kieschnick was not even mentioned in my top 16 San Francisco Giants prospect report this pre-season after two below-average seasons in double-A. Now, his first year in triple-A, he is off to a killer start hitting .354/.413/.707 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, and 5 homeruns, in 92 plate appearances to go with two outfield assists on defense. His walk rate sits at a career best 8.7% and his is also at a career low.
Xavier Avery (OF – Baltimore Orioles): I was incredibly harsh on Avery in my pre-season rankings and said he only had a future as a pinch-runner due to lack of plate discipline and a bad swing. Well, Avery is making me look like a fool with career best 14.6% walk rate in the early going. His previous high in a full season was stop was 8.4%. He is not only taking walks but is also hitting well in the early going with a .288/.405/.470 line in 82 plate appearances with 2 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 homeruns as well as 7 stolen bases in as many attempts. His would possibly be higher had he not had to lay down three sacrifice bunts already. He only had one full season with a wRC+ over 100 and it was in 2010 with a 108. His wRC+ this year, as a 22 year old in triple-A, is 156.
Brad Miller (SS – Seattle Mariners): The Mariners’ 2nd round pick from last season, and 10th ranked prospect in my pre-season rankings, hit right out of the gate in 2011 with a .415/.458/.528 line in a small sample size 59 plate appearances. His hot bat followed him to the high-A California league where he is currently hitting .321/.418/.641 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homeruns, and 4 stolen bases in as many tries. He also owns a 14.1% walk rate.
These are all small sample sizes but they are worth noting and they are prospects that we should pay a little more attention to as the season progresses.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt