Minor League Preview: AA

Yesterday I looked over the AAA roster, today I'm looking at Corpus Christi where there are more prospect types. I am really intrigued by this roster, should be extremely interesting.

Corpus Christi

Offensive Player of the Year: J.D. Martinez

Tough not to pick Martinez here. He finished 2010 in AA and held his own, although with decreased power. He has an advanced bat, especially in comparison to the other names here. Speaking of which: T.J. Steele's return to the Hooks may be the most interesting. He's performed well in the sparse time he's been healthy and had some success this spring. However, he needs to finally put together a healthy season. He has plenty of tools, so if he can stay in the lineup he could move up the prospect rankings. Jon Gaston struggled last year after out slugging the rest of the minors in 2009. He's returning to the Hooks to prove he isn't merely a product of the Cal League. It'll be interesting to see which of the outfielders are promoted first, if any. Hopefully they are all pushing for AAA jobs by June. Jimmy Paredes' inclusion on the roster was almost a head-scratcher. If only because he was placed at Lexington after being traded last summer. Meanwhile Jonathan Villar was placed at Lancaster around the same time and now is returning to Lancaster... interesting. Paredes has plenty of talent and has the opportunity to "..." this season.

Player of the Year: Ross Seaton

This is going to be my big out on a limb pick. Dallas Keuchel could be the obvious pick with his advanced feel and command. Kyle Greenwalt could also find his way into the mix, he's found solid results at every level. However, my pick is Ross Seaton. He has the most upside of the bunch. He hasn't been very successful, at least, he hasn't blown anyone away. Still, I have my bets he puts it together here in his third full season. Dig it. There are also some intriguing relievers: Matt Nevarez, Pat Urckfitz, Arcenio Leon and Eric Abreu among others.

Breakout Players: Ross Seaton, T.J. Steele and Brandon Barnes

I've already discussed Seaton and Steele some. They're two of my favorite [hoping to turn it around] prospects however, I'd like to bring one more name into the discussion, Brandon Barnes. Barnes is a bit of an older prospect for the levels he's been at. He's not the most disciplined hitter. However, he's often been the fourth reliever on a team. He's never really gotten the chance to play full-time. This is still the case in 2011. However, there's a chance he finds some consistent playing time if one of the other OFers get called up or TJ Steele gets injured before June. Why before June? Because there is another mess of OFers waiting int he wings at Lancaster Airport... but more on them later. Barnes has some ability with the bat and I think his numbers would be huge if given 400+ plate appearances. I believe the front office is banking on Jimmy Paredes putting a big step forward and possibly being the biggest breakout player in the organization. But he's too raw for AA and should have been slowed down... obviously, I think I'm wrong. However, Paredes could be the biggest "..." on this team. Infielder, David Flores is another guy who could have some success.

Busts: Jon Gaston... maybe, Jimmy Paredes

I think Jon Gaston has had some success with the bat in the past. However, he lacks patience and has yet to pass the AA test. I don't think he will. Paredes is an odd prospect. He is raw and toolsy. However, his tools aren't as great as some other prospects even within the organization: DeShields and Villar come to mind. So, he has all the risks of a higher ceiling raw prospect, but I don't know just how good he can be. I think this season will be a huge test for him, but it could go a long way to unveiling his identity. Of course, there is also the added benefit that if he fails it could be seen as "expected" and he'll simply replay the level next season.

Call-Ups to Watch: J.D. Martinez, T.J. Steele and Dallas Keuchel

Martinez is the big name, the big hope is he keeps the ball rolling and accents through the organization like Lyles did. Possibly he'll having us salivating at the chance he replaces Lee in left in 2012. Need to watch his power though. He dropped off when moved to AA last season and that's of some concern. Steele is one of my hot picks. I think he has a ton of potential and could push for a spot onto a mediocre Oklahoma City lineup. Finally, Keuchel is the arm I most see moving up this summer. As long as he stays solid I see a September call-up for him. Keuchel looks like a back-end of the rotation type pitcher and it'd be nice to have another option there soon. I stated earlier that I'm extremely high on Ross Seaton. However, I think he'll spend the whole year in the Texas League no matter how he performs.

I love this team because they have many players worth tracking. However, all of these players have some questions.

  • Will Martinez' power come back? Can he keep the pace he set last season?
  • Will Steele stay healthy and live up to potential?
  • Will Gaston figure things out in his second season at Corpus Christi?
  • Will Paredes succeed or is he set up to fail?
  • Will Seaton finally be more than mediocre? Start striking out batters?
  • Will Dallas Keuchel's stuff be enough for AA?
  • Can Brandon Barnes be this team's out of nowhere man?

As always, I'd love to here your answers to these questions. As well as your thoughts on the O-MVP, Pitcher of the year, breakouts and busts. See you in the comment section.

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