Our first review of Lancaster Week is going to be a player. I'd like to delve into the Lancaster offense like usual, but need a bit more time for that one. Otherwise, the only nuance in the article would be "LANCASTER EFFECT...ARGHHHH."
So, let's talk about one of the faster rising 2012 draftees, former Arizona State outfielder Andrew Aplin. Here's what we had to say about him in our post-draft profile:
You could see this as a pick Houston needed to make because they drafted some hard signs before now, but I don't exactly buy that. Aplin plays up the middle, which we know Bobby Heck values and he has one skill that will play at the next level. Finding major league abilities in the fifth round is hard and doesn't happen all the time. Combine that with the possibility to save on the signing bonus and this looks like a solid pick.
In college, Aplin wasn't really known as a power hitter. He was a defense, on-base guy with a good strikeout to walk ratio. Once he got into the pros, his power numbers spiked tremendously. Well, I say tremendously, if you count seven home runs as a tremendous jump in power.
After hitting .348/.441/.537 in 44 games and 196 plate appearances with Tri-City, Aplin was promoted to Lancaster for another 24 games. His numbers fell off there, but he still hit for some power and showed good signs of improvements. There's always a chance he goes the Ben Heath/Chris Wallace route of small sample size debuts, but there's still a lot to like here.
For one thing, Aplin had a 12 percent walk rate in Tri-City. That number fell to 3 percent in Lancaster, and his real walk rate figures to be somewhere in between. He also doesn't strike out a ton. Even when he was struggling in Lancaster (.260/.287/.423 in 108 PAs), he struck out less than 15 percent of the time. For a speed guy, that kind of contact is important.
The biggest change in his numbers between levels (beside the walk rate) was that his batting average on balls in play fell from an entirely unsustainable .379 in Tri-City to .282 in Lancaster. That kind of regression is expected, especially when the BABiP was so high to begin with. But, looking at his numbers with the JetHawks, Aplin could still have finished with a decent line if he had a better walk rate.
His stolen base success rate was at just over 70 percent this season in 34 attempts. That's probably too low to be a reliable base stealer, but we've seen prospects take a jump in their success rate from that first season in the big leagues to the next. That's definitely an area to watch with him, though.
His defense seemed pretty good as well, and may have been the bigger reason why Aplin was promoted aggressively. In 66 games, Aplin only made two errors. He also had six outfield assists, so he's got some prowess with his arm. Either that, or teams just tried to take advantage of him left and right. I'm going with the former.
Given all that, I expect Aplin to head back to Lancaster next season, with Springer manning center field in Corpus for a while. If he can put up similar numbers in between what he did in Tri-City and Lancaster, I'll feel much better about his future and the possibility of him making the majors some day.