The Class A West Michigan Whitecaps finished the 2012 season with a record of 72-68, just missing a postseason berth in the Midwest League Playoffs. West Michigan had/has its share of legitimate prospects, both in the pitching staff and among the positional players. Some players exploded onto the scene with outstanding years, some struggled but still retain legitimate major league potential, and some saw their prospect profiles stumble mightily.
As I said, the Whitecaps roster had several players with legitimate major league potential, lead by SS Eugenio Saurez, who many, including myself, believe to be the Tigers heir apparent at SS. I warn you to be patient, however, as I don't see Saurez being ready to take over the SS position full-time until 2015. It's possible that he will skip High-A Lakeland altogether in 2013 and go right to AA Erie, but even then, he needs to perform well there for a full season, then perhaps use 2014 as a split between AAA and Detroit, but again, that really is a best case scenario. Also, a guy who I really like, RF Steven Moya somewhat burst onto the scene in 2012, displaying some of the light tower power that excited the holy blue hell out of scouts. He's 6'7' and only 20 years old, but possesses the athleticism to at least be an average RF moving forward. He needs to work on plate discipline and strike zone recognition, but at this point, the sky is really the limit for Moya in terms of his bat potential. Moya had Tommy John surgery in June, but being a position player, the recovery time is significantly less so than if he were a pitcher, so he should be ready to go early in 2013 if all goes well.
There are a few guys who I believe possess some backup/2nd division MLB potential, namely 2B/SS Brandon Loy, 3B Jason King, and OF Jeff McVaney. Loy is the prototypical glove-first middle infielder, so for comparisons' sake, think Danny Worth, although I believe that Loy is better defensively than Worth. He plays plus D at either 2B or SS, and displays a plus arm from 2B, while still above-average from SS. He has far too much swing and miss in his game, but I believe the glove will play in the majors eventually. King got off to a slow start due to injuries, but finished with a pretty respectable line, and absolutely tore the cover off the ball down the stretch. He has solid line drive power than can still develop a bit more to 10-15 HR power, and doesn't play bad D, but his footwork is average at best. I think I'm one of the very few that has some belief left in King, but I think he maintains some major league potential as a bat-first corner IF. McVaney was just drafted in June 2012, and after signing, spent a bit of time with Connecticut, and then found himself starting everyday in the middle of the order for West Michigan. I think he could be a 4th OF in the bigs, as he shows a good swing that generates pretty good backspin, as evidenced by his 24 XBH in 272 AB while playing his first pro season.
There are guys like Aaron Westlake and Chad Wright that put up decent numbers this season, but I see them as more org guys, especially someone like Westlake, who, lauded for his advanced hit/power tools when drafted, managed only a .711 OPS with 9 HR and 105 K.
As for the pitchers, the guys who excite me most are actually a pair of 1st year pros, Chad Smith and Will Clinard. Both relievers, I see each of them having 7th inning potential in the majors, and could both move rather quickly through the system. In regards to the starters, LHP Kyle Ryan, only 20, is 6'5" and recorded 105 K's to only 29 BB's in 158 2/3 IP. He, to me, sticks out as WMI's best SP prospect, but he needs to work on getting the ball down consistently, as he was hit hard at times. Thomas Collier and Marcelo Carreno are also both solid prospects, and both have back-of-the-rotation ceilings. Of the two, Carreno takes my vote for the better one.
Let's get to the numbers shall we?
-SS Eugenio Saurez (21): .288/.380/.409/.789/135 Games. 511 AB, 147 H, 34 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 67 RBI, 82 R, 65 BB, 116 K, 21 SB.
-OF Steven Moya (20): .288/.319/.481/.801/59 Games. 243 AB, 70 H, 14 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 28 R, 11 BB, 59 K, 5 SB.
-OF Chad Wright (23): .256/.323/.329/.653/130 Games. 519 AB, 133 H, 18 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 73 R, 44 BB, 66 K, 21 SB.
-3B Jason King (23): .253/.307/.400/.707/90 Games. 340 AB, 86 H, 25 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 43 R, 25 BB, 53 K, 4 SB.
-OF Jeff McVaney (22): .257/.322/.390/.712/71 Games (Connecticut and WMI). 272 AB, 70 H, 16 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 39 R, 17 BB, 47 K.
-1B Aaron Westlake (23): .249/.320/.391/.711/123 Games. 465 AB, 116 H, 35 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 69 RBI, 56 R, 47 BB, 105 K, 4 SB.
-2B Brandon Loy (22): .240/.301/.315/.616/134 Games. 499 AB, 120 H, 21 2B, 5 3B, 2 Hr, 39 RBI, 71 R, 45 BB, 119 K, 21 SB.
-C/1B Pat Leyland (20): .237/.250/.300/.550/68 Games. 257 AB, 61 H, 10 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 18 R, 3 BB, 33 K.
-SP Kyle Ryan (20): 7-8. 3.74 ERA, 158 2/3 IP, 176 H, 29 BB, 105 K, 1.29 WHIP
-SP Marcelo Carreno (21): 9-8, 3.23 ERA, 139 1/3 IP, 129 H, 28 BB, 119 K, 1.13 WHIP
-SP Thomas Collier (22): 9-8, 2.74, 124 2/3 IP, 112 H, 37 BB, 84 K, 1.20 WHIP
-P Michael Torrealba (22): 5-5, 3.01 ERA, 74 2/3 IP, 57 H, 31 BB, 81 K, 1.18 WHIP, 5 Saves.
-P Melvin Mercedes (21): 0-3, 2.80 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 54 H, 23 BB, 43 K, 1.20 WHIP, 9 Saves.
-P Chad Smith (22): 1-2, 2.59 ERA, 41 2/3 IP, 34 H, 14 BB, 46 K, 1.15 WHIP (split time btwn GCL/Conn/WMI)
-P Will Clinard (22): 3-2, 2.41 ERA, 37 1/3 IP, 35 H, 9 BB, 39 K, 1.18 WHIP (split time btwn Conn/WMI)
And that's it for the Whitecaps. Thanks for reading, everyone. Please feel free to comment with any thoughts, concerns, criticisms, etc, as I love interacting with readers.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter!:
@B_Sakowski or @TigersProspects
Tell your friends, and Go Tigers!