In the world of prospects, July brings two things. Trades, blockbuster and otherwise, means that dozens of minor leaguers trade uniforms, moving from affiliates of competitive teams to those of rebuilding ones. The other is the summer rerank. The draft brings new promising talent into each team's pipeline, crowding some of the old infatuations out of sight and mind.
After taking a long look at Detroit's farm, and seeing how thin it is, Baseball America made some choices in their new ranking that are very different from what is expressed on other sites. Their choices seem to reflect an evaluation style that places performance over the projection of players' skills or tools. While the few top choices are obvious, it prominently features players who have dominated the low minors on the bottom half.
Some of the more surprising choice is likely the inclusion of High-A lefty starter Austin Sodders at the ninth spot. A pitchability type with less than overpowering stuff, Sodders has played far more impressively than what anyone would expect from a seventh-round pick with a fastball that scrapes 91 mph. After starting the year with Low-A West Michigan, he earned a promotion to Lakeland by posting a 2.48 FIP through a total of 11 starts. Lakeland has been just as kind to him, and aided by a .257 BABIP, he has played his way into a mention on a top prospects list.
However, while there is no denying how impressive his performances have been, Sodders doesn't have the tools of a top prospect. Plenty of players who have thrived at the lower levels by using deception or pure firepower turn out to be a flash in the plan. He may have pitched well enough to get a spot on a longer list at a far lower spot. Until he can prove that he can beat high-level competition, he doesn't deserve a top-10 selection, especially when it comes at the exclusion of others.
The other big surprise was the fact that Joe Jimenez, one of the most hyped prospects on the farm last season, has completely fallen off the list. What has fueled Baseball America's disenchantment with the big closer? Here's their one sentence of rationale.
"RHP Joe Jimenez missed a month with a lower back injury before returning to Triple-A Toledo."
That's it. The only thing preventing the the pitcher affectionately referred to as Big Joe was an injury that kept him out of the game for a few weeks. When he retuned to the game, he was just as dominant as before, and has a cumulative 13.73 K/9 with Toledo on the season. In fact, at the moment, he's riding an 11-game scoreless streak, through which he has whiffed 14.
Here's the entire list:
1. Alex Faedo, RHP
2. Matt Manning, RHP
3. Beau Burrows, RHP
4. Christin Stewart, OF
5. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP
6. Bryan Garcia, RHP
7. Sandy Baez, RHP
8. Gregory Soto, LHP
9. Austin Sodders, LHP
10. JaCoby Jones, OF
You can read the full article on Baseball America here.