With the minor league season only getting underway on Thursday, we don't have a full week's worth of box scores to work with. That said, if you thought a prospect junkie like me was going to wait a week-and-a-half before rolling out the first prospect roundup of the year... well...
I would feel obligated here to make the normal disclaimer about sample sizes, and not reading too much into 4 games' worth of at bats, etc., but you guys are smart enough to know that already, so let's just skip that part.
Without further ado, then, check below the jump for the first prospect roundup of 2011, including updates on a couple of conversion projects, a pair of Reading sluggers who need to have big years, and a 2010 draft pick who looks like a potential sleeper.
Joe Savery, 1B-L, Clearwater: Savery was a good hitter in his college career at Rice -- he hit a combined .356/.444/.550 with 20 HR across three seasons -- but it's asking a lot for a guy who's essentially done nothing but pitch full-time for the past three seasons to grab a bat again. So far, so good, however, as Savery is off to a blistering start (12-for-15 for an early .800/.813/1.133 line), and while small sample size caveats obviously apply, maybe letting the 2007 1st round pick hit is a bit more than a desperation heave. In any case, it's always pretty impressive when you go 2-for-3 in a game (as Savery did Sunday) and see your batting average drop.
Jarred Cosart, RHP, Clearwater: It was a weird 2011 debut for the hard-throwing righthander, as Cosart took a no hitter into the 5th and held the Dunedin Blue Jays to just 2 hits and 0 runs over 6 innings, but he did issue 4 walks and uncork a wild pitch. Still, the 11 ground outs (to 1 fly out) and 2 GIDPs are a sign that Cosart had good stuff, but his command was just a bit off. Early days, but something to monitor going forward; after all, if Trevor May's 2010 can teach us anything, it's that retiring High-A hitters (as opposed to Low-A hitters) requires finer command in addition to good raw stuff.
Jonathan Singleton, LF-L, Clearwater: The club's top position prospect aside from Domonic Brown has yet to knock his first extra base hit of the 2011, but he's 5-for-15 early and has walked 3 times to 5 strikeouts, and 2 of those singles came against a rehabbing Brandon Morrow (an impressive feat for any 19 year old). The Florida State League isn't the friendliest place for power hitters, so the lefty is unlikely to post eye popping slugging numbers in 2011, but so long as the plate discipline stays intact (as it has early on), there shouldn't be any reason for concern.
Vance Worley, RHP, Lehigh Valley: You almost have to feel bad for Worley in the sense that he made it into the organization a few years too late. A club that gave Adam Eaton 19 starts in 2008 -- think about that for a minute -- is suddenly flush with pitching talent, relegating a major league ready back end guy like Worley to another go around in Triple-A. The bespectacled one was as good as he could be in the Pigs' season opener, tossing 6 scoreless frames and allowing just 4 hits and a walk while whiffing 9 and inducing 6 ground outs (and no fly outs).
David Buchanan, RHP, Lakewood: Buchanan intrigued me as the club's 7th round pick in the 2010 draft, as draft reports had the Georgia State Friday starter really honing his command of a legit three pitch arsenal before he went down with a finger injury. He wasn't particularly impressive in the New York-Penn League last summer, posting just a 30:23 K:BB in 62.0 innings pitched, but I thought about tabbing him as a sleeper heading into this year on the hope that a professional offseason regimen would do him some good. His Sunday start for Lakewood -- 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 4 K -- is a first step in the right direction.
Matt Rizzotti, 1B-L, Reading: 2010's breakout player doesn't really have anything left to prove at Double-A after torching the level to the tune of .361/.452/.635 last year, but a logjam of Quad-A types in Lehigh Valley spurred the organization to send him back to Reading. All Rizzotti can do is hit until he gets handed a bus ticket elsewhere, and to his credit, he's doing just that, roping 4 doubles in his first 17 plate appearances, and showing the same control of the strike zone (2 BB, 1 K) that he did last year.
Jiwan James, OF-S, Clearwater: As Phuture Phillies pointed out on Twitter the other night, James walked in a mere 35 of his 617 plate appearances last year (5.7%), so it's encouraging to see his early season approach in 2011: 3 walks, 1 strikeout. The former hurler may not be off to the same sizzling start as Savery (just 4-for-16 through 4 games), but as a switch hitting center fielder with excellent raw tools, his upside is considerably higher. James has extra base hits as of yet, but after seeing him post a .312 OBP in 2010, the organization will just be happy if he adopts a true leadoff approach.
Michael Stutes, RHP, Lehigh Valley: It's interesting to look back at Stutes' career path: a key cog on the 2006 NCAA champion Oregon State squad, Stutes had a rough senior year, fell to the Phillies in the 11th round of the 2008 draft, dominated Williamsport and Lakewood en route to a 2009 assignment to Reading, struggled a bit in both '09 and '10 (the latter out of the bullpen)... and now, all of a sudden, it seems that something's clicked. He's so far whiffed 7 in 3.1 innings out of the Lehigh Valley pen, and he looks to have passed Scott Mathieson on the organizational depth chart, so that when a bullpen vacancy opens, he'll probably be the first one summoned.
Leandro Castro, OF-R, Clearwater: The Dominican outfielder slipped to #29 on this past offseason's Top 30 list after a so-so offensive year at Lakewood. In the first week of 2011, however, he flashed some of the same power that put him on the prospect radar back in his 2009 stint with Williamsport, clubbing a pair of homers as part of a 7-for-15 week. He's also back to playing right field after ceding that position to Domingo Santana and Anthony Hewitt a year ago -- not an earth-shattering move up the defensive spectrum, to be sure, but one that's certainly helpful for a guy who may not profile as an everyday corner outfielder.
Cody Overbeck, 3B-R, Reading: A couple of things kept Overbeck off my Top 30: he turned 24 in June of last year, didn't make enough contact in Double-A (30.2% K), and while fielding percentage isn't the greatest proxy in the world, a .919 mark in pro ball has me skeptical about his glove at the hot corner. That said, the dude does have raw power, so if he can make enough contact to make that power usable, he's might have a shot as an Eric Hinske four corners reserve type. How he fares in Reading this year will go a long way toward determining whether that's a plausible career path for Overbeck, and a 5-for-15 start with 2 long balls is definitely encouraging.