With the minor league season officially wrapped up, it’s time to look back at the each organization’s top tools. Note: only everyday players with 250+ plate appearances, starting pitchers with 80+ innings, and relievers with 40+ innings were considered. For more Top MiLB Tools click here.
Hit Tool: Jesse Winker,LF/RF
Power: Jesse Winker, LF/RF
Eye: Jesse Winker, LF/RF
Runner: Billy Hamilton, CF
K-Ability: Robert Stephenson, RHP
Control: Jake Johnson, RHP
Best Hit Tool: After an impressive professional debut, Jesse Winker, who batted .338/.443/.500 in the Pioneer League in 2012, saw an overall decline in his average this season with Dayton – thanks to a predictable regression in BABIP – but the young corner outfielder improved his contact rate and power against the older Midwest League competition.
Best Power: Jesse Winker showed impressive pop for an 18-year-old in rookie ball in 2012, but he took an important development during his first full season, slugging 39 extra-base knocks (18 doubles, five triples, and 16 homeruns) in just 112 games.
Best Plate Discipline: Again, Jesse Winker has an advanced approach at the plate considering his age. And despite moving up a level this season, Winker more or less maintained a plus-walk rate (13.0%).
Best Base Stealer: Arguably the fastest man in the game, Billy Hamilton has stolen a whopping 346 bags since the start of 2011 (including his time in the majors). He could be the first player since Vince Coleman in 1987 to swipe 100 bases in a big league season.
Best Ability to Miss Bats: Right-hander Robert Stephenson breezed through three levels this season, all the while maintaining impressive strikeout totals. Stephenson, a first rounder in 2011, struck out 136 in 114.1 combined innings (10.7 K/9).
Best Control: Jake Johnson, who missed the entire 2011 season (presumably to injury), is a bit of sleeper-type prospect for Cincinnati. The 6-foot-4 right-hander’s Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA, is more than a full run better than his actual ERA (3.80 vs. 5.10) in large part to his ability to pound the strike zone. Johnson issued just 27 free passes in 118.1 innings this season (2.1 BB/9) and has averaged just 2.5 BB/9 throughout his professional career.
Photo of Jesse Winker Courtesy of Paul R. Gierhart via MiLB.com.