Photo By Kelly O'Connor // www.sittingstill.net My savior when it comes to Minor League photos.
If you will allow me to self-deprecate:
I am not perfect. Far from it. Perhaps my greatest flaw lies in inertia. Not just laziness--though I've got that in spades, too--but also a stubbornness and a tendency to avoid change.
It should come as no surprise, then, that my (usually) daily Minor Lines "column" also suffers from a fair bit of inertia. Thus why Adam Mills and Kris Johnson continued to appear every start while Alex Hassan's impressive performance wasn't mentioned until many months into the season.
While I eventually did get Hassan in there, there were many others putting up good, encouraging seasons who just plain got ignored. It is in that interest that I present now this "special edition" of Minor Lines, with a look at some of those I overlooked as the season progressed.
Curtney Doran, OF, DSL
What did he do?: Hit .225 in his second year in the DSL despite not having a particularly low BABIP (.290, and while he's apparently not too slow, his 8 SB to 10 CS this year may suggest that something's up there). And of his 47 hits, only 16 were for extra bases. Did I mention that he walked in about a quarter of his plate appearances for a .425 OBP as an 18-year-old?
Overlooked Because: Well, it's the DSL, which is just kind of a crazy league where weird things happen and box scores don't always show up on time. Also, all those strikeouts and so few hits don't exactly jump out in the box scores!
Jason Thompson, SS, GCL
What did he do?: Not much as a whole. A .227/.284/.384 doesn't exactly set your heart on fire for a 20-year-old in Rookie ball, even with an 11th round pick behind him. But when you're in the short-season GCL, one terrible, horrible month can really kill off a season, and that seems to be the case here. A .125/.133/.139 line in July...well, that'll do you in right quick. But, his turn-around in August was to the tune of a crisp .290/.410/.551 with 11 XBH. Not bad.
Overlooked Because: The beginning, and quite frankly he had a pretty big BABIP in August to "make up" for July. Still, a guy who the Sox thought showed some decent promise in the draft showed some decent promise as the season went on. Something to think about. Or maybe not.
Felix Sanchez, OF, Lowell
What did he do?: Ran like the wind. 38 stolen bases in under 60 games is not bad. And a .399 OBP looks good on paper, even if it comes without any power.
Overlooked Because: Well, there is a .424 BABIP to consider. Yeah, that's pretty high. On the other hand, he's incredibly fast (enough to be instantly noticeable in what little I saw in Futures at Fenway, when he stole bases and nabbed an infield single. That last bit might be very important when you consider his 70% ground ball rate (batted balls in the minors are sketchy, but they can usually tell if it's in the ground or in the air I think).
Reynaldo Rodriguez, 1B, Greenville
Overlooked Because: OK, switched up for dramatic purposes. A 24-year-old independent league acquisition along with Daniel Nava, Rodriguez was pretty good in the Winter Leagues, but came out slow, missing April entirely before stinking up the place in May.
What did he do?: He got better. An .805 OPS in June, followed by an .850 OPS in July. And then you know how Josh Reddick went insane in August? Well, the only player with a higher OPS in the Sox' system that month was one Reynaldo Rodriguez, who managed a line of .348/.449/.674, slugging seven homers and showing notably more plate discipline than Reddick with a 12:18 BB:K. And if you want to know the real offensive force behind Greenville's initial playoff win, it was Mr. Rodriguez with three hits and two doubles.
Dan Butler, C, Greenville/Salem
What did he do?: After tearing up Greenville for a couple hundred at bats, Dan Butler took his game to High-A ball and slowed down only a hair, posting a line of .292/.434/.425 for the Salem Sox. Perhaps most impressive was his 23:21 BB:K in Salem after looking a bit like a BABIP king in Greenville.
Overlooked Because: Well, he's 23, and about to turn 24 before reaching Double-A. Catching is supposed to be slow-going, but still, seeing a guy who didn't even get drafted like Butler dominating non-age appropriate competition needs a Daniel Nava story and call-up possibilities to get really interesting, right?
Chih-Hsien Chiang, OF, Portland
What did he do?: Like Reynaldo Rodriguez, he got better. In the second half of the season, there was arguably no better Sea Dog than Chiang. Rizzo? Great. Lavarnway? Great. Chiang? Maybe better. He lead the team with a line of .320/.367/.510 in July before improving to .322/.378/.556 in August, while finally showing some of the small pop that had disappeared after leaving Lancaster.
Overlooked Because: A victim of BABIP for the most part, Chiang just wasn't very noticeable when all the balls-in-play were finding gloves. A typically aggressive push through the system also may have kept numbers from being particularly impressive due to this type of pattern.
To be certain, there's no guaranteeing that any of these players will do anything next year. Sanchez' BABIP could be almost entirely luck, Butler could just be the next guy to stall out in Double-A after beating up on younger opposition, and who knows if Curtney Doran actually knows how to swing a bat? Still, though, if I could choose between focusing on Ryan Dent or Chih-Hsien Chiang, I'll take Chiang.
Any overlooked sleepers of your own to share? Go ahead and throw 'em out in the comments. Pitchers will be next week if I can find enough guys I didn't find during the season (Ahem--Pete Ruiz).