Minor League Storylines for 2010, Revisited

You may remember this post.  As a primer for this this year's edition, let's take a look back and see how some of those storylines played out.  Nothing too in-depth here as many of these topics will carry over.

"Breakout sluggers leave hitter haven High Desert" - We planned to keep an eye on Alex Liddi, Carlos Peguero and Joe Dunigan as they moved from High Desert to West Tenn after their big-time offensive seasons in 2009.  Their wide home/away splits put their supposed breakouts in doubt and a more normal environment in AA figured to give us a better idea of where each player stood. 

Liddi proved that his transformation from Italian novelty back to interesting prospect was legitimate with a .281/.353/.476 line.  Peguero proved that he can hit the ball out of any ballpark, but his good overall line can mostly be attributed to a blistering hot start.  Strikeouts continue to be a major problem for him, though he was at least able to maintain an above-average walk rate.  Of the three, Dunigan was expected to see the harshest drop in production and indeed he did, dropping completely off the radar.

 

"Dustin Ackley front and center" - All eyes were on our golden boy as he prepared to make his regular season professional debut following a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League the year prior.  Would the bat live up to all the hype?  Would he be able to make a quick transition to second base?

 

Ackley had a horrible start to the 2010 season with the bat, but rebounded nicely and proved himself to be plenty capable of handling Pacific Coast League pitching by the end of the season.  He went from there to destroy Arizona Fall League pitching, winning MVP.  His second base defense remains a work in progress and, along with service time manipulation, is a major reason why he is not a Seattle Mariner right now. 

"Top prospects attempt to rebound from major injuries" - Dennis Raben had missed the entire 2009 season with microfracture surgery in his knee, Carlos Triunfel missed practically the entire season with a broken leg and injured ankle while Michael Pineda was looking to put together a healthy season after dealing with recurring elbow problems.

Pineda was the big success story, staying healthy and establishing himself as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.  Raben dealt with some knee soreness as well as some back issues, but had a nice year at the plate following the long layoff, though his career as an outfielder appears over.  Triunfel didn't progress at the plate as hoped and has been surpassed on the organizational depth chart by a new crop of infield prospects.  There is some conflicting information out there, but I've heard he showed a little improvement at shortstop, so that's something.  Maybe.  Probably not.

"Top prospects attempt to rebound from disappointing seasons" - Here I highlighted Greg Halman, Jharmidy De Jesus, Mario Martinez and Josh Fields.  Halman's season can't be viewed as anything other than a success.  Following a .210/.278/.420 line with AA in 2009, Halman bumped up to AAA Tacoma and hit .243/.310/.545 with 33 dingers.  That's far from putting him back on the superstar path, but he's certainly a little more interesting.  The strikeouts didn't come down, but he registered the highest walk rate of his career while keeping his power intact.

De Jesus didn't play at all while dealing with some sort of shoulder and/or upper back injury, Martinez failed again to figure out class-A pitching and Fields struggled through dead arm, possibly stemming back to his long layoff after the 2008 draft.  Fields has the best shot of this trio to get back on track and become a useful big leaguer given his position, but had a sore back and shoulder this spring.

"Our first extended look at Zduriencik's imports" - Jack Zduriencik continued his mission of adding talent throughout the organization, and 2010 gave us are first good look at the players acquired during the 2009 season.  Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin and James Jones wound up making Keith Law's most recent top 100 while Guillermo Pimentel, Rich Poythress and Ji-man Choi emerged as quality prospects. Trade pickups Mauricio Robles and Dan Cortes probably won't be living up to some of the initial hype, but look like useful bullpen arms if nothing else, while Joherymn Chavez had a huge season and looks better now than he did when the Mariners got him for Brandon Morrow.

Some prospects didn't make much noise, but that's to be expected.  One of the more notable letdowns would have to be first rounder Steve Baron, though I suspect I'll have something to say about him in the 2011 post.

Stay tuned.

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