MLB.com’s Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo has been an extremely busy man over the last week. Last Monday, Mayo began to unveil his lists of who he believed were the Top 10 Minor League prospects at each position. If you the readers have not had a chance to look each post over, I highly suggest you do. Each of the position-specific posts are a short but informative overview of some of Minor League baseball’s best players, some of whom could be potential rising stars sooner as opposed to later.
My thoughts on Mayo’s recent work aside, the reason I brought these posts up was in large part due to the “Top 10 Second Basemen” one from over the weekend. Why did this post peak my interest? Well, Mayo ranked not one, but two Padres Second Base prospects in his “Top 10:” Jedd Gyorko was his #1 overall prospect at the position, and Cory Spangenberg was listed at #4.
The success and recognition of some of the Padres’ best prospects should be no news to any of us “Friars Faithful.” Over the last four seasons, San Diego has been able to build a competitive and highly touted Farm System, and according to Keith Law of ESPN.com, the Padres’ possessed the #1 ranked Farm System in all of Major League Baseball in 2012.
Gyorko more than deserves his #1 ranking, and his overall production at the plate since he began his career in the Padres’ Minor League system is the biggest reason why.
Second Base is not a position one usually associates with power numbers, but Gyorko does possess some “pop.” Over the last two years, the Padres 2nd Round pick from the 2010 Draft has smacked a total of 55 Home Runs and 75 Doubles! With his extra-base hits have come runs, and Gyorko has been an excellent run producer over his Minor League career as well. During the 2011 season, he knocked in 114, and in 2012 he finished with an even 100 between San Antonio (Double-A) and Tucson (Triple-A).
As solid as his power numbers have been, Gyorko has proved that he can hit for a high average and get on base consistently as well. Gyorko hit an impressive .311 between Double and Triple-A in 2012, and an even more impressive .333 between Advanced-A and Double-A ball the year before. The former West Virginia Mountaineer also posted a terrific .400 On-Base Percentage in 2011, and a .373 mark last year, including a .380 OBP with Triple-A Tucson.
Gyorko might be able to find himself on to the big league roster if he enjoys a solid Spring. But even if he does not break Spring Training with the Padres, he will likely be on the “door-step” to the Majors, and the first Middle Infielder called up if injuries or poor play strike those at the big league level during the regular season. If by some horrible turn of events that Third Baseman Chase Headley is injured, Gyorko also has experience as a Third Baseman, and can fill in if the Padres need him to, or shift over to Second Base while Logan Forsythe assumes the position.
Unlike Gyorko, Spangenberg will likely spend the entirety of the 2013 season at the Minor League level. The speedy Spangenberg finished his first year in Advanced-A ball last year (Lake Elsinore) in 2012, and is unlikely to advance past San Antonio this year. Although the soon to be 3rd year player has yet to play in Double-A ball, there is still plenty for us Padres fans to be excited about regarding the 2011 Draft’s 10th overall selection.
Last year, Spangenberg earned a promotion to Advanced-A ball in 2012 after he enjoyed an impressive 72 Game debut (.316 BA, 17 2B’s, 3 HR’s, 44 RBI’s, 25 SB’s) between Eugene and Fort Wayne during the 2011 campaign. Unfortunately for Spangenberg, a head injury forced him to miss a chunk of last year in the California League, and he only played in 98 Games. While the head injury cost him time, the then 21 year-old was still able to have a decent season with the Storm. Overall, Spangenberg recorded a .271 Batting Average, 12 Doubles, 8 Triples, 1 Home Run, 40 RBI’s, and 27 Stolen Bases. While Spangenberg does not possess the type of raw power that Gyorko does, he has illustrated so far that he can be a top of the order threat in terms of getting on base, stealing bases, and driving in a fair amount of runs.
As I alluded to before, Spangenberg will likely begin this year with Double-A San Antonio. The potential promotion should be good for the youngster as the competition should help with his development, and there is not a rush to call him up to the big leagues at the moment. Plus, the Padres’ brass will be able to evaluate how well Spangenberg is able to perform against the higher-level of competition in the Texas League, especially the pitching.
Following Gyorko this year will definitely be an interesting activity as he could be ready to debut with the Friars as early as this Summer. While Gyorko is playing Second Base right now and is projected to play there, his positional future partly depends on what will happen with Chase Headley and his future with the team. If Headley does not receive a new deal with the club, and is instead traded before he hits Free Agency in 2015, the Padres might shift Gyorko over to the hot corner.
If Gyorko does indeed shift due to Headley heading elsewhere, it could be in time for Spangenberg’s big league arrival in a few years. Although Spangenberg has not advanced nearly as far as Gyorko has in terms of the Minor League system, I for one will be intrigued to see how well he is able to adjust to Double-A ball this year, and hopefully Triple-A ball the following season if he is indeed promoted.
Hope for the future is always positive, and I sure would like to see these two highly touted prospects make some noise at the big league level sooner as opposed to later. And all I can say now is that it is definitely nice to see that there is not only hope for the future in San Diego, but that our Friars have at least some tools to build with over the next few years.
Stats & Contract Information Courtesy of: Baseball Reference