Minor league wrap-up: Eugene Emeralds
2012 MadFriars Northwest League Player of the Year
Summary: Eugene again had a solid team. Though they compiled the best overall record in the league, a change to league rules this year cost them a spot in the playoffs. A very strong pitching staff dominated for the Emeralds, but they also had some talented position players in 2012 second round draft pick Jeremy Baltz, second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum and sleeper pick shortstop Stephen Carmon from the University of South Carolina at Aiken.
Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards. Whichever team the player appeared for most is where he is eligible. For the top prospect, we took into account not just what the player did this year, but his age and potential impact in the major leagues.
Level: The Northwest League has existed in various forms since 1901. It features a mix of college talent acquired in the current draft, as well as high school and Latin American prospects who worked their way up from rookie ball. Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters in this circuit since the batters must transition from metal (you’re old!) bats to wood. The league saw a decrease in overall talent this year because changes in the draft led a number of teams to take lower-ceiling college players in the top 10 rounds to free up money for other signing bonuses.
Player of the Year: LF Jeremy Baltz – .281/.375/.414
Baltz led the team in hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases and just about every offensive category we can think of. He was the most consistent offensive force the Emeralds could put out in their lineup on a daily basis. With twenty-three extra-base hits in 70 games, he was the power hitter that was advertised coming out of the draft, but his all-around offensive game included 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts and a 33/43 BB/K ratio.
Runner-Up: 2B Maxx Tissenbaum – .296/.403/.379
Tissenbaum didn’t join the team until mid-July after a long run in the College World Series with Stony Brook University, but still finished in the top five in overall hits. The switch-hitter posted an outstanding 27/14 BB/K ratio and had the highest on-base percentage of anyone with over 100 plate appearances on the team.
Player of the Year: Jeremy Baltz
It wasn’t exactly a stellar year for any prospect in Eugene. With that in mind, Baltz was the only constant force the Ems had in their lineup. Baltz led the team in most offensive stats, so it is only fitting that he wins player of the year. Since Baltz is a player limited by his position, he will need to show more HR power if he wants to be more than a fringe overall prospect.
Runner-Up: Maxx Tissenbaum
John already stole my reasoning behind making Maxx my runner up. Anytime you have nearly twice as many walks as you did strikeouts, you deserve some type of award. Interestingly, Maxx hit all of his homers in his first 16 games, but only had six walks and seven strikeouts. In his last month, he didn’t hit any homers but walked 21 times compared to seven Ks. If Tissenbaum can reach base more often and develop a bit more power, he could be someone that bursts onto the prospect ranking in a year or two a la Vince Belnome.
Player of the Year: Jeremy Baltz
A second round pick who signed a below-slot deal quickly, Baltz is a right-hand hitter and thrower who will be limited to left field or first base. That means he is going to have to hit. A LOT. His began his career with a solid performance in the Northwest League, but a .414 slugging percentage won’t be enough going forward.
Runner-Up: SS Stephen Carmon – .275/.383/.377
With three regulars grouped close together in OPS, you’ve got to give the advantage to positional value. In this case, that means shortstop Stephen Carmon. Building on a Padres trend over the last two years, Carmon is an undersized, left-handed hitting middle infielder who can put the bat on the ball. He has enough line-drive power to keep pitchers honest, and enough pitch recognition to draw more walks than strikeouts this year.
Others of Note: Australian Corey Adamson, 20, finished third on the team in hits with 56 hits but still was able to manage only a .240 batting average as a corner outfielder. CF Alberth Martiniez had a big year in the AZL in 2011but posted only a .324 on-base percentage as a bad July hurt his overall numbers. Left-handed hitting catcher Dane Phillips, the Padres other second round draft pick in the 2012 draft, started off strong in June hitting .313/.476/.375 but wore down as the season continued. It’s hard to find a member of the Padres‘ scouting department that doesn’t believe in his bat so next year should give everyone a clearer picture.
MadFriars’ 2012 Eugene Emeralds Player of the Year:
Top Prospect (JC): Jeremy Baltz
Baltz had the best year in Eugene but as David noted if he can only play left field that is an incredibly difficult path to the major leagues. While Baltz’s power numbers will get most of the attention his secondary statistics; on-base percentage, stolen bases and most importantly the ability to play a position other than left field will be huge for him.
Top Prospect (DJ): Brian Adams
He only made it into 12 games before a broken hand shut him down, but the former Kentucky wide receiver was the most interesting player to suit up for the Emeralds. A 6’4″, 215-pound athlete, Adams is a complete wildcard in terms of his on-field skills, but he has a package of tools and ability that you want. The Padres spent well below the eighth round slot recommendation for Adams, but this is an upside gamble well worth taking. His swing-and-miss tendencies could lead to him flaming out well below the majors, but it’s also possible good coaching and full-time dedication to the sport will allow him to become a strong player. In a weak year for position players in Eugene, that qualifies him as the top prospect.
Top Prospect (BD): No one
I guess if I have to go with someone Baltz could win just by stats, But outside of Daal (who played more games in AZL), no one in Eugene will make the top 20 prospects or come close to getting consideration. A lot of the prospects have some upside but are limited by one glaring thing or another. Baltz by his position, Tissenbaum by lack of speed and power at second. Alberth Martinez might be my pick just based on his 2011 season but he didn’t hit for much power, He did walk at a higher percentage than he did last year, but still a walk every 11 plate appearances is awful. Dane Phillips is another one who has tools that people like, but the way he wore down is a huge concern.