Minor league wrap-up: Fort Wayne TinCaps

BY foxsports • September 24, 2012

Coming into the season the TinCaps were expected, based mainly on the total signing bonuses their roster had received, to be one of the more talented teams the Padres had sent out in many years.

As the Padres' Director of Development Randy Smith predicted pre-season, the TinCaps were better in the second half than they were early. They made it to the Midwest League championship series before losing to Wisconsin three games to one.

While they were led by their pitching, Fort Wayne also featured some solid hitters in outfielder Yeison Asencio, shortstop Jace Peterson and everyone's favorite prospect, catcher Austin Hedges.

Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards. A player is eligible wherever he appeared most. 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 Midwest League is the first full season league and one of the more challenging to hitters because of the early cold weather. At this level, batters are still adjusting to wood bats and learning how to cover the plate. Pitchers with so-so "stuff" can succeed as long as they have decent fastball command and the ability to throw a second pitch.  

John Conniff
Player of the Year: RF Yeison Asencio - .323/.353/.474
Despite not arriving until mid-May because of some well documented visa issues, Asencio still won the Midwest League batting title. He absolutely pounded left-handed pitching at a .386/.400/.590 clip with 33 extra-base hits in 92 games. It would be nice to see more than 16 walks in 366 plate appearances from him, but it was an improvement from four in 214 plate appearances last year in the AZL.
Runner-up: SS Jace Peterson - .286/.378/.392
Peterson played more baseball this summer than the former multi-sport star from McNeese State had before in his life. Peterson finished second in the league in stolen bases with 51 in 64 attempts and did his best work with runners in scoring position hitting .339/.435/.487.

His defense picked up as the season went on and as he grows more comfortable at the plate, we should see some more gap power from the left-handed hitting Peterson.    

Ben Davey
Player of the Year: RF Yeison Asencio
When the year started, we looked at the Fort Wayne roster and wondered where the offense would come from. They had Jace Peterson and who else? This was even more painfully obvious after Jose Dore got injured in the first week and Donavan Tate was, well, Tate. Then Asencio came on the scene and made the Tin Caps respectable. Asencio led the club in batting average, runs batted in, slugging percentage and OPS.

Runner-up: Jace Peterson
Until Asencio came up, Peterson was the safe bet for player of the year. Peterson was with the team from start to finish and was able to hit consistently throughout the year. Despite the 28 errors, Peterson showed that he could stick at shortstop, something the system is sorely missing. His 1:1 BB/K ratio and 51 stolen bases showed that he could be a legitimate top 20 prospect and future MLB leadoff hitter.

David Jay
Player of the Year: Yeison Asencio
While much of Asencio's prospect bloom came off last offseason when he suddenly aged 30 months, the package of tools remains impressive. While some scouts wonder how much in-game power he will ultimately develop, Asencio's hit tool may be the best in the system. While he rarely walks, he also strikes out very infrequently. It will be fascinating to see how the Padres handle his development next year given that he only has 596 U.S. plate appearances and will be 23 when he arrives at camp.

Runner-up: C  Austin Hedges - .279/.334/.451
It's been six years since a teenage catcher posted a qualifying OPS above .700 in the Midwest League. Now, the guy who was reported to be a defensive stud but a work-in-progress with the bat has reset the counter. While he had some surprising challenges behind the plate, especially early in the season, he remains a Gold Glove candidate in the making. Look especially at what he did in April and in August for a hint at what happens when he's on.

Others of Note:
First round supplemental pick CF Travis Jankowski got off to a slow start but hit .327/.353/.434 in August with seven stolen bases in eleven attempts and ending the season with a seventeen game hitting streak. OF Mike Gallic showed what he can do when his legs are healthy in June and July, but he'll be 24 early next season so he'll need to shine to keep moving up. Infielder Travis Whitmore had a solid season hitting .277/.356/.394 logging time at first, second and third base.

MadFriars' 2012 Fort Wayne TinCaps Player of the Year: Yeison Asencio

Top Prospect:  Austin Hedges
The scouting report on Hedges was always that his glove was so advanced that if he could show anything with the bat, he would be one of the elite prospects in the organization and possibly baseball. Well the now-20-year-old Hedges showed more than a bit of offense. Hedges posted a very solid .279/.334/.451 line with 38 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases. While he is the type of player who will probably end up toward the bottom of most experts' top 100 prospect lists, a solid showing next year in Lake Elsinore we could position him as the number one catching prospect in baseball.