The 2017 minor league season is officially over for all of the Cincinnati farm teams. The Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos took home a Co-Championship in the Southern League after Hurricane Irma led to the cancellation of the finals. The Dayton Dragons lost in the second round of the Midwest League playoffs. The other teams failed to make the playoffs. With all of that said, I thought that with the season now being complete that we could look back at the things I was right, and wrong about, prior to the season beginning.
Where I was right
In spring training the one guy that really stood out to me as showing massive signs of improvement was Jose Siri. While he didn’t immediately carry that into the season – he struggled early on in 2017, he eventually got things going and once he did, he never let up.Ã‚Â He would hit .293/.341/.530 for Dayton this year. He had 24 home runs, 24 doubles and 11 triples. He would also steal 46 bases. The plate discipline is still needing improvement as he walked 33 times with 130 strikeouts – though I feel confident that those rates would have been a bit better had he not had a 39-game hitting streak in which he was expanding the zone at times trying to extend the streak.
Another guy that really stood out to me in the spring was Mariel Bautista, who was in his first year in the United States. He had performed well the previous year in the Dominican Summer League, but he transitioned quite well to the Arizona Rookie League. As a 19-year-old he hit .320/.353/.395 with nine doubles, a triple and he stole 16 bases in 17 attempts. He also split time in left field and center.
Where I was wrong
Looking back at my pre-season prospect rankings a few things jump out. First, Luis Castillo – I’m sorry. The concerns relayed from other sources that questioned whether or not you could remain a starting pitcher carried over to my ranking and, well, whoops. Taking an inconsistent change up and turning it into one of the better ones in all of baseball was enormous in his development during the 2017 season.
Chris Okey entered the year as my 12th ranked prospect in the organization. I was confident that the power was going to play, but had some concerns about just how much he would hit. As a catcher, though, the power can usually make up for a low average. However, Chris Okey in 2017 was about the exact opposite of Chris Okey in 2016. The power absolutely disappeared, but his defense took big steps forward.
Aristides Aquino was ranked 7th entering the year and he really struggled for Pensacola in Double-A. He hit just .216/.282/.397 after being the organizations hitter of the year for his 2016 season. The power still showed up, hitting 20 doubles, six triples and 17 home runs – but the hitting for average disappeared and his strikeout rate was up significantly.Ã‚Â In 2016 he struck out just 19.8% of the time, while that rate jumped up to 28.8% in 2017. The aggressive approach and pitch recognition issues that he had shown in the past showed up and the more advanced pitchers in Double-A were able to take advantage of that.
I’ll be real curious to see how other organizations view our talent when we come calling for a controllable starting pitcher.