The hitting in State College was weak for the first half of the 2011 season. Then in the second half the team added Alex Dickerson, and saw Wes Freeman take off, giving them two power bats in the middle of the lineup. The rest of the lineup was mostly built around speed, with a lot of the outfielders from the 2011 draft making their pro debuts at the level. Here is a rundown of all of the players in State College this year, broken down by age group.
This is normally the list where you find the top prospects at the level. A lot of these guys were promoted from the Gulf Coast League at the end of the year, and didn’t spend much time in State College. I’d expect Jose Osuna, Alen Hanson, Willy Garcia, and Gregory Polanco will be full time starters in State College next year.
Exicardo Cayonez and Jorge Bishop were both highly regarded international prospects at the start of the year, coming off good seasons in the GCL. Cayonez was completely overmatched at the plate in State College, and the results for Bishop weren’t much better. Both players ended up being demoted back to the GCL early in the season.
None of the other players really stood out. Junior Sosa had some speed, but is a free swinger at the plate. Ashley Ponce showed some good defense at shortstop, along with some speed, but didn’t do much with the bat. Walker Gourley struggled on both sides of the game. Dan Gamache was a sixth round pick this year, and was coming off an injury, so there’s a chance that his stats don’t reflect his talent level. He was moved to second base, where his bat plays better when healthy.
The standouts from this group were Alex Dickerson and Wes Freeman. Dickerson joined the team in late July, after signing in the middle of the month as a third round pick in the 2011 draft. He displayed some nice power, mostly with doubles, although I did see him crush a home run at State College to right field which would have probably been a river shot at PNC Park. It will be interesting to see if he moves up to Bradenton next year.
Wes Freeman started off slow, with a .169/.197/.237 line and a 35.6% strikeout rate prior to July 23rd. He changed his approach, attacking the fastball whenever it was thrown, and the approach obviously worked, as he had a monster second half, including a .381 average in August, with a 1.006 OPS and a 22.7% strikeout rate. His hot streak was self fulfilling. He started off attacking the fastball, and once pitchers found they couldn’t throw him a fastball, they started relying on breaking pitches, which led to him seeing more favorable breaking balls, which led to him hitting more breaking balls and keeping his numbers up. His walks were low, but that was because he was hitting anything that was thrown close to the zone.
Taylor Lewis didn’t have the best numbers, but he’s got a lot of speed, which he displayed in the form of seven triples and 16 stolen bases. His arm might not cut it for center field, but he has the range for the position. He would be a nice top of the order prospect if he can improve his hitting skills. His K/BB ratios show that he wasn’t really overmatched at the plate, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a better average out of him going forward.
Rodarrick Jones joined the team late in the season after signing as a 37th round draft choice. He didn’t have the best numbers, but he was impressive at the plate from what I saw, making good contact and hitting the ball where it was pitched, which allowed him to hit to all fields. He fell seven at-bats shy of being eligible for our top ten list in State College, a list he would have made.
Samuel Gonzalez had a good year at the plate, which is always nice to see from a catching prospect. He doesn’t have the best defense, but he’s definitely a prospect, showing some nice plate patience.
Alex Fuselier didn’t have the best year at the plate, but showed some nice skills with a good arm out of right field, and some nice speed and base running skills.
The only player from this group that is still in the organization is Carlos Mesa. He was signed out of Cuba just prior to the season, and put up decent results considering his background and lack of pro ball experience. He’s got a big frame and a strong arm, making him an interesting right field prospect.