Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yasiel Puig named best Southern League prospect by Baseball America

In news that should surprise absolutely no one, Yasiel Puig on Tuesday topped the Top 20 Southern League prospects list published by Baseball America.

While Puig isn't a prospect anymore, he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the end-of-the-season list.

Puig hit .313/.383/.599 with eight home runs and 37 RBI in 40 games with the Chattanooga Lookouts this season. The 22-year-old was hard to evaluate after an abbreviated 2012 debut season, but he's proved to be more than worth the $42 million contract he signed with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers promoted Puig to the majors in early June and he never looked back. He hit .319./.391/.534 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI in the majors.

Joc Pederson also made the list, checking in at No. 7 behind Puig, Archie Bradley, Javier Baez, Taijuan Walker, Christian Yelich and Alex Wood.

Pederson got off to a fast start, especially in the power department. But with little-to-no offensive help after Puig left, his numbers declined a little bit. But he still managed to hit .278/.381/.497 with 22 home runs and 31 stolen bases (in 39 attempts).

It was an impressive showing from a 21-year-old in a neutral league with some of the game's best prospects.

Zach Lee was No. 15 on the list after posting the best season of his young career: 10-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a 8.3 K/9. The biggest knock against Lee is that he has an average fastball and no true strikeout pitch. Despite that, he was able to post a career-best strikeouts per nine rate while reducing his walk rate to the lowest of his career.

It's really curious why Lee doesn't get more publicity or acclaim. He's not the sexiest prospect, but his low floor has a lot of value in this game. And he posted his best season as a 21-year-old in a league where the average age is 22-23 years old.

The only other prospects who were probably considered for the list were Onelki Garcia and Ross Stripling.

With Garcia throwing mostly out of the bullpen, that probably doomed his chances.

Stripling is a lot like Lee in terms of repertoire, polish and physical frame. I'm a lot higher on Stripling than most, so it isn't a great surprise he didn't make the list.

What's funny is: the best minor-league talent was at Chattanooga this season, yet the team was never really in the playoff hunt. But, that's baseball for ya.

The Pacific Coast League Top 20 is up Friday. I'd be surprised if any Dodger prospects ended up on the list. The only guy I could see making it are Matt Magill, and that doesn't seem too likely at this point.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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