Keon Broxton seems ready to let his tremendous athleticism show on the baseball diamond.
There's only four outfielders to review from Visalia and two of them are pretty good. One in particular has been oozing with potential since he was drafted in 2009, and we're talking about Keon Broxton. Another burst onto the scene after toiling in relative anonymity for several years. The other two? They can fill a roster.
Considering that Visalia is in the heart of the high desert, hot-hitting California League, we generally expect to see some gaudy stats from our serious outfield prospects. There were some nice stats but not exactly the kind you expect from this league.There was some power call by Broxton but more on display was speed and athleticism, and there's nothing wrong with that. Let's take a quick look at this group.
OF Keon Broxton, 22, .267/.326/.437
Plus Stat: 24 HR Minus Stat: 136 K
Acquired: 2009 Draft - 3rd Round
The Dbacks have been waiting for this talented athlete to break out and he finally took a solid step in that direction this year. On the surface his numbers don't look all too special, but throw out his abysmal April and his numbers really start to look pretty good. He made major progress in a number of areas. His power really started to show up as he hit 24 home runs; he finally started to cut down on his strikeouts from the 30%+ range into the mid 20s. And he continues to display his speed with more than 20 stolen bases in each of the last three seasons. Plus he plays a pretty mean center field. He was even called up to join Reno in the AAA playoffs and most recently he was added to the team's 40-man roster. A lot of people were dangerously close to giving up on Broxton at the beginning of this year, but the light bulb finally started to come as the season went on. He'll likely be challenged with the starting CF job in Mobile or Reno next year and another positive step forward will propel him onto a direct path to making a Major League appearance in the not-too-distant future.
2013 Projection: AAA Reno
Ceiling: Major League
OF Ender Inciarte, 21, .307/.376/.797
Plus Stat: 46 SB Minus Stat: 2 HR
Acquired: 2008 Venezuelan Free Agent
Inciarte started out his career nicely with solid years in the DSL and Pioneer Leagues, but two lackluster seasons in 2010 and 2011 did not project him to be arriving on anyone's prospect radars. Then a terrific first half repeating in South Bend earned him a promotion to Visalia this year where he played even better over the second half. This left-handed hitting speedster put together an excellent overall season with a nice combination of getting on base, stealing bases and playing good outfield defense. He didn't get to play much center field in Visalia with Broxton manning that spot. But he was a rock at the top of the order and considering he just turned 22 a few weeks ago he is now squarely on the prospect list. He'll draw obvious comparisons to Adam Eaton but it would be a stretch to put him in that class yet, though he is performing at a younger age than Eaton did at this level, so that works in his favor. They'll want him to play center field so they might have to assign him somewhere that Broxton isn't in order to do so. So either Broxton goes to AAA so Inciarte can go to Mobile. Or Inciarte stays in Visalia until Broxton gets past Mobile. In any case we'll be watching him very closely next year. He has a chance.
2013 Projection: AA Mobile
Ceiling: Major League
OF Ryan LaPensee, 24, .264/.312/.364
Plus Stat: 17.5% K-Rate Minus Stat: .365 SLG
Acquired: 2011 Undrafted Free Agent
LaPensee has been mainly a mid-level roster filler. He can play a little. He'll hit a couple of home runs, steal a couple of bases, and generally play some solid ball. But he's not going anywhere. He lacks any significant talent other than being a decent mid-level guy. His playing shot up down the stretch after the promotion and subsequent trade of Bobby Borchering. Before that he was just a back-up outfielder.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: High A
OF Raoul Torrez, 24, .207/.281/.304
Plus Stat: 5 HR Minus Stat: .281 OBP
Acquired: 2010 Draft - 21st Round
This former ASU Sun Devil is nearing the end of the road in his professional baseball life. This was his 3rd year since leaving ASU and while he had a "so-so" year in 2011 at Visalia he regressed significantly at the same level this year. He was strictly a back-up and part-time player this year and if he isn't released this off-season that's about all he can expect "job-wise" next year.
2013 Projection: Released