Welcome to the annual series: ‘A Minor (League) Review of 20__.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the 2014 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2015 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues.
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Yankees and Orioles
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Indians and Tigers
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: White Sox, Royals, Twins
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Angels and A’s
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Astros, Angels, Mariners
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Braves and Phillies
A Minor Review of 2014: Marlins
The Graduate: Sam Dyson, RHP: The Marlins enjoyed freshman contributions from the bullpen with the likes of catcher-turned-hurler Chris Hatcher and Dyson. The latter pitcher was acquired off the scrap heap in a questionable dump by the Blue Jays in early 2013. The right-hander is a ground-ball machine with his mid-90s fastball that he uses more than 80% of the time. His other offerings need polish.
The Riser: Anthony DeSclafani, RHP: DeSclafani is another former Toronto farmhand but he was acquired in the big Mark Buehrle/Jose Reyes deal as one of the lesser known pieces in the deal. He’s actually been more successful than the more heralded (southpaw hurler) Justin Nicolino, who’s still in the minors. DeSclafani originally looked like a future reliever but he’s worked hard to round out his repertoire and could be a solid No. 4 starter.
The Tumbler: Adam Conley, LHP: Conley looked to be on the cusp of a big league call-up at the onset of the 2014 season but injuries took their toll on the lefty. He also struggled against right-handed hitters (.292 batting average vs RHP, .242 vs LHP) while appearing in 13 games. The 24-year-old hurler will get to re-try Triple-A in 2015.
The ’14 Draft Pick: Tyler Kolek, RHP: This hard-throwing Texan was considered (at least briefly) by the Houston Astros for the first overall selection in the 2014 draft. Ultimately, he was popped second by the Marlins. The right-hander tickled triple digits in amateur ball but he didn’t show the same giddy-up in pro ball. Depending on how he looks in the spring, Kolek may need a second year in short-season ball.
The Lottery Ticket: Isael Soto, OF: A lesser-known signing out of the Dominican, Soto showed impressive power in Rookie ball as a 17 year old in 2014. He slugged seven home runs in 50 games — a feat that’s not easy to do in the Gulf Coast League. His power comes with the inevitable high strikeout rate and he may struggle to hit for a high average even as he matures as a hitter. Still, his left-handed pop is intriguing.
A Minor Review of 2014: Mets
The Graduate: Jake DeGrom, RHP: When I ranked DeGrom as the seventh-best prospect in the system at the beginning of 2014, I certainly didn’t expect him to pitch quite as well as he did at the big league level. The right-hander saw his command take a huge step forward — especially with his fastball and his four-pitch mix kept hitters off balance.
The Riser: Kevin Plawecki, C: Plawecki entered pro ball as a bat-first prospect who some thought would never stick behind the plate. The young catcher made huge strides behind the dish while continuing to rake. The Mets now have an interesting dilemma with two intriguing young catchers (along with Travis d’Arnaud) and not enough playing time to go around. Due to the latter’s injury concerns, the club may be better off trading the former Jays farmhand and holding on to Plawecki.
The Tumbler: Domingo Tapia, RHP: Tapia can hit triple digits with his fastball but his control has always been less than ideal. Things went from bad to worse in 2014 and he walked 51 hitters while striking out just 59 in 109.0 innings of work. He needs to find a more consistent secondary offering to help put batters away.
The ’14 Draft Pick: Michael Conforto, OF: This Oregon State alum had an excellent debut by hitting .331 with gap power. He also found a way to consistently get on base. The left-handed hitter hit OK versus southpaws, in terms of batting average, but his slugging percentage was 100 points lower against them in comparison to right-handers. Look for him to potentially open 2015 in High-A ball.
The Lottery Ticket: Amed Rosario, SS: Just 18, Rosario showed improvement during his second pro season. He’s toolsy and has a chance to be a solid player both at the plate and in the field but he needs to get stronger. He has the frame to add significant pop once he puts on some added muscle, although he’ll likely never be a power hitter.
A Minor Review of 2014: Nationals
The Graduate: Aaron Barrett, RHP: The Nationals didn’t use many rookies in 2014 with pitchers Blake Treinhen and Barrett being two of the more obvious players. The latter enjoyed success as a right-handed specialist thanks to his ability to dominate right-handed batters (.192 average allowed vs RHH, .275 vs LHH). Barrett, 26, has made good on his former ninth round selection out of the University of Mississippi (2010).
The Riser: Michael Taylor, OF: Prior to 2014, Taylor was the type of prospect that teased scouts and had baseball evaluators drooling one moment and shaking their heads the next. Something clicked for the athletic and toolsy outfielder this past season and he showed more consistency on the field. Despite hitting more than .300 at Double-A in 2014, Taylor likely won’t be a huge batting average guy in the Majors due to his contact issues but he has speed, power and plays excellent defense.
The Tumbler: Brian Goodwin, OF: Goodwin, a former highly-regarded draft pick, was supposed to be everything that Taylor has become… but his career took a significant dip in 2014. While dealing with injuries that limited him to 81 games, this athletic outfielder saw his batting average dip to .212 and he struggled to drive the ball. Just 23, he’ll look to reestablish himself as a serious prospect with a return engagement to Triple-A in 2015.
The ’14 Draft Pick: Jakson Reetz, C: Erick Feede was the Nationals’ first round pick in 2014 but his season was wiped out by Tommy John surgery. For me, Reetz was the Nationals’ best (healthy) player selected in the draft as a player who could shine on both offense and defense. The 18-year-old backstop played well in his debut despite his inexperience and showed a solid eye at the plate, and could add some pop as he matures as a hitter.
The Lottery Ticket: Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS: The Nationals had a couple of pop-up prospects in pitcher Reynaldo Lopez and Difo. The latter player is intriguing for a few reasons. Firstly, he’s already 22 and has five years of pro ball under his belt. Secondly, he’s never displayed offense like this before. Thirdly, he showed both pop at the plate and speed on the base paths while hitting .315 with an .831 OPS.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.