Welcome to another edition of The Kids Are Alright. This week we look at San Diego right-hander Donn Roach, Cleveland first baseman Jesus Aguilar, and Washington outfielder Brian Goodwin.
Donn Roach, SP, SD - Roach dominated the Advanced-A level last year in his first turn as a starting pitcher. He began 2012 pitching for Inland Empire (Angels) and then suited up for Lake Elsinore (Padres) following a mid-season trade. By June he was mowing down the opposition in Double-A. The Padres shut him down around the end of July to spare his arm from the increased workload following his conversion from relief.
Roach's dominance shines through in the stats: 11-2, 78 strikeouts, and a 1.88 ERA in 16 starts between both levels in 2012. He has great control as well, with 22 total walks last year. But even the numbers don't do the right-hander justice. He snuck up on me last year in the Cal League. I saw a few of the lines from his starts and asked myself, "Who the bleep is this guy?" So I made it a point to learn all about Donn Roach. He has a killer slider as the headliner in his deep arsenal. He also throws a splitter and a curveball, and uses the split and the slider to induce a multitude of groundouts.
San Diego's system is very deep, perhaps one of the deepest in MLB. There's a lot of good pitching ahead of Roach; names like Casey Kelly, Joe Weiland, and Max Fried jump out. The rotation in San Diego however is not nearly as impressive. Behind Clayton Richard, there's not a lot going on. For example, I'm still waiting for Tyson Ross to show me something. It's the bitter, part-time A's fan in me.
With all the great pitching depth the Padres have, it's not easy to pinpoint when Roach will get a crack at the rotation. He will probably return to Double-A this spring, but he will go as far as his stuff will take him. 2014 is a realistic goal for Roach to start for the Padres. My one concern is the wear and tear on his arm as he transitions to full-time starter.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, CLE - Aguilar is the best option for the Indians at first base, due to his talent and his club's lack of depth at the position. That might sound bad in most other cases, but Aguilar would be a worthy candidate either way.
Aguilar has plus power potential, which came through in 2011 with a 23-home run year in A-ball plus a solid Arizona Fall League campaign where he hit .339 and showed a good eye at the plate. He followed that up with a good year in Double-A where he went 21-for-72 (.291) with 12 home runs.
He walks well for someone with the kind of power he has. Aguilar is a big guy at 6' 5", 257-lbs, which pretty much limits him to first or DH. He's improved as a first baseman. Right now he lags behind the other position prospects in the system like Dorssys Paulino and Francisco Lindor in rating and ceiling, but he stands out among the upper levels of the system and among a pretty young organization overall.
Cleveland's answer at first base is Mark Reynolds with Chris McGuinness backing up. McGuinness is a Rule V guy from the Texas organization, where he hit 23 home runs in Double-A Frisco in 2012. McGuinness has never been a prospect from what I can tell and both him and Reynolds don't strike me as long-term solutions for the Indians. The presence of those two buys a year, maybe two, for Aguilar to continue his progress. Like Roach, Aguilar could make it to the Majors in 2014.
Brian Goodwin, OF, WAS - Can we get a little love for the junior college kids? Like Goodwin, I came from the JC ranks. Unlike Goodwin, I am not an exceptionally gifted outfielder loaded with tools.
Goodwin commanded a $3 million signing bonus with his raw power, speed, and plate discipline. He started his first pro year in Class-A Hagerstown, then jumped to Double-A Harrisburg. He played centerfield at both stops and showed a great eye at the plate, plus defense in the outfield, and a good throwing arm. He hit poorly in the Arizona Fall League at .238, but walked well and racked up 11 extra base hits. If that seems low, keep in mind that the AFL is loaded with the best talent from all 30 teams and I've seen a lot of good guys get limited playing time there. Sometimes guys fall through the cracks.
Anyway, Goodwin turns 23 in November, giving him plenty of time to iron out the biggest issues of his game, namely his struggles against left-hand pitching and overall inconsistency. He'll likely go back to Harrisburg after 166 at-bats there in 2012 and might advance to Washington in 2014. He's the top position prospect in the system behind Anthony Rendon and adds to an already stacked Nationals future.
Where does Goodwin fit into the Nationals outfield of the future? Left field? That's a clown question, bro! Just kidding, Bryce Harper. But after the Denard Span acquisition and the millions of dollars the Nats threw at Jayson Werth, it does pay to ask where Goodwin would go. Anything goes in the suddenly ultra-competitive National League East, with the Mets trading for everyone under the sun and the Braves cornering the market on Uptons. Maybe that means trading Goodwin for a more pressing need to keep pace with the contenders. Either way, Goodwin's a quality outfielder to watch.
Come back for another edition of The Kids Are Alright next week!