Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
Over the next month, we'll take a look at the best prospect performances of 2012. Keep in mind that this is not a traditional top prospect list because it focuses entirely on 2012 contributions. I rank guys according to advanced metrics which, for position players, include batting runs above average, positional adjustment, defense, and a replacement level calculation that scales the total to "Wins Above Replacement" (though the concept of replacement level doesn't really apply to minor leaguers). I use a standard "runs allowed based" WAR formula for pitchers. I also incorporate the "bullpen chaining" adjustment derived by the Halosphere's own rallymonkey5.
15) Jean Segura, 22, SS - 2.5 WAR, +6 bat, +0 glove. .294/.346/.404 with 7 HR and 33 SB
We've talked about Jean Segura as having a "high floor" due to good contact skills, plus speed, and the ability to play up-the-middle positions competently. It's no stretch to project him reaching the 2 WAR plateau next year with the Brewers, which is awesome for a twenty-three year old in his first full season. I wonder though, what will his ceiling look like, and will he ever be significantly better than a league average shortstop? Personally, I think he'll have an Aybar-like career offensively, with some monster BABIP-driven seasons balanced by some years when the hits just don't fall as easily. We already have Aybar, who's better defensively anyway, which made the similar Segura expendable.
However, a lot of smart folks have projected Segura to hit for average homerun power. It hasn't shown up yet, because at his current best - he's this winter's Dominican League batting champ - Segura hits lots of GB's with natural gap-power to the opposite field. But he's strong, has fantastic bat speed, and takes healthy cuts at the ball, which keeps the hope alive. If he does find that balance between small-ball skills and learning to turn on mistakes, than he's a potential all-star and the Brewers will look mighty shrewd in a couple of years.
14) Ariel Pena, 23, RHSP -2.5 WAR, +9 runs saved. 114 IP, 2.99 ERA, 95 hits, 111 K/42 BB
First off, I wrongly slandered Pena multiple times last year, dismissing his change-up as ineffective. I based my assessment on what I saw in his televised spring training outing and a number of publicly available scouting reports, which were all probably derived from the same Baseball America write-up. That was lazy. That was wrong. Apologies to Ariel.
As it happens, Pena's change-up looked great in the two July starts that I eventually watched, and he may have induced more swinging strikes with that pitch than with his plus slider. He got righties to swing over it from time to time. He even fanned lefties at a slightly higher rate than righties while with the Travs for the fist time in his career (though he also walked them three times as often). I'm going on about that sweet change because the lack of a consistent third pitch led most folks to write him off as bullpen fodder. I don't think a move to the 'pen is certain now. Milwaukie will likely continue to give him every opportunity to start, and if he solves his consistency demons, he profiles as a mid rotation starter.