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2013 Tony Awards: Biggest Disappointment

2013 Tony Awards: Biggest Disappointment
October 23, 2013
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Today we continue the IBI postseason awards with the announcement of the Biggest Disappointment in the minors. This is the one year-end award that no one wants to win and goes to the player who was a highly rated prospect coming into the season who performed poorly or suffered through an injury plagued season.

Here are the 2013 Tony Awards so far:

Rookie of the Year: Clint Frazier (OF)
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Holt (OF)

As with any season - no matter how good things go - there will always be a few players who fall short of expectations. The toughest thing to balance is considering who truly had a poor season since a lot of these players had their season’s affected by significant injuries, and in an evaluation process that is something that teams very much consider. Either way, the great thing is most of these players will get a chance next year to make the necessary corrections and could very well be next year’s Comeback Player of the Year.

It is important to note that this award is not handed out to be critical in any way of any of the players listed, but to objectively take a look at who underwhelmed this season and did not meet expectations. This is always the toughest award for me to hand out because it is negative by nature, but then again, like in baseball it is a game of frustration and failure, and the same is the case with some prospects who disappoint.

This award is centered around the top prospects going into the season and how they did. To be a disappointment you have to be a high level guy, so the struggles of any Top 25 prospect were really put under the microscope here. With high standing as a prospect comes high expectations, and when those expectations are not met - be it for performance or health reasons – it is a disappointment. While I agree it is not fair to hold an injury against a player, it can still affect their prospect stock and bring to light questions about their future so they have to be considered.

Again, these awards are simply for fun to hand out at the end of the year, though this is one award that is not really “fun” to hand out.  The award also has no bearing on their prospect status. Also, the Cleveland Indians in no way whatsoever had any input in these awards.

Onto the nominees…

Biggest Disappointment Nominees

(in alphabetical order)

Scott Barnes (LHP)
Minors: 24 G, 3-3, 8.48 ERA, 28.2 IP, 33 H, 27 R/ER, 5 HR, 20 BB, 35 K, .297 BAA
Majors: 6 G, 0-1, 7.27 ERA, 8.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R/ER, 3 HR, 3 BB, 10 K, .242 BAA

Barnes was the IBI’s 11th ranked prospect heading into the season.  I have no idea what happened to him this season, but he went from a pitcher right in the thick of the left-handed relief mix to a guy who was banished to the minors.  To make matters worse he suffered a left wrist injury in early July which prematurely ended the rest of his season. You have to wonder if the wrist is something that was bothering him all season as his walk-rate went up substantially at Triple-A Columbus.

Trevor Bauer (RHP)
Minors: 22 GS, 6-7, 4.15 ERA, 121.1 IP, 119 H, 64 R (56 ER), 13 HR, 13 HB, 73 BB, 106 K, .266 BAA
Majors: 4 GS, 1-2, 5.29 ERA, 17.0 IP, 15 H, 11 R (10 ER), 3 HR, 1 HB, 16 BB, 11 K, .238 BAA

Bauer was the IBI’s 2nd ranked prospect heading into the season. There is no question he came with a lot of hype as a recent first round pick and highly regarded pitching prospect with lots of upside at a position of need for the Indians. However, he really struggled with his command all season as he walked way too many batters and even hit a lot of batter too. A 1.58 WHIP in the minors is just too much traffic, though to his credit because of his stuff he was able to avoid much more damage than he should have suffered.

Mitch Brown (RHP)
17 G, 3-5, 6.87 ERA, 67.2 IP, 78 H, 53 R (51 ER), 6 HR, 40 BB, 66 K, .294 BAA

Brown was the IBI’s 9th ranked prospect entering the season. He had a sensational showing in spring training which propelled him onto the Low-A Lake County roster to start the season. Unfortunately, from that point on he struggled. He did suffer a right bicep injury early in the season which forced him to miss some time and he never looked the same after that, so you have to wonder how much of his performance was affected by injury and not pitching at 100%.

Trey Haley (RHP)
39 G, 1-4, 4.70 ERA, 44.0 IP, 37 H, 24 R (23 ER), 0 HR, 39 BB, 46 K, .239 BAA

Haley was the IBI’s 14th ranked prospect entering the season. After a nice showing in 2012 where he dominated late at Double-A Akron and was added to 40-man roster in the offseason, his struggles with nagging injuries cropped up again this season which forced him to miss a lot of spring training and bits and pieces of the season. That inability to get off on the right foot appeared to set him back all season as he just never found any consistency with his command.

Dillon Howard (RHP)

Howard was the IBI’s 21st ranked prospect heading into the season. His season was over before it really started. He came into spring training and was not in the best of shape and his velocity was down. He opened the season in extended spring training and then just before the start of the Arizona Summer League season he was suspended 50-games for violating MLB’s minor league drug program. He tested positive for an amphetamine considered to be a performance enhancing substance and has not been seen or heard from since.

D’vone McClure (OF)
26 G, .218 AVG, 16 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 40 K, 1 SB, .579 OPS

McClure was the IBI’s 18th ranked prospect entering into the season. It has been a slow process for him to date as he has tried to adjust and refine his raw skills to the pro game. He is a very good athlete with all kinds of talent and tools, but so far he has not been able to put it together at the plate. To his credit he is a hard worker and sometimes it takes a few years to draw out the talent of some players, but as a former 4th round draft pick and high ranking prospect the showing this season still qualifies as disappointing.

Dorssys Paulino (SS)
120 G, .246 AVG, 56 R, 28 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 30 BB, 91 K, 12 SB, .646 OPS

Paulino was the IBI’s 3rd ranked prospect entering the season. One minute you are praised, the next you are knocked down. Such is the life of a baseball prospect, and that is something that he got a strong dose of this season as he dealt with expectations and adversity for the first time in his career. He got off to a rough April start (.208 AVG, .496 OPS) which his overall numbers never really recovered from, but to his credit he did get incrementally better every month of the season and actually had a solid August (.281 AVG, .716 OPS).  Bottom line, he just did not perform as expected.

Anthony Santander (OF)
61 G, .242 AVG, 27 R, 13 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 13 BB, 43 K, 6 SB, .672 OPS

Santander was the IBI’s 16th ranked prospect entering the season. This is one I almost excluded from this listing because he actually had a solid showing in his full season debut and was doing well before a shoulder injury cropped up and prematurely ended his season. But, to be consistent with the other injured players on this list, he was included.

Giovanni Soto (LHP)
9 G, 0-1, 5.19 ERA, 8.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R/ER, 0 HR, 9 BB, 8 K, .267 BAA

Soto was the IBI’s 22nd ranked prospect entering the season. This is another case of an injury ruining a season as a lower back injury affected Soto early in the season at Triple-A Columbus and put him on the disabled list a few weeks into it. He was never seen again this year.  Beyond the injury, the biggest disappointment here is that if not for the injury he was a perfect internal solution the Indians could have turned to early in the season to help fix their left-handed relief issues.

And the 2013 Tony Award goes to….Trevor Bauer

It is tough to really consider Barnes, Soto, Haley, Santander and Brown disappointments since it is really hard to know how much an injury affected them. And for as much of a disappointment that Howard and McClure have been as draft picks, they are so low in the organization as far as level goes to really be that disappointed.  For me, this one clearly came down to expectations, and with Bauer ranked #2 and Paulino #3 and both having healthy seasons, it is clear that both were the biggest disappointments.

Paulino had a tough introduction to full season ball and the cold weather in April and May was something that clearly affected him. Being from Latin American he had never played in sub-60 degree weather ever, so that was a learning experience in itself. All of that added up to a .222 average and .585 OPS at the All Star break in mid-June, but to his credit he had a solid showing the rest of the was as he hit .267 with a .698 OPS after the All Star break.

Paulino got better every month as the season went along both with his offense and defense; however, it was a very slow progression and his overall showing fell short of what is expected out of a top three ranked prospect, even if he was the youngest player in the league. It will be interesting to see if he repeats at Lake County next year or if the Indians just decide to aggressively push him to High-A Carolina. Back in 2007 shortstop Carlos Rivero was another high profile young prospect for the Indians who had a similar year to Paulino, yet they pushed him up the next season.

In the end, I sided with Bauer on this one simply because his expectations were much, much greater. Not only as the second ranked prospect, but as a legit major league option  and someone who a lot of people probably felt would have a much bigger impact on the 2013 season than he did. That impact ended up coming from a different starting pitcher – Danny Salazar.

Bauer’s inconsistent season leaves a lot of question marks for next year. Right now, based on the body of work in 2013, no matter what he shows in spring training next year there is no way he can be relied upon as an option in the Indians opening day starting rotation. So with that said, it means he is going to spend a lot of time this offseason fixing his mechanical issues and also working through the new delivery change he and the Indians  made in-season. He is still an important piece of the big league puzzle, but until that fastball command comes and the delivery is shored up, he just doesn’t fit.

The hope here is that Bauer simply had a hiccup this season. If anything, his overall numbers could have been much worse because of how much he walked and hit batters and also pitched from behind, but it is a credit to how good his stuff is and how much of a competitor he is that things did not really blow up on him.

Up Next: Biggest Breakthrough

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

October 24, 2013 - 1:50 AM EDT
I bet Howard took Craze
October 23, 2013 - 11:41 PM EDT
And honestly Matt, I'm not sure there is another prospect in all of baseball who hurt his ranking more than Bauer did.
October 23, 2013 - 8:58 PM EDT
I still see Bauer as a future ace but the more I think about this the more he is the only option. Howard was so disappointing last year, and you cant have the same guy be "biggest disappointment" 2 years in a row. Paulino and Brown were unproven beyond AZ and Paulino's defensive issues were not a surprise. They both still have as much upside as they did last year. Nobody else was high profile enough. Bauer was expected to be in the rotation this year, and at the worst he was projected MOR as his floor going forward. Now, who knows? He hurt his stock way more than any other high level high ranking prospect.
October 23, 2013 - 3:58 PM EDT
Hagadone was another I decided to leave off. He actually had a pretty solid showing at Columbus. He was certainly a disappointment for the big league team, though he did not disappoint much if at all during his time in Columbus. Tough call....and ultimately he was left off like Armstrong when I got it down to 8-10 guys.
October 23, 2013 - 3:27 PM EDT
I agree about Howard. Him and Lindor were one of the best 1st/2nd round combos taken in that draft. The fact that he has fallen flat on his face and made himself COMPLETELY irrelevant is quite disappointing.

Not saying that Bauer does not deserve this award, but Howard's disgraceful tenure with the organization should not be overlooked.
October 23, 2013 - 3:23 PM EDT
In your 2013 rankings of top prospects you had Nick Hagadone at #15. Why did he not receive the same scrutiny as Bauer? He had command issues, walked a lot of people, and was unable to lock down the left handed bullpen spot this year? The Indians had high expectations for him, and he was part of big Vmart trade.
October 23, 2013 - 1:36 PM EDT
I think I would rank them:

1. Howard
2. Bauer
3. Barnes
4. Soto

Howard gave nothing. The big team could have used Bauer, Barnes and Soto. Salazar blunted the disappointment of Bauer but Barnes or Soto could have given us relief from R. Hill.
October 23, 2013 - 12:20 PM EDT
Yeah, the errors were not pretty for Paulino, although we did know going in he was rough around the edges at shortstop and it is a work in progress. Even still, that's a high total for the most important defender in the infield.

Another note on Armstrong is ultimately he was right on the fringe for consideration, just like Haley and Soto were. As relievers it is ultimately hard to be THAT disappointed with any of them, but Haley was included because he was added to the 40-man and Soto was a legit ML option at the outset of the season.
October 23, 2013 - 11:53 AM EDT
Didn't even have to mention Paulino's 39 errors this year.
October 23, 2013 - 11:47 AM EDT
Armstrong was a last minute cut, so he just missed. He underwhelmed some, but still had a solid year with some peripherals even in light of the injury (his command was as much an issue in before this season).

Cook was not a high level prospect entering this season. He was a lower priority reliever at the end of last season and the start of this season. He had a nice showing last year which improved his stock some (he was ranked #58 by IBI) but those are not prospects that disappoint if they don't do well because the expectations are much lower.
October 23, 2013 - 11:37 AM EDT
You had Armstrong as #20 on your prospect listing and he struggled with his control before and after his self inflicted injury. Cook finished 2012 in Columbus and struggled at Carolina, Akron and Columbus in 2013.
October 23, 2013 - 11:31 AM EDT
What about Cole Cook and Shaun Armstrong?

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