Local Minor League Baseball Players Show Promise for 2013
As Major League Baseball comes down to the home stretch, the Minor League systems have finished their 2012 season and 3 local minor league players showed major moments during their seasons.
This season saw Darren Ford perform at times the best he has in his minor league career, Matt Szczur take a much deserved step up in the Chicago Cubs organization, and A.J. Holland had his first full season in the minors and showed promise despite a bumpy road.
Szczur had hit around .300 during his time for the Daytona Cubs, and earned a call to move to the AA Level of the minors for the Cubs. Although he struggled a bit for the Tennessee Smokies, the 23-yr-old from Cape May will rate as one of the top prospects for the Cubs going into 2013.
Matt's 2012 numbers included 26 Doubles, 8 Triples, 4 Home Runs and 40 Runs Batted In over 113 games he played in (35 for Tennessee). Szczur's speed and defense is his ticket to the majors in the future - he made only 2 errors in the outfield all season and stole 42 bases. Add in the 61 walks he drew this season and Matt's On-Base Average was an impressive .360.
Matt should start 2013 in Tennessee, but could be at the AAA Level in Iowa before the end of next season.
For A.J. Holland, 2012 was his chance to have a full season of minor league play after being drafted last season by the Atlanta Braves. The 22-yr-old from Margate made 15 starts for the Rome Braves at the Low-A Level of the organization, and unfortunately did not get as much time as he would have liked on the pitching mound as he slowed by an arm injury, plus a flu bug that had him losing 15 pounds in a matter of days.
Holland turned around his 2012 season when he went 5-3 over his last 8 starts, posting an Earned Run Average under 2.50 during this stretch for Rome, striking out 29 batters in his 45 innings of work.
Given Holland's talent, and the momentum from his 2nd half of 2012, we could see him maybe make it up to AA before 2013 is done.
Darren Ford did everything he could to convince the Seattle Mariners to give him a call-up to the majors, but the Vineland talent somehow was ignored for a season that saw him have his batting average at high level marks for his career.
Ford cooled off late in the season but still posted a .273 Batting Average for the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Level for Seattle), stole 26 bases, showed improved defense in center field, but this was not enough to see the 26-yr-old get the shot back in the majors.
Hard to say where Ford goes from here. He should at least get another minor league offer by somebody, but if Japan comes calling don't be shocked to see this speedster take off there.