Where We Were Right, Where We Were Wrong

Each offseason we make some bold prospect predictions heading into the new season and sometimes we nail it, and sometimes we were off-base. Here's where we were right in our predictions for the 2015 season and where we were wrong [and why].

Where We Were Right -- Jorge Mateo would be the top prospect: The Top 50 prospect rankings haven't come out yet so who will fit where is still up for debate but what is not debatable is Jorge Mateo securing one of the top spots, especially on the heels of Luis Severino and Greg Bird making their way to the big leagues this season. Perhaps it will be a coin toss whether it's Mateo or Judge securing the top overall spot but the point is rather moot; Mateo is a top prospect. Keeping in mind he had just 15 games in the United States prior to this season, he hit a more than respectable .278 between the two-A ball levels this past season and led all of baseball with 82 stolen bases. He also has just scratched the surface of his hitting ability and has plenty of time to smooth out an already solid defensive game. The subject of trade rumors for one of the elite closers in the game during the season, he's no longer a 'sleeper' industry-wide.

Where We Were Wrong -- Breakout player would be Miguel Andujar: Number-wise we were clearly wrong on this one as Andujar hit just .243 with a .651 OPS in high-A Tampa this past season. Plagued by a slow start once again -- he hit just .215 in the first half but hit .277 after the All Star break -- the 20-year old hasn't been able to figure out how to transfer his incredibly strong Spring Training performances into quick starts. He has shown, however, that he can make the long-term adjustments, having much better second halves the past two seasons. Perhaps we just jumped the gun on him a bit prematurely. Keep in mind he's just three months older than Mateo and seemingly has been around forever already. He'll be on the short list of breakout candidates for the 2016 season after a respectable, albeit not 'breakout', season this year.

Where We We Right -- Wilkerman Garcia would be the July 2nd Signing or DSL import to shoot up the rankings: We actually tabbed two in the offseason that should shoot up the rankings, Wilkerman and Dermis Garcia [no relation]. Dermis Garcia battled injuries all season long and didn't do particularly well when he was healthy enough to get on the field [.159 in 23 games] but gets a mulligan for the injuries. He still is going to shoot up the rankings akin to Jorge Mateo a year ago just based on his skillset. Wilkerman, however, is already considered one of the top prospects in the organization. He hit a solid .281 in the Gulf Coast League and still hasn't hit his first professional home run yet but already there's an internal organizational debate as to which shortstop prospect is better long-term, Mateo or Garcia, that's how highly regarded he is already. Spoiler alert! Wilkerman Garcia is a Top Ten prospect already.

Where We Were Wrong -- Gosuke Katoh would have the best bounceback season: We were kind of correct here after Katoh salvaged his 2015 campaign with a strong .287 showing in short-season Pulaski with five home runs and 49 walks in 59 Appy League games. However, we were also a wrong too as he didn't do well at all repeating the low-A level earlier in the season; he hit just .161 in 39 games for the Charleston RiverDogs after returning to the South Atlantic League for a second season. Katoh did have a bounceback season overall but it clearly wasn't the "best bounceback season" -- others, including Rookie Davis, took home that honor.

Where We Were Right -- Jordan Foley and Jordan Montgomery, both non-Top 50 prospects heading into the 2015 season, would both be Top 50 prospects by season's end: We accurately predicted both 2014 college draftees would find their way into the Top 50 Prospects rankings after both had solid first full seasons this past season. Montgomery, last year's fourth round pick out of the University of South Carolina, finished his first full season posting a combined 2.98 ERA between the two-A ball levels and essentially averaged a strikeout per inning pitched. More than the numbers, however, his breaking ball became a viable weapon for him. Foley, last year's fifth round pick out of Central Michigan University, also posted a sub-3.00 ERA over two minor league levels [including Triple-A] and did so while transitioning from a college reliever to a starter at the professional level. He too saw significant development with his secondary pitches and struck out better than a batter per inning pitched. Both are bonafide Top 50 prospects now after their first full seasons.

Where We Were Wrong -- Drew Bridges and Alvaro Noriega, both non-Top 50 prospects heading into the 2014 season, would both be Top 50 prospects by season's end: At the beginning of the short-season leagues we appeared to be initially correct on Bridges as he began the year hitting .351 with a 1.068 OPS in his first twelve games with Staten Island after tearing it up in Extended Spring Training, but he wound up hitting just .211 on the year overall in the New York Penn League. He oozes talent, enough to be a sure-fire Top 50 prospect, but the production simply isn't there at a position that needs to produce. With Noriega, like Dermis Garcia, we'll give ourselves a mild pass as he battled health issues all season long. The difference with Noriega, however, is that, unlike Garcia, Noriega can't afford to lose developmental at-bats at the start of his career since the bat is where he needs the most work. Both can be Top 50 prospects, they have that kind of talent, but it isn't clear if they are at that point right now.

Where We Were Right -- Domingo Acevedo would be a Top Ten Prospect by season's end: Spoiler alert! Acevedo is a Top Ten prospect now. Forget for a moment that he was named the New York Penn League Pitcher of the Year on the strength of a 3-0 record, a 1.69 ERA, a .207 opponent's batting average, and striking out 53 batters in 48 innings with just 15 walks, he actually saw a velocity bump with his fastball, hitting 100-plus mph over his last several outings, and saw his slider become a more consistent weapon. We opined last offseason that he could have a Luis Severino-like ascension and move up multiple levels. That didn't happen but he seems oh-so poised to do that in 2016. Whether he does that or not remains to be seen but what isn't debatable is if he's a Top Ten prospect; he is! .


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