For most of the 2011 season the Single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps relied almost solely on one hitter and one hitter only, Midwest League MVP Rymer Liriano. The offense was so desolate that they were Padre-esque. The 2011 TinCaps scored two or fewer runs in 32 of their first 72 games. Their fortune started changing in the second half when Connor Powers started paying immediate dividends. The good news is that Powers and later Cory Spangenberg helped fuel the team to the playoffs, the bad news for the 2012 team is that Liriano, Spangenberg, Powers, and nearly everyone else from the 2011 squad will be in Lake Elsinore in 2012.
The 2012 squad will look for new blood to help them get back to the playoffs. It will be a very young team filled with players who have the potential to be in the upper echelon of prospects. So without further ado here is your 2012 team.
1) Jace Peterson, shortstop:
Selected in the first round by the Padres and picked by Matt Eddy as his breakout player for the 2012 season, Peterson has the speed and ability that you want to see at the top of any order. He had 39 SB (10 CS) in 73 G and could easily get over 50 in a full season. Peterson is a slick fielder, which means for once, that the Padres don’t have to face an immediate question as to whether or not he will be moved to second base (see Galvez, Cumberland, E-Cab, etc…). The question will be whether Jace can hit well enough to stay at the top of the order. Hopefully we can see a better season out of Jace than we did out of Guinn last year (.245/.307/.307, 34 SB).
2) Casey McElroy, second base:
McElroy was taken in the 11th round and signed right at the deadline for above slot money. McElroy play second base in high school but shortstop at Auburn. With Jace at short he will undoubtedly return to second. With Auburn, McElroy led the SEC in hits, and finished in the top 10 in nearly all offensive categories including batting average (.370), RBI (53), HR (9), and 2B (18). He hit .301/.381/.466 in 19 games in Eugene.
3) Luis Domoromo, left field:
Domoromo will be more than likely be returning to the TinCaps to begin the 2012 season. For a 19-year-old in Fort Wayne, Luis had a pretty spectacular 2011 season hitting .283/.335/.405 with 9 HR and 68 RBI in 112 games. The Venezuelan should only get stronger and better during the offseason. If Domoromo can work on his eye, as he continues to build muscle, he very well could be a MWL All-Star.
4) Lee Orr, designated hitter:
Orr led the Ems in HR (8) and was one of the leaders in the NWL. Orr has some of the best power on the team and can be a 20-20 guy in the MWL. The question will be whether or not he can hit enough in the MWL. Orr hit only .219 with 88 K in 62 G.
5) Jose Dore, right field:
Dore signed at the deadline in 2010, hit .375 in the Arizona League, and the came to Fort Wayne last year after the Tate/Williams collision. After hitting well initially, Dore struggled to make solid contact. After struggling he was demoted to Eugene where he once again struggled making solid contact. Dore has a big arm, is a plus fielder, great power, and has yet to turn 20. Dore has the makings of a top prospect but will need to cut down on his strikeouts as he had 111 Ks in 98 combined games between Eugene and Lake Elsinore.
6) Duanel Jones, third base:
Another young prospect with a lot of potential. Jones, as many know, was given a huge bonus as a 16-year-old, only to have it taken away when he tested positive for an illegal substance. Well that voided contract was the opportunity the Padres needed to swoop in. While he struggled at times in Peoria and Eugene, he did show great power (8 HR in 37 AZL games), and has the chance to develop into a strong middle of the order hitter. But for right now as a 19-year-old, batting a little lower in the order should relieve some of the pressure.
7) Austin Hedges, catcher:
Coming into the draft we kept on hearing: “Hedges is already an MLB quality backstop on defense, but the offense will be the question.” However, from interviewing Randy Smith among others, and looking at his stats, he has been a pleasant surprise on offense. Hedges defense will be top notch, but if he can hit even .250/.320/.380, he will continue to jump up the prospect charts.
8 ) Zach Kometani, first base:
He might be the default first basemen and split time with quite a few others, but for the time being he is the best choice at first. The USD product has pretty good power (second on the Ems in both HR (4) and 2B (13)), but does not have a great eye at the plate, and like way too many first basemen has a longer than normal swing that will affect his batting average. The best case is a Cody Decker type player, but more than likely will be lucky make it to Double-A.
9) Kyung-Min Na, center field:
Acquired in the Anthony Rizzo trade, Na provides speed and defense for the TinCaps. Na is the type of player that when he learns how to run the bases has the speed to be a 50+ SB player. The question is, will he hit enough? Na hit .171/.276/.184 in 25 MWL games last year. A year older and the now 20-year-old should hopefully provide that spark at the bottom of the lineup. If he can hit like the Padres hope (as they essentially gave up Cates for him), he can provide a dynamic one-two punch with Peterson, but for right now I see him batting at the bottom of the order until he can prove he can hit. (See what they did with Guinn towards the end of last year).