Essentially as long as the Lake County franchise has been in existence, the squad has featured a lot of young talented arms and low-ceiling, older bats. It has been a common destination for college draftees from the previous year making their full-season debut and high school and international pitchers who had graduated from the ranks of the rookie leagues. Either by chance or as the result of shifts in organizational player acquisition and development approaches, this year's Lake County squad is exactly the opposite. The hitters are essentially the youngest in the Midwest League, with a plethora of teenagers on the squad. The pitchers, in contrast, are primarily recent college draftees. The overall results for the team have not been great (34-50), but the individual performances, while uneven, have shown interesting flashes of potential.
Jesus Aguilar (21.0, 1B): Aguilar is an enormous bat. He is not young, he is limited to first base (although he might be a good defender there if the can maintain his fitness), but he has a legitimate power bat. With 16 HRs on the season, he is in contention to eclipse Ryan Goleski's club-record of 28 set in 2004. His 79 Ks in 79 games suggest he still has significant refinements to make in his swing and plate approach, but this year has definitely been a step forward for him and put him onto the prospect map.
Carlos Moncrief (22.6, CF): Moncreif is one of the oldest hitters on the squad, but as a converted pitcher this is only his second season as a positional player in pro-ball. Moncreif has been slumping since June, but despite that, he has shown an intriguing combination of hitting ability, speed and defense. He needs to show that he can adust and pull out of his current slump, but Moncrief has plus power-ability, good patience (although a swing that still allows for way too many Ks), the speed to play centerfield and the arm to play a corner outfield position. Time is not on his side, but his tools are.
Ronny Rodriguez (19.2, SS): This year's Abner Abreu, Rodriguez is a just turned 19-year old with plus power at shortstop. His peripherals are terrible (27 Ks, 2 BBs in 162 PAs), but given his age and position I can let that slide for now (although it should really start showing some improvement).
Mike Rayl (22.6, LHP): On a pitching staff that featured many more high-profile 2010 draftees (Cole Cook, Jordan Cooper, Kyle Blair), Rayl, a 2009 15th round pick, has emerged with the best performance. On the season Rayl has put up a WHIP below 0.9 and a K/BB ratio over 6. Should be pitching in Kinston very soon, where he will be more age appropriately placed.
LeVon Washington (19.9, OF): A lot was expected of Washington, who signed for 1st round money a year ago, and although it is early, he has yet to deliver. He has shown excellent patience so far at the plate (14.7 BB%), but that has gone along with way too many Ks (23.8 K%), not enough power (.082 ISO), and an overall lack of hitting ability (.222/.343/.304). Kevin Goldstein recently pointed out that Washington, because of his path to pro ball, simply has not played a lot of baseball. Whether that means the baseball skills scouts saw are not there or simply need time to develop remains to be seen.
Kyle Blair (22.8, RHP): Another over-slot 2010 draft pick, Blair should be doing better given his profile and college experience. While he has shown brief glimpses of his ability (e.g. May 29th, 6IP, 5H, 0R, 2BB, 9K), for the most part he has been outshone by younger and (seemingly) less talented opponents.
Nick Bartolone (20.8, 2B/SS): The 6th round "baseball rat" selection from a year ago, the undersized (5'10", 153) Bartolone simply has not been good (.214/..282/.246 with 17 errors).
Alex Monsalve (19.2, C): Something of a high-profile signing out of Venezuela a few years ago, Monsalve is making his full-season debut and holding his own (.274/.314/.389) as a 19-year old catcher, which is noteworthy. Like nearly all the Captains, he has had plate discipline issues, but Monsalve is certainly a name to remember at catcher, the position which is probably stocked with the most talent in the organization.
Giovanny Urshela (19.8, 3B): Another defensively gifted third baseman, Urshela started the season strong in April (.291/.323/.430). He slumped badly in May and June, but has bounced back since the start of July. Given the age, defense and offensive potential, still a name to follow.
Alex Lavisky (20.5, C): Lavisky is actually back in Mahoning Valley and flailing now, but his initial placement at Lake County was aggressive for a high-school draftee, particularly a catcher, in his first full season. His plate approach, again, is badly flawed (66 Ks, 9 BBs in Lake County), but he showed plus power (ISO .184) in his stay. Needs to show he can adjust, but the potential is there.
Michael Goodnight (22.0, RHP): A big right-hander, Goodnight went through a stretch in May/June where we has one of the better pitchers in the Midwest League (27.6 K%, 8.6 BB%). Since then he has struggled a bit, but still an arm to watch.
Overview: As a group, this is much more about potential than results. While it would be nice to see strong second half performances, a more realistic approach might be to expect improvements next season for the younger players. The college group of arms should do better in the second half, however. I'm not going to comment at length on the short-season leagues, which have only logged ~20 games, but it is worth noting a few strong performances to date. At Mahoning Valley, Jordan Smith, Jake Lowery, Tony Wolters and Bryson Myles have all had early success with the bat (the latter three at defensively valued positoins). The AZL complex team, meanwhile, has gotten strong performances out of a couple of 18-year old infielders (Jorge Martinez and Robel Garcia), as well as strong showings from Manuel Carmona and Elvis Araujo on the mound.