Top prospects aren’t winners

first_imgOn paper, the JetHawks are arguably minor-league baseball’s most prospect-rich team. The JetHawks parent Arizona Diamondbacks, whose minor-league system is ranked No. 1 by Baseball America, has nine of its top 30 Baseball America organizational prospects playing for its advanced Class-A affiliate in the Antelope Valley. That talent hasn’t yet translated into victories. Heading into Monday’s game against High Desert, Lancaster (13-24) had minor-league baseball’s fifth-worst record. The parent club hasn’t fared much better. Arizona’s composite organizational record (65-84) is baseball’s third-worst. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsJetHawks history suggests that winning in A-ball doesn’t necessarily correlate to developmental success. The JetHawks’ 2000 team won a franchise-record 89 regular-season games, but was a bust from a development standpoint, producing no everyday major-leaguers. The 2001 JetHawks, who set a record for futility with a 2-25 June, turned out to be one of the most developmentally successful Lancaster squads, producing Diamondbacks staff ace Brandon Webb, among others. Whether the JetHawks’ top prospects are able to adjust to the more advanced California League in time to make an impact this season remains to be seen. JetHawks manager Brett Butler said he is nowhere near ready to count out his team out of title contention, but he indicated it is not the organization’s top priority. “It’s hard to make that judgment yet, we still have a lot of baseball left,” Butler said. “Obviously, we want to win, but (player) development is first and foremost.” Lancaster ran away with the first-half title in 2004, when vaunted prospects Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin and Jamie D’Antona became known a the “Three Amigos.” Unlike the 2006 crop of prospects, the Three Amigos were more polished collegians. This year’s team features younger players who are less advanced, such as Carlos Gonzalez, a five-tool 21-year-old Venezuelan outfielder who is considered among baseball’s top prospects. Gonzalez, who was last season’s Midwest League MVP at low-A South Bend (Ind.), is holding his own but not dominating, batting .274 with three homers and 23 RBIs. Assuming Gonzalez and Co. should be tearing up the league to start the season is unrealistic, those in player-development circles say. “I think many times when you see a team with a lot of talent, you assume immediate success, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Lake Elsinore manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s part of development, and it takes time. You might not see it for two to three years.” Promoted: Pitcher Chris Kinsey, who started the season in Lancaster, developed a cut fastball under the tutelage of pitching coach Jeff Pico that has accelerated his progress. Kinsey was promoted to Double-A Tennessee after allowing no earned runs in 111/3 innings at Lancaster. He has a 2.70 ERA in five appearances with the Smokies. “It was a good promotion,” Butler said. “He’s gotten some confidence with that pitch. It should help him.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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