Whereas low Class A Greensboro and Triple-A New Orleans both lead their divisions, high Class A Jupiter has struggled to stay afloat, even with the return of Christian Yelich. At the same time, Kyle Skipworth's and Kyle Jensen's bats have come alive, helping propel Double-A Jacksonville to second place.
AAA: New Orleans Zephyrs
4/13 - W 6-4 @ Nashville Sounds
4/14 - L 5-9 @ Nashville Sounds
4/15 - L 2-3 @ Nashville Sounds
4/16 - W 11-5 @ Nashville Sounds
4/17 - W 3-1 @ Memphis Redbirds
4/18 - L 5-7 @ Memphis Redbirds
4/19 - W 3-2 @ Memphis Redbirds
4/20 - Game postponed
4/21 - W 8-5 vs. Round Rock Express
4/22 - L 0-10 vs. Round Rock Express
4/23 - L 1-8 vs. Round Rock Express
4/24 - L 1-7 vs. Round Rock Express
4/25 - No game scheduled
4/26 - W 9-4 vs. Albuquerque Isotopes
4/27 - W 2-1 vs. Albuquerque Isotopes
Aside from an ugly series against the Round Rock Express, the Zephyrs have gotten off to a nice start. Matt Dominguez and Scott Cousins have started to hit better since their poor first weeks, while Alex Sanabia has been lights out in his five starts, striking out more than eleven batters for every walk issued. New Orleans is now in first place in the Pacific Coast League southern division, with a 14-7 record.
AA: Jacksonville Suns
4/13 - L 3-7 vs. Chattanooga Lookouts
4/14 - W 7-6 vs. Chattanooga Lookouts
4/15 - L 1-2 @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/16 - W 5-4 @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/17 - W 7-0 @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/18 - W 8-7 @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/19 - W 4-3 @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/20 - W 5-1 @ Mobile BayBears
4/21 - L 1-8 @ Mobile BayBears
4/22 - W 4-3 @ Mobile BayBears
4/23 - W 7-0 @ Mobile BayBears
4/24 - L 1-4 @ Mobile BayBears
4/25 - W 6-5 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/26 - L 3-9 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/27 - L 2-8 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Jacksonville started the season 3-5, but displayed impressive resilience by winning four of five on the road against Pensacola and then splitting the series against the division leading Mobile BayBears. The main difference on offense has been the awakening of the two Kyle's, Skipworth and Jensen. Zach Neal has done a good job starting for the Suns, posting a 2.16 earned run average through four starts. Relievers A.J. Ramos and Evan Red are also off to good starts.
A+: Jupiter Hammerheads
4/13 - L 2-3 @ Charlotte Stone Crabs
4/14 - L 1-2 @ Charlotte Stone Crabs
4/15 - L 6-11 vs. Fort Myers Miracle
4/16 - W 5-1 vs. Fort Myers Miracle
4/17 - W 4-0 vs. Fort Myers Miracle
4/18 - No game scheduled
4/19 - W 9-8 vs. Charlotte Stone Crabs
4/20 - Game postponed
4/21 - L 2-3 vs. Charlotte Stone Crabs, W 7-3 vs. Charlotte Stone Crabs
4/22 - W 14-4 @ Bradenton Marauders
4/23 - L 2-8 @ Bradenton Marauders
4/24 - W 7-1 @ Bradenton Marauders
4/25 - W 5-4 vs. St. Lucie Mets
4/26 - L 0-1 vs. St. Lucie Mets
4/27 - L 2-3 vs. St. Lucie Mets
Jupiter benefited greatly from the return of top prospect Christian Yelich. Noah Perio also showed great improvement at the plate, but many of the other bats have failed to contribute. Rob Rasmussen's performance thus far has been disappointing. He should be thriving in his second year in the pitching-friendly Florida State League, but Rasmussen's earned run average is just 3.80 and he is still walking over four batters per nine innings. The strongest starter for the Hammerheads in 2012 has been Grant Dayton. The 24-year-old lefty has a 1.06 earned run average and nineteen strikeouts through seventeen innings pitched. Jupiter finished the week in second to last place with a 9-12 record.
A-: Greensboro Grasshoppers
4/13 - W 4-3 @ Delmarva Shorebirds
4/14 - L 0-4 @ Delmarva Shorebirds
4/15 - L 2-19 @ Delmarva Shorebirds
4/16 - L 4-5 @ Lakewood BlueClaws
4/17 - W 4-3 @ Lakewood BlueClaws
4/18 - W 9-1 @ Lakewood BlueClaws
4/19 - W 8-7 vs. Delmarva Shorebirds
4/20 - W 5-3 vs. Delmarva Shorebirds
4/21 - W 3-2 vs. Delmarva Shorebirds
4/22 - Game postponed
4/23 - No game scheduled
4/24 - W 6-0 @ Hickory Crawdads
4/25 - L 4-5 @ Hickory Crawdads
4/26 - L 4-5 @ Hickory Crawdads
4/27 - W 9-3 @ Hickory Crawdads
The combination of talented pitching in Jose Fernandez and Adam Conley along with older non-prospects has proven very successful for the Grasshoppers in 2012. Catcher Austin Barnes has been on a tear, hitting .444/.523/.583 in his last ten games. Catcher Toly Caldwell, outfielder Ryan McIntyre, and outfielder Brent Keys have all done similarly well in the past two weeks. This union has given the Grasshoppers a 14-7 record, tying them for first place with the Hickory Crawdads.
1. Mark Canha, 1B
.353/.463/.618 (12-for-34), 5 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 BB, 3 SO
The Marlins' hottest prospect has been none other than Jupiter first basemen Mark Canha. Canha finished second last year in home runs in the South Atlantic League, hitting 25 dingers. He has an advanced approach and a nice, short swing, but Canha has mostly feasted on younger competition. At this rate of production, he should be playing for Jacksonville soon.
2. Christian Yelich, OF
.311/.415/.578 (14-for-45), 12 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 9 SO, 3-for-3 SB
Christian Yelich has been a much needed boost of energy for the struggling Hammerheads. Yelich hit the ground running, going 2-for-4 with a walk in his first game. He then tore through the Florida State League in his first week, winning the league's Player of the Week award. Yelich is unquestionably the best prospect in the Marlins' system and he has backed up his position by doing very well so far in high Class A as a 20-year-old.
3. Jose Fernandez, RHP
2 GS, 12.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 4 BB, 15 SO
Jose Fernandez is drawing considerable attention for his dominating performance for Greensboro. In all four of his starts, Fernandez has lasted more than five innings and hasn't allowed more than two runs. If Fernandez continues to strikeout more than ten batters per nine innings, I could easily see him on Baseball America's top fifty mid-season prospect list.
4. Kyle Skipworth, C
.239/.327/.587 (11-for-46), 7 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 23 SO
Kyle Skipworth started the season awfully, hitting just .167 in his first week. Amazingly, his on-base percentage was even lower than his batting average. Skipworth has seen a great run in power production the past two weeks, hitting four home runs and four doubles. He is still striking out way too much, but I will cut Skipworth some slack thanks to his six walks. I would love to see the Marlins get at least some value out of Skipworth, otherwise the 2008 draft will forever be remembered as a colossal failure. Yonder Alonso, Jason Castro, Justin Smoak, Jemile Weeks, Brett Lawrie, and Ike Davis were all selected after Skipworth.
5. Adam Conley, LHP
2 GS, 9.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 B, 8 SO
Adam Conley has only allowed a combined two earned runs across four starts for Greensboro. Unlike Jose Fernandez, Conley is relatively old for his league at almost 22-years-old. I would not be surprised to see Conley promoted to Jupiter if he continues to make short work of South Atlantic League batters. Conley should be on the fast track, if he isn't already.
1. Marcell Ozuna, OF
.234/.265/.277 (11-for-47), 5 R, 1 3B, 2 B, 9 SO
Marcell Ozuna's early season struggles have not yet reached crisis mode, but they are certainly something to be concerned about. Ozuna's problems are the result of a very low .265 batting average on balls in play, combined with a decrease in walks and increase in strikeouts.
2. Ryan Fisher, 3B
.171/.292/.293 (7-for-41), 7 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 BB, 9 SO, 1-for-1 SB
Ryan Fisher's struggles are odd considering his advanced age relative to the Florida State League. Fisher is still struggling to make contact and lefties continue to be the bane of his existence, but Fisher is not showing the extra-base power that he had in Greensboro last season.
3. Tom Koehler, RHP
3 GS, 14.0 IP, 13 ER, 22 H, 10 BB, 12 SO
Tom Koehler's struggles in Triple-A have continued in 2012, hurting his chances of pitching for the major league team this year. Koehler likely remains on the short list for a spot start if any of the Marlins' pitchers should go on the disabled list, but he is not helping his cause by walking so many batters.
4. Jacob Realmuto, C
.206/.308/.326 (7-for-34), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-2 SB
Jacob Realmuto had a rough two weeks after starting off very strong, but there is reason to believe he has simply been unlucky. Realmuto walked more than he struck out and had an awful .194 batting average on balls in play.
5. Chad James, LHP
3 GS, 15.0 IP, 8 ER, 16 H, 5 BB, 12 SO
I know the past two weeks have been good for the Marlins' farm system because it took me a little while to find a final prospect for the cold list. Chad James has not been terrible, but his pitching so far has not been ideal either. His April 19th start against Charlotte ended in disaster when he allowed six earned runs in just four innings pitched.