The Burlington Bees will have four ranked prospects on their roster to begin the 2015 season, including last year’s 15th overall draft pick, LHP Sean Newcomb.
Ranked No. 2 in the Los Angeles Angels farm system by Baseball America, Newcomb spent the tail end of the 2014 season with the Bees. His four starts for Burlington were a mixed bag; his outings were good, bad, bad, and great. Fortunately, he was able to finish the regular season strongly with a dominant performance against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, giving up only two hits while striking out 10 in four scoreless innings. (He also made one postseason start for the Bees, striking out six batters in five innings. He gave up one run on four hits and a walk.)
Baseball America notes that Newcomb has drawn comparisons to new Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester, and is projected to have three plus pitches: a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a curveball with an above-average spin rate, and a change-up. BA projects him as “a potential mid-rotation starter capable of logging 200-plus innings per year.”
Physically, the big-bodied left-hander may remind older Bees fans of Toronto Blue Jays SP Mark Buehrle, who went 7-4 with a 4.10 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 16 walks in 98.2 IP for Burlington in 1999.
Two other 2015 Bees pitchers are ranked by Baseball America among the Angels’ top 30 prospects: RHP Jake Jewell (No. 19) and RHP Keynan Middleton (No. 30). Another hurler worth watching is RHP Jeremy Rhoades, who was drafted in the 4th round last year. This is the first full-season assignment for all three pitchers.
The Bees start the season with one ranked position player: Natanael Delgado (No. 27), a 19-year-old Dominican Republic outfielder who is a potential power bat but struggled to stay healthy in his first two seasons. After 89 rookie-level games in 2013-14, he has a .284 batting average with 6 HR, 54 RBI, 77 strikeouts and 16 walks. He is the youngest player assigned to the Bees.
Infielder Andrew Daniel, who primarily played second base but also some shortstop last year, batted .340 with 6 HR, 39 RBI and 13 SB in 63 games with the rookie-level Orem Owlz in 2014. His batting average was fifth-best in the Pioneer League last year.
In addition to Newcomb, players returning to Burlington include infielders Erick Salcedo and Zach Houchins, and outfielder Exicardo Cayones.
Bees fans may be keeping an extra eye on infielder Jake Yacinich, a Des Moines native who played baseball at the University of Iowa. Personally, I’ll watch with interest the progress of outfielder Michael Hermosillo, who hails from Ottawa, Ill., where I wrote for local newspapers for several years.
You can see the entire Bees roster here.