Many of the writers here at Pinstripe Alley have touched on the stockpile of talent on the Charleston RiverDogs roster. The big fish coming into the season were Gary Sanchez (.313, 12 HR, 51 RBI) and Mason Williams (.299, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 17 SB), both of which haven't disappointed thus far. First rounder Dante Bichette Jr. is making improvements after collecting his fair share of hype. Tyler Austin has been a mashing machine all year long (.336, 14 HR, 50 RBI) , and has firmly entrenched himself in Top 100 prospect discussions with his performance. Cito Culver continues to disappoint (we'll just leave it at that).
In the shadow of these bigger names lurks second baseman Angelo Gumbs, the Yankees 2010 second round draft pick, who was considered a reach by many at the time. Based on his current progress at both the plate and in the field, many who doubted him are now eating their words.
Let's take a closer look at what he's done this season after the jump...Prior to the season, Baseball America didn't even have Angelo Gumbs in their Top 10 Yankees prospect list for 2012. Here is what BA's John Manuel had to say about the omission of Gumbs:
John Manuel: Gumbs certainly has upside and athleticism. His upside is offensive 2B or perhaps a CF. Williams' upside is as an offensive, dynamic CF, he's got more speed, more 'now' tools and hitting ability, so I thought Williams was an easy call for ranking ahead of Gumbs. I went with Culver over Gumbs because of the defensive ability; he's more likely to make the majors and has fewer demands on his bat. Gumbs is more raw and has less defensive value but a higher upside.
Culver over Gumbs? Whoops! (We all make mistakes, it's part of prospecting. I'm embarrassed over actually putting in print that I liked Tyler Pastornicky a bit more than Zack Cozart this year. But I digress...)
One thing scouts have always raved about regarding Gumbs is his tireless work ethic, and drive to improve himself each time he steps on the field. He worked on refining his swing this winter, and the results have been outstanding so far in 2012, as he's posted a .274 average with seven homers and 33 runs batted in. In the base running department he's taken a massive step forward, going 22-for25 in steal opportunities, causing chaos each time he reaches base. If not for a sluggish April (.208 average), his season line would look much more impressive.
A knock on Gumbs in his young career has been his plate discipline, notably his aggressive approach and propensity for high strikeout totals. While he's still collecting his share of whiffs, there is notable improvement from last year (25.9 K% in '11, 21.4 K% in '12), although his walks have fallen off slightly. Added strength over the winter has allowed him to drive the ball with more authority this year, and that should continue to be a trend as he further matures physically.
Mike Newman of Fangraphs offered this tidbit of scouting information back in April when he watched Charleston play, which is telling considering the funk Gumbs was in at the time.
Angelo Gumbs showed some of the best bat speed I’ve ever seen from a prospect, but an unbridled approach including a few swings-and-misses in which he appeared completely lost at the plate. When Gumbs did make contact – even bad contact – his power potential was evident including a laser of a double to right-center field. On defense, he adjusted nicely to a poor hop behind second base that I was certain would eat him up, starting a 4-6-3 double play. On another double play ball, he displayed excellent arm strength in making a strong throw off his back foot to avoid an oncoming baserunner.
I don't think it's crazy to imagine Gumbs becoming a 20 homer threat in his prime, with the ability to steal 30 or more bases in the majors. He's a long way off, but it's exciting to think about the potential he possesses offensively. The hype machine has steered clear of Gumbs to this point, although it isn't likely to stay that way in the midst of this breakout performance.
What are your thoughts on Angelo Gumbs?