The Kannapolis Intimidators had a number of young, raw prospects on the roster at various points in 2013 and the team’s record reflected that.
Kanny was 27-41 in the first half and 34-35 in the second half in the South Atlantic League. As the younger players started to adapt to Low-A baseball, the Intimidators enjoyed a nice stretch late in the season after they were already out of the playoff race.
The early season attention was directed at Micah Johnson. The 22-year-0ld stole 61 bases and hit .342/.422/.530 in 77 games before earning a promotion. He showed speed, power and contact. There were questions about his age relative to the level, but he asserted himself as a legit middle infield prospect in this system.
As Johnson left the Intimidators at the end of June, Keon Barnum was just getting his feet wet at the level. Injuries kept the 19-year-old from joining the team earlier, but eventually he got some regular at-bats in the second half. The powerful first baseman posted a mediocre .719 OPS and struck out 65 times in 223 plate appearances, but flashed his potential and improved during his time there. Overall, it was a successful, albeit shortened, 2013 for Barnum.
Joining Kannapolis around the same time as Barnum were 2013 draft picks Tim Anderson and Jacob May. Anderson, the first round pick, showed off his plus speed by stealing 24 bases in 28 attempts. The rest of his game proved raw as anticipated for a freshly turned 20-year-old coming out of junior college straight to full season ball. Anderson hit .277/.348/.363 and struck out 77 times in 301 plate appearances (25.9%). He didn’t show much power and the contact rate is concerning, but he did show some patience with 23 walks. 2014 will be a more telling year for Anderson.
As for May, he joined Kanny after 12 dominant games with Great Falls. The third round outfielder appeared overmatched after posting a .504 OPS in July, but caught fire to close out the year. After July, May posted a line of .367/.419/.600 to bring his final OPS with Kanny to .808. At 21, he could be ready for Winston-Salem in 2014 as a potential break out prospect.
There were a few players (Michael Johnson, Jason Coats, Adam Heisler) with productive, but not standout seasons who will need to produce at higher levels. On the downside, 2012 fifth round pick Nick Basto posted a .465 OPS in 54 games.
On the pitching side, the most impressive performers didn’t stay for long. Jake Cose and Myles Jaye earned early promotions and Brad Goldberg dominated in a brief late season stint. Disappointing seasons from Brandon Brennan and Euclides Leyer tarnished what little prospect status either had.
Jefferson Olacio showed enough improvement throughout the year to believe there is still upside there. He is only 18 after all and his second half numbers were better than the first.
Adam Lopez, Kyle Hansen and Tony Bucciferro all showed strong peripherals, but currently none stand out as prospects. Bucciferro and Lopez are both 23 so there will be doubters. Bucciferro walked just five in 72 innings while striking out 71 while Lopez struck out 129 in 99.1 innings mostly as a reliever. Hansen, a sixth rounder last year, missed April and struggled in May, but his ERA dropped in each of the four months he was with Kanny and his peripherals (103 K, 27 BB in 96.2 IP) were better than his ERA (4.10).