Starting today and running throughout spring training I’ll be running down my list of the top 30 Rays prospects, with the occasional weekend interlude. Check back daily to get caught up on the system with a new capsule each day.
Jeff Malm, 1B | 6-3/225
5th round, 2009 draft (Bishop Gorman HS)
What happened in 2012? Not enough. Malm broke through with Hudson Valley in 2011 after struggling with Princeton, but he was unable to maintain the momentum in his first taste of full-season ball. His overall line of .263/.356/.438 just simply isn’t good enough for a 1st base prospect. With the Renegades in ’11, he socked twelve home runs in 73 games, leaving many hopeful the power he showed as a high schooler was beginning to manifest itself in pro ball. But with the Hot Rods, in 55 more games, he was only able to add one longball to his total. His walk rate slightly dipped and his HBP rate fell, leading to a .026 drop in his OBP. He also didn’t improve his strikeout rate, whiffing roughly once per game.
What needs to happen in 2013? Well, he needs to hit, duh. The simple fact is that first base prospects need to totally mash in the minors to be taken seriously because a first baseman’s value is so tied up in his bat. Malm’s .263 average in 2012 represented a career-high, and he’ll have to build on that. He’s selective enough at the dish and hasn’t suffered from bad BABIP luck, so it’s a matter of putting bat on ball more and cutting down on the strikeouts. Of course, having his power bounce back would be nice too, maybe getting his ISO back over .200 as it was in 2011. He’ll be 22 and in high-A, so if he doesn’t show enough progress at the plate, his time as a legit prospect may be up.