Here at MLB Prospect Watch, we try to focus on the positive. We'd prefer to talk about the best performances, the superstar efforts, and the amazing things that the best prospects are capable of. But we are here to inform you, after all, and unfortunately, not all news is good news.
What ultimately makes prospect-following fun is that nothing is certain, and in order for that to be the case, prospects have to struggle. And even though the news isn't good, we know you still want to know.
These prospects are struggling so far in 2012:
After a decent first start, Betances has given up 13 earned runs in his last two starts, lasting a total of just eight innings between them. He's getting hit, and he's walking guys, which is a recipe for the 10.38 ERA he's currently sporting.
It's not that Brown has been that awful in 2012, but compared to his monster 2011 season, it just seems like it. Brown is hitting just .214 this April, and has stolen just one base in three tries. That's quite a drop off from the .336/34/13/14/53 (BA/2B/3B/HR/SB) season he put up last season. Brown will come around, although a dropoff is to be expected leaving the California League, and the facilities in Richmond do nothing to help hitters.
Cox has been a hit machine since being drafted in the first round in 2010, hitting .306 in his first full season last year. This season, in his first taste of Triple-A, Cox is hitting just .128 with one extra-base hit (a homer), and a 13/3 K/BB ratio. There is little reason to worry about Cox yet, given his track record and pure hitting ability, but there's no denying that his 2012 start has been ugly.
After significantly improving his control last season, Familia has taken a step back this season, reverting to his 2010 wildness when he walked 74 batters in 121 innings. This season has been worse, having walked 12 in 13 2/3 innings. He's still missing bats (15 K's so far) and keeping the ball in the yard (just one home run allowed in 2012), but with this many base runners, his 6.59 ERA won't be coming down any time soon.
The shortstop prospect who almost made the Red Sox Opening Day roster ultimately got sent to Triple-A because management and front office personnel didn't think he was ready to hit major league pitching. His .216 batting average at Pawtucket this April isn't exactly changing their mind. Iglesias has also yet to record an extra-base hit. No matter how good his defense, the former Cuban defector has never collected more than 17 extra-base hits in any professional season, so he'll have to show the Red Sox significant improvement before they can expect anything out of his bat.
The Rays shortstop of the future is struggling in the present, and given his struggles last season after being promoted to Double-A, Lee's continuing struggles are enough to give the Rays a reason to worry. Unlike most of the prospects on this list who can use the sample size defense, Lee is now 29-for-149 (.194) at his current level, including just .204 thus far in his second go-round.
Rodriguez didn't exactly set the world on fire in his first full season, but he held his own at Dayton last season. The Reds moved him up to Bakersfield this season, likely in hopes that the hitter-friendly atmosphere would pay off. That plan hasn't worked so far, as Rodriguez has hit .128 this April, with 16 strike outs and just one walk. Swings and misses have always been an issue for Rodriguez, but this is taking it to a new level. Rodriguez will have to make more contact before he finds himself back in Dayton.
It took a 4-for-5 day on Monday for Szczur to get his batting average up to .214, and he almost doubled his season hit total with one game. The good news is that he's not striking out much and he's walking enough (8 of each), so he's not totally lost at the plate, and his struggles could be a matter of hits just not falling. The bad news is that he's shown no power, with all nine of his hits on the season being singles.