Archive for May, 2013

Every year in the months leading up to baseball’s amateur draft, the internet is inundated with draft predictions.  What you have here is a little bit different spin on that.  What I present to you is what I would do, should I be in the scouting director or general manager’s shoes for each of the 33 first round picks, based on need, fit, and where I see each team and system in the coming years. This is not a prediction of what I think the current regime will do.

With that, I present to you, the top fifteen of the first round:

1-    Astros- Mark Appel- Number one pitcher in the draft and a no brainer.  With their system and low payroll the Astros are in need of everything. Draft the best and pay him.

2-    Cubs- Jonathan Gray. They are three deep with impact bats in the minors (Soler, Baez, Almora), Gray is a no brainer.

3-    Colorado Rockies- Braden Shipley.  The Rockies need arms. More than ever now with Pomeranz and White having yet to pan out.  A top college pitcher, shouldn’t need much seasoning.

4-    Minnesota Twins- Kohl Stewart.  Another team in need of pitching.  A top H.S. arm, Stewart is a bit away but the Twins are a bit away from contending too.

5-    Indians- Kris Bryant.  Best position prospect in the draft. Indians need pitching more but the next best college pitcher, likely Stanek, doesn’t project as more than a middle of the rotation type of guy, not a 5th overall pick.

6-    Marlins- Clint Frazier.  They need everything.  Justified trade of Reyes and company as a baseball trade.  Money will be spent here.  He’s the best available player at number 6.

7-    Red Sox- Reese McGuire.  The big league club is in good shape.  A prep backstop, he’s a great person, a leader and a potentially great talent on the field.  The type of player that fits the Sox mold and no need to rush him.

8-    Royals- DJ Peterson. Excellent college bat. In light of the Wil Myers trade, look to try and replace that bat and grab the best college one available.

9-    Pirates- Trey Ball.  Best available pitcher at this point.  A top prep arm, the Pirates already have Cole and Taillon waiting in the wings.  Grab Ball and he can join them a few years down the road, then help offset the loss of one of the first two to free agency.

10- Blue Jays- Ryne Stanek.  A lot of question marks in the Jays rotation.  They need a guy who can be close to Major League ready that they can plug into the middle of the rotation.

11- Mets- Hunter Renfroe. Monster power. College bat so shouldn’t be far away. Right now the Mets need 3 Major League level outfielders.  His swing should play very well in CitiField.

12- Mariners- Austin Meadows.  Very raw, but tremendous potential to be five tool player down the road for the Mariners, and that’s what they need to focus on.

13- Padres- Phil Bickford. Very hard thrower, with a slider and change-up already coming along.  I’d consider the big right-hander a steal here for the Fryers.  Ace potential, and the recent injury (officially a hip injury, rumors of shoulder issues) to Sean Manaea scares me.

14- Pirates- JP Crawford.  Toolsie shortstop, Crawford is probably the best position player prospect at 14.  Took a pitcher with 9, take a position player (at a position the Bucs have been severely lacking at) here. Plays above his years.

15- Diamondbacks- Aaron Judge.  With pitchers Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs heading up the farm system, and the trade of Justin Upton, time for the D’Backs to grab a bat.  Huge at 6’7”, 255, Judge has a lot of power, short swing and could be a 30 home run hitter in the bigs sooner rather than later.

Advertisements

What Could Have Been

Posted: May 29, 2013 in by Freddy Berowski

What could have been?  In baseball, this is a question we ask ourselves all the time.  Whether we are talking about a player not swinging the bat with a full count, two outs, and the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a crucial Game 7, or a prospect who is supposed to be great but, for one reason or another, just doesn’t pan out, the question of “what could have been” always starts a discussion.

The injury to Dylan Bundy seems to be a growing concern, and when thinking about a pitcher of his pedigree it gets one thinking about other elite prospects who prompted the “what could have been” question.

For purposes of this discussion we are avoiding the Steve Chilcott’s of the world, only focusing on elite prospects whose careers were derailed by injury, within the amateur draft era -1965-present.

Drafted with the 7th overall pick by the Cleveland Indians in Major League Baseball’s first amateur draft, big things were expected of backstop Ray Fosse.  An elite defender who possessed great range with a superbly accurate arm, Fosse could also swing the bat.  In 1970, his first full Major League campaign, Fosse slugged 18 home runs, 16 of which came before the All-Star Game.  In that All-Star Game, Fosse suffered an injury that would impact the rest of his career.  In the 12th inning of a tie game, Cubs’ Jim Hickman lined a shot into the outfield and Pete Rose raced around third base to score, unnecessarily taking out Fosse by aggressively crashing into his left shoulder to score the exhibition’s winning run.  X-Rays were negative, due in large part to inflammation, and it wasn’t until the next season that it was discovered that the play had fractured and separated his left shoulder.  But it was clear the damage was done.  Fosse battled injuries the rest of his career and never again lived up to his potential.

Drafted in the 5th round of the 1968 Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros, Larry Yount, brother of Hall of Famer Robin Yount, made his Major League debut on September 15, 1971.  He was announced into the game and during warm-ups injured his pitching arm.  A moderate prospect (his best season came in 1970 for Columbus where he went 12-8 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 149 K’s in 184 innings) Yount is a unique case because he holds the distinction of being the only pitcher in Major League history to have been credited with pitching in a game and never throwing a pitch.  Yount was shut down the rest of the year and never again made the Major Leagues, hanging up his spikes for good in 1975, after three poor minor league seasons.  Yount later attributed the arm issues he faced that day to a military commitment earlier in the month.

In 1991, with the first overall pick in the draft, the Yankees selected young flame thrower Brien Taylor out of East Carteret High School in Beaufort, NC, and after intense negotiations signed him to a draft record $1.55 million contract.  Taylor dominated in his first two minor league seasons, striking out 337 batters in 324.1 innings.  After the 1993 season, Taylor declined the Yankees request that he play winter ball because he felt he needed to rest his arm.  A torn labrum, suffered in a fight on Dec. 18, 1993, effectively ended Taylor’s career at age 21.  Taylor attempted to come back two years later and had several more stints in the minor leagues, but struggled mightily and never again made it above class A.

Drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 2001 Amateur Draft, Mark Prior was a dominating pitcher for University High School in San Diego.  Thanks to the internet age, Prior was already a well known commodity before he even stepped foot on a professional mound.  Prior-Mania swept the Windy City and he was so dominant at his first two minor league stops that he made the Majors in his first pro-season.  He followed that up by going 18-6, with a 2.43 ERA and 245 K’s in 211.1 innings in his sophomore campaign.  Prior showed flashes of brilliance over the next two seasons but multiple DL stints were starting to take their toll.  In 2007, Prior had shoulder surgery by noted physician Dr. James Andrews and has been trying to climb his way back to the big leagues ever since.   Now 32, Prior pitches for the Reds AAA farm club the Louisville Bats and is currently serving a stint on the disabled list.

Let’s hope Dylan Bundy doesn’t suffer the same fate.

Here are eight breakout prospects, and four underachievers from the Class A Midwest League:

Breakouts:

Rock Shoulders, 1B, Kane County Cougars (CHC)
.365/.450/.646, 6 HR, 9 2B, 20 RBI
After a mediocre 2012 campaign with the Boise Hawks, it appeared like Shoulders, the Cubs’ 25th round pick in 2011 out of JUCO, would be known solely as the guy who won MiLB.com’s Moniker Madness tournament because of his cool name. He has shattered all expectations this year with Kane County, outhitting teammate and more well-known hitting prospect Dan Vogelbach, and currently in 2nd in the MWL (behind Byron Buxton) in OPS.

Renato Nunez, 3B, Beloit Snappers (OAK)
.318/.383/.600, 6 HR, 6 2B, 18 RBIThe 19-year old Nunez was ranked the No. 8 prospect in the Athletics organization going into this season, and he has done nothing but improve his position as a prospect as he thrives in the MWL. He’s got great raw power and bat speed and has shown improved patience at the plate this year. If he keeps this pace up he could potentially be finding himself in the MLBs Top 100 Prospects list next season/

Devon Travis, 2B, West Michigan Whitecaps (DET)
.356/.419/.554, 5 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 20 RBI, 3 SB
Travis was the Tigers’ 13th Round pick in 2012 out of Florida State where he had moderate success with the Short Season Connecticut Tigers before missing the end of the season with an injury. The 22-year old has proven to be advanced for Low A ball and could progress through the Tigers system quite quickly. While not intimidating in terms of athleticism or physical stature (only 5’9″), Travis makes solid contact and could potentially be a big league caliber second baseman with a little bit of pop.

Jabari Henry, OF, Clinton Lumberkings (SEA)
.377/.490/.584, 3 HR, 7 2B, 16 RBI, 4 SB
It’s starting to appear like the Mariners may have gotten a steal in the 18th round of the 2012 draft by selecting Henry, an outfielder out of FIU. Henry was impressive last year with the Rookie League team in Pulaski, bus has taken his game to another level this season. He has been especially impressive with his patience, shown by a whopping .490 OBP, and a decent amount of power, making him a player to watch in the loaded Mariners organization.

Andrew Toles, OF, Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)
.321/.356/.518, 1 HR, 9 2B, 5 3B, 22 RBI, 13 SB
Toles was a 4th Round pick of the Florida Marlins out of High School in the 2010 draft, but opted to go to Tennessee instead. After a year with the volunteers he transferred to Chipola CC in Florida, where he was drafted in the 3rd Round by the Rays last year. His blazing speed is clearly his best tool, and that alone would make him an interesting prospect, but early this year with the Hot Rods he has proven that he can hit a bit as well. He leads the league in triples, and ranks 4th in total bases. Plate discipline is something that needs to be improved, but Toles’ athleticism and hitting ability makes him one to watch.

Brandon Sinnery, RHP, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI)

5 G, 3 GS, 0-0, 0.67 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 27 IP, 24 K, 5 BB
Maybe the biggest longshot out of this group is South Bend’s starting pitcher Brandon Sinnery, who went undrafted out of Michigan last year. Instead of signing with a big league team last June, Sinnery played in the American Association, where he impressed enough to get a deal with the Diamondbacks this spring.  On Friday, May 3rd, Sinnery took a no-hitter into the 7th inning in perhaps his finest professional start to date. While he is considered old for his league, Sinnery’s success can’t be denied much longer, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Jeff Ames, RHP, Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)
5 G/GS, 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 25 IP, 22 K, 2 BB
In a Bowling Green rotation which also features top prospects Taylor Guerrieri and Blake Snell, Ames has had the most impressive start to the 2013 season. Drafted in the sandwich round by the Rays in 2011 out of JUCO, Ames was dominant last season in the New York Penn League and has continued that success to the next level. This season he leads the MWL with an eye-popping 0.60 WHIP, and has only walked two batters in 25 IP. The 22-year old features a quality fastball and slider, and the command he’s showing this season will allow him to continue to climb the prospect ranks.

Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Quad Cities’ River Bandits (HOU)
7 G, 4 GS, 3-0, 3.03 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 35 K, 9 BB
The Astros’ 2nd Round pick from 2010 has been excellent so far in his first full professional season after being successful in 2012 with Tri Cities of the NYPL. While Velasquez’s ERA is somewhat on the high side, his WHIP and K/BB numbers show that he has been dominant this season pitching in the Astros’ designed “piggy-back” role, where he both starts and pitches in long relief. Vincent appears to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of the 2011 season, with a plus fastball that can hit 97.

Underachievers:

Austin Schotts, OF, West Michigan Whitecaps (DET)
.169/.253/.234, 1 HR, 2 2B, 10 RBI, 6 SB
Schotts was the Tigers’ 3rd round pick in 2012, out of High School in Texas, and was ranked by MLB.com as their 10th best prospect going into the season. His assignment to full season ball this season was a bit aggressive, and he has really struggled at the plate thus far. That being said, Schotts has plus speed and potentially plus defense in the outfield, so if the 19-year old starts to hit a little better, he will still be a prospect to watch for the Tigers.

Patrick Leonard, 3B, Bowling Green Hot Rods (TBR)
.146/.226/.177, 0 HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI
Leonard was the 4th and most raw player that the Rays received in their blockbuster with the Royals this off-season. Though not as well known as Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi or Mike Montgomery, Leonard was still supposed to be one to keep an eye on, as he was ranked no. 20 on the Rays preseason prospect list. The 20-year old showed good power in the Appy League (14 HRs in 62 G) in 2012, but that has failed to translate to the next level. With an OPS of under .400, Leonard has been just dismal offensively this year.

Orlando Arcia, SS, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)
.198/.245/.242, 0 HR, 4 2B, 5 RBI, 3 SB
After just one season in the DSL in 2011, it was considered an extremely aggressive assignment for Arcia, a big SS with great upside, to be assigned to full season ball. As expected, he has struggled quite a bit offensively, with an OPS of only .487 without any home runs so far. While a good start in the Midwest League would have propelled Arcia into many Brewers top prospect lists, he has failed to turn any heads with his offensive production thus far.

Ismael Guillon, LHP, Dayton Dragons (CIN)
6 G/GS, 0-4, 10.07 ERA, 2.49 WHIP, 19.2 IP, 30 K, 30 BB

There have been some other pitching prospects who have struggled so far in the MWL this year, notably Mitch Brown (CLE) and Daniel Norris (TOR), but Guillon is perhaps most alarming because his strikeout numbers appear dominant. His K/IP ratio is among the best in the league, but he has had huge struggles with control all year. Guillon’s 30 walks not only rank atop of the Midwest League, but are a whopping 11 higher than Zach Bird and Michael Strong, who are in 2nd with 19. Guillon is supposed to feature a plus change-up, and clearly he has swing and miss type stuff. Hopefully for the Reds, he starts commanding and controlling his pitches much better as the season progresses.

Greetings, fellow prospectors. It’s officially time for the first Bowman baseball product of the new year, which releases next week, and the autograph checklist is nothing if not diverse. For those who haven’t heard these names before, which I find difficult to believe by the way, here is a brief rundown for each player.

BCP-AA Andrew Aplin, OF (Astros) – great feel for the game, solid tools across the board, with an above-average arm.

BCP-AH Alen Hanson, SS (Pirates) – great hitter, surprising power for his frame, very fast.

BCP-AM Alex Meyer, RHP (Twins) – towering presence, can touch 99, improved command, very could become a #2-3.

BCP-BB Byron Buxton, OF (Twins) – outstanding athlete across the board, dominating full season ball thus far, easily the breakout of last year’s draft.

BCP-BG Brian Goodwin, OF (Nationals) – displays power, plate discipline and speed, great runner, is likely the Nats’ CF of the future.

BCP-CB Christian Bethancourt, C (Braves) – excellent game-caller, with solid power and running ability.

BCP-CBL Clayton Blackburn, RHP (Giants) – led the Sally League in strikeouts last year, possesses an advanced slider and curve, could have frontline potential.

BCP-CC Carlos Correa, SS (Astros) – potential 5-tool prospect, very good chance to stay at short, emerging power, looks to be the complete package.

BCP-CE C.J. Edwards, RHP (Rangers) – a steal for Texas in the 48th round of the 2011 draft, evolved from mid-80’s to upper 90’s heat, with great projectability.

BCP-DC Daniel Corcino, RHP (Reds) – sits in the mid-90’s, as well as a great slider, and would be an asset in either a starting or relief capacity.

BCP-DH Dilson Herrera, 2B (Pirates) – consistent hitter with great swing, could be above-average at 2B.

BCP-DP Dorssys Paulino, SS (Indians) – could follow in the footsteps of fellow SS prospect Francisco Lindor offensively, mature plate approach, great runner.

BCP-EB Eddie Butler, RHP (Rockies) – sits in the 90’s, but touches 99, great secondary stuff as well, could become a #2-3.

BCP-GA Gioskar Amaya, 2B (Cubs) – quick swinger and runner, great makeup, is likely the Cubs’ best 2B at present.

BCP-GP Gregory Polanco, OF (Pirates) – flashed all 5 tools last year, off to a fast start in the FSL, developing power with solid speed as well.

BCP-JA Jayson Aquino, LHP (Rockies) – projectable lefty, developing secondary stuff, with more velocity could become a #3-4.

BCP-JB Jorge Bonifacio, OF (Royals) – potentially the best hitter in the system, has great strength, good right-fielder.

BCP-JBE Jairo Beras, OF (Rangers) – signed as a FA in July, a potentially above-average right-fielder, as well as a solid power hitter.

BCP-JBI Jesse Biddle, LHP (Phillies) – has been dominant this year, easily the top arm in their system, extremely deceptive fastball, developing changeup.

BCP-JM Julio Morban, OF (Mariners) – above-average hitter, promising athlete when healthy, good arm strength.

BCP-JN Justin Nicolino, LHP (Marlins) – command is his forte, best pitch is his changeup, could become a #2-3.

BCP-KP Kevin Pillar, OF (Blue Jays) – extremely successful contact hitter, can play any OF position well, could get the call this year.

BCP-LG Lucas Giolito, RHP (Nationals) – before undergoing Tommy John surgery, was showing true #1 stuff, with heat that touched 100, a plus-plus curve and a great changeup.

BCP-LS Luis Sardinas, SS (Rangers) – a very speedy defender, with an accurate arm and a great eye at the plate.

BCP-MM Mark Montgomery, RHP (Yankees) – possesses a wipeout slider, impressive control, very promising bullpen arm, could see the Bronx this year.

BCP-MO Matt Olson, 1B (A’s) – power is his game, also considered a natural hitter, solid defender.

BCP-MS Matthew Skole, 3B (Nationals) – another Nats’ recipient of Tommy John surgery, power is his calling card, along with great plate confidence.

BCP-OA Oswaldo Arcia, OF (Twins) – confident hitter, very disciplined at the plate, accurate arm in the field.

BCP-PK Patrick Kivlehan, 3B (Mariners) – led the MWL in homers last year, great athlete, average defender at the hot corner.

BCP-PW Patrick Wisdom, 3B (Cardinals) – solid hitter, considered the best 3B in their system, great range.

BCP-RN Renato Nunez, 3B (A’s) – great bat speed and power potential, precise arm, leverage in his swing.

BCP-RQ Roman Quinn, SS (Phillies) – fastest guy in the system, solid hitter, is a quick learner at his position.

BCP-RR Rio Ruiz, 3B (Astros) – best attribute is his swing, good power, should stick at 3B.

BCP-RRO Ronny Rodriguez, SS (Indians) – solid to above-average raw power, plus speed, great arm.

BCP-SP Stephen Piscotty, 3B (Cardinals) – great pitch reader, emerging power, should provide many extra base hits with his swing.

BCP-SR Stefen Romero, 2B (Mariners) – considered the best hitter in Seattle’s system, strikes out infrequently, could become a 20-25 HR type.

BCP-SS Sam Selman, LHP (Royals) – mid-90’s heat, best pitch is his slider, with improved command could become a #3-4.

BCP-TP Tyler Pike, LHP (Mariners) – great control and command, deceptive fastball, developing curve.

BCP-TW Taijuan Walker, RHP (Mariners) – best athlete and pitching prospect in the system, electric arsenal, with improved command is an ace in the making.

BCP-VS Victor Sanchez, RHP (Mariners) – solid fastball, above-average changeup, great skillset on the hill, potentially a #2-3.

BCP-WM Wyatt Mathisen, C (Pirates) – great defensive skills behind the plate, fast bat speed, faster than most catchers.

BCP-YV Yordano Ventura, RHP (Royals) – has the most velocity in KC’s system, as he can regularly hit triple digits, also has an advanced curve and developing changeup.