We’re in the process of putting together a weekly feature that recaps the weekend action on the amateur scene. It won’t be just stats, though they’ll be included when possible. The idea is that I’ll talk to scouts at the end of each weekend to see who stood out/who didn’t and report back to you what the Draft landscape is looking like. I got a little bit of a late start for this week as we’re getting the ball rolling on Draft-related coverage, so I wanted to just post some “news and notes” on 2013 Draft prospects and their performances from last weekend to whet your appetite.
May have been Stanford vs. Fresno State. Friday saw a good power vs. power contest with Mark Appel facing Fresno State’s Aaron Judge. The Stanford senior had a much better start than he did against Rice the previous week, tossing a complete game, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out 11. He also got nine ground ball outs.
Judge went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in that game, but he finished off the series with a 5-for-5, 3 RBI performance, including his second home run of the season. People will talk about the swing and miss to Judge’s game, but as one scout put it… there are guys in Cooperstown who had swing and miss to their game. More than one scout projects Judge as a first-rounder.
Stanford will be watched carefully throughout the year because of the depth of talent there. Brian Ragira looked good over the weekend as well, going a combined 5-for-13 with a homer, a double and two RBIs
Sean Manaea, the Indiana State lefty was reportedly sharper in his second start of the year than his first. Facing College of Charleston in an Auburn tournament, Manaea gave up one hit and one walk while whiffing 10 over six shutout innings. He showed at least solid average stuff across the board as the top lefty in the class has made a very strong early case to be a top of the draft candidate.
Vanderbilt lefty Kevin Ziomek isn’t quite in that stratosphere, but he threw well on Friday, albeit against Monmouth. Ziomek was sitting at 91 mph with his fastball, touching 93 mph, to go along with a solid average curve, thrown 75-77 mph. His changeup is fringy, but he threw strikes and impressed with his mound presence as he went seven innings and allowed a run on five hits and two walks while striking out 11. Some scouts see him as a back end of the first round type of college lefty selection.
Appel wasn’t the only right-hander to throw well for scouts. Florida’s Jonathon Crawford didn’t go deep, going just 3 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out four. He had some command issues, which got him into trouble. But he was aggressive with his fastball, up to 94 mph, sitting 91-92 mph. He showed flashes of a plus slider and a fringe-average changeup.
Texas Tech’s Trey Masek got the ball on Sunday against UConn at the UCF tournament in Orlando and tossed nine shutout innings in a no-decision, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out seven. He was up to 93 mph with his fastball and worked very quickly, going right after hitters.. He also showed feel for three secondary offerings — an average slider, a fringy, but usable curve and a playable changeup. He’s not overpowering, but he showed how effective he can be.
Hunter Brothers of Lipscomb might be a little further out on the radar, but his arm strength might be something scouts will continue to monitor. Pitching Saturday at the tournament his school was hosting, Brothers was up to 95 mph in his start, sitting at 92 mph. He had given up just one run through five, but ran out of gas in the sixth, leaving with one out. He ended up allowing five runs total (two earned), allowing four hits and four walks wile striking out two. His command wasn’t good on all of his pitches. He showed glimpses with his slider and he kept attacking hitters, but delivery inconsistencies hurt him. With his arm strength, but lack of command and a changeup that’s not a factor, you have to wonder if teams will look at him as a future reliever.
High school arms
One of the more intriguing names to watch is that of Jordan Sheffield, and not just because of who his uncle is (Gary). The Tennessee high school standout showed some excellent arm strength in his last outing. He touched 95 mph with his fastball, sitting around 91 mph, and he showed a solid changeup, especially for a high schooler. What he didn’t have was good command, especially of his breaking ball. He competes well, though he’ll have to work on managing his effort level.
High school hitters
Scouts hoping to see top SoCal high school hitter Dominic Smith in action on Monday were disappointed. Smith, the Serra HS standout walked his first time up. Then he struck out in his second plate appearance. When he hit the catcher on his backswing — inadvertently, according to reports I received — Smith was ejected from the game by the umpire, leaving many frustrated.
Florida high school shortstop Oscar Mercado had a so-so showing over the weekend as well. Reports were good about his batting practice and infielde pre-game, but his at-bats were just fair and didn’t stand out. He did make some good defensive plays, but also threw a couple of balls away.
By now many top prospect lists are out there. And while I’m confident in my abilities as a prospect reporter and feel that MLB.com’s Top 100 is pretty darn good, I also don’t pretend to think that it’s the only list worth looking at.
I like to comparison shop, too, and see what other people are doing. Such an exercise could go on endlessly as it seems more and more Top 100 type lists are popping up all over the interwebs. For the purposes of this post, I’m taking MLB.com’s, Keith Law’s at ESPN and, of course, Baseball America’s. (Warning: You’ll need subscriptions to access some of that stuff). Now, before you get all miffed that I didn’t include one list or another — this isn’t meant as a slight towards anyone’s list. These are simply the other two lists that I, personally, look forward to seeing the most each year and I like to see how we compare. I’ve dumped the rankings into a spreadsheet and came up with an average rank for each player that we’ve listed. For any player that wasn’t listed in one of the top 100 lists, I gave him a 101 ranking for that list. Make sense?
Before I get to the averages, a couple of notes:
- A total of 78 players appeared on all three Top 100s. Shows you we’re all dealing with the same names, more or less.
- Including the threepeats mentioned above, 95 total players were mentioned on two of the three lists.
- A grand total of 121 players appeared on at least one list.
- The highest ranking player on the MLB.com list not to appear on all three is Rymer Liriano of the Padres. The highest player on Keith Law’s list not to appear on all three is Corey Seager of the Dodgers. Andrew Heaney of the Marlins is the first player on the BA list not to appear on all three.
- The first player to appear only on MLB.com’s list and not the other two is Ethan Martin of the Phillies. On Keith’s list, it’s Seager. And on the BA list, it’s Lance McCullers.
OK, with that context, here’s how the prospects would rank by their averages (Jurickson Profar is the consensus No. 1):
While most people look at this time of year as Pitchers & Catchers time, with good reason, it’s also right around the time when things start to pick up for the Draft season.
Case in point, the Major League Scouting Bureau hosted their annual showcase at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., on Saturday. Southern California, as most of you know, is typically a hotbed for amateur talent, and this one-day showcase has been a must-see in years past.
The overall sentiment after the event was, “Ehhh.”
Yes, scouts tend to be skeptical. Yes, I typically will report, nearly every year, that this year’s Draft class isn’t very good. So we’ll add some grains of salt if it makes you feel better. But it does seem that the SoCal high school scene isn’t thrilling.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good players. There are. But there aren’t too many “wow” types, top of the first round guys like, say, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were a year ago at this time. Dominic Smith is the best player in the area, but he didn’t attend the showcase as his team was playing in a tournament last weekend.
In the end, the best player at the event was actually from NoCal. Carlos Salazar is a right-hander committed to Fresno State, more or less in his backyard. Often at these events, the young arms shine in one-inning outings. Salazar was the only one who lit up radar guns, throwing 94-97 mph and showing a sharp breaking ball with decent command. He reminded one scout of Javy Guerra in terms of his delivery.
Lefty Ian Clarkin, from the San Diego area, also threw well, 89-92 mph with a very good curve.
That may have been it in terms of “standout performances.”
One scout I spoke with said that there’s depth, but it’s all round 5-10 type guys, and most will go on to college (and most need it, he thought).
While there were no “coming out parties,” kind of like Christian Yelich had at this event a few years back, so guys did turn in solid performances. Some “highlights”:
- 3B Kevin Franklin, from Gahr HS and an Arizona State commit, had the best raw power.
- SS Chris Rivera (El Dorado HS) was the best defensive shortstop, but there are questions about his bat.
- SS Terrian Arbet (Great Oak HS, commited to U of San Diego) looked like a solid all-around player. He reminded some of Brandon Martin, the Rays’ 2011 draftee from SoCal, though the scout who mentioned him didn’t think he’d be a sandwich pick like Martin was.
- 1B Jake Bauers (Marina HS) may have been one guy to help himself. He simply just hits and had a balanced approach and good at-bats. It’s all about his bat, as he doesn’t have many other tools. But the kid can hit.
- SS J.P. Crawford (Lakewood HS, USC commit) looked good, but he’s all about projection. The now tools weren’t on display. It’s a high risk/high reward kind of situation, but is the reward enough for him to be a first-rounder?
- C Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei HS, USC commit) was solid, but a scout I spoke with about him worried about his low ceiling.
- 3B Ryan McMahon (Mater Dei HS) is a solid athlete with the right body and toolset to be a solid third baseman.
- C Tyler Alamo (Cypress HS, Cal State Fullerton commit) looked the part of a catcher. He was athletic behind the plate and showed an at least average arm with some accuracy. He was a little stiffer with the bat, though.
- LHP Stephen Gonsalves (Cathedral Catholic, U of San Diego commit) did not throw well, clocking in at 85-88 mph with poor command and a below-average breaking ball. He’ll need to prove that he’s more than that this spring, and perhaps in three years of college.
Sorry for the short delay, but it’s now time to take a look at the AL West prospects. As always, here are the links to the organizational previews and the Top 20 lists, followed by the OMG (One More Guy) from each team in the division:
And now, here’s the OMG, aka Prospect No. 21, for each system:
Astros — Jio Mier, SS — Still young and talented enough at a premium position to not give up on. There are other SS now in the system, so he’ll have to get it going.
Angels — Natanael Delgado, OF — 16-year-old signed this summer, chance to be RF type. May take a long time, but considerable upside.
A’s — David Freitas, C — Offensive-minded backstop came in the Kurt Suzuki trade, hit well following bump to Double-A post-trade.
Mariners — Patrick Kivlehan, 3B — Rutgers football standout decides to play baseball again as a senior; wins Big East Triple Crown, then Northwest League MVP. Raise your hand if you want to see more.
Rangers — Hanser Alberto, SS — That’s right, another shortstop prospect in this system (though he has played a little 3B). He’s gotten Elvis Andrus comparisons, surprise… and earned a promotion to the Carolina League before he turned 20
We’re down to the final two divisions in our quest to unveil all 30 organization’s Top 20 prospects lists. Today, the NL West went live. Here are the links to the previews and the lists:
Rockies: List (Preview wasn’t up just yet)
And, of course, the OMGs (One More Guy) for the NL West systems:
D-backs — Kyle Winkler, RHP
Rockies — Tom Murphy, C
Dodgers — Garrett Gould, RHP
Padres — Travis Jankowski, OF
Giants — Adam Duvall, 3B
A quick note… B3 will be out of pocket tomorrow, so the AL West OMGs will be a bit tardy.
Moving right along in our tour of team Top 20s, Thursday brought the AL Central to the forefront, with exciting prospects like Francisco Lindor, Nick Castellanos, Bubba Starling, Miguel Sano and Courtney Hawkins (Yes, I did just pull the No. 1 prospects from each organization in the division). Here are the important links, and then lets take a look at the No. 21 prospects for each system.
And now, the OMGs (One More Guys):
White Sox — Jeff Soptic, RHP: He has a long way to go, but he was hitting triple-digits in the SAL in 2012.
Indians — Giovanny Urshela, 3B: Colombian had a solid campaign in the Carolina League at age 20.
Tigers — Brenny Paulino, RHP: A very exciting U.S. debut in 2011 led to a non-starter of a 2012; he didn’t throw a pitch because of shoulder issues. Lots of upside if healthy
Royals — Brett Eibner, OF: He can play defense and has power, but will he ever make enough contact to have it show up consistently? Who else is waiting for him to get back on the mound?
Twins — Levi Michael, SS/2B: Look for the former first-r0under to have a bounce back 2013 season.
Let’s move on to the NL Central, shall we? Certainly some fun prospects coming from here, Oscar Taveras, Billy Hamilton, just to name two. But who would be No. 21 for each of these organizations? First, the links to the previews and lists, then the OMG (One More Guy) for all five systems. I apologize for the lack of content/description, but we’ve got a bit of a time crunch on the remaining top 20s!
Cubs — Arismendy Alcantara, SS:
Reds — Jonathan Reynoso, OF:
Brewers — Kentrial Davis, OF:
Pirates — Jin-De Jhang, C:
Cardinals — Sam Tuivaialala, RHP:
Today, it’s the AL East’s turn for Top 20 Prospect attention. Here are the appropriate links:
For those, who want a little more, here’s OMG (One More Guy), the No. 21 prospect for each AL East team.
Orioles — Clay Schrader, RHP: You have to like the fastball-power breaking stuff combination out of the bullpen, but will he throw enough strikes?
Red Sox — Manuel Margot, OF: The toolsy outfielder has yet to make his United States debut; can really run and has the chance to hit.
Yankees — Rafael De Paula, RHP: He was 21 and pitching in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, so he needs to get moving (identity-related suspension). But he has the chance to have an exciting three-pitch mix.
Rays — Jesse Hahn, RHP: It took a while for the 2010 draftee to make his debut, needing Tommy John surgery then breaking his foot, but Hahn was very sharp in the New York-Penn League in 2012. He could start moving more quickly now that he’s healthy.
Blue Jays — Santiago Nessy, C: A big and strong Venezuelan backstop, he showed he can stay behind the plate and has the chance to hit for a lot of power in the future.
It’s that time, people. The team Top 20 lists are coming out fast and furious on Prospect Watch. Each day this week, a division’s worth of Top 20 rankings will be unveiled. Today was the NL East. Here are the links to the organizational previews and the list for each organization (Of course, you can get to all of this from MLBPipeline.com, as well:
For those of you not familiar, you’re probably wondering what the OMG stands for in the title of this post. As excited as we are in B3 land for team Top 20s, it goes beyond just the standard texting exclamation. It also stands for One More Guy. I rolled out extra picks for the positions lists as well as for the top 100 and the OMG feature was pretty popular last year, so I figure, why not compile a list of No. 21 type prospects for each organization. We’ll start with the NL East teams here and I’ll give you divisional OMGs the rest of the week.
Braves: David Hale, RHP — The Princeton product was a Southern League All-Star in 2012 who finished third in the organization in strikeouts and batting average against.
Marlins: Brent Keys, OF — After getting a taste of full-season ball in 2011, this 2009 draftee spent the entire 2012 season in the South Atlantic League and promptly won the batting title. He can flat-out run and defend, too.
Mets: Matt Den Dekker, OF — It’s possible he’s one of the best defensive center fielder in the Minors and he’s shown some ability with the bat, though he’s racked up 150+ strikeouts in each of the last two seasons
Phillies: Tyler Cloyd, RHP — He does it with smoke and mirrors, using outstanding command of fringy stuff, but the guy did lead the organization in wins and ERA, while finishing second in batting average against, getting him to the big leagues.
Nationals: Corey Brown, OF — Free the prospect! Yes, he’s “old” to be a prospect, but he was second in the system in hits and homers, third in SLG and fifth in RBIs. The guy deserves a chance to show what he can do.
Tomorrow: the AL East.