It’s time to continue my march through the bonus prospects on each of my lists. Next up: the Kansas City Royals.
Not long ago, the Royals had the label of “best farm system” bestowed upon them, with a slew of pitching (mostly left-handed) prospects. Some have made it (Danny Duffy, finally), some have not (Chris Dwyer), some have been traded (Jake Odorizzi, Wil Myers as one of the hitting prospects) and some are slowly working their way back from injury (John Lamb, who is now back on the Royals’ Top 20). As I said in the most recent Pipeline Inbox, it’s a cautionary tale to not make a huge leap from a talent-laden system to guaranteeed big league success.
That being said, the Royals system today is pretty solid, with six players in the current Top 100. Recent drafts have certainly helped, and beyond the Top 100 guys, there is some interesting, and young, talent. So this 21-25 has some potential:
21. Cody Reed, LHP: Reed was on the Top 20 earlier in the year (No. 15 at the start of the year), but came off with the additions made via the Draft. He’s going to land back on the list when it’s time for Christian Colon to graduate due to service time. The tall left-hander taken from the junior college ranks in 2013 has had an up-and-down first full season performance-wise, but his fastball-slider combination is plenty good enough. If Reed’s changeup can continue to improve, he has a chance to start, though a future in the bullpen seems a bit more likely.
22. Lane Adams, OF: A former two-sport star who could’ve played Division I college basketball, Adams has made slow progress up the Royals’ ladder, but it looks like he could be a late bloomer. His speed is his best tool, and it gets a plus grade. He’s a base-stealing threat and his speed plays well in the outfield. He’s played all three spots, though he’s only been in center this season in Double-A. He’s starting to show a little more pop as well. At worst, he profiles as a very good fourth outfielder. If the bat continues to come, then who knows?
23. Brandon Downes, OF: He didn’t have the kind of season many hoped for (a wrist injury didn’t help), as some thought Downes could move up Draft boards since there were so few good college bats in the 2014 Draft class, but he is big, strong and athletic. Coming from a program like Virginia, fresh off making it to the College World Series championship, doesn’t hurt either, and the Royals felt he was worth a seventh-round selection. He’s had a solid pro debut in the Pioneer League. He has a short, quick swing and can make hard contact to all fields. There should be more power in his bat as he matures. He’s a solid defensive center fielder with decent speed.
24. Zane Evans, C: A really strong pro debut in 2013 had many excited to see what this Georgia Tech product would do in his first full year. The fourth round pick went straight to the Class A Advanced Carolina League, where got off to a hot start with the bat, but has struggled since. He has some extra-base pop and has shown a solid approach at the plate. He has plenty of arm strength — he was Georgia Tech’s closer and hit the mid-90s off the mound — but is still working on his hands and footwork. If the defense can come, the Royals still feel with his power potential, he could develop into an offensive-minded regular behind the plate. If all else fails, they could always put him back on the mound as a power reliever.
25. Humberto Arteaga, SS/2B: Arteaga began the year ranked No. 19, but the combination of 2014 draftees and the young Venezuelan infielder’s struggles knocked him off the list. Signed to a seven-figure bonus in 2010, he’s had some difficulty establishing himself in full-season ball the last two seasons. He’s still just 20, so there’s plenty of time. Arteaga’s best tools are defensive ones. He has enough arm and range to be an above-average defender at shortstop, and he’s also seen time at second (though not as much this year). How much his bat develops will determine what his future role is. He’s an aggressive hitter who needs to add strength and refine his approach at the plate. He’s likely to always be the type who hits at the bottom of a big league lineup, but the glove might be enough to get him there, at least as a utilityman.
On Friday, I began the look at my extra prospects, posting my Reds No. 21-25 list. Now it’s time to move on to the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies system is a pretty good one, with three players in the Top 50 and five in the Top 100 . But even beyond that, it’s a pretty deep system, with good talent throughout. There’s even talent to be found in this next set of five names, always a good sign for an organization.
21. Jordan Patterson, OF/1B: A fourth-round pick out of South Alabama in 2013, Patterson has enjoyed a solid first full season, though offensive numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt given that his home field in Asheville is one of the most extreme hitters’ parks in the Minor Leagues (his home/road splits are skewed in that direction). But scouts like his swing and think he has the chance to hit. He’s got a big, strong body with the potential for more power to come. If that power develops, he could be a prototypical right fielder, with a strong arm and the run producing bat to match.
22. Jose Briceno, C: Briceno signed out of Venezuela back in 2009 and has come along slowly, reaching the South Atlantic League late last year and spending his first full season (after two summers in the Dominican Summer League and time in the Pioneer League as well) in Ahseville again. His top two tools that stand out are about power: his arm and his bat. He has a gun behind the plate and can neutralize the running game and he has the chance to have some pop as a hitter (home/road splits once again apply). He’s slowly becoming a better all-around hitter and he continues to work on the other parts of his defensive game.
23. Kevin Padlo, 3B: The Rockies nabbed Padlo in the fifth round of this past June’s Draft, No. 143 overall. At the time of the Draft, the SoCal high school third baseman was ranked No. 129 on our Top 200. The previous year, the Rockies took Ryan McMahon in the second round (another SoCal HS 3B) and there are some similarities there. Padlo has the chance to hit for power and stick at third, a nice combination. He was excelling as an 18-year-old in the Pioneer League during his pro debut.
24. Ryan Castellani, RHP: We had Castellani No. 131 on the Top 200 and he went No. 48 (2nd round) in the Draft. With a solid feel for pitching, Castellani was sent to the short-season Northwest League for his pro debut and he was holding his own as one of the youngest performers there. He has a good three-pitch mix in his fastball, curve and changeup with the chance to add some strength to his 6-foot-4 frame.
25. Patrick Valaika, SS/2B: This is a family rite of passage. Older brother Chris has spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Older brother No. 2, Matt, spent a year in the Cardinals organization. Patrick was taken in the ninth round out of UCLA in 2013. In his full-season debut this year, he earned a promotion from Asheville up to Modesto. Like all the Valaikas, he plays the game the right way, has shown an ability to play multiple positions and can swing the bat a little.
They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I hope it’s true because I’m about to rip Jim Callis off.
Over the past couple of weeks, Jim has been unveiling his extra prospects, Nos. 21-25, for the 10 teams that were his responsibility on the Team Top 20 lists on Prospect Watch. If you’ve missed them, head to Callis’ Corner right now. They’re well worth the read.
After seeing his work, I figured it was high time that I got on board and did the same thing with my lists. So, with a tip of the cap to Jim, we’ll kick things off with the Cincinnati Reds and work my way through my other teams alphabetically (Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Rays).
21. Taylor Sparks, 3B: Sparks was ranked No. 56 on our Draft Top 200 and ended up being taken in the second round, No. 58 overall. Which means, of course, that we nailed his ranking. Sparks is a big, strong right-handed hitter with some ability to hit for average and power. He also has the defensive chops to stick at the hot corner. He’s making his pro debut in the rookie-level Pioneer League.
22. Wyatt Strahan, RHP: This USC right-hander was ranked No. 105 on that top 200 list and went No. 94 overall, in the third round. He served as his school’s Friday night starter in 2014 and he was a pretty good one. He uses a solid sinking fastball that can touch the mid-90s along with an outstanding curve. He shows good feel for his changeup as well. As long as that keeps coming and he refines his command, his size and stuff point to a future in the middle of a rotation.
23. Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B: Taken in the 8th round of the 2012 Draft out of the University of Arizona, Mejias-Brean earned a promotion to Double-A this year after putting up very good numbers in the California League. Yes, that’s a hitting-friendly place, but he’s shown an ability to hit for average with an advanced approach at the plate since being drafted. He’s been more of a contact guy than a power guy, which leads to the question about whether he can profile as a big league regular at an infield corner.
24. Kyle Waldrop, OF: The 2010 12th rounder out of high school also has reached Double-A Pensacola this season. He’s putting up career numbers, but again, some of that is Cal League driven. Still, Waldrop is showing the ability to hit for average and some power while displaying some improved plate discipline skills. He’s played a lot of right field, but some think left is his ultimate destination. The good news is his bat might get him to the big leagues at that spot.
25. Aristides Aquino, OF: It’s been a slow climb for Aquino, the Dominican corner outfielder the Reds signed in January 2011, as he’s yet to reach full-season ball. He’s also only 20, and it pays to be patient with young international signees. He showed signs of progress last year in the rookie-level Arizona League and that’s carried over this season in the Pioneer League. He has a ton of power potential, which should continue to show up more consistently in games as he moves along (though he’s made strides there this year). He has a strong arm and fits the profile of the prototypical right fielder very well. Continue to be patient Reds fans; the payoff could be huge.
My look at the Top 10 performers at the Area Code Games ran recently, and I’m sure all of you devoured the look at the Area Code Games through the eyes of Trackman. Now I thought we could have some fun looking at the stats.
As I’ve mentioned before, statistics at these events need to be taken with several grains of salt, so don’t go yelling about sample size here. The Area Code Games, like the East Coast Pro Showcase before it, does allow a hitter to amass double-digit at-bats (14 was the high) and pitchers can throw multiple innings (5 IP was the high). Here are the leaders in different categories from the event:
Demi Orimoloye 8
Charlie Donovan 6
Mason Cerrillo 6
Tyler Williams 5
Jeremiah Burks 5
Ford Proctor 5
Nick Madrigal 5
Kevin Collard 5
Jordan Stephens 5
Michael McAdoo 5
Cadyn Grenier 5
Demi Orimoloye 5
Joe Davis 5
Bo Bichette 5
Ford Proctor 4
Batting average (min. 10 AB)
Demi Orimoloye .571
Mason Cerrillo .500
Charlie Donovan .462
Michael McAdoo .455
Jordan Stephens .417
Nick Madrigal .417
Kevin Collard .417
Nick Plummer .400
Shane Potter 3
Garrett Whitley 3
Ryan McKenna 5
Demi Orimoloye 4
Nick Plummer 4
Stachel McElroy 4
Evan Sperling 7
Cody Morris 7
Trey Cumbie 7
Peyton Culbertson 7
Dakota Donovan 7
Michael Zimmerman 7
Six pitchers tossed four scoreless innings: Evan Sperling, Logan Allen, Jordan Gubelman, Mike Soroka, Ryan Connolly and Brent Schwarz. 22 more pitchers put up three shutout frames. Nine of them didn’t give up any hits in those three IP: Peyton Culbertson, Imani Absullah, Beau Burrows, Javier Medina, Luke Heimlich, Sixto Torres, Colton Eastman, Ashe Russell and Chad Luensmann.
Peyton Culberson (3 IP) 0.00
Javier Media (3 IP) 0.00
Luke Heimlich (3 IP) 0.00
Colton Eastman (3 IP) 0.00
Cody Deason (2 IP) 0.00
Sean Wymer (2 IP) 0.00
Logan Allen (4 IP) 0.25
Jordan Gubleman (4 IP) 0.25
Imani Abdullah (3 IP) 0.33
Beau Burrows (3 IP) 0.33
Sixto Torres (3 IP) 0.33
Craig Colen (3 IP) 0.33
Chad Luensmann (3 IP) 0.33
Cole Stringer (3 IP) 0.33
Trackman does some cool stuff. And they were at Area Code Games, the high school showcase event held in Long Beach, for the entire event, providing info on things from as mundane as fastball velocity to more “out there” info like fastball spin and breaking ball spin. Here were the leaders, according to Trackman, across a variety of categories:
(Previous high: Lucas Giolito, 96.9, in 2011)
|Name||Top MPH||Avg MPH|
Breaking ball spin — Highest average spin curveballs
(Previous high: John Magliozzi, 2968, in 2010)
Trackman has some info on breaking ball spin, broken down by draft picks or college conferences:
|Pitch Type||Avg MPH||Avg RPM|
Top Draft picks (1-3 Rd)
Elite college conf
Elite college conf
Highest spin fastballs
(Previous high: Nolan Gannon, 2631, in 2011)
Some context of what high spin rates on fastballs means:
2014 D1 Fastballs
|Spin Rate (RPM)||% swinging strike|
Hardest hits — top exit speeds
(Previous high: Stone Garrett, 110.2 mph, in 2012)
|Name||MPH off Bat||Result|
|Luken Baker||108.1||Home run|
The summer showcase circuit is winding along nicely. I just got back from the East Coast Pro Showcase (check out my Top 10 performers story) and now the Area Code Games are taking place (I’m not there, but will put together a top performers list based on conversations with scouts). This weekend is the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego. Then, on August 16, is the Under Armour All-American Game in Chicago, powered by Baseball Factory.
Many players have played/are playing in multiple events, including several partiicpating in both All-American games. The UA game, held at Wrigley Field, just announced the final roster for the event. Here are the rosters for the two teams. Those in bold were players I saw at the East Coast Showcase. Guys with an asterisk are also playing in the Perfect Game event this weekend.
— *Luken Baker – RHP, 6’4, 245, Oak Ridge High School, Spring, TX
— Seth Beer – OF, 6’3, 190, Lambert High School, Suwanee, GA
— *Chris Betts – C, 6’1, 210, Wilson High School, Long Beach, CA
— Hunter Bowling – LHP, 6’7, 215, American Heritage High School, Lake Worth, FL
— *Dazmon Cameron – OF, 6’1, 186, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, McDonough, GA
— Justin Cohen – C, 6’0, 195, Riverview High School, Sarasota, FL
— *Devin Davis – 1B, 6’2, 210, Valencia High School, Santa Clara, CA
— Gray Fenter – RHP, 6’1, 200, West Memphis High School, West Memphis, AR
— *Mitchell Hansen – OF, 6’4, 197, Plano High School, Plano, TX
— *Ke’Bryan Hayes – IF, 6’1, 210, Concordia Lutheran High School, Tomball, TX
— *Juan Hillman – LHP, 6’2, 185, Olympia High School, Windermere, FL
— Bryan Hoeing – RHP, 6’6, 200, Batesville High School, Batesville, IN
— *Alonzo Jones, Jr. – IF/OF, 5’10, 192, Columbus High School, Columbus, GA
— *Mike Nikorak – RHP, 6’4, 205, Stroudsburg High School, Stroudsburg, PA
— *Brendan Rodgers – IF, 6’0, 195, Lake Mary High School, Longwood, FL
— *Ashe Russell – RHP, 6’4, 195, Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN
— Cole Sands – RHP, 6’3, 205, North Florida Christian High School, Tallahassee, FL
— LT Tolbert – IF, 6’3, 180, IMG Academy, Piedmont, SC
— *Kyle Tucker – OF, 6’3, 190, Plan High School, Tampa, FL
— *Beau Burrows – RHP, 6’1, 200, Weatherford High School, Weatherford, TX
— *Kody Clemens – IF, 6’1, 175, Memorial High School, Houston, TX
— *Wyatt Cross – C, 6’3, 198, Legacy High School, Broomfield, CO
— *Kyle Dean – OF, 6’2, 205, Rancho Bernardo High School, San Diego, CA
— Starling Heredia – OF, 6’1, 190, Santo Domingo, DR
— *Justin Hooper – LHP, 6’7 230, De La Salle High School, San Roman, CA
— *Ryan Johnson – OF, 6’3, 200, College Station High School, College Station, TX
— *Cole McKay – RHP, 6’5, 225, Smithson Valley, Spring Branch, TX
— Anthony Molina – RHP, 6’5, 180, Somerset Academy, Pembroke Pines, FL
— *Kyle Molnar – RHP, 6’3, 200, Aliso Niguel High School, Aliso Viejo, CA
— *Ryan Mountcastle – IF, 6’3, 180, Paul J. Hagerty High School, Winter Springs, FL
— *Josh Naylor – 1B, 6’1, 235, St Joan of Arc High School, Mississauga, ONT
— Cal Raleigh – C, 6’3, 195, Smoky Mountain High School, Cullowhee, NC
— Franklin Reyes – OF, 6’4, 190, San Cristobal, DR
— Austin Riley – RHP/IF, 6’2, 240, DeSoto Central High School, Hernando, MS
— Sati Santa Cruz – RHP, 6’3, 230, Sahuarita High School, Sahuarita, AZ
— *Nicholas Shumpert – IF, 6’0, 180, Highlands Ranch High School, Lone Tree, CO
— *Thomas Szapucki – LHP, 6’2, 185, Dwyer High School, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
— *Corey Zangari – RHP, 6’4, 230, Carl Albert High School, Oklahoma City, OK