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Tri tri again with prospects

Our most recent Pipeline Perspectives is up on the MLBPipeline.com now. Jim Callis and I debate which teams have the best trio of prospects in the game. I went for the Cubs combination of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. Jim advocated for the Twins trio of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer.

As we’ve tried to get in the habit of doing, both of us are blogging about the subject as well. Jim ranked his favorites. By now, you know me… I like using our Prospect Points system to see how things shake out. So I took the top trio from every organization that had three or more prospects in the Top 100 (the Red Sox could have had three trios, for example, but I only took one) and ranked them using our points system. A quick refresher: 100 points for the No. 1 prospect, 99 for No. 2, all the way down to one point for the last prospect in the Top 100. Here’s what the “standings” look like:

Rank Trios Org Points
1 Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer MIN 270
2 Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora CHC 269
3 Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, George Springer HOU 257
4 Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow PIT 247
5 Xander Bogaerts, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley BOS 238
6 Kyle Zimmer, Yordano Ventura, Raul Alberto Mondesi KC 205
7 Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Rafael Montero NYM 185
8 Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez BAL 184
9 Jonathan Gray, Eddie Butler, David Dahl COL 177
10 Francisco Lindor, Clint Frazier, Trevor Bauer CLE 172
11 Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee LAD 170
12 Andrew Heaney, Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick MIA 158
13 Austin Hedges, Max Fried, Matt Wisler SD 158
14 Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, Stephen Piscotty STL 144
15 Archie Bradley, Chris Owings, Braden Shipley ARI 142
16 Jorge Alfaro, Rougned Odor, Michael Choice TEX 133
17 Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna TOR 132
18 Jake Odorizzi, Hak-Ju Lee, Taylor Guerrieri TB 69

More dynamic (pitching) duos

In today’s MLBPipeline Perspectives, Jim Callis and I debated which teams we thought had the best pitching prospects tandem in baseball. Jim went with Jon Gray and Eddie Butler of the Rockies. I opted for the right-handed combo of Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow from the Pirates.

Jim went on to blog his rankings for the top pitching prospect duos in the game over on Callis’ Corner. I must admit I’m a bit dismayed he put my Taillon-Glasnow third on his list, but I’ll get over it.

To extract some measure of revenge, however, I wanted to provide my own rankings, of a sort. I used it in my argument in picking Taillon and Glasnow: the Prospect Points. That’s the system we used to provide an organizational standings from the Top 100 list. I used the same idea — 100 points for the No.1 prospect, 99 for No. 2 (Jon Gray gets 87 points for being No. 14, as a result)., etc. Using this system, here’s how the top tandems in the Top 100 (only one pairing for an organization listed eve if they have more than two pitchers in the Top 100) stack up:

1. Taillon and Glasnow, Pirates: 165 points. I rest my case.

2. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, Orioles: 159 points. Jim’s not the only one who can put the O’s No. 2.

3. Gray and Butler, Rockies: 147 points. A distant third.

4. Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura, Royals: 142 points. A lot of power coming towards KC.

5. Alex Meyer and Kohl Stewart, Twins: 134 points. Stewart’s development could raise their stock.

6. Mark Appel and Lance McCullers Jr.: 133 points. Even if McCullers ends up a reliever, this is a good tandem.

7. Henry Owens and Allen Webster, Red Sox: 126. First lefty mentioned on this list.

8. Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays: 124. If you told me this duo would outperform some ahead, I wouldn’t argue.

9. Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley, D-backs: 118. Shipley is one of my picks for guys in the 51-100 range who could jump up the list in his first full seaosn.

10. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, Mets: 106. Music to Mets fans ears as both are close to contributing in New York.

11. Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino, Marlins: 92. The only double-lefty combo; both could be established in Miami’s rotation by 2015.

12. Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole, Nationals: 89. I’d keep an eye on this pair, they could move up this ranking in a hurry.

13. Max Fried and Matt Wisler, Padres: 81. I think Fried could establish himself as top lefty by end of year.

14. Kyle Crick and Edwin Escobar, Giants: 75. Interesting combination of power (Crick) and more pitchability (Escobar).

15. Zach Lee and Julio Urias, Dodgers: 75. Urias is so young, but if the lefty keeps doing what he’s done so far, he’ll move up quickly.

16. C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson, Cubs: 60. Chicago known more for its hitting prospects right now, but this is still a solid duo.

17. Jake Odorizzi and Taylor Guerrieri, Rays: 52. Guerrieri’s suspension and injury hurt their standing.

Other Hitting/Pitching Prospect Duos

Jim Callis and I just duked it out in our most recent Pipeline Perspectives (I hope you guys are enjoying this series as much as we are writing them). The topic: The best hitting/pitching prospect duo in baseball. In case you missed it, I picked the Twins’ combination of Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer. Jim chose the Astros’ Carlos Correa and Mark Appel.

Here’s the video version of our debate:


Obviously, I’m right.

In all seriousness, that’s a very close call. And there are a number of other very interesting duos around baseball that should be exciting to watch in the future:

Gregory Polanco (OF) and Jameson Taillon (RHP), Pirates: Polanco is No. 13 on the Top 100; Taillon is No. 16. They’re the only other tandem in the Top 20.

Travis d’Arnaud (C) and Noah Syndergaard (RHP), Mets: d’Arnaud is the highest rated catcher, at No. 22; Syndergaard is No. 11 overall.

Xander Bogaerts (SS) and Henry Owens (LHP), Red Sox: Bogaerts, complete with his World Series experience, is No. 2. Owens is the 2nd-highest rated lefty on the list at No. 30.

Others in the Top 100 (taking the top hitting and pitching prospect from each organization, and only listing one pairing per system):

Chris Owings, SS (77) and Archie Bradley, RHP (5), D-backs
D.J. Peterson, 3B (88) and Taijuan Walker, RHP (6), Mariners
Javier Baez, SS (7) and C.J. Edwards, RHP (42), Cubs
Francisco Lindor, SS (10) and Trevor Bauer, RHP (73), Indians
David Dahl, OF (71) and Jon Gray, RHP (14), Rockies
Nick Castellanos, 3B (15) and Robbie Ray, LHP (97), Tigers
Billy Hamilton, OF (37) and Robert Stephenson, RHP (19), Reds
Austin Hedges, C (24) and Max Fried, LHP (43), Padres
Adalberto Raul Mondesi, SS (38) and Kyle Zimmer, RHP (25), Royals
Maikel Franco, 3B (26) and Jesse Biddle, LHP (53), Phillies
Colin Moran, 3B (51) and Andrew Heaney, LHP (29), Marlins
Corey Seager, SS (34) and Zach Lee, RHP (63), Dodgers
Hak-Ju Lee, SS (84) and Jake Odorizzi, RHP (56), Rays
Christian Bethancourt, C (82) and Lucas Sims, RHP (60), Braves
Matt Davidson, 3B (80) and Erik Johnson, RHP (70), White Sox

 

Beyond the Top 100

As most of you hopefully know, we released the MLBPipeline.com Top 100 Prospects list on Thursday night. Check it out, peruse it, pick it apart, if you haven’t already done so.

As is always the case, a number of players don’t make it that you could make a case for inclusion. And then there are some you may feel you like, or want to see what they do this year (having the potential to jump onto the list). Jim Callis has created his own list over at Callis’ Corner. I’m going to do the same (without looking at his first).

Keep in mind, this should not be regarded as a ranking for 101-115. It’s really more of a “guys I like” list (lots o’ 2013 draftees) — many of them could end up in the Top 100 as others graduate out, but this certainly isn’t a guarantee of who’s next.

J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies: The Phillies’ top pick at No. 16 overall, if Crawford goes out this year and shows he can hit like he did in his pro debut, he’ll make believers out of all who weren’t 100 percent sure about the bat.

Rafael De Paula, RHP, Yankees: Just missed the cut of this year’s Top 100, has gotten past all the identity nonsense, missed a ton of bats in 2013. He has the chance to have three average or better pitches and could start moving fast.

Hunter Dozier, 3B, Royals: I know what you’re thinking: I’m doing this just to get back in the good graces of the Royals after many felt I buried this pick at the Draft. Not so (well, not entirely). He had a terrific debut with the bat and should hit for average and power while playing a solid third base.

Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals: The No. 19 pick in last year’s Draft, not only is the Gonzaga product as media savvy as they come, he has the kind of feel for pitching (especially since he’s not hitting anymore) that could allow him to move quickly to St. Louis.

Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals: I’m a sucker for toolsy outfielders (as you’ll see). I will say this, though: It’s time for him to start matching performance with his raw tools. The clock is ticking.

Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox: Toolsy, outfielder, see? After a tremendous summer debut post Draft backflip, a lot went wrong for Hawkins in 2013, though Chicago aggressively pushed him to the Carolina League. I think he bounces back in 2014 and shows why he was worthy of going No. 13 overall in 2012.

Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates: More good news for the Pirates. He’s a big, strong right-hander who reached Double-A in 2013 (meaning he could be ready to contribute this season)  while finishing second in the system in strikeouts, fourth in ERA, third in WHIP and second in batting average against.

Reese McGuire, C, Pirates: Fellow high school first-round pick by the Pirates Austin Meadows made the Top 100, but McGuire isn’t far behind. Good chance to be an excellent all-around receiver; can’t wait to see how he follows up on his stirring pro debut.

Dorssys Paulino, SS, Indians: Paulino cracked the Top 100 late last year, just missed (in my opinion) this time around. He’ll play all of 2014 at age 19. He might end up at 2B, but he could be a good one there.

Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox: Just what we need, another Red Sox prospect, right? Ranaudo had a terrific 2013 and should be ready to contribute in the big leagues this year. He might be one of those guys who never is valued that highly on lists, but who goes on to be very productive as a Major Leaguer.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres: I liked him as a rare toolsy college guy in the 2013 Draft. I’m very curious to see how he adjusts to more advanced pitching over the course of his first full season. But the tools are all there for him to be an exciting player to watch.

Marcus Semien, INF, White Sox: This isn’t a result of this tweet, which led to a longer back-and-forth:

While I still like Wong more, I do like Semien. Some power, some speed, has shown an ability to play three infield positions. And he’s going to help in Chicago this year.

Dom Smith, 1B, Mets: I think we got more questions about his proximity to the Top 100 than anyone else. The No. 11 pick in last year’s Draft had a solid pro debut and most feel the first baseman is going to hit. If he does as expected, look for him to be the next 1B to hit the Top 100.

Bubba Starling, OF, Royals: Even though he fell off the Top 100, I’m not ready to give up on him yet. He’s still only 21 and he has a ton of raw tools. He’s going to have to show he can hit advanced pitching, but I’m not going to throw in the towel just yet.

Jesse Winker, OF, Reds: This guy just hits. Period. He has the chance to be a batting leaders type of hitter with some pop and run-producing ability. His bat + the California League could equal big numbers, and I could see him finishing the year in Double-A.

It’s almost time for the Top 100…

It’s hard to believe that it’s here! But it is — MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list will be live on the site on Thursday (Jan. 23). Jim Callis and I will join Greg Amsinger and John Hart in the MLB Network studios for the now annual look at the Top 50 on that list. The show is airing on the Network and streaming on MLB.com at 10 p.m. ET.

That, of course, is just part of the coverage. We will be tweeting during the show and will be joined by a number of the top players as well. Use the hashtag #MLBPipeline to join us. Or, if you’re in NY, join Jim and I at Foley’s in the city. We’re doing a tweet up there and will be happy to discuss the list with you. Then, on Friday, at 2 p.m. ET, Jim and I will be doing a live video chat on MLB.com.

As I’m hoping you’ve already seen and checked out on MLBPipeline.com, we began the rollout with new Top 10 by position lists.  There’s been healthy voting on the polls and debate in the comments of these stories. And, of course, people claiming that there are missing names for the list. So I decided to pick who my No. 11 for each position would be (Jim did it as well over on Callis’ Corner). Here it goes and hope to see you on Twitter, at Foley’s and/or on MLB.com on Friday!  I went in reverse order of how they went live on the site.

Outfield: This is a deep position, so whoever comes next is still on the Top 100 list. But I think I’ll go with the Pirates’ Josh Bell, who missed nearly all of his first full season when he hurt his knee, then came back in 2013 and showed the kind of offensive potential that  made the Pirates give him a record bonus.

Third base: I’m a big Ryan McMahon fan. Have been since I saw him play in the National High School Invitational at USA Baseball. A former high school quarterback, McMahon had an impressive pro debut last summer with the Rockies and I can’t wait to see what he does in his first full season.

Second base: This list thins out as you go down , but there are some guys who intrigue me. And I’m going to go with a guy who’s actually spent more time playing shortstop than second thus far, though the Mariners’ Chris Taylor did split time between second and short in the Arizona Fall League (and has seen some time at second in the Minors). Most importantly, he’s hit: .316/.411/.449 since being a fifth-rounder in the 2012 Draft and .294/.351/.426 in the AFL.

First base: Speaking of weak lists…  Matt Skole might be the best one next, and we talked about him in “Next Up.” But I’m going to actually give the Brewers’ Hunter Morris some love. He’d previously been in the Top 10, but he kind of backed up a bit with his year in Triple-A in 2013. He’s 25, so the time is now, but the power is legit. He’s hit 52 homers the last two years and 20 or more in each of the last three seasons. Even in last year’s disappointment, he was not bad against right-handed pitching, so maybe there’s a platoon in his future.

Catcher: I like the options here, actually. I’m going to join Jim and go with Tom Murphy of the Rockies here. He’ll have to show that his .590 SLG  wasn’t just an Asheville mirage. He hit OK after a double-jump to Double-A and could move fairly quickly in 2014.

Right-handed pitcher: So many choices, but I think I’ll head to Toronto and Marcus Stroman. Last year was his first full one (and was suspension-shortened). But he was dominant in Double-A, then was solid in the AFL. He should help the Blue Jays out at some point in 2014 and I’m still a firm believer he can start.

Left-handed pitcher: It’s not quite as deep as the righties, but still some good names here. I want to see what the Mariners’ James Paxton does in 2014. He pitched fairly well in a brief look in the big leagues last year after a not-so great year in the Minors. Is he a starter or is he a reliever? That’s a big arm from the left side, so he’s going to have a role somewhere soon.

Shortstop: We’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that this is a renaissance at shortstop, and it’s deeper now than it’s ever been. Hak-Ju Lee of the Rays was off to a torrid start during his first taste of Triple-A when he tore up his knee. The question about the defensive whiz has always been how much he’ll hit… and if he can continue what he did last year pre-injury, he’ll be ready for the big leagues soon.

 

Thoughts on the Matt Davidson-Addison Reed trade

Interesting deal announced today, no? A young big league closer for a solid third base prospect. So, who’s the winner?

Twitter was blowing up about it, with most people feeling the White Sox by far got the better end of the deal by getting Davidson, who should have every chance to be Chicago’s starting third baseman in 2014. I had some good back-and-forth with Jason Parks from Baseball Prospectus (@ProfessorParks) and Mike Newman (@ROTOScouting) of RotoScouting.com about it, if you want to check that out.

I think I’m probably the biggest fan of Davidson of the three of us (he was No. 64 on our Top 100, for whatever that’s worth), though I’m not delusional about him. There’s some question about whether he can stay at third — some think he can’t — but I think he’ll be adequate there. And I think there’s enough bat there for him to be a solid regular at the hot corner.

Does that mean the White Sox won this deal? I’m not quite ready to go there just yet. Reed is a 25-year-old closer with 69 saves over the past two years, including 40 in 2013. It also should be noted that he won’t be arbitration eligible until 2015, so the D-backs have two years of closing on the cheap. And they can let Brad Ziegler go back to setting up if they so choose (or the other way around). Or J.J. Putz could reclaim the role and Arizona could have a very solid pen. So I can see the value there.

The larger question is: Does an everyday third baseman trump a relief pitcher? Assuming you believe Davidson can be a regular at third, then it depends on how productive he can be. I think he has the chance to be good enough offensively to give Chicago a slight edge in this deal, though maybe not by as much as some on Twitter were initially saying.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing stories on both of these guys over the years. I dug up a feature I did on Reed when he had gone from being San Diego State’s closer to replacing some guy named Strasburg in their rotation.

I wrote about Davidson this past summer, when he won the Futures Game MVP Award. And here’s the on-field video interview I did with him:

More fun with Rule 5 research

Jim Callis and I are dilligently working on digging up names that seem likely/possible to go in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. That list will be live on the site later today. For now, I thought I’d play with the research I did on the Rule 5 Drafts 2006-2013. In a recent post, I talked about how pitching is always popular in Rule 5 Drafts. Now I want to look at team involvement.

It probably surprises no one that the Houston Astros are at the top of the list, with nine Major League phase selections since 2009. But they’re tied with the Phillies. The Nationals are next with eight, the Mets and Orioles at seven, the Pirates and Padres at six. Here’s the complete list.

TM #
HOU 9
PHI 9
WAS 8
NYM 7
BAL 7
PIT 6
SD 6
ARI 5
CHC 5
KC 5
MIN 5
SEA 5
TB 5
BOS 4
MIA 4
MIL 4
NYY 4
OAK 4
CIN 3
SF 3
STL 3
TOR 3
CLE 2
ATL 1
CWS 1
COL 1
DET 1
TEX 1

There must be something in Los Angeles… Neither the Dodgers nor the Angels have made a Major League phase pick in the past seven Rule 5 Drafts.

OK, what about the flip side? Which organization has been raided the most? Houston and Seattle are the two teams who haven’t had a player taken from their systems. The Angels make up for not taking any players by having the most taken, at 10. The Yankees, Red Sox and Indians have each been raided nine times. Again, here’s the complete list:

TM #
LAA 10
BOS 9
CLE 9
NYY 9
CHC 8
TB 7
WAS 7
MIN 6
BAL 5
ATL 4
COL 4
CWS 4
MIL 4
SF 4
CIN 3
DET 3
LA 3
NYM 3
PIT 3
STL 3
ARI 2
KC 2
PHI 2
SD 2
TEX 2
MIA 1
OAK 1
TOR 1

Marlins looking for a third baseman? There’s one in their system

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — One of the bigger rumors that’s been floating around the lobby here has been that the Marlins are looking to 1. Trade Logan Morrison and/or 2. Bring in a third baseman.

Juan Uribe has been mentioned, though he’s reportedly looking for a three-year deal. No specific names have surfaced in terms of trade returns for Morrison, though there has been some talk of them wanting a big-league ready, or close to big-league ready third baseman in return.

One thing, though, that the Marlins do need to consider, is that they have a pretty good third base prospect in their system already. Miami drafted Colin Moran with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 Draft with the hopes that he could be a fairly quick to Miami advanced college bat. He fared well in full-season ball during his debut, then went on to the Arizona Fall League and we named him the No. 14 prospect in the AFL after he started slowly, but adjusted and finished well. He’s currently the No. 72 prospect on MLB.com’s Top 100, No. 4 on the Marlins Top 20 and fifth among third base prospects.

The question is, of course, just how quickly he can be ready for the big leagues. There seems to be some debate over that. The Marlins took him that early clearly believing it would be a short trip up the ladder and they hope he can hit Miami in 2015 and that has entered into their internal discussions about moves to make. Does that mean Uribe and his three years are off the table? Not sure yet, but I bet it’s being talked about with Moran in mind.

I talked to some scouts who saw him in the Fall League and got some different feedback. One scout thought back end of 2015 was reasonable. Another didn’t see him as quite a quick a riser, saying he thought it would take 2-3 years, with the more conservative projection more likely. Our own Bernie Pleskoff is more in line with that evaluation after having seen him multiple times in Arizona. It’s not that Bernie (follow him on Twitter @BerniePleskoff) doesn’t like him at all, but he’s skeptical about his ability to get there quickly and will need some development time to iron his game out.

Pitching all the rage in the Rule 5

A couple of days ago, I wrote a preview on the Rule 5 Draft that included some numbers on how many Rule 5 picks since 2006 (when the rules dictating roster protection changed) stuck in the big leagues the following year and/or remained in the big leagues (hint: more than you probably thought).

Now here at the lovely Dolphin & Swan in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, I had some time to play with the research a little more. It shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that a vast majority of players taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 have been pitchers. To be precise, of the 121 players taken from 2006-2012, 88 were pitchers. Most of them (61) were right-handed. Here’s the breakdown, keeping in mind the infielders groupings are little loose as many of those taken played, or were asked to play, multiple positions (for instance, there are a few guys who are listed as “INF”):

RHP     61
LHP     27
OF        10
SS          6
C            5
2B         4
1B          3
INF       3
3B         2

That’s a breakdown of all the guys taken. What about the guys who stuck inn the big leagues the next year, a total of 38 players? Here’s how that looked:

RHP    21
LHP      7
SS         3
OF        2
1B         2
2B        1
C          1
INF      1

What’s the takeaway from all of this? If you’re looking at Thursday’s Rule 5 picks and trying to guess which ones have a shot, go with the pitching.

And that’s one to grow on.

What Erisbel Arruebarruena might bring to an MLB team

My colleague Jesse Sanchez recently wrote a good story on the next wave of Cuban prospects on its way to Major League Baseball. One of them, who recently defected, is former Cuban National Team shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena.

I just talked to a scout who is in the Dominican Republic watching the 23-year-old Arruebarruena to see if he’ll be worth pursuing. From his evaluation, it sounds like he will certainly bring some Major League-caliber skills to a team, but he doesn’t see him as a true impact player, like a Cespedes, Puig or Chapman. Here’s his thoughts on what he’s seen of Arruebarruena:

“He’s what you’ve been reading. He’s a very good defensive player. His glove is very close to the big leagues. The bat, you kind of think he’s one of those guys who’ll bat down in the order. He can really play shortstop, if that’s the type of player you’re interested in. He’ll be a quality defensive shortstop in the Major Leagues, but you wonder if he’s going to hit. Some of the others who have come recently – Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria — I felt more confident about the bat. We’ll have to hear what the money is. This isn’t like watching Aroldis Chapman or Yeonis Cespedes. You’re not going to hear from 15 teams. You’ll hear from teams that are hurting a little bit at shortstop.”

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