Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 Top 100 Prospects (#51 to #75)

We now move up the list to prospects #51 to #75. As with all lists, these rankings are a compilation of hands-on scouting, dialogs with scouts and industry experts, as well as statistical analysis. While I try to be logical, I have my favorites, as everyone does, and I have a tendency to stuff those higher on the list (i.e. Schoop) as well as guys that I just don't buy into fully (Cosart and Jackson).

Once again, Markus Potter and I will be doing a special podcast on BlogTalkradio, Wednesday, December 28th at 9pm EST. . This broadcast is on the same feed as our weekly Fantasy Baseball show, which airs every Sunday at 10pm and is the #1 Sports Show on BTR.

51. Jonathan Schoop – 2B (Baltimore Orioles)

Many people are starting to call Jonathan Schoop a poor man’s Manny Machado. While Machado is ranked well ahead of Schoop, as Schoop continues to mature, the comp is starting to make a lot of sense. Schoop progressed to High-A as a 19-year old and showed a nice batting approach with an 85% contact rate and a decent 8% walk rate. Additionally, as Schoop’s 6-2 185lbs body fills out, he projects to be a plus power hitter with 20 home run power. While he stole 12 bases in 2011, don’t look for this to continue, particularly as he fills out.

52. Oscar Taveres – OF (St. Louis Cardinals)

Taveras has a great lefty hit-tool with a quick level swing that barrels the ball. While he has a very aggressive swing, he doesn't strike-out a lot. He currently has gap to gap power that should translate into 15-20 home run power at full development. The open question for the young Taveras…will a .300 average with 15-20 home run potential be enough to stick at a corner outfield or does this profile as a fourth outfielder? Remember, Taveres was one of the youngest players in Low-A and was the second youngest player to be invited to the 2011 Arizona Fall League.

53. Randall Delgado – RHP (Atlanta Braves)

With the big three pitching prospects in Atlanta all having their chance at the major leagues in 2011, it was Randall Delgado that pitched the best. At 6-3 and 200lbs, Delgado has the body type at full maturity that should allow him to log big innings in the majors. His stuff is very good as he throws a low to mid 90’s fastball to go along with a plus curve ball. His control projects to be above average, although he does struggle with his mechanics as is evidence by his 135K/57BB strikeout to walk ratio.

54. Jake Odorizzi – RHP (Kansas City Royals)

With many of the elite Kansas City prospects graduating in 2011 and some others playing poorly, Jake Odorizzi has moved up dramatically. Odorizzi is extremely athletic and posses a 92-94MPH fastball with nice late movement that allows him to pitch up in the zone. His curveball and change-up are improving and both project to be above average offerings.

55. Francisco Lindor – SS (Cleveland Indians)

In the 2011 draft, few high-school players created more late buzz than Francisco Lindor. At first it was all about his glove which projects to be plus with the ability to stay at shortstop. However, as he continued with private workouts, teams got excited about his offensive ability, particularly his ability to drive balls to all fields. Reports out of the Fall instructional league continue to be very bullish on the 17-year old with some comparing him to Jurikson Profar.

56. Nick Franklin –SS (Seattle Mariners)

At 6-1 and 170 lbs, Nick Franklin doesn’t look like a guy that can hit 20 home runs. However, in 2010 he hit 23 home runs and while he regressed to just seven in 2011, scouts believe in the power. While Franklin is an aggressive hitter, he still managed to make contact 78% of the time in 2011. The big concern is will he stay at shortstop? Many scouts believe that a move to second base will eventually occur and for the Mariners, that could cause problems as that position is currently occupied by Dustin Ackley.

57. Trevor May – RHP (Philadelphia Phillies)

The once loaded Philadelphia Phillies minor league system has become quickly barren as several major trades over the past two years were made to bolster their major league club. There are still several blue chip prospects including Trevor May, the 4th round draft choice in the 2008 draft. May has a pro body at 6-5 and 215 lbs and has swing and miss stuff as demonstrated by his 208 strikeouts in 151.1 innings in High-A. His fastball sits in the low 90’s but because of the downhill plane, will play up. He secondary pitches are improving, most notably his curve. The command still needs improvement and as with most young pitchers, will determine the speed in which he makes it to the big leagues.

58. Jarred Cosart – RHP (Houston Astros)

Jarred Cosart became more of a household name after his impressive showing in the 2011 Futures Game. In fact, that performance went a long way to him being included in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies. While the stuff appears to be there, the results are not. In 2011, across High-A and Double-A, Cosart struck out 101 batters in 144.1 innings while walking 56. Additionally, his mechanics are not clean as he throws across his body and has significant scapular loading. Candidly, I’m not buying the package just yet and have dropped his ranking considerably from last year.

59. Archie Bradley – RHP (Arizona Diamondbacks)

While a lot of the high-school pitching hype in the 2011 draft was around Dylan Bundy, many scouts believe Archie Bradley’s upside is as good if not better. Bradley has a pro body at 6-4 and 225lbs and can light up a gun by throwing in the upper 90’s and even tapping out in triple digits. He already posses a nasty curve that when combined with fastball should result in a lot of swing and misses. Expect Bradley to start out in Low-A next year and move quickly.

60. Tim Wheeler OF (Colorado Rockies)

Taken in the first round in 2009, Tim Wheeler played poorly in 2010, hitting only .249 in the hitter friendly confines of Modesto in the CAL league. He’s turned that around in 2011 by slamming 33 home runs and batting .287 in Double-A Tulsa. His .287 average is being supported by a fairly high BABIP but when taken all together, there’s a lot to like with Wheeler.

61. Rymer Liriano – OF (San Diego Padres)

If you rate Rymer Liriano’s on his April performance, it was a failure as he flat out didn’t hit in High-A going 7 for 55. Granted it was a small sample size, but the Padres decided to move him back to Low-A where he finished 2010 (where candidly he didn’t play great) and subsequently blew-up, taking home MVP honors. Liriano has quick strong hands that allow him to move quickly through the zone and produce decent power. In 2011, he had an 80% contract rate, an 11% walk rate to go along with 12 home runs. But Liriano is really about speed, stealing 65 bases in 85 attempts in Low-A.

62. Xander Bogaerts – 2B/3B (Boston Red Sox)

The scouting reports on Xander Boagaerts are glowing. Strong hands, quick bat with power potential. As an 18-year in the Low-A SAL League, Bogaerts showed an aggressive style by striking out 71 times in 265 at bats but hit an impressive 16 home runs. Scouts also talk about his make-up and believe he will quickly figure out the strike zone and could develop into a plus hit tool. The big question is his position. He’s currently playing shortstop but will either move to 2B or 3B next year.

63. Casey Kelly – RHP (San Diego Padres)

Drafted as a pitcher/shortstop by Boston in the first round of the 2008 draft, it didn’t take long for Kelly to realize that the bump was going to be his home. Kelly has a nice arsenal with the ability to throw his fastball in the low 90’s and hit 95. He’s got an above average curve and a plus change-up. The pitchability is not yet there as the results are underwhelming based on the stuff (105K/46BB in 142.1 innings). For fantasy players, the move to Petco will increase his value.

64. Billy Hamilton – SS (Cincinnati Reds)

Billy Hamilton stole 103 bases last year. Let that settle in for a moment. We are talking game changing speed ala Vince Coleman of the 1980’s St. Louis Cardinals. If you’ve not seen Hamilton, he is rail thin and that is what has everyone nervous. The big question is will he be able to stand in there against hard throwers as he moves to the upper minors? While he strikes out a lot (26% strikeout rate), he did barrel the ball more as the season wore on, even hitting 18 doubles along the way. With his crazy speed, Hamilton might be the most intriguing prospect in all of baseball, particularly if you are a fantasy player.

65. Kotlen Wong – 2B (St. Louis Cardinals)

Second baseman are generally not born but are instead made as a result of the inability to play shortstop or sometimes third base. So it’s rare that a pure 2B gets drafted, but that is what the World Champion Cardinals did with Kolten Wong in the 2011 draft. Wong signed quickly and took advantage of his 194 at bats in the MidWest league, batting .335 with an impressive 24K/20BB ratio. He also contributed 5 home runs but with his strong wrist and quick swing, projects to have 15-20 home run power. While he doesn’t have blazing speed, he should be able to steal 20 bases as well.

66. Christian Yelich – OF (Miami Marlins)

Drafted out of high school in the first round of the 2011 draft, Christian Yelich is already showing a great approach at the plate with speed and surprising power. In Low-A, Yelich batted .312 with a 102K/55B rate in 461 at bats. While the strikeouts are a little high, it’s not bad for a teenager’s first foray into professional ball. The 32 stolen bases out of 37 shows elite stolen bases ability and the 15 home runs are also encouraging.

67. Anthony Gose – OF (Toronto Blue Jays)

Gose is another in a long-line of toolsy players that is learning how to hit...but boy are the tools good. In Double-A, Gose stole 70 bases and hit 16 home runs but struck out 154 times in 509 AB’s. Unless Gose can improve the hit tool, his staying power, no matter how good the tools are, will be difficult.

68. Will Middlebrook – 3B (Boston Red Sox)

Will Middlebrooks is a big strong athletic player at 6-4 and 200lbs with above average bat speed and power to all fields. His strikeouts were high in Double-A with 95 K’s in 371 at-bats, which if not corrected will cause concerns as he moves into Triple-A with a potential call-up to the Red Sox in September of 2012.

69. Nick Castellanos -3B (Detroit Tigers)

Signed in the supplemental round in the 2010 draft for an aggressive $3.45M signing bonus, Nick Castellanos showed the plate approach that the Tigers envisioned. In 507 at bats in Low-A, he struck out 130 times and walked 45 times. Given his size at 6-4, most believe that as Castellanos fills out, his power will increase to 20-25 home runs.

70. Brett Jackson –OF (Chicago Cubs)

The Cubs drafted Brett Jackson in the first round of the 2009 draft and saw a power/speed guy that could be a first division starter. So far, he’s demonstrated the speed and power as was evidence by his 2011 production. Across Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, he hit 21 home runs and stole 20 bases. So why is he sitting at #70? I just don’t believe in the hit tool. There’s a lot of swing and miss in his stroke as he has a definitive two stage swing. Until he adjusts the swing to make better contact, the 20/20 production will come with a lot of batting average downside.

71. Oswaldo Arcia – OF (Minnesota Twins)

Signed out of Venezuela at the ripe old age of 16, Oswaldo Arcia is starting to produce on the promise. Arcia has great bat speed combined with plus power. Elbow surgery did slow Arcia’s progression in 2011 but he was still able to put up 13 home runs in 292 at bats across Low-A and High-A. He should return to High-A to start 2012 and assuming there is no lingering problems from the elbow, he could be poised for a real breakout.

72. Corey Spangenberg – 2B (San Diego Padres)

Corey Spangenberg was taken with the #10 pick in the 2011 draft, signed quickly and then tore up the Northwest league in 84 limited at bats. His plus-speed was on full display as he managed to steal 10 bases across that span. Spangenberg projects to have a plus hit tool with a .300 average not out of the question. He makes great contact and has a great eye at the plate.

73. Cheslor Cuthbert – 3B (Kansas City Royals)

Cheslor Cuthbert was one of the youngest players in the MidWest league during 2011 season at 18 years old. He posses a lot of strength and bat speed, showing an advance approach at the plate that should project to an above average hit tool and power tool. While he played very well in the first half, he did play poorly in the second half. Was he simply tired or was there something else going on?

74. A.J. Cole – RHP (Washington Nationals)

If you look at the 4.04 ERA and 1.24 WHIP from A.J. Cole, you’re looking in the wrong place. In 89.0 innings in Low-A in 2011, Cole had 108 strikeouts in 89.0 innings and only 24 walks. Drafted in the fourth round in 2010 to a large $2M signing bonus, A.J. Cole’s velocity increased as the season wore on to sit 94-95MPH with obvious command and the ability to cut or sink the ball. His curve is inconsistent but the Nats are confident that he can spin it. With a major league body and projection at 6-4 and 180, you need to keep your eye on A.J. Cole as he moves to High-A in 2012.

75. Drew Hutchinson – RHP (Toronto Blue Jays)

Drew Hutchinson was one of the more impressive pitchers in the Toronto Blue Jays system, progressing through three levels (Low-A, High-A, and Double-A) while striking out an impressive 171 batters in 149.1 and walking only 35. Part of the success comes through a deceptive delivery as his stuff is good but not great. He has an 89-93 fastball, through deception, explodes and sinks (1.33 GO/AO) when it gets to the plate. His change-up is also above average but the curve still needs work as it has a tendency to get slurvy.

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