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2015 Mid Season Top 50 Prospect List (1 through 25)

I’ve struggled getting this list out due in part to the number of recent promotions to the big league –   Carlos Correa (1), Joey Gallo (9) and Vince Valesquez (46) just in the last week.  Before that, Kris Bryant, Joc Pederson, Noah Syndergaard, Archie Bradley, and others have all been promoted.  With all of this activity, the list has been a moving target and getting my arms around it has been a challenge.

In putting together the list, I focused on the fantasy aspect of each player.  While defense is still part of the equation, I primarily used it to evaluate the players opportunity to get consistent playing time instead of the players overall value.  For instance, Francisco Lindor will be an above-average fantasy contributor but will likely be a better baseball player given his plus defensive chops.  The list reflects that perspective.

While I agonized over the placement of each player, please do not do the same.  If you think D.J. Peterson has more upside than Hunter Renfroe, even though Renfroe is ranked seven slots higher, then so be it.  There’s no formula or “super scout” list that has the answer.  It’s just my opinion.  Enjoy and I look forward to your feedback.

Editors Note: We had already gone to press when Byron Buxton and Francisco Lindor were called up.  We did not change our list to reflect those promotions.

1. Byron Buxton (OF, Min) [PROMOTED – 6/14/15]

After an injury riddled 2014 season, Byron Buxton has knocked off the rust and has started to flash the tools that made him the best prospect coming into the 2014 season.  He’s a true five-tool player with double-plus speed, natural bat-to-ball ability, and the bat speed and strength that should eventually translate into average, if not more power.  While there’s a chance he could see a September callup, I expect him to promoted in mid-April of 2016.

2. Corey Seager (SS, LAD)

After the promotion of a number of top prospects to the Major Leagues, Corey Seager must be thinking…”What do I have to do to get to the show?”  The answer is…not a lot.  He’s just a victim of a very strong major league team and the likelihood that the Dodgers will want to use a similar development path that was used for Joc Pederson.  Dynasty League owners just need show some patience and understand that once he’s promoted, it’s going to be very, very good.

3. Lucas Giolito (RHP, Was)

The Nationals held Lucas Giolitto back in extended spring training to start the 2015 season as they continue to handle him with kid-gloves after his 2012 Tommy John Surgery.  The gloves should come off in the second half and with Giolito’s advanced arsenal and pitchability, he should move quickly.  He has the pitching profile of an ace – three plus pitches with a feel for pitching and a great pitchers body.  While he’s only in High-A, I expect Giolito to make his major league pitching debut sometime in 2016.

4. Yoan Moncada (2B, Bos)

The Red Sox decided to take it slow with their prized Cuban émigré and started Yoan Moncada in extended spring training for the first six weeks of the season.  The immensely talented second baseman is already showing off his tools in Greenville and will likely be promoted to High-A in the second half.  With an advanced hit-tool, he should move quickly with a chance to see Boston in the second half of 2016.  Where will he play?  I actually don’t know, but the upside of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases with a high batting average will force his way into the lineup at some point.

5. J.P Crawford (SS, Phi)

While we all wait for Ruben Amaro to transform the Phillies, J.P. Crawford quietly continues to be one of the best prospects in the game.  He started the year off in extended spring training after suffering a ribcage strain in spring training but made quick work of the Florida State League posting a .921 OPS in 21 games.  There is 20 home run and 15 stolen base potential with a future above-average hit tool to go along with the ability to stay up-the-middle.  After Corey Seager, he’s the next best fantasy shortstop in the minor leagues.

6. Julio Urias (LHP, LAD)

With the top payroll in the major leagues and two players in the Top 10 of our list, the Dodgers are setup to remain competitive for a long time.  Julio Urias has top-of-the-rotation potential with a fastball that sits 92 to 95 MPH and two plus secondary pitches in his change-up and curveball.  The only concern is his 5-foot-11 stature and whether he’ll be able to maintain the load of a starter on a division contending team.  I think he will, and together with Lucas Giolito, they are clearly the top two pitchers in the minor leagues.

7. Miguel Sano (3B, Min)

Miguel Sano is just about ready for the show.  In fact, the Twins recently promoted Kennys Vargas to replace the struggling Danny Santana and if that move were to be made in July, Sano might have been the player promoted.  He’s got a big swing and will strikeout a ton, but he’s also going to hit 30 plus home runs and be a force in the middle of the lineup.  Trevor Plouffe is blocking him and first base is also not an option, but the Twins will find a place for his bat…and soon.

8. Tyler Glasnow (RHP, Pit)

Things were coming to together for Tyler Glasnow in 2015 when he sprained his ankle during an early May start.  He’s currently sitting on the minor league disabled list but should be back in July.  Few pitchers if any can match the swing and miss stuff of Glasnow in the minors.  His mid-nineties fastball, wipe-out slider, and deceptive delivery makes it very difficult on opposing hitters.  He just lacks the ability to throw consistent strikes, but when that comes together, he has the upside of an ace.  Assuming he gets back on the mound in July, I expect him to arrive in Pittsburgh in June of 2016.

9. Kyle Schwarber (C/OF, CHC) [PROMOTED – 6/16/15]

Drafted with the number four overall pick in the 2014 first year player draft, Kyle Schwarber has done nothing but hit since making his professional debut.  In 530 professional plate appearances, he has a slash line of .336/.435/.612.  Double-A has also not been much of a challenge for the 6-foot, 235 pound catcher as he’s posted a 1.025 OPS with 12 home runs in 55 games.  The only thing left for Schwarber to prove is that he can stay behind the plate.  Most in the industry do not believe he can and feel the Cubs should simply move him to the outfield and let him move to Chicago sometime later this year.  The Cubs disagree and continue to put him behind the plate.

10. Dylan Bundy (RHP, Bal)

If only Dylan Bundy could stay healthy.  Having seen him already this year, his stuff looks to have returned to pre-Tommy-John surgery form with enough command and control to get big league batters out today.  Unfortunately, he’s back on the minor league disabled list with a shoulder issue and his timing to return to the majors appears to be pushed towards the end of the season.  Dynasty League owners need to have patience as Bundy still has top-of-the-rotation potential, he just need to stay healthy.

11. Francisco Lindor (SS, Cle) [PROMOTED – 6/14/15]

Most mid-season list will have Francisco Lindor higher, however, if we are looking strictly from a fantasy standpoint, he falls into the 10 to 20 range.  First, Lindor is a plus defender and should have a long career at the premium position.  Offensively, he will be very good with an above-average hit tool, above-average speed that should produce 25 plus stolen bases and enough strength to pop five to eight home runs.  Given the lack of offensive shortstop, that should make Lindor a Top 10 shortstop who should be a major leaguer for a long, long time.

12. Daniel Norris (LHP, Tor)

Yes I said it…”Daniel Norris has the potential to be the best left-hander in baseball”.  So far, that prediction is not looking too good.  He had his chance this year and performed ok, but the Blue Jays felt he needed to work on his command and moved him back to Triple-A.  The stuff is still premium, the delivery is still very athletic, and the make-up is still off-the-chart.  Patience!

13. David Dahl (OF, Col)

After the unfortunate injury to David Dahl that likely ended his season, I debated moving him down in the rankings.  However, I was reminded of the upside and the fact that he should be roaming center field in Coors Field next year, and decided to keep him in the Top 25.  He’s a plus defender with speed and the ability to barrel the ball.  The ceiling remains: 15 home run, 25 stolen base, .280 batting average, and a .340 on-base percentage.

14. Austin Meadows (OF, Pit)

Austin Meadows has quietly become one of the best prospects in the game.  Drafted number nine in the 2013 first year player draft, Meadows has started to show his immense talent by posting a .290/.370/.376 slash line in High-A.  Sure, I wish the slugging percentage was higher, but the Florida State League suppresses power and I still see him posting a mid 400s slugging percentage long-term.  His advanced hit-tool should push the Pirates to promote him to Double-A over the second-half.  Where does he play once he’s ready for the Big Leagues….that’s a really good question.

15. Michael Conforto (OF, NYM)

After Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto has been the most impressive hitter in last year’s draft class.  Granted, as one of the best bats in college last year, he should have manhandled the lower minors and with an .812 OPS in 46 games, he did.  So far, Double-A has been even easier as he’s posted a 1.293 OPS in his first eight games.  There’s a chance the Mets could promote him for a September cup-of-coffee, but if not, he should see time in Queens in 2016.  The ceiling is a 20 home run hitting machine with a chance to post a .300 average with regularity.

16. Alex Reyes (RHP, STL)

As a prospect evaluator, I’ve learned one thing…do not give up on athletic pitchers.   While they might start off with raw mechanics, the superior athleticism usually enables them to repeat their delivery which generally leads to success.  Enter Alex Reyes.  Blessed with tremendous athleticism and two plus pitches, he just needs to learn to throw strikes.  I think he will and the Cardinals have a long history to help prove my point.  As with many high ceiling, high risk prospects, Dynasty League owners need to have patience and ride the ups-and-downs of the development process.

17. Aaron Judge (OF, NYY)

It’s easy to get fixated on the enormous size of Aaron Judge.  The dude is…well…big.  He’s 6-foot-7, muscular with arms that are bigger than most people’s thighs.  You know what else…the guy can really play.  Despite his size, his swing is direct to the ball and he keeps both hands on the bat through the point of impact to extenuate the point.  In general, this approach will reduce power, but he’s got so much natural strength, that it works.  He’s also has average foot speed with a chance to steal double-digit bases.  There’s monster fantasy potential with Judge with a ceiling of 25 home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .270 plus batting average.

18. Manuel Margot (OF, Bos)

Manny Margot went 68 plate appearances before striking out to start the 2015 season – truly a remarkable feat.  He then hurt his shoulder and struggled for a while before the Red Sox put him on the disabled list.  Fully healthy, Margot is back to raking, posting a 720 .OPS in 33 games in High-A.  Assuming he stays healthy, he’ll likely be promoted to Double-A in the second half with a target of late 2016 to make his major league debut.  With his advanced approach and natural ability to barrel the ball, his ceiling is a .300 hitter with 30 plus stolen bases and 8 to 10 home runs.

19. Orlando Arcia (SS, Mil)

Orlando Arcia has emerged onto the National prospect scene by posting an .865 OPS as one of the youngest players in the Southern League.  He’s an above-average defender with enough chops to stay at shortstop in the major leagues.  He continues to show an impressive hit-tool with the ability to make elite contact (91%) while hitting with authority to all fields.   The swing is a line-drive, doubles swing but he has enough bat speed to profile with eight to 10 home runs.  While he stole 31 bases last year, I don’t see this level of production following him to the big leagues.  Instead, 20 stolen bases annually seems more realistic.

20. Rafael Devers (3B, Bos)

Despite being the third youngest player in the South Atlantic League, Rafael Devers has been one of it’s best performers.  In 47 games, he’s posted an OPS of .808 with three home runs and 26 RBI’s.  The three home runs is just a start as Devers has plus raw power that will begin to unfold over the next year or two.  The swing is aggressive and likely always will be, but he has enough bat control to profile as an average hitter with a ceiling of a .270 batting average at the highest level.

21. Raul Mondesi (SS, KC)

We’ve been saying for the past two years that you just need to ignore the stat line when evaluating Raul Mondesi Jr.  I know it’s getting hard when you’re posting a .240/.256/.656 slash line in 20 games at Double-A.  However, as the youngest player in the Texas League, the Kansas City Royals continue to be very aggressive with their prized teenager.   Could it backfire?  Sure, and unless he starts to show a better approach at the plate, he’ll likely sit in Double-A for a year or two.  But the tools are still something to dream-on.  He has plus bat speed with 70-grade foot speed and the ability to stay at shortstop.   The future ceiling is still that of an All-Star shortstop.

22. Steve Matz (LHP, NYM)

Many fantasy owners have added Steve Matz to their team expecting the 6-foot-2 lefty to be promoted mid-year to New York.  While it has happened yet, you can argue that Matz has put up the best pitching performance in the minor league this year.  In 11 starts, he’s posted a 1.94 ERA while striking out over a batter an inning and walking just over three per-nine; and he’s done it pitching in some of the most difficult pitching environments in all of professional baseball.   When will he be promoted?  I think it will be very, very soon.

23. Nomar Mazara (OF, Tex)

Nomar Mazara has now emerged as the Top prospect in Texas Rangers organization.  The 20-year outfielder was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 for a record-setting $4.95 million dollars and has been aggressively moved through the system.  He’s shown a mature approach at the plate in his 53 games in Double-A in 2015, but the plus raw power has not yet started to translate.  It will and once it does, there is 30 home run potential to go along with a solid-average batting average.

Taillon24. Jameson Taillon (RHP, Pit)

Jameson Taillon has yet to make his 2015 professional appearance as he makes his way back from Tommy John Surgery.  However, early reports out of his extended spring training games have been encouraging, so he’s not far away from posting an official box score.  The Pirates will take it easy with Taillon this year but if the arsenal and command return, he still has a number two starter profile.

25. Jose Peraza (2B/OF, Atl)

Jose Peraza has been playing a lot of center field recently in Triple-A as the Braves look to expand his flexibility as he nears his call-up to the major leagues.  Peraza can really hit with a great approach to go along with top-shelf speed.  All of that should come together nicely for fantasy owners in 2016.

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2015 Mid Season Top 50 Prospect List (26 through 50)

I’ve struggled getting this list out due in part to the number of recent promotions to the big league –   Carlos Correa (1), Joey Gallo (9) and Vince Valesquez (46) just in the last week.  Before that, Kris Bryant, Joc Pederson, Noah Syndergaard, Archie Bradley, and others have all been promoted.  With all of this activity, the list has been a moving target and getting my arms around it has been a challenge.

In putting together the list, I focused on the fantasy aspect of each player.  While defense is still part of the equation, I primarily used it to evaluate the players opportunity to get consistent playing time instead of the players overall value.  For instance, Francisco Lindor will be an above-average fantasy contributor but will likely be a better baseball player given his plus defensive chops.  The list reflects that perspective.

While I agonized over the placement of each player, please do not do the same.  If you think D.J. Peterson has more upside than Hunter Renfroe, even though Renfroe is ranked seven slots higher, then so be it.  There’s no formula or “super scout” list that has the answer.  It’s just my opinion.  Enjoy and I look forward to your feedback.

26. Trea Turner (SS, SD)

While we still wait for Trea Turner to be as the PTBNL in the Steven Souza trade over the winter, he’s done nothing but excel at every level in the Padres organization.  He’s batting .322 in 205 at-bats in Double-A while posting an .867 OPS.  Assuming he continues to progress after the trade is completed, he has a chance to begin the 2016 season as the starting shortstop for Washington.

27. Josh Bell (3B, Pit)

Josh Bell has quietly had a very nice first half of the season for the Pirates Double-A team.  I say quietly, because his plus raw power has not translated to over-the-fence power.  What he has done is hit.  In 237 plate appearance he’s struck out only 23 times and walked 25 times, posting a .328 batting average.  Once the power arrives, Josh Bell has a chance to be an impact middle of the order bat for the Pirates as early as 2016.

28. Jose De Leon (RHP, LAD)

Jose De Leon is enjoying an impressive breakout season for the Dodgers after first dominating the California League, and with his recent promotion to Double-A, enjoying more of the same.  While lefty Julio Urias has the higher upside, De Leon is starting to make it close.  If he keeps this up, he should see Los Angeles sometime in 2016.

29. Ozahanio Albies (SS, Atl)

Ozhanio Albies got a ton of helium at the end of last season and started getting noticed by prospect watchers.  Six months later, he’s a Top 30 prospect.  How did he do it?  The 18-year-old can really hit.  As the youngest player in the SALLY League, Albies has posted a .793 OPS in 57 games.  He can also really pick it in the field and if the Braves allow him to stay there, he could be a plus defender.  He’s still two to three years away, but the upside is tremendous.

30. Blake Snell (RHP, TB)

Blake Snell has always had the power arsenal, but in 2015, he’s learning to pitch.  The results have been nothing short of dominate.  He went 46 innings before giving up an earned run while striking out 10.01 per nine.  The arsenal begins with a sinking fastball that sits 91 to 93 MPH while generating a ton of ground balls.  He also throws a plus slider and a change-up that has vastly improved this year.  He still needs to work on throwing strikes as he has yet to pitch a year where his walks-per-nine is less than four.  Snell has the advantage of pitching for the Rays and they have a long history of fine tuning pitchers delivery in the upper levels.  I know fantasy owners want to see him promoted to the big leagues NOW, but for as good as he’s been this year, he’s still not ready.

31. Bradley Zimmer (OF, Cle)

Taken with the 21st pick in the 2014 first year player draft, Bradley Zimmer has had a very loud start to the season.  In 57 games, he’s posted a slash line of .309/.410/.512 with nine home runs and 25 stolen bases.  While the tools are not over-the-top loud, there’s enough there to make Zimmer a solid major league regular with a chance to be a very good fantasy player.

32. Brett Phillips (OF, Hou)

Brett Phillips is the type of player that will get overlooked in most prospect lists because he doesn’t have the type of tools that scream star.  However, he has a ton of average to above-average tools that when combined with his plus makeup, gives him the ceiling of an above-average regular with the chance to see an All-Star game or two.  While it’s easy to be fooled by the stat line he’s putting up at Lancaster in the California League, I’ve seen him enough to project a ceiling of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.  We should have a better sense in July and August on how realistic that projection is as the Astros will likely promote the 21-year-old to Corpus Christi in the Texas League.

33. Jesse Winker (OF, Cin)

I thought that Jesse Winker would be competing for a mid-season call-up, but a slow start to the 2015 season has likely delayed his promotion.  In 52 games in Double-A, he’s posted an anemic .365 slugging percentage after slugging nearly .500 in the prior three season.  The good news is that the bat speed and plate discipline are still intact and it’s likely just an adjustment period for the 21-year-old.  Fantasy owners should not lose confidence as the ceiling remains a 20 home run bat with .280 batting average and a .350 plus on-base percentage.

34. Jose Berrios (RHP, Min)

With Alex Myers sporting a 6.13 ERA and unable to throw strikes, Jose Berrios has emerged as the best pitching prospect for the Twins.  At 6-foot and 185 pounds, he doesn’t have the prototypical body for a top-of-the-rotation starter.  However, the stuff is very good and more importantly, he’s able to throw strikes.   In 12 starts in Double-A, he has a 9.75 K/9 to go along with a 2.50 BB/9 which has resulted in a 3.21 ERA.  He’ll likely always be homer-prone but the ceiling is a strong number three starter.

35. Raimel Tapia (OF, Col)

Most observers believed that Raimel Tapia would really enjoy the hitting confines of the California League and while he’s done well, posting a .775 OPS as a 21-year-old, a 35K/7BB strikeout-to-walk ratio shows there is still a lot of room for improvement.  I still don’t love the wide stance as it takes away from his power-ceiling, but I’m still hopeful that the Rockies get him more upright to unlock his 20 home run potential.  With several players in Asheville looking for a promotion, I expect the Rockies to promote Tapia to Double-A sometime in the second half.

36. Aaron Nola (RHP, Phi)

After Carlos Rodon, Aaron Nola was the most polished college pitcher in the 2014 draft class.  He’s proven the point by posting an impressive 1.76 ERA over 11 starts in Double-A, setting himself up for a second half callup to Philadelphia.   The stuff is good with a fastball that sits 92 to 93 MPH with two very effective secondary pitches, but all play up with his ability to throw strikes.   His ceiling is a solid mid-rotation starter with better than league average ratios and six to seven strikeouts per nine.

37. Robert Stephenson (RHP, Cin)

While many of the players drafted in front of him in the 2011 draft have gone on to have success in the big leagues, Robert Stephenson is still working his way to the promise land.  The arsenal is top-shelf with a plus fastball and curve combination and a feel for a change-up.  The problem has been an inability to throw consistent strikes and that continues to haunt him.  However, the stuff should play in the major leagues and it might be time to see what he can do there.

38. Tim Anderson (SS, CHW)

The White Sox continue to aggressively push Tim Anderson and so far he’s responded.  As a 22-year-old in Double-A this year, he’s batting .300 with 21 stolen bases in 26 attempts.  He’s very aggressive at the plate and will chase balls outside of the zone as his 54K/8BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 230 at-bats demonstrates.  He’ll need to improve his approach to reach his ceiling and if he does, it could mean gold for fantasy owners.

39. Luis Severino (RHP, NYY)

Based on pure stuff, Luis Severino should be ranked higher on this list.  However, I’m still not convinced that he’s a starter long-term as his delivery lacks the power from his lower body.  That said, his double-plus fastball and slider combination can get big league batters out now and the Yankees might just promote him over the next several weeks to work at a minimum out of the bullpen.

40. Alex Jackson (OF, Sea)

It’s not been a good start to the 2015 season for Alex Jackson, the number sixth overall pick in the 2014 first year player draft.  After batting .157 in 28 games in the Midwest League, the Mariners sent him back to extended spring training after he complained of shoulder stiffness.   Hopefully the Mariners can get him healthy and his swing straighten out so that he can unlock his enormous talent.  His ceiling remains unchanged as a middle of the order power bat with an above-average hit tool.

41. Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD)

The Texas League has proven more difficult than I thought for Hunter Renfroe, the 13th overall selection in the 2013 first year player draft.  After slugging a woeful .263 in April, Renfroe has been better but the plus raw power I saw last year has not yet translated into in-game power.  The swing can get long and the power is born more out of leverage than premium bat-speed, but I still believe the ceiling remains at 20 plus home runs with high single-digit stolen bases.

42. Nick Williams (OF, Tex)

Nick Williams has walked 24 times in 229 at-bats so far in 2015.  That’s a huge improvement for the 6-foot-3 outfielder and if it is indeed a skill he is starting to learn, he has a chance to be a consistent .300 hitter.  He has premium bat speed and although he’s yet to demonstrate in-game plus power, it’s in there.  Throw in a handful of stolen bases per year and if it all comes together, Williams could be a monster fantasy contributor.

43. Matt Wisler (RHP, Atl)

Matt Wisler was traded right before the start of the 2015 season to the Braves in exchange for uber-closer Craig Kimbrel.  While Wisler doesn’t have the profile to pitch at the top-of-the-rotation, the stuff and pitchability should make him a mid-rotation starter for a long time.  With an impressive 2015 Triple-A campaign where he has posted a 3.52 ERA, a 49K/11BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61.1 innings, Wisler is nearly ready for the call.

44. Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA)

Many people, myself included, drafted Andrew Heaney expecting him to be pitching in Los Angeles already.  However, the Angels have elected to keep him in the minors to work on his craft.  While his 4.39 ERA is unimpressive in 12 starts, he’s striking out a batter an inning and walking less than three per-nine.  He’s also managed to navigate the PCL quite well and to-date, has only allowed two home runs.  I think he’s almost ready and the next opportunity in Los Angeles should be his.

45. Clint Coulter (OF, Mil)

The Brewers finally gave up on the dream to have Clint Coulter catch and that decision should allow the 21-year-older to start a quick ascension to the major leagues.  With a mature approach at the plate and plus bat speed, Coulter has a chance to hit for power and a high batting average.  The swing does have a hitch and big league pitchers could expose him a bit, but the ceiling is a first division outfielder and significant fantasy contributor.

46. Jon Gray (RHP, Col)

There’s a lot of warning flags with Jon Gray.  His stuff has backed up a bit since being taken number three overall in the 2013 first year player draft, he’s a fly ball pitcher, and of course, he pitches for the Rockies.  He does throw strikes and while he no longer is hitting triple-digits on the radar gun, he has enough velocity to setup his plus slider.  While I’m worried, I haven’t given up on the 6-foot-4, 235 pound righty out of Oklahoma.

47. Jeff Hoffman (RHP, Tor)

I have a feeling that Jeff Hoffman will wind up much higher on our list by the end of the season.  However, after spending the entire 2014 season on the disabled list recovering from Tommy John reconstructive surgery, I’ve risk adjusted him to the 40 to 50 range on our list.  Assuming he fully recovers, he has three plus pitches including a sinking fastball that bores in on right-handed hitters to get a ton of ground balls.  He’s already pitched 23 innings and while the results haven’t been great, the reports on his stuff have been.  It could take all of this year and next to fully get him back, but the upside is a strong number two, or higher.

48. D.J. Peterson (1B, Sea)

A number of power hitters have struggled to-date and D.J. Peterson is one of them.  After slugging 31 home runs last year, Peterson has hit three so far in 56 games in Double-A while batting .206.  Part of the problem could be attributed to a .267 BABIP and perhaps switching to first base could be causing some lack of concentration at the plate.  However, the bat speed and power are still present and owners need to be patient as Peterson adjusts.  In fact, now is the time to buy low as the path is clear for him to be the starting first baseman in Seattle in 2016.

49. Trevor Story (SS, Col)

I’ve seen Trevor Story play several times over the past two years but have yet to see him in 2015.  Candidly, I’ve never been enamored with the 22-year-old shortstop but from reports I’ve received, the turn around this year seems real.  In 54 games, he’s posted a .942 OPS with eight home runs and 14 stolen bases.  He’s still striking out a ton with a contact rate hovering around 70%.  Assuming he stays in the Eastern League for the next month, I should catch a series with him and will then have a better feel for whether this resurgence is real.  For now, he makes the list.

50. Michael Reed (OF, Mil)

The Brewers had one player in our pre-season Top 100 prospect list and at the mid-way mark, they have three in our Top 50; and Tyrone Taylor isn’t even one of them.  Michael Reed closes out our list and has had a truly breakout campaign so far in 2015.  In 54 games in Double-A, he’s posted a .901 OPS with a 48K/26BB strikeout-to-walk ratio, five home runs and 16 stolen bases.   He’s a plus defender and has the chops to stay in center field.  With Carlos Gomez only signed through 2016, Reed could have his chance very soon.  He doesn’t have the explosive skillset of Gomez, but does have the ceiling of a solid regular with the ability to get on base a ton with five to 10 home runs and 20 plus stolen bases.

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The next Top 10 Fantasy Prospects in the Minors for this year.

Who are the next 10 prospects that could make an impact to your fantasy team this year?  Well, here you go…

1. Carlos Correa (SS, Hou)

Carlos Correa has actually struggled a little in his limited time in Triple-A, but the immense skills that he will bring to Houston later this June are still very much intact.  While most rookies will struggle and Correa could as well, in 300 at-bats, he could hit 8-12 home runs with 15 stolen bases.

Potential: 300 AB, 8-12 home runs, 15 stolen bases, 280 BA.

2. Hector Olivera (3B, LAD)

After a lengthy process to clear up his Visa issues, Hector Olivera finally has a box score in the U.S.  He’s already 30-years-old and therefore will only need enough at-bats to knock the rust off before arriving in Los Angeles.  I’m guessing that will be two to three weeks.  Depending on the injury situation, he could play second or third and don’t be surprised if the Dodgers move Kendricks or Turner to make room for Olivera.  They are not paying him $10 million plus per year to sit on the bench.

Potential: 300 AB, six to eight home runs, 15 stolen bases, .270 BA.

3. Steven Matz (LHP, NYM)

The Mets have moved to a six-man rotation and Dillon Gee has gotten the final spot.  I’m guessing that will not last and it’s just a matter of time before Steven Matz is summoned to New York.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets are simply waiting for the Super-2 timing to pass.  Matz has been all-world in the difficult Pacific Coast League and while he doesn’t have the same upside as Thor, he should strikeout eight-plus per nine with better than league-average ratios.  I know you’ve been holding him forever…just a few more weeks.

Potential: 100 IP, 3.50 ERA, 85 strikeouts.

4. Javier Baez (3B, CHC)

Technically, Javier Baez lost his prospect eligibility last year, but at 22-years-old and only 213 big league at-bats, I’ve included him in the list.  Baez will strikeout a lot and his approach remains a question.  However, if he gets 300 at-bats, he should hit 15 home runs and add a handful of stolen bases.  Where will he play?  I would guess third base with Kris Bryant moving to the outfield.  While everyone will be paying a fortune for Joey Gallo this weekend, throw down a dollar on Javier Baez and you can thank me later.

Potential: 300 AB, 15 home runs, 8 stolen bases, .230 BA

5. Francisco Lindor (SS, Cle)

I have Francisco Lindor on several teams and I’ve been patiently waiting for him to arrive. In two-weeks, I should be finally rewarded.  I doubt it’s going to be an all-world performance by the 21-year-old shortstop, but he can really hit and the defense will keep him in the lineup.  Once he’s up, I think he’ll stay up and there is value in that alone on your fantasy team.

Potential: 300 AB, 3 home runs, 12 stolen bases, .270 BA

6. Matt Wisler (RHP, Atl)

Matt Wisler doesn’t get as much love in prospect circles as I think he should.  He can really pitch and while the stuff will not put him at the top of the Atlanta rotation, he has a chance to be a very good number three starter.  He doesn’t walk anybody and should strikeout seven to eight per nine with league average ratios.  He is a flyball pitcher, so you might want to avoid playing him in hitters-parks.

Potential: 80 IP, 3.80 ERA, 70 strikeouts.

7. Luis Severino (RHP, NYY)

Luis Severino was promoted to Triple-A last week and therefore, he is one step away from joining the Yankees.  It should happen over the next several weeks, or at the latest, after the all-star break.  But, will it be as a starter or reliever?  If he comes up as a reliever, it’s going to really fun.  The fastball will play up a grade and that’s only going to make his plus change-up even that more difficult to hit.  However, the Yankees will need starters, so I’m guessing he arrives as a starter.

Potential: 40 IP, 2.25 ERA, 65 strikeouts, OR as a starter: 80 IP, 3.75 ERA and 70 strikeouts.

8. Vince Velasquez (RHP Hou)

The Astros look more real than not and have demonstrated that they are not afraid to reach into the minor leagues to bring up players.  Lance McCullers has been very good and their next best option is 23-year-old Vince Velasquez.  While his season started late, he’s been dominate in Double-A in his five starts.  In 26.1 innings, he’s struck out 37 while walking nine, posting a 1.37 ERA along the way.  He’s been injury prone throughout his career, but he’s healthy now.  I think he gets the call by the end of July.

Potential: 80 IP, 3.30 ERA, 80 strikeouts.

9. Miguel Sano (3B, Min)

If the Rangers can call up Joey Gallo, why can’t the Twins call-up Miguel Sano?  If Sano would have not torn his UCL and needed Tommy John Surgery last year, I’m guessing that he would already be up.  The Twins will likely play the Super-2 game and call him up after mid-June, but he’s not far away.  There’s going to be a lot of strikeouts but a ton of power.  Yeah, Trevor Plouffe is playing his position, but things have a tendency to work out…don’t they.

Potential: 250 AB, 12 home runs, .230 BA.

10. Jonathan Gray (RHP, Col)

Jon Gray had a rough start to the season.  At the end of April, his ERA stood at 10.70 and prospect evaluators started to quickly lose confidence.  Since then, he’s posted a 2.77 ERA and has looked much, much better.  What has been disappointing, is his lack of strikeouts.  In 53.1 innings, he’s posted a 6.41 K/9.  However, it’s the PCL and Albuquerque, so he has to be given somewhat of a pass.  Yes, Coors Field is not any easier, but Gray’s stuff is still very, very good and the opportunity is definitely there.

Potential: 80 IP, 3.80 ERA, 65 strikeouts.

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One more May Pop-up guy

As is tradition, here’s my final May Pop-up guy brought to you on Memorial Day.  It’s a good one and the best news…nobody has heard of him.

Daniel Mengden (RHP, Hou, Low-A)

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 first year player draft, Daniel Mengden exceptional 2015 performance has really gone unnoticed.  It could be that he’s dominating the Midwest League as a 22-year-old college pitcher, but the stuff is legit and the pitchability is advanced.

He throws a four and two-seam fastball that can hit the mid 90’s with an above-average slider and change-up.  He has plus control that he gets naturally from his very simple and smooth pitching mechanics.  The results have been excellent with a 1.16 ERA in 38.2 innings while striking out 36 and walking eight.

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2015 May Pop Up Guys

“Pop-up guys” is a scouting phrase that is used this time of year to refer to players in which the general public has little to no knowledge, but are now considered legitimate prospects for the first-year-player-draft.   Since I primarily scout players already in professional ball, I’m going to profile 13 players that are my professional “Pop-up guys”.

This list is a combination of players that are already on the prospect landscape but have jump substantially in status or are not yet household names and should be.  It should be noted that we are not necessarily high on all these players but each has made substantial noise in the early going of the season.

WE SAW THIS COMING

Ozhaino Albies (SS, Atl, Low-A)

Ozhaino Albies got a ton of helium over the off-season and despite being a young 18-years-old (he turned 18 in January), the Braves challenged him to a full season assignment in Rome.  He hasn’t disappointed slashing .307/.366/.393 in 34 games.

Albies calling card is his ability to make contact with an approach that is beyond his years.  He has plus speed that combined with his ability to get on base, makes him an ideal top-of-the-order hitter.  Currently there is very little power in the diminutive shortstop, but he has plenty of bat speed that should eventually allow him to hit 5 to 10 home runs as he matures.

If you’re worried about Albies being blocked at shortstop, don’t.  First, he’s at least two to three away from the Braves having to make a decision and his defensive ability will easily transition to second.  In fact, the profile reminds me of another diminutive second baseman playing in South Texas.

Alex Reyes (RHP, STL, High-A)

I aggressively ranked Alex Reyes number one on the St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 in hopes that his control would improve to justify the ranking.  While there is still work to be done, he’s shown at time the ability to throw strikes over the course of an entire game.   While the 5.09 BB/9 rate would make you question that statement, it’s more about his mechanics breaking down than something fundamentally wrong with his delivery.

The athleticism is clearly there and once his control catches up, Reyes has the stuff to make him a top-of-the-rotation mainstay.  He has a powerful fastball/curve ball combination that has dominated Florida State League hitters throughout the early going.  While his fastball sits 94 to 96 MPH, he can ramp it up to the upper nineties when needed.  The results have been impressive.  In 35.1 innings, he’s given up 19 hits while striking out 58.

In addition to the Cardinals working on Reyes control, they have also been working with him on his change-up. The early results have been encouraging with one source telling me that the arm speed between his fastball and change-up is hard to distinguish.  The scout threw a future 60 plus on the offering.

It’s going to come down to Reyes ability to control his arsenal.  If he can’t, he could wind up in the pen with an arsenal to be a dominate closer.  However, the Cardinals will continue to work with him and given his athleticism, I think he’ll remain a starter, and if it comes together, it could be very special.

Orlando Arcia (SS, Mil, Double-A)

Everyone is talking about three minor league shortstops that could make significant impact to their teams this year or next.  Of course, those players are: Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager.  However, I contend that 20-year-old Orlando Arcia is not that far behind the “Big Three” and deserves more attention.

As one of the youngest players in the Southern League, Arcia has been impressive; posting a .901 OPS in 36 games.  His 10K/11BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 133 at-bats is quite impressive and demonstrates Arcia’s ability to make contact.  While he’ll have below average power, he should be able to hit five to eight home runs at the highest level with plenty of doubles.  Arcia is not a burner but has excellent base running skills with the ceiling of 25 to 30 stolen bases.

Arcia is not the far away from making his big league debut.  Of course, the Brewers already have a young shortstop under team control in Jean Segura.  However, Arcia is a better defender and I could easily see the Brewers moving Segura to second base in 2016 once Arica is ready to make his big league debut.

Brett Phillips (OF, Hou, High-A)

Brett Phillips is a baseball player.  He’s going to be the guy on the front of the media guide (oh wait that’s Jose Altuve), ok…back of the guide, because he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.  He plays the game with tons of energy and is literally all over the field.  That said, Phillips also has plenty of tools.  In fact, you can argue that Phillips is a five-tool player with the only tool that might not be above-average is his power.

Phillips has a short compact swing that is built for contact.  He’s been more aggressive this year with only eight walks in 147 at-bats.   However, his 82% contact rate and .885 OPS shows the kind of hard contact he’s been making.  While he has plus speed, it’s not shown up on the bases as he’s only four out of nine in stolen base attempts.  What he has shown is five home runs in 35 games.  While some of that is likely Lancaster-induced, it does show the potential that Phillips has long-term.

The Astros are aggressively promoting players and this will have a trickle down affect throughout the organization.  That should be good news for Phillips as he should see Double-A in the second half with a chance to see Houston in 2016.  He could also be an interesting trade chip if the Astros remain competitive through the summer.

Edwin Diaz (RHP, Sea, High-A/Double-A)

Taken in the third round of the 2012 first year player draft, Edwin Diaz convinced the Seattle brass that he deserved a promotion to Double-A after completely dominating the California League.  In seven starts, he struck out 42 while walking nine and posting a 1.70 ERA.  He did avoid the brutal southern circuit on the Cali League that includes the difficult pitching environments of Lancaster and High Desert.  That said, he was arguably the top pitcher in the league and deserved the promotion.

While it was only one outing, Diaz pitched poorly.  His control that had been so good in High-A vanished and when you put players on base, they have a tendency to score.  It was one outing, so I’m not worried and neither are the Mariners.

Diaz has good stuff as his fastball hits the mid-90’s regularly but generally sits 92 to 94 MPH.  His slider is his primary out-pitch, although he’s throwing a lot more change-ups and consequently the pitch has taken a major step-up.  While the arsenal is good, what makes Diaz effective is his low three-quarters delivery.  Batters, particularly, right-handed batters do not pick up the delivery well.  While there is deception, many times pitchers with a lower delivery wind up in the pen.  I doubt the Mariners will make that decision this year or next as they will continue to develop him as a starter.

PLAYERS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

Jose De Leon (RHP, LAD, High-A/Double-A)

As of this writing, Jose De Leon has just been promoted to Double-A.  It was clearly well deserved as the 6-foot-2 right-hander from Southern College was nearly unhittable in his 37.2 innings in the California League posting a 1.67 ERA with a ridiculous 58K/8BB strikeout-to-walk ratio.  While you do expect a college pitcher to be effective against High-A batters, it does come as a surprised given De Leon’s 24th round selection in the 2013 first year player draft.

De Leon was an effective college pitcher, posting a 3.50 ERA and over a strikeout an inning.  However, he struggled with his control at times and walked over 3.50 per nine.  The stuff was ok with his fastball tapping out at 93 to 94 MPH with fringy secondary pitches.  Two years latter, he’s developed better mechanics which has allowed his fastball to tick up a grade with much improved secondary pitches.  The fastball now routinely sits 92 to 94 MPH with a lot of natural sinking movement.

For more information, read my first hand scouting report.

Chih-Wei Hu (RHP, Min, High-A)

Chih-Wei Hu is one of those players I love to write about, primarily because nobody has heard about him.  Signed out of Taiwan by the Twins in 2012, Hu has made impressive strides this year to completely dominate the Florida State League.  In 35.0 innings, he’s given up 23 hits while striking out 36 and walking only six.

Hu is a sturdy 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds with a three, perhaps a four pitch mix if you separate his change-up from his splitter.  His fastball sits 91 to 93 MPH but when he needs something extra, can dial it up to 95 MPH.  Despite being only 6-foot-1, he does get decent plane on the pitch and is able to locate it in the bottom half of the zone.  He throws an 11 to 5 curve ball that grades out as above-average because he’s able to effectively throw it for strikes.  His money pitch is a plus, perhaps double-plus change-up/splitter.  It’s the pitch that had Florida State League batters swinging and missing with regularity.

The potential warning sign for Hu is that the prospect landscape is littered with young pitchers who dominated the lower minors with a plus change-up, only to fail once they are promoted.  However, the splitting action that he gets on the change-up is really hard to pick-up and after seeing him live, I think it will play once promoted to Double-A.  When will that be?  You have to think very soon.

I’ve added Hu to all of my Dynasty Leagues and suggest you do the same.  People are always looking for sleepers…well, here you go.

Blake Snell (LHP, TB, High-A/Double-A)

What’s been the more impressive stat this year, Manny Margot going 68 plate appearances before striking out, or Blake Snell pitching 46 innings without giving up a run?  It’s a tough call, but as of this writing Snell has still yet to give up a run and has been one of the more talked about prospects over the past two weeks.

I was on Snell when he was drafted in the Supplemental first round in 2011 and added him to all of my Dynasty Leagues.  Of course, I grew weary of the slow roasting process the Rays employ with their prospects and dropped him last year.  Clearly a bad move but the performance really wasn’t there as well.  Snell always had a good arm with a sinking fastball that creates a ton of ground ball and a plus slider that can get plenty of swings and misses.  What’s improved in 2014 is Snell’s feel for pitching, including his pitch sequencing.  He has a game plan on the mound, studies batters tendency and is making the necessary pitches.

Snell will eventually give up runs and the control is still not plus, or even above average.  However, with his improved pitchability and plus work ethic, he has a chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter.  When will he make his way to the majors?  It’s the Rays, so it will be at least 2016, if not 2017.

PLAYERS I’M GETTING TO KNOW AND SO SHOULD YOU

Dustin Peterson (OF, Atl, High-A)

Better known as the younger brother of Seattle prospect D.J. Peterson, Dustin is showing signs of growing into a legitimate major league prospect.  Traded as part of the deal that brought Justin Upton to the Padres, the Braves quickly moved Peterson off the dirt and into the outfield after committing 38 errors in 301 chances in 2014.

He’s likely a left fielder and therefore he’s going to have to hit to make it to the majors.  He has the swing path, size and bat control to profile as an above-average hitter with above-average future power.  He’s also shown a more patient approach so far this year, walking 14 times in 120 plate appearances while striking out 21 times.

He did start off hot last year as well before posting a pedestrian .635 OPS in the Midwest league.  It’s for that reason that I would put Peterson on my radar with a potential pickup in late June for deep Dynasty League only.

Jake Bauers (1B, TB, High-A)

Jake Bauers made my “Kids that can really hit” article last year and guess what…he can really hit.  Now part of the Rays organization, Bauers has a 21K/19BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 143 plate appearances.  He’s also doing it as the second youngest player in the Florida State League.

I compared Bauers to a James Loney type of player with the big question around how much power he will develop.  It’s still an open question, but so far he’s slugging .459, which is good for tenth in the league with four home runs.

Brent Honeywell (RHP, TB, Low-A)

While most prospect watchers have noticed what Tampa Ray farm hand Blake Snell has been doing this year, they might be overlooking how effective Brent Honeywell has been in Low-A.

Selected in the Supplemental Second Round of the 2014 first year player draft, Honeywell has been very effective in his 38 innings in Bowling Green.  He’s struck out 46, walked a mere seven batters while giving up 20 hits.  While he’s a college pitcher, albeit junior college, his stuff is too advanced for Low-A hitters and he needs to be promoted to High-A to see how his stuff will play to more advanced hitters.

I do have some concerns about his arsenal.  While he has a quality 91 to 94 MPH fastball with an above-average, if not plus slider, he pitches up in the zone as is evidence by his 0.93 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio.  This might work in the lower minors, but it could eventually catch up to him, particularly as his velocity settles as he matures.

BACK ON TRACK (KIND OF)

Trevor Story (SS, Col, Double-A)

I had a chance to see Trevor Story play multiple times across 2013 and 2014 and it wasn’t good.  He really struggled picking up spin and the pop that I had heard about, just wasn’t there.  I did like the athleticism and his ability to pick-it at short, so I did not write him off, but he fell off my Top 100 list.

Promoted to Double-A, Story has had a resurgence this year.  The power that scouts thought would develop is in fact starting to emerge.  In the early going, he’s slugging .615 with five home runs in 35 games in the Eastern League.  He’s also added six stolen bases.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that he’s still striking out a lot.  In 129 at-bats, he’s struck out 41 times for a 69% contact rate.  Through the magic of Batting Average of Balls in Play, his batting average is .349, but it comes with an unsustainable .465 BABIP.

I’m still torn on Story.  I think the upside is a 20 home run, 15 stolen base, shortstop but it could come with a .240 batting average and a sub .300 on base percentage.  If that happens, he will struggle with playing time with a Danny Espinosa type of career on the horizon.  That’s a good player, but not an impact player.

Mason Williams (OF, NYY, Double-A)

I’ll admit that I gave up on Mason Williams in my Dynasty League.  I’d seen him so many times that I grew weary of the lack of energy and tools that just seem to be wasting.  After seeing him twice this year, I’ve started to come around and think that he still has a chance to be a regular contributor at the major league level.

Williams still has the tools that I fell in love with several years ago.  He has plus speed, can really go get it in center field, with a decent approach that’s always allowed him to make good contact.  He showed improved bat control and improved energy in all aspects of the game.  What is still missing is the ability to make hard contact.  In fact, in 32 games, he has five extra base hits.  He has strength, it’s just that his swing lacks incorporating his lower half.

That said, he makes this list because he was once an elite prospect and I think he’s showing signs of life.

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April Scouting Notes

The minor league season is in full swing, although I’m tired of wearing my knit hat to games.  Maybe I should pull a Maddon and wear my ski cap over my baseball hat.

Enjoy this week’s scouting reports…

Manuel Margot (Bos, OF)

In my Top 10 write-up of Manuel Margot, I suggested Margot could “get on the Mookie Betts train” and move quickly through the minors.  After seeing him first hand in the second week of the season, I stand by that statement whole heartedly.

The natural bat-to-ball skills are clearly evident when Margot steps into the box.  He covers middle-in exceptional well with the only hole that I saw being sliders down and away.  While better pitching could eventually expose this, for now, it’s all systems go as is evidence by him going 16 games before striking out.

Margot has gotten noticeably stronger since I saw him last year.  At 5-foot-11 and a listed 170 pounds, he’s developing enough strength to project to average future power.  That said, the swing is more line drive oriented, but with his premium bat speed, the power should come.

I was unable to get Margot on a good time to first, but reports still have him with well above, if not plus speed.  That speed is clearly evident in the field as he’s able to use that in addition to excellent routes to track down most anything hit near him.

While only 20-years-old, Margot has an excellent chance to finish the season in Double-A which will likely lead to an invite to the Arizona Fall League.  The larger question might be will those promotions come in a Red Sox uniform?  Margot has the talent to be a first division regular in center field, but center as well as left and right are blocked for the foreseeable future in Boston.   Couple that with Boston’s clear need for starting pitcher and Margot seems to be the perfect piece to build a trade around that would land a premier pitcher such as Cole Hamels.  While the Phillies might have asked for Betts over the winter, I think they will quickly turn their attention to Margot, who could be as good if not better than the Sox current center fielder.

Dylan Bundy (Bal, RHP)

It seems like another lifetime that Dylan Bundy was the best pitching prospect in the game.  In fact, it’s been two years since Bundy hit the minor league DL with arm trouble that eventually led to Tommy John Surgery.

I’ve now seen Bundy twice since he has returned from surgery and he is nearly back to the form he was pre-surgery.  The arm strength has almost fully returned as his fastball is sitting 93-94 MPH and topping out at 96.  His secondary pitches also look sharp with his cutter in particularly showing a lot of swing and miss.

The Orioles still have Bundy on a very strict pitch count and innings limit but I expect as the weather improves, the Orioles will start to stretch him out during the month of May.  Assuming he’s healthy, he could join the Orioles rotation in June.

Jose De Leon (LAD, RHP)

I had a chance to catch Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jose De Leon in his second outing of the season, a cold affair against the Inland Empire 66er’s in San Bernardino California.

It was my first time seeing the 6-foot-2 righty and I came away incredibly impressed.  While he’s not an imposing presence on the mound, he pitches very aggressively and is not afraid to pound batters inside with a fastball that he can run up to 96 MPH.  Through his four innings, his fastball sat 92-94 MPH with hard sinking downward movement.  He seemed to lose his mechanics in the fourth inning and his pitches starting catching too much of the plate which led to a couple of runs.

His out pitch is a hard slurve that sat 81-82 MPH, showing more slider than curve.  While in general, I’m not a fan of the hybrid slurvy pitch, it’s a good offering for De Leon and got plenty of swings and misses.  He also threw several changeups that I would grade out as average at best.  While the arm speed was good, there wasn’t a lot of movement on any of the pitches.  Since the changeup is a feel pitch, De Leon just needs more time with it.

All in all, it was an impressive performance and illustrates that the Dodgers clearly have something in the 22-year-old right-hander.  He throws really hard with impressive arm speed and is able to control his arsenal.  Given what I saw, I expect he will make short work of the California League.  Double-A should be a greater challenge as it will highlight the deficiency in his changeup.  That said, all the elements are there for De Leon to be a solid mid-rotation starter if not more.

Roman Quinn (Phil, OF)

I’ve been bullish on Roman Quinn since the Phillies selected him in the second round of the 2011 first year player draft.  In fact, if you read back through older articles, while I waivered through Quinn’s struggles and injuries, I never lost confidence that he could become an effective big league player.   With his blistering start to 2015, it looks like it’s finally coming together for the 22-year-old switch hitter.

Quinn is a premium athlete that can best seen as he patrols center field.  While his routes aren’t great, his speed and reaction times allow him to catch almost everything hit near him.  The speed is still 70 plus and this is after rupturing his Achilles tendon last year.  Quinn’s speed is his carrying tool and what will ultimately be his meal ticket to the big leagues.

While many will compare Quinn to Ben Revere, I think Quinn is a more complete player.  Despite his lack of superb route-running ability, Quinn has the athleticism to be a plus defender with a far better arm than Revere.  While it would be fun to see a foot-race between the two, it’s safe to say that Quinn has the speed to steal 30 plus stolen bases at the highest level.  The real difference in the two is their approach at the plate.  Quinn has a lot more natural strength than Revere and ultimately should be a better hitter.   Yes, I know that Revere batted .306, but it came with an .055 ISO.   Quinn will have more natural doubles power and should be able to tag a handful of home runs annually.

For now though, Quinn and Revere are linked as Revere is blocking Quinn’s ascension to the big leagues.  I believe that will change in the second half of year as Ruben J. Amaro should trade Revere along with Hamels and start the rebuilding process.  Once that happens, the door will be open for Quinn.

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Scouting Notes – April Games

The minor league season is in full swing and I’ve already made several scouting trips to see prospects and take in the wonderful world of minor league baseball.  Where else can you see an overweight dad, maybe he was a granddad, running around with a sign that said, “We scored” when his home team was loosing 11-2.  Yep, minor league baseball is where the true fans hangout.

Franklin Barreto (Oak, SS)

Traded by the Blue Jays as part of the Josh Donaldson deal over the winter, it was my second time seeing the 19-year-old Venezuelan.   At only 5-foot-9, Barreto is not a big guy by any stretch, but is well built with an aggressive swing that is more geared to doubles power than over-the-fence power.   That said, he has excellent bat speed and enough leverage to eventually hit double-digit home runs.

While he has a 7% lifetime walk rate, I did not see any plate discipline in the games in which I scouted.   He swung early and often on most at-bats but was able to catch a 87 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate for a home run to left-center field.  I did clock him at 4.12 to first base on an infield hit and while he has yet to steal a base in the early going, there is the potential for 20 plus stolen bases annually.

Defensively, Barreto showed enough in the field to convince me he can stay at shortstop for the foreseeable future.  He showed very good lateral movements with a quick step to the hole and an average arm to complete the package.

Brett Phillips (Hou, OF)

It’s easy to see why the Astros are so high on 21-year-old outfielder Brett Phillips.  He’s the definition of a gamer who plays all out with infectious energy to spare.  The JetHawks had him batting leadoff in all three games that I scouted, and while he has the tools to hit at the top of the order, he also has the bat control and contact skills to hit anywhere from one to three.

Phillips has plus speed that was on display in the outfield as he and his two running mates were chasing balls down all night in Game 1.   He cut off two balls to hold batters to a single and showed off his plus arm several times.   I was able to clock him at 4.08 and 4.10 to first in two of his at-bats.

The open question on Phillips has been how much power he will eventually develop.  He has good bat speed with a quick and short compact swing, but I don’t see the kind of strength or loft in his swing for him to profile for more than low double-digit home runs.  That could change as he continues to fill out, but a slash line of .275/.350/.440 with 8 to 12 home runs feels like what he could do once he makes his way to the major leagues.

A.J. Reed (Hou, 1B)

This was my first time seeing the Astros 2014 second round draft pick and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew that Reed was a decorated college player who won the College Player of the Year in 2014, so I guess my expectations were high…I guess.  After seeing him for three games, I left a little empty.

First, batting practice was impressive as Reed showed above-average, if not plus raw power.  It’s hard to get a great read on power in Lancaster as the wind blows out, the field is elevated and the air is very dry with little humidity.  It’s truly a hitters paradise.  What did strike me the most was Reed’s body.  To put it kindly, he’s a big boy.  He’s every bit the 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds that his baseball-reference profile shows.  I had heard that he lost weight and his body was in better shape, but I wasn’t impressed.

Reed will likely be relegated to first base and therefore, he’s going to have to hit and hit with power.  While I can see 20 home run power, he really struggled with spin in the games I scouted.  As an elite college player, I expected a better hit tool and while he’s very early in his professional career, there appears to be a long way to go.

J.D. Davis (Hou, 3B)

Drafted in the third round of the 2014 first year player draft, J.D. Davis really impressed me in both games.

In Game 1, he went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double.  Davis was able to square up a low 90’s fastball and take a pretty decent slider the other way.  He showed excellent strike zone awareness as well as good bat control.

Batting practice was also impressive as Davis showed plus raw power to all fields.  As was mentioned with Reed, it’s hard to get a great read on power in Lancaster, but the swing was easy and the ball really jumped off his bat.  In the field, Davis struggled with his footwork at third base but showed a cannon for arm that should allow him to cover-up some of those mistakes.

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