7. Tanner Bushue - RH-SP:
Command: * * * *Stuff: * * *
Fastball: * * *Curveball: * * *Changeup: * *
You have to feel for this kid a little. He was actually showing some signs of improvement this season (how about a 1.98 BB/9?) but dealt with injuries, mainly to his back, for most of the season and never was able to get on a good roll. Luckily he's still quite young (just 21 in late June), so it's not time to hit the panic button yet, but he does need to have a nice bounce-back year and stay healthy to keep from sliding off the radar; he's already in danger of that with two more draft classes of pitchers in the system now. He has just an average fastball, but his curve has flashed plus, so continuing to refine it and the change will be key to his success moving forward. He still has #2 starter potential, but it's time for him to show something and start moving through the system.
Ceiling: solid #2 type, not quite an aceFloor: injuries or just plain washing out could keep him from even reaching the MajorsProjection: 35%
8. Jack Armstrong - RH-SP:
Command: * *Stuff: * * * *
Fastball: * * * *Curveball: * *Changeup: * * * *
I've heard mixed reports on Armstrong, and combined with the fact that he didn't play any pro ball after signing late, I'm going to be stingy on the grades until I hear otherwise. He has a 92-93 MPH fastball consistently, and can regularly hit 94-95 as a starter and flashed up to 98 MPH with it on occasion, so velocity is definitely a strong suit. He's also said to have a good, effect changeup to go along with it, allowing him to compete against both RH and LH hitting. That's about all we can say for sure at this point. His curve needs work and reports I've seen say his command has some serious issues as well, and that he needs major work with his mechanics pitching out of the stretch, so there are certainly question marks. Given his size and the fact that his curve is as mediocre as it is, it's not hard to see him move into the bullpen, where he has top-flight closer potential, but I doubt they'll do that soon unless it's clearly necessary.
Ceiling: he needs a lot of polish but he has #2-#3 starter upside, workhorse with good stuff who can miss batsFloor: even at worst he should be a good power bullpen arm, if not a closer. Command issues would be the only thing to worry about completely sinking himProjection: 35%
9. Kyle Hallock - LH-SP:
Command: * * * * *Stuff: * * *
Fastball: * *Slider: * * *Changeup: * * *
Last year's 10th round selection is in the same mold as Oberholtzer and Keuchel; a southpaw with average-at-best heat, solid secondary stuff, and excellent command of all of it. Actually, he's a year older than Oberholtzer, so he'll have to rise quickly through the system to avoid being quickly forgotten. His debut at Tri-City was encouraging though; 2.68 FIP, 2.48 BB/9 and, most importantly, a 8.90 K/9. That's going to be the sticking point for him like for all other pitchability guys; can he still manage to miss enough bats to keep opposing hitters honest? His left-right splits (tiny sample size alert) give at least some hope that he could end up as a LOOGY if the rotation doesn't work out for him. But with less than 65 pro innings to his name so far, it's all speculation at this point. An interesting thing will be his starting point this season; part of me wants the organization to start him off in Lancaster. He's going to be 24 before the end of the season, so there's no time for him to hang around in A- Lexington. If he does work out though, he could rise quickly. He's another in a fistful of starters we've been accumulating recently; not a huge ceiling, but very polished and with minimal risk of totally bombing.
Ceiling: #3 starter at best most likely, innings eater with good command who gives you quality startsFloor: I'd like to say LOOGY at worst, but honestly it's too early to be even reasonably sure he won't end up as a career AAA filler guy. We'll know more after 2012 with a year of pro data to work withProjection: 45%
10. Dallas Keuchel - LH-SP:
Command: * * * * * *Stuff: * *
Fastball: * *Curveball: * * *Changeup: * * *
I've heard various reports of either a curve or a slider, but I'm going with curve for now until I get something more solid. Anyway, Keuchel's season was another good step forward. Some may remember that I cautioned all to look at the 3.01 FIP instead of the 4.70 ERA from his short 2010 stint in AA. Keuchel made good on that prediction by posting a 3.17 ERA (3.65 FIP) with yet another sub-2.00 BB/9 rate in 127.2 IP in AA during his 2011 season. He got hammered in his 36.0 inning stint in AAA near the end of the season, posting a high (for him, anyway) 3.00 BB/9 and an abysmal 3.75 K/9. Encouragingly though, he bounced back and posted some great numbers in the Arizona Fall League, with a 3.59 FIP and an astounding 0.32 BB/9 rate. His whiff rate was back up as well, just a hair under seven per nine innings. Though I have no access to in-depth splits, reports remain strong on him; he makes the most of the stuff he does has an induces huge numbers of ground balls. If he can keep that up, he should at least be worthy of a look in the MLB rotation someday soon, and could have good value out of the pen if that doesn't work out.
Ceiling: really, it's hard to even believe in him being a #3 starter, but you never know. #4 is more realistic as a ceilingFloor: swing-man, mop up work. Doesn't really dominate lefties enough to think of him as a LOOGYProjection: 60%
11. Jake Buchanan - RH-SP:
Fastball: * *Curveball: * * * *Changeup: * * * *
Here's a right-handed Keuchel. Like Dallas, this guy has incredible command but only so-so stuff. His sinker rarely hits 90 MPH, but he gets ground balls with it at a massive rate, which is one of the reasons he did so well (3.51 FIP) in Lancaster this season. He even got in a start at AA near the end of the year, a seven-inning, one run gem. A nice follow-up to his 3.30 FIP debut in Tri-City in 2010 indeed. It's hard to get too excited about him just yet, especially since his whiff rate has been so mediocre, but with his sinker, his command, and his curve and change both being described as "above-average" in the reports I've read, he's certainly a name to watch. If he can put together a good, full season in AA this year like Keuchel did last year, then we'll know we have something. He's going to be 22 all season long and has risen pretty quickly for someone his age, so we'll see.
Ceiling: #3 starter at very best, but that's an absolute best-case outcome. #4-#5 is much more realisticFloor: swing-man, some mop up work and some spot starts. Brian Moehler anyone?Projection: 40%
12. Christopher Lee - LH-SP:
Command: *Stuff: * * *
Fastball: * * *Slider: * * *
We picked this kid up in the fourth round last year, and he's definitely more of a project than most college guys are. Granted he's a junior college kid, and he'll be 19 all season long, but he's definitely rough. For starters, as far as I can tell, he's a two-pitch pitcher right now. Given the fact that our system seems to impress the value of a changeup on our prospects heavily, and the fact that essentially every LH starter ever has had at least an average changeup, I'm sure that will change. For now, he's got decent velocity on the heater, which ranged from 88-92 and can touch 94. That's good news, as he's a big kid with some room to grow, and his mechanics need some tweaking and cleaning up, meaning we could potentially see another 1-3 MPH improvement over the next couple of years. His slider is also quite good when he's on, but it's been inconsistent and fringy at times as well. The rookie ball debut had a nice whiff rate (8.69 K/9) going for it, but he walked way, way too many batters in his 13 starts. It's possible they could keep him back in extended ST, the GCL and then the short-season leagues next year even. In short, again, a project; he could end up being a nice #3 starter type, but he could flop massively as well (Brad Dydalewicz anyone?).
Ceiling: mid-or-back-end rotation guy, solid lefty fastball, has the body to be an innings eater if he cleans up the delivery and stays healthyFloor: flames out due to command issues and possibly health issuesProjection: 30%
13. Vincent Velasquez - RH-SP:
Command: * * * *Stuff: * * *
Fastball: * * * Curveball: * * *Changeup: * * *
I'm still high on this kid, but having such a serious injury problem so soon into his pro career (not to mention he was mostly a position player in high school, so just have to wonder just how much of a workload he can really handle) is a serious concern for me. I haven't seen anything extremely telling in his delivery, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. When he is healthy, though, he looks really solid. His fastball was 90-93 already when he was pitching pro ball for the first time just after turning 18, and he looks like he could continue to fill out his frame some. With a changeup that looks like it should end up as a plus pitch, we could be looking at a 91-95 MPH heater, a plus change and solid curve. FYI, that's Jordan Lyles with some extra gas. It's extremely early to be making any kind of comparison like that as a solid prediction, because, again, we're talking about 29.1 IP total in his career, but the 1.53 BB/9 was great and he missed some bats too. For a guy who only started pitching full-time around six or eight months before he was drafted, those are some impressive numbers to go with the good stuff. Note that the ratings, again, reflect performance rather than upside for the most part, so if he's healthy and develops more like we're hoping this season, expect those ratings to get a nice boost next year.
Ceiling: good #3 starter, possibly even a #2, but everything would have to go right and his curve needs to develop more; having a RH starter with a change as his best pitch is kind of like having a plus defensive first basemanFloor: injuries could hold him back, but given his stuff and talent, he has a chance to at least carve out a bullpen role if he can show some success in AAProjection: 35%
14. Ross Seaton - RH-SP:
Fastball: * * *Slider: * *Changeup: * *
It's been a rough couple of seasons for the hometown kid. I feel I should start by saying I think Seaton has been rushed considerably, and he's had a heavy workload as well; he's not turning 23 until late this September, but he's thrown 438 innings during the last three seasons. I wouldn't say that that's so many that I'm extremely concerned, but you also have to keep in mind that they've been stressful innings, and he's had to use a lot of pitches to try to survive. That said, the fact that he's still 22 is a good thing; we're talking about a kid who has been to a new level of the minors each season without looking back, last year making his AA debut only shortly after he was legally able to drink. To top it off, his command has been very, very strong so far, staying right near his A-ball numbers with a 2.73 BB/9 in AA. His stuff is average still; while he can occasionally hit 93-94, like Lyles, he usually sits 88-91 and has to rely on movement and guile. Unlike Lyles, his breaking ball doesn't have a lot of bite and his change is far from spectacular. The front office was, no doubt, hoping he'd fill in a little and get another tick or two of velocity, along with polishing the breaking balls. So far, it looks like that hasn't happened. However, at the end of the day, he's 22, he's been pitching against slightly-older competition, his command is very good and his FIP was a good deal better than his ERA (4.59 to 5.23, respectively) last season. So there's still some upside, but he's either going to have to miss more bats or induce more fly balls if he wants to make the Majors some day, much less survive there.
Ceiling: I'd be remiss to call him anything more than a #4-#5 starter at very best at this pointFloor: needs either more ground balls or more whiffs, otherwise he'll likely wash out as a career AAA guyProjection: 30%
15. Josh Zeid - RH-RP:
Command: * * *Stuff: * * * *
Fastball: * * * *Slider: * * * * *Changeup: * *
A 10th round pick that the Phillies sent over in the Pence trade, Zeid has had an up-and-down career thus far despite stuff that you would assume would help him rise quickly. His fastball sits 93-94 as a reliever and he can hit 97-98 at times with it as well, and his slider was considered one of the best in the Phillies' organization before the trade. Those two factors have lead to strong strikeout rates so far, but not quite as strong as you would think either. The command is similar; not bad, but not great either. In short, he's put up only average numbers so far, and he's usually been slightly old for his level to boot (he turned 25 in late March.) The potential is there though, and he did show a flash of it in in Corpus last year after the trade, posting a solid 3.38 BB/9 with a nice 8.44 K/9 despite some BAbip and LOB% misfortune in the small sample size. Middling numbers on the whole though will likely have him start at AA once again, but due to his stuff and age (not to mention our MLB bullpen being less-than-stacked) he should be able to rise to AAA quickly if he figures out how to put it all together.
Ceiling: He could be a second-tier closer or a good 7th or 8th inning holds guyFloor: he could simply bomb and fizzle out at this pointProjection: 50%
16. Juan Abreu - RH-RP:
Command: *Stuff: * * * * *
Fastball: * * * * *Slurve: * * * *Changeup: * *
Abreu is all velocity and no control. His minor league walk rates have been mostly pathetic, but the strikeout rates have been incredible. The hope is that he can do what he did in his little 6.2 IP Major League cup of coffee last year (16.20 K/9, 4.05 BB/9) long-term. Obviously, that whiff rate isn't likely (or maybe even possible) to be sustained, but he clearly has the stuff to a a double-digit K/9 guy in the Majors. His fastball is consistently in the 94-96 range, and he routinely hits 97-98 on the gun as well, and while a little inconsistent, his slurve is more-often-than-not more than enough to get swings and misses. Like Bud Norris, his stuff is good enough to be competitive if he can just keep the walk rate to a reasonable level; the four-per-nine would work just fine with that many punchouts. The problem is that, in the minors, his walk rate has always been higher than that, usually significantly so, and at 26 years old, it's getting less and less likely that he's suddenly going to figure out how to hit the catcher's mitt more often. If he does though, he could close for us at some point.
Ceiling: second-tier closerFloor: command never improves and he bombs completelyProjection: 35%
17. Jason Stoffel - RH-RP:
Fastball: * * * *Slider: * * * *Changeup: *
Stoffel was one of two pitchers we received from San Francisco in exchange for Jeff Keppinger. His stuff is pretty solid, with a 91-93 MPH fastball that he can toss up to 95-96 when he needs a little extra, and a hard, power slider that he uses to rack up strikeouts. That's definitely been the good part of his career so far, with whiff rates of 10 per nine innings a common occurrence. Unfortunatley, he hasn't mastered controlling his fastball and slider combo just yet, walking 4.55 batters per nine before the trade, 5.06 per nine afterwards, and an almost unspeakable 10.31 per nine in his 2011 AFL campaign. So that's the knock on him; command. If he can tighten that up, especially locating his heater down the zone more consistently, he could really take off and become a valuable late-inning reliever. He'll be 23 all season, so there's still some time, but he needs to take a step forward this year and make a push to get some MLB innings very soon.
Ceiling: low-end closer at best, but above-average setup man is more realisticFloor: if he can't figure out how to command his stuff, he could wash out completelyProjection: 40%
18. Mickey Storey - RH-RP:
Command: * * *Stuff: * *
Fastball: * *Curveball: * * * *Changeup: * * *Cutter: * *
Storey was a 31st round pick who we acquired from the A's last season. No one knows what we gave up for him, and scouting info on him is pretty thin, so I've had to read between the lines a bit. The few reports I've seen have his fastball only in the 87-90 MPH range mostly, and the fact that he dropped all the way to the 31st round out of college tends to back that up in my eyes. However, a quick look at his numbers show that he definitely knows how to work with what he has, as he basically annihilated the lower minor league levels (how about a 13.31 K/9 and a 2.23 FIP in the California League?) and though his whiff rates have dropped since hitting the AA and AAA levels, they've generally remained solid, usually in the 8.00-9.50 per nine range. He's always had solid command as well, though it went from great to just average after hitting AA and AAA. Scouts say that, so far, his curve is his best pitch, and Storey himself has said himself that he's comfortable with it and he's worked heavily on improving his changeup as well, so he's been able to compete fairly well against both left and right-handed hitters. Aside from a rough 13 inning AAA stint in 2010, his FIP has always been under 4.00, everywhere from Rookie ball all the way up to AAA last year as well, so there's some upside there. In short, he could be a solid bullpen guy, but he's going to turn 26 during spring training, so he needs to show something fast.
Ceiling: setup man, think Brandon Lyon or somethingFloor: can't survive with his poor fastball and washes outProjection: 35%
19. Jose Cisnero - RH-SP:
Fastball: * * * *Slider: * * * *
Information on Cisnero is sketchy, but the stats tell the tale; massive strikeout numbers to go with massive walk numbers. He whiffed 11.09 batters per nine innings, but walked 5.47 per nine as well this year at Lancaster, and while he wasn't extremely hittable (especially considering the venue), he wasn't Nolan Ryan either. At his age and level, there's still some considerable upside, especially given his stuff (likely 91-93 on the fastball with movement; can't say I believe it's better than that, otherwise more scouts would be paying attention to him) and the raw punchouts, but he'll have to reign in the walks at least a little. It's possible his fastball is good enough with so much movement that he has trouble hitting corners, but it's mostly speculation at this point, because no reliable eyewitness reports are available right now. Hopefully he can take another step this year and turn heads. A 4.14 FIP in Lancaster and those strikeouts make him a sleeper in my book.
Ceiling: I'm not sold that he'll remain in the rotation especially after a AA promotion; if he had that much upside, you have to assume we'd have heard more about him. Could be a great late-inning reliever though.Floor: never finds consistent command and bombs.Projection: 25%
20. Ruben Alaniz - RH-SP:
Fastball: * * *
Who? an undrafted free agent high schooler with a 4.59 ERA in Lexington last year? Swear I haven't lost my mind. Well, maybe I have, but not on this thing. Alaniz had an injury and half of his high school team's games were canceled because of an outbreak of swine flu in his district, so he fell off scouts' radars and went undrafted. I kid you not, I couldn't make this up. The Astros then talked him out of going to a junior college and raising his value by giving him a hefty $160,000 signing bonus. That's top five round money, in case you don't realize. Clearly they like him. All I can find on him aside from numbers is that his fastball ranges anywhere from 89-95 MPH and the hope is that he can sit 91-93 consistently while being able to touch 94-96 when he needs it if he fills out. He'll be 21 come mid-June, so he's not too old yet, and he has shown some command (1.56 BB/9 in 2010 and 2.96 BB/9 in 2011), so there's something there. His FIPs have also been a half-run or more better than his ERAs to this point. He played mostly SS in high school, and even played QB for the football team and got some scout attention in that sport, so we can safely say he's a good, young athlete with a strong arm. Definitely a long-shot, but he's got as much upside as anyone else at this point of running through the system and, well, a Top 19 list would have been just silly.
Ceiling: he's starting now but he's not likely a starter in the future. solid bullpen arm at best right now until I get more info or see a great performanceFloor: could bomb easilyProjection: 15%
-- 15 Others To Watch --
Jonas Dufek - RH-SP:
Pros: command, polishCons: mediocre stuff, limited upside, age
Another polished pitchability guy. Average fastball, solid slider and a (reportedly) fringy change. Senior out of Creighton who got off to solid pro start (3.67 FIP, 2.82 BB/9) in Tri-City after being taken in the 9th round. Back-end starter at best, but more likely a bullpen guy. Still, taken in the top 10 rounds, it's too early to write him off as filler. Could start 2012 in Lancaster; could get more attention with good showing there.
Dayan Diaz - RH-RP:
Pros: stuffCons: command, age (already 23)
A decently-young NDFA from Columbia, Diaz put up some great numbers (12.6 K/9 and a 2.50 FIP) for Tri-City last year. Also walked 5.4 per nine unfortunately. Sleeper to break out as a good relief prospect if he can harness his stuff some more.
Luis Cruz - LH-SP:
Pros: age, commandCons: size
5'9" and 170 lbs, he's not going to show up on many radars without great results. 2.31 BB/9 in 190 Lexington innings, and his whiff rate bumped up to 9.10 in 2011 before a promotion to Lancaster, where he got murdered in four starts. 21 all season and a lefty, so there's upside, but aside from 2010, hasn't put it all together for a good stretch yet.
Daniel Adamson - RH-OF:
Pros: average, decent walk-drawerCons: age, mediocre pop
Not enough power for corner OF, needs to stay in CF to have value. Looked bad in 18 games after Lancaster promotion too, already 24 year old. Could be a serviceable backup or pinch-hitter, but not much else.
Roberto Pena - SH-C:
Pros: defense, ageCons: everything else
Backup catcher of the future. Glove work and throwing are get rave reviews, but he hasn't even sniffed a .260 average in the lowest levels of the minors. It's Ausmus-like, except Ausmus was at least doing it in the Majors.
Carlos Quevedo - RH-SP:
Pros: commandCons: stuff
Probably the greatest control in our whole system, the guy has walked a grand total of 36 batters in his 291 inning pro career. That's a 1.11 BB/9 as a career number. His stuff is mediocre though, and though decent, his 6.56 K/9 from last year doesn't project to hold up in AA. Probably better suited as a middle reliever/long man.
Alex Sogard - LH-SP/RP:
Pros: commandCons: age
A bit too old for his level, so his numbers don't project as well going forward. 9.66 K/9, 2.16 BB/9 and 3.38 FIP were all nice though, and about a third of his appearances were starts, so I don't know what role they have in mind for him moving forward.
Murillo Gouvea - RH-RP:
Pros: misses batsCons: age, slow advance
With his whiff rates and non-terrible walk rates, you have to wonder why he was still in A-ball during his fourth pro season. Sleeper out of the pen, but don't hold your breath either.
Grant Hogue - RH-OF:
Pros: defense, patience, baserunningCons: power, average, age
Would be more valuable if he were a walk machine or had a little pop. Two professional homers in 1,103 PAs, not good at all. Many of them came in Lancaster too. Hits for only decent average. Probably a defensive backup and pinch-runner at best, but he'll be 26 in June and hasn't seen AA yet.
Jose Thompson - RH-2B:
Pros: pop, defenseCons: patience, age
Solid defensive 2B, did hit 10 HR in 286 PAs at Lancaster, but it's Lancaster. Looked horrible in 55 AA PAs. Barely walks and turned into a whiff machine after promotion. Could develop value as a bench player.
Bobby Doran - RH-SP:
Pros: groundballsCons: missing bats
Looked good in Rookie ball after being drafted, but got hammered in Lancaster. While the .376 BAbip was a key factor, so too were the poor 4.32 BB/9 and 5.54 K/9. Still a high-round pick with upside, but needs to have a better season. Not time to panic yet. Might profile better as a reliever.
Kyle Greenwalt - RH-SP:
Pros: commandCons: missing bats
Another college pitchability guy. Doesn't walk batters, and that held true in AA debut stint, but whiff rates are poor and don't figure to improve. Probably not good enough to ever start in MLB, may move to pen full-time this year and could be in AAA soon if that works out.
Luis Durango - SH-OF:
Pros: walks, few whiffs, baserunning, defenseCons: average, power, age
Acquired from the Padres on the waiver wire. Michel Bourn-esque tools, but even less power and hasn't hit for much average. Does draw a lot of walks and doesn't strike out much, but he's getting old. Could potentially get some time in CF if Schafer struggles or gets locked up or shot in a drive-by or whatever. Probably a 4th OF and pinch-runner as a career though.
Jeremiah Meiners - LH-RP:
Pros: command, polishCons: age
Have to not read too much into things, but his Rookie numbers were excellent and he was promoted all the way to Lancaster, skipping Lexington. A bit older than you'd like, but could be a serviceable lefty reliever someday.
Miles Hamblin - LH-C:
Pros: draws walks, above-average on basesCons: strikeouts, age
Being a catcher helps his value, and he has a bit of pop (keyword being "bit"), to go with the walks, so it's possible he could be a decent OPS backstop. Not enough data to say more right now.
It's related to prospects, so here's info on signing bonuses this year: www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/2012/02/2012-aggregate-bonus-pools/
With 11 picks in the first 10 round, we'll have $11,177,700 worth of bonus money to use on those first ten picks. Considering that the Nationals and Pirates were the only ones to spend more than that during the first ten rounds last year, we should be in decent shape. Maybe Williams really could fall to us and we could give him a little more than his slot, and then go for some value-guys in the 7th-10th rounds.
Sinclair just must not have noticed that the perfect thread for this discussion was already created this morning. In his understandably-fervent rush to post about prospects. I suppose I'll let it slide this time.
"everything is good but u gotta switch george springer with jay austin and domingo santana with emilio king"
I'm assuming you mean in the projected lineups, and not the rankings...
And I don't believe that's the case for them. Springer barely got time in after signing last year and didn't look particularly good at the plate. Austin has a lot more pro experience on him. And no way does Domingo Santana start out in Lancaster this year IMO, not as his age and history of struggles. I'm guessing Springer will make it to Lancaster before long though, and Santana likely will be not far behind him, unless he falls apart again.