The Most Naturally Gifted Prospect in Each MLB Team's System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterNovember 12, 2012

The Most Naturally Gifted Prospect in Each MLB Team's System

0 of 30

    After looking at each team’s top prospect headed into the offseason last week, I wanted to begin the week with another all-inclusive article. Over the upcoming months, I plan on breaking down the prospect landscape by position and offer various thoughts about the top overall tools.

    Today, I thought it’d be interesting to look at some of the elite athletes housed in the minor leagues. Keep in mind that when I use the term athlete, it in no way means best prospect; it makes no difference whether the player is a .180 or .280 hitter. I’m talking about prospects that are gifted athletically.

    Having said all that, here’s my take on each team’s top athlete.

     

    Be sure to read more of Mike’s work and bookmark Prospect Pipeline. Want to chat about prospects or simply bother Mike? Follow him on Twitter.

Baltimore Orioles: OF Glynn Davis

1 of 30

    Age: 20

    2012 Stats (A-, A+): .253/.345/.301, 20 XBH, 37 SB, 116/63 K/BB (123 G)

    Scouting Overview: 80-grade speed makes him a dynamic top-of-the-order threat; plus range in center field should allow him to stick there; closing speed on balls in gap ranks among best in minor leagues; if his hit tool continues to improve, Davis could be at least a fourth outfielder or late-inning defensive replacement/pinch-runner.

Boston Red Sox: SS Derrik Gibson

2 of 30

    Age: 22

    2012 Stats (AA): .225/.304/.272, 16 XBH, 14 SB, 93/44 K/BB (115 G)

    Scouting Overview: Highly athletic shortstop with quick feet and plus range at shortstop; success as base-stealer doesn’t accurately depict true plus speed; excellent and versatile defensive infielder who is waiting for his bat to catch up to raw talent.

New York Yankees: OF Mason Williams

3 of 30

    Age: 21

    2012 Stats (A-, A+): .298/.346/.474, 37 XBH (11 HR), 20 SB, 47/24 K/BB (91 G)

    Scouting Overview: Plus overall speed translates into superb range in center field; instinctual athlete and player who continues to grow into projectable frame; still a raw base stealer who’s learning to read pitchers; smooth left-handed swing has surprising power and projects for above-average hit tool.

Tampa Bay Rays: OF Andrew Toles

4 of 30

    Age: 20

    2012 Stats (Rk): .281/.327/.482, 23 XBH (7 HR), 14 SB, 36/12 K/BB (51 G)

    Scouting Overview: Athletic bloodline (father played in NFL); not physically imposing but has explosive strength; wired with quick-twitch muscles that yield plus bat speed and surprising power; 60-to-70-grade runner depending on who you ask; should be able to stick in center field.

Toronto Blue Jays: OF D.J. Davis

5 of 30

    Age: 18

    2012 Stats (Rk, A-): .250/.355/.386, 18 XBH, 25 SB, 70/27 K/BB (60 G)

    Scouting Overview: Younger player relative to draft class; arguably fastest player of all 2012 draftees; plus speed is as obvious on basepaths as it is in center field; plus range should keep him in center field despite fringy arm; strong wrists and athletic frame result in plus bat speed and sneaky power; immense potential as top-of-the-order hitter at a premium position.

Chicago White Sox: OF Trayce Thompson

6 of 30

    Age: 21

    2012 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): .253/.328/.482, 62 XBH (25 HR), 96 RBI, 21 SB, 166/55 K/BB (136 G)

    Scouting Overview: Family ties (son of Mychal Thompson, former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick); was a standout basketball player in high school; owns chiseled 6’3”, 195-pound frame that oozes projection; above-average baserunner with plus speed as an outfielder due to long strides; may lose a step as he ages; plus raw power to all fields but upper-cut bat path results in high strikeout totals.

Cleveland Indians: OF Levon Washington

7 of 30

    Age: 21

    2012 Stats (Rk, A-, A+): .333/.439/.354, 13/8 K/BB (13 G)

    Scouting Overview: Has battled severely limiting injuries (knee, hip, shoulder) since turning pro; lacking hit tool has prevented him from showcasing true athletic ability; long swing inhibits consistent contact; plus runner who’s a raw defensive center fielder; has fallen behind developmental curve.

Detroit Tigers: OF Austin Schotts

8 of 30

    Age: 19

    2012 Stats (Rk, A+): .310/.360/.449, 15 XBH, 16 SB, 42/12 K/BB (42 G)

    Scouting Overview: Third-round draft pick in 2012 is an elite athlete who starred as a two-way player on his Texas high school football team; double-plus speed profiles extremely well in center field with impressive range in all directions; makes lots of hard contact and hit tool could be solid-average when he cuts down on swing-and-miss; hard-nosed ballplayer who’s electric in everything he does on the field.

Kansas City Royals: OF Bubba Starling

9 of 30

    Age: 20

    2012 Stats (Rk): .275/.371/.485, 20 XBH (10 HR), 10 SB, 70/28 K/BB (53 G)

    Scouting Overview: Ridiculous athlete who was headed to Nebraska as a quarterback until the Royals paid him over $7 million; plus defensive center fielder with extraordinary range and instincts; arm strength and above-average speed make him a viable candidate at each outfield position; long swing and inconsistent swing plane result in contact issues; still has plus raw power and chance for above-average hit tool once mechanical issues are ironed out.

Minnesota Twins: OF Byron Buxton

10 of 30

    Age: 18

    2012 Stats (Rk): .248/.344/.448, 19 XBH (5 HR), 11 SB, 41/19 K/BB (48 G)

    Scouting Overview: Potential five-tool talent at big-league level; present plus tools are speed and arm; plus range in center field with a natural feel for the position; will develop above-average power as he adds strength; hit tool is still suspect, but bat speed and quick wrists suggest above-average potential.

Houston Astros: OF George Springer

11 of 30

    Age: 23

    2012 Stats (A+, AA): .302/.383/.526, 55 XBH (24 HR), 32 SB, 156/62 K/BB (128 G)

    Scouting Overview: One of the more well-rounded athletes in all the minor leagues; effortless, plus raw power; makes plenty of hard contact but inconsistent approach results in way too high strikeout rates; true potential to be a big-league center fielder with excellent reads and plus speed; strong arm also lends to a future in right field.

Los Angeles Angels: OF Travis Witherspoon

12 of 30

    Age: 23

    2012 Stats (A+, AA): .268/.350/.418, 49 XBH (13 HR), 34 SB, 106/57 K/BB (121 G)

    Scouting Overview: Highly impressive athlete with plus range in center field; adept base stealer who’s not afraid to turn it loose; has the raw bat speed and hand-eye to hit for average, but poor approach has held him back; pull-happy approach results in lengthy, upper-cut swing.

Oakland Athletics: SS Addison Russell

13 of 30

    Age: 18

    2012 Stats (Rk, SS, A-): .369/.432/.594, 26 XBH (7 HR), 16 SB, 48/23 K/BB (55 G)

    Scouting Overview: Shed significant weight as high school senior and should be able to remain at shortstop; instinctual first step and above-average speed with more than enough arm for position; quick bat and compact swing gives him chance for plus hit tool; power will more so be a product of his approach.

Seattle Mariners: OF Jamal Austin

14 of 30

    Age: 22

    2012 Stats (A-): .283/.326/.341, 19 XBH, 36 SB, 66/29 K/BB (110 G)

    Scouting Overview: Undersized at 5’9”, 170 pounds, Austin is still waiting for his baseball skills to catch up to his overall athleticism; plus runner who should continue to improve upon already solid base-stealing skills; makes surprisingly consistent contact but offers no power outside of double-digit doubles.

Texas Rangers: OF Lewis Brinson

15 of 30

    Age: 18

    2012 Stats (Rk): .283/.345/.523, 36 XBH (7 HR), 14 SB, 74/21 K/BB (54 G)

    Scouting Overview: 6’3”, 170-pound center fielder is great but raw athlete; legit 80-grade, top-of-the-order speed that lends to his defense and range; lack of pitch recognition and experience led to high strikeout total; has showcased substantially more power than was expected at time of draft; could have solid-average hit tool once swing is shortened and approach refined.

Atlanta Braves: OF Matt Lipka

16 of 30

    Age: 20

    2012 Stats (A+): .271/.335/.337, 8 XBH, 12 SB, 32/20 K/BB (51 G)

    Scouting Overview: Injuries and a move from shortstop to center field have held him back; passed on scholarship to play both baseball and football for Alabama; plus-plus speed gives him excellent range in center field where his arm is a more natural fit; cut down on strikeouts in 2012, though hit tool has a ways to go.

Miami Marlins: C Jacob (J.T.) Realmuto

17 of 30

    Age: 21

    2012 Stats (A+): .256/.319/.345, 24 XBH (8 HR), 13 SB, 64/37 K/BB (123 G)

    Scouting Overview: Standout prep athlete who quarterbacked high school team and set national offensive records as a shortstop; converted to catcher upon turning pro; highly athletic and agile behind the plate with quick feed and all-out approach; plus arm is most outstanding defensive tool; blocking and receiving skills continue to improve; average speed gives him high ceiling at position; has bat speed and power to be big-league catcher, but needs to iron on arm-bar and casting of hands in swing.

New York Mets: OF Brad Marquez

18 of 30

    Age: 19

    2012 Stats (Rk): .267/.313/.367, 2 XBH, 6/2 K/BB (9 G)

    Scouting Overview: 16th-rounder signed under the condition that he be allowed to honor his commitment to Texas Tech as a wide receiver; blazing, plus speed in 6’1”, 185-pound frame; plus range has him pegged as center fielder; spray hitter who focuses on putting the ball in play and letting his wheels take care of the rest; don’t expect any power; disappointing football season could have him focusing on baseball full time in the near future.

Philadelphia Phillies: SS Roman Quinn

19 of 30

    Age: 19

    2012 Stats (SS): .281/.370/.408, 21 XBH (11 3B), 30 SB, 61/28 K/BB (66 G)

    Scouting Overview: Premium, top-of-the-order speed from a contact-oriented switch-hitter; knows how to get on base and utilize dynamic speed; has tools, quick feet and athleticism to stick at shortstop with plus range in all directions; impressive hand-eye coordination and ability to make adjustments; potential for overall above-average hit tool.

Washington Nationals: SS/3B Jason Martinson

20 of 30

    Age: 24

    2012 Stats (A-, A+): .245/.340/.430, 42 XBH (22 HR), 106 RBI, 30 SB, 167/68 K/BB (135 G)

    Scouting Overview: Attended Texas Tech as wide receiver but suffered serious hamstring injury early in first season; lacks significant baseball background; athleticism, range and strong arm give him a chance to play a variety of positions; long swing and quick bat yield plus raw power to all fields; lots of swing-and-miss to his game due to propensity to chase breaking balls and front-side-oriented swing.

Chicago Cubs: OF Matt Szczur

21 of 30

    Age: 23

    2012 Stats (A+, AA): .267/.360/.390, 38 XBH (26 2B), 42 SB, 79/61 K/BB (113 G)

    Scouting Overview: Plus speed and elite athleticism had him poised to become NFL wide receiver after two-sport career at Villanova; plus speed with the range to stay in center field; reads and first step can be shaky at times; strong arm relative to the position; good plate discipline and pitch recognition, but lacks consistent hard contact.

Cincinnati Reds: OF Billy Hamilton

22 of 30

    Age: 22

    2012 Stats (A+, AA): .311/.410/.420, 112 R, 38 XBH (14 3B), 155 SB, 113/86 K/BB (132 G)

    Scouting Overview: Fastest player in baseball, maybe even in baseball history; stole 155 bases in 132 games; range in center field is astounding and will improve as he relies less on tracking ball; 90-grade wheels will compensate for poor reads and routes; arm will suffice; swing from right side is still suspect, while left-handed is more fluid and consistent; on-base skills continue to improve and profiles as electric leadoff man.

Milwaukee Brewers: OF Reggie Keen

23 of 30

    Age: 24

    2012 Stats (A+): .252/.300/.331, 27 XBH, 45 SB, 89/33 K/BB (125 G)

    Scouting Overview: Older player behind the curve with raw athleticism; decent hit tool but lacks plate discipline to project as top-of-order player; aggressive base stealer who’s still learning how to read opposing pitchers and gauge scenarios.

Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco

24 of 30

    Age: 21

    2012 Stats (A-): .325/.388/.522, 48 XBH (16 HR), 85 RBI, 40 SB, 64/44 K/BB (116 G)

    Scouting Overview: With 6’4”, 170-pound frame, Polanco noticeably possesses elite athleticism; above-average to plus speed that plays up in center field, where he’s expected to stay; strong arm only adds to impressive overall package; left-handed hitter who's demonstrated ability to make adjustments, especially regarding his swing and approach.

St. Louis Cardinals: OF C.J. McElroy

25 of 30

    Age: 19

    2012 Stats (Rk): .271/.314/.332, 13 XBH, 24 SB, 42/15 K/BB (61 G)

    Scouting Overview: 2011 third-rounder was three-sport standout (baseball, football, track and field) in high school; passed on football scholarship at Houston to be a wide receiver; plus-plus speed gives him great range in center field; approach has been slightly better than anticipated given his age; sleeper prospect headed into 2013 season.

Arizona Diamondbacks: OF Keon Broxton

26 of 30

    Age: 22

    2012 Stats (A+): .267/.326/.437, 44 XBH (19 HR), 21 SB, 136/40 K/BB (130 G)

    Scouting Overview: 6’3”, 195-pounder passed on scholarship to Florida Atlantic as a wide receiver; outstanding athleticism and unrefined set of tools; high floor, low ceiling; above-average speed gives him range in center and makes consistent reads; bat continues to hold him back with excessive strikeout rate; power has finally emerged—granted, it was in second tour of hitter-friendly California League.

Colorado Rockies: OF David Dahl

27 of 30

    Age: 18

    2012 Stats (Rk): .379/.423/.625, 41 XBH (10 3B), 57 RBI, 12 SB, 42/21 K/BB (67 G)

    Scouting Overview: 6’2”, 185-pound outfielder is incredibly projectable with loads of present ability; possesses five tools that grade as above-average to plus across the board; speed and hit tool gives him potential to be elite run-creator; routes can be shaky in center field but continue to improve; plus speed lends to excellent range.

Los Angeles Dodgers: OF James Baldwin

28 of 30

    Age: 21

    2012 Stats (A-): .209/.293/.334, 33 XBH (8 3B), 53 SB, 177/45 K/BB (123 G)

    Scouting Overview: Father of the same name pitched 11 seasons in MLB; 6’3”, 190-pound frame leaves room for projection on top of plus speed and elite athleticism; should have no problem remaining in center field; serious concerns about bat and lack of development since signing; adept base stealer is best offensive attribute.

San Diego Padres: SS Jace Peterson

29 of 30

    Age: 22

    2012 Stats (A-): .286/.378/.392, 34 XBH (9 3B), 51 SB, 63/62 K/BB (117 G)

    Scouting Overview: Played four sports in high school; played two seasons at McNeese State as shortstop and cornerback on football team; explosive actions from 6’0", 200-pound frame; above-average speed plays up due to strong instincts and quick feet; natural, momentum-gaining actions at shortstop compensate for modest arm; impressive base stealer with solid-average hit tool and excellent plate discipline. 

San Francisco Giants: OF Gary Brown

30 of 30

    Age: 24

    2012 Stats (AA): .279/.347/.385, 41 XBH (32 2B), 33 SB, 87/40 K/BB (134 G)

    Scouting Overview: Defense in center field is big-league ready; incredibly quick feet with ability to cover tons of ground; 80-grade speed is legitimate, but fails to utilize it on the basepaths; hate where he starts his hand and barrel path; ceiling as major league center fielder entirely depends on hit tool and on-base skills.