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Stock Up, Stock Down on MLB's Top 10 Prospects After Week 7

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down on MLB's Top 10 Prospects After Week 7

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    How much can a player's stock really change less than two months into a five-month season?

    That is the question floating around the minor leagues right now. Given the always-changing nature of scouting and player evaluation, some of the things we thought coming into the season have already changed, both for good and bad. 

    Yet there is also trepidation in saying that a player really should be dinged, because the sample size we are judging by is still small. That doesn't mean you can't glean something from seven weeks of games, however. 

    As we look at the stock of the top prospects in baseball, as well as a few notable names to keep watch on, it is fascinating to see just where these young stars are at in their development and statistically. Oftentimes, the two line up perfectly, but there will always be an outlier here or there. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. 

No. 10: Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

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    Last Week: Stock Up


    Stats for Last 7 Days

    G AVG OBP SLG H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
     7  .414  .452  .897  12  2  1  3  6  2  9  0

     

    At some point, the Marlins will have to bite the bullet and bring Yelich up to Miami. He did start the season on the disabled list and has just 27 games under his belt (26 at Double-A), and the big league team isn't going anywhere this year, so there isn't a need to rush the 21-year-old. 

    But Yelich has done nothing but rake since making his season debut. He has an OPS over 1.000 with 20 extra-base hits in 112 at-bats. He did have a high strikeout rate last week (nine times in 29 at bats), but he's driving the ball with such authority right now that his power potential continues to increase. 

    Always regarded as a better pure hitter than home run hitter, Yelich could end up hitting 25-plus at his peak because his swing is sweet from the left side.

    Oh, by the way, he isn't too shabby in center field. 

    Stock: Up

No. 9: Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

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    Last week: Stock Up

     

    Stats for Last 7 Days

    G AVG OBP SLG H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
     7  .333  .375  .467  10  4  0  0  3  2  3  3

     

    Here is all you need to know about how well Lindor has played all season, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:

    Heard this same thing from two scouts: Indians SS Francisco Lindor, 19, may well be the best prospect in baseball by the end of this season.

    — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 13, 2013

     

    Lindor is reminiscent of Jurickson Profar: excellent plate discipline, fantastic glove, will hit for average and if power comes, watch out.

    — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 13, 2013

    Obviously, some of that will depend on graduations to the big leagues this season (Profar, Oscar Taveras, to name two).

    But Lindor is one of the best all-around players in the minors right now, made even more impressive by the fact that the Indians have been aggressive with him. He is one of the youngest players in High-A this year after being one of the youngest players in Low-A last season. 

    Keep an eye on Lindor right now, because it is entirely possible that he forces the Indians to move him to Double-A sooner than expected based on how brilliant he has been in 2013. 

    Stock: Up

No. 8: Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets

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    Last Week: Stock Up

     

    DNP in last seven days due to collarbone. On 7-Day DL, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York:

    Zack Wheeler placed on Las Vegas DL. Don't be alarmed. He's pitching May 22. Minor league DLs are 7 days. And it's backdated to last start.

    — Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) May 17, 2013

    Mets fans were undoubtedly in a state of panic upon hearing that the team's prized prospect was going on the disabled list. The good news is that Wheeler will be back right away and figures to continue his push to get to the big leagues around the first of June. 

    What's been so impressive about Wheeler this season—he has a 3.74 ERA with a 47-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 43.1 innings—is that he's succeeding in Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League. Very few pitchers, even the best of the best in the prospect world, thrive in that environment. 

    Wheeler has found a formula for success, both with his natural ability and adjustments made after an erratic start, throwing 20 innings in his last three starts and giving up just 14 hits, three runs and striking out 19. 

    Stock: Down (Only because he didn't pitch)

No. 7: Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

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    Last Week: Stock Up

     

    Stats for Last 7 Days

    G AVG OBP SLG H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
     6  .269  .321  .385  7  3  0  0  3  2  5  1

     

    After a hot streak that got Bogaerts' stats back in line with where you would expect it to be for someone with his offensive capabilities, he did slow down a little bit last week. 

    One thing to be encouraged by is his lower strikeout rate. Bogaerts is always going to be a player who strikes out frequently because he goes all-out and doesn't cut down with two strikes, but the jump to Double-A could have exposed his holes. 

    Instead, Bogaerts, just 20 years old, is striking out at nearly the same rate he did last year playing mostly in High-A. The quality of off-speed stuff from Double-A compared to High-A is astounding, so to see him making solid contact and not being overwhelmed by the stage is good news. 

    Stock: Up

No. 6: Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Last Week: Stock Up

     

    Stats for Last 7 Days

    GS W-L IP ERA H HR R (ER) BB K BAA
     2  0-1  11.2  4.82  12  1  9 (6)  3  11  .261

     

    Staying true to his 20-year-old form, Walker had one really strong start and one really bad start for Double-A Jackson last week. He was on top of his game against Tennessee, giving up one earned run on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts. 

    Sunday was a different story, as Walker labored through 4.2 innings, giving up eight hits and seven runs (five earned) with two walks and five strikeouts. At times, he can lose his command and leave pitches over the fat part of the plate, leading to outings like that one. 

    But Walker also has a 2.77 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 52 innings. He does have 25 walks and 37 hits allowed, however—two very high totals for a pitch with Walker's raw stuff.

    You give him the benefit of the doubt because he is still so young for the league, but you want to see consistent improvement if you are going to put the No. 1 starter tag on him. 

    Stock: Down

No. 5: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Stats for Last 7 Days

    GS W-L IP ERA H HR R (ER) BB K BAA
     2  1-1  11.2  8.84  11  3  12 (11)  4  9  .256

     

    I am going to turn into a broken record with Cole, but as I have said basically since the start of the year, I will believe he is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher when he shows it on the field. 

    Cole has some of the best raw stuff in the minors, with a fastball that can touch triple digits, a knockout changeup and very good slider. But the command, control and execution leave a lot to be desired right now. 

    At just 22, Cole is not in immediate danger of hitting that wall. He just isn't at the level you would expect considering he is now two years removed from college. His strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season is 35-23 in 48 innings.

    There is a lot to like in the profile, but Cole has to show he can be that kind of pitcher before the Pirates bring him up. 

    Stock: Down

No. 4: Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Last Week: Stock Down

     

    Stats for Last 7 Days

    G AVG OBP SLG H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
     7  .185  .313  .222  5  1  0  0  2  5  7  0

     

    There are two possible schools of thought on Myers right now. One is that he is just biding his time in Triple-A, waiting for the Rays to call him up.

    That's what happened to Matt Harvey last year with the Mets, where his stuff and performance in the big leagues suddenly looked incredible when he got out of the doldrums of Triple-A. 

    The other explanation for what's going on is that Myers' inability to make consistent contact has caught up to him. He has struck out 51 times in 152 at-bats this year—far more than you would expect for a player known for his natural hitting ability. 

    Granted, Myers struck out 140 times in 522 at-bats last year, so this isn't exactly a new trend. But if there is nothing wrong with him mechanically, which doesn't seem likely because he has such a good swing when everything is clicking, then the Rays may have been right to keep him down in the minors for as long as they have. 

    Stock: Down

No. 3: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    No stats available due to injury

    With Dylan Bundy, the story remains the same: Until we get closer to the estimated date he can start throwing again, let alone actually pitching in games, there isn't anything to say.

    Bundy was shut down for six weeks after visiting Dr. James Andrews in late April. That puts him on track to start doing something—throwing, working out, etc.—in mid June. Until that time, the Orioles will just hope for the best. 

    Stock: Down

No. 2: Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    DNP in last seven days due to ankle injury suffered on May 13 (h/t Derrick Goold of St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    Taveras day to day with right ankle injury. X-Rays taken and no fracture found, per official. #stlcards #cardinals #stlminors

    — Derrick Goold (@dgoold) May 13, 2013

     

    It really is a shame that Taveras got hurt last week, because he was starting to hit his stride at Triple-A. He was hitting .348/.380/.587 in the last 10 games with five doubles, two home runs and two stolen bases. 

    The biggest problem for Taveras is that the Cardinals are playing so well—especially Carlos Beltran, whom Taveras was the likeliest candidate to replace during the season—that there really is no room for him in the big leagues. 

    Obviously, these things can change in a hurry. It's not like Beltran has ever been the model of health throughout his career. 

    Hopefully Taveras is able to get back on the field soon and do what he does better than any minor leaguer right now: hit. 

    Stock: Down (Due to injury)

No. 1: Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers

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    Last Week: Stock Up

     

    Stats for Last 7 Days

    G AVG OBP SLG H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
     5  .476  .500  .810  10  1  0  2  5  1  2  0

     

    Well, well, well. Look who's back in the big leagues already. Sure, it took an injury to Ian Kinsler for it to happen, but Profar has been so white-hot in Triple-A for the last week (small sample size caveat) that he could easily have forced Texas' hand. 

    What's so remarkable about Profar, especially at the age of 20, is that he can come up from Triple-A and the production the Rangers are losing from Kinsler, who has been fantastic this season (.302/.369/.500), likely won't feel as significant because of howgood and natural he is at everything. 

    This could be just a temporary situation for Profar, where the Rangers send him back down as soon as Kinsler comes off the disabled list, or it could be the opportunity the young star has needed to stick in the big leagues for good. 

    Stock: Up

Others to Watch

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    Stock Up

    Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees

    After being largely forgotten in a solid Yankees system, Rafael De Paula has been one of the biggest bright spots thus far. The 22-year-old right-hander has struck out 23 batters in his last two starts, covering 12 innings and showing a power arsenal led by a mid-90s fastball. 

    Because of issues with his signing a few years ago that led to him being ineligible to join a big league team, De Paula is a bit behind the eight ball and old for High-A. But his stuff and results this season have him as one of the fast-rising stars in the minors. 

     

    Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Having been on the prospect radar for years, it can be easy to forget about Zach Lee. His numbers and stuff aren't going to knock you over, but he has figured things out with better pitchability and putting his athleticism to good use. 

    Lee has a 3.11 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 16 walks in 46.1 innings this season. He does give up a few too many hits—45 thus far—but that is because he is always around the strike zone. His ceiling is still that of a good No. 3 starter. Now, he looks closer to reaching it than ever before. 

     

    Stock Down

    Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics

    The A's pushed Russell to High-A at the start of the season after he ripped through three levels in 2012 (even though he only played 55 games after signing). It did seem like a rational move at the time, but he is hitting just .206/.322/.429 so far. 

    It is encouraging to see he has 22 walks and 15 extra-base hits already. The rest of his game doesn't appear that it has caught up yet. His bat is very good, so it's not a huge concern now, but eventually, the average has to start creeping up. 

     

    Slade Heathcott, OF, New York Yankees

    Heathcott is one of those Yankees prospects who had a chance to take a huge leap forward this season because his raw skill set was so good, he had performed well in the lower levels of the minors and he was making the jump to Double-A. 

    Instead, Heathcott has really fallen on his sword out of the gate. He is hitting .221/.283/.328 with 40 strikeouts in 131 at-bats. 

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