MLB All-Star Futures Game 2013: Full Scouting Reports, Pro Player Comparisons
This Sunday is the best day of the year for prospect junkies with the 15th annual Futures Game taking place at Citi Field in New York.
It features 52 of the best and brightest that Minor League Baseball has to offer, with a lot of fans getting their first exposure to these players after reading so much about them for years.
While some of the things you see in this game are going to look a bit different from what you would see during an actual game—for instance, since the pitchers are only going to throw one inning, they can crank up the velocity more than if they were pacing themselves to go seven innings—but just being able to see so much talent in one spot is a fan's dream.
In anticipation of the big event this weekend, we wanted to give you a closer look at the players you will see with scouting reports, highlights and comparisons so that you will know what to be on the lookout for both on Sunday and when these players eventually graduate to the big leagues.
Note: Four players on the initial Futures Game roster (Atlanta's Joey Terdoslavich, Chicago's Josh Phegley, Washington's Taylor Jordan and Seattle's Brad Miller) have graduated to the big leagues. Three others (Tampa Bay's Taylor Guerrieri, Chicago's Jorge Soler and St. Louis' Oscar Taveras) are not playing due to injuries. We will still give the scouting reports for the injured players.
To replace these five players, MLB announced that Washington's A.J. Cole, Tampa Bay's C.J. Riefenhauser, Detroit's James McCann, Baltimore's Christian Walker and San Francisco's Jesus Galindo have been added to the game. We will also include reports on them.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Level: Double-A (Mobile)
Acquired: Seventh overall pick of 2011 MLB Draft
Pure power pitcher with a workhorse frame; stands 6'4", 225 pounds and uses every bit of it to his advantage; relaxed, easy delivery with great extension out front; can lose release point on occasion, causing command to drift in and out.
Stuff already shows plus with the potential for more if he can harness the changeup; fastball is electric plus-plus offering that sits 92-97 with explosive life; curveball is a hammer that will miss a ton of bats in pro ball with great shape and late snap; changeup will flash above-average, but gets by with two pitches right now; command has gotten much better this year, though he still relies more on control to miss bats.
Pro Player Comparison: Max Scherzer
Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Level: Triple-A (Reno)
Acquired: 35th overall pick of 2009 MLB Draft
Has taken several steps forward on both sides of the ball in the last two years; hit tool is still a little rough, with more strikeouts thanks to a big swing that can get beat by velocity, but the approach has gotten better and he will work counts; plus power started to play in games last season and has continued in 2013, though some of that can be attributed to playing in hitter-friendly PCL.
Defense at third base is solid; won't be elite but has enough arm strength and lateral range to hold his own; still learning to play the ball instead of the other way around, but strides taken since the start of 2012 are extremely encouraging.
Pro Player Comparison: Kyle Seager
Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
Current Level: Double-A (Mississippi)
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in March 2008
Outstanding defensive profile; one of the best throwing arms in all of baseball, clocking pop times in the 1.7-second range, putting him in plus-plus arm strength; excellent athleticism behind the plate, showing agility and nimble feet; very good receiver and comfortable blocking balls in the dirt.
Hit tool leaves questions about future role; has above-average power potential, but has never been able to show it in games due to below-average hit tool; can drive a fastball, but struggles against advanced stuff; doesn't have patience or approach to get on base at a reasonable clip, putting all pressure on his hit tool; if he can find a way to hit an empty .250, he is one of the best catchers in baseball.
Pro Player Comparison: J.P. Arencibia
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Current Level: Double-A (Bowie)
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in January 2010
Fast start led to quick promotion to Triple-A; not an overpowering pitcher, but above-average velocity and movement from the left side allows him to project as a quality starter in the big leagues; fastball sits in the low 90s and has very good action in the zone to induce weak contact; slider is a potential plus pitch with good tilt and velocity, though it can get inconsistent out of his hand; changeup shows good fade and should be an average offering in the future.
Stuff plays up because his tall, slender frame helps him release late to the plate, causing the ball to jump on hitters and force weak contact.
Pro Player Comparison: Mike Minor
Henry Urrutia, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Current Level: Triple-A (Norfolk)
Acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent in 2012
Cuban defector is older than most prospects in Futures Game, but lack of experience in pro ball puts him on similar track; showing impressive tools in first full season with patience and a good approach that helps average power play in games; will hit more doubles than home runs; good, physical frame, though lacking in athleticism; switch hitter with good swing from both sides, though shows better results from the left side; arm and range in outfield play in right field, though limited offensive profile doesn't project great in corner spot.
Pro Player Comparison: Nick Markakis
Christian Walker, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Current Level: High-A (Frederick)
Acquired: Fourth-round pick in 2012 MLB Draft
Orioles have been conservative with 2012 draftee, starting him in Low-A this season before bumping him to High-A; playing at South Carolina helped advance his ability, particularly with the bat; shows good control of the strike zone and ability to drive the ball to all fields; not prototypical first baseman power, which hurts his profile; going to hit for more average than pop; limited defensive prowess with solid arm strength and no range.
Pro Player Comparison: Lyle Overbay
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Current Level: Double-A (Portland)
Acquired: First-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft
Finally showing potential from LSU now that he is staying healthy; stuff has been markedly better, with a power fastball that sits in the mid 90s, a curveball that is starting to flash plus more consistently than ever before and a very good changeup; command is still in the process of coming back, but control has been solid and allowed him to miss more than one bat per inning.
Impressive physical specimen at 6'7", 240 pounds; looks fitter than ever before and could be in line for a jump to Triple-A sooner than later, though the Red Sox could be cautious given his injury history and shut him down as his innings continue to pile up (his 91 innings so far this year are just 36 away from his career high in 2011).
Pro Player Comparison: A.J. Burnett
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
Current Level: Triple-A (Pawtucket)
Acquired: Signed with the Red Sox as an international free agent in August 2009
Explosive hit tool; incredible power that already shows in games, very impressive for a player his age; electric bat speed and ability to drive the ball out to all fields; still learning to hit off-speed pitches and swing gets long, leading to a lot of strikeouts, but prodigious pop and bat speed project for average and 25-plus homers.
Defensive profile has gotten better thanks to ability to stay at shortstop; plus arm strength and solid glove, though range is limited; will eventually outgrow the position, but as a big power hitter with fringe-average defense could be an MVP candidate.
Pro Player Comparison: Hanley Ramirez
Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Chicago Cubs
Current Level: Double-A (Tennessee)
Acquired: Signed by Cubs as an international free agent in November 2008
Fast-rising prospect in a very good Cubs system; hit tool continues to improve; showing more patience and power this year than ever before, though the Southern League can inflate some numbers; swing-and-miss rate will limit his average, but above-average pop will play well at third base; has the arm strength for shortstop, but has never made less than 20 errors in a full season.
Pro Player Comparison: Chris Johnson
Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
Current Level: High-A (Daytona)
Acquired: Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent in June 2012
Explosive tool set that generates a ton of excitement; excellent bat speed and better-than-expected bat control; very confident on both sides of the ball; commands the strike zone very well and shows no signs of difficulty adjusting to off-speed stuff; plus power and speed combination; very physical and athletic; above-average defense with range and strong throwing arm in right field, but still learning to read the ball; will be above-average regular in the big leagues.
Pro Player Comparison: Justin Upton (Now, not when he was a prospect)
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Current Level: Triple-A (Louisville)
Acquired: Second-round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft
Game-changing speed enhances limited offensive profile; will steal a ton of bases as an everyday player or pinch runner; hit tool is questionable because Hamilton lacks size and bat speed to really drive the ball; won't hit more than 10 homers in big leagues; if he makes contact, should find a ton of infield hits to inflate numbers; advanced stuff is exposing holes in offensive game.
Defense in center field is still a work-in progress, but elite speed gives him incredible range to track balls; still learning to read the ball off the bat; arm strength plays well at the position.
Pro Player Comparison: Ben Revere
Carlos Contreras, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Current Level: High-A (Bakersfield)
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in 2008
Converted back to starter after spending two years as a reliever with mixed results; profiles best as a late-inning reliever with a power fastball and plus changeup; lack of consistent breaking ball limits ceiling as a starter, as well as big arm action that limits command and control; touches high 90s with the fastball; changeup has excellent arm speed and action down in the zone; will need to show a better breaking ball to get lefties out, as they have a 21-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season.
Pro Player Comparison: Octavio Dotel
C.C. Lee, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Current Level: Triple-A (Columbus)
Acquired: Signed as by the Indians as an international free agent in September 2008
One of the oldest players in the Futures Game, Lee is a one-pitch reliever who can bring the heat with his fastball in the mid 90s and will also show a slider that doesn't have the consistent shape to be a reliable weapon; misses bats by locating the fastball; control is solid, but command lacks thanks to low three-quarter arm slot and prevents him from getting lefties out; could be a serviceable specialist in the big leagues.
Pro Player Comparison: Esmil Rogers
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Current Level: High-A (Carolina)
Acquired: Eighth overall pick by the Indians in the 2011 MLB Draft
Plays the game far beyond his years; incredible poise and demeanor in the batters box and at shortstop; tremendous feel for the strike zone and bat control, willing to work counts and take walks; won't chase pitches out of the zone; not much over-the-fence power but will hit a lot of doubles and could turn into 10-12 homer player; glove is plus with soft hands, plus throwing arm and instincts for the position; always puts himself in position to make plays; plus runner and base stealer already.
Pro Player Comparison: Elvis Andrus
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Current Level: High-A (Modesto)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Rockies in the 2012 MLB Draft
Impressive numbers pitching at a level he is old for, but will show dominant stuff on a given day; plus-plus mid-90s fastball that moves down in the zone and generates ground balls with ease; still finding consistency with slider and curveball; slider is more advanced and could be above-average offering; control is average with improving command; excellent arm speed in delivery allows him to generate strikeouts with just one pitch; development of off-speed stuff will determine ultimate role.
Pro Player Comparison: Roberto Hernandez
Andre Rienzo, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Current Level: Triple-A (Charlotte)
Acquired: Signed by the White Sox as an international free agent in November 2006
Inconsistent profile throughout minor league career, improved last year with better off-speed stuff; this year has been more bad than good thanks to a lack of command and no true breaking ball to get hitters out; will flash above-average fastball and curveball, but the latter isn't consistent enough to be a weapon; thin 160-pound frame doesn't lend itself to handling starter workload; could be a solid bullpen arm in the future if he can command curveball and it shows consistent shape.
Pro Player Comparison: Aaron Crow
Jordan Lennerton, 1B, Detroit Tigers
Current Level: Triple-A (Columbus)
Acquired: 33rd-round pick by the Tigers in the 2008 MLB Draft
Not likely to carve out a big league career, save for a cup of coffee here and there; strictly an org. guy used to fill out a roster; does have decent power and hand-eye coordination, but doesn't have a lot of athleticism and well below-average speed; can crush a mistake, but will get beaten by quality stuff.
Pro Player Comparison: Aubrey Huff
James McCann, C, Detroit Tigers
Current Level: Double-A (Erie)
Acquired: Second-round pick by the Tigers in the 2011 MLB Draft
Solid defensive profile with above-average arm strength, solid blocking and receiving skills, and decent athleticism and footwork; is getting better with more experience behind the dish; offensive profile lacks pop; swing is short and compact; will hit the ball to all fields, but doesn't really drive it with power; lacks bat speed and any real approach; could find a career as a journeyman backup.
Pro Player Comparison: Alex Avila
Delino DeShields, 2B, Houston Astros
Current Level: High-A (Lancaster)
Acquired: Eighth overall pick by the Astros in the 2010 MLB Draft
Think of him as a better hitting version of Billy Hamilton; plus-plus speed and improving base runner, but still learning to steal bases off pitchers instead of just using legs to beat throws; added muscle in last two years has helped improve offensive skill set; solid bat speed; good approach at the plate, works counts and takes walks; still learning to recognize pitches and prone to strikeouts; surprising pop for a player his size, could develop average power; solid defensive profile with range and arm strength, but accuracy and ability to read ball still needs work.
Pro Player Comparison: Jose Altuve
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
Current Level: Triple-A (Oklahoma City)
Acquired: 11th overall pick by the Astros in the 2011 MLB Draft
Very impressive performance in 2013, though red flags still persist; power is playing in games and comes from a quick, whippy swing through the zone; still dips his shoulder and will get long, leading to a lot of strikeouts and limiting ability to hit for average; plus speed and base running ability; very aggressive and tactical on bases and defensively; covers a lot of ground in center field with above-average arm strength and accuracy; if he can limit strikeouts, could be .260 hitter with 20-plus homers in big leagues very soon.
Pro Player Comparison: B.J. Upton
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
Current Level: Low-A (Quad Cities)
Acquired: No. 1 overall pick by the Astros in the 2012 MLB Draft
Incredible feel for hitting at such a young age; has always shown excellent bat speed and raw power, but seeing it play in games in a pitcher-friendly league at 18 speaks to talent; able to attack a fastball or breaking ball, pitch recognition and plate coverage are tremendous; still growing into game power; will be a plus hitter with plus power in the big leagues; frame will likely force a move to third base, where plus arm strength will play; footwork and range will be better at hot corner; potential superstar.
Pro Player Comparison: David Wright
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Current Level: Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: Signed by the Royals as an international free agent in November 2010
An exciting arm in a system that needs all it can get; very good frame with size and athleticism to work 200-plus innings in the future; very clean, easy and repeatable delivery with good control and developing command; heavy stuff with a plus mid-90s fastball with late bite; solid changeup, though it can be a little straight at times; curveball is improving but lacks consistent feel and finish; ceiling of a mid-rotation starter, but very volatile given lack of professional experience.
Pro Player Comparison: Anibal Sanchez
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Current Level: Triple-A (Omaha)
Acquired: Signed by the Royals as an international free agent in October 2008
Electric arm speed with one of the best fastballs in the minors; heater can touch triple digits and regularly sits in the mid 90s; changeup is second best offering with some movement and great deception; curveball shows good shape and control has gotten better; command is spotty but can miss bats because of velocity and deception; future role likely as a late-inning reliever because of small stature, lack of command and plane on fastball.
Pro Player Comparison: Ernesto Frieri
C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
Current Level: Double-A (Arkansas)
Acquired: 17th overall pick by the Angels in the 2011 MLB Draft
Big-time power hitter; has size and swing to put up 30-plus home runs per season; solid bat-to-ball skills, but doesn't work counts particularly well and will make a lot of easy outs thanks to poor pitch recognition; below-average runner who can steal a handful of bases with instinct; fringy defense at first base thanks to poor footwork, could wind up as a DH-only player; has to show more power in games to reach potential.
Pro Player Comparison: Ike Davis
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Level: Double-A (Chattanooga)
Acquired: 11th-round pick by the Dodgers in the 2010 MLB Draft
Emerging player in the Dodgers system; aggressive hitter unafraid to swing the bat, but patient enough to lay off pitches out of the zone; power continues to get better each season and could be above-average in the big leagues; good bat speed and control in the zone; above-average runner and defender in center field; plus arm strength will play in a corner spot; plus speed plays well in center and on bases; very smart baseball player.
Pro Player Comparison: Austin Jackson
Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
Current Level: High-A (Jupiter)
Acquired: 23rd overall pick by the Marlins in the 2010 MLB Draft
Injury-plagued season has hurt overall stats, but raw tools are still there and .843 OPS is still impressive; beautiful left-handed swing; excellent balance and rotation throughout; will drive the ball to all fields with ease; developed more power than expected and could hit 20-25 in big leagues; potential batting champion; defense has improved thanks to better reads and above-average speed give him range; future star and No. 3 hitter in Miami lineup.
Pro Player Comparison: Andrew McCutchen
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Current Level: Triple-A (Nashville)
Acquired: Second-round pick by the Brewers in the 2010 MLB Draft
One of the few bright spots in a depleted farm system; doesn't have a huge ceiling but could be a reliable No. 3-4 type starter if he can find consistency with his changeup; works best with a plus fastball that sits in the low 90s; solid slider gives him an out pitch; a lot of movement in delivery can lead to erratic command, but control has gotten better; might have to settle down to be a consistent 180-inning pitcher.
Pro Player Comparison: Edwin Jackson
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
Current Level: High-A (Fort Myers)
Acquired: No. 2 overall pick by the Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft
The most-talked about prospect in baseball right now is arguably its best; explosive tools across the board with advanced in-game skills that no one saw coming; simple, easy swing with plus-plus bat speed and direct path to ball generate power; home run pop showing up in games is huge positive; likely winds up as a 25-30 homer player; plus-plus speed gives excellent range in center field and plays well on basepaths; plus throwing arm and accuracy; rare talent who could be in the big leagues inside of a year.
Pro Player Comparison: Mike Trout
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Current Level: Double-A (New Britain)
Acquired: Signed by the Twins as an international free agent in October 2009
Incredible offensive talent with elite-level power; highly leveraged swing with tremendous bat speed that generates easy pop; will challenge for home run titles in the big leagues; swing is long and leverage creates a lot of strikeouts, but approach is very good with an improved eye at the plate and willingness to take walks; average might suffer a bit because of swing-and-miss, but bat speed and approach should allow him to stay in .260 range; improving defensive profile with plus arm and some range at third base; might be able to stay there, though first base or DH remain options.
Pro Player Comparison: Jay Bruce
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
Current Level: Double-A (Binghamton)
Acquired: Traded to the Mets from Toronto in December 2012; First-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays
Big workhorse-type starter's build at 6'6", 240 pounds; still learning to control long, lanky limbs to repeat delivery and command arsenal; plus fastball sits in the mid 90s and plays up because he gets such good downward plane on it, making it difficult to elevate; curveball is potential weapon with good shape and velocity, but inconsistent command make it hittable; changeup is plus pitch thanks to deceptive arm speed, though it can be a little straight; makes excellent use of strong lower half to generate velocity and tremendous arm strength.
Pro Player Comparison: Adam Wainwright
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
Current Level: Triple-A (Las Vegas)
Acquired: Signed by the Mets as an international free agent in January 2011
Lack of professional experience didn't hurt his stuff and poise on the mound; moved from Dominican Summer League in 2011 to Triple-A this year; plus fastball with low-90s velocity and good sinking action; solid slider that can get flat at times, but will appear average often with good tilt and velocity; changeup is plus pitch with late fade; plus control and above-average command can keep him in rotation, though small stature could hurt his ability to handle big workload; potential mid-rotation starter.
Pro Player Comparison: Edinson Volquez
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
Current Level: Low-A (Savannah)
Acquired: 13th overall pick by the Mets in the 2011 MLB Draft
Looks more like a solid everyday player than anything else; will show plus bat speed and above-average raw power, but struggles to get the pop playing in games; very patient hitter with excellent understanding of the strike zone; could turn into high-average and OBP hitter with 10-15 homers; tweener profile, as range in center field is just average; still learning to read the ball off the bat and take routes to the ball; above-average arm strength; could move to LF where bat doesn't profile as well.
Pro Player Comparison: Coco Crisp
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
Current Level: High-A (Tampa)
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in November 2010
Pop-up prospect thanks to improved stuff and results this season; fastball velocity has always been there, with readings ranging from 94-98 mph; commanding pitch much better; curveball has taken a step forward and projects as above-average pitch with hard snap; changeup will determine ultimate role, but throwing pitch with more confidence and arm speed can generate swings and misses; very nice frame with a clean, repeatable delivery; could be a No. 2 starter with a floor as a power late-inning reliever.
Pro Player Comparison: Yovani Gallardo
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
Current Level: High-A (Stockton)
Acquired: 11th overall pick by the Athletics in the 2012 MLB Draft
Elite talent really bouncing back strong after a slow start; boasts electrifying bat speed and plus raw power potential; still growing into big 6'0" frame and could turn into 25-30 home run player; advanced hit tool for a player his age; still learning to read and recognize off-speed pitches; above-average defensive profile with plus arm strength, range and footwork; will have little problem staying at shortstop; excellent work ethic and conditioning.
Pro Player Comparison: Jimmy Rollins
Michael Ynoa, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Current Level: High-A (Stockton)
Acquired: Signed by the Athletics as an international free agent in July 2008
Finally healthy and showing at least some of the potential that led Oakland to give him a huge bonus five years ago; still boasts above-average fastball velocity and keeps it low in the zone thanks to downward angle from tall frame; curveball also has excellent downward bite and shows strong feel for pitch; changeup is still a developing pitch with good late fade, but command is erratic; delivery is very good and repeats well for a pitcher his size; may end up as a reliever due to injury history.
Pro Player Comparison: Josh Johnson
Jesse Biddle, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Current Level: Double-A (Reading)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Phillies in the 2010 MLB Draft
Deceptive left-handed starter who has shown a knack for missing bats; stuff doesn't blow you away, as fastball projects as above-average; curveball and changeup both lack consistency, even though they will flash average or better at various times; has very easy, loose delivery but often struggles to repeat it leading to command and control issues; has to find the strike zone more often to reach ceiling as a No. 3 starter.
Pro Player Comparison: Joe Saunders
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Current Level: Double-A (Reading)
Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in January 2010
Buzzworthy hitter at the moment showing plenty of pop and feel for hitting; future profile varies based on how well you think his swing will translate; has a long swing thanks to an unusual set with his hands and armbar that prevents him from turning on velocity; does possess good bat speed and power; doesn't have great pitch recognition skills, but can crush a mistake already; may stay at third base as a fringy defender with plus arm strength; well below-average speed, reaction times and poor footwork could push him off the hot corner.
Pro Player Comparison: Pedro Alvarez
Dilson Herrera, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Current Level: Low-A (West Virginia)
Acquired: Signed by the Pirates as an international free agent in 2010
Excellent bat-to-ball ability for a young player; shows plus bat speed and average power despite slight 5'10", 150-pound frame; could add more power in the future and hit 15-18 homers per season; aggressive approach and still learning to read pitches, but excellent feel for the strike zone; good speed but still raw baserunning; fringe-average arm strength limits him to second base, where he will have good range and is improving footwork; possible average big leaguer.
Pro Player Comparison: Howie Kendrick
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Current Level: Double-A (Altoona)
Acquired: Signed by the Pirates as an international free agent in April 2009
Advanced feel for hitting and excellent approach at the plate; still learning to hit off-speed pitches and drive the ball the other way, but also shows above-average pull power; swing does get overextended at times and hurts him against velocity, though his bat speed is such that he can still catch up to the ball and put it in play; plus speed allows him to steal bases and cover ground in center field; above-average throwing arm; projects as above-average regular in the big leagues with 18-20 homers and above-average defense.
Pro Player Comparison: Dexter Fowler
Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres
Current Level: High-A (Lake Elsinore)
Acquired: Second-round pick by the Padres in the 2011 MLB Draft
Outstanding defensive catcher; excellent receiving and blocking skills; tremendous athleticism behind the plate; nimble and agile, unafraid to do the little things; framing skills are some of the best in the minors; very confident game caller; throwing arm and accuracy are plus-plus; underrated hitter; won't have a ton of power but could hit 12-15 at peak; excellent feel for the strike zone and discipline; good bat speed with some loft at the end to drive the ball; patient and willing to take a walk; projects as future All-Star.
Pro Player Comparison: Yadier Molina
Yeison Asencio, OF, San Diego Padres
Current Level: Double-A (San Antonio)
Acquired: Signed by the Padres as an international free agent in July 2009
Free swinger who lacks strong pitch recognition; makes more contact than you would expect given his hacky nature, but struggles to square the ball up due to poor timing; fringy power despite having strong frame; offensive upside dependent on ability to hit for average, which doesn't seem likely; below-average defensive profile due to poor range and instincts; tremendous arm strength that projects well for right field.
Pro Player Comparison: Melky Cabrera
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Current Level: Triple-A (Tacoma)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Mariners in the 2010 MLB Draft
Electrifying stuff that can pitch at the top of any rotation; plus-plus fastball explodes out of his hand and sits in the mid 90s; heater can be too straight at times, but velocity makes it difficult to square up; curveball continues to improve as he develops a better feel and control of the pitch; will hang the breaking ball on occasion; changeup flashes above-average with late fade and excellent deception; command is still spotty, but control has gotten better this year; top-of-the-rotation star in the making.
Pro Player Comparison: Josh Beckett
Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Current Level: High-A (San Jose)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Giants in the 2011 MLB Draft
Typical Giants pitching prospect; power, durable, athletic frame at 6'4", 220 pounds; big velocity with the fastball, often topping out near 100 mph; excellent control of body throughout delivery and tremendous downhill plane on heater; generates velocity with arm speed and use of thick lower half; curveball is a potential hammer, though he still needs to throw it with more confidence; changeup is above-average weapon, showing good separation from the fastball and better control than ever before; projects as a No. 2 starter.
Pro Player Comparison: Matt Cain
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Current Level: Triple-A (Memphis)
Acquired: Signed by the Cardinals as an international free agent in November 2008
One of the most exciting talents in the minors; battled injuries this season that have hampered overall performance; when healthy, boasts one of the best bats you will see; very aggressive approach; bat control and plate coverage are in the elite category, so even though he won't walk much there won't be a lot of strike outs; bat speed and plus raw power give him 25-30 homer potential in the big leagues; will be at least a .300 hitter, possible batting champion; above-average speed; could steal 10-15 bases per season; plus arm strength and above-average range in right field; projects as future superstar and MVP candidate.
Pro Player Comparison: Vladimir Guerrero
Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
Current Level: Triple-A (Memphis)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2011 MLB Draft
Solid all-around baseball player; doesn't project to be a star, but will carve out a very good, long career; good feel for hitting; plus bat speed with line-drive swing; hits the ball to all fields; doesn't have much power, but can hit 10-12 homers with a ton of doubles; controls the zone very well; above-average defender with improved range and footwork; average arm strength is perfect for second base.
Pro Player Comparison: Neil Walker
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Current Level: Low-A (Bowling Green)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Rays in the 2011 MLB Draft
Excellent command and control; throws strikes with entire arsenal; fastball velocity ticking back up, touching 97-98 and sitting 92-94; throws two- and four-seamer, with the former having hard sink that hitters just pound into the zone; can miss bats, but works quickly getting easy ground-ball outs; curveball projects as out-pitch in the big leagues with hard bite and strong shape; changeup is improving and gives him weapon against lefties; needs to throw it more as he moves up; nice, easy delivery with some physical projection remaining; projects as a No. 2-3 starter who can eat a ton of innings without working too hard because sinker is so good.
Pro Player Comparison: Tim Hudson
Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Current Level: Double-A (Montgomery)
Acquired: Signed by the Rays as an international free agent in June 2008
Big left hander with physical projection left in lanky 6'3", 165-pound frame; plus fastball that can play up a half grade thanks to excellent arm-side movement; curveball and changeup remain behind the heater because of inability to repeat mechanics; struggles to command and control three-pitch mix will likely push him to the bullpen; has the stuff to start; if he can control one of his off-speed pitches, he can be a starter because lefties can get away with two pitches; low arm slot will likely inhibit ability to develop control.
Pro Player Comparison: Matt Moore
C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Current Level: Triple-A (Durham)
Acquired: 20th-round pick by the Rays in the 2010 MLB Draft
Undersized lefty who has found a future role as a big league reliever; doesn't have the swing-and-miss stuff to pitch late in games, but could be a solid sixth- or seventh-inning guy; will show three pitches, but the changeup lags behind the fastball and breaking ball; could end up as a left-on-left player; has always thrown strikes out of the bullpen.
Pro Player Comparison: Sean Marshall
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
Current Level: Low-A (Hickory)
Acquired: First-round pick by the Rangers in the 2012 MLB Draft
Some of the best raw power in the minors; elite, light-tower pop that can drop jaws in batting practice; will struggle to show pop in games because swing-and-miss part of his style is so pronounced; serious adjustments needed to turn into a grade-40 hitter; lack of approach doesn't allow bat speed and power to shine, though he will work counts and draw walks; has plus arm strength but still learning to play third base in pro ball; gap between floor and ceiling is so extreme right now.
Pro Player Comparison: Russell Branyan
Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers
Current Level: Low-A (Hickory)
Acquired: Signed by the Rangers as an international free agent in January 2010
Raw tools continue to grow and play much better in games; still refining skills behind the plate, especially blocking balls; very good athleticism and arm strength; framing has gotten better; projects as above-average defender; offensive skills are playing in Low-A; excellent bat speed to generate above-average power; approach and pitch recognition are below-average right now; could develop into average hitter with plus power; potential star behind the plate.
Pro Player Comparison: Miguel Montero
A.J. Jimenez, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Current Level: Double-A (New Hampshire)
Acquired: Ninth-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2008 MLB Draft
Injury problems have robbed him of valuable development time; has only played in 32 games this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early 2012; at full strength boasts above-average defensive profile with plus arm strength and accuracy; solid athlete with good footwork and improving blocking and receiving skills; has shown knack for being able to hit for average and get on base with solid approach; won't have better than fringe power; could turn into an everyday catcher.
Pro Player Comparison: Carlos Ruiz
A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
Current Level: High-A (Potomac)
Acquired: Traded to the Nationals from Oakland in a three-way trade that also included Seattle; originally drafted by the Nationals in 2010 and was dealt to the Athletics in the Gio Gonzalez trade before the 2012 season.
Excellent frame with room to add muscle and physical projection; stuff can be electric on any given day; fastball has plus-plus potential with mid-90s velocity and terrific downward movement; changeup is No. 2 offering with good fade in the zone; has plus potential but needs more consistency; curveball is a work-in progress; can have good shape and be above-average offering, but doesn't have great feel for it; showing better control this year; command is coming along; power stuff would play well in late-inning relief role if off-speed stuff doesn't develop as expected; could be a very good No. 3 starter.
Pro Player Comparison: Homer Bailey
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