We come to day five of our Baseball Instinct 360° series. As we hit the half way point in our list, the names continue to get more familiar and the list becomes easier to compile and sort. The bulk of our Top Prospects within the 200° to 161° belong to the Diamondbacks with 5 prospects and the Dodgers, Marlins, Athletics and Blue Jays with 3 prospects each. Look for all of these players and many others in the following weeks and months ahead as we break them down in our Prospect Instinct series.
200°. Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins, 10/02/1989 - He posted a triple slash of .242/.354/.368 in 443 at bats in the Florida State League in 2011. He’s a solid defender and if he can realize his offensive potential and make it to the show, he could be a gold glove winner. There’s a good chance he starts out at AA so the Twins can see what they really have. I think we will find out if his power potential is going to emerge this season, or if he’s strictly going to be a guy who gets on and steals 20-30 bases a season. Another outlier scenario has Hicks return to the mound. Just some food for thought. ETA 2013.
199°. Collin Cowgill, OF, Athletics, 5/22/1986 - He just keeps producing, and his 2011 season was his best yet. He upped his walk rate to 11% while keeping his K rate below 20%. His .200 IsoP and .354 AVG were both career highs. The average was boosted by a very high .397 BABIP but even at that level I’m now confident that Cowgill will be a .285 hitter with both average power and speed. But he still might slot better as a 4th OF long-term. ETA Now.
198°. Jaff Decker, OF, Padres, 2/23/1990 - After starting the 2011 season ablaze Decker fell off. I definitely want to see his average come up from his 2011 level, and his ability to do so will likely be the difference between whether Decker is a below average outfielder or a very good outfielder. Since he was young for his competition, it is entirely reasonable to believe he will adapt and become a major force at the plate as he develops his game. ETA 2013.
197°. Reese Havens, 2B, Mets 10/20/1986 - He has 792 at bats….over 4 years. He’s probably going to get a look this spring, and “if” he can stay healthy, may make the club in one capacity or another since the Mets didn’t resign Reyes and didn’t address their glaring short comings in the middle infield. Still, I’d prefer to see him back at AA to establish himself as reliable and then make the transition to the majors later in the 2012 season. He’s a major league regular when he’s healthy and should be with the Mets to stay in 2012. ETA 2012.
196°. Freddy Galvis, 2B/SS, Phillies, 11/14/1989 - Galvis is a special glove that could step in defensively right now. His bat is passable and he hit .298 in a short stint in Triple A, while hitting 22 doubles, 8 HRs and stealing 19 SB in Double A. If he can come anywhere near that in the show he’ll be a solid regular. He’s not going to be a fantasy baseball star, but the glove is excellent. Now that Jimmy signed, Galvis is a utility infielder. And a good one at that. He’ll see Philly in 2012 and should spell both Rollins and Utley. He’s not going to hit .300 and isn’t going to have a ton of power, but the glove and good speed make him a valuable player for a franchise. ETA 2012.
195°. Yordy Cabrera, SS, Athletics, 9/03/1990 - He has a good glove and a plus arm. It seems likely that a shift to 3B could happen in the future. He’s a terribly raw hitter, but by most accounts is an astute player. He should be able to develop into a player who can hit for average, with above average power. I’m not convinced that the speed on the base paths is going to hold up as he grows up; but it’s a pleasant bonus in the meantime. He’s likely to get another dose of the Midwest League in 2012. ETA 2015.
194°. Andrew Chafin, LHP, Diamondbacks, 6/17/1990 - Based on upside as a lefty, Chafin would be higher on this list. But his command and stamina are not all the way back since spending 2010 recovering from TJ, and his changeup is still below average. He’ll need to time to refine the 3rd offering and get his command back in full. If he’s rushed, he’ll end up in the bullpen. If he’s given the development time, and in this system he can, He could move into the middle of a rotation as a #3 starter. ETA 2015.
193°. Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Marlins, 4/02/1989 - One of the better pitching prospects in the Marlins’ system. He went 12-10 with a 3.64 ERA, with a 7.16 K/9 and a 4.31 BB/9 rate in the Florida State League for 2011. He throws a 93 MPH fastball that can touch 95 along with a 12-6 tight curveball. His slider is still a work in progress and is a below average offering. I’m hopeful that he can be a 3rd-4th starter in the majors, but I’m also realistic that he may get there, and quick, out of the bullpen. He will get a healthy dose of Double-A in 2012. ETA 2014.
192°. Garrett Richards, RHP, Angels, 5/27/1988 - Richards mixes up 4 above average pitches, and could become a decent #2 starter in the major leagues. It’s been suggested that he could end up as a quality set-up man, possibly even a closer. We like his upside potential of a #2 starter but ultimately he could be an effective #3 or #4 starter. Expect to see him start the 2012 season at Triple-A Salt Lake. ETA 2012.
191°. LJ Hoes, OF, Orioles, 3/05/1990 - After hitting .306 in Double-A in 2011, I think there’s little doubt that Hoes has the contact ability to hit at the highest level. I think his bat profiles better at 2B and the move to the OF is going to lessen his overall value. But the OF is where his glove profiles if he’s going to get fast-tracked to Baltimore. He has the upside to become a 20/20 player which would make him plenty valuable anyway. ETA 2013.
190°. A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks, 12/05/1987 - Pollock had a lost 2010 season, but made quick work of getting back onto the radar in 2011. His .309 AVG shows his best tool is his bat. He’s an all around solid player both offensively and defensively. He’s going to be an average defender, but his game lacks power or elite speed. But with a solid hitting ability and enough speed to steal 30+ bases he’s going to be at least a 4th OF and possibly a solid starting LF for a few years. There’s a high floor here though the ceiling is limited as well. ETA 2012.
189°. Derek Norris, C, Athletics, 2/14/1989 - At first glance the drop in batting average 3 years straight (.286 to .235 to .210) for Norris is concerning. His triple slash of .210/.367/.446 in 2011 is puzzling as this gave him a .236 ISoP. He’s got good pop in his bat and can get on base and steal bases, despite striking out a ton. Now in Oakland, he’s close to the big leagues and should be a solid backup while maturing. If he ever becomes an average contact hitter he’ll have the power and OBP of a star. But that’s a long stretch considering the .210 AVG in 2011. ETA 2012.
188°. Tyler Pastornicky, SS, Braves, 12/13/1989 - Pastornicky is an option for the Braves right out of camp in 2012 and Manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated that Pastornicky is his guy. Will they bring in a veteran? Possibly, but they’ve been known to start rookies right out of the gate. Pastornicky is a baseball rat. His skill set doesn’t suggest he will be an above average SS, but his make up may allow him to be a starter, or at minimum a super-utility type capable of playing multiple positions. ETA 2012.
187°. Neftali Soto, 1B, Reds, 2/28/1989 - Sotos’ lack of athleticism may make it hard for him to find a position that will get him to the show. Ultimately it is his bat that will decide if/when he makes it to the big leagues. The increasing power trend is very good and must continue for Soto to make it as a big leaguer. He likely starts in triple-A ball, but could be seen in a Reds uniform in 2012 before the year is out. Neftali Soto has the potential to be a good major league bat, but there are some holes in his swing and lack of defensive position are detriments to reaching his full potential. ETA 2012.
186°. Angelo Songco, OF, Dodgers, 9/09/1988 - It’s clear he has an idea of what he’s doing at the plate. He has progressed well throughout his young career but his 2011 season was phenomenal. He hit .313 with 29 HR and 114 RBI for The Quakes. Barring any setbacks Angelo Songco could raise a few eyebrows as he advances through the Dodgers system, however he really needs to learn to take more walks and hit lefties. If he can’t, his ceiling is a 4th outfielder or a 1B platoon. ETA 2014.
185°. Josh Vitters OF, Cubs, 8/27/1989 - We loved Vitters coming out of High School and remain believers, but time is running short for him to become the plus bat some projected. He hasn’t developed the power despite still possessing well above average bat speed. He will need to develop a more refined approach at the plate to get the most of his power potential, especially because of the depth of 3B talents. Vitters may be seeing a shift to 1B or OF next season and will need more bat to be serviceable. ETA 2013.
184°. Domingo Santana, OF, Astros, 8/05/1992 - Signed out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 17 by the Phillies, he has played extremely young at each stop in his professional career. He has a big frame that will likely fill out to be a power-hitting outfielder body. With decent fielding skills and a very strong throwing arm, the question becomes how will the bat develop. With 418 ab’s combined in the 2011 season he had 135k’s. This is the area he needs to work on, but this is often typical of the young international players. ETA 2015.
183°. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Blue Jays, 4/15/1989 – Cuban import with a slick glove and potential with the bat that hasn’t surfaced in the quick rise up the Jays system. He started 2011 in Double-A where he hit just .234 over 464 AB. He did have 22 doubles, 6 triples and 6 HR with 18 SB. So there was production. But a low walk rate limits his upper batting order possibilities. In a short stint to end the season in Triple-A, he caught fire with a .389 AVG over 108 AB. But was back to normal in the AFL where he hit .250 over 78 AB. If he’s going to be in Toronto soon, he’ll end up a bottom of the order hitter. ETA 2013.
182°. Vicmal De La Cruz, OF, Athletics, 11/20/1993 - De La Cruz is young but is already showing an advanced approach at the plate. His power isn’t there yet despite the .140 IsoP. That was driven mostly by his game speed. He also stole 10 bases in 193 AB while hitting 14 doubles and 5 triples. His walk rate was 16.1% and he only struck out 27 times. Those numbers will tough to hold on to. He should come stateside in 2012 and start the season when Rookie level begins. ETA 2016.
181°. Adonys Cardona, RHP, Blue Jays, 1/16/1994 - Cardona gets good reviews on his fastball, which sits in the low 90s and hits 95mph, as well as a changeup that is advanced for his age. However because his curveball is below-average, and the fact that his effort requires some effort have some scouts wondering if he might end up as a relief pitcher. It’s still a bit early to project a ceiling for Cardona as he only turns 18 in January. However the Jays’ remain optimistic, with one of his minor league coaches comparing him to Kelvin Escobar. High praise indeed for a young prospect. ETA 2017.
180°. Trey McNutt, RHP, Cubs, 8/02/1989 - Here’s what we said preseason 2011: McNutt came on strong last season and flashes a plus fastball and average curveball. His fastball gets on hitters fast even though it lacks movements. He’ll need time to develop his changeup in order to stick in the rotation and has mid rotation stuff if that happens. Possibly a power reliever. I’m more sure than ever that McNutt will end up in the bullpen and has the stuff to be a shutdown closer or setup man. ETA 2012.
179°. Chad James, LHP, Marlins, 1/23/1991 - Excellent fastball based on movement, can get in into the low 90s but worst low 90s and mixes in 3 other off speed pitches. 2012 could be a break out season for James. With some improved command, the development of another out pitch, and some deception with his pitches he could shoot up the list soon. Chad James warrants keeping an eye on. He’s projects as solid mid rotation starter and could see action with Marlins in September, but more likely sometime in 2013. ETA 2013.
178°. Angel Sanchez, RHP, Dodgers, 11/28/1989 - Sanchez will more than likely start the season at single A. Based on his performance however he should progress up the ladder after he develops his curve and gains experience and confidence throwing his changeup. Both look like they could eventually be plus pitches to go along with a 97 mph fastball. Another #2 in the making if everything pans out. ETA 2016.
177°. Ravel Santana, OF, Yankees, 5/01/1992 - Prior to the ankle injury this August he played the season in The Gulf Coast League and hit .296, 9 HR, 11 Doubles and 29 RBI in 41 games. The severity of the injury was similar to Diamondbacks star Stephen Drew. Santana’s IsoP continues to trend up year over year and he still has some major room to grow into his 6’2″ frame. His strikeout rate for such a young player is fine and he knows how to take a walk and steal a base. He’s a high-end talent with superstar potential… and a very long way to go to reach that potential. ETA 2016.
176°. Delino Deshields, 2B, Astros, 8/16/1992 - DeShields needs to cut down on the k’s having been punched out 118 times. If he can cut down on the strikeouts there is reason to believe he can become a big-time top of the order hitter. He is quite young at only 19 years old, so he definitely has time to develop. Astros need to be patient with DeShields and let him refine his contact skills and strike zone management. With his blood lines and raw tools there is reason to believe there is a bright future ahead for this young prospect. ETA 2015.
175°. Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks, 12/06/1988 - Eaton’s ability to make consistent contact, work counts to take walks and just get on base, he’s looking like he might find his way into the top of a lineup. Right now he’s been a touch old for the levels he’s been in, but the AFL performance was no fluke for his type of game. If he stays on this path he moves up this ranking system all the way to #5 as a possible #2 hitter with solid LF defense. ETA 2014.
174°. J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins, 3/18/1991 - Realmuto hit .287/.347/.454 with 12 HR and 13 SB in 2011 at Single-A Greensboro. He’s another position player set to debut in the FSL in 2012 and we will be there, video camera in hand. He’s got a rocket for an arm to, gunning down nearly half of those who would try to oppose him. There’s plenty of development, but he projects out as a solid regular with the bat and glove. ETA 2015.
173°. Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers, 4/21/1992 - Scouts have mentioned Pederson may have trouble in center field in big ballparks. But his offense means he’ll certainly get a job as a skilled corner outfielder. We expect he’ll adapt to the better pitching he’s seeing and progress perhaps moving up to AA by the end of the season. With his potential he may be a major key in the Dodgers offense in 2014. Watch him closely, he has the potential to be an exciting player. ETA 2015.
172°. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies, 10/19/1990 - With a demotion back to Asheville and some private instruction even before that, Rockie coaches hope they have the command and mechanical problems licked. This is still a very high ceiling arm that could be projected to the top of the rotation in a few seasons. For more insight into the talented Tyler Matzek, check out his recent Prospect Instinct article. ETA 2014.
171°. Kelvin Herrera, RHP, Royals, 12/31/1989 - Herrera mixed his fastball that touches triple digits at times with a low 80s change up which might be his best pitch as well as a low to mid 80s curve. You won’t fine many relievers with this type of arsenal but arm problems have relegated him to the pen where he could have the stuff to replace Joakim Soria in time. Herrera should start the season in Kansas City pen working as a setup man. ETA Now.
170°. Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds, 8/26/1990 - The biggest negative for Corcino is his diminutive size. Throwing in the mid-90’s as a starting pitcher requires a body that can take a lot of physical demand. His physique puts him at risk of injury. The 139 innings he pitched in 2011 is a great start, but he needs to back that up in 2012 with an even high number of innings pitched. He needs to increase his arm strength and durability as he increases his level of competition. Look for him to start in High A ball, and we expect more of the kind of numbers seen in 2011. If he holds up, he has major league starter “stuff”. ETA 2015.
169°. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Diamondbacks, 7/19/1989 - Low 90s fastball has plus movement and his command is above average. He’s still working on bringing his curveball and changeup to a level that is major league ready, but both pitches project as average offerings with his changeup possibly a little more. Even though he’s not overpowering, he has always produced a high K rate and his 20.6% in 2011 was no different. While he isn’t projected as a frontline starter like Skaggs, Corbin is still a good bet for a mid-rotation starter in the 4-5 mold. He will probably need another season at Double-A in 2012. ETA 2013.
168°. Nick Delmonico, 3B, Orioles, 7/12/1992 - How much power Delmonico develops will determine his upside. It looks like he’s going to get a shot at playing 3B but there are doubts to him sticking there despite the arm for the position. While he’s fluid with the bat he tends to get stiff in the field. He should have the type of bat to be an average 3B, and the dark horse move would be for the Orioles to test him behind the plate as a pro if he doesn’t work at 3B. That move is unlikely but it would make his bat a valuable commodity despite the lack of above average power. ETA 2016.
167°. Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Padres, 3/16/1991 - He shows good on base skills with a combined .316 batting average and .419 OBP in 275 ab’s across 2 levels of ball in 2011. Coupled with 25 stolen bases in that same time frame, the on-base skills translate into an excellent table-setting type player. Obviously, this sample size is small and Spangenberg has a ways to go to reach the majors, but it is very impressive how he adjusted so quickly to professional ball. ETA 2014.
166°. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays, 7/01/1991 - A 2010 1st round pick, Sanchez has had the kid gloves on for his first two seasons and I would expect more of the same in 2012. He should take his low 90s FB, above avg CB and lagging changeup back to the Northwest League after extended spring training. But should see Lansing to close out the year. His high 2011 ERA is more a product of mechanical work and concentrating on his secondaries than a cause for concern. ETA 2015.
165°. David Holmberg, LHP, Diamondbacks, 7/19/1991 - Holmberg is another lefty pitcher that the Dbacks got in a trade. This time for Edwin Jackson. He’s still just 20 and the one glaring weakness in his pitch arsenal was his below average fastball. Prior to 2011, he worked more around the 90 mph range, which wouldn’t have given him much ceiling. But, in 2011 he kicked it up to 93-94 and with a solid curveball and changeup combo he could work the back-end of the rotation in the future. ETA 2014.
164°. Jake Sisco, RHP, Indians, 12/09/1991 - Sisco throws his fastball at 92-95 mph and also features a slider, curveball, and change-up, all have a chance to be above average offerings. Reports say that Sisco keeps his velocity late into games and may even add a few ticks to the radar gun readings. Although the 31 strikeouts in 34.1 innings is a decent mark, Sisco’s lack of command that allowed 40 hits and too many walks was most likely due to the fatigue since he had already pitched 108 innings before the draft. A fresh Sisco should fare better in Lake County in 2012 where the 20-year-old will be young for the level. ETA 2014.
163°. Trevor Story, SS, Rockies, 11/15/1992 - Story’s 2011 performance in Casper is impressive in and of itself. In some cases, as an 18-year-old, Story faced competition older than him by a few years. Yet, he showed the power (.168 ISOP), the speed (12 stolen bases), and the ability to take a walk. With such a showing in a league that other teams like to send college players and Latin talent, Story now has warranted some expectations for 2012 where he’ll play in Asheville. ETA 2015.
162°. Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants, 11/30/1992 - San Francisco seems to do well developing young pitchers, so this would appear to be a good fit. Patience will be needed with this player as he will need to be able to learn how to pitch as opposed to just throw hard. There is high ceiling potential with Crick, but that potential also comes with a high risk that he never reaches that ceiling. This rating is rather aggressive and would be much lower in stronger farm systems. But there is no denying that his potential great. Raw talent demands that he is watched carefully. ETA 2015.
161°. Jordany Valdespin, SS, Mets, 12/23/1987 - He’s been in the organization for 5 years and really took off midway through 2010 and the 2011 season. The Mets have him playing in the Dominican Winter League, perhaps as a primer to challenge Ruben Tejada for the starting job (since they didn’t resign Reyes) in 2012. So far it isn’t pretty, with a triple slash line of .222/.288/.352 in 54 at bats with Licey. He’s got to work counts deeper and draw some walks if he’s going to be taken seriously as a potential MLB regular. Though with a few adjustments he could very well end up the SS in Flushing for the foreseeable future. ETA 2012.
Check back soon as we continue with our Top Prospects List and get our baseball geek on. We will also take a look at the top 21 players for each MLB team later this winter. While you’re here, take a look at a recent article from our Prospect Instinct series: Prospect Instinct|Derek Norris and be a step ahead of the game. Also, check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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