When doing a series like this, you find yourself constantly moving prospects around and reexamining why they are here in the first place. That’s where the fun begins. This should prove to be an exciting year for us working on the Baseball Instinct 360°. This particular section; Top Prospects 80° to 41° – we’ve seen these players in person. No, none of us individually have seen them all, but as a whole. The full Baseball Instinct 360° list is comprised of players that we’ve had the pleasure of watching or consulting with people that have – sans the VSL and DSL players, however we are working on the situation too. We look forward to the 2012 season and to blow the doors off the awesome video list we comprised in 2011. Thanks for taking the time to read our offerings – we put a lot of effort into them and it’s been very rewarding to see the traffic they are getting!
80°. Rougned Odor, SS, Rangers, 2/3/1994 – It is too early to make a solid judgment on Odor, but there is an intriguing set of skills starting with a potential speed/power combination at a premium position. We would like see Odor improve his strike zone management skills and develop more power along the way, while making sure that he stays out of trouble. Odor is light years away from being a finished product, but his development bears watching closely because his tools can be projected as well above average and if he grows into that frame he could have above average power as well. High upside with a chance to bust if not developed properly. But a player we would want in our system. ETA 2016.
79°. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins, 7/31/1992 – Despite the talk of not having the body to be a starter, he’s definitely got the make up and the arsenal of pitches for it. I believe his floor is that of a lock-down 8th inning type, with stud closer stuff. I’m willing to bet though that his ceiling is at least a solid #2 in the majors. Very anxious to see him work a full season and since he’s a year old for a typical high schooler, look for the Marlins to be aggressive with him. ETA 2015.
78°. Dante Bichette, Jr., 3B, Yankees, 9/26/1992 – Clearly an outstanding debut. 12.7% walk rate and just a 16.9% K rate along with elite power. It hasn’t shown as HRs yet, but in time those doubles start leaving the yard. He’s a long way off and the defensive spot is still in question. He’ll start 2012 with the Staten Island Yankees but could see Low-A before the end of the 2012 season. The bat doesn’t have glaring holes, so maturity and time will tell just how good he can be and if the bat will indeed be elite. ETA 2016.
77°. Allen Webster, RHP, Dodgers, 2/10/1990 – He’s still working the kinks out of switching from a position player to a pitcher, but he’s been remarkable so far. With 2 plus pitches and the development of one of his other pitches into a third average pitch he could have a ceiling as a number 2 starter. Of course, continued increase of velocity will help make that a reality, but if he peaks out at 94-95 mph he’s still got a good shot at being a quality 3 or 4 in the majors. There’s no reason to believe he won’t get a cup of coffee with the big club in the fall. ETA 2012.
76°. Jonathan Schoop, SS, Orioles, 10/16/1991 – If he hits like he has when it’s been going well, Schoop is an above-average SS or CF and easily an everyday 3B in Major League Baseball. There is some chance he could be better than that. Unfortunately, based on the peaks and valleys, the still raw swing, and Schoop’s age, he is far from a sure thing to even make it to the bigs at this point. The walks concern me. And it’s not just the raw walk numbers. Schoop has just not shown good strike zone judgment. He’s not a hitter like Robinson Cano or Starlin Castro who can swing at everything and still hit. He has to refine that skill, which he still has plenty of time to do. If he does, and continues to advance in the way he has, the Orioles will have the beautiful problem of figuring out what to do with two fantastic SS prospects. ETA 2014.
75°. Nestor Molina, RHP, White Sox, 1/9/1989 – Molina’s best pitch is a 91-93 mph fastball that he commands very well. With just 16 walks in 130.1 innings in 2011 he’s a pitcher who hits his spots and doesn’t beat himself. He works fastballs low and outside painting the black and uses a sinker to get ground balls and a slider as an out pitch. His 4 seam is an average pitch with plus command, but the sinker is a plus pitch with movement and command. He slid right into the top of the White Sox SP prospect ranks. While he isn’t an Ace type, his pitch mix and command make him a nice bet to fill out the #4 spot in a rotation. His frame is a little small, so workhorse #3 is unlikely, but sometimes pitchers are just better than their peripherals. Molina is one of those guys. ETA 2013.
74°. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees, 12/2/1992 – Patience and immaturity, and not his ability, are major factors at this point for Sanchez. When his head is in the game full on, he takes more walks and strikes out less. That’s when his elite raw power shows through. With as much chaos that has surrounded him we’re talking about a longer learning curve. His concentration on learning the ways of a professional catcher no doubt hinder his performance at the plate right now. He may not make his debut for another 3+ years if he going to be a catcher. ETA 2015.
73°. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds, 9/9/1990 – You can’t evaluate Reds middle infielder Billy Hamilton without acknowledging that he has elite speed. It truly defines his game. Look for him to start high-A ball in 2012, and watch the strikeout and walk rates closely. Hamilton simply has to develop a better contact rate and improve plate discipline. If and when he does, not even Wiley Coyote can catch him as he races up the prospect charts. ETA 2014.
72°. Zach Lee, RHP, Dodgers, 9/13/1991 – Lee is just one season into his career but the future looks bright for him. If he’s able to make his curveball a more consistent pitch he is going to have 3 average to plus offerings. That alone puts him as a pretty solid bet to find his way into the middle of the Dodgers rotation. If his fastball upticks and his command continues in the same direction he will have a plus fastball and plus command. That will allow him to be a solid #2 starter that can work 200+ innings a season. His K rates will probably only be slightly above average, but enough to make him very effective because of his command. ETA 2014.
71°. Chad Bettis, RHP, Rockies, 4/26/1989 – Bettis will most certainly start the 2012 season in Double-A. It will be interesting to see if he can keep on missing bats while limiting the free passes as consistently as he has to this point. He has the kind of stuff that allows him to make mistakes up in the zone and not pay for it too much, but I think he’ll need to raise that 46% groundball rate and keep the ball out of the bleachers more to find similar success at higher levels. Mid-rotation starter or a closer. 2012 will probably let us know. ETA 2013.
70°. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays, 11/4/1990 – During his younger years I think Lee will have enough speed, contact and glove to be a useful player for the Rays. He has enough speed to be a 30 SB type now. The power would surprise me if he ever hit 10 HR in a season while he was still able to steal 30 bags. If he can learn to better work counts and boost his bb% over 10% it would put him at a very high OBP level and give him one elite level skill. That skill set growth alone, with the current speed, would make him an ideal leadoff hitter with or without any additional power development. That’s his ceiling. Very usable. His floor is quite high as well, as a major league utility infielder. That’s why he landed on our Top 100 List. He’ll never be an elite level talent, but the chances are good that he becomes a league average player or better and that’s tough to come by. ETA 2014.
69°. Vinny Catricala, 3B, Mariners, 10/31/1988 – His bat looks like it could be very good. Interestingly V-Cat probably has a higher fantasy value than he does real value to the Mariners. His bat is too good not insert into the lineup, but his glove is below average. He has played 1b, 3b and is likely capable of some outfield. But he will likely never even be major league average at any of those positions. This is a player I expect to see receiving a lot more fantasy love very soon. I would expect V-cat to start in AA, but look for a promotion by the end of the season. ETA 2013.
68°. Yasmani Grandal, C Padres, 11/8/1988 – We can look at his current production to evaluate his potential. His bat is a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat. Last year he slugged a .500 slugging percentage across 3 levels of competition with 14 hr’s and 68 rbi’s in 374 at-bats. The Padres have no one in the way for this Hurricanes product. Grandal should make his debut some time in 2012 and be an above average defender and hitter. Not easy to find catcher who can work both sides of the game and handle a pitching staff. Grandal seems to be that type of player. ETA 2012.
67°. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies, 10/22/1991 – Biddle has #3 upside and the frame to work innings. He’ll need to have the velocity uptick to the 93-95 range to get the most separation from that changeup. It’s going to be a couple of years before he’s ready, but the Phils are ok at the upper levels already, so there is no reason to rush him. The Jupiter Hammerheads play the Threshers in late May, so we’ll have a complete video breakdown with a Prospect Instinct then. Mark your calender. Biddle is an upside lefty with the frame to match and that doesn’t come along all the time. ETA 2015.
66°. Jeurys Familia, RHP, Mets, 10/10/1989 – We had Familia at #89 in our 2011 Top 100. I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones who were ahead of the curve on him. He proved worthy and has moved up even further. A move to the bullpen would be a waste of his ability. A plus to plus plus FB and hard slider give him the two pitches to be lights out in the pen, but a 2011 advancement of his CU give him SP upside. A little more time to refine the command and he has mid-rotation upside. Very little downside with this kid. ETA 2013.
65°. Gary Brown, OF, Giants, 9/28/1988 – He has to become more disciplined to reach what he can become. If he does, he can be a star player. I think there is more power there than anybody originally saw out of college. I’m just not as ready to write off the strike zone issues as something that will come in time. We will get a very good feel for Brown’s future when he hits AA next year. There, he won’t be able to use his natural talent to dominate the pitchers. I expect him to struggle out of the gate. It will be up to him to make the adjustments that will set him for a long, successful career. ETA 2013.
64°. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Rays, 12/1/1992 – We had Taylor Guerrieri ranked #8 in our 2011 MLB Draft preview and our views haven’t changed on him. We still believe that Guerrieri was one of the steals of the 2011 draft and we certainly have high expectations for him. He just turned 19 and with more consistency, Guerrieri might be able to add more zip on his fastball, pushing it into the upper 90’s. Along with further development of his 88-90mph cutter and/or changeup will help raise Guerrieri’s profile even higher next year. ETA 2016.
63°. Jonathon Singleton, 1B, Astros, 9/18/1991 - He is big, strong and can hit with power. After a .478 slugging percentage in 2010, he followed up with a .439 in 2011. Of course, the power also comes with rbi’s having driven in 138 runs over the last 2 seasons. A very undervalued skill set that enhances Singleton’s likelihood to succeed is his ability to control the strike zone. There’s still questions whether he will develop enough power to be a good major league 1B. ETA 2014.
62°. A. J. Cole, RHP, Athletics, 1/5/1992 – The 2010 4th round pick of the Nationals went 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA, a 10.92 K/9 and a 2.43 BB/9 ratio in 89 innings over 20 games with Single-A Hagerstown of the SAL at age 19. He was traded this off season in a deal that brought SP Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals. He has a good fastball and curveball. If he can develop his changeup he could be a solid #2 in his prime, otherwise you’re looking at a middle of the rotation type guy. ETA 2014.
61°. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs, 8/2/1988 – While he doesn’t have the ceiling of others in the Cubs organization, he is by far the most ready to contribute. He’s a 5 tool talent, but those tools are average. He’ll be a very good player but not a superstar. If he has a weakness, it’s his ability to make consistent contact. His combined statistics over two levels: .274/.379/.490 with 20 HRs and 21 SBs…and 138 strikeouts, may be a foreshadowing of what kind of player he’ll be in the big leagues. ETA NOW.
60°. Starling Marte, OF, Pirates, 10/09/1988 – He suffered a broken hamate bone in 2010. Marte recovered and played in 129 games for Double-A Altoona in 2011, .322 AVE, 38 doubles, 12 HR, 24 stolen bases. Scouts worry that he may not have the strength to be a plus power hitter but he does have above average bat speed. He has tremendous bat speed and contact ability, yet lacks plate discipline. He should start 2012 in Triple-A and be one of the first call ups if injury strikes the OF. ETA 2012.
59°. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Braves, 9/13/1990 – Vizcaino dominated every stop between HiA-Lynchburg and AAA-Gwinnett in 2011. In August, Vizcaino found himself in the majors as part of the Braves’ bullpen in order to give him some MLB experience, preserve his arm and prepare him for the Braves’ “playoff run”. He has a plus fastball and plus curveball. The Braves may decide to keep him the bullpen for the 2012 season rather than send him back to AAA to start, we will see. ETA NOW.
58°. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox, 9/9/1988 – Middlebrooks’ best tools are his power and arm, both of which rate a plus. His hitting ability isn’t too bad either judging by his triple slash line he put up in AA/AAA this year of .285/.328/.506. However of concern is his strikeouts (114k in 439ab, 465pa) and low bb:k ratio (26:114). But to give him credit he has improved his strikeout rate over the past four years from around 30% to 25%. He needs to keep improving his plate discipline if he’s to be the major league stud that many think he will be. A good dose of AAA in 2012 is needed. ETA 2012.
57°. Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals, 7/1/1989 - Mike maintained velocity throughout games, regularly throwing in the 90-94 range while touching 96, as well as improving his changeup to his best pitch. The big lefties biggest problems at this point is finding consistency with his looping curveball and with the strikezone throughout an entire start as he tended to lose it at times. He started to work with a cutter late in the season which combined with his change could keep righthanders off of his fastball. Montgomery can flash the stuff that makes him look like a potential #1 but he’ll need to find consistency with his curve to achieve that goal. We should see him in Kansas City at some point in 2012. ETA 2012.
56°. Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees, 3/23/1988 – In 2011, Dellin had a 3.42 ERA in 105 innings at Double-A Trenton with a 25% K rate. The K rate was down from 2010, but still excellent. He’s still working out command issues which hinge more on his big frame and cleaning up the mechanics than anything else. So often you hear “there’s more moving parts” with big guys like this. And that’s just not a physical possibility. Same moving parts. He just needs to learn to use his longer legs and arms to his benefit. Full stride, get closer to the plate, use the plus stuff. He’ll see the Bronx in 2012 again probably around midseason. ETA 2012.
55°. Javier Baez, SS/3B, Cubs, 12/1/1992 - Offensively he has lightning quick bat speed, which some have compared to another former Florida high school shortstop, Gary Sheffield. Baez is an aggressive hitter although he did show some ability to take walks as an amateur. He has a chance to be an impact hitter who can hit for average and power, decent speed, as well as a solid glove that will likely need to be moved to 3B or the outfield. ETA 2015.
54°. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Padres, 4/8/1987 – With a triple-A slash line of .296/.374/.486 in 409 plate appearances, Alonso is a good combination of offensive skills. He brings good contact rates and decent power numbers. In 358 at-bats he hit 12 hr’s, 56 rbi’s and 24 doubles. His power is more of a line-drive and gap power than a home run hitter. Now with Rizzo in Chicago, the Padres have made their choice for 2012 1B. ETA 2012.
53°. Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals, 10/10/1990 – Wong has a high baseball IQ which we like to call baseball instinct, oddly enough. He’ll be a solid defender at 2B and has more than enough arm to handle the position. He projects as a .300+ hitter and should develop 10-15 HR power. While he isn’t fast, he is a good base runner and could steal 20 annually.It shouldn’t take long for him to make the move all the way to St. Louis. Possibly very soon. ETA 2013.
52°. Randall Delgado, RHP, Braves, 2/9/1990 – In 2011, he made his MLB debut and started seven games. While Delgado had a 2.83 ERA in those seven starts, his 5.14 FIP and .220 BABIP indicate that he was very lucky and unable to sustain a sub-3.00 ERA just yet. Randall Delgado throws a plus fastball with movement in the low 90’s, which he’s been known to hit 96 mph. His curveball and changeup flash plus potential from game to game, but are not consistently at that level yet. He’s going to get a chance to be in the rotation, but really could use some more time at AAA in 2012. ETA 2012.
51°. Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox, 6/17/1990 – As one of our Twitter followers, we should probably say something glowing about Barnes. However, his arm makes that easy. Barnes is so very much a Red Sox type of pick. He’s a former college starter with a high floor with and enough upside to be a frontline starter. It will exciting to see his debut in 2012 as the Red Sox’s farm has not seen such a talented pitcher since graduating Clay Buchholz. He throws 3 pitches for outs and this may be a very conservative rank for him and he could move upward fast. ETA 2013.
50°. Mike Choice, OF, Athletics, 11/10/1989 – The A’s top draft in 2010, Choice has blossomed in his stint in pro ball. Choice has shown that his power was real, and has taken a step forward in all aspects of his game. He does have a weakness, however, like most power prospects, and that is strikeouts. If Choice can get his whiff rate under control, he can be a star. If he cannot, then he will fall by the way side. How he handles off-speed stuff in AA this season will tell us a lot. ETA 2014.
49°. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers, 3/04/1992 – Nick put together some solid numbers in his first full season of pro ball. At Low-A West Michigan, he hit .314 with 159 hits, 36 doubles, 8 home runs, 45 walks and 129 strikeouts in 507 at bats. The strikeouts are a concern but not troubling at this point because he makes terrific contact. The most often heard quibbles involve a lack of power (.130 ISOP), but this is a tall rangy kid whose body will fill out some more yet. He’s likely headed to the FSL in 2012. ETA 2015.
48°. Josh Bell, OF, Pirates, 8/14/1992 – Possibly the steal of the 2011 draft, this switch hitter has above average power from both sides of the plate and while players his age still learning to hit from their weak side, he’s a proven commodity from both sides. He’s not going to be a premium defender but the bat projects out well with both power and contact ability. Bell should start the season out in Low-A, but could progress into full season action quickly in 2012. ETA 2016.
47°. Travid D’Arnaud C, Blue Jays, 2/10/1989 - D’Arnaud has a quick bat and uses the whole field. Offensively he had a great year in AA putting up triple slash line of .311/.371/.542 including 21 home runs. Though scouts believe in his tools, temper your expectations of him. He played in a hitting friendly environment but still had 33bb to 100k in 466pa, 424ab. He should be able to hit for average and some power, while being average defensively in the majors. He’s currently blocked in Toronto, but he does make for a nice trade chip and should get some time in the majors in 2012, but will likely get a lengthy stay in AAA. ETA 2013.
46°. James Darnell, 3B, Padres, 1/19/1987 – In 422 ab’s he had 23 Hr with 79 rbi’s. With a combined .333 ba and .406 obp, there is every reason to believe that he can handle major league pitching. Despite the fact that he will be hitting in the cavernous Petco park, I see a very productive future for Darnell. Very good fantasy value can be found with this prospect. I look for a good batting average, with an even better OBP. Combine that with decent power potential and you have yourself a player that would look good on your fantasy squad. ETA 2012.
45°. Jose Campos, RHP, Mariners, 7/27/1992 – I would expect him to wind up starting the season in High A ball in 2012. If he can maintain consistency of his FB and slider while developing his curveball, Campos will become a well-known prospect. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mariners exhibit patience with him and take their time with a potential number 1 or 2 starter. I look for big things from the young pitcher and advise you not to be late to the jump on the Campos bandwagon. ETA 2015.
44°. Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Cardinals, 7/20/1992 - Jenkins is the youngest of the four possible high end starters in the system. He should turn an already above average fastball into a plus pitch. His secondaries are still a work in progress, but he’s so young that it’s far from a concern. They both flash potential and some tweaks to his mechanics point to above average command as well. He has #2 upside depending on how far along his changeup advances. He should see the Midwest league in 2012. ETA 2015.
43°. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Cardinals, 5/29/1990 – Rosenthal made the the biggest jump inside the Cards system in 2011. He sat just outside the Top 15 last season and is now viewed as one of the top arms in all of the minor leagues. Rosenthal has a mid 90s fastball and touches 97. He uses a mid 80s slider as a put away pitch, but it was his change up that made the biggest strides in 2011. Rosenthal has the 3 pitch mix to be a mid rotation starter and could be as much as a #2. He should move to the FSL sometime in 2012 where he’ll work with Carlos Martinez and coach Dennis Martinez. I can see him moving station to station towards St. Louis. This ranking will be viewed by many as overly aggressive, however we think he’s an exciting player and stand behind it. ETA 2014.
42°. George Springer, OF, Astros, 9/19/1989 – Springer was drafted as the 11th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. Springer is an excellent five-tool athlete that seems to do everything well. His outfield skills translate very well to the major leagues already. With good power and speed, the only question is his ability to make contact for a high batting average. He should be able to stick in centefield and could move fast. ETA 2014.
41°. Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees, 3/13/1991 – Banuelos is a possible #3 starter with #2 upside. He’s still working on his command of the curveball and should get a little more time in Triple-A to get ready for the Yankees. He’ll slot into the back of the rotation and work his way into the middle eventually. His size is still a concern, but as we mentioned he gets velocity without max effort. Command will be his biggest ally if he hits his upside. 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 email@example.com.
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