Continuing our run through the Top 10 Lists for positional prospects, we find ourselves at the OF spot. Because of the vast number of OF prospects we’re actually going to break this position down into the AL and the NL. We’ll start here with the AL. Because it comes first in the alphabet. Good of a reason as any I guess. So once again, let’s take a step back and take a broad look at the minor leagues as we go position by position and bring to you the Top Position Lists with some additional players and information.
As we said, we’ll be analyzing the Baseball Instinct 360° not only full circle, but 365 days a year. The deeper we get into the video and our customized Instinctools Stat System, the more the view changes from the top.
So let’s get into the vastness of the OF and give you the list with some of the current thoughts.
3°. Mike Trout, OF, Angels, 8/7/1991 – Trout is already seeing major league at bats. He’s still only 20 years old. So there is a slight chance that the Angels, currently stuck in a logjam for the 2012 outfield, could give him a little time in Triple-A. But I don’t think it’s needed, and I think he gives them the best solution for one of the outfield spots. We said in our 2010 Prospect Instinct| Mike Trout that “Trout’s ETA is late season 2011 as a 20-year-old and then full-time in 2012. At his peak, he could be a 20 HR, 40+ SB threat and hit around .300-.315 for a long stretch.” While things are changing in L.A., we’ve been right so far and we don’t see any reason to change our opinion now. ETA Now.
Update Instinct – Because of a weak AFL showing there are some doubters, though very few. He should be allowed to mature a little at Triple-A if the Angels can’t unload the albatross contract of Wells. Either way, there is a high probability that he sees time with the team again in 2012.
11°. Wil Myers, OF, Royals, 12/10/1990 – Myers was high on this last season and despite a struggle in 2011 due to some injuries, he’s still here. He tore up the AFL, cementing himself as one of the top bats in the minor leagues. He should see some Double-A action again in 2012 before heading to Omaha. He could get a call up late in the season. He’s a .300 type with 20 HR power and an arm for RF. ETA 2013.
Update Instinct – Myers raked in the AFL and seems poised for a true breakout 2012 season. His hand-eye contact ability is off the charts and that hit tool seems to be certain to translate at the higher levels. How much power he develops will determine if he’s an average regular or a possible All-Star.
21°. Jake Marisnick, OF, Blue Jays, 3/30/1991 – Marisnick has the ability to be a special player. He has an all around game that doesn’t come together often and he’s quietly maturing in the Jays system without much of the baseball community noticing how talented he is. His upside is a 30/30 RF in his prime. His downside is somewhere around a 4th OF with above average speed and 20 HR power as a platoon player. But the odd part is that he actually been better against right-handers although he’s hit well against both lefties and righties. So I don’t see him as a platoon player. I think the everyday player is there in this player profile. Whether he hits that 30/30 ceiling is still a few years away. High-A Dunedin of the FSL is his next stop. I’ll get to see a lot of him next season and look forward to even more indepth insights. ETA 2015.
Update Instinct – The Blue Jays have a ton of talent wrapped up in 2 OF prospects named Gose and Marisnick. In our opinion, it’s Marisnick that is the one who is actually putting that on display currently. When you have a player who has the potential to be a 30/30 player and he’s just maturing as a hitter with already solid peripherals, you don’t dismiss that talent. If all falls into place, it will be Gose that is the better player, but the floor for Marisnick is much higher with the ceiling not too much different with the bat.
23°. Eddie Rosario, OF/2B, Twins, 9/28/1991 – Rosario had an impressive debut in 2010 as an 18-year-old in the Gulf Coast League. He hit .294 with 5 HRs and 22 SB in 194 at bats in 2010. He followed up that impressive season by displaying an awesome power/speed combination in the Appalachian League by posting a triple slash of .337/.397/.670. It was one of, if not the, best minor league performances in 2011. He still has to prove he do it against advanced pitchers and the FSL will be his first true test. He may start 2011 in Fort Myers. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Rosario is actually making a second appearance on our Top Positional Lists Series. It’s not a mistake, it’s just pointing out the fact that there is an uncertainty with where this kid will end up. The 2B project is probably a long shot but worth it for the Twins. If he fails there and is forced to an OF corner he still ranks high on the OF Lists. In and of itself, that’s an impressive feat. But this is where he probably belongs, the OF.
24°. Bubba Starling, OF, Royals, 8/3/1992 – Starling is probably the best athlete out of the 2011 draft and is the top 5 tool talent in the draft. At 6-5 I think eventually he’ll need to move out of CF to a corner which is why he isn’t near the top of this list. Could he crash and burn? Sure. But only an advanced talent like Myers kept Starling from the #1 spot in the organization. That speaks to his immense 5 tool ability. He’s a long way out though. ETA 2015.
Update Instinct – All raw tools and we’ve seen players like this implode under the pressure of turning tools into skills after becoming multi-millionaires. Yes, there is a human factor to this business. But if we were drafting now, how could you pass up on a possible organizational changing talent.
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.
Update Instinct – High level power. We’re happy with the ranking despite the industry outlook on the A’s system as a whole. He’s young enough to mature as a hitter and this kind of power isn’t taught.
83°. Mason Williams, OF, Yankees, 10/21/1991 – Williams has excellent speed, but he’s very swing happy. His natural ability to make contact is playing up at the lower levels right now, but as he moves up the ladder, he’ll start seeing less pitches to hit and will need to make adjustments. He should develop average power in time since he’s currently noted as at 150 lbs with a 6′ frame. There is room to grow. Expect him to make a jump to Low-A in 2012 and spend the entire season there working on his approach at the plate. If all breaks right, he could be a top of the order hitter and stick in CF. ETA 2015.
Update Instinct – Williams would just be starting his Junior year in college had he passed on the Yankees signing bonus and this time he would not have fallen out of the 1st round. This is a top talent but he still needsa bunch of refinement to get the most out of his tools. High level hit tool with excellent speed means time to develop and he’s a top of the order talent. Rush him and he could implode. The Yankees don’t need to rush an offensive player. But will he be a Yankee long term. There could be room for him in time with a player like Granderson sliding to a corner but we’re talking years out.
86°. Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins, 5/9/1991 – Arcia was signed back on the 4th of July in 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela. He now has 4 seasons under his belt at age 20 and has made steady progress since his debut in 2008. He posted a .291/.335/.531 line between the MWL and the FSL. However, his FSL debut wasn’t as good as you would hope as he battled injuries and looked lost at the plate at times, falling into bad habits that so many young Latin American prospects fall into: swinging at balls in the dirt. As you can imagine, his K rate went up and his BB rate went down, affecting his numbers across the board. However, Arcia’s Midwest campaign was excellent and a repeat of the FSL seems likely. Look for a rebound and more power. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Arcia had a little bit of a tough transition in the FSL but the underlying skillset remains intact. Look for a rebound and he could make quick work of the FSL before heading to Double-A by the end of 2012.
The Rest of the Top 10
102°. Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers, 3/6/1988 – He would look good batting ahead of the power bats in the Texas lineup. One cautionary note: his performance dropped significantly from double A to triple A competition. There is a substantial decrease in Martin’s slash line and walk rate as well as significant increase in Martin’s k-rate as he rose to the triple A level. However, the amount of transition he underwent in such a short time can account for much of the performance hit. Already 23 years old, there isn’t any reason to hold Martin in the minors for very long. I expect him to be the regular centerfielder in the Texas outfield in short order. His speed and on-base capabilities are an excellent fit with the Texas Rangers. Success may soon follow. ETA 2012.
Update Instinct – Normally a Cuban or other established international player would be excluded from the Top Lists. However, Martin was a product from 2011 and may or may not be ready for full time action so we’re going to err on the side of prospect right now. He’s far more advanced than most first year prospects and could see Texas soon. A league average CF would put him above my expectations but he does have that ceiling.
104°. Grant Green, OF, Athletics, 9/27/1987 – Green’s move to the outfield has been a success thus far and the A’s hope he can be their everyday centerfielder of the future. Green reportedly had good range at shortstop but was extremely erratic in his throwing. Instead of testing Green at 3B, where such a defensive flaw might still persist, the A’s moved Green to the outfield. He hit well at the Arizona Fall League, posting a .290/.342/.551 triple slash and a .261 ISoP. He’s headed for AAA and if can prove himself there, look for him around the All-Star break in 2012. ETA 2012.
Update Instinct – Green has been a top prospect since being drafted as a SS. The fact that he didn’t stick at SS definitely drops him down the ranks and this ranking is more of a remnant of what he could have been. A move to CF still keeps his defensive value at a premium up the middle position. His fall back in offensive production may have been an outlier and we’ll be watching him closely. The power should bounce back some and if he can hold the stat line he has a .280 hitter with double digit HRs and bunch of doubles in the bat.
The Best of the Rest
133°. Drew Vettleson, OF, Rays, 7/19/1991 – While I don’t question his defensive capabilities in the OF, particularly his arm strength, whether he becomes an impact bat (or a starting OF, rather than a 4th OF?) or not depends on how much power he will develop in addition to his ability to hit and take a pitch. He hit well in the Appalachian League and has gap power for now, so signs are positive if he can add on some bulk. It may slow him down, but we’ve seen that he has great instincts both on the bases and in the field. ETA 2015.
144°. Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays, 8/10/1990 – Gose has been amongst the fastest players in the minors since he was drafted. However, his inexperience in reading pitchers and getting good leads got him in trouble last year; he got caught 32 times in 77 attempts In A+ ball. His improvements on the base path are evident as he stole 70 bases in 85 attempts playing a full year at AA. In addition to speed, Gose also shows plus tools with his arm and glove, but his hit and power tools might never be more than average, if even that. Of growing concern is his high strike out rates which have increased to 154k in 509ab and 587pa. Though considering the kid is only 20 and playing in AA ball, he has time to cut down on his strikeouts. Gose has always been loaded with tools, but it was only this year that he started translating them to results. His display in the AFL has drawn many favorable reviews from scouts and baseball analysts. His ceiling is enormous if he can develop close to average hit and power tools, and cut down on his strikeout rates. ETA 2013.
Update Instinct – Gose probably should have been a Top 100 prospect. His tools are off the charts but the strikeout totals are very troublesome. The reports coming out of Jays camp are that the high strikeout totals were a by-product of them forcing him to work deeper counts and key into his power to mature as a hitter. So the power became more evident. Missing from his game were the slap hitting and bunting to get on base. Those should be back in play this year if the rumors are true. If that is in fact the case then this ranking will change, probably drastically.
147°. Joe Benson, OF, Twins, 3/5/1988 – Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft, Benson was a football player first but the Twins were able to get him to sign. He hit .284/.387/.491 with 16 HRs and 14 SB in the Double-A Eastern League in 2011 before playing in 21 games for the Twins. He hit .239/.270/.352 in brief time with the big club. Benson offers a modest power/speed combo. If he can fix the hole in his swing, 15-20 HR/SB a season in the majors isn’t out of the question. I think he can stick in center field. He’s got a great arm and is very athletic. He’s going to get a shot to compete for a roster spot right out of spring training, but a trip to AAA – a place he hasn’t been yet, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. ETA 2013.
153°. Guillermo Pimentel, OF, Mariners, 10/5/1992 – This is a player that gets a high ranking more on potential than actual results. He is a young player signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. Since playing in professional baseball he has shown decent results; he had 11HR and 46 RBIs in 245 at bats in rookie ball in 2011. With a 27.4% strikeout ratio per at-bat, Pimentel needs to control the strike zone much better. However, he flashes a left-handed power swing that would play nicely in Safeco park. He is so strong that he doesn’t need to hit the ball squarely to drive the ball out of the park. His defense in the outfield seems adequate for playing at higher levels, so his position is not likely to be a problem as he develops. It should be noted that Pimentel’s struggle with strike zone management is quite common for young international players and at 18 years old he has time to work on his approach at the plate. If he can get it together, he has a bat with plus power. ETA 2015.
155°. Mikie Mahtook, OF, Rays, 11/30/1989 – Mahtook does a bit of everything and does it well, with average or better tools across the board. He has good bat speed and has a chance to be an above average hitter with average power. His best tool is his plus speed, while his weakest is his arm which is fringe average but accurate. If you want to nitpick, then you could say his swing is a little unorthodox in that it’s somewhat compact, or that he doesn’t have any tools that rate more than a plus. However, he has a strong makeup and his scrappy gritty play allows him to play beyond his tools. ETA 2014.
156°. Trayce Thompson, OF, White Sox, 3/15/1991 – Trayce Thompson slugged his way to this spot on the list, bashing 24 homers and 36 doubles with Low-A Kannapolis. A very athletic player who is just beginning to harness his potential, Thompson also walks at a good clip, with 60 free passes in 136 games. He may slow down too much to be a center fielder, but he should be a very good defender in right field, and he has the power bat to carry that position as well. His Achilles’ heel is the strikeout, as he whiffed 172 times this past year. Thompson probably has the most upside of any position player in the system, between his power and athleticism, but the strikeouts are a serious problem that will need a lot of work. A comparable player is Dodgers outfielder Kyle Russell, who has a similar build, athletic ability, and statistical profile, and the proverbial jury is still out on Russell even as he’s advanced to Triple-A. ETA 2015.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Best of the Rest
212°. Luigi Rodriguez, OF, Indians, 11/13/1992 – Then 18-year-old Rodriguez had little trouble in 2011 at rookie ball, but struggled with a 24.3 % strike out rate at Low-A after a promotion. He’s still very young for the level. Look for this talented young man to make the proper adjustments to get on base and show off his speed more on the base paths this season. He certainly a few seasons away if he’s going to refine the tools into skills and become a complete player. ETA 2015.
213°. Glynn Davis, OF, Orioles, 12/07/1991 – While there isn’t much in the way of power from Davis yet, that 6’3″ 170lbs frame is crying out for additional muscle. He’s displayed it in batting practice and we suspect it will show up eventually. He’s still working on proper weight transfer, but has a good eye for off-speed pitches which bodes well for future success. He has excellent speed in the outfield and should remain a CF in the future. ETA 2015.
215°. Elier Hernandez, OF, Royals, 11/24/1994 – Not in ordinary Royals’ fashion, KC shelled out a franchise record $3.1 million for the 5 tool Dominican youngster. A healthy dose of stateside rookie level ball is in his 2012 plans. He flashed a strong arm, defensive awareness, and some raw power in the instructional league. He’s one to watch. ETA 2016.
218°. Brandon Guyer, OF, Rays, 1/28/1986 – Shoulder problems limited Guyer’s development the first couple seasons of pro ball. He’s got plus speed and his other tools are average. He needs to develop a little more patience at the plate and draw more walks. He turns 26 this month, and his numbers from 2011 will need to translate to the majors this spring better than they did in his 41 at bats late last season if he is to be anything more than a 4th OF. ETA NOW.
234°. Slade Heathcott, OF, Yankees, 9/28/1990 – Some people question his character and while he won’t back down from a fight, he’s definitely a gamer with elite skills. Despite his ability to work the count, he has to get that 20% k rate down, especially if he’s going to be successful in the Florida State League in 2012. While we are excited to get a chance to take some video of Heathcott this season, we don’t expect the power to show up until 2013. ETA 2014.
237°. Jackie Bradley, OF, Red Sox, 4/19/1990 – A defense first 1st round Supp pick, Bradley was an expensive sign and doesn’t have a plus offensive tool. But his defense and arm grade out above average to plus, and his speed should allow him to play excellent CF defense. His bat showed signs of real promise in college but he doesn’t project as more than a .270 hitter with little power and just average SB capability. He’s more a “real Baseball” prospect for those of you out there looking with a Fantasy Baseball eye. ETA 2014.
242°. Brandon Jacobs, OF, Red Sox 12/8/1990 – Jacobs main value comes from his raw power and ability with the bat. A big kid at 6’1″ and 225lbs, he isn’t the speedster some would think being that he had a full ride to Auburn as a RB recruit. But he is smart on the base paths and shows a knack for stealing bases totaling 30 with just 7 CS last year. He went .303 with 32 doubles and 17 HR while taking a fair amount of walks at 8.6%. The main thing he needs to work on is his K rate which was borderline unacceptable at 24.4%, but with the current .202 IsoP it is a doable number. He will be tested in High-A for 2012 and will need to make adjustments. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct- I think Jacobs was missed in my initial rankings and I should have listened to my compatriots a little more. We’re keeping a very close eye on Jacobs and he could slide into the Top 150 within the first month or two of the season. The tools are there and it may be just a matter of months before the refinement of his hit tool starts to show. We’ll watch how close the K rate and Walk rate start to come together. If he can get that walk rate to 10%+ and the K rate down to 20% or better. Top 100 in 2013.
257°. Mike Taylor, OF, A’s, 12/19/1985 – He’s certainly not the 5 tool player to this point that all the teams he’s been with thought he would be. Taylor’s time to make a name for himself is upon him. Will he succeed or is he going to become the dubious “4-A” player that no player wants to be? Taylor’s biggest problem is himself. He lets things get into his head and over thinks things to death. He once joked in college that if he was stupid that he would be a millionaire. The time is now for Taylor in Oakland. ETA 2012.
268°. Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox, 12/30/1988 – We pegged Brentz as a potential true power hitter in our Draft Preview from 2010 and he’s done just that since being drafted. He compiled a .306 AVG with 25 doubles, 4 triples and 30 HR in 2011 while keeping his K rate at 24.9% and an 8.1% walk rate. He’ll need to bring those numbers together to take full advantage of his power. He’s a touch older than some prospects in the same leagues so the test will come in 2012 when he reaches Double-A. He’s going to be limited to a corner OF spot but is a good enough athlete to hold his own. He profiles as an average regular or 4th OF and should carve out at least a decent career. ETA 2014.
275°. Jorge Bonifacio, OF Royals 6/4/1993 – Bonifacio brings an intriguing combination of power and speed to the table. In his first full season stateside, he’s brought his ISOP up to a sparkling .208 in the short season Appalachian League. He stole 5 bases, but had stolen 13 bases the previous year in just 164 at bats. There should be more pop to come as the 18-year-old grows into his body. Going forward, strikeouts are a concern, but Kansas City will live with them as long as Jorge keeps making solid contact. ETA 2015.
299°. Max Kepler, OF, Twins, 2/10/1993 – Kepler was a big 16-year-old when he was signed by the Twins in 2009. Currently 6’4″ and 180, swinging it from the left side, he’s a project. He hit .262 in 2011 with 11 doubles and HR in 191 AB in his first taste of the Appy League. He’ll probably return there in 2012 with a concentration on turning his physical tools into baseball skills. He’ll need at least another 3 years before he’s a complete player. But a talent to keep an eye on nonetheless. ETA 2016.
300°. Jacob Anderson, OF, Blue Jays, 11/22/1992 – Anderson was a 1st round Supp for the Jays in 2011. He has plus raw power with upside athleticism. He profiles as a CF despite his 6-4 frame and should actually add weight as he matures. He’s an above average runner but doesn’t profile as a burner. He’ll be a project but is similar to the Jays Jake Marisnick when drafted. Raw talent that needs to be molded into a ball player. In a short GCL stint that consisted of 9 games and 37 AB, he hit .405 with 2 doubles, 2 HR and 2 SB. Small sample. He may start 2012 in extended Spring Training before seeing time in the GCL and then Low-A. ETA 2015.
303°. Brett Eibner, OF, Royals, 12/2/1988 – Eibner is a talented OF with good power and the ability to play the CF position. With his age and struggles in 2011, he is now a step behind some of the other talent in the system. He hit .213 with 13 doubles and 12 HR in 2011. Nice power and a little bad luck with a .271 BABIP. He should be pushed to High-A and if he bounces back early will see Double-A time as well to get him back on track. He profiles better as a 4th OF at this point due to contact issues and lack of above average speed. ETA 2014.
305°. Josh Sale, OF, Rays, 7/5/1991 – Sale was one of the top pure hitters coming out High School in the 2010 draft. The Rays type of player, he was started in Rookie level Princeton where over 214 AB he hit .210/.289/.341, which is dismal. But there’s some underlying numbers here that tell a different story. His BABIP was an odd .243. Very low and potentially very unlucky. His IsoP was good at .131 and both his 9.6% walk rate and 17.2% K rate are both very good numbers. He’ll probably start back at Princeton and if he can shake off 2011 he may jump up this list by midseason. Fantasy Players – sleeper alert. ETA 2015.
347°. Nomar Mazara, OF Rangers 4/26/1995 – He signed probably the last mega bonus for an Int’l teen for $5 million. Plus raw power from the left side and a great 6-4/195 frame for a 16-year-old. There’s a lot of moving parts to his swing that will need to be reworked but there’s top talent here albeit very raw. He’s one to watch the next couple of seasons. ETA 2016.
350°. Phillips Castillo, OF Mariners 2/2/1994 – So very young, so much talent, and so raw at the plate. The Barahona, Dominican Republic native Castillo hit .300 with 18 doubles in 2011 but struck out 61 times in just 170 AB. So the power is there and he’s able to make hard contact. So we’ll see how he fares in 2012 in Low-A. High upside, high risk. ETA 2016.
Possible Future Position Change
10°. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers, 2/20/1993 – I’m of the mindset that Profar will replace Ian Kinsler in a few years at 2B and that will give the Rangers a potent double play combo up the middle. Profar should be a .285+ hitter with 20+ HR power and 20+ SB speed. His frame is currently so underdeveloped that it’s a difficult proposition to say what his ultimate upside is. But one of the largest pluses for Profar is his approach to the game. It’s a characteristic that has me comfortable saying that he’ll be a high floor player. He’s one of the few 18-year-old players that is almost a surefire major leaguer. He will be at least a utility player and has the ceiling of an All-Star. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – It’s a high ranking for an 18-year-old. A lot can still go wrong, but Profar is doing things most 18 year olds don’t do. He’s blocked at SS, so there’s no reason to rush him. SS, 2B or CF? He’ll eventually settle into one of those spots and the bat will play at any of them.
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.
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.
254°. Cito Culver, SS, Yankees, 8/26/1992 – I was one of the biggest naysayers when Culver was drafted in the first round, touting the talent that the Yankees passed on and pointing out that Mason Williams would soon bypass Culver. While much of that has come to be true, Culver has proven a better prospect than I gave him credit for. He handles SS well, has an excellent arm and is becoming a professional hitter already. He struck out just 18.3% of the time with a nice 9.6% walk rate. He still has to refine his switch hitting ability and is a long way off, but he may be better than I thought. ETA 2016.
280°. Tim Beckham, SS, Rays, 1/27/1990 – Former #1 overall pick of the 2008 draft, is finally making strides as a professional player. Keep in mind that Beckham is just 21 years old and has now reached Triple-A. The lofty expectation set by the draft slot have pushed him almost into obscurity as a failed prospect, but while he may never fill the Superstar expectations, he did hit .271 with 28 doubles, 4 triples and 12 HR while stealing 17 bases over 2 levels. He’s producing like serviceable major league prospect and if the Rays don’t give him a chance soon they may want to give him the chance to bloom somewhere else. But I don’t think they want to see another Josh Hamilton scenario so Beckham may get a chance this season. ETA 2012.
The 2011 Draftee to Watch in 2012
James Harris, OF Rays 8/7/1993 – Harris was drafted at the end of the 1st round supp. in 2011. He’s a very explosive athlete with a huge vertical and a long long way to go in order to refine those tools into skills. But he’ll concentrating on baseball for the first time in his life and could put things together once the GCL gets back into gear. He struggled in his debut, but I think he’s going to make the adjustments and his natural abilities will start to come to the surface. High ceiling with a big chance of busting. But excellent tools in a possible CF aren’t the norm. He’s one to watch.
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