Continuing our run through the Top 10 Lists for prospects, this time to the NL side of the Top OF prospects. With as deep as the OF position is, we broke it up into AL and NL to make it more digestible. 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.
Because 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 NL OF to give you the list and some of the current thoughts.
In the Top 100
1°. Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals, 10/16/1992 – I think people take for granted that Harper was just 18 for the entire 2011 season, and started his career with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns of the SAL, where the pitchers where older and quite sure of who he was. He posted an impressive .318/423/.554 which translated to an outstanding .236 ISoP. After 72 games he earned a promotion to the Double-A Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, completely skipping over High-A and the Carolina League. There is already talk in Washington that he’ll be getting first cracks at the RF job in the spring after he had a very successful AFL run. One of the top hitting coaches in the country told me “he has the talent and skill to be the best player in baseball – hands down” but, “has a big hole in his swing.” So while he’s being pushed aggressively I think there is still some time for the learning curve to come into play. But he is an elite talent and at this age the future is bright. ETA 2012.
Update Instinct – The talk continues. It seems like there is major support to let Harper take the RF job. He’s just 19 years old and despite him being a special talent there are going to be growing pains. He would be best suited starting the year in Triple-A. It’s also best for the Nats pocketbook.
33°. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals, 6/19/1992 – Elite hit tool, but still not developed into the finished product. He should see High-A Palm Beach to start the 2012 season and I wouldn’t expect his power to develop there. But right around his 20th birthday I think he’ll make a jump to Double-A where his power should get a boost. He could be a .300 hitter with 15-20 HR power and solid corner defense. His arm would play in RF if needed. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – High ranking. We really like the swing and contact ability. It’s a tool not taught. How much time he’s given to truly develop into a professional hitter will determine if he’s an All-Star potential or not. Either way, it’s good enough to get him to the show. But he’s young and the range of long term outcomes is a wide one.
35°. Christian Yelich, OF/1B, Marlins, 12/5/1991 – Yelich should open at Jupiter where we’ll be able to see him first hand on an almost daily basis. But in short looks last Spring Training, he looked like a future #3 hitter. He’ll slot in LF and be athletic enough to handle the OF. His power potential probably won’t start to show until he reaches Double-A. That might happen in 2012 as well. He’s going to need some time to develop defensively but his bat will be ready soon. ETA 2013.
Update Instinct – Another high level hitter. His ability to make contact is elite level stuff. Still a long way off to becoming a finished product, but he’s got the stuff in his bat to make it to the majors. 2012 will start to show what kind of power he has and how complete of a hitter he can become. We like the total package.
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.
Update Instinct – Lots of upside and 5 tool college players are a rare breed. He won’t need the type of development time that a Bubba Starling type needs. But he doesn’t have the elite upside in any of his tools individually. Overall though, its a package that makes him an exciting prospect.
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.
Update Instinct – A player who going into the draft wasn’t even supposed to turn pro. Yet here he is. Very highly ranked. Perhaps we try to find the ranking where the player will be more than where others see them not. We are projecting after all and if we were running a major league scouting department, agreeing with others doesn’t make you successful. Being right first gets you paid. Bell… can be a special player.
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.
Update Instinct – Marte is more advanced than fellow Pirates prospect, Bell. He’s going to see Pittsburgh this year and could be a well above average CF. If he can find a home in CF in Pitt he will move a very talented player to a corner. But where McCutchen is a elite level player, Marte is going to be more of a compliment player.
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.
Update Instinct – Probably a high ranking for the type of player Jackson will be. But he’s a ready now everyday OF and that counts for something. Still 6 weeks before the season starts and our final preseason rank may see him slide down this list a bit. But he’s a Fantasy Player to watch for 2012.
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.
Update Instinct – The upside for Brown outweighs the current issues with his approach. He’s going to need to move fast and get to San Fran if he’s going to utilize that plus speed for an extended period of time during his career. Once the speed wains he’s going to be one plus tool short of a star player and that’s an issue when you only have one plus tool. Rethinking this ranking. But love the speed.
82°. Matt Szczur, OF, Cubs, 7/20/1989 – Szczur is one of the top athletes in the Cubs’ system. As an NFL hopeful, he was was often compared to Brian Westbrook for his speed and running ability, so we’re talking high end. He’s still settling into baseball full time but the initial production has been good and he projects as a .290 hitter with double digit home run power and 25+ SB speed. Will start 2012 in the FSL. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Just learning to be a professional baseball player, 2012 will be a telling season for how well he makes the adjustments to utilize all of his tools. The upside isn’t elite and he’s still a rough gem. But the work ethic and intangibles in his player profile make him a player who could out play expectations.
89°. Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres, 6/20/1991 – He is what I wish we would see in Blue Jays’ OF prospect Anthony Gose. A kid that’s learning how to read pitches, cutting down on chasing breaking stuff, and increasing his walk totals. GM Josh Barnes is extremely excited about what he has in Liriano. While we don’t share Barnes’ sentiments at the moment that Liriano is the best prospect in the Padres organization, he could turn out to be if he stays on this path in 2012. ETA 2015.
Update Instinct – One of the highest upsides for any OF prospect in baseball. Still a very raw hitter but opened a lot of eyes in 2011. If he’s not a Top 100 player right now in some circles, chances are good he will be soon.
90°. Robbie Grossman, OF, Pirates, 9/16/1989 – Grossman repeated the FSL and he answered the questions with a spectacular season. With that said, he was more age appropriate in the FSL in 2011. His accomplishments in the AFL spoke volumes as to the advances he’s made in his game. While he doesn’t have an elite tool, he’s average or better across the board. He should start 2012 in Double-A and could move quickly after that. Future CF/LF. Just one of those players that’s going to be a major leaguer. Ceiling of a #2 hitter, but probably profiles better down the lineup though. ETA 2013.
Update Instinct – Grossman is playing above his tools and he seems poised to be an OF in Pittsburgh in the future. But where he’s going to fit in will be a tough call. Zero elite tools and a lot of competition. He could end up a 4th OF or just keep pressing past expectations. Either way, he seems a high percentage bet to be a pro.
The Best of the Rest
107°. Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies, 1/21/1988 – In 2011,Wheeler recreated his performance from the past two seasons, but this time, he added power, which is why the Rockies drafted him as a first-rounder in 2009. Wheeler smacked 33 homeruns, slugged .535, and posted a mighty .248 ISOP (after scoring only .125 and .135 in previous seasons). Just as impressive, he kept the walk rate right around 10% and only increased the strikeouts 3% to 22.3%. Not to mention, he swiped over 20 bases again as well. ETA 2013.
121°. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets, 3/27/1993 – Nimmo had been projected as a compensation round pick, but the Mets felt they got a steal. Nimmo is amazingly polished for a kid from Wyoming, where weather simply doesn’t allow for a high school season. He did take advantage of American Legion out of state trips as well as playing in the Perfect Game show case events. He’s likely to get some extra work in extended spring training before heading to Rookie Ball. The Mets should really get to see what they’ve got him at that point. ETA 2015.
122°. Marcell Ozuna,OF, Marlins, 11/12/1990 – He should be joining Yelich and hitting the FSL in 2012, which is fine by us, more videos for everybody! I’m not concerned about the supposed power outage here, what concerns me more is the improvement in plate discipline. Having said that, the number of walks isn’t where it needs to be yet and the FSL will be a perfect challenge for him. Stay away from breaking balls in the dirt my man! If he handles Hi-A well, he could be a premium prospect, offering the Marlins a power hitting outfielder by 2014. ETA 2014.
125°. Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies, 5/22/1989 – Sure, Dickerson’s numbers show a definite homefield bias. Remember though, that Dickerson had a decent Rookie League season in 2010 where he hit .348/.412/.634/1.046. That season his ISOP was still a cool .286. And he has some speed as shown by 21 stolen bases in two seasons. Yeah, there are some strikeouts there, but he can take walks too. How much the hitter’s park affected him will be determined when he arrives in Modesto in 2012. If he shows some of the same stuff, look for another promotion to Tulsa in the same season. ETA 2014.
127°. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies, 7/1/1986 – Blackmon has the tools to be a 20/20 guy annually, as well as hit near .300. The key will be how well his on base skills hold up against major league pitching. Right now, he should start the season in Colorado as a back-up outfielder. But with the Rockies aggressively trying to trade Seth Smith, Blackmon would be a favorite to take the spot and could hit near the top of the order. ETA 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
208°. Jiwan James, OF, Phillies, 4/11/1989 – James has elite level tools and a good bet to stick in CF. He needs to draw more walks and cut down on strike outs. Working the count to get on base is going to be key to his success as he’s very fast on both offense and defense. There’s definitely some power developing there and probably needs a couple more seasons in the minors to develop the bat to go with the major league ready glove. It remains to be seen if he gets that time. But it’s a top level organization with serious depth at the major league level. ETA late 2013.
228°. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Mets, 8/07/1987 – Captain Kirk as he’s called by the Mets’ faithful, Nieuwenhuis is a baseball rat with strong work ethics and possibly an unfair label as an “overachiever”. Despite shoulder surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder to repair the labrum, he will get another invite to spring training compete for the CF job with Andres Torres who the Mets acquired in the deal that cent Angel Pagan to the Giants. ETA NOW.
229°. Francisco Peguero, OF, Giants, 6/01/1988 – An early knee injury hampered Peguero’s progress in 2011, despite a late season call up to AA where he performed well. He needs to learn how to get on base. His whole game is counting on it. While he doesn’t strike out a lot, but only has drawn 80 walks in a career 1971 at bats. The rubber meets the road in 2012 in the Eastern League for Peguero. He’s either going to figure it out or be nothing more than a 4th outfielder in his career. ETA 2013.
232°. Alfredo Silverio, OF, Dodgers, 5/06/1987 – The 24-year-old Dominican got his groove on in 2011 at AA Chattanooga. He posted a triple slash of .306/.340/.542. His 42 doubles, 18 triples (no typo), 16 HRs, and 11 SB are the kind of numbers that get the attention of Dynasty League prospect hunters. He’s going to get a shot at joining the Dodgers this spring, but may ultimately settle in with AAA Albuquerque. Look for him at some point in the season. ETA 2012.
235°. Ariel Ovando, OF, Astros, 9/15/1993 – Big framed OF with lots of projection. Certainly a player that could fly up this list or fall off in short order. His power projection is there, and despite the high 27.7% K rate, he has a solid approach at the plate. How he matures as a hitter will determine how much he develops the raw power in his bat. He will eventually be relegated to a corner OF spot and his arm may be better suited for RF. So while there is a ton of projection here and he’s an exciting talent for the Astros to have in development, there is a wide range of possible outcomes. ETA 2016.
238°. Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals, 11/01/1990 – Goodwin took the hard way into the baseball profession going to JuCo out of HS. He didn’t get into game play last year after he signed, and at 21 years old, I’m pretty sure the Nationals don’t want to wait for him to start out in short season Low-A ball. I look for him to start out at Single-A and have some growing pains. He’s potentially an exciting 5 tool player who could be special, but what he has in tools still very much needs to be molded into skills. He could have above average power with above average speed as a possible CF. ETA 2014.
246°. Kyle Parker, OF, Rockies, 9/30/1989 – Parker is a big strong athlete, still becoming a baseball player after leaving football behind. He hit .300 in the second half of 2011, but the 133 K’s give room for concern. Despite his age he’ll need time to really develop and use his natural power. He’s more of a fastball hitter right now and will need time to develop a professional approach. If he can reign in the K’s he could be a 30+ HR everyday RF. ETA 2015.
258°. Kyle Jensen, OF, Marlins, 5/20/1988 – A pretty much unknown outside of the Marlins organization, Jensen had a triple slash of .299/.373/.524 with an ISoP of .225. 22 of his 27 home runs came with Jupiter of the pitcher friendly FSL. He also cut his strikeouts down to 24%. He’s always had some thump in the bat and looked to be a real leader in the FSL for the Hammerheads. He should get a look during spring training, but we’re more likely to see him in his Marlins debut in late September and could be competing for a starting job as early as 2013. ETA 2013.
264°. Cesar Puello, OF, Mets, 4/1/1991 – Considered one of the top talents in the Mets system, Puello has flaws to go along with the tools. While he has latent raw power in there, he doesn’t know how to tap into it yet and his frame looks to be mature in my opinion. His speed was considered a plus tool by many heading into the 2011 season, and while he still stole 19 bases in the FSL it was a far cry from expectations. He hit .259 and at this point it’s his maturity as a hitter and unwillingness to work walks that are keeping him from advancing. Just 18 walks in 441 FSL AB while hitting 21 doubles, 5 triples and 10 HR. He may return to the FSL to start 2012 but could move quickly to Double-A as the Mets need to see what they have in the system. ETA 2014.
269°. James Baldwin III, OF, Dodgers, 10/10/1991 – The Dodgers got a project and a steal in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Baldwin, the son of James Baldwin, Jr. RHP of the White Sox in the 90s. Young Baldwin was a football, basketball and baseball star at Pinecrest Prep before signing to play baseball for the Dodgers. He’s ultra athletic, high level raw power and speed and with an MLB bloodline he has a very high ceiling. A .231 IsoP with 22 SB in 195 Rookie level AB is a great sign. The 32.2% K rate, a sign that he’s a long way off and very raw. But players like this can become special talents. The timeline though is a long one. ETA 2016.
271°. Logan Schafer, OF, Brewers, 9/8/1986 – While Schafer profiles best as a 4th OF, he is also game ready right now and a bat that the Brewers can use to fill holes developing on the major league roster. Schafer’s one elite tool is his hit tool and he went .315 with 22 doubles, 6 triples and 5 HR while stealing 16 bases in 2011 before impressing further in the AFL. He proved healthy once again in 2011 after a lost 2010 and is now on the doorstep of Milwaukee. He should make the club out of Spring Training as a 4th but could see significant time while Ryan Braun is out. ETA NOW.
320°. Marc Krauss, OF, Diamondbacks, 10/5/1987 – Krauss has been one of the top bats in the D-backs system since being drafted in 2009, but he took a major step back in 2011 in regards to AVG. But underlying that number was a jump in walk rate to 12.7% and a steady IsoP of .197. He had 25 doubles and 16 HR in 433 AB. He’s going to be push the envelope as a LF, so he’ll need to bounce back with the contact rate in 2012. But this is a professional hitter with power. A trade target. ETA 2012.
323°. Kent Matthes, OF Rockies 1/8/1987 – Matthes enjoyed his time in the California League to be sure. He hit .334/.378/.642 in 371 at bats for the Modesto Nuts. I don’t care if it was the hitter friendly Cal League or not; anyone who hits .334 and has an ISoP over .300 had a damn good season in my books. He’s going to be 25 and have an invite to spring training to compete, but there’s a bit of a log jam in the Rockies outfield so he’s likely to see time between AA Tulsa and AAA Colorado Springs as he tries to force the issue late 2012. ETA 2013.
330°. Jesus Solorzano, OF Marlins 8/8/1990 – He played the game very hard and put up some impressive numbers in his first season inside the U.S. borders. His .299/.355/.452 slash line comes with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 3 HR and 18 SB. He cut down his strikeouts to 14.1% and his LD% is improved to 18%. He should head to Greensboro, but could make his way back to Jupiter for High-A in 2012. Fun player to watch and follow. ETA 2014.
331°. Reymond Fuentes, OF Padres – 2/12/1991 – Moved the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal last winter, Fuentes is likely the best athlete in the Padres system. He has great speed but has not shown much power yet, though he certainly strikes out like a power hitter. He doesn’t have the eye or contact skills right now to profile at the top of the order. He could be a late bloomer and will need plenty of time to develop. ETA 2015.
332°. Charlie Tilson, OF Cardinals 12/2/1992 – Tilson was a second round pick for the Cardinals in 2011. Because of an extended hold out he managed to get into just 8 games. Tilson doesn’t project to have a lot of power, however he does have good speed on the base paths as well as in the outfield. He should be able to stick in center field and with some success. He should start the 2012 season with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York Penn League. ETA 2015.
338°. Destin Hood, OF Nationals 4/3/1990 – The talented Hood had a break out season in 2011, hitting .276/.364/.445 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He saw his strikeout rate drop almost 5% to 17.9 K%, and his ISO rate rose from .104 to .168. Cutting strike outs and increasing power – give that kid a promotion to double-A with Harper and Rendon. ETA 2013.
342°. Aaron Altherr, OF Phillies 1/14/1991 – Drafted in the 9th round of the 2009 draft, Altherr is a toolsy OF with a big 6’5″/190 pound frame. He’s athletic and fast-twitch, Altherr shows signs of being a power and speed threat in time. He’s still filling in his frame and at least average power should develop. If he can mature as a hitter he could be a future 20/20 threat. ETA 2014.
354°. Kevin Mattison, OF Marlins 9/20/1985 – Mattison isn’t a better prospect than Bryce Harper in many respects. But he does have a much better mustache. He hit .260 with 17 doubles, 16 triples and 8 HR in 503 AB in 2011 with 38 SB. Mattison’s AFL play shows that his 2011 season wasn’t a fluke and profiles as a 4th OF with some speed and a little pop. ETA 2013.
355°. Larry Greene, OF Phillies 2/10/1993 – Drafted with the 39th pick in the 1st round of 2011 draft from Nashville, GA, Greene’s power is what gets him on this list. Chances are he’ll eventually be relegated to 1B and the power will need to be 100% developed for that to work. But the projection is there and he’s a big 6’2″ 235 pound guy, swinging it from the left side. ETA 2015.
Possible Future Position Changes
84°. Junior Lake, SS, Cubs, 3/27/1990 – Lake is one of the toolsiest players in the entire Cubs’ system. He’s had trouble with both his contact ability and use of his speed in past season, but in 2011, he put most of it together and made it to Double-A after dominating the FSL. While he’s getting better as a SS, he still projects to move to either 3B or 2B in the near future. He’s done very well in the AFL this fall and the speed and power are still on display. Check out his Prospect Instinct here for more details. Lake should start back in Double-A and projects as a 20/20 hitter and possibly more. ETA 2014.
113°. Zack Cox, 3B, Cardinals, 5/9/1989 – He’s currently blocked at 3B by David Freese, but if Cox continues to produce as a .300 hitter they will find someplace to put him. He shows moderate power, but a .104 IsoP in the FSL and a .139 in Double-A isn’t going to cut it as corner infielder. He’s behind Kolten Wong as a 2B so it’s doubtful that transition will be made. Even with his elite level contact ability being a possible major league tool, it’s difficult to project Cox as more than a league average player – possibly a platoon 3B/2B/OF in the future. We’ll need to see another bump in IsoP in 2012 and if that happens, he could hit his ceiling. David Freese at 3B though. A lot of questions. ETA 2013.
117°.Ryan Wheeler, 3B, Diamondbacks 7/10/1988 – Wheeler may eventually be the best pure hitter when lining up Arizona’s 3B prospects- Davidson, Wheeler and Borchering. The big lefty is able to use the whole field and should be a solid bet for a .285 AVG, if not better. He’s not going to hit for much average, nor is he going to be an average defender at 3B. A move to the outfield is possibly. ETA 2013.
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.
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.
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.
284°. Telvin Nash, 1B/OF, Astros, 2/20/1991 – Nash has near elite level raw power, but is also just as raw of hitter. With high K totals, 105 in 281 AB in 2011, he needs plenty of time to become a complete hitter. Despite the high K rates he was still able to garner a .274 AVG with 16 doubles and 14 HR in the that small AB size. So the power is there at a .214 IsoP rate. He also walks at a good clip of 12.6%. But again, the K rate of 33% is unacceptable and he will to reign that in. He’s a passable OF, but figures to move to 1B as he matures and as a RH that doesn’t bode well unless he can maintain an above average K rate. ETA 2015.
324°. Scott Van Slyke, OF Dodgers 7/24/1986 – The former 2005 draft pick was the Dodgers positional player of the year in 2011. He posted a triple slash of .348/ .427/.595 in 427 Double-A at bats, blasting 45 doubles and 20 HRs. He will be given a chance to challenge for the 1B job in spring training. There’s a court of opinion that Van Slyke is a late bloomer and finally gets how to hit. He could be a sleeper in 2012 for you fantasy folks, however the Dodgers may decide to send him to triple-A. ETA NOW.
359°. Alex Santana, 3B Dodgers 8/21/1993 – Big kid, son of Rafael Santana (NYM). Profiles as a very different player than his father. Drafted as a SS, will move to 3B and has the stuff to make it there defensively. Size projects more power but has a long growth path to becoming a professional hitter. Will need to develop zone control with power to be a CI. ETA 2015.
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