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July 17, 2012

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Futures Game: US Roster

by Jason Parks

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After hitting the World players last week, here are a few notes on the US players who happened to force my pen to hit the pages of my roster sheet during the 2012 Futures Game. As usual, the notes are presented with minimal narrative interference.

SS Billy Hamilton: Slight frame, but improved strength; impressive in cage; hit opposite field home run (RH/LF); loose swing; excellent coverage; shows a knack for contact; can sting live pitching; can catch up to velocity; a little noisy in the box; premature swing trigger; could run into trouble against good secondary stuff/sequence; was impressed with actual swing; continues to take steps forward; hit tool should be plus; shows pop, but raw power is below average; speed is clearly best attribute; best singular tool in baseball; elite; base running is loose, but quickness/speed disguises minor footwork/awareness issues; not a fan of defensive skill set at shortstop; arm is average; accuracy is below; actions are fringy; athleticism makes it look better; profile could improve through repetition; impact player at major league level thanks to elite speed, contact ability; needs to continue to add strength and improve approach at the plate; first-division player; must-see talent.

2B Kolten Wong: Small package, big punch; I love the swing; quick to the ball but not weak to the ball; serious sting in the bat; loud contact to all fields; excellent bat control; tracks ball well; smooth weight shift/transfer; easy mechanics; fluid and pretty; looks like easy plus hitter; lots of gap pop; doubles machine; fielding mechanics are solid; clean actions; strong arm; looks like plus defender at 2B; quick player; good first step; not crazy speed, but everything plays up; gamer with actual tools; number two hitter profile; lots of average/doubles; situational hitter; first-division talent.

OF Wil Myers: Great size and strength; swing is easy; bat speed is well above-average; shows good loft without losing contact ability; commands the swing; hips and hands work well; power is easy plus; hit tool is easy plus (6/6); has approach; good pitch recognition skills; has plan of attack; good athlete; runs well for size; very strong arm; prototypical RF profile; plays with instincts; first-division talent; top ten prospect in baseball.

3B Mike Olt: Major league body; good athlete; very strong; swing has length, but bat speed is well above average; power display in batting practice forced observers to have audible reactions; raw power is 7; mature approach; soft and spinning stuff can get him out on the front foot; leveraged swing can open up hole on inner half; hit tool is average; consistent contact could be issue; glove is solid; actions are good; arm is very strong; footwork can get a little clumsy; defensive profile is really good at present with potential to be great; speed is below average, but plays with purpose and doesn’t clog; bat will play at any position; could be ~.270 hitter with on-base ability, 25+ home run pop; above average defense at third; skill set to handle a corner outfield spot/first base; has first-division projection; major league regular floor.

1B Jonathan Singleton: Huge raw power; batting practice was showcase; pull-side pop is plus-plus; very fluid hip rotation and weight transfer; bat speed is impressive; controls the bat well; excellent approach; tracks very well; good pitch recognition skills; good hit tool/approach with middle-of-the-order power potential; big body; not overly athletic; has first-division profile at 1B, but big pressure on the bat to have value at position; most likely second-division at highest level.

3B Nick Castellanos: Very impressive in cage; drew the attention and subsequent praise from George Brett; very tall and lanky, but strong with plenty of room to fill out frame; baseball rat; no batting gloves; has swagger; gamer with middle-of-the-order potential; swing is extremely loose and easy; very natural; swing doesn’t have a lot of loft, but the power is present; lots of torque; I really love the swing; knack for barrel-to-ball ability; uses all fields; just a pure hitter; power will arrive in profile eventually; hit tool is easy plus and possible plus-plus; power could reach those levels at maturity;  approach will need work; very aggressive; not the biggest fan of defensive profile at 3B; arm is strong; actions are fringy; footwork a bit awkward; skills will play in RF; bat will play anywhere; impact offensive talent at highest level; first-division potential.

CF Anthony Gose: One of the top toolsheds in the minors; athletic and wiry; swing is loose and easy; some length, but good coverage; power is big in batting practice; looks to be easy plus; explosive hips/hands; bat speed is very present; hit tool continues to improve; will always have some miss because of approach and swing length; speed is plus-plus; quickness/instincts give him plus-plus range in CF; made nice diving catch in game; arm is easy plus-plus as well; made strong throw in game; overall defensive profile in center is well above-average; tools are very loud; power is sleeping giant in skill set; development of hit tool and approach refinement is difference between 4th/5th outfielder and All-Star. That’s the range for Gose.

LHP Tyler Skaggs: One of my favorite arms in minors; has solid-average to plus stuff and good pitchability; worked fastball in the low-90s; gets good angle to plate; good arm speed; located; curveball looked like a future plus offering, with a tight rotation and lots of depth; showed command of the pitch; changeup looks like another plus offering; good fading action to the arm side and good deception from fastball; attacks hitters; works fast; can miss bats with three pitches against both lefties and righties; looks like a solid-average mid-rotation starter in the making.

RHP Jameson Taillon: Large frame; long limbs; long arm action; shorter stride length with lots of upper body in the delivery; falls off to 1B in follow through; fastball is easy 7 offering, working (in bursts) in the 96-97 range, and touched 98; it’s a big pitch; impressive angles and plane to plate; showed good arm side movement; curveball was only secondary, working at 83-85; quality offering; good two-plane break and slider velocity; lots to like with Taillon: big size, throws downhill, crazy arm strength, easy velocity, shows feel for secondaries; people are ready to see him dominate; I think it will be a slow burn; monster potential; I’m very much on board; top 10-15 prospect in baseball.

RHP Dylan Bundy: Thick build; lacks prototypical height, but creates good angle and throws down; arm strength is elite; arm speed is very quick; fastball should be a 7 offering; pitch worked (in bursts) in 94-96 range, and touched 97; command was fringy during inning of work; was aiming a bit; gave up hard contact by leaving ball up and over the plate; didn’t have quality curveball in outing; pitch was breaking early and arrived flat; cutter missed spots, but showed good velocity at 86-87 and a little late jump from the glove side; looked a young pitcher during his inning; I love the arm; I love the approach; wasn’t a good inning; pitcher profiles as top-of-the-rotation arm; top five prospect in baseball.

RHP Gerrit Cole: Great size; great arm strength; great raw stuff; fastball worked in elite range (98-100 mph); pitched lacked great movement or late wiggle; not the biggest fan of the mechanics; doesn’t look especially easy; it works, so it’s just an aesthetic complaint and a minor one at that; delivery on slider a little more deliberate; pitch looked very good; worked in 88-89 range; sharp, late tilt; was elevating fastball; straight fastball and elevated plane resulted in some hard contact; hard to complain about raw stuff; has frontline profile, with three 7+ offerings; command has room to improve; has yet to put it all together; stuff creates big dreams; game performance leaves you wanting more.

RHP Taijuan Walker: Tall and athletic; limbs go on for days; lots of room to fill out; easy delivery with ultra-loose arm; repeats delivery; comfortable in slot and with release point; I like it a lot; fastball was easy plus pitch, working at 94-97 with late burst to the arm side; the pitch has a lot of natural explosion to it; it’s a bat-misser; curveball flashed its potential, a mid-70s breaker with a tight rotation and good depth; good feel for it; far from a finished product, but Walker has an electric arm and well above-average athleticism on the mound; command will take time, but I like the profile; still a month away from his 20th birthday, and holding his own in Double-A. Doesn’t get enough attention; could develop into number two starter on first-division team; give it time; needs to refine secondary offerings, especially changeup, add strength, etc., but future is bright.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Futures Game

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