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September 28, 2012

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Fall Instructional League Report: Part 2

by Jason Parks

RHP Miguel Almonte (Royals): Wiry frame; stands close to 6-foot-3, can’t weigh much over 155/160 pounds; extremely loose arm; easy delivery; features some drag, but very fast arm and doesn’t rush the acceleration and doesn’t finish out of control; worked at 92 mph and touched 94; good extension; some late jump on the ball to the arm side; 6 movement, 6 velocity; more will be there at maturity; big fan of the way the ball is delivered; long arm action; three-quarter  slot; high front side helps with deception; will need to add strength to hold velocity, but it’s not hard to see the frame supporting more mass; curveball was tight, thrown in the 77 mph range; pitch had 11/5 shape and some depth; was thrown in the zone; room for improvement; could develop into above-average offering; changeup was money, working at 83-84 with arm speed deception and good fading action; forced bad front-foot/fastball timed swings; easy 5 pitch at present, and flashed enough to be plus; stayed in the zone with all offerings; showed feel for pitching/feel for sequence; best arm I’ve seen so far in camp; three pitches, good, athletic delivery and a loose arm that screams arsenal projection;  based on physical attributes, performance, and discussions with scouts, I feel comfortable labeling pitcher as Top Ten talent in Royals system; reminded me of a young Julio Teheran, with slightly less arm strength, but similar feel for changeup, similar fluidity in delivery/arm action; similar size; not in same class as Teheran (at present), but the similar characteristics aren’t a stretch; total surprise for me to happen upon; I love this stuff; he’s very legit; mark this name down and follow his progression.

Culver’s: Not a bad burger; high grease level, but manageable; plus beef; lots of excess beyond bun shape; great bun; I think it’s a butter bun; fries are okay; fringy when they take the air for too long, but solid right out of the fryer; larger, crinkle fry; can hold more grease than normally called for; clean indoor facilities in Glendale, AZ; friendly; offers both sweet tea and unsweetened tea at the beverage center; total package is an everyday 5, with enough beef quality to play up to easy 6+ if the grease plays down.

RHP Taylor Jungmann (Brewers): Huge size; 6-foot-6, 215+ pounds; athletic and strong; physical size looks intimidating, but doesn’t pitch with much intimidation; delivery is clean and repeatable; smooth mechanics; effortless and nonchalant delivery; playing catch; throws from higher three-quarter slot; good plane/angle to plate; fastball worked at 91, touching 93; pitch had some sink and run, but didn’t escape many barrels; lots of strikes, not many quality strikes; worked middle of the zone too often; I thought the fastball was a 5/6; breaking was called a curveball but had slider-like sweeping action at 74-77 mph; loose offering that was thrown for strikes and fooled several low-level bats, but not a pitch that stays above water against major league competition; too sweepy; didn’t feature sharp or intense break; only saw one/two changeups;  loved the size, the strength and ease of delivery; control was present; command wasn’t sharp; fastball was a high-5, with solid-average velo and some movement; breaking ball was effective but didn’t look like a pitch that will miss advanced bats; body/control profile looks like innings chewer type, but he will need to add intensity to the arsenal to challenge high-quality hitters; I was expecting to see a little more; understandable at the end of a long season, and the sample was small, so I’m not basing entire evaluation on one performance in September, but didn’t bring first-round goods.

Just because the prospect matchup was cool:
Taylor Jungmann vs. Jorge Bonifacio
91 (FB) k/s; 76 (SLU) b; 91 (FB) k/l; 93 (F9)

OF Bubba Starling (Royals): Hard to ignore the physical gifts; great size; wears the uniform; attracts attention with his movements in the field; I get it; he looks the part of a five-tool superstar monster; he isn’t one yet; the tools are present, but tool utility is another issue; swing mechanics seemed stiff; upper body-heavy swing; flat-plane contact; still showed good bat speed, but he was cheating a bit on fastballs; environment conducive for cheating on fastballs (very fastball-heavy arsenals); doesn’t just swing to swing; tracks pitches; has a plan; isn’t itchy with the swing trigger; big positive to see him take several walks in game action that promotes swings/contact; runs well (straight-line); clocks in the ~4.2 range from the right side; second gear makes speed a plus-plus tool; doesn’t show much awareness on the bases; while on first, ran to second with head down and focused on upcoming bag; never picked up coach or ball in play; seemed odd and worth writing down at the time; happened more than once while on base; didn’t have many opportunities in the field, but showed the arm a few times, which is quite strong; on a tool-based package alone, Starling is a top 10 prospect in baseball; he can run, he has loads of raw power, he has near-elite baseball athleticism, he can throw, and he might be able to hit. That’s a crazy profile. That’s a star. Starling at present is still the dream, with more raw athleticism than utility, and his feel (or lack of feel) for certain aspects of the game make me pause. He’s only 20 years old and coming off a respectable debut season in the Appy league, but superstar ceilings have a tendency to make us impatient, and in order to justify the high praise and long journey to fruition, we expect to see more than just glimpses of that extreme promise in order to believe it’s a reality. Starling has a long way to go, and perhaps that puts him behind the developmental curve more than expected, but the tool-based ceiling is still cathedral-high. I’m not sold on the hit tool utility and the feel aspect concerns me a bit, but he has plenty of time to make all the doubters look foolish. At the time, I’m one of the doubters, but I’ll gladly change my mind during the developmental process when/if Starling starts to shine.

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,  Minor League Baseball

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