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May 13, 2013

Monday Morning Ten Pack

May 13

by BP Prospect Staff


Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis)
The Cardinals’ top pick in the 2012 draft, Wacha received an aggressive assignment to Triple-A Memphis despite logging just 21 pro innings last summer. He is proving plenty apt for the challenge, posting a 1.99 ERA while yielding just 27 hits in 40 2/3 innings. Regarded as a polished arm as an amateur at Texas A&M, Wacha has made some quick strides as a pro. The progression hasn’t really changed his projection as a no. 3 starter, but he’s perhaps closer to realizing that potential than initially thought.

The 21-year-old righty has shown lots of polish early this season, pounding the strike zone with a three-pitch mix that includes a 90-95 mph fastball. He generates a steep downhill plane from his 6-foot-6 frame. His secondary pitches play well off the fastball––particularly his deceptive low-80s changeup, which is already a plus offering. Wacha’s curveball has been a key development since college; it’s presently average to solid-average and should become a third plus in the near future.

With a projection for three 60-grade pitches, strike-throwing ability, and an overall mature approach to pitching, Wacha has all the makings of a durable no. 3 starter. He’ll likely reach St. Louis at some point this season. If the Cardinals aren’t in need of starters, he could make a short-term impact out of the bullpen, where he reached 98 mph in short bursts this spring. –Jason Cole

Rafael De Paula, RHP, Yankees (Low-A Charleston)
Unknown to many coming into the season—thanks to name/visa issues that kept the Dominican arm pitching on Dominican fields—De Paula has stepped out of the shadows in 2013 and emerged as a rising player in the Yankees org. On the back of a very good fastball that features well above average life and plus velocity, the 22-year-old De Paula is able to miss a high number of bats in the Sally League. In addition to the heat, De Paula shows flashes of a plus curve and a plus change, but both offerings need refinement before they join the fastball as major-league-quality pitches. The future is very abstract and combustible, but if you love a high ceiling, De Paula is one of the more interesting arms to follow in the minors. –Jason Parks

Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (High-A Ft. Myers)
In his second full-season campaign, Sano has blossomed into the premier power bat in the minors, possessing the rare 80-grade raw power and a knack for run production. So far in the Florida State League, the 20-year-old has hit for average and game power, using a highly leveraged swing to send exit-velocity rockets all over the yard. At times, he can be long to the ball and prone to swing and miss, but the overall hand-eye coordination is excellent and his extension and power through the ball is elite. Double-A will be the test, as better stuff and better command could exploit the holes in his game and force an adjustment, which will benefit the young hitter on his accelerated path to the majors. –Jason Parks

Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals (Low-A Lexington)
I took some flack online this spring when I not only suggested Almonte belonged in the same prospect discussion as org-mate Kyle Zimmer, but that I would prefer the 20-year-old arm in the long-term. After a shaky start to Almonte’s season, fingers started pointing and I was asked on several occasions if I had changed my stance. Why? This kid has a very live arm and a very simple and easy release, and the stuff just explodes from the hand. The fastball is a plus offering, with velocity in the low-to-mid 90s and some sinking action. The money pitch is a darling of a changeup, thrown with fastball arm speed and above average movement to the arm side and down. Some sources have put a future 7 on the pitch, and based on what I’ve seen in several starts over the last calendar year, it’s one of the better changeups in the lower minors. He will show multiple breaking balls—a mid-70s curveball and a low 80s slider—both of which can flash some utility but neither has separated itself as the go-to breaker to pair with the rest of the arsenal. After a few mechanical tweaks, Almonte has been stellar in two May starts, missing bats and limiting the hard contact that he ran into to start the season. The ceiling is crazy high, but the product is far from finished, so bumps and bruises are to be expected on the journey. –Jason Parks

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (05/13)
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