June 24, 2013
Monday Morning Ten Pack
June 24, 2013
Oscar Taveras, CF, Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis)
Taveras celebrated his 21st birthday on Wednesday by going 2-for-5 with a home run. His week ended on a sour note, however, as he was lifted from Sunday’s contest after appearing to aggravate his ankle injury, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The top prospect initially injured his ankle while sliding into second base on May 12th. He returned to the Redbirds’ lineup on June 8th. When I saw Taveras in Round Rock last week, his ankle certainly didn’t look healthy––he was limping all over the field (shown in this video).
While Taveras’ ailing ankle rendered him unable to run on the basepaths and in center field––and, despite the clear #want, left me wondering why he was attempting to play through an obvious injury––the other aspects of his game looked sharp. The Dominican Republic native displayed his gargantuan strength by fighting off a fastball and sending it off the wall to the opposite field on Friday. Taveras is a highly aggressive hitter who’s looking to tackle anything within his large hitting zone. But his elite hand-eye coordination and plate coverage (in addition to his strength and bat speed) enables him to make consistent loud contact. As a scout told me this weekend, “That’s what a future all-star hitter looks like.” –Jason Cole
Luiz Gohara, LHP, Mariners (Rookie level Pulaski)
Perhaps I was overcome with premature appreciation for Gohara when I ranked him in the Mariners’ top 10 this offseason, a placement that left some people scratching their heads and searching for my meds. I felt confident at the time, and even more so when I saw the 16-year-old southpaw throw during a backfield workout; the catcher during the bullpen session was openly complaining about the sting of his hand after each Gohara fastball. The large-bodied Brazilian made his professional debut last Friday, logging four innings, giving up six hits, one earned run, five punch-outs and zero walks. The velocity is inconsistent, but Gohara can often work comfortably in the low-90s and touch even higher, with good feel for a changeup and what look like two separate breaking balls that he can manipulate. He has a feel for repeating and throwing strikes, and his fastball arrives with serious life. The ceiling is enormous but the body isn’t exactly chiseled out of bronze complete with a lavish glow, and given his age there is some concern about his physical development. But pitching is more about getting outs and less about impressing scouts with a summer-ready bikini body, so if Gohara can get results on the field and stay healthy, it doesn’t matter if his body already resembles the pear-shaped outline of a shorter CC Sabathia. –Jason Parks
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)
The rapid rise of the Boston system’s crown jewel has been marked with one noticeable theme: the ability to adjust. While Bogaerts’ elite batspeed, easy power, and loud contact to all fields headline the hitting package, it’s been this aspect of his game that really stands out. The 20-year-old entered the season in Double-A with the need to tighten up his pitch selection and narrow down his strike zone. Despite the shortstop’s initial success over 23 games at the level to finish 2012, his free-swinging tendencies pointed toward some potential growing pains over an extended stretch in the league without improvement. Bogaerts came right out of the gate in 2013 looking like a hitter with more mature plate discipline, and proceeded to carry it into a mid-year promotion to the next level. Now one step from The Show, the young, potential middle-of-the-order thumper is tasked with his next challenge. If history and his impressive resume are any indication, Bogaerts will more than meet it and start pushing for a place on the big club’s roster in the near future. –Chris Mellen
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes)
The 2012 first-rounder has enjoyed a strong first year of full-season ball in the Midwest League, despite his production being overshadowed by the likes of Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. Seager entered pro ball with an advanced approach that allows a whippy swing to play well as a catalyst for both his hit and power tools, and he has carried that approach (and swing) over to the pro game with great success. As of this morning, Seager is triple-slashing .301/.364/.527, including a terrific series at the plate this weekend against West Michigan, during which he went a combined six for eleven with two doubles and two homeruns.
In the field, the former South Carolina commit continues to display soft hands and a strong arm, and despite slowly growing into his broad frame, he remains a capable defender at shortstop for the time being. Ultimately, Seager fits best as an above average glove at the hot corner, with a middle-of-the-lineup offensive profile that could earn him some all-star appearances at that position. Looking ahead to the second half, Seager’s focus will be on continuing his disciplined approach at the plate and continuing to foster his rapidly developing impact hit and power tools. He isn’t as flashy as some of the other young talent in the Midwest League, but Seager has one of the best offensive profiles of the lot, and one of the more well rounded profiles overall. He will be just 19 years old for the remainder of the season. , –Nick Faleris