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April 21, 2014

Monday Morning Ten Pack

April 21, 2014

by BP Prospect Staff


Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High-A High Desert)
It’s well-established that this Guerrero is the nephew of that Guerrero, just as it’s established that this Guerrero first tickled my fancy during spring training of 2013 and continues to tantalize my emotions based on characteristics shared with that Guerrero. After a slow start last-season—his first in a cold-weather environment—Gabby Guerrero’s bat warmed up as the climate did the same, and he positioned himself to take another step forward with a starting assignment in the hitter-friendly environments of the California League in 2014. The 20-year-old Dominican has one of the loosest and easiest swings around, with plenty of bat speed and natural lift designed to drive the baseball into the gaps and over the fence. He runs into trouble against arm-side stuff, and his pitch recognition could end up being a bigger issue than his early stat-line might indicate. Guerrero has such tremendous hand/eye coordination and bat speed that he can often recover against bad guesses or late recognition, but as he climbs the chain, better pitching is likely to expose these weaknesses and limit his impact potential. As much as I love to watch this Guerrero swing—as the physical body, the sans batting glove swagger, and the looseness in the swing all remind me of that Guerrero—I’m hesitant to buy into the statistical success out of fear of the scouting reality. For me, this Guerrero is still very much a boom-or-bust prospect, and I’m unlikely to find comfort in his progress until he finds success at the Double-A level. —Jason Parks

Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
Preston Tucker can hit. He’s a below-average athlete with below-average speed and average arm utility, but the 23-year-old excels at the skill that matters the most for a position player: bat-to-ball. It’s a strong, short-to-the-ball swing that is built for loud contact and solid power. He’s not an all-world type and he’s unlikely to develop into a first-division player, despite the ability to strike right-handed pitching. But the former seventh-round pick from the University of Florida is a much better prospect than people realize, and it's all tied to his natural ability to put his bat on a baseball and drive it with authority. At the highest level, Tucker is probably a fringe-average corner defender, with his below-average speed and average arm likely pushing him to left field, which will put all the pressure on his bat to carve out the value. But if the hit tool plays to potential, it’s realistic to envision a future .275-plus hitter with 15– to 20–home run potential. Not a guy who will change the fortune of a franchise, but a cost-effective player who can contribute to a major league line-up. The Astros will take that all day long with a smile. —Jason Parks

Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
When watching Urias take the hill, it’s easy to forget that the left-handed starter is just 17 years old. Whether it’s the ball easily coming out of his hand at 93 to 95 mph, the crispness of the delivery, the sharpness of the secondary stuff or just the overall level of polish, Urias’ package is advanced beyond his years. I was thoroughly impressed with the lefty when seeing him during spring training, recognizing that he has a chance to develop into an impact player down the road.

While the shine of Urias’ advancement is almost blinding, it’s also important to put into context the amount of development in front of him, mainly with building stamina and overall experience. He logged just 54 1/3 innings last season over 18 starts. The goal this year will be to add innings and continue to stretch out. That’s not to say that he can’t push a promotion during the season, but keep in mind that, at 17, he is in the infancy stages of ramping up physically. A successful year is getting over 100 innings. —Chris Mellen

Christian Vazquez, C, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)
Vazquez has come a long way since first signing as a pro. Though the body still leaves a bit to be desired, the 23-year-old has made leaps and bounds with his overall game, especially on defense. Vazquez’s pop times routinely clock in the 1.8s, with the arm grading as plus-plus. His feet have gone from tangled and messy to crisp and extremely fluid. I think back to when I saw him in those early stages and I didn’t see much more than an organizational player. Now, he’s on the cusp of the bigs.

Vazquez is a good example of how a prospect can transform over the course of his development. While he is more the exception than the norm, his progression highlights the variety of the process. I don’t see Vazquez making a big impact with the bat. It’s likely to be on the modest side. The real impact can be with the glove, and can carry him to a role as a regular in the right situation. The defense can push well above average. Though loud tools and high ceilings grab most of the attention, Vazquez has the potential to carve out a long career and provide good value to a roster. —Chris Mellen

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (04/21)
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