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August 25, 2014

Monday Morning Ten Pack

August 25, 2014

by BP Prospect Staff

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Manuel Margot, OF, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
When we put together Boston’s Top 10 list last offseason, Margot was a player in the mix for one of the final slots, but we ultimately decided to place him in the “On the Rise” section. The thinking centered on the sizable gap between present product and future vision for the 19-year-old. Tack on that he had yet to be tested with a full-season assignment and the result was tabbing him as a possible future, but not necessarily present, top-10 player.

My experience with Margot runs deep. He has the loose hands I love to see in a hitter, especially one whose offensive game is going to focus on hard line drives into the gaps. Margot does surprise with more raw power than initially meets the eye, but my view is that his peak potential is a top-of-the-order type with a contact-oriented approach and doubles power. Reports and chatter have indicated increased comfort at the plate, which has driven more of his natural hitting ability to the surface. This season has been a step forward, enough of one that putting Margot’s name in the organization’s Top 10 is a foregone conclusion. —Chris Mellen

Eddie Rosario, INF/OF, Twins (Double-A New Britain)
Rosario entered the season firmly entrenched in a deep Minnesota system and his upward trajectory carried him to the no. 60 spot in our Top 101. I caught him after his promotion to the Eastern League last season and the feel for hitting, along with some legit thunder in his stick, stuck out. There was some swing-and-miss to his game, but the 22-year-old was confidently turning around fastballs with authority and attacking offerings with a fluid stroke that unfolds with some leverage. A 50-game suspension for a banned substance started this year off on the wrong foot and delayed what looked to be merely a brief follow-up in Double-A before a promotion. When I’ve seen Rosario this season, though, it’s been apparent that there is a need for major adjustments to his approach and mindset as a hitter. His strike zone selection has been poor, compounded by his thinking he’s a power guy instead of a gap-to-gap hitter who can muscle up in spots. Neglecting to cover the outer third of the plate has led to a lot of weak roll-overs, popups, and lazy fly balls. The defense is far from a carrying tool, so with his bat’s progression stalling, so have Rosario's major-league prospects. Failure can stimulate, and Rosario certainly has offensive talent. With adjustments, Rosario can quickly get back on track, but it’s going to come down to the recognition and commitment to do so. —Chris Mellen

Max Kepler, OF, Twins (High-A Fort Myers)
Kepler looks the part. If you were designing a ballplayer, Kepler could be the mold. At 6-foot-4 and well-built but not oversized, Kepler could sell jeans, as the old story goes. The swing looks as good as the build, starting with a lightly open, traditional left-handed stance, continuing with a slight uppercut and above-average bat speed, and ending with a nice, two-handed finish. Despite looking the part, Kepler simply doesn't square the ball up consistently, and when he does, he doesn't do so with the authority expected from a player his size. He doesn't swing and miss a ton and has a decent eye with a sound approach, but he feels for the ball (especially against left-handed pitching) and does not drive it. Kepler therefore fails to project as a regular. He's already limited to corner outfield positions and first base, which raises the bar even higher, but right now, he's nowhere close to displaying the power necessary to live up to the expectations of his defensive position. The profile is there for more, and he's still just 21, so it's far from a lost cause, but we've yet to see any kind of power production outside of the Appalachian League two years ago and there are few signs this year that he's turning the corner. —Jeff Moore

Brody Wofford, SS/OF, Model HS (Rome, GA)
Wofford wasn’t selected for the Perfect Game All-American Classic, but the 6-foot-2, 180-pound shortstop and outfielder was my favorite bat of the Area Code Games tournament and should have received a lot more praise. In the cage, Wofford showed a nice, balanced stance and line-drive stroke from the left side; I circled his name in my roster sheet as a guy to keep an eye on. He carried that same approach to game action, consistently lining balls in the gaps with authority, hitting fastballs and off-speed pitches. He seemed to get stronger as he went on, and in the final game I witnessed he tripled to the opposite field on a ball hit at least 360 feet. The power potential is real for Wofford, with that great swing and a body that can easily carry 15 to 20 more pounds of good weight. Where he ends up on the diamond is the big question, as he has a good arm and decent hands, but lacks the horizontal range to play shortstop at the highest level. He’s played some outfield, but I’d like to see if he could play third base or even second this year at his high school. —Chris Rodriguez

Jose Adames, RHP, Marlins (Low-A Greensboro)
The Dominican hurler has a big arm, though it was easy to overlook while I spent a game watching Reynaldo Lopez touch 99 mph. Adames is a good example of how baseball can surprise us. My intent was to see how real the buzz on Lopez was, but I walked away seeing two interesting pitching prospects. Adames does not have elite velocity, but he still can reach back and touch 95 mph. His fastball is an explosive pitch, displaying hard arm-side run and even some boring action. It almost has a mind of its own, routinely showing terrific life and running in on the hands of hitters. However, Adames lacks sufficient command to work as a starter. His secondary arsenal also needs some work, as his curveball is currently inconsistent and the changeup is virtually nonexistent. The curve has a chance to be average, as it displays tight spin and mild depth at its best, but Adames will likely conclude his career in a bullpen. That often does not sound like a sexy profile, but remember that a 95 mph fastball with life and explosion has a place in the majors. If Adames can work on repeating his delivery and tightening up the curve, he could be a productive reliever. —Tucker Blair

Jonah Heim, C, Orioles (Short Season Aberdeen)
The Orioles have taken it slow with the wiry catcher out of northern New York. Heim is an extremely raw prospect who displays a wealth of talent and much to dream on. Defense is his best asset, as he displays a terrific glove and provides an excellent target. I am routinely impressed with his ability to frame pitches and operate a game plan. When watching short-season games, small aspects like pitch framing and directing the game really cement themselves in your mind. Heim displays a swagger behind the plate in a good way. He routinely seems in charge of the pitcher and looks to have a good understanding of what his pitchers' strengths are. His defense has potential to be plus, along with his plus throwing arm. The intangibles only help boost his value. At the plate, Heim is certainly a work in progress. As a switch-hitter, he has a long way to go from both sides. However, I have seen improvement in his two stints with Aberdeen. He displayed a slight hitch from both sides, but has decreased this some. His hands were too high one game, too low the next, and then he was able to find a balanced location that provided a better path to the ball. These are the kinds of improvements to look for in a young, raw prospect. —Tucker Blair

Champ Stuart, OF, Mets (Low-A Savannah)
In the sixth round of the 2013 draft, the Mets selected Stuart, a relatively unknown prospect out of Brevard College in North Carolina, a Division II program that has produced two other draft picks in its history. Young relative to other college draftees, Stuart, a native of the Bahamas, entered pro ball as a 20-year-old with considerable speed but questions surrounding his other tools, particularly on offense. After a brief summer tour through the Appalachian League immediately following the draft, Stuart was sent to Savannah after missing the first month of the 2014 season, and while the numbers haven’t jumped off the page, Stuart is showcasing the tools and skills that could translate well at the highest level. The six-foot, 175-pounder is a burner, registering as a true 70-grade runner with a 4.11 second dig to first base. That speed helps him cover plenty of ground in center field, more than making up for his shaky routes. His feel for center and his route-running should improve in the future due to a willingness to work diligently to hone his craft, approaching fielding drills and shagging fly balls in batting practice with intense focus and professionalism. His offensive game, while a work in progress, is showing signs of life. He can be exploited due to a slightly long swing and an approach that is often pull-conscious early in counts, but Stuart shows good awareness of the zone at the fringes, solid pitch recognition, and an innate sense to attack balls in his zone. His bat speed is average and his over-the-fence pop will likely settle in below average, but when everything’s clicking, Stuart will work from gap to gap and accumulate his share of extra-base hits due to his plus-plus wheels. While he may be something of a project with a level-per-year progression, Stuart has a shot at a major-league future as a fourth outfielder or second-division regular. While that may not sound particularly promising from an outside perspective, a major-league role for a sixth-round pick out of college is an outcome every organization would take in an instant. —Ethan Purser

Kent Emanuel, LHP, Astros (High-A Lancaster)
This was my second time catching Emanuel on a night the wind howled in Lancaster, and it was the second time I've come away impressed. The 2013 third-rounder is every bit his listed 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, with a high waist and durable, athletic frame. His delivery is clean, though unorthodox, as he curls his front leg when he drives and kicks it forward toward the landing spot. It creates a jerky appearance that, coupled with a tight upper-body coil, adds a strong element of deception to his delivery. He needs it, as his four-pitch mix is by no means overpowering. His fastball has worked 89 to 92 mph in both viewings, though it gets on hitters in a hurry and features some late arm-side run. He throws both a curve and slider, but while the former shows depth and flashes solid-average potential, the latter is a fringe pitch that lacks bite. His changeup at 76 to 79 mph plays well off his fastball, with good drop and fade on the same line. He lacks a knockout pitch, though he’s shown a consistent ability to make up for that with an advanced feel for sequencing and a willingness to work to all four quadrants to keep hitters off balance. His control and command both play above average at present, and there may just be another half-grade of projection left given his balance and overall athleticism. It’s not the sexiest of profiles, but left-handers with plus command of three solid-average pitches tend to find work in big-league rotations and carve out long careers. —Wilson Karaman

Touki Toussaint, RHP, Diamondbacks (Rookie Missoula)
In his first 10 pro appearances the Diamondbacks’ 2014 first rounder has been true to form, simultaneously flashing drool-inducing upside and loose control and execution. The results? Lots of whiffs, lots of walks, and lots of hits on balls left up and over the plate. When clicking, Toussaint utilizes good leverage, plane, and extension to wield a potent plus fastball, plus curve combo that could each rate as double-plus in time. When off, however, his timing can resemble that of a robot assembled with half-tightened screws, creating slight hiccups through various checkpoints in his motion.

These little mechanical indiscretions in the aggregate lead to erratic execution, and have been the biggest knock against the young righty in his brief time on the bump. Coming off a very long spring, it’s hardly surprising that Toussaint has found it increasingly difficult to maintain his mechanics through his first taste of pro ball, though it’s worth noting the pure stuff has not taken much of a hit despite the apparent fatigue. A nice long recharge period over the offseason should have the promising Florida prep product ready to go in 2015. —Nick J. Faleris

Forrest Wall, 2B, Rockies (Rookie Grand Junction)
The best prep hit tool in the 2014 draft class has been thrown right into the thick of it, with the Rockies skipping the complex and challenging him with a Pioneer League assignment. Wall has responded with 33 games worth of offensive sparkle, slashing .326/.414/.477 through just over 150 plate appearances (including a .389 average over the past 10 games and 41 plate appearances), while swiping 17 bags in 20 attempts. His quick hands and ability to match swing plane to pitch plane have made for a quick adjustment to pro ball in the box, with the former UNC commit showing no signs of slowing at present. Wall has the potential to move quickly and should get a chance to build upon his fast start with a full-season assignment in 2015 to Low-A Asheville. —Nick J. Faleris

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