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June 18, 2012

Future Shock

Monday Morning Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds (at Double-A Pensacola)
Corcino draws too many easy comps to Johnny Cueto, as he's short, thick, Dominican, a Red, and has a big arm. But let's talk about him on his own merits, which include eight no-hit innings on Saturday to lower his ERA to 3.34 in 13 Double-A starts. Corcino's best pitch is a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph, and both his slider and changeup are at least average pitches. There's considerable effort to his delivery, which leads to some control issues, and when he has problems with his location, he tends to miss up. He's a potential No. 3 starter with some refinements, and the 21-year-old has already made plenty of improvements this year.

Miles Head, 1B, Athletics (at High-A Stockton)
Head finished his California League stint in style, hitting two home runs on Friday and another on Saturday to lift his triple-slash line to a gaudy .382/.433/.715 in 67 games. Those number are locked in, as following the California/Carolina League All-Star game, Head will head to Texas to join Double-A Midland. A much tougher environment at a higher level will give us some of the information we need to figure out just how real this all is.

Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds (at High-A Bakersfield)
Maybe he just decided that nice even numbers were cool, as in the final game of the first half on Saturday night, Hamilton went 2-for-5 with a walk and stole five bases to give him 80 on the year to go with a .322/.408/.441 line in 66 games. It's hard to stare at anything but that stolen base total, but there's all sorts of goodness in Hamilton's line, including a much higher walk rate and much lower strikeout rate, which are the kind of numbers the environment of the California League can't influence. For now, how he develops defensively will define his future, and the offense looks better than ever.

Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals (at Triple-A Memphis)
It's fair to be concerned at this point. After allowing seven runs on Saturday without getting through the fifth, Miller has gone six straight outings without a quality start, and over that stretch his ERA has ballooned from 3.79 to an even 6.00. His other statistics can be just as confusing, as he's struck out 73 over 66 innings, yet the league is hitting .306 against him. The worst news is that his stuff is off significantly, as his fastball has lost a full grade from 2011, his curveball is not as crisp, and his changeup has slipped from average to fringy. Miller has been the top prospect in the St. Louis system since signing as a first-round pick in 2009, but if I were forced to rank today, he'd lose that crown.

Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (at Low-A West Michigan)
Moya can be difficult to evaluate. At six-foot-seven and 230 pounds, he catches one's eye the moment he steps on the field, and the power he shows in batting practice is quite impressive. Last year, he was a mess at this level, hitting .204/.234/.362 with 127 strikeouts against 12 walks in 323 at-bats, but he's made tremendous strides this year, hitting home runs in three of his last five games and heading to Tuesday's All-Star game with a line of .297/.328/.495. He's at least intriguing, and in a system desperate for position prospects, Moya is among the best.

Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers (at Triple-A Round Rock)
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Perez had his best start of the year on Friday, pitching seven one-hit innings while walking five and striking out out five, but we've reached the point that when he does that, we're just left wondering why he doesn't do it more often. He has three pitches that rate as average or better, yet his ERA is 4.90, and his last start was just his fourth of the quality variety in 14 outings. Had Perez progressed anywhere near to the point of expectations a year or two ago, he'd be the one starting in the big leagues this weekend instead of Justin Grimm. He'll need plenty more outings like the one he had before he can be trusted with a big-league look.

Ronny Rodriguez, SS, Indians (at High-A Carolina)
While Rodriguez' .246/.274/.449 numbers last year at Low-A Lake County might not stand out, they do with context, as he was a 19-year-old making his pro debut in a full-season league, and he's a true shortstop who has some juice in his bat. After a slow start in the Carolina League, Rodriguez has started to come alive with the bat with the warmer weather, and after going 5-for-5 on Sunday afternoon, he's now hitting .275/.309/.424. His approach still needs a lot of work, but his kind of overall skill set is a rarity.

Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees (Low-A Charleston)
Sanchez had some issues with his effort and his defense last year, so the Yankees decided to have the 19-year-old repeat the Low-A level, even though he was one of the top prospects in the system. It looks like the lesson was learned, at least offensively, as with a 7-for-12 weekend that included a pair of home runs, Sanchez is hitting .313/.361/.545 in 58 games. There has even been some noted improvement defensively, but the upgrade behind the plate has taken him only from really bad to simply bad, and his future at the position is still up in the air. Still, he's ready for Tampa, and the bat could just end up so far ahead of the glove that it doesn't matter in the end.

Victor Sanchez, RHP, Mariners (Short-season Everett)
Not that Seattle needs another pitching prospect, but remember this name. The Mariners signed Sanchez for $2.5 million last summer and were so impressed with Sanchez this spring that they decided to throw him to the wolves in the college-heavy Northwest League, and the 17-year-old (born in 1995) allowed just two hits over six innings in his pro debut. Sanchez is a bit undersized but thick and athletic, and he stands out as much for his polish as his stuff. His fastball sat at 90-94 mph on Friday, and while his breaking ball has potential, his changeup is the kind rarely seen in a teenager, featuring plenty of deception and fade. Even the most aggressive of timetables doesn't get him to the big leagues until 2016-17, but by that time, he could just be another name in an impressive potential rotation.

Dan Straily, RHP, Athletics (at Double-A Midland)
Straily was a pop-up guy early in the year, putting up big numbers while we all scrambled to get more information about him. Now, we just kind of shrug our shoulders when he does something like what he did on Friday night, tossing eight one-hit innings while striking out nine. That's a sign that he's matured from surprise to true prospect, as if his 108-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 85.1 innings wasn't proof enough. The scouting reports back it up, as Straily has plus velocity and a slider/changeup combination that make him effective against both lefties and righties. He could head to Triple-A soon, and a September look is not out of the question.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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