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August 16, 2012

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

I’ve Been Thinking About….

by Jason Parks

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I’ve been thinking about...Jurickson Profar. We’ve established that the 19-year-old is the top talent in the minors, and talk of a major league promotion is at the tip of many a lip within the industry. I’m all for the move, but my level of excitement is dependent on any developmental benefit of the promotion. Given his age and experience level, I’d rather see Profar playing every day in the minors than jump to the majors for the privilege of watching the rest of the team. That’s not to say that you can’t find value in such an experience, but if Profar is expected to be a major contributor to the major league squad in 2013, playing in the field and getting reps at the plate is more important than anything else. Voyeurism can only teach you so much. Of course, trading two weeks of minor league action for the major league experience isn’t going to retard Profar’s development.

The best possible situation would find Profar at the major league level, drinking in the experience while getting regular (semi-regular) playing time. I just don’t see this particular fantasy playing out without an injury to a middle infielder, as Profar isn’t going to steal at-bats from Andrus or Kinsler at this stage of the game. A utility role makes sense, but I do have concerns about Profar’s overall defensive utility; he has a very good glove with good actions, but he is still prone to the casual error and the postseason isn’t a good time to experience developmental pains. Don’t get me wrong: I love the kid’s skills. But I wouldn’t want to put an inexperienced teenager on the field in big games unless I was forced to. That’s just my approach. What would you do?

I’ve been thinking about...Kolten Wong. I receive a lot of questions about the diminutive second baseman, and in the last month, the general tenor has been more sour than sweet. I can understand why. In the first half, national voices sang his praises, and I suggested on multiple occasions and on multiple platforms that he had one of the best hit tools in the minors; at the time, Wong was hitting for average, showing surprising pop for his size, and looking the part of a prototypical number two hitter at the major league level, with a feel for contact and situational hitting. After slugging a respectable .432 in the first half, Wong has been hitting with an empty bat since July, making contact but not driving the ball with the same authority. I’ve been asked if Wong’s stock has fallen in my eyes. The answer is no. It’s quite common for players to deal with fatigue in the summer months of their first full season, and despite the fact that Wong has better strength than his size might suggest, he’s still not a physical specimen and the daily grind of the game will take its toll. The hit tool is still a major force, as his compact and balanced stroke has a knack for putting the barrel of the bat on the ball. The strength will improve, and the body/conditioning will adjust to the extreme schedule of professional baseball. Wong has the type of hitability that you just can’t teach, an instinctual relationship that allows contact in every situation and environment. He might not be an All-Star, but he’s going to hit for average at every level, and if he can improve his secondary offensive skills, he can develop into a valuable major league regular, and perhaps a first-division type if everything comes together.

I’ve been thinking about...”For Your Pleasure” by Roxy Music. Fantastic record. It’s always a cool scene when your love of art, your love of glamor, and your love of production can be satisfied by one source.

I’ve been thinking about...Gerrit Cole. I know the results haven’t been of the Bundy variety; the type of numbers that acutely reflect the quality of the arsenal. But Cole has quietly put together a very strong debut season, logging innings, missing bats, and limiting damage. Perhaps when you draft a player 1:1 you expect more than a quality workload and solid peripherals, but not every prospect explodes with the same intensity. Cole has monster stuff, including a near-elite fastball that can touch over 100 mph, a slider that is thrown harder than most fastballs with sharp tilt, and changeup that has a chance to be the difference maker for the big righthander in the majors. The control has been very good, and the command has taken steps forward, but the total package has yet to be delivered at the minor league level. Some are quick to point out that Cole lacks that secret ingredient that allows players with talent to blossom into superstars, a drive to reach an even higher plateau than becoming a millionaire athlete. I’m not sure what he lacks inside—and those concerns might prove to be legit—but I know what he possesses outside, and I think it’s going to be special. Cole is 21 years old, he owns three major league quality pitches, a power pitcher’s body, and a good feel for the overall process of pitching. I’ve watched him pitch a few times and I saw an arm with a chip on its shoulder, which is a good thing. I didn’t see the laid back SoCal kid that has everything a 21-year-old kid needs to be happy and the contentment that is bred from that. Instead, I saw someone who wanted to throw 100 mph and make hitters looks foolish. If he can put all the pieces together while maintaining that intensity and competitive edge, he’s going to be pitching at the top of a major league rotation within a few years.

I’ve been thinking about...writing an advice column for Baseball Prospectus. I’ve been kicking around the idea with our fearless leader and Editor-in-Chief, and I think it could be a funny weekly addition to the blog side of the site. First of all, it’s a pretentious idea and a pretentious format, so it’s perfect for a pretentious writer who enjoys finding pretentious formats. I receive a wide variety of questions and comments on Twitter, the kind that don’t share a connection to baseball yet are silly enough or strange enough to demand a response. It made me think: I’d love to give advice on subjects that I have little-to-no expertise or experience with, and I’d love for you to read that advice even though I’ll be providing inaccurate and often irresponsible counseling. Baseball questions will not be answered, but every other topic imaginable is open for submission. It’s ridiculous enough to have value……I think.

I’ve been thinking about...Jean Segura.  I was in Houston last weekend for a Baseball Prospectus event and I was able to watch the Astros take on the Brewers. More importantly, I was able to watch Jean Segura. I’ve been watching him for years on the backfields in Arizona, and I’ve always been a fan; that’s not to say I haven’t been realistic about his shortcomings, as I’ve been vocal in the past with the opinion that second base might be better suited for his defensive skill set. Segura’s body concerned me as well; he has thick legs that I thought would suppress range as he matured, and he has an injury history that didn’t form a happy marriage with the physical demands of the position. In Houston, I thought Segura looked fantastic at shortstop, and I thought he looked quicker and more athletic than I had ever seen him before. In the field, he showed very good range with a quick first step, reaching a ball hit up-the-middle. He was able to turn his body and get in proper position to make the throw. At the plate, Segura looked young at times and experienced at others, showing off his bat speed and barreling several balls in the two-game sample. I always liked his quick trigger, and once in the zone, Segura shows good bat control and can pack a punch when he makes contact. I’ve always had Segura graded as 6 runner, but I clocked him running a 4.0 from the right side, which is the fastest time I have on record for the 22-year-old. As I said, his body looked good and he looked quick and agile, and I really liked what I saw. I think he’s more of a 5 role player, a solid regular at the major league level. That’s not a knock on Segura, but I don’t see the type of big tools normally found with All-Star level talent. He is, though, a very nice piece to have on a roster.

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

Related Content:  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

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