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September 17, 2012

Monday Morning Ten Pack

Down the Home Stretch

by BP Prospect Staff

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Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)
Brentz is always an interesting player to scout, with one word summing up a set of multiple looks: “streaky.”  The bat speed and the power he creates to all fields are key strengths, but the overly-aggressive approach and fringe-average pitch recognition are tough to dismiss.  Brentz got off to a 2-for-17 start in Triple-A after a late-season promotion, only to quickly catch fire in the first five games of the International League playoffs, and then cool down with an 0-for-7 with 5 strikeouts in the last two.  The highs and lows typically come back to whether he is staying back on the ball.  Projecting the 23-year-old outfielder is tricky.  There’s major league talent with the bat, but there are also flaws that can prove to be critical against the unforgiving pitching. I see the power to hit 20-25 home runs, but I also presently see a lot of swing-and-miss that makes it tough to maintain a respectable batting average.  Brentz’s ability to hold down a long-term starting job will come down to how much further he can adjust and learn to hit secondary offerings. Chris Mellen    

Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Double-A Springfield)
What can be said about Oscar Taveras that hasn’t already been said about most bacon products? The Dominican offensive wizard arrived at Double-A as a teenagerfresh off a Low-A breakthrough in 2011‚Äčfacing an enormous developmental jump in 2012. With the hand speed of boxer and the strength to command those weapons, Taveras and his axe-murderer approach to hitting exploded in the Texas League, hitting a robust .321/.380/.572 during the regular season, including 67 extra base hits.  Since the start of post-season play, the violence has been tamed, as the long season in the sun has sapped some of the maniac from the monster; Taveras is struggling to make contact, and the contact he is making is soft and innocent. Fear not. Taveras has blossomed into the best pure hitter in the minors, with only roster depth stalling his eventual rise to major league glory. Catch him while you can, minor league fans; his existence in your domain is short-lived. Jason Parks

Domingo Santana, OF, Astros (High-A Lancaster)
Santana came to Houston as the PTBNL in last summer’s Hunter Pence deal that also netted the Astros top prospects Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart. After hitting .287/.362/.471 in the South Atlantic League in 2011, Santana spent much of this year as the youngest player in the California League. Santana’s slash line improved (.302/.385/.536) in the hitter-friendly Cal League and, more importantly, his walk rate increased by more than 50 percent while his strikeout-to-walk rate dropped by 35 percent. Santana is the prototypical right fielder starter kit, pre-loaded with a plus arm and plus power. Plate discipline will be the key to unlocking Santana’s power, and the strides he made against much older competition this summer could be the precursor to a 2013 breakoutBradley Ankrom

Leury Garcia, SS, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
With Profar as a teammate for the majority of the season, 21-year-old infielder Leury Garcia has been overlooked or undervalued by many of those in the prospect valuation industry. Garcia is listed at a generous 5’7’’, but he’s closer to Jose Altuve than someone who is legitimately 5’7’’. Size be damned, as the diminutive shortstop has louder defensive tools than uber-prospect Profar, with more range, a slicker glove, and an arm that isn’t scared of a head-to-head comparison. At the plate, the switch-hitting Dominican has a good (but not great) hit tool to go along with 80-grade speed, which makes every ball in play an adventure for the infield. His approach can sink his ship, as the slap-hitting contact hitter often thinks he’s a Muscle Milk-drinking bomb factory, dropping his back shoulder and going for glory without the skill set to pull it off. He has a utility profile as a floor—which mutes the excitement somewhatbut the defensive chops are major league legit, and if the bat is a contact-only weapon, his wheels will help enhance the potential for batting average and the possibility that he can develop into a second-division regular. Just because he doesn’t profile as a star doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying attention. He’ll be a major leaguer in some form. Jason Parks

Yadiel Rivera, SS, Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin)
Despite what the numbers say (.247/.290/.402 in 506 PA), the 20-year-old Puerto Rican remains a prospect to keep an eye on. Rivera doesn’t exactly fit the physical profile of a shortstop (listed at 6’2, 175 lbs.), but scouts think he has what it takes to be at least an average defender at the major league level, with tons of range, a good glove, and a very strong arm. If his hit tool plays at all, he’ll have the chance to be a quality major leaguer, but that’s a big “if.” The hit tool and approach have big question marks, but when the barrel can meet the ball, Rivera has a lot natural sting to his swing.Hudson Belinsky

Nik Turley, LHP, Yankees (Double-A Trenton)
The 6’6’’ southpaw spent most of the season in the Florida State League before getting the late-season bump to get some additional innings during the stretch run.  Turley’s fastball is not overpoweringnormally working in the 88-92 mph rangebut he shows solid-average command of the offering and the ability to throw to both sides of the plate.  The arsenal is rounded out by a curveball and changeup, both of which can miss bats; the change is the more advanced of the two pitches, but there is room for growth with the curve if Turley can get more consistent with staying on top of it. Now making the jump to Double-A, the command and crispness of his repertoire will be pushed by the more advanced hitters of the Eastern League, and will present a developmental challenge for the 23-year-old pitcher. Turley made strides fine tuning his release point this season, gaining traction towards projecting as a potential back-end starter at the big league level. Chris Mellen

Jace Peterson, SS, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
Back on August 20th, Kevin Goldstein wrote a few words about Peterson, an enigmatic prospect that elicits showers of praise and clouds of doubt from industry sources. I have a lot of experience watching Peterson, and while I share some of those schizophrenic views, I’ve grown to trust some of my more positive thoughts on him, and I think his production in 2012 will encourage more believers. I was prompted to write about Peterson after a positive review from a recent playoff performance; not one that found the player basking in the glory of a big hit or crucial play in the field, but an overall approach to the game that won over another spectator. For all the pomp about his multi-sport athleticism and newfound focus on baseball, his overall feel for the game gets lost in the hype. Peterson has legit baseball instincts and legit baseball skills, and even though his profile has some tweener red flags (not an above-average shortstop/might not have the bat for second), the total package has a realistic major-league ceiling. I don’t think he’s a top prospect now, and I don’t think he will develop into a top prospect in the future, but this guy could end up playing a role for a major league team down the line. He’s a bit behind the developmental curve, but the 22-year-old has the type of makeup to handle an accelerated developmental schedule, and based on his 2012 results, the skill set to stay above water at a more advanced destination. Jason Parks

Travis Jankowski, OF, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
A rib injury sidelined Jankowski for the final stretch of the minor league season, but the tools that made him a first round pick were on display when he made his professional debut this summer. Jankowski plays a dazzling center field, thanks to above-average speed and good instincts for the position. Offensively, he makes consistent contact and uses the entire field, but there isn’t a ton of power in his game. After struggling in his first exposure to pro pitching, Jankowski bounced back with a strong August (.327/.353/.434) to put himself in line for a jump to High-A in 2013. Hudson Belinsky

Mark Montgomery, RHP, Yankees (Double-A Trenton)
After posting outrageous numbers in his pro debut in 2011 (51 K, 13 BB in 28.1 IP), Montgomery continued to utilize a lively fastball and a slider to miss bats, tallying  99 strikeouts in only 64.1 innings this year across High- and Double-A. He’ll head to the Arizona Fall League in October, and presumably have a chance to earn a spot in the Yankees’ bullpen at some point next season. Hudson Belinsky

Jiovanni Mier, SS, Astros (High-A Lancaster)
Houston’s top pick (21st overall) of the 2009 draft, Mier got off to a quick start by hitting .276/.380/.484 in the short-season Appalachian League. He couldn’t come close to matching that production during his first two years of full-season ball, hitting a combined .238/.333/.334 before rebounding in the California League this year (.292/.396/.409). Despite the progress Mier made, a long swing and inconsistent approach will hinder his ability to sustain those gains at higher levels, so continued adjustment will be necessary. He does show an understanding of the strike zone, drawing walks at a healthy clip and striking out in fewer than 20 percent of his plate appearances. Mier could still reach the majors on the strength of his defense, where an above-average arm, good range, and soft hands give him the ability to stick at shortstop as he moves up the ladder. But without a significant overhaul of his hitting mechanics, Mier best profiles as a utility infielder. Bradley Ankrom

Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor League Baseball

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