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May 20, 2013

Monday Morning Ten Pack

May 20

by Jason Parks and Jason Cole

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Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
After a scorching start to the season (1.194 OPS in April), Buxton has cooled (somewhat) in his second month in full-season ball, but thanks to game heroics and flashes of his future brilliance, Buxton’s stock has never been higher. Equipped with eye-splitting tools, including elite speed and easy plus raw power, the 19-year-old is well on his way to being the top prospect in the minors. Buxton recently hit a walk-off grand slam that one scout source in attendance said traveled an estimated 450 feet and was launched off a 98 mph fastball. Perfect Game’s Justin Hlubek captured the event on video, and if you have a change of pants handy, please click this link and drift into a euphoric state. --Jason Parks

Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas)
If Ventura’s physical characteristics read 6’3’’ rather than 5’11’’, the combination of stuff and results would make him one of the premier pitching prospects in the game. Everybody knows about the fastball, as it can hit triple digits in bursts and routinely works in the plus-plus range, but the legitimacy is found in the developmental progression of the secondary arsenal, which includes a plus curveball and a changeup that some think could end up being very special. Because of questions about his ability to handle a starter’s workload, Ventura gets put into the bullpen box, where he profiles as an elite closer. While that’s quite the enticing alternative, the organization is adamant that they always have and will continue to view the 21-year-old righty as a starter, and a very special one at that. Not every slight Dominican righty is going to be the next Pedro, but most slight Dominican righties aren’t in Ventura’s class of talent, and if his body is up to the challenge, the Royals might have the top of the rotation arm they’ve been trying to develop since forever. –Jason Parks

Luis Sardinas, SS, Rangers (High-A Myrtle Beach)
Another toolsy Rangers shortstop prospect, Sardinas celebrated his 20th birthday this week with a pair of four-hit performances. The recent hot streak has bumped Sardinas’ slash line to .302/.358/.377 in addition to 12 stolen bases. Although the switch-hitting Venezuelan offers little power projection, he flashes a potential elite glove with plus-plus speed and a future plus hit tool.

With a relatively mature all-around game, the slender shortstop has produced solid results in each of his four professional seasons; the issue has been keeping him healthy. Injuries to both of Sardinas’ shoulders limited him to just 40 official games over his first two years. Sardinas appeared in a career-high 96 contests at Single-A Hickory last season but still spent time on the disabled list. He’s off to a promising start in 2013, however, playing well and appearing in 41 of Myrtle Beach’s 43 games. –Jason Cole

Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (High-A St. Lucie)
Listed at 6-foot-6, 240 lbs., Syndergaard provides an imposing presence on the mound. He uses that big frame to generate a steep downward angle on his heavy fastball, making it a potentially dominant pitch. The 20-year-old Texan’s entire arsenal––which includes a projected plus curveball/changeup mix––plays well off the angle and his low-to-mid 90s heater.

Also a good athlete with an advanced feel for command and control, Syndergaard has a front-line rotation ceiling. He’s currently pitching well in the High-A Florida State League, posting a 2.62 ERA through eight starts and improving as he progresses. Syndergaard has worked at least six innings in each of his past five starts, including a 10-K, zero walk performance over 6 2/3 frames Thursday. –Jason Cole

Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin)
Simply put, this kid isn’t getting enough hype. I was finally able to put eyes on him this spring, and his “it” factor was even more impressive than I had been encouraged to believe. After a cold start in a very cold environment to begin his full-season experience, the 18-year-old shortstop started to swing a hot stick and show a very advanced approach at the plate. With a swing that is both short to the ball and fluid, Arica has above average contact ability and projects to hit for average with some gap power as he matures. With good speed and field awareness, he can make things happen on base, adding another dimension to his overall offensive game. Opinions are still somewhat mixed on defense, but based on what I saw and have extracted from others, he projects to stay at the position all the way up the chain despite not possessing true wizard-like qualities. He’s on his way up prospect lists and will emerge as a top 101 talent in the minors by next season.–Jason Parks

Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Angels (Low-A Burlington)
Selected in the first round of the 2010 draft, Bedrosian has since fallen off the prospect radar, but was mentioned as an “On the Rise” candidate on the Angels’ Prospect Ranking coming into the season. He has started to show signs of life. The ultimate projection might be closer to seventh-inning reliever than impact starter, but you can’t ignore the stuff; his fastball is routinely working 92-96 with a 78-82 mph breaking ball that profiles as a solid-average offering. The command needs work, as his fastball can hang around the zone and find too many barrels, but the arm is of major-league quality and if he can stay healthy and keep taking steps forward, he could move fast in the bullpen. –Jason Parks

Jake Buchanan, RHP, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
An eighth-round pick in the 2010 draft, Buchanan isn’t exactly a household name in the prospect world, and based on a few reports last season, his prospect future was closer to that of a middle reliever than anything else. While the remodeled ceiling isn’t exactly sexy, Buchanan’s performance so far in 2013 has elevated his status, and thanks to his plus-plus command, he has a shot to carve out a future in a rotation. Armed with an 88-91 mph fastball with good natural weight, the 23-year-old righty can pound the lower part of the zone and set up his mid-80s cutter and passable curveball. The changeup is fringy and the raw stuff can’t survive without sharp command, but he has a shot to stick around in a ration, most likely as a back-end type. –Jason Parks

Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (High-A Carolina)
I recently disclosed my intention to name my first-born child after Lindor, so we should all be aware that I’m a huge fan and unapologetic in my fervor. But what could be seen as hyperbole and hype is actually an honest reality, as Lindor has blossomed into one of the best all-around prospects in the game, and a future candidate to take over the throne when Profar graduates. The bat has been better than expected in the Carolina League, showing a feel for hard contact, especially from the left side of the plate. His calling card is his precocious talent in the field, with plus-plus leather, a strong arm, and instincts for the game that are obvious to even the most casual of observers. He is likely to reach the majors at some point during the 2014 season, and after he finds his footing at the highest level, is likely to develop into a franchise player for the Indians for the next decade. –Jason Lindor-Parks

Brad Miller, IF, Mariners (Double-A Jackson)
I was never that high on Miller, most likely a result of scattered, unfocused looks and a general bias against less-than-pure shortstops. But after a lengthy look at the Mariners during spring camp, I’ve jumped on the Miller bandwagon with both feet. I’m still a bit leery of his defensive chops at shortstop, although he shows the ability to make fundamental plays with athletic and fluid movements so he should be able to pull it off for a while. The bat isn’t exceptional but solid, as he creates bat speed with bat control, and can spray the ball all over the park. He’s a fun player to watch in person, mostly because I like the aesthetic qualities of a dirty uniform, high socks, and no batting gloves. But beyond aesthetics, Miller’s game is built on skills and approach and not flash and fantasy. He’s a ballplayer, and could end up manning the major-league middle with Nick Franklin as soon as next season. –Jason Parks

Travis Harrison, 3B, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
Harrison was a first-round draft pick in 2011, and after an impressive short-season debut in 2012, entered 2013 as a player to watch at the full-season level. His ticket to the show is the stick, and the reports coming out of the Midwest League are promising; he has some swing-and-miss and can get aggressive in his approach, but the bat has legit thunder and has a chance to play, even in an outfield corner. Better pitching will challenge the hit tool, but with power potential in his game, he doesn’t have to be a .300 hitter to make an impact. He’s a long way from realizing his potential, but don’t lose sight of Harrison in an increasingly strong system. –Jason Parks 

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

Related Content:  Prospects,  Francisco Lindor,  Byron Buxton

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