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August 8, 2013

Minor League Update

First Round Selections: American League

by Zach Mortimer

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Position Players

Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): .266/.337/.343 with 7 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 13 SB, 3 CS, 15 BB, and 49 K in 169 at-bats.
Anderson is a toolsy player selected out of junior college. He was finally able to focus all of his time on baseball in 2013 after previously being a multi-sport athlete. Anderson offers plus-plus running ability and good bat speed, and some believe he has a chance to hit for power. It is going to be difficult for Anderson to stay at short, but scouts believe he could transition to center field if necessary. The White Sox paid $2.16 million for Anderson, and he was instantly in the conversation for the top prospect in their system.

Nick Ciuffo, C, Rays (GCL Rays): .293/.327/.370 with 5 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 CS, 5 BB, and 19 K in 92 at-bats.
Ciuffo shows all-around baseball ability. Scouts believe he could be a solid-average hitter with average power. Defensively, Ciuffo has improved and shown solid catch-and-throw ability, leading scouts to believe that he can stay behind the plate long term. Ciuffo received a $1.97 million bonus and profiles as a solid-average everyday catcher.

Travis Demeritte, SS, Rangers (AZL Rangers): .277/.411/.429 with 3 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 3 SB, 1 CS, 25 BB, and 44 K in 119 at-bats.
Demeritte is a quick-twitch player who has the potential to provide some power because of his excellent bat speed. Defensively, Demeritte will most likely have to move off of short, probably to third base. The Rangers gave Demeritte $1.9 million, and if he is able to increase his contact rate to fully tap into his power, he will profile as an everyday third baseman.

Hunter Dozier, SS, Royals (Short-Season Idaho Falls): .283/.381/.488 with 19 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 3 SB, 0 CS, 25 BB, and 23 K in 166 at-bats.
With the surprise of the first round, the Royals selected Dozier, out of Stephen F. Austin, and paid him $2.2 million. Dozier shows good bat speed and has plus raw power. He is athletic and quicker than you would expect from a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, but most likely will use his plus arm at third base. Dozier is feasting on inferior pitching and will need to continue to do so to prove the Royals’ strategy correct. He profiles as a prototypical third baseman who provides power as well as a strong arm in the field.

Clint Frazier, CF, Indians (AZL Indians): .303/.363/.515 with 4 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 1 SB, 2 CS, 9 BB, and 36 K in 99 at-bats.
The stories that amateur scouts share about Frazier are almost silly when you sit down and think about them. Frazier displays top-of-the-scale bat speed and potentially could have hurt a lot of people if he had been using aluminum bats. Frazier has plus-plus power potential, above-average running ability, and a developing defensive skill set in center field. Frazier’s ceiling is that of an All-Star-caliber center fielder, which is why the Indians gave him $3.5 million.

Josh Hart, CF, Orioles (GCL Orioles): .225/.329/.253 with 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 9 SB, 1 CS, 9 BB, and 12 K in 71 at-bats.
Hart is a speedy, top-of-the-order prospect. His speed grades out as plus-plus, and he uses a contact oriented swing to spray line drives from gap to gap. Hart plays center field, where he generally runs precise routes but also has the speed to overcome his mistakes when he doesn’t. The Orioles paid $1.5 million to Hart, who has the potential to be an every day center fielder, but he will need to make enough hard contact in order to maintain that profile.

Eric Jagielo, 3B, Yankees (Short-Season Staten Island): .250/.375/.340 with 6 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 9 R, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS, 14 BB, and 22 K in 100 at-bats.
Most scouts that have seen Jagielo really like the prospect the Yankees acquired in the draft for $1.83 million. Offensively, Jagielo has a potential solid-average hit tool with plus power. Defensively, he has a plus arm and solid hands and reactions, which will enable him to stay at third. Jagielo profiles as a potential first-division third baseman who provides average and power. He should be able to move through the minors relatively quickly starting in 2014.

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Not assigned to team):
Judge is a player who was drafted highly essentially because scouts believe in the dream of what he could be. Judge received a $1.8 million bonus from the Yankees, and he could easily exceed that value. As an amateur, Judge displayed top-of-the-scale raw power and the potential to be a solid-average defender in right field. The issue at hand is whether the 6-foot-7 frame will allow Judge to make enough contact against quality pitching. Judge has a chance to be an All-Star player, but the risk here is high.

Billy McKinney, CF, Athletics (AZL Athletics): 330/.383/.417 with 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 18 R, 13 RBI, 4 SB, 0 CS, 11 BB, and 21 K in 115 at-bats.
McKinney was drafted out of a Texas high school and received $1.8 million. McKinney does not have the loudest tools, but he displays excellent bat-to-ball ability. He is an average runner with an average arm and will get a shot to play center field, but most likely ends up in left. The power is the major question mark and scouts wonder how much of it McKinney will be able to develop. The potential left-field profile is a dangerous one, and it would mean that McKinney would have to really hit in order to profile as an everyday player. All that being said, scouts speak to McKinney’s makeup and believe that he will work hard in order to do everything that he can to stay on the right track.

D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (Low-A Clinton): .280/.347/.527 with 8 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 26 R, 33 RBI, 0 SB, 1 CS, 16 BB, and 31 K in 150 at-bats.
The Mariners gave Peterson $2.75 million and believe in his hitting ability because he most likely ends up at first base defensively. Offensively, Peterson boasts a potential plus hit tool with easy plus power, which combine to give him a first-division ceiling. Peterson should be able to make an impact at the major-league level quickly because of his sound mechanics and advanced ability. Scouts that were leery on Peterson felt that way because of their hesitance to select a player whose stock rests heavily on the bat.

Pitchers

Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Low-A Quad Cities): 19.2 IP, 19 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 20 K in six starts.
The Astros convinced Appel to sign for $6.35 million after his senior season at Stanford. Appel features a fastball that works 95-98 with good plane and command, a potential plus slider, and a developing changeup. Scouts feel that Appel matured during his senior season at Stanford and it did him a lot of good to return to school. The mechanics are excellent, and he has pitched in many meaningful games. Appel should move through the minors quickly and could reach the majors at some point in the 2014 season.

Trey Ball, LHP, Red Sox (GCL Red Sox): 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K in two starts.
Most scouts were unsure of whether Ball would enter the draft a position player or as a hitter, but Ball showcased his ability on the mound and made it clear he will be a pitcher moving forward. Ball features a fastball that currently works in the low 90s, but he has a quick, loose arm and should be able to add velocity as he matures. Ball’s secondary arsenal features a changeup and curveball, both of which have the potential to be plus offerings. It is going to take a bit of time, but Ball has a chance to be an impact arm.

Phillip Bickford, RHP, Not Toronto Blue Jays: Taking his talents to Cal-State Fullerton.

Ian Clarkin, LHP, Yankees (signed but has not appeared).
The Yankees signed Clarkin for $1.65 million out of a California high school. Clarkin features a fastball that works in the low 90s and can touch more when needed. The fastball is an attack offering that he is willing to throw to both sides of the plate. Clarkin’s curveball has plus potential, and he has an inconsistent changeup that will need to take steps forward as he matures. Clarkin has a chance to be a mid-rotation arm, but it’s going to take some time and refinement.

Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Tigers (Short-Season Connecticut): 16.1 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 18 K in seven starts.
Crawford was a weekend starter for the University of Florida and received plenty of national attention before being drafted. Crawford features a fastball that works in the low-to-mid 90s, and a slider with plus potential in the low 80s. Scouts wonder whether Crawford’s ultimate future is in the bullpen because his changeup needs a lot of work and his delivery needs a lot of refinement.

Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Rangers (Short-Season Spokane): 23.2 IP, 30 H, 12 ER, 7 BB, 20 K in 9 starts.
The Rangers selected Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez out of Oral Roberts and paid him a $2.21 million bonus. Gonzalez features a fastball that works in the low 90s and has the ability to add life in all directions. He also has a hard slider and a developing changeup. Gonzalez profiles as a potential mid-rotation starter.

Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles (GCL Orioles): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K in three starts.
Harvey made one of the more interesting comments during the draft: “I’m not interested in going to college.” This may be something that makes teams smile, but I’m sure Harvey’s adviser lost a little bit of leverage with a statement like this. On the mound, Harvey has a low-90s fastball, but scouts believe that he may be able to add velocity because of his tremendous arm speed. Harvey’s secondary offerings are still raw, but scouts believe he has the arm speed to allow them to develop into usable offerings. The Orioles gave Harvey $1.95 million and expect him to develop into a middle-of-the-rotation arm. Harvey has a higher ceiling, but if the secondary offerings don’t come around, the floor is low. Fans need to be patient here and not look for immediate results.

Corey Knebel, RHP, Tigers (Low-A West Michigan): 19.0 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 24 K in 19 appearances.
Knebel was signed out of the University of Texas for $1.43 million. Knebel’s arsenal features a fastball that can touch the upper 90s, a power curveball with plus potential, and some feel for a changeup. Knebel has a deceptive delivery, which will land him in a relief role. Some have questioned Knebel’s makeup—he was suspended twice this past season—but Knebel offers the potential to be a closer. The Tigers have placed Knebel in the bullpen, and we can expect him to contribute in the majors quickly if everything goes according to plan.

Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Injured)
Manaea is a classic example of how one month on the Cape can making someone a ton of money. The Royals paid Manaea $3.55 million, and this is not to say that he didn’t deserve this money, but let’s say that the month on the Cape significantly elevated his price tag. Manaea has not pitched as a professional because he had surgery on his hip soon after signing. As an amateur, Manaea featured a fastball that has worked in the upper 80s/low 90s at times, but has touched 96 when everything was clicking. He features a slider and a changeup, both of which have at least solid-average potential, but both of which also need seasoning. Manaea is one of the great mysteries of the 2013 draft; he could be well worth his price tag if he reaches his no. 2 starter ceiling, but if he does not show quality stuff after returning from his injury, the Royals’ investment won’t look very good.

Ryne Stanek, RHP, Rays (signed but has not appeared).
Stanek entered the season as a potential top-five pick, but his delivery got away from him at times during the 2013 season, and that caused his stock to slip. He features a fastball that works in the mid 90s but can touch more when necessary and a power slider with wipeout potential. The changeup is still a work in progress. Stanek has the potential to be an upper-tier starting pitcher if he is able to clean up his mechanics, but some scouts believe he ultimately ends up in the bullpen. I will say this: If I was Ryne Stanek and in need of refinement, there are few other systems I would rather be in than this one.

Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins (GCL Twins): 10.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K in four appearances.
Stewart separated himself as the top prep arm in the 2013 draft. He was able to leverage a potential two-sport scholarship to Texas A&M in order to receive a $4.54 million bonus. Stewart is a power pitcher with a fastball that works in the mid 90s, a plus potential slider in the mid 80s, and a potential plus changeup. Stewart’s athletic frame and delivery combined with premium stuff give him a top-of-the-rotation ceiling.

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

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