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September 3, 2013

Monday Morning Ten Pack

Arizona Fall League Preview

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff


Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (High-A Ft. Myers)
The top prospect in the land continues his assault on the baseball world, hitting for average and showing good pop with a mature approach, in addition to his top-shelf defense in center and elite speed on the bases. It’s a performance trend that started in the Midwest League and has continued after his promotion to the Florida State League. Simply put, Buxton is a superhero, showing all would-be contemporaries and spectators that they are mere mortals and insufficient next to his special baseball powers. The 19-year-old cape-wearing man from mythology is set to play with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL, and if you haven’t put eyes on this exceptional prize, do whatever it takes to make your way to Camelback Ranch this fall. *Lycra Spandex costumes are optional. –Jason Parks

Trevor May, RHP, Twins (Double-A New Britain)
Earlier this summer I was able to sit on a May start, and at the time I wasn’t overly impressed despite a positive on-the-field outcome. May is a big, strong horse of a pitcher, with a well-rounded arsenal that includes a meaty fastball and multiple secondary offerings that flash above-average, but his delivery minimizes the natural advantage of height, and as a result of his drop-and-drive approach his plus velocity often arrives flat-planed and edible. The command comes and goes, but when he’s on and staying over his offerings, May looks the part of a no. 4 starter, one capable of logging innings and keeping his team in the game. He’ll be pitching for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and will get to wear the same uniform as Byron Buxton, so I expect May to take a step forward this fall and carry it into his 2014 campaign, where the big righty will likely have the opportunity to pitch at the highest level. –Jason Parks

Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami (Double-A Jacksonville)
I’m planning on blowing Heaney up this offseason, no doubt ranking him high on the Marlins’ team list and on the Baseball Prospectus 101. I’m fully on board. The 22-year-old southpaw has been fantastic this season, humiliating hitters in the Florida State League before an impressive run in Double-A. The athletic 6’2’’ lefty has nasty stuff, with a fastball that sits in the plus range and routinely works higher, with a plus slider and an ever-improving changeup that some scouts suggest is a solid-average offering at worst. Heaney looks like a future mid-rotation starter, with a chance to be a no. 2 if everything continues to progress. Like Trevor May, Heaney gets to wear the same uniform as Byron Buxton on the Glendale Desert Dogs, so take whatever future grade you were going to put on the young arm and kick it up a role distinction. –Jason Parks

Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
Admittedly, I’ve been soft on Lindsey, even in the face of scouts telling me that this kid can absolutely hit the baseball. The numbers have been very good, especially considering the 21-year-old has spent the entire season at the Double-A level and amassed an impressive 45 extra-base hits, including 17 bombs. With a sweet stroke from the left, Lindsey has a knack for hard contact, showing the ability to smack velocity and work himself into favorable hitting conditions. It’s not a superstar package, as the ceiling might be more solid-average regular than all-star, but Lindsey’s bat is legit and it’s going to play at the highest level. I expect him to turn in a very strong performance in the AFL, and position himself as the second baseman of the future for the Angels. He gets to play on the Mesa Solar Sox this fall, which sadly doesn’t include Byron Buxton, but does feature Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell, so try to keep the complaints to a minimum. –Jason Parks

Japhet Amador, 1B/DH, Astros (Triple-A Oklahoma City)
One of my first-ever behind-the-curtain scouting experiences involved watching Amador play in Mexico City back in 2010, and sending a report to a team about the large and in charge slugger. In that report, I suggested Amador had the bat to play in the upper minors, but I didn’t see enough to warrant a major-league grade. According to a few sources, my projection might have been too low. The body is 20-grade, and that might not be fair to other 20-grade bodies. The 26-year-old is remarkably fat, and I’m pretty sure I could crawl to first base faster than Amador could run, but physical beauty aside, the ability to hit a baseball is what will make or break the player. With natural bat-to-ball ability, Amador finds a way to strike the baseball despite an awkward back leg collapse and the aforementioned physique, which makes Calvin Pickering look like an oiled up Nelson Cruz. The AFL is a showcase for Amador, an opportunity to convince the Astros (or perhaps other teams) to retain his services long-term, to believe in his bat and to ignore his body. To quote the great Kevin Nealon from SNL’s great Patrick Swayze/Chris Farley Chippendales sketch: “Barney, we all agreed that your dancing was great.. your presentation was very sexy. I guess, in the end, we just thought Adrian's body was much, much better than yours. You see, it's just that, at Chippendales, our dancers have traditionally had that lean, muscular, healthy physique - like Adrian's - whereas yours is.. well, fat and flabby.” –Jason Parks

Jorge Alfaro, catcher, Rangers (High-A Myrtle Beach)
I’ve been fawning over Alfaro since he was 16, which is grounds for public registration in most states. The dual-threat backstop is no longer a teenager, but continues his rise up the prospect ranks, emerging as perhaps the top talent on the Rangers farm. Alfaro has incredible raw power, especially to right-center, and his catch-and-throw skills create human unity on the same level as “Hands Across America.” The approach can be aggressive, and quality off-speed stuff can make the 20-year-old Colombian an exploitable target at the plate. He’s still a high-risk prospect, but the ceiling is enormous: a role 7 all-star player at a premium position if everything clicks. The hit tool might be average at best, but if the power can play and the work behind the plate continues to improve, Alfaro might eventually live up to his lofty nickname as #TheLegend.—Jason Parks

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Related Content:  Minnesota Twins,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

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Baseball ProGUESTus: A... (09/03)
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