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September 16, 2013

Monday Morning Ten Pack

Prospects Who Exceeded Our Expectations

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff

Raul Adalberto Mondesi, shortstop, Royals (Low-A Lexington)
Coming into the season, Mondesi the Younger was an invisible prospect to many, having failed to capture more national attention despite being ranked third on the Baseball Prospectus Royals’ Top 10 list and 58th overall in baseball on the pre-season 101. His most familiar quality at the time was a bloodline and a short-season resume, but after the then-17-year-old jumped to the full-season level and flashed his high-ceiling tools, he became a featured player on prospects lists all over the internet. The equivalent of a junior in high school, Mondesi had 27 extra-base hits and 24 stolen bases in the Sally League, while showing off his legit left-side chops on defense. Mondesi has a chance to blossom into one of the best prospects in the game, as the hit tool has projection (clean stroke; can make hard contact and drive velocity) and the glove is more than capable of sticking at shortstop. Factor in his extreme youth, natural ease and feel for the game, and tool-based ceiling, and Mondesi might be one of the most exciting prospects in the minors. He exceeded all my expectations in 2013 and my expectations were high, and with another step forward, the aforementioned prospect prophecy might be a truth and not just a tease. –Jason Parks

Lucas Sims, pitcher, Braves (Low-A Rome)
Sims is a stud, but I didn’t see him developing into this level of stud this early in the developmental process. A first-round pick in 2012, Sims has been on the prospect radar for a while, but the 19-year-old righty really blossomed in 2013, logging over 116 innings in the Sally League and missing 134 bats. He’s not an imposing figure on the mound, but the stuff casts a bigger shadow than his 6’2’’ frame. He’s comfortable working his fastball in the low-to-mid-90s with late tailing action, dropping a true upper-70s hammer with heavy vertical action, and a 82-86 mph changeup with late sink. Because of his impressive performance in 2013, Sims is sailing up prospect lists, and if his final six starts of the season are a harbinger of his next step forward (34 IP, 46 K, 23 H, 5 ER), the Braves might have something special on their hands. –Jason Parks

Tyler Glasnow, pitcher, Pirates (Low-A West Virginia)
We had Glasnow ranked eighth in the Pirates system coming into the year, and at the time, I thought that was aggressive. At the time, the lanky righty had 38 innings on his short-season resume, and a lot of questions about the utility of the curveball, the spike in velocity on the fastball, and the overall command profile. You can make a case that Glasnow had the best season of any pitching prospect in the minors, jumping up to the full-season level, making 24 starts, logging 111 innings, and missing an obscene 164 bats. The velocity spike carried over and the pitch became a true weapon, working 92-95 mph and touching 96. The curveball continued to improve, showing plus potential in the 75-79 range with big depth. The fastball command and changeup aren’t draped in gold and placed on the mantle yet, but Glasnow made developmental progress throughout the season, and both could end up grading out as average. Over the course of a year, Glasnow went from a relatively unknown name in a crowded Pirates system to a top 50 prospect in the minor leagues. His performance in 2013 was phenomenal and exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. Can he repeat the feat in 2014? –Jason Parks

Robert Stephenson, pitcher, Reds (Double-A Pensacola)
We ranked Stephenson only 78th in the minors coming into the 2013 season, and I felt it necessary to drop the following endnote on the young arm: Robert Stephenson will be at least 30 spots higher in 2014. Maybe he should be that high now. Love the arm; love the approach.” This is good lesson for me heading into the 2014 prospect list season; an example of a good evaluation that I lacked the fortitude to stand behind with my feet firmly planted. Stephenson won’t be 30 spots higher…he will be at least 50 spots higher, a testament to his outstanding performance in 2013, one that pushed him all the way to the Double-A level. An excellent athlete, Stephenson pitches with the intensity of a top-of-the-rotation arm, complete with a plus-plus fastball that works in the mid-90s and tickles the gun with elite readings, a hammer curveball that is bat-missing weapon, and an ever-improving changeup that should develop into at least a solid-average offering. The profile is sexy and the production echoed that in 2013, and even though he exceeded expectations on the field, we should have seen this coming. –Jason Parks

Maikel Franco, third base, Phillies (Double-A Reading)
I didn’t write a glowing report on Franco after a four-game look earlier this summer, and he rewarded my pessimism by continuing to punish baseballs like they personally wronged his family. I’m still quite hesitant to accept his Double-A performance as a preview of his future major-league success, but there is no denying that Franco’s eruption in 2013 was more explosive and more consistent than anybody could have predicted. He just showed a natural feel for driving the baseball and making hard contact, and that is evident in his 70 extra-base hits across two levels. I think his load and trigger are not only noisy but add length to the swing, which gives him coverage issues and opens him up to secondary exploitation. But his hand-eye coordination is so good that he can recover from bad guesses, and his bat speed is so good that he can catch up to the ball despite the early extension and length. His body isn’t very impressive and his defensive profile at third is fringe at best, but the bat will carry him to the majors and has the potential to make him an offensive weapon once he gets there. –Jason Parks

Jose Rondon, SS, Angels (Rookie Orem)
In last week’s Ten Pack, I profiled the disappointing season of Angels top prospect Kaleb Cowart at Double-A Arkansas. I’ll flip the script this week––much to the delight of frustrated Angels fans, I’m sure––by highlighting the 19-year-old Rondon, who was among the more intriguing up-the-middle youngsters I saw this year. A bargain $70,000 signing out of Venezuela in 2011, Rondon recently finished off an impressive campaign at rookie-level Orem, hitting .293/.359/.399 with 22 doubles, two triples, and a home run. He also drew 30 walks while striking out just 31 times in 68 games.

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Related Content:  Scouting,  Detroit Tigers,  Minor Leaguers

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