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April 7, 2014

Monday Morning Ten Pack

Prospects We're Most Excited to See This Year

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff


Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Low-A Asheville)
Internet evaluators have a tendency to overcomplicate the scouting process, focusing too much of their attention on what players will do in the future rather than simplifying the explanations of what they actually can do in the present. We can dream on athletic bodies and cite physical projection to justify our fantasies about future accomplishment, and I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to attaching my name to body-beautiful types regardless of current skill level. But a good rule of thumb—in the particular context of evaluating position players—is that good hitters hit and bad hitters only project to hit.

Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia can hit. He accomplishes this with a combination of balance and bat speed at the plate, allowing him to consistently drive the baseball, but there is an innate component at play here that goes deeper than any breakdown of his setup or swing. He excels at putting the barrel of his bat on the baseball, recognizing the ball early out of the pitcher’s hand and using his excellent hand-eye coordination to finish the connection. This natural ability to hit has been evident at every stop in his professional career, and is likely to continue as he climbs toward the highest level. We can wax poetic—and I have—about his other physical gifts, like plus run, a plus arm, and the potential to stick up the middle with the glove, but the name of the game is bat-to-ball, and Tapia can hit. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. –Jason Parks

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (High A Fort Myers)
I had a chance to get a good look at Buxton during his first Fall Instructional League and came away very impressed with the tools. They were as loud as advertised. However, I thought there would be some early growing pains and a learning curve at the plate before his hit tool started to show against pro arms. I was a bit off. Buxton not only proved to be ahead of the early curve, but spent about half of last season more than holding his own in High-A.

I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to zone in on the prospect this season as he progresses into the upper levels. It’s a chance to not only compare back to those early notes and learn from that initial assumption, but see the progress of those tools that stood out so much. I’ll also be very interested at how well Buxton controls the strike zone and shows against better secondary stuff. For an age-advanced prospect rapidly moving toward The Show, it’s a strong clue as to whether any potential speed bumps may be coming, and also how quickly things may take in the early stages at the highest level. –Chris Mellen

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Related Content:  Spring Training,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

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