Eyes on Jorge Alfaro, Joey Gallo, Blake Swihart, and other prospects of repute.
I spent nine hours at the fields yesterday; morning workouts and then backfield games on the Rangers side (Extended, Low-A, High-A). Dropping notes on several prospects, some more detailed than others depending on the duration and significance of the look. –Jason Parks
C Jorge Alfaro: Noticeably stronger; way more athletic than people realize; easy plus runner when underway; arm is 80-grade; popped a 1.73 (on my watch) on a caught stealing early in the game; footwork was quick and coordinated; ball was waiting on the runner; controls the running game; intimidator behind the plate; not afraid to attempt back-pick at second or first; highly confident in throwing ability; best I’ve seen him as a receiver; was letting the ball get to him; wasn’t stabbing or drifting; previously, more balanced at the plate; swing is still torque-heavy but not as all-or-nothing or uncontrollable; bat speed is still well above average; right-center is still power core; can still beat him with spin but he is keeping his hands back better and not selling out for extension on everything thrown near the plate.
Reports on Julio Urias, Aaron Sanchez, Gregory Polanco, Hunter Dozier and other prospects it would be irresponsible to ignore.
(3/19) LHP Julio Urias (Dodgers) Okay size; probably closer to 6’1’’ than listed height (5’11’’); strong build; definitely more body than listed weight (160 lbs.); could end up being high maintenance but not a problem at present; in delivery, lifts leg high before brief (straight) extension; soft landing; stays very balanced; everything looks very easy and repeatable; stays over the ball from ¾ slot; creates angle; fastball ranged from 91-95 in three-inning pop; mostly worked 93; command was solid-average to plus; line to the plate veered a little into the LH box; tendency to miss arm-side/up; showed excellent feel for altering movement; was cutting the ball and making it run; fastball is easy plus at present; could play even better with sharper command.
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Looks at Ricardo Sanchez, Christian Binford, Samir Duenez and Zach Eflin.
(3/17) LHP Ricardo Sanchez (Angels)
Short but strong build; noticeably athletic on the mound; arm speed is very good; it can look very smooth and easy; from ¾ slot, can create some angle by staying over the ball and working down; delivery features a high/tucked leg; wasn’t loud on the frontside; has good balance and explosion to the plate; it's compact and efficient, but had a tendency to finish across his body; fastball was 89-92; popped a few 93s and 94s on the gun; some cutting action because of the cross-fire; struggled with command in his inning of work; inning was banged before three outs were achieved; hit a batter and had multiple walks; showed a slow, loopy curve in the low 70s; can spin the ball and achieve some two-plane shape, but the pitch wasn’t effective; was slow to the plate with runners on (1.5); struggled to stay in his delivery and establish mechanical rhythm. Outing wasn’t sharp but I love the arm and I’m glad we [Baseball Prospectus] ranked him in the Angels' top 10 despite no professional record. We should have ranked him higher. Will pitch the entire season as a 17-year-old; athletic lefty with stuff and swagger; lacks size but body could be strong and hold stuff. Mid-rotation type if everything clicks; extreme risk but I was impressed despite the results. –Jason Parks
IF Travis Demeritte: Incredibly fast hands at the plate; quick trigger; uses hands to hit but has good hip rotation and generates torque; attacks the ball; shows plus bat speed; contact is all hard/loud; can backspin the ball and leave the yard; pitchers won’t beat him with velocity; willing to wait for his pitch; fast-twitch athlete; not a straight-line plus runner to first but has second gear; lacks ideal range for shortstop but excellent actions and plus arm at third/weapon arm at 2B; coordinated around the bag; will make plays; most likely a role 5 player with offensive ceiling for a little more. –Jason Parks
Sean Manaea (Royals): Multiple looks so far in camp; live batting practice session/two innings of live game action. Big, strong body; carries the size well; upright posture with straight/high leg lift; arm is slightly lower than standard 3/4 slot; works well; clean action and quick arm; creates good angle despite lower slot; stays over the ball; fastball has ghost qualities at any velocity; hard to square up/track; in game action, worked 93-94 in first inning; spotted east/west; best pitch was lefty-lefty with 93 on the outside black for called strike; second inning was mostly 92; some arm-side run; secondary stuff showed in live batting practice session; fastball was 89-90 (early in camp), slider was slurvy but effective; hard to track and square; changeup flashed high-end quality; could see a plus-plus future; fastball arm speed with heavy vertical life; limited look but no doubt an effective offering.
Eyes on the Cubs' elite prospects, along with Maikel Franco, Yordano Ventura, Dominic Smith and others.
Cubs/Royals (Jason Parks)
The Cubs’ brand new spring training facility is easy plus-plus and possibly elite, although I still prefer the visual aesthetics provided by Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. The complex itself is highly functional, with a mix of modern and classic styles for the eyes and state-of-the-art conveniences for the players. The only real drawback for me stems from the fact that it's located in Mesa and I’m staying in Peoria, but life is more fun when you leave the house.
Albert Almora (Cubs): Almora carries himself in a manner that stands out only because of the context of his surroundings. On the backfields, in a batting practice grouping with other prospects, Almora arrived at the cage with the confident gait and overall familiarity of a major leaguer coming to his 10th spring camp. His approach to the workout seemed casual—almost blasé—but when he stepped into the cage, he took off his nonchalant mask and went to work, besting some of the brightest bats on the farm with his impressive rounds of batting practice.
Which clubs have the best and worst collections of young talent?
Since the middle of October, the Baseball Prospectus Prospect Team has been confined in our virtual bunker, discussing, debating, debasing, debunking, and defending every player of note in every system in the game, compartmentalizing the talent and packaging it for your consumption. Our internal scouting-based Socratic method for ranking prospects has been much discussed on the site, and I’ll spare you the redundancy; instead, I want to shine a light on one of the more popular sections on the individual team lists, the top 10 talents in the organization born after 4/1/1988—25 years before the de facto starting date of the 2014 regular season.
Mutual of Omaha's Fringe Average, which premiered on Jan. 6, 1963, took viewers to the far corners of the world and studied wild animals in their natural habitats.
Fringe Average viewers witnessed exciting stories and learned about wildlife and conservation as hosts Marlin Perkins, Jason Parks and their acolyte #SweetTea faced the challenges of life in the wild.
Every farm system in baseball, ordered from best to worst.
1. Minnesota Twins Farm System Ranking in 2013: 4 2014 Top Ten Prospects: Link State of the System: No team in baseball can boast the same level of top tier talent on both sides of the ball and impressive depth at every level. Top Prospect:Byron Buxton (1) Breakout Candidates for 2014:Lewis Thorpe and Jorge Polanco Prospects on the BP 101: 8 Must-See Affiliate: Low-A Cedar Rapids Prospects to See There:Kohl Stewart, Felix Jorge, Stephen Gonsalves, Ryan Eades, Lewis Thorpe Farm System Trajectory for 2015: Down. It’s hard to stay on top, especially with some of the top talent in the system likely to graduate to the highest level (Sano, Meyer, Pinto)