The Prospect Team checks in with a look at the best tool they saw this year.
Javier Guerra, SS, San Diego Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): Glove
Guerra’s prospect stock took a hit this year after a tough campaign in the Cal League, but his glove certainly wasn’t the culprit. In my looks Guerra showed as a heads-and-shoulders defender at the six spot, and the class of the league. He leverages lateral agility and quickness to offset notably unimpressive foot speed, and his range is an above-average asset in spite of the fringy speed tool. The hands are exquisitely soft, and the actions are as fluid as they get, highlighted by a quick and controlled transfer from tough body angles on the move. That transfer helps his plus arm strength play up even higher, and solidifies the profile as that of a potentially plus-plus defender at shortstop. —Wilson Karaman
Michael Gettys, OF, San Diego Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): Arm
I find that recalibrating my eye and taking in some higher-level minor league or major-league games in person really helps my evaluations for Low-A. It's important to see players at all stages of development and it helps keep the mind sharp. One of the main differences that stands out is what the warm up procedure looks like in the majors versus what it looks like at Low-A. In the majors the throws are crisp, the actions are sharp, and it looks like a polished and finished product. Low-A provides a rawer look at defensive actions and tools, so when a major-league double-plus arm comes across during infield/outfield, it has a tendency to stand out. A lot. Gettys has a special arm, the kind of arm you share videos of on YouTube if you can find a good angle, the kind of arm that makes you twist in your seat in excitement as the complete story of the individual throw, from gather to release to carry to glove to tag, is played out in front of you. It's the kind of arm whose gif or video could end up as a twitter bio one day. It's a damn good arm and it helps complete a profile which, if the hit tool gains he showed throughout the year are real, can be a really fun and special player with power, speed, defensive chops and a damn cannon for an arm. —Mauricio Rubio Jr.
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Notes on Mike Soroka, Alec Hansen, Magneuris Sierra, and more.
Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Low-A Rome)
Perhaps calling Soroka a “positive surprise” is slightly misleading. After all, he was drafted 28th overall last year. First-round picks often succeed. It’s why they’re first-round picks.
But Soroka wasn’t exactly lighting up public draft boards in early June 2015. He was seen by many as a potential high-round pick, but 28th overall seemed like a bit of a surprise, at least to me. Leave it to the Braves to find the pitching talent.
A look at who we're keeping an eye on come October.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs (Mesa Solar Sox)
Eloy Jimenez has earned himself a reputation with a highly productive 2016 and it’s come with a tool set that is awe-inspiring and tantalizing. The key to the profile is double-plus raw power which shows up in game thanks to a hit tool that allows for enough contact for his prodigious strength to actualize. Jimenez is a massive human already and he’s not quite done growing, so the raw strength could eventually get to the top of the scale. He’s visceral, exciting, and capable of putting up big time performances.
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago Cubs (short-season Eugene)
I saw Cease for the second time this year, and while the pure stuff—upper-90s fastball, hammer 12-6 curve, firm and rarely used changeup—is mostly unchanged, it's clear that he's made strides. First, he did a much better job of moving his fastball around the zone in his second outing. In the first game, he spiked his heater a lot and he looked shaken and afraid to unleash the pitch for an inning or so after hitting someone in the head with it. There was no such hesitation in his second start: his command is a work in progress, but he hit all quadrants of the zone, got several whiffs elevating, and had no qualms about pitching inside. His curve also flashed plus more consistently than it did in my first viewing. He's still struggling to get people to chase it out of the zone—it's either a strike or it breaks early into the dirt—but it's tough to hit when it's in the zone, and he froze multiple hitters who were sitting on the fastball. Cease will need to tighten both pitches as he climbs the latter, but he's made substantial progress with both in the last three months, and it's clear that he has thoroughly passed the short season test. —Brendan Gawlowski
Kyle Cody, RHP, Texas Rangers (short-season Spokane)
Tall, big frame; good plane, downhill thrower; straight stride; quick arm; clean landing; no head whack; good posture; clean arm action; 3/4 arm slot. Throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball. The four-seamer sits in the low-to-mid 90s, touching 95, two-seamer has average wiggle, and he's most comfortable locating the pitch arm-side. His primary off-speed pitch was the slider, a two-plane pitch with predominantly horizontal movement. It flashed above average, but the shape was inconsistent, and it spun badly out of the hand more than once. He also has a fading changeup, but he didn't use it much in my viewing. While he has most of the ingredients you look for in a starter, but I'd project a bullpen arm in the long run. He's 22, which isn't old, but isn't young for a pitcher with an inconsistent secondary offering. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I'd seen more of his changeup, but the fact that he didn't use it much presents its own concerns. —Brendan Gawlowski
A look at the various September call ups not to receive an individual Call-Up.
Tom Murphy Scouting: Murphy has always shown impressive power from the right-side of the plate, as he has plenty of strength along with a swing path that is conducive to hitting the ball out to any part of the park. Despite the length to his swing, he makes lots of hard contact, and there's a chance for a 45-grade hit tool because of his ability to square up pitches to any part of the plate. He's going to have to show much more patience if he's going to reach that level, however, as he ends too many at-bats early due to his aggressiveness. It's not Yuniesky Betancourt-level hacking, but expecting more than 30-40 walks in a season is expecting too much.
Notes on Touki Toussaint, Justus Sheffield, Anderson Tejeda, and more.
Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Low-A Rome)
With the Rome Braves contending for the South Atlantic League title. its pitching staff's embarrassment of riches is on display. That includes using Touki Toussaint out of the bullpen to stay fresh in a Sept. 5 outing against Augusta that helped clinch the second-half division title. Imagine all of your wildest dreams coming true on a baseball field. Toussaint throwing gas in a one-inning stint is basically the same thing.
The 20-year-old consistently sat mid-90s and hit 97 twice with above-average run and sink. He located it arm side and it was devastating inside to right-handed batters. It didn't end there. Toussaint paired it with an impossible curveball, a true 70 pitch, with plus depth, very tight spin and hard bite. It fell off the table late with downward action that flashed 12-6. He tossed one changeup that dived under a right-hander's bat for good measure.