Notes on Yaisel Sierra, Ozhaino Albies, Edwin Diaz, and more.
Yaisel Sierra, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
The Dodgers kept their $30 million man in extended spring training to start the season before transferring the 24-year-old to Rancho for his professional debut on Saturday. His first taste of competition in a couple years featured plenty of rust. His slender, athletic frame is on the smaller side, and while his movements were easy, he struggled to repeat his delivery and find his release point for most of the night.
The motion is low-octane, with a fluid takeaway into a clean arm swing, and he showed above-average arm speed. Most of his problems on this night stemmed from a poor drive: he didn’t leverage his weight particularly well, staying uphill as he pushed forward and failing to fire his hips. That created drag to his release point and a wildly inconsistent finish with his lower half.
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Notes on Victor Robles, Andrew Benintendi, Kyle Tucker and more.
Victor Robles, CF, Washington Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown)
I could write at great length about Victor Robles being a five-tool wonder. I saw two games from Robles last week, and everything I saw fit well within thereports that give Robles the potential for four plus or plus-plus tools — hit, run, field, and arm — with credible power as well. Everything Robles got a bat on was smashed. If anything, the tools will play up because of his on-field instincts. Robles made one of the best start-to-finish reads and catches on a ball in the gap that I’ll see this season at any level, including the majors. He stands so close to the plate with such little fear that nearly anything inside hits him, which will cause the hit-by-pitches to pile up (he’s up to 28 since arriving stateside) and Robles’s OBP to inflate. He bunted for a base hit with great form and ease. The plate approach is highly advanced for his age and level, and this 18-year-old was able to recognize spin that was badly fooling advanced college bats. Robles was our 29th-ranked prospect entering the season, and I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn by predicting that he’ll be a lot higher very soon.
Notes on Magneuris Sierra, Jake Bauers, Yusniel Diaz, Boog Powell, and more.
Magneuris Sierra, CF, St. Louis Cardinals (Low-A Peoria)
Sierra is small-framed with broad shoulders compared to his body. There is plenty of room for strength projection and a bit for growth. He hits from an even stance, with even balance and his hands at his ear. There is a small hitch, leading to some length in the swing but he compensates for that with average bat speed and a simple stride. The plane of the swing is mainly flat but he does feature some uppercut when he tries to pull the ball. Most of his hits came to the opposite side but he did show ability to pull the ball.
Notes on Jameson Taillon's first start in two years, Josh Naylor, and more.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis)
Taillon pitched on Wednesday for the first time since late 2013 after two surgeries (Tommy John, hernia), and it couldn’t have gone much better. Over six innings Taillon allowed six hits, with six strikeouts, and no walks. His fastball wasn’t showing the same velocity that it did pre-surgery, but he worked at 90-94 mph, topping out at 95. The tailing action on his fastball complemented the lower velocity well, but it remains to be seen if he can get back into the range he had previously operated in.
As of right now his best pitch is his curveball, which breaks hard and late resulting in multiple swings-and-misses for the Mud Hens. Taillon showed his changeup more than a few times, mostly using it to keep hitters honest. Overall his control in the game resulted in no walks, which was a good sign in his first game back. The action on his pitches helped him get away with missing a few spots that still resulted in whiffs, something he will have to work on before he gets to Pittsburgh. His arm action was repeatable, with quality arm speed.
Grant Holmes, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
The Dodgers’ first-rounder in 2014, Holmes picked a gnarly, damp night for his California League debut. That context may have contributed to a longer loosening than he’s used to, as he came out sitting 91-92 with his four-seam fastball and struggled to locate it in the first inning. He also hung a pair of curveballs at 82 and 83, costing himself a run. He quickly settled in, however, bumping up to 92-94 for the rest of his five innings and topping out at 95. The fastball has a tick of arm-side run and plenty of late life from his high-three-quarters slot thanks to premium arm speed. He worked in a two-seam complement at 87-90 mph with greater frequency as the outing wore on, and the pitch showed strong sinking action with greater arm-side run off the same plane. Holmes’ curveball wandered between 79-85 with consistent arm speed and action. He tunnels it well off his fastball, and the pitch shows 11-5 action with depth and hard break at the upper end of the velocity spectrum. He only threw a couple 86 mph changeups in this outing.
Below, you will find the BP prospect team’s list of the top 175 players aged 25-and-under. Like any list, this ranking is a snapshot in time, and elements of it will become dated very quickly. Twenty-year-olds will grow into their power. UCLs will tear. That one slugger will never learn to hit a curveball. We don’t know those things today though, and the arrangement of this list reflects our perception of where these players stand right now in regards to a blend of their peak, and cumulative value.
While it's entirely likely you'll skip right ahead to the rankings, we wanted to provide some context for the list. As always, prospect lists are a snapshot in time—in this case mid-to-late December, when the list was compiled. It's possible a prospect's situation has changed since then, or that our evaluator's feelings on a prospect have changed, due to new information. Additionally, it's possible that a prospect ranks higher within his team list than he does here, and that's because the team Top 10s are spearheaded by individual authors who are informed by the BP Prospect Team and outside sources. The product below reflects a more rounded team effort, and thus there could be some inconsistencies between the Top 10s and the 101. These are not mistakes, but rather reflections of the different weight of opinions that drove the respective lists. Thank you, and enjoy —Craig Goldstein
It’s dangerous to read too much into a month’s worth of major-league plate appearances, especially when that month is September. Maybe Corey Seager took advantage of 40-man roster fodder and teams with one foot on the golf course to hit .337/.425/.561 as the 2015 season waned, but that’s pretty consistent with what he has done at every other stop in his professional career. He hits for average. He hits for power. He may not be a shortstop forever, as he is a very large human, but the bat is good enough to play anywhere. Regardless, Seager will be the Dodgers shortstop in 2016, and he may very well be the best one in the National League from the moment he steps foot on the field Opening Day.
Every farm system in baseball, ordered from best to worst, in tiers.
In years past, we've presented you with a 1-30 ranking of baseball farm systems. You like to read it, we like to debate and write it. This year we've tweaked the format slightly, with a tiered structure providing you with some idea of the interchangeability of the systems that a grouped together, rather than the opaque nature of a pure list, which can obscure the relatively small (or large) gaps between the organizations. With that in mind, allow Public Enemy and Leonard Cohen to guide you through the 2016 Organizational Rankings:
A look at some of the high-ceiling talents who didn't show up on the BP Top 101.
Michael Clevinger,RHP, Indians
It’s hard to find a high-upside guy in the upper minors who isn’t in the Top 101; it’s just hard to stay off the radar if you’re throwing smoke and getting people out in Double-A. Cleveland’s development staff is doing pretty special stuff with their minor-league pitchers right now though, and perhaps their most impressive trick is turning Clevinger from a thrower into a pitcher with four usable offerings, three of which flash plus.
For Clevinger, his attack starts with the fastball. The right-hander comfortably sits in the 92-94 mph range, and he’s been clocked at 97. His slider is his second-best pitch, and when he’s on, it’s a late-breaking bender with sharp tumble. His 12-6 curve has good spin, and his best ones change a hitter’s eye-level. His changeup is firm and doesn’t feature the movement his other off-speed pitches have, although it isn’t a throwaway offering either, and it should at least keep lefties honest. There is risk in the profile: Clevinger has Tommy John on his resume, he’s already 25 years old, and he’s only dated the strike zone for about a year. Still, he could be a mid-rotation starter and he’s ready for big-league work right now. Not a bad return piece for a few innings of Vinnie Pestano. —Brendan Gawlowski