Delino DeShields is back on track, Jarred Cosart is still a tease, and Donavan Tate might be starting to find his footing.
Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Low-A Peoria)
Baez went off again on Saturday, with a triple and his 10th home run of the year in just 45 games. Even with an 0-for-4 on Sunday, he's hitting .333/.388/.608 in his roughly two months of Midwest League action. That has led to some understandably excited Cubs fans wanting to move him up, but that's just not how it works. Baez still needs to refine his approach and improve his ability to recognize and hit breaking balls, but the decision isn't all about him. It's also about the fact that prospects don't develop in a vacuum. You might want to see Baez move up, but the Cubs have a shortstop they like at High-A in Arismendy Alcantara, and one at Double-A in Junior Lake. Both of them need at-bats too. The needs of a whole organization have to be considered before a prospect is promoted.
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Kevin cautions against targeting players who look like they have a lot of trade value, but not much to offer in terms of actual value.
With officially two weeks to go before the trading deadline, teams are evaluating their own prospects as much as they're evaluating prospective acquisition targets. It's important to not only understand how good your own organization is, but also the industry perception of your players. It's never easy for a team to send off players they draft, develop and put so much time into, but here are some who might generate more trade value than they are actually worth. These are the prospects whose trade value may never be higher than it is right now. However, to put it another way, they are also players other teams should beware of.
This weekend saw some performances from a few players who are getting awfully close to the majors.
Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Low-A Peoria)
Baez was at it again over the weekend, going 7-for-12 with a double, two triples and a home run, lifting his season line to .331/.394/.586 since joining the Chiefs in late May. Expected to be awfully good, Baez has actually exceeded those expectations, earning 70 or higher scouting grades for both his hit and power tools. He's eclipsed Minnesota's Miguel Sano in the eyes of most as the top all-around offensive prospect in the Midwest League, and he's one of the top offensive prospects in any league.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves by jumping to conclusions about the way this year's signing deadline played out.
Even with the new signing system, this year's draft deadline had far less drama than previous years did. Nonetheless, the two biggest stories in the first round did end up lasting until that Friday, 5 p.m. Eastern deadline. Mark Appel, the eighth overall pick by the Pirates, did not sign. Lucas Giolito, the 16th overall pick by the Nationals, did. The general reaction seemed to come pretty quickly: the Nationals are geniuses and Appel is dumb. It's an easy narrative, but worth pointing out that in these scenarios the players are never called brilliant. Only teams are brilliant, and only players are dumb. But I digress. The point is that the Nationals might be geniuses, and Appel might have made a foolish decision, but you can't judge yet. Nobody can. So you shouldn't.
With the 2012 Futures Game behind us, Kevin wonders about the roster of the future Futures Game.
This year's Futures Game featured the best roster in years. Limitations make it a daunting task, and it forces several top players to stay at home. With those restrictions in mind, I was challenged to take my best guess at the 2013 Futures Game rosters. It's more difficult when it looks when you think about it. First off, every team needs to be represented, but the Futures Games feature standard 25-man rosters, not that of the bloated All-Star variety. And then there is the limit of two players per organization (three for the host team), so if you are a fan of a team and you are upset with this list, chances are good that you can't say Player X should be there without taking another one of your team's prospects off the rosters, which often creates a series of roster construction issues that would make Mandelbrot proud. In addition, there is some consideration to make the World team as diverse as possible, and not just stuff it with players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. So with those limitations, and an eye on which players might not be available due to a big league presence, here are your 2013 Futures Game rosters.
Some draftees don't hit the short-season leagues until the year after they're drafted, making them easy to forget about. Don't.
With the short-season leagues beginning in June, it's a nice reminder that not every prospect is a Bryce Harper or a Mike Trout who will get to the big leagues in no time. For most, it's a slow and steady process with any number of bumps in the road along the way. For many 2011 draftees, the short-season leagues represent their first chance to show up in box scores, so here's an all Don't You Forget About Me team comprised of some high picks from last June who are just now getting their careers going.
A.J. Cole tries to right the ship, Wil Myers is blocked, and Matt Harvey could be an appealing call-up candidate for the competing Mets.
Tim Beckham, SS, Rays (Triple-A Durham)
It was easy to just write off Beckham in late April. The number-one overall pick in the 2008 draft was hitting .204 in his first 11 games of the season before being hit with a 50-game suspension for a 'drug of abuse.' Beckham's progress though the system had been steady but exceedingly slow, and losing one-third of a season due to stupidity was enough for some to simply give up on him. He's 14-for-39 (.359) since returning to the Bulls, however, including an 8-for-14 weekend that included his first home run of the season, and it's an important reminder that not every player is painted in black and white strokes of either a “star” or a “bust.” Those are the two least likely outcomes for Beckham, actually, who, like many prospects, looks like a big leaguer, just not an impact-level one.
Hey, Kevin, when is so-and-so going to get called up? Huh? Huh?
We still don't know when Player X is going to get called up, as injuries and ineffectiveness at the big league level, as well as the constant spectre of service time calculations, can play a far larger role than simply looking at minor league performance. We can, however, get some clues from the flurry of minor league promotions that come at mid-season. Here are ten recently promoted players, and what we can learn from them.
Kevin fields a team of players who might not be polished now, but nevertheless have the potential to be great.
Recently, an editor at ESPN told me he was taking his kid to a minor league game and asked which players he should keep an eye on. As he was seeing the Rangers' Low-A Hickory affiliate, one of the first players that came to mind was outfielder Jordan Akins, and I added a comment amount him possibly having the widest gap between the player he is now and the player he has the potential to be. That led to greater discussions about players to dream on, so what follows here is the All-Dream team currently in the minors. All of these players have the potential to be high-impact players in the big leagues, but every one of them has a long way to go and a lot of work to do to get there.
Gary Sanchez improves both at and behind the plate, Martin Perez continues to be a mystery, and Shelby Miller goes backwards.
Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds (at Double-A Pensacola)
Corcino draws too many easy comps to Johnny Cueto, as he's short, thick, Dominican, a Red, and has a big arm. But let's talk about him on his own merits, which include eight no-hit innings on Saturday to lower his ERA to 3.34 in 13 Double-A starts. Corcino's best pitch is a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph, and both his slider and changeup are at least average pitches. There's considerable effort to his delivery, which leads to some control issues, and when he has problems with his location, he tends to miss up. He's a potential No. 3 starter with some refinements, and the 21-year-old has already made plenty of improvements this year.
If you had to pick a pitcher for a big game tomorrow, who would you take? How about a big game in 2015? Some MLB execs weigh in with their choices.
On the surface, the question seems like an easy one: if your team were playing in a championship game tomorrow, and you could have any starting pitcher to pitch that game for you, who would it be? Your choice is of any ace in the game, but for some it's not just about statistics, it's about comfort and mitigating risk. The question was posed to 12 industry insiders, ranging from pro scout to general manager, and those twelve generated five different responses.