Mark Appel melts down after slipping in the draft, Danny Hultzen is due for a promotion, and Mark Prior attempts yet another comeback.
Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Cubs (High-A Daytona)
While the focus on the Cubs system is firmly on the Triple-A team and the prospects that will arrive in Wrigley this year, Alcantara has turned into a pop-up guy in the system. With five hits over the weekend, the 20-year-old Dominican is now batting .291/.315/.417 in 60 games this season. There are some holes in his game, in particular an overly-aggressive plate approach and sloppy throwing mechanics that have contributed to 22 errors, but he's a line drive hitter with a quick bat, plus speed, and the tools to remain at short. Scouts see Alcantara as a good utility player, at the very least, and many give him a chance to be an everyday player if he continues to progress.
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Using traditional fantasy stat categories, Kevin runs down the 2012 draftees most likely to perform well in each one.
Now that the 2012 draft is in the books, let's look at the players most likely to perform. I began to think about actual total performance projections—which is plenty dangerous—but then I began to think about individual categories, which led quickly to your standard fantasy categories, which ultimately created a fun challenge. So here are my projected 2012 draft fantasy stats.
Past the top 8 picks, the rest of yesterday's first round played out very differently than was expected.
There is no question that the first round of the 2012 draft was a weird one, but the question is why. The eight players expected to be the first eight players selected turned out to be just that, just not in the order anyone expected. An anticipated college-heavy teens turned into a run on high school talent, but we might never know if that was because of a flattened ranking of talent, or (more likely) because teams were scrambling during their five-minute windows to assess signability. Regardless, here's how everything went down.
Teams are still having a hard time sorting out the top players in a relatively weak draft class, but Kevin pokes around and offers a best-guess as to how things might shake out.
A weak talent class and a new collective bargaining agreement have made the 2012 draft the most unpredictable in recent memory. Further confusing things are huge wild cards early on, especially the Mariners at three and the Royals at five. Still, it seems like there is suddenly a clear first eight picks, it's just the order of the names that end up being confusing.
The laws of physics dictate that two objects can't occupy the same space, as these blocked prospects can attest.
As we saw at the end of April, sometimes it takes an injury for a prospect to get his opportunity in the big leagues, even for someone like Bryce Harper. For Mike Trout of the Angels, it took a combination of an injury (Vernon Wells) and a release (Bobby Abreu) to create consistent playing time for him in Anaheim. Sometimes the combinations get even more complicated, which was the case with Will Middlebrooks, who—with Kevin Youkilis returning from the disabled list—has stayed in the big leagues because of the position switch from first base to right field for Adrian Gonzalez. They're hardly the only players faced with this problem, as there are plenty of top prospects in the upper levels of the minors who deserve a shot soon, but figuring out how that happens requires some out-of-the-box thinking.
It's still early, but a lot of potential 2012 draftees are still in the mix to go in the Top Five picks.
To be clear, this is a talent ranking based on numerous conversations with a wide variety of scouts and team officials. This is not a mock draft; this is simply how I would line up the magnets on the board based on what I know. I don't think this will be the order in which the players will be selected, as bonus demands, risk (or safety) and obviously a team's own scouting reports will certainly change everything, and the biggest wild card is still how the new rules will affect how picks come off the board.
This year's amateur draft will see a weaker draft class subject to new financial rules, and not everyone--Scott Boras included--thinks that's a good thing.
The general consensus is that this year is a weak draft class, especially when compared to last year's monster collection of talent. For many, the most interesting aspect to this year's draft might not be the usual who is selected by whom, but rather what happens in terms of negotiations between the picks and the teams relative to the new July 13 signing deadline. That deadline isn't the only new rule, as with assigned bonus pools, strict penalties for exceeding them, and the removal of major-league contract offerings, we're entering uncharted waters.
This weekend saw Trevor Bauer make his Triple-A debut, Dylan Bundy doing it again (with "it" being almost indescribable) and Tim Alderson regaining prospect status.
Tim Alderson, RHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)
Alderson was once a hot commodity. A first-round pick by the Giants in 2007, the six-foot-six right-hander burst onto the prospect scene by putting up a 2.79 ERA in the California League as a 19-year-old thanks to average velocity and fantastic command, but the velocity began to slip, and his career seemed to go downhill after a trade to the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez. After a six-plus ERA in 2010 and a move to the bullpen last year, he was all but off the radar. Except a funny thing happened this year, as Alderson changed his approach and took up an arm conditioning program that included long-tossing, and this spring his 85-88 mph suddenly jumped to 90-92. After dominating out of the Altoona pen, he moved to the rotation this month, and on Sunday he fired seven shutout innings while allowing just two hits and touching 93; at just 23, and after a Sunday promotion to Triple-A, he's suddenly a prospect again as a potential back-end rotation piece.
The major league power outage could have its cause in the minor leagues, writes Kevin Goldstein.
Home runs are down nearly twenty percent from their 2004 peak, and scouts have made it clear that, based on what they are seeing in the minors, the downward trend is going to continue. With Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the big leagues and Seattle's Jesus Montero beginning the year there, all of a sudden there are precious few power hitters in the minors. While there are plenty of theories as to the cause, there's no obvious answer as to why.
This past weekend saw some improved control, some extended hitting streaks, and a few prospects who might be worth watching after all.
Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees (Triple-A Empire State)
On April 12, in his second start of the year, Banuelos walked six over two innings and then hit the disabled list with a minor back injury. The back was clearly affecting his delivery, but control was an issue in 2011 as well, and whether it's getting healthy or just a good run, he's suddenly turned into a strike-throwing machine. Since his return to the rotation—and including six outstanding innings on Sunday—Banuelos has reeled off 14 2/3 innings without issuing a walk, and he's done it without ratcheting down his stuff in terms of velocity or break. It's too early to get excited here, but with both Banuelos and Betances pitching well of late, maybe the Yankees will trust their own this year when a need arrives.
Last season, you wouldn't have known who these guys were. But thanks to some development and progress, you might start paying closer attention.
The scouting term “pop-up guy” is used often in reference to the draft, when players go from just a name to somebody in line for an early pick and big money. But there are pop-up guys in the professional ranks as well. These aren't players bouncing back to a previously held reputation. These aren't even players finally living up to expectations. These are players who were lucky to sniff their own team's prospect list heading into the season who have not only put up numbers this year, but also have scouts coming around on their talent. In other words, they're some new names you should know.