After an injury-marred 2012, Benson could emerge as an intriguing player this season.
Blessed with obnoxiously loud tools, Twins outfielder Joe Benson has found his way onto Baseball Prospectus’s Twins rankings on multiple occasions. To start, here are the strength and weakness write-ups on Benson from each of his appearances on Kevin Goldstein’s top 10 lists.
A look at three high school arms from the Garden State who could be high draft picks this spring.
This week we’re going to take a look at a few of the top amateur arms coming out of New Jersey this draft season. Not too long ago, the Garden State produced a first round pick named Mike Trout. While none of the fruit is nearly as ripe this season, there are several juicy options for teams to feast on this spring. Chris Oakley, Jesse Roth, and Rob Kaminsky are are all New Jerseyans, and they all have a chance to make a mark on the game. Here’s a video of each of them throwing at this past August’s East Coast Pro Showcase:
Beede became famous for turning down a huge payday from Toronto to go to college, but if he keeps up the current pace, he may be in store for an even bigger one in 2014.
“I’m a big sushi guy. I know there’s not a whole lot of sushi in Nashville, but I found a good spot. You obviously have the barbecue food around here that you can get and you can pick at. Bruegger’s for breakfast and maybe Pancake Pantry for a little pancakes and waffles and stuff like that.”
That sounds like a normal diet for a college sophomore—I’m getting into sushi myself; Miyake in Ithaca can really hit the spot—but that isn’t a quote from any old college sophomore. It’s Tyler Beede talking about his favorite eats in Nashville, where he’s a big part of the Vanderbilt baseball program.
A look at three relief prospects with the potential to pitch high-leverage innings.
Relievers are a fickle species; every year, many relievers come out of nowhere to make an impact at the major-league level. There doesn’t seem to be a clear formula for short-term success as a big-league reliever, but there are combinations that can be lethal in short doses, and right now the minor leagues house multiple arms that could impact a game near you in 2013. Today, we’ll look at three of them.
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
“He’s really tough not to like,” one scout said. Stroman isn’t tall, checking in at 5-foot-9, but he is big, with 185 pounds of muscle on his frame. He has one of the fastest arms in the minors, and he can pump his fastball into the upper 90s, complimenting it with a plus slider and cutter. He’s active and eccentric on the mound.
A look at the roller-coaster careers of two former first-rounders.
Being drafted high comes with high expectations. Over the past several drafts, a number of top picks have failed to materialize into top prospects. Chief among those players are Josh Vitters and Tim Beckham. Vitters was the third player selected in the 2007 draft, and Beckham was the first player taken in the 2008 draft. Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s crazy to think what the Cubs and the Rays could have had instead of these two, but today we’re going to focus on these two players outside of the expectations that come with their draft status.
One of the coolest features of Baseball Prospectus’s player cards is the BP Articles section, which shows you wherever a player was mentioned in an article at BP. This is going to be really cool in a decade, when we’ll be able to go back and look at every prospect evaluation and compare it to how those players’ careers turned out, but it’s also useful for tracking a prospect’s stock.
A special look at Arizona Fall League ERA leader Kyle Kaminska.
Kristy Robinson attended Kent State University for Broadcasting and the Fashion Institute of Design Merchandising for Fashion Design and Communications. Robinson has covered the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past two seasons as a beat reporter. Robinson grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Despite pitching in a hitter-friendly league, right-hander Kyle Kaminska has looked very good in the Arizona Fall League. He quietly put together solid numbers after coming over to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization (along with Gaby Sanchez for Gorkys Hernandez and a draft compensation pick) at the trade deadline in 2012, and while his name may not have topped the list of prospects when the AFL kicked off on October 9, he’s beginning to make quite a name for himself.
Is Brown still San Francisco's center fielder of the future? Only if his hit tool plays, which many aren't convinced of.
Fifteen months ago Gary Brown was viewed by many as an elite prospect, destined to lose Gold Gloves to inferior defenders and lead the Giants to the Promised Land. People were amazed that 23 players were selected before Brown in the 2010 draft. When teams would inquire on Brown, the Giants would show reluctance to part with him to shore up their club in the short term. Many expected him to make it to the majors quickly and become the team’s center fielder of both the present and future.
From org guy to major league starter in a year. Did anyone see that coming?
Raise your hand if you not only knew who Dan Straily was this time a year ago, but also knew that he’d become a top prospect and reach the majors in 2012. Keep your hand raised if you’re a liar. During the 2011 season, Straily was seen as a solid org guy with a non-zero chance of making it. He was still young, but most people saw him as a guy with underwhelming stuff who could have an outside chance at making it to the big leagues because of his above-average command and 80 makeup.
The A’s liked Straily all along. He was always athletic and could always repeat his delivery, which enabled him to control the ball effectively. His stuff wasn’t bad, but he was barely distinguishing himself from the rest of the pack. Low 90s velocity is nice, but it isn’t enough to build a major league career on.
Hudson saw a transformation in Maikel Franco this season from raw player to prospect; will the momentum carry into 2013?
Watching players throughout the season, I tend to develop prospect crushes. It started with Jesus Montero in 2009, and then continued with him in 2010. In 2011 it was Domingo Santana, who had huge five o’clock power and fit the classic right field profile. This past season, I had several reasons to plant myself behind home plate in Lakewood. Maikel Franco might have been the most fun of those reasons.
Franco probably won’t appear on many lists of top prospects this winter, but I loved what he showed me throughout his season. Early in 2012 he was a raw baseball player who was a bit overexposed in a full-season league. Later in 2012, he looked more like an impact prospect.
The Twins have signed a few players from unlikely countries recently. Is this a new direction, and is it going to pay off?
Baseball teams often look for market inefficiencies when they acquire players. In recent years we’ve seen some teams target players with excellent defense, some spend aggressively in the draft, and some invest in off-the-fieldtalent. By examining these things, we can often extract specific organizational strategies: team X trades controllable players for plenty of prospects; team Y employs a specific draft strategy. It certainly looks like the Minnesota Twins might be employing a new strategy in the international market, as in recent years they’ve expanded their efforts to include Australia, Africa, and Europe.
While he's not yet tested at the upper levels, the Angels might have something in third baseman Kaleb Cowart.
Chone Figgins had an amazing season in 2009: he posted a .289 TAv and, because of a lofty defensive rating (16.7 FRAA), finished the year with a remarkable 7.2 WARP. Baseball Prospectus 2010 put it best: “Talk about a walk year: in the final season of his contract, Figgins burnished his credentials as an elite leadoff hitter by leading the AL in bases on balls and ranking second in both times on base and runs scored, third in steals, and fourth in pitches per plate appearance.” Figgins would decline the Angels’ offer of arbitration and would instead sign with Seattle, leaving the Angels with nothing. Nothing, except for a pair of draft picks, one of which they used on Kaleb Cowart.
The Angels nabbed Cowart with the 18th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Cook HS in Adel, GA. He wasn’t a monster, but he was a switch hitter, had excellent tools, and was something to dream on. A late signing limited his time on the field in 2010, so he was still in rookie ball for 2011. With the Orem Owlz, Cowart posted a modest .283/.345/.420 line with seven home runs. He struck out 81 times and picked up just 25 bases on balls in 72 games, so there was some cause for concern about his approach.