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October 4, 2012 9:18 am

Prospect Profile: International Focus

3

Hudson Belinsky

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-field talent. 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.

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September 27, 2012 8:41 am

Prospect Profile: Kaleb Cowart

1

Hudson Belinsky

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.

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September 20, 2012 5:00 am

Prospect Profile: Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco

11

Hudson Belinsky

Breaking down a pair of position player prospects who made major strides in the Pirates' system this season.

Evaluating talent on the international market can be even more difficult than it is on the domestic side. Often, prospect writers become enamored with bonus babies and neglect many of the talented players who sign for smaller bonus figures. Every year, a few of these under-the-radar prospects raise their profiles considerably. This season, the Pittsburgh Pirates system saw two Dominican players burst onto the prospect scene: Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco.

After a decent showing (statistically speaking) in the Gulf Coast League, Hanson advanced to full-season ball in 2012. He entered the season as the Pirates’ no. 17 prospect, according to Kevin Goldstein, described as a “young infielder [with] speed and an idea at the plate.” Now, one could make an argument that Hanson is the Pirates’ top position prospect.

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September 14, 2012 5:00 am

Prospect Profile: Austin Hedges

4

Hudson Belinsky

The Padres' top catching prospect is superb behind the plate, but will he hit?

With the 82nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, the San Diego Padres selected Austin Hedges, a catcher out of Junipero Serra Catholic HS in southern California. While the story of his rise through the minor leagues begins there, his path to the majors started much earlier.

Brett Kay is the head coach at Junipero Serra. Kay caught in 142 minor-league games, making it to High-A before his career came to a close in 2003. He wasn’t a big leaguer, but his experience made him an excellent instructor. In 2006, Kay had the chance to coach a promising young catcher. The kid was shy and skinny, but his athleticism and skillset were obvious. Austin Hedges was already showing the makings of a top prospect.

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September 6, 2012 5:00 am

Prospect Profile: Brian Flynn

1

Hudson Belinsky

The least-prominent player in the Tigers' big deadline trade might amount to something in Miami.

Every year, dozens of prospects are traded. We don’t expect much from most of them. This year, the Detroit Tigers made a trade to help their big league club, acquiring Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for a trio of prospects (the clubs also swapped draft picks). The centerpiece of the prospect package headed to Miami was Jacob Turner, one of the more well-known pitching prospects in the game. Another player in the deal was the athletic catcher Rob Brantly, who had just played in front of a national audience at the Futures Game in Kansas City. The Tigers did give up one more player, but he came with almost zero hype. That was a big lefty named Brian Flynn.

Flynn, like last week’s Prospect Profile subject, Dylan Bundy, attended Owasso High School in Sperry, Oklahoma. A natural athlete, he played basketball and baseball in high school, but he struggled to maintain his grades during his first two years. Coach Larry Turner decided to keep him in the program anyway. Flynn had yet to succeed in high school baseball, but he had shown some promise on the summer circuit, and before long, his capabilities became obvious.

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August 30, 2012 5:00 am

Prospect Profile: Dylan Bundy

14

Hudson Belinsky

The Orioles' most promising prospect probably won't be bound for Baltimore this season, but regardless of when he arrives, he seems destined for the top of the O's rotation.

“Early on I just had that feeling that he was going to be a little bit more special than the others,” said Larry Turner, the head baseball coach at Owasso High School in Sperry, Oklahoma. He was reminiscing about Dylan Bundy. “The first time I saw him pitch he was probably about 10 years old,” Turner continued. “[Usually] you have some kids that were way ahead of others when they were young, and the other ones seem to catch up by the time they get to high school.” But Bundy “was the exception to the rule.”

Turner coached Bundy during his formative years, and he gives a lot of credit for Bundy’s success to the right-hander’s parents, specifically his father Denver. Dylan and his older brother Bobby, who also pitches in the Orioles’ farm system, learned the value of hard work from their father. “His work ethic is just unmatched,” Turner said of Dylan. “He’s a maniac about working out and doing everything he can to reach his potential.”

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August 23, 2012 5:00 am

Prospect Profile: Bruce Rondon

9

Hudson Belinsky

The next hard-throwing right-handed Tigers reliever has made great strides this season and isn't far from Detroit.

Bruce Rondon entered professional baseball in 2008 as a member of the Detroit Tigers’ Venezuelan Summer League club. At the time, he was just another kid, a 17-year-old with a fastball that sat in the high 80s and low 90s and a fringy slider. He struggled to command his pitches and, as a result, spent all of 2008 and most of 2009 in the VSL. In 2010, his velocity ticked up and his slider became an average offering, helping him build some steam as a prospect. By 2011, Rondon had a fastball that consistently received grades of 75 and 80 from scouts.

Not surprisingly, scouts and player development officials really like Rondon. While some envision him as a future closer waiting for the right opportunity, others liken him to a former Tigers flamethrower who excelled in a setup role. “He’s pretty similar to a guy they had a few years ago, Joel Zumaya,” one scout opined. Rondon is a classic fastball/slider pitcher, but his ability to harness triple-digit velocity makes him stand out. “The stuff is all there,” the scout added. “He just needs to show better command.”

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We haven't seen much of Michael Ynoa since the A's signed him to a big bonus in 2008, but he's healthy now and still showing plenty of promise.

Baseball Prospectus intern Hudson Belinsky covers prospects as an associate scout with Diamond Scape Scouting and scouts the minor leagues for Penn League Report, attending minor-league or amateur games roughly five days per week. In this series, he’ll focus on a different minor leaguer’s development every week, incorporating information from team officials, scouts, coaches, and players to paint a complete picture of some of baseball’s most intriguing prospects.
 

The crown jewel of the 2008 international market for amateur talent was pitcher Michael Ynoa. The 16-year-old checked in at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds. His fastball was already sitting in the low 90s, and he possessed an impressive changeup and a big curveball. When the international signing period officially opened on July 2nd, the Oakland A’s inked Ynoa to a minor-league contract that came with a $4.25M bonus.


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March 15, 2011 9:00 am

Prospect Profile: Yasmani Grandal

0

David Laurila

The Reds' new catching prospect brings plenty to the table.

In a perfect world, Yasmani Grandal will one day become the Queen City’s version of Jorge Posada or Ted Simmons, but with the added bonus of above-average defense. The potential is there, but for now the switch-hitting backstop is an unproven 2010 draft pick in his first big-league camp.

Taken 12th overall out of the University of Miami, the 22-year-old Grandal is rated by Kevin Goldstein as the fourth overall prospect in the Reds organization, while Baseball America ranks him sixth best, and ESPN’s Keith Law has him third.

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March 11, 2011 5:08 pm

Prospect Profile: Grant Green

2

David Laurila

The A's top 2009 pick has questions to answer about his upside afield and at the plate.

Power-hitting shortstops are a valuable commodity, and power-hitting shortstops who provide solid defense are invaluable. Which brings us to Grant Green, who may or may not fit either of those descriptions.

Rated as the top prospect in the Oakland system by both Baseball America and ESPN's Keith Law, while Kevin Goldstein ranks him second, Green was drafted 13thoverall in the 2009 draft out of the University of Southern California. He put up an eye-opening .318/.363/.520 slash line in High-A Stockton last summer, but opinions are mixed on just how good he will be—and at which position.

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The Cubs' top prospect is on the way, bringing a broad base of skills and up-the-middle defense.

Brett Jackson doesn’t project as an elite player, but most signs point to him patrolling center field in Wrigley Field in the not-too-distant future. The athletic 22-year-old is rated as the top prospect in the Cubs system by both Kevin Goldstein and Baseball America, while ESPN’s Keith Law places him at number two.

Drafted 31st overall in 2009 out of the University of California, the left-handed-hitting Jackson split the 2010 season between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, hitting a combined .297/.395/.493. Indicative of his multi-faceted skill set, he rapped out 32 doubles,14 triples, and 12 home runs, and swiped 30 bases. The lone negative was a high strikeout total—136 Ks in 491 at-bats—which has been a concern since his days as a Golden Bear.

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February 14, 2011 9:57 am

Prospect Profile: Anthony Gose

2

David Laurila

A toolsy, twice-traded talent tries to put things together in Toronto.

Anthony Gose wants to be a star, and that‘s exactly what Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays are hoping he becomes. For now, he'll have to be content with being rated as the ninth-best prospect in the Toronto system by Kevin Goldstein; ESPN’s Keith Law has him at number eight, while Baseball America confidently deemed him number four.

 

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