We made you wait an extra day, so we put in an extra writeup.
Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State (2016 Draft Class) Lauer and the Kent State Flashes entered the MAC Tournament as the heavy favorites, however a loss to Western Michigan ended their run at post season play. Lauer started for the Flashes on Wednesday, going the distance with a complete-game shutout. He showed advanced pitchability throughout the game, and the stuff to match. While Lauer doesn’t currently have a pure out-pitch, his arsenal is still adequate. His fastball sat 93, hitting 94 a few times with a deceptive look from the left side, with some cutting action on it. His curveball will be an above-average pitch, showing 1-7 break across multiple planes at 76 mph. His slider is much improved since I last saw him in April; it usually sits 85-86 topping at 87 mph. His changeup also looked improved, and he threw it with much more confidence this game, featuring horizontal arm-side fade and a touch of tumble as it fell late at times.
Lauer won't be an ace, or even a number two in all likelihood, but what he is missing in ceiling he makes up for in floor. Even as someone who hates the term “high-floor player,” Lauer looks the part to be a fast-rising mid-to-back-end starter. He is as polished as anyone in the class currently, and if any of his off-speed pitches can improve into the plus range, his ceiling becomes even higher. His endurance has never been questioned, as his last two outings have been a no hitter at Bowling Green, and this shutout. His velocity held through all nine innings on Wednesday, and he maintained his delivery well. His delivery is extremely clean, but has a quirk with his left leg that needs to be timed correctly in order to hit his spots. But out of all of his outings that I have seen, he’s only lost his timing in a few. I would look for Lauer to go anywhere in the 25-40 range, but losing out on his ability to prove himself against post season competition is unfortunate. —Grant Jones
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Notes on Trent Clark, Harrison Bader, A.J. Puk, and more.
Trent Clark, CF, Milwaukee Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin)
The Brewers first-round selection in the 2015 draft was recently promoted to Low-A Wisconsin and has already shown advanced hitting ability. Clark has a physical frame with plenty of strength through the chest and lower half. As he continues to fill out he will profile better in a corner with the bat to match.
Notes on Cody Reed (the other one), Jason Groome, Dominic Smith, and more.
Cody Reed, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Low-A Kane County)
Following his selection in the second round of the 2014 draft, Reed put together an impressive start to his professional career. The left-hander has a big, wide frame and attacks the strike zone from a low three-quarters slot. His delivery is unique and while it’s not how you would draw it up, he repeats it well and it works for him. Reed cranks down into his back leg with a slight twist before exploding into a flexed front leg with blocking of his front hip. The delivery also has deception which helps his fastball play up.
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.
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 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.
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
Notes on ten prospects who could jump into the Top 101 for 2017, including Christian Arroyo, Wilkerman Garcia, Antonio Senzatela, and more.
As we continue to celebrate the release of the Top 101 Prospects, our ongoing coverage starts with a simple question: Who was not on this year’s list (or the just missed group we’ll dive into later this week) that you think will make the cut in 2017?