In a relaunch of the Eyewitness Accounts series for 2014, the BP Prospect Staff profiles Jorge Alfaro, Bubba Starling, Josh Hader, Aaron Sanchez, Lucas Sims, Tim Anderson, Brandon Nimmo, and Anthony Kemp.
Notes on the prospects who stood out on the final weekend of Cactus and Grapefruit League play.
This is it, don’t get scared now.
It’s the final weekend before the regular season. Sure, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers took their adventure down under, but we all know the real regular season starts this Sunday and that the real Opening Day is one week from today. There may not be too many prospects left in camps, but the ones that are left are there for a reason.
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Scouts' takes on Danny Duffy, Brett Lawrie, Bubba Starling, Zack Wheeler, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
All the prospecty goodness from the past weekend, including notes on Rangers third base prospects Joey Gallo and Mike Olt.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: C.J. Edwards, RHP, Rangers (Low-A Hickory): 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K. Edwards, one of my favorite prospects, has an easy plus fastball that can touch 95 with life. In addition to the fastball, Edwards has a curveball with plus potential and a changeup that is still developing; 10.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 20 K in two April starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Jonathan Garcia, OF, Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga): 4-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, K. Garcia has good bat speed with solid-average power potential. However, this is his second go-around in the California League so I would proceed with caution; .488/.500/1.000 with 3 2B, 2 3B, and 5 HR in last 43 at-bats.
Bubba Starling has started slow. Is there legitimate cause for concern?
Throughout the 2013 season, we will be providing updates on the developmental ups and downs of the top prospects in the game, with a heavy focus on scouting reports and, when applicable, eyewitness takes. Knowing why a prospect is thriving, surviving, or dying is more important than just providing you with the status, free from explanation. With an unbalanced playing field in unbalanced environments, players will rise and fall for a variety of reasons, and cutting away the costume that can obscure the realities of a situation is the task we will willingly burden ourselves with.
As the minor-league season starts to find its legs, our eyes turn to daily box scores and Twitter blasts, hoping to see the stars of tomorrow flashing that promise on the smaller stages of today. We look for patterns in order to establish momentum or regression, and we cross our fingers that the slow starts are merely small sample sizes playing the villain and the fast starts are not only sustainable but the opening salvo of a monumental climb up the prospect ranks and the corporate ladder.
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.
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.
Fresh off his five-week stay in Arizona, Jason transcribes some notes on prospects he saw in the Royals system.
“Baseball is my stereo, and out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy, and out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy, and workin’ on mysteries without any clues, and workin’ on our night moves.” –A friend of a friend of Bob Seger
The only thing better than watching prospects is watching prospects with high ceilings, and the only thing better than watching prospects with high ceilings is watching prospects with high ceilings who actually start playing like prospects with high ceilings. During my five-week stay in Arizona, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time watching the talent in the Kansas City Royals system, and with each subsequent viewing, I walked away from the fields with the another high-end prospect tattooed on my sunburned brain. It’s a pleasing pain. It’s a good hurt.
Jason gets extended looks at the Bubba Starling of this year and the Bubba Starling of 2009.
Day 22, 7:00 AM
My dearest Patricia, I am a machine. I’ve been in Arizona for three weeks, and I can subsist solely on intense sunshine and teenaged athletic promise. I have the stare, a Polaroid exposure with every blink. I can stand on my feet for eight straight hours without complaint, with tape recorders attached to my orbital bones in order to capture the day’s achievement. I’ve never felt more prepared for anything in my life. So much baseball floating around in my head, and I can’t wait to open my mouth and let it flow forth. Minor league games have begun and the world is again on a solid spin. I miss you immensely. You were in my dreams last night. You were throwing live batting practice to a group consisting of Eric Hosmer, Jorge Alfaro, and Cheslor Cuthbert, who was wearing an expensive George Washington mask. I was standing behind the cage crying from happiness. Be right back.
Day 22, 7:55 AM
About to leave for the fields, Patricia, but I thought I’d drop you a quick note. Roommate Jason is wearing a Cutter and Buck DryTec polo shirt, scientifically designed to wick perspiration while maintaining its form and fundamental aesthetic. He pairs this with a pair of non-descript denim blue jeans that I can’t properly analyze because they are nondescript. The pant is left long in the leg to cover the standard-issue leather cowboy boots, which give off the appearance of a broken-in work boot, one with hours punched out on a Texas ranch; I suspect the distressed material was manufactured for this particular appearance and effect, and the boots have yet to negotiate the rugged life of ranch work, which includes dealing with cantankerous animals of impressive tonnage and fields of equally impressive manure.
Will Myers hit? Can Bubba Starling star? Could Cheslor Cuthbert chisel his way to The Show? Why they might, and why they might not, is just a click away.
Prospect #1: OF Wil Myers Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: Myers was considered a top-ten prospect before the 2011 season by many national publications. He failed to live up to those lofty expectations in 2011, causing many to forget about the developmental aspects of the process and jump off the bandwagon when his prospect perfume wasn’t as sweet. Ah, people can be so quick to misinterpret failure. Myers has all the tools necessary to become a first-division right fielder, and the statistical setbacks that occurred in the Texas League weren’t the result of one tyrannical culprit; rather, Myers faced a series of developmental hurdles and failed to clear them on his first jump. At the plate, he has the kind of bat speed you can’t teach but can’t wait to preach, starting with fast hands, excellent hip rotation, and a clean path to the ball. He projects to hit for both average and power down the line, with the type of advanced approach that will allow for on-base ability.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: I can’t speak to the specific developmental plan the Royals have scripted for Myers, but you have to figure the 21-year-old outfielder will reach the Triple-A level at some point in 2012. It’s then that I’d like to see Myers up his intensity at the plate, taking advantage of pitches he can drive before the pitchers take advantage of him. Being patient has it’s advantages, especially against quality pitching: it can put you in favorable hitting situations, it can lead to walks, and it can force a pitcher to throw a lot of pitches while also disrupting the deception of sequence. But it can also make a hitter second-guess opportunities, especially if they come early in the count. Hitters like Myers are the opposite of complex league hitters, those that are taught to read and react, looking to drive fastballs early and often in counts. Myers has good pitch-recognition skills and can track a ball from release to glove better than a lot of major leaguers, but the best hitters also know when to attack; Myers can be a bit passive in that regard. At the higher levels, you either drive or you get driven, and without a little more intensity when the situation calls for it, Myers will remain a backseat hitter, waiting on the perfect opportunity to take the wheel. That type of approach, while applauded in certain situations, can get a young hitter run over.