Royals righty Kyle Zimmer and Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings stole the show on a night when several of the minor leagues were off.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 13 K. On this night, Zimmer looked exactly like the pitcher the Royals envisioned when he was selected fifth overall in 2012. Zimmer’s fastball was working 96-97 with more life and good control and command. The curveball was an absolutely dominant pitch at 79-83 with hard downward snap. He used the slider and changeup sparingly, but that is okay with me, and here is why: I’ve talked to many people in the industry who have been confused by Zimmer’s shortcomings earlier in the year. I can give you a multitude of excuses or responses on why he had these shortcomings, but the underlying point was always, “Well, the stuff is still really good!” The only realistic theory that made sense to me was that Zimmer was going to his slider, his worst pitch, far too often. This may be something that the Royals encouraged him to do for developmental reasons, but I believe this recent success should be attributed to the fact that he is attacking hitters with his best offerings; 20.0 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 26 K in last 3 starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno): 4-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI. The arrow is pointing upward for Owings, and as you’ll see with many of these players, something more in-depth is on the way in the very near future; .348/.369/.481 with 23 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, and 15 SB in 399 at-bats.
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Of all the prospects in the minors, Baez’s status might have the most volatility, with the skill set to blossom into a superstar and the deficiencies that could terminate the dream before it begins. With elite bat speed and the type of raw power that can find a home in the middle of any major-league lineup, Baez could end up as the top prospect in the game. But his one-speed-fits-all approach on both sides of the ball can be limiting: His aggressive, see-ball-hit-ball mentality at the plate often puts him behind in counts and vulnerable to offerings out of the zone, and his tendency to rush the actions and the throws makes him error prone despite his exquisite hands at shortstop. Baez is warming up and is a good candidate to explode this summer, with a chance to sneak into the top 10 prospects in the game. But the Double-A test is looming on the horizon, and without more nuance to his game and a more refined approach, Baez could take a big step back against better competition. The talent is extreme. The risk is just as extreme. —Jason Parks
The Baseball Prospectus 2013 Top 101 Prospects, by Position, by Organization, and by Age
Yesterday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect crew released our Top 101 Prospects of 2013, also newly available in printed form in the now-shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The festivities were wild and raucous for all, perhaps tempered slightly for fans of the Chicago White Sox. Here is the Top 101 list displayed by position, by organization, and by prospect age. Enjoy!
Notes on 12 prospects playing in either the Arizona Fall League or the Venezuelan Winter League.
One of the good things about scouring minor league box scores this time of the year is finding familiar names still plugging away and hoping for another chance in the big leagues. And I am happy to announce that there's been a Runelvys Hernandez sighting in the Dominican Winter League! The 34 year-old former Royals and Astros starter, who has a career line of 25-36 with a 5.50 ERA in 82 big league starts (none since 2008), is currently pitching for the Leones del Escogido. Hey, Royals fans. Remember that one time when Runelvys was your Opening Day starter, and he threw like six shutout innings and beat Mark Buehrle and the White Sox? That was awesome. Here are some notable performances from Thursday:
A trio of very highly-regarded pitchers leads off Arizona's top prospect list, but they're not sure things.
Prospect #1: RHP Trevor Bauer Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources Who: Selected with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bauer was seen by many as the most major league ready arm in the class, a pitcher that could ascend to the highest level in short order. Unfortunately known more for his torque-heavy delivery and idiosyncratic warm-up/cool-down routines than his arsenal, Bauer might have the deepest collection of pitches in the minors, a treasure chest of above-average offerings that he creates and crafts like a scientist on the mound; the 21-year-old righty has multiple fastballs thrown with varying velocity and movement, multiple breaking balls (including a plus slider and a plus curve), multiple change-of-pace offerings (including a plus changeup and a trapdoor splitter), not to mention pitches that are unique creations that observations fail to properly identify. His approach and commitment to pitching is as focused as you will find in the game and, despite some early professional struggles with command and control, the total package has a chance to be special. Assuming good health, Bauer will be a number three starter at worst, and if refinement occurs and efficiency improves, he could pitch atop a major league rotation in the very near future.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: The great irony of Trevor Bauer is that he is viewed as the ultimate baseball rat; he doesn’t breathe oxygen, he actually breathes pitching. From his long-toss routine, to his stretches, to his relentless pursuit of biomechanical-related scholarship, to his home-brewed arsenal, Bauer is consumed by his craft. But one of the knocks on Bauer has been that he often looks more like a thrower than a pitcher, showing an impressive arsenal, but lacking the feel to execute with efficiency. A few scouts suggested that his current inefficiency stems from his laboratory approach to pitching; his need to tinker with his deep arsenal to the point that he forgets his main objective is to coerce outs. These particular sources weren’t sour on his command profile, as they felt he could throw strikes if he made throwing strikes his objective, but they did mention that the poster boy for pitchability was struggling with his pitchability. If it’s really as simple as too much tinkering and not enough touch, Bauer is going to be just fine. He has a ton of toys and he’s still trying to figure out which ones belong in the toy box and which ones belong on the field. The minor leagues are the perfect environment for experimentation, so it’s hard to fault Bauer for striving to examine and refine this particular aspect of his game. However, with a little more focus towards efficiency and strike-throwing, Bauer could be at the major league level, bringing his unique brand of baseball to the biggest stage, and getting the results that could make him a star.
With word that Jed Hoyer will be joining Theo Epstein in Chicago, the Padres have a familiar face sliding into the GM chair.
With Padres GM Jed Hoyer headed to the Cubs in the same capacity under former boss Theo Epstein, another Epstein protégé, Josh Byrnes, takes over in San Diego. Although Hoyer's tenure didn't last as long as anyone expected, he made a few key moves that will help shape the course of the franchise.
Obvious Good Move: Slipping Aroldis Chapman onto the active roster. Think K-Rod 2002 without the roster chicanery. Think Livan Hernandez in '97 or David Price in 2008, since he's good enough to shut the door or get something started. If anything goes wrong with any component of the staff, the hard-slinging Cubano has the potential to dominate.
The 2006 class is a tough one to beat among a strong recent group of rookie classes.
Earlier this week, the folks at Beloit College released their annual MindsetList, a document designed to explain the cultural differences between the incoming class of college freshmen and the older faculty hired to teach them. The idea is to highlight the small and large ways the world has changed in the last 20 years by mentioning things that were true during the life span of oldsters that were never true for those under 20, e.g., the existence of things like a telephone cord, a country called Czechoslovakia, and a baseball commissioner not named Bud. For me, a man who fervently hopes Jamie Moyer comes back next spring to ensure I won’t have to face being older than every major-league ballplayer, this is always a time to reflect on youth and age, both in life and in baseball—especially so this year, since the current Mindset List includes a reference to the term Annus Horribilus, which I happened to use in last year’s BP Annual, but which I now know dates me almost as much as saying “23 Skidoo.”
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, here is a look at the projected rosters for each of the 16 National League clubs following conversations with club executives and media members. Keep in mind these are projected rosters and subject to change. American League lineups are here. You can also look at the fantasy depth charts at any time to see our latest updated projections.