Gary Sanchez improves both at and behind the plate, Martin Perez continues to be a mystery, and Shelby Miller goes backwards.
Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds (at Double-A Pensacola)
Corcino draws too many easy comps to Johnny Cueto, as he's short, thick, Dominican, a Red, and has a big arm. But let's talk about him on his own merits, which include eight no-hit innings on Saturday to lower his ERA to 3.34 in 13 Double-A starts. Corcino's best pitch is a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph, and both his slider and changeup are at least average pitches. There's considerable effort to his delivery, which leads to some control issues, and when he has problems with his location, he tends to miss up. He's a potential No. 3 starter with some refinements, and the 21-year-old has already made plenty of improvements this year.
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Of the notable prospects who didn't start the year in the majors, who got jumped ahead and who got left behind?
With Opening Day upon us, roster decisions have been made, and while most players continue to take the standard route up the minor league ladder, there are plenty of prospects either making a double jump, or being left behind to repeat a level. Last week's player of the year watch had three teenagers-- Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and Seattle righty Taijuan Walker--who are all beginning the year in Double-A; here are ten more players beginning the year somewhere other than where many expected.
Parks dishes pessimism on Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and more.
Prospect #1: C Gary Sanchez Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: Sanchez, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic for a cool $3 million, is one of the most promising offensive prospects in the minors. He has precocious in-game power, a projectable and playable hit tool, and a game plan at the plate that goes beyond “grip the bat and swing as hard as possible.” Sanchez was only 18 years old when he made his full-season debut in 2011, but he managed to slug .485 against much older competition in the prospect-heavy Sally League. His work behind the plate wasn’t as attractive, and there are already whispers of a future position switch. The arm is plenty strong and the necessary athleticism is present to handle the physical demands of the position, but his receiving ability is immature and will require years of additional development. The catch here is that Sanchez’s bat is setting an accelerated timetable that his glove development won’t be able to match strides with.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: Sanchez is a hitter who seems to see the ball very well; he tracks and diagnoses pitches like a much more experienced player. In High-A, the young right-hander will no doubt face a more advanced secondary sequence, and despite the good pitch-recognition skills, the characteristics of his swing could limit his ability to make contact against such offerings. Like most power hitters, Sanchez has a leveraged swing with length and loft, making him susceptible to inner-half velocity and off-speed stuff that will require barrel manipulation to stay on. Sanchez has a good feel for hitting, but I don’t think the hit tool can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the power, which should end up as an easy 70 on the 20/80 scale, and possibly a legit 80 at the top of his developmental arc. The explosion that occurs on contact is loud and violent and sexy and people will pay money to see it and the skies will turn red with the blood of his enemies, but the hitchy trigger and the lengthy path to the ball make exploitation possible. However, it should be noted that Sanchez’s offensive game doesn’t have the glaring weaknesses that scar the faces of most prospects his age. This is a minor nitpick. Sanchez could be very special at the plate. I want to have a son and name him Gary.
Some of the choices involved are generating noise, while others are merely noisome.
It's now time to turn to the National League's camp battles-and to perhaps also turn a Nelsonian blind eye to a good argument for why some of these combats are less significant than others-starting with the NL East. What's really at stake as opposed to effectively already set in stone?
Some of what the mill cranks out proves to be true, but other stuff not so much as we near the July 2 signing window.
The Video Notebook
Now that I've presented 25 scouting reports for July 2nd prospects (here and here) along with videos of the top players (all of them which you'll find here), you may be wondering what I have to left write about, with all of the crucial information already written and still 10 more days until players can sign. First, the ranking of players is always changing, though I'm not going to edit that list just yet. If there's one thing I can tell you about this market, it's that something is always happening. Every call I make not only yields solid information and teaches me something new, but there's at least one off-the-wall item mentioned as well. Maybe it's a function of a maturing market where everyone isn't on the same page yet, or perhaps there's just more to be made from misinformation in a free market. Probably both, and some other factors, but rest assured, I have more than enough material. The trick is to figure out what is most legitimate, and of that, what is most important. I've been working the phones as the signing period nears, so here is your information dump, notebook-style.
Rounding out a list of the top 20 international talents, with video and reports straight from south of the border.
I've got a lot of ground to cover today, so we'll skip any long-winded introductions and just get right into the good stuff. As with last week's piece, non-subscribers who would like to take a look at the videos embedded below can check out my Vimeo page.
While I was in the Dominican last month, the biggest showcase of the year featured various top July 2nd prospects facing off against the Canadian junior national team. Left-hander Jake Eliopoulos, the top Canadian prospect in tomorrow's draft, toed the rubber for three innings. Here's a bonus video and scouting report on him, as you'll want to know something about him, as he should be drafted tomorrow:
Straight from one man's scouting mission to the island, video, scouting reports, and rumors from the Dominican.
I'm back from the Dominican and I come bearing gifts: full scouting reports, on-the-ground buzz, first-hand accounts of top prospects, and the videos to prove it. I've got way more than I can fit in one article, but I'll try to cram as much as I can into this space. For non-subscribers who can't read much further, the embedded videos below can all be found here.
Before we jump into things, I wanted to revisit a topic that I covered last week. Teams seem to be even more open to a give-and-take between their draft and international budgets when it comes to a weak draft class, a struggling economy, and increasing bonuses being paid out in Latin America. One club official noted that it has always been common for teams that didn't plan to spend their entire draft budget to roll the excess into their international budget once they know what players they selected. It has also been circulating that a few teams may be trying to dump big-league salaries to free up more money for international purposes, with the most frequently mentioned team being San Diego, and their most mentioned contract being Jake Peavy's. The fact that Peavy blocked a trade to the White Sox recently didn't do much to quell this talk.
Schilling's latest hurt, is Manny being a new Manny, plus some sense and sensibility in Steel City.
There's an NFL commercial that talks about the season lasting 13 months a year. In baseball, that's also true. Spring training, the six-month season, October action, and winter ball combine to make it seem as if it never ends. That's great for die-hard fans like you and me, but not always so great for the players. (It's really bad for younger players, but that's a discussion for another day.) The offseason can be just as dangerous for some players as the regular season. The rehab work, the "pre-hab" routines, and the functional conditioning are fraught with problems as much as they are opportunities for rebuilding. A player can show up lighter, but lose his power. A player can bulk up, only to lose flexibility. A pitcher can be hard at work on his mechanics, only to find that the changes actually tax his muscles, tendons and ligaments in new ways, leading to an injury.