The outlook for these three players is much different than it was five weeks ago.
“Things Done Changed” is the second track and first song on The Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album Ready to Die. In the song, the chorus of which samples Biz Markie and Dr. Dre, Biggie laments the negative changes he’s seen over time in his neighborhood and in his own life as he turns the page to 1993. His frustration builds throughout the song, going off beat to scream the only escape routes, “Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” Then culminating in the last line of the third verse, “My Momma got cancer in her breast, don’t ask me why I’m (expletive) stressed, things done changed.”
While the song deals with some serious issues and it’s still early in the season, things have certainly changed since draft day. I’ll examine a few players who now have different expectations for their output this season than they did five weeks ago.
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Notes on prospects who stood out in Cactus and Grapefruit League play, including Marlins outfieler Jake Marisnick and Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty.
Jake Marisnick, OF, Marlins: 2-4, 2B. Even rain in Jupiter and a delayed start to the afternoon couldn’t slow down Marisnick, who is now hitting .442 this spring. I’ll still argue that both he and Marcell Ozuna belong in Triple-A to start the season, but if he really was invited to camp to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster, it’s hard to do much better than Marisnick has this month.
Stephen Piscotty, OF, Cardinals: 1-3, R. Piscotty finished strong in Double-A last season and is off to a hot start this spring before likely returning to Springfield. Piscotty is just a flat-out good hitter who controls the strike zone incredibly well. If the power develops, he could be extremely productive. Just don’t get caught in the group of people who think he’s better than Oscar Taveras. At least not yet.
As part of Perfect Game's partnership with Baseball Prospectus, David Rawnsley, Todd Gold and Patrick Ebert will be conducting a “Before They Were Pros” series, providing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in baseball from when they were in high school attending PG events. This six-part series (one for each division in MLB) will appear once Baseball Prospectus has provided their own detailed scouting reports of the top prospects, team-by-team, as part of their “Prospects Will Break Your Heart” series.
Notes on 13 prospects who stood out yesterday, most notably Brewers outfielder Victor Roache and Cardinals righty Cory Jones.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Cory Jones, RHP, Cardinals (Low-A Peoria): 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 12 K. Another start, another shove session for Jones. The fastball can touch the upper 90s, and he uses a power curveball that flashes plus to miss bats. There is effort in his delivery, and that, combined with an inconsistent changeup, suggests that Jones’ ultimate future is in relief. Regardless, he is now squarely on the prospect radar; 26.0 IP, 22 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 28 K in four July starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Low-A Brewers): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB. Roache has top-notch raw power, and he really can pack a punch when he gets his hands extended on a ball. The problem here is that superior pitching may give Roache a world of trouble. A player like Roache relies on his power, and if he is not able to make consistent contact, the pop becomes irrelevant; .349/.391/.814 with 2 2B and 6 HR in last 43 at-bats.
Reds righty Robert Stephenson kept carving up Low-A hitters with Walt Jocketty in attendance last night.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K; elite fastball; plus curveball; developing changeup that has a solid-average ceiling; athletic frame; carving up Low-A competition; frontline starter potential; 59.2 IP, 49 H, 22 ER, 16 BB, 77 K in 11 starts.
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!
For my last Minor League Update of 2012, I put together a 25-man roster of prospects who have been traded so far this offseason. There was a lot of starting pitching depth with four or five pretty good pitchers that didn't make the cut. There weren't any good first base prospects and only two very good outfield prospects. Besides that, it's a pretty solid squad.
Notes from the AFL as the rest of the leagues were off on Monday.
All notes are from the Arizona Fall League as all other leagues were off on Monday, aside from one makeup game in the Dominican Winter League. Two of the offensive stars in that 15-6 victory for the Estrellas de Oriente were journeymen minor leaguers Ed Rogers (3-for-5, RBI) and Alex Valdez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI), who have played in over 2100 minor league games combined in their career.
What could possibly go wrong with Toronto's top prospects? A lot, actually.
Prospect #1: C Travis d'Arnaud Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources Who: A supplemental first-round selection in the 2007 draft, d’Arnaud has slowly moved up the prospect food chain and now finds himself wearing the label of alpha catcher in the minors. The 23-year-old brings a balanced skill set to the table, with what some scouts have suggested is a well above-average bat for the position, and improving defensive chops that grade out in the solid-average range. d’Arnaud crushed last season in Double-A, hitting for average and power, and propelling himself into the major league discussion for 2012, despite the fact that the Blue Jays already have a promising young catcher penciled into the lineup. Some scouts believe d’Arnaud has multiple All-Star Games in his future, and could emerge as one of the best all-around players at his position in the majors. Lofty praise.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: With lofty praise comes lofty expectations, and in the case of d’Arnaud, I’m afraid a really good player is being miscast as a really great player. I think d’Arnaud is going to hit in the high-minors, probably not to the level of 2011, but he’s going to hit. He has a good swing that is short to the ball, and he generates good bat speed. He shows legit pop and can lift a ball over the fence, although he’s a better contact oriented gap-to-gap hitter than a sellout-for-power type. At the highest level, I don’t see d’Arnaud as a .300 hitter with 25+ home run potential; rather, I see an above-average stick for the position, but more of a .270 hitter with 25+ doubles and 10+ home runs. I think the swing and the setup can be exploited by pitchers who have location ability and sequence, and since I’ve only seen d’Arnaud crush fringy stuff, I can’t speak to how he will handle top-shelf velocity. It’s a small nitpick, but it’s the difference between a solid major league regular and a perennial all-star. What could go wrong is built into the expectations placed on the player, with the high-end ceilings making letdown and failure almost inescapable. If you think d’Arnaud is a balanced, all-around high-five/low-six type of catcher, he’s probably going to make you happy by playing good defense, hitting for a respectable average, and showing good pop for the position. If you are expecting a Gold Glove-quality defensive player with batting champ credentials and 25+ home run pop, you might be in for disappointment. If d’Arnaud had that suggested potential, he would be considered a top tier prospect in the entire minors, someone who could stand next to the Trouts of the world as a future 7 player. The scouts who put him in that class are either onto something and ahead of the curve, or they are on something and should share with the rest of the class.