A look back at the high school and college days of top prospects like Javier Baez and Robert Stephenson.
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.
We continue by looking at select top prospects from National League Central teams. Be sure to read Baseball Prospectus' features on each of these five teams:
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Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras leads the way as the first 28 prospects come off the board.
Sometimes there’s just a more fun way to do things. I am currently in the final stages of drafting my Top 100 Fantasy Prospects list (which will hit BP in mid-February), but everyone does lists. What everyone doesn’t do is gather together a whole bunch of experts across the industry, from both a fantasy and scouting perspective, to gather in one e-mail chain and draft 140 of their favorites. Last month, I sent out the bat signal to people who really know and love prospects—and from that alarm, a group of 14 have assembled to carry out this exercise with much aplomb. We hope you have half as much fun reading about this draft as we had carrying it out.
But first, we must examine the parameters. There are always parameters. These were the instructions for the participants of this draft, straight from the email I sent out prior to kickoff:
The stats don't capture the promise of Pittsburgh's top pitching prospect.
Jameson Taillon was the no. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of a Texas high school. Since that summer, the 22-year-old has taken a deliberate route through the minor leagues, spending some time at each level before reaching for the next rung on the ladder. The right-hander now stands on the doorstep of the majors, having finished the 2013 season with a month-long stretch at Triple-A Indianapolis, and he could very well join the Pittsburgh rotation by the summer of 2014 if he avoids derailment from his development track.
Paul breaks down six pitchers who have succeeded in the upper minors and might provide fantasy value down the stretch.
For the third straight week now the Sporer Report has an eye on September. This time around, I’ve got six potential National League September call-ups, all pitchers, who could bring solid value down the stretch. This is some deep speculation, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to take the plunge. The recent news in Queens takes some punch out of a couple of these, but you’ll have to trust that they made my list last week when I compiled both the AL and NL lists.
Those of you in 10- and 12-team mixers likely don’t need to pounce just yet and in fact shouldn’t pounce just yet unless you’ve got remarkably deep rosters. Instead, use this as a cheatsheet of who to keep tabs on as we now sit just four days from September 1. Those of you in deeper leagues might find a few of these guys already rostered, but most should be available, and if you have the roster space, then you should consider getting the jump on your league mates. These are ranked in order of potential impact which accounts for the likelihood that they even get the call.
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!
Sofa-scouting the mechanics of two high-profile pitching prospects.
In the first edition of Bush League, I discussed the viability of sofa-scouting high-level prospects by scouring the archives of MiLB.tv(for a modest subscription price). I also noted the advantages when evaluating pitchers as compared to position players, given the additional off-camera variables that exist for scouting hitting and defense, along with the caveat that pitchers can have volatile mechanics during their development years. The subjects of the original piece included the top two picks from the 2011 draft, Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen, and today we’ll take a look at another Pirate-Mariner combination of high-end pitching prospects.
Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker were both high-school products of the 2010 draft. Taillon was selected at number two overall by the Pirates, behind top pick Bryce Harper, and Walker was chosen 41 picks later by the Mariners during the supplemental round. I reviewed both pitchers back in July with a brief study of their back-to-back one-inning stints in the Futures Game, and the early returns were impressive. The mechanics of minor-league players are fickle and a pitcher might show different looks on any given day, especially when making a rare relief appearance in a nationally-televised showcase, so the offseason presents a great opportunity to take a deeper look into the performances of these two high-profile prospects.
We talk about great pitching prospects being Future No. 1 starters, but what does that really mean?
With both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout getting the call to the big leagues recently, Dylan Bundy is now the official engineer of the Prospect Hype Train, and with good reason. He's faced 52 batters on the young season, and three have reached base, while 25 have struck out. That has prompted the inevitable questions—especially on Twitter—about whether Bundy can become a No. 1 starter. However, becoming a No. 1 starter takes more than just stuff, or more than just command; it takes something that is more than a little bit ineffable.
Now that the hitters have had their time in the sun, it's time for the pitchers to gain the same recognition.
Best Tools: Utility y Projection (Starters) Fastball: Carlos Martinez (Cardinals) TCF: Martinez can dial it up to elite velocity levels, consistently working in the plus-plus range and reaching back for triple digits when necessary. The pitch doesn’t just ride to the plate on the back of velocity; the fastball has late life and explosion, making it even more difficult to square up. With refined command, the offering will stand above the rest, regardless of the role it is deployed in. It’s a monster pitch, an 80-grader in the making.
Curveball: Dellin Betances (Yankees) TCF: There are quite a few high-end curves in the minors, so the talent pool was deep and the decision was difficult. When polled, lefty Matt Moore’s power curve received more votes (it was close), but Betances had more fervent support, with one source calling it “a career-defining pitch.” It’s a long season, and this particular source has been in the sun for too many months without respite, but hyperbole aside, the pitch is legit. Coming from the arm of a man standing close to 6-foot-9, the tumbling knuckle-curve presents depth that hitters struggle to track, as the vertical dive is extreme and sharp. The command isn’t there yet, which limits Betances’ curveball’s overall effectiveness for now, but it’s still a plus pitch when it’s loose, and when Betances owns it, it’s plus-plus offering full of nastiness.