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.
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Rangers third-base prospect Joey Gallo showed off his power with three homers to earn the top spot in today's update.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Edwin Escobar, LHP, Giants (High-A San Jose): 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. Escobar is a lefty who relies on his FB/CH combination. The curveball is developing, but Escobar will depend on the changeup as his primary secondary offering; 55.2 IP, 51 H, 20 ER, 14 BB, 73 K in 12 outings this season.
It's a rare player indeed who could make the jump Jose Fernandez made. Jason asks front office executives which ones could handle it next year.
While it might seem silly to speculate about possible 2014 assignments, the unexpected promotion of 20-year-old Jose Fernandez to the major leagues took my mind down a curious path. It’s not every day that a prospect ascends to the highest level without first making a stop in the upper minors, especially when the prospect is only two years removed from high school. It has to start with the opportunity, as unexpected injuries and limited options put the Marlins in a personnel quandary, a situation so distressed that a pitcher with only 11 starts at the High-A level was a reasonable choice to secure a spot in the rotation. What I find more interesting is not the decision itself, but the individual characteristics of the pitcher who made such a decision plausible in the first place.
The jump from the High-A level to the Double-A level is considered the second-largest talent jump in the minors, second only to the jump from Triple-A to the majors, and Fernandez is being asked to make both jumps at the same time. This is a monumental challenge that few prospects in the game could manage, both on a physical level (talent) and an emotional level (makeup). Fernandez has both, with room to spare, which isn’t to suggest his refinement level is up to major-league standards or that the decision to promote him so aggressively should be shielded from criticism; rather, Fernandez possesses the necessary characteristics to make such a leap justifiable, at least from a scouting perspective, and that puts him in elite company in that regard.
Closing out the spring with scouting reports from the minor-league camps.
What started on February 22nd just ended on April 1st, as I enjoyed the comforts of my own bed for the first time in five weeks and I ordered a pizza that didn’t come with the assembly-line accoutrements of crushed peppers in a package or a clever banana pepper with insignificant aromatic function. With workouts, day games on multiple fields, and the occasional night game, finding the time while camp is in session to properly document the day’s events is a futile challenge. With the luxury of time and energy back on my side, it's time to deliver the remaining backfield notes, limited in narrative but meaty with in-person scouting meat. Jason Cole and I not only put eyes on some of the top prospects in Arizona, we were also fortunate to have front row seats to several breakout performances from under-the-radar prospects, players on the fringe of ubiquitous prospect glory who no doubt will be household names when camp starts next year. Here we go:
We got a look at the Rangers' prospect-heavy intrasquad game in Surprise.
After minor-league camp’s first pitcher/catcher salvo and before the legitimate backfield games commence in mid-March, teams often schedule prospect-heavy intrasquad games to put eyes on the talent and get the players back in the groove of live action. On the morning of March 10th, the Rangers occupied fields 5 and 6 on the backfields in Surprise; two lower-level minor-league squads on one field, and two upper-minors squads on the other. For a prospect lover, this was like a team-specific Futures Game, only stripped of all the fanfare and pageantry. This is a barebones scouting experience and the notes will reflect that. Jason Cole saddled up to field 5 while I took a seat behind the plate at field 6, where my radar gun almost melted onto my flesh and my phone got so hot that it decided to commit suicide when I asked it to function. Also, Jorge Alfaro hit a home rune and I giggled like a child.