Kevin fields a team of players who might not be polished now, but nevertheless have the potential to be great.
Recently, an editor at ESPN told me he was taking his kid to a minor league game and asked which players he should keep an eye on. As he was seeing the Rangers' Low-A Hickory affiliate, one of the first players that came to mind was outfielder Jordan Akins, and I added a comment amount him possibly having the widest gap between the player he is now and the player he has the potential to be. That led to greater discussions about players to dream on, so what follows here is the All-Dream team currently in the minors. All of these players have the potential to be high-impact players in the big leagues, but every one of them has a long way to go and a lot of work to do to get there.
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Questions about a recent Rangers draft pick sends Jason down the rabbit hole.
It started innocently enough with a series of questions thrown my way on Twitter, questions that I wanted to answer but stumbled when I tried to arrive at an answer. It was the first evening of the amateur draft, and the Texas Rangers had just selected an absolute toolshed, a player that national pundits were quick to point out had one of the highest tool-based ceilings in the entire class. The player’s name was Lewis Brinson, a high school outfielder from Florida; to quote Kevin Goldstein, “monster athlete; sashimi raw.”
As the scouting reports rolled in, fans started to put the Brinson puzzle together, a gifted athlete with well above-average defensive tools at a premium position, plus speed, impressive power potential, a questionable hit tool, and a lot of game/tool immaturity. It was said that Brinson had the type of talent to be taken at the top of the draft, but his lack of refinement almost caused him to slide out of the first round. On the surface, it appeared that the fans offering comments and questions on my timeline were excited enough about the ceiling to be patient with the sashimi. I put my electronic pen down on the electronic page and suggested that a player of Brinson’s physical talent will be well worth the wait, even if he requires several years in the low minors to start showing signs of life. I praised the Rangers for going the high risk/high reward route, taking a raw athlete with tools over a more refined product with a higher floor at the expense of a lower ceiling. I praised myself for praising the pick. I put on a Peter Cetera record, American flag swimming trunks, and I praised myself to sleep.
Projecting prospects is a tricky business, so will our prospect guru backtrack on what he has said about players in the past?
Who: Cheslor Cuthbert (Royals) Background with Player: My own eyes Documented Observations and Prognostications: I remember the first time I saw Cuthbert: He was standing at the hot corner on a hot afternoon in March 2010, his long, flowing hair intertwined with the shadows on the field, smiling as he used the leather attached to his left hand to fan his greatness toward all eyes cast upon him. Okay, I just made that up. But I did enjoy Cuthbert when I first saw him take grounders, even though his hair wasn’t long and flowing, and I didn’t see any shadows on the field, and I’m not sure Cuthbert was smiling.
Heading into the 2011 season, Cuthbert so impressed me that I took to Baseball Prospectus and professed my love for his present and future.
While you will burn your neck and suffer heat stroke watching prospects develop in the Arizona League, there is a small oasis of potential stars that makes the pilgrimage worth it.
It’s hard to sell complex league baseball to the masses: The talent is immature, the names are merely names, the jerseys are often vague and free of personal identification, the environment is isolated and empty, and the theater of the event is off-off-off-off Broadway. But I’m going to give it a try.
What will it take to get you to walk away with a piece of Arizona League baseball in your hand? Financing is available for those who qualify, and if you wilt under the weight of my smile, I might be able to throw in a refrigerator magnet, or a flavored lolly for the little ones. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. I think you would look great with some AZL action in your life. It makes you attractive to the sex of your choosing. Don’t be shy. Here at Baseball Prospectus, we offer the best package. Don’t be fooled. You can’t match our guarantees. Look around, and let me know if you have any questions. My door is as open as my saccharine smile. Let’s make a deal.