Notes on Jameson Taillon's first start in two years, Josh Naylor, and more.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis)
Taillon pitched on Wednesday for the first time since late 2013 after two surgeries (Tommy John, hernia), and it couldn’t have gone much better. Over six innings Taillon allowed six hits, with six strikeouts, and no walks. His fastball wasn’t showing the same velocity that it did pre-surgery, but he worked at 90-94 mph, topping out at 95. The tailing action on his fastball complemented the lower velocity well, but it remains to be seen if he can get back into the range he had previously operated in.
As of right now his best pitch is his curveball, which breaks hard and late resulting in multiple swings-and-misses for the Mud Hens. Taillon showed his changeup more than a few times, mostly using it to keep hitters honest. Overall his control in the game resulted in no walks, which was a good sign in his first game back. The action on his pitches helped him get away with missing a few spots that still resulted in whiffs, something he will have to work on before he gets to Pittsburgh. His arm action was repeatable, with quality arm speed.
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Matt Chapman, Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Victor Reyes and more surprised us (in a good way) in 2015
A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
My first few looks at A.J. Reed gave me a modest impression. He showed raw power for days in BP and worked counts in games, but the bat speed wasn't anything special, there was some length in the swing, and he showed indecision at the dish. But his is an approach that takes some time to understand and appreciate, as is the surprising bat-to-ball skill for a man of his size and power. There's some swing-and-miss in his game, but after you watch him enough you realize his strikeouts are more often a by-product of working deep into counts than flailing away. He thinks along with pitchers, frequently gets himself into advantageous hitting situations, and works the whole field with authority when he does. At the same time, he's not passive and will jump a first-pitch fastball with the best of 'em. It's not often you see a guy with 70 raw power figure out how to bring the vast majority of it with him into games at such a young age. Perhaps most tellingly, he improved his ability to shoot pitches on the outer third to the opposite field and up the middle during his time in Lancaster. That qualifies as remarkable progress for any player's hit tool given the environment's extreme prejudice towards lifting the ball to right field. The numbers were nice this year, but more importantly the developmental progress was real. —Wilson Karaman
The industry, and prospect team members, weigh in on who they'd start a franchise with in center field.
A friendly reminder on how this works. I asked three scouts and two front-office members the following question: If you could start your franchise with one player at each position, who do you take? I then asked those scouts/front-office members to submit an MVP-style ballot at each position, with the first-place vote counting for five points, second place for four, etc.
Next up: center field. Everyone reading this knows how important center field is, so I won’t waste your time by telling you that many of the game’s best players play here. I guess I just did, though. The position isn’t as loaded as it once was, but there are plenty of talented options, and as you’ll see from the answers, those players draw a wide variety of opinions.
Today's update features Mariners righty Taijuan Walker, who showed off his outstanding stuff in a 12-strikeout outing for Double-A Jackson, and notes on 15 other prospects.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners (Double-A Jackson): 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K. The 20-year-old Walker has front-of-the-rotation stuff. He features a plus-plus fastball, a potential plus-plus cutter, a potential plus curveball, and a fringy changeup. Walker may have to develop a splitter at the major-league level, but he has ace-level potential; 25.0 IP, 18 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 33 K in four June starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Lewis Brinson, CF, Rangers (Low-A Hickory): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, 2 K. Something very in-depth should be coming on Brinson very soon. I know the strikeout rate is crazy high, but I believe in him.
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!
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.