Ten names that came close but couldn't land that cigar.
What lies below are ten prospects who were in the batch of names that came closest to our Top 101 but ultimately landed on the cutting room floor. To be very clear: The prospects below are not the next ten names in order on our list. They are ten of the next group of names, so please do not take it to mean a name not mentioned wasn't considered. The universe of relevant prospects is unfortunately larger than we can devote time and space to. That said, please enjoy! —Craig Goldstein
Josh Lowe, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Lowe is massive. Sometimes you hear about a body before you first see it and it doesn't really live up to the hype. Stand next to Lowe and he lives up to the hype. He has the ideal slugger's frame with room to become even more ideal (if that were possible). With the frame and present strength come some of the best raw power in his draft class and now in the Tampa Bay system. When he catches the barrel, it arcs to the moon. At the same time, Lowe faces the typical hit tool questions often paired with impressive power. There's some length to the swing and he sometimes relies on his bat speed to get by. There are also initial questions about his defensive future as he works to stay at third base. The arm is obviously more than enough for any position, so a move to right field is possible. Regardless, he'll need to prove he can handle pro pitching, because the power will play anywhere. Right now, it's a boom-or-bust profile, and the chances are good that he'll hang at the plate. Factors such as athleticism, bat speed and flashes of barrel awareness are on his side. The outcome could be a very solid corner slugger. —David Lee
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Cease has been a hot topic within prospect circles over the last year-plus, and his performance with short-season Eugene in 2016 did little to dissuade folks from discussing him further. Any time you play for one of the game’s most popular franchises while also owning an electric fastball that can reach 100 mph, you are going to garner attention. Cease lacks consistency beyond the fastball, though his curveball made strides in 2016 and could give him a second plus pitch to torture hitters with. Both the command and changeup lag considerably behind which is the primary reason he missed the back of the Top 101 despite his obvious gifts. As an undersized right-hander with a history of injuries, many in the scouting community are already projecting him for a relief role, which is never a good sign this early in a career, even if that relief projection lands him as a top shelf closer. Cease is going to continue to be a high-profile prospect and one that tantalizes with a potential impact fastball-curveball combo, and as he quiets the concerns around his secondary traits and projection, he may no longer appear in “Just Missed” articles, but rather in the entrée piece as a member of the Top 101. —Mark Anderson
Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
I know what you all are thinking: a 24-year-old, pop-up arm who spent the majority of the year in High-A being a potential 101 guy? If we ignore some context and focus on the profile, the stuff is worthy of top 101 consideration. Castillo packs a pure 80 fastball that holds velocity through games, a potential plus slider, a changeup that has flashed average to better, and the results to go with it. But we do not ignore context and because of the factors mentioned above, Castillo is in the just missed portion. While the slider should get to plus with more consistency, the changeup hasn’t been there on a consistent basis, which could push him towards a relief future. Fortunately for Cincinnati, this is an arm with a chance to have a major impact on their roster, either sooner in a bullpen, or perhaps in 2018 in a starting rotation. —Steve Givarz
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“True is it, that upon the verge I found me
Of the abysmal valley dolorous,
That gathers thunder of infinite ululations.
Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,
So that by fixing on its depths my sight
Nothing whatever I discerned therein.”
- The Divine Comedy: Inferno: Dante Alighieri (trans. H.W. Longfellow)
Getting flushed from Flushing might seem like no easy matter, not when price was an object, not when the rules require the employment of some sort of ninth player somewhere on the field, and not when convention demands that it involve some warm body standing between the shortstop and the first baseman. But none of that could spare Luis Castillo the axe. With the daintiness of Anne Boleyn on the block, the Mets' second baseman was prepped, placed, and whacked, with almost inevitable celebrations.
Continuing to look at plate discipline with a discussion of contact rate and swing frequency.
Last Friday, I discussed plate discipline at length, noting that the commonly cited facet of performance extends beyond its synonym of patience and into the realm of making fewer responsive mistakes in a given trip to the dish. I introduced signal detection theory as a means of more accurately measuring which hitters produce the correct responses most often, since having good plate discipline must also cover the optimization of in zone pitches and not merely how often a hitter chases.
A preview of the Dominican Winter League, taking a look at the teams, stadiums, managers, and players to watch for.
The "National Religion" came back on October 16th, as the Dominican League launched its 56th edition. Reliably praised as having the highest level of talent among the winter leagues, one should expect to watch another mix of highly ranked prospects, mid-level major leaguers, a few recognizable American players, veterans looking for another shot, and some major league stars between now and the end of the Caribbean Series in February. The league format has six teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule, with the four best records advancing to a long 18-game round-robin playoff, and the two remaining best clubs play a best-of-nine final series to decide the league's champion. Without further ado, here's what this season will bring us:
Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers)
Home: Santo Domingo
2008-09 record: 26-24, fourth place (tied) regular season; 12-6, first place round-robin; beat the Gigantes in the final series 5-0.
Ballpark: Estadio Quisqueya; strong pitcher's park, with a Park Factor of 92.
Revisiting baserunning metrics to see how much credit, if any, should go to runners when a pitcher makes a mistake.
"We don't have a 40 home run guy anymore... We have to reduce mistakes, take advantage of every opportunity we get... We need to improve on moving runners over from second to third and our base running. There can be an eight- to 10-game swing in a season just from base running."
--Syd Thrift, in 2001, when he served as the Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations