Freshly promoted Rockie Nolan Arenado comes off the list, which welcomes Jhoulys Chacin and Cameron Maybin, among other newcomers.
One of the greatest things about baseball is that it provides a venue in which to be surprised by something new every day. And with that comes responsibility. Today, we live in a baseball age where there is so much information available—whether it’s statistical or visual. And, sure, we’ve gotten smarter about the game as we’ve had more available to us, but it’s on all of us to not let our pre-conceived notions dictate what we see on the field and in the box score.
On Friday night, fellow BP Fantasy writer Mike Gianella and I attended a game between the Double-A affiliates of the Red Sox and Yankees in Trenton. I made the 75-minute trek down mostly to see two things: Xander Bogaerts hit and Matt Barnes pitch. We had a great time at the game, but as baseball is wont to do, the game showed us something we were not expecting to see. Even an act as simple as watching a minor-league game can end up staring down your expectations like Zack Greinke after hitting Carlos Quentin with a pitch. All you can do as an analyst or a fan is to take a step back and not just blindly charge the mound dripping with pre-conceived notions.
Cody Buckel, RHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
Buckel’s start has included 16 walks in just six innings over three appearances. It’s early, but the extreme control issues are a troubling sign for a pitcher who issued only 48 free passes in 144 2/3 innings between the High- and Double-A levels last season. Buckel’s overall stuff has been fine; he touched 96 mph during a recent start in Frisco. But a number of scouts have been quick to point out the 20-year-old’s defeated body language on the mound. His mechanics have also been highly inconsistent, with one scout saying, “He’s making a lot of little adjustments on the mound, but every adjustment needs another adjustment.” If the control issues persist, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers eventually let Buckel work things out in the bullpen or move him to a more controlled environment in extended spring training. —Jason Cole
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)
The top pitching prospect in the organization got off to a rocky start in Double-A, lasting just 1 inning and 2 1/3 innings in his first two outings. But the right-hander rebounded nicely with six efficient innings, allowing five hits while striking out seven. Barnes’ heater operated 91-95 mph, with plenty of late life and movement when thrown down in the zone. The 22-year-old showed how he can use his fastball, reaching for extra velocity when needed, pounding both sides of the plate throughout the outing, and creating the steep, downhill angle that pushes it toward a plus-plus pitch. Barnes was a strike-throwing machine with the offering, which allowed him to churn through the lineup with relative ease. What stood out more, though, was his trust in an improved changeup. The pitch has become a viable offering and graded as average to solid-average. The 83-85 mph change showed arm-side fade, and occasional cut when the righty threw it to the glove side. What kept batters at bay was seamless arm-speed between his fastball, creating deception that had hitters in front when Barnes mixed it in sequences. This pitch should go a long way to proving he’s on his way to fulfilling a projection as a solid third starter. —Chris Mellen
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!
Just when Matt thinks he's out, a new prospect pulls him back in.
We all love prospects. Not in a sexy way, though Jose Iglesias does have a certain magnetism about him. No, it’s their promise we love, the possibility that each player in the top 11 could become great, thereby helping propel my favorite team (not yours) to the World Series. Prospects are lottery tickets in the common parlance of the term, a role of the dice as to whether they’ll ever figure out the game enough that they can contribute at the major league level. But they’re also lottery tickets in promise. Each represents what could be, what we hope will be, and while most don’t reach the upper reaches of their ceiling, the height, the potential of that ceiling makes them baseball’s ultimate exercise in optimism.
Interesting backstories dominate after this weekend's games, with surprise performances, defensive shifts, reclaimed prospect status, disappointing contracts, and accelerated big-league arrivals all on display.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Throughout the entire month of April, it was pretty clear that Barnes didn't belong in Low-A, as the 2011 first-round pick allowed just one run over 26 2/3 innings while striking out 42. On Saturday, Barnes showed that he might not belong in High-A either, as he whiffed 12 over six four-hit innings in his Carolina League debut. Just as important as the numbers, Barnes has started to break out the secondary stuff, as after relying primarily on a fastball that can touch 97 in Greenville, he was generating swings and misses with a curveball that has been an inconsistent pitch in the past. His ceiling hasn't changed yet, but his timetable is quickly accelerating.
Mitchell is not the best prospect on the Yankees Triple-A staff, but don't be surprised if he's the first to the majors. Scouts think he could be effective as either a back-end starter or middle reliever, as while he's on the small side, he's ultra-athletic and features a fastball that has slightly above-average velocity and plenty of movement. He's not going to be a star, but he should have big league value, even on a championship-level roster.
Today's Ten Pack features more than a few notable A-ball performances in systems that could use some good news.
Tyler Austin, 1B/OF, Yankees (Low-A Charleston)
A 13th-round pick in 2010 who signed for an above-slot figure of $130,000, Austin showed impressive offensive ability in the New York-Penn League last year; on a Sally League squad loaded with much more well-known prospects, it's Austin who has stood out, going 8-for-13 with three doubles, a triple and his third home run of the year. His season line is at .438/.471/1.031 after eight contests. He has nowhere near the tools of some of his Riverdog prospect brethren, but the bat stands out, and is very much for real.