Checking in on Oscar Taveras, Miguel Sano, Gabriel Guerrero, and others.
Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis)
The Cardinals’ top pick in the 2012 draft, Wacha received an aggressive assignment to Triple-A Memphis despite logging just 21 pro innings last summer. He is proving plenty apt for the challenge, posting a 1.99 ERA while yielding just 27 hits in 40 2/3 innings. Regarded as a polished arm as an amateur at Texas A&M, Wacha has made some quick strides as a pro. The progression hasn’t really changed his projection as a no. 3 starter, but he’s perhaps closer to realizing that potential than initially thought.
The 21-year-old righty has shown lots of polish early this season, pounding the strike zone with a three-pitch mix that includes a 90-95 mph fastball. He generates a steep downhill plane from his 6-foot-6 frame. His secondary pitches play well off the fastball––particularly his deceptive low-80s changeup, which is already a plus offering. Wacha’s curveball has been a key development since college; it’s presently average to solid-average and should become a third plus in the near future.
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It was an interesting night in the Dominican Winter League. This kid named Miguel Sano went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He must be terrible, right? Wait a minute. I'll search the internet and find some info on him. Oh, never mind. He hit 28 homers in Lo-A ball as a 19 year-old and those prospect geeks here at Baseball Prospectus are supposedly ranking him in the Top 25 of their upcoming Top 101 Prospects List. Must’ve been an off night. I also noticed that this guy named Manny had four hits in his game. Figured he must be in this top 101, too. He wasn’t. It turns out he's an older guy that debuted in the majors way before the invention of prospect ranking.
There was all kinds of awesomeness going on in the Dominican Winter League this weekend. And the best part wasn't even 37 year-old Julio Lugo's five-hit game for Escogido. It seems that Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran aren't going to wait until Spring Training to start competing for the #5 starter spot in the Braves' rotation. The 22 year-old Delgado had a solid start for Licey on Saturday, allowing 2 ER in 5 innings with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Teheran was better, though, tossing one-hit ball over six scoreless innings with no walks and eight strikeouts on Sunday. Over his last three starts, the 21 year-old has pitched 16.2 scoreless innings with only two hits allowed, 4 walks, and 15 strikeouts. When he does things like that, we're reminded that he was, and probably still is, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
The BP prospect team has its say about the leading candidates for the top spot in the Minnesota system.
As Jason Parks noted in his prospect rankings primer, this year’s rankings are the product of a collaborative process. Before each system’s prospect list is finalized, members of the BP prospect team trade emails about the players involved, enriching the rankings with their own opinions and perspectives. We’ll be publishing excerpts from the best of those discussions throughout the offseason, generally the day after the prospect lists in question appear. Some exchanges have been edited for language or trimmed to stay on topic.
Notes on prospects in the Arizona Fall League, Dominican Winter League, and Venezuelan Winter League.
It was great to see some baseball news back on my Twitter feed, even though the only significant roster-altering move on Wednesday (Padres catcher Yasmani Grandalsuspended 50 games after testing positive for elevated testosterone) hurts the team that I've been cheering for since I was a kid. Rumors are always fun, though, and there were some interesting names, including Justin Upton), mentioned as potential trade candidates and a few teams (Mariners, Orioles) being named as possible favorites in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes. Speaking of which, make sure you're getting caught up on all things Hot Stove with Daniel Rathman's Rumor Rounduphere at Baseball Prospectus. Now for notes around the AFL, DWL, and VWL.
The major league power outage could have its cause in the minor leagues, writes Kevin Goldstein.
Home runs are down nearly twenty percent from their 2004 peak, and scouts have made it clear that, based on what they are seeing in the minors, the downward trend is going to continue. With Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the big leagues and Seattle's Jesus Montero beginning the year there, all of a sudden there are precious few power hitters in the minors. While there are plenty of theories as to the cause, there's no obvious answer as to why.
Reviewing a new documentary about the often agonizing July 2nd signing process for international amateur prospects.
During last year’s Wisconsin Film Festival, I watched a documentary entitled Open Season, about the events surrounding the tragic shootings of eight deer hunters in northern Wisconsin by a trespassing Minnesotan. The film was reasonably well-made and even-handed, given that the shooter happened to be a Hmong refugee and the victims were white Midwesterners, facts that could have easily enabled a broad black-and-white narrative of culture clash and racism rather than the grey-scale collision of individuals in a moment of escalating conflict. Watching the film didn’t teach me anything new about the shootings and subsequent trial, as both occurred near my hometown, two of the victims were related to me, and it was unlikely the filmmakers could learn and express as much about the events and the environment surrounding them as I already knew, having to some extent lived them.
Kevin caught two young power threats in a recent Midwest League matchup.
It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. My mom used to say that a lot, and I used to think it was a load of crap. I still do in many ways, but it sure does apply to how I watch minor league baseball. I actually had to look up the final score (Beloit 9, Kane County 7) of my first minor league game of the season, because I really don't care who wins. I wasn't there to see a collective group of Snappers or Cougars, I was there to see players, specifically a pair of 18-year-old cleanup hitters: Jorge Bonifacio of Kane County and Miguel Sano of Beloit. Neither disappointed.