Time for instructional leagues, and time for a number of players to take a step or two forward.
Luiz Gohara, LHP, Mariners (2012 Contract)
An international prize, Brazilian Luiz Gohara signed with the Mariners this summer for $800,000, already armed with a promising arsenal; his fastball can hit 94 with plus life, his slider is average to plus, and his delivery and arm action are very clean and easy. Oh, and he does all that from the left side. The body is already physically mature (listed at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds), but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gohara tap into more velocity as he ages and receives professional instruction. International scouts worried about him not being challenged as an amateur, and pitchability could take some time to develop, but the tools are outstanding. Instructs will offer many scouts their first look at him, and his stuff could allow him to explode onto the prospect scene.—Hudson Belinsky
C.J. Edwards (RHP) Rangers
Most 48th round draft picks don’t develop into players, much less prospects, but C.J. Edwards has a chance to change that tradition. I first stumbled upon the long and limby Edwards during the Fall Instructional League in 2011. I was charting pitches behind the pitchers tasked with charting pitches, and I thought the South Carolina native was one of the many talented Dominican pitchers in the Rangers system. My cultural and linguistic ignorance aside, I didn’t get a chance to see Edwards on the mound until the spring of 2012, where I once again assumed he was Dominican. The 6-foot-2 155 pound righty was easily one of the more interesting arms in camp, with a whippy low-90s fastball that could touch higher and a charming curve that could miss more advanced bats. Edwards carried over his exhibition success to the short-season circuit, where in two stops the 20-year-old arm (now 21) allowed only 32 hits in 67 innings of work, sending an impressive 85 down on strikes. Now in his second instructional league camp, Edwards is already flashing a high quality changeup, a fading low-80s pitch with a little sink that plays very well off his fastball. One would think that escaping the complex league level would represent the height of a 48th round pick’s professional reach, but apparently C.J. Edwards isn’t aware of such limitations, and looks to take another step forward in 2013.—Jason Parks
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Though we've reached the playoffs for the minor leagues, there are still performances worth thinking about.
Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)
Brentz is always an interesting player to scout, with one word summing up a set of multiple looks: “streaky.” The bat speed and the power he creates to all fields are key strengths, but the overly-aggressive approach and fringe-average pitch recognition are tough to dismiss. Brentz got off to a 2-for-17 start in Triple-A after a late-season promotion, only to quickly catch fire in the first five games of the International League playoffs, and then cool down with an 0-for-7 with 5 strikeouts in the last two. The highs and lows typically come back to whether he is staying back on the ball. Projecting the 23-year-old outfielder is tricky. There’s major league talent with the bat, but there are also flaws that can prove to be critical against the unforgiving pitching. I see the power to hit 20-25 home runs, but I also presently see a lot of swing-and-miss that makes it tough to maintain a respectable batting average. Brentz’s ability to hold down a long-term starting job will come down to how much further he can adjust and learn to hit secondary offerings. —Chris Mellen
Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Double-A Springfield)
What can be said about Oscar Taveras that hasn’t already been said about most bacon products? The Dominican offensive wizard arrived at Double-A as a teenager—fresh off a Low-A breakthrough in 2011—facing an enormous developmental jump in 2012. With the hand speed of boxer and the strength to command those weapons, Taveras and his axe-murderer approach to hitting exploded in the Texas League, hitting a robust .321/.380/.572 during the regular season, including 67 extra base hits. Since the start of post-season play, the violence has been tamed, as the long season in the sun has sapped some of the maniac from the monster; Taveras is struggling to make contact, and the contact he is making is soft and innocent. Fear not. Taveras has blossomed into the best pure hitter in the minors, with only roster depth stalling his eventual rise to major league glory. Catch him while you can, minor league fans; his existence in your domain is short-lived. —Jason Parks
The Phillies just called up Darin Ruf. Who is he, and what kind of future does he have?
The situation: The Phillies are clearly out of the running this season and are beginning to look at in-house options that could be a part of their 2013 plans. Darin Ruf is not viewed as a top prospect by any stretch, but since Philadelphia has nothing to lose by giving him playing time, there’s a chance that Ruf generates some short-term buzz and excitement in an otherwise disappointing season.
We kick off a retooled Monday Morning Ten Pack, complete with new contributors.
The Ten Packs lives! The Ten Packs lives! The light of the season will soon dim, and this weekly romance will retreat into quiet slumber until the dawn of a new season tickles our eager horizons. But until we disappear into that evening cave, please allow us to present some prospect froth for your Monday morning routine.
Or something like that. Just a quick introduction to let you know the Ten Pack will continue on Baseball Prospectus, although the construction will be slightly different. With a host of talented minor league minds currently attached to the site—and several more on their way—finding intelligent opinion will be a luxury we will have in abundance. To take advantage of this talent pool, the Ten Pack will morph into a communal affair, where the eyewitness accounts and first-hand experiences of our minor league staff will enhance the product and hopefully take the Ten Pack to the next level.
With the AL RoY award a foregone conclusion this year, Kevin sets his sights on who might get some hardware from 2013's rookie class.
The 2012 American League Rookie of the Year race is over. Let's say Mike Trout doesn't get another hit for the rest of the year, going 0-for-125. He'd still finish the year with a .261 batting average, 24 home runs and 40-plus stolen bases. Now, anyone predicting Mike Trout for Rookie of the Year honors would not have exactly been going out on a limb, but how many people took Todd Frazier for National League honors before the season started? A look at winners of the award throughout history show a combination of obvious choices and plenty of surprises. So who does the crystal ball say are next year's nominees? Winning the RoY is a tough combination of talent and potential opportunity for playing time, so here are the big names, as well as some possible surprises in each league.
Jason takes his crazy to Staten Island to catch a few NY prospects in action.
“Baseball is my stereo, and applause that comes thundering with such force you might think the audience merely suffers the music as an excuse for its ovations.” –Alfred Jarry
More often than not, when I make a pilgrimage to watch talent in person, I bring along a familiar character to help ease the pain and discomfort commonly associated with travel and social interaction. That character is my crazy, and I turn to him when I need to turn a trip to Delaware from banal to bombast, or a five-week sojourn to Surprise, Arizona into a tolerable experience worth documenting. The more I travel, the more airtime my travel companion receives, which is cool if you like my travel companion, but uncool if you share the same genetic code and find yourself wearing the mask of the travel companion more than your own face. This is my Ubu paradox, the marriage between my character and my construct, and the once separate lines continue to merge into one faceless blur.
The Braves and Rays see a young pitcher each raise their stock, and the Mariners have one who's puzzling us all.
Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)
Brentz began the year as the No. 6 prospect in the system after hitting .306/.365/.574 with 30 home runs during a season that could easily be described as "streaky." The streaks are back, as clearly shown in Brentz' OPS by month: 584, 1072, 873, 576, 1173. Much of the 1173 OPS has been created recently, as with a 7-for-11 weekend, the 23 year-old is now 15-for-28 in his last six games to push his season numbers to .300/.360/.488 in 119 contests. A supplemental first-round pick in 2010, Brentz is not super big or toolsy, but he has hitting ability, enough strength for 55-60 power scores and enough of an arm to profile in right. If they can figure out what causes the crazy hot streaks, or the disturbing cold ones, Brentz could turn into a good everyday corner outfielder down the road.
Loads of pitchers from the weekend continued to reestablish themselves as players to watch.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno)
Bauer's four-game big league stretch in the middle of the season did not exactly go as planned. The third overall pick from 2011 allowed 28 base runners over 16 1/3 innings while averaging nearly 20 pitches per frame. The most frustrating part of Bauer's time—as well as much of the first half of the season—was his lack of aggression. Bauer has the stuff to get hitters out in the zone but, more often than not, he's trying to make the perfect pitch on the corner or trying to get hitters to chase. He seems to have gotten the message of late, as not only did he strike out a career high 12 batters on Friday during a complete game five-hitter, but he did it using just 102 pitches. If the lesson has been learned, there's nothing to be concerned about with those first four big league starts.
Why has Pittsburgh's Travis Snider struggled, and can he do anything to regain his former top status?
The Backstory Travis Snider was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft, considered by many pundits and prognosticators as the best pure bat available in that class. After taking $1.7M to turn pro, Snider didn’t waste any time proving the theory that his bat was indeed special, ripping up the rookie Appalachian league with patience, power, and the ability to hit for average. He was clearly a special talent at the plate, with explosive hands that put command over the bat and allowed for plus bat speed. His physical presence was both a turn-on and a turn-off, as his linebacker physique brought near-elite strength to the table and, with his leveraged swing, allowed for plus-plus power projection to enter the player profile. The knock on the body was a lack of premium athleticism, which some believed would hinder him down the line with adjustments, both in the field and at the plate. Snider is built like former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, standing under 6 feet tall and weighing around 240 lbs. I’m not sure why I picked Zach Thomas. I always liked him. Snider’s built like the last guy in the world you would want to wrestle, either for giggles or in a more serious context.
Snider jumped to the full-season Midwest league in 2007, and crushed the ball in an environment where most 19-year-olds aren’t capable of crushing the ball. He was applauded for using an all-fields approach, shortening up the swing to spray to the opposite field, or uncorking a leveraged attack, using his massive pull power to send balls over the right field fence. Scouts loved his swing, suggesting he could hit for both average and power at the highest level, and his overall approach didn’t have many red flags; he did show some swing-and-miss qualities, but given his age and his level, alarms weren’t sounding.
Our first look inside the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement
On November 22 of last year, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA did something that the NFL and the NBA could not: reached a new labor agreement without a work stoppage. For those that follow baseball’s labor history, it has become a miraculous run. By the time the current five-year Basic Agreement (read here) expires on December 1, 2016, it will have been 21 years of uninterrupted labor peace.
Jason revisits some chat answers from a year ago to see how right or how wrong he really was.
In the modern age of prognostication, it’s not uncommon to see writers champion their hits and conveniently fail to recall their misses, taking full advantage of the social media at their disposal and exploiting them for their snapshot platforms and schizophrenic memories. I’m included in this cadre, although my placement within the hierarchy is considerably lower than my contemporaries, mainly because I’ve only been on the national scene for a few years, which pales in comparison to others’ tenure in the field, and because of my information-to-entertainment ratio, which admittedly stretches some of the credibility I’ve built up with my productive opinions. My point here centers around credibility, or, better stated, accountability, which is both easy to deflect when opinions go south and easy to bolster when opinions become fact.
To borrow a page from Kevin Goldstein, who has never been shy about putting a spotlight on his opinions from the past, I want to revisit a chat from last spring and put some of my own opinions on trial for their substance. I’ll give myself a pat on the back when applicable and when my self-esteem requires it, but the main point is to see what information you received last year, how that information held up over the last 12 months, and, if the thoughts and opinions turned sour, what was missed then and what has changed now. When it comes to prospect prognostication, we are going to miss more than we hit, and public acknowledgment of that fact won’t change the realities of the field. Prospects are always changing, so answers about prospects are always changing, but there is a difference between the fluidity of the evaluation process and constructing answers on a website with a lackadaisical approach because of question volume. I answered 200 questions in the chat from last April, and was asked close to 500. It’s not hard to conclude that some of my answers were influenced by volume, and those answers need to be called out for falling victim to that approach. I’ll let you be the judge of that.