Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs outfielder Albert Almora and Diamondbacks righty Ben Eckels.
With no Triple-A games in action and rainouts lightening the schedule around the country, we don’t have as deep of an Update as we usually do. There’s nothing to fear, however. If we made it through January and February, this is a piece of cake.
Hitter of the Night: Albert Almora, OF, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 5-7, 4 R, 2B, 3B, HR.
Yep, that’s a cycle. Almora is coming on strong of late after a horrid start to the season. His aggressiveness at the plate is still a concern, but there are some guys who are talented enough, and do enough other things well, to get away with it. Almora may just be one of those guys.
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Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Cubs third baseman Christian Villanueva and Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia.
Friday, July 11
Christian Villanueva, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-4, R, HR. Villanueva was struggling in his first taste of Triple-A this season, which made it easy to send him down a level to make room for Kris Bryant. Still, Villanueva is a legitimate prospect in his own right who gets overshadowed in the Cubs system. He's getting back on his feet in Tennessee and will get another shot at Triple-A soon.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs third baseman Jeimer Candelario and Pirates righty Nick Kingham.
Hitter of the Night: Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 3-4, R, 2 2B, HR.
After a solid season of holding his own against older competition last year, Candelario struggled mightily this year in the Florida State League and hasn’t returned to form upon a return to Low-A ball. His big Thursday night helps.
Pitcher of the Night: Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K.
Whether it’s as an audition for a rotation spot in Pittsburgh or in order to increase his trade value, Kingham continues to make his case for being major league ready despite just six starts in Triple-A. It’s not the sexiest ceiling, but Kingham should be a major league starter for a long time.
The U.S. Team includes power arms, toolsy outfielders and a dazzling collection of infielders.
Welcome to part two of a two-part series on scouting the players involved in this Sunday's Futures Game showcase of prospect talent. The International roster preview ran on Thursday.
Christian Binford, RHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington)
Scouting Report (most recent) Link
Binford entered 2014 as a prospect on the rise in the Royals system, and his performance so far has earned him the chance to represent Kansas City in Minnesota for the Futures Game. Binford is more polish than projection, as neither the fastball nor slider projects to be a plus or better offering. Meanwhile, the changeup is lagging behind and will need to jump an entire grade before he can realistically profile in a rotation. Regardless, it appears Binford will provide the Royals with more than the expected value of a typical 30th round selection.
Carlos Correa will not play, shifting the spotlight to Julio Urias, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor and the rest of a talented, if somewhat raw, squad.
Welcome to part one of a two-part series on scouting the players involved in this Sunday's Futures Game showcase of prospect talent. The US roster preview will follow on Friday.
Alfonso Alcantara, RHP, Angels (Low-A Burlington)
Alcantara shows a three-pitch mix, with his bread and butter a mid-90s fastball that possesses movement anywhere from 93 to 96 mph. The slider and changeup are both well behind in development, with the slider showing some promise but the changeup looking unplayable too often.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rangers outfielder Nick Williams and Mets righty Gabriel Ynoa.
Hitter of the Night: Nick Williams, OF, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 3B, BB.
It remains to be seen how Williams’ hit tool will play against better pitching with more of a plan to exploit his aggressiveness, but few can match his pure hitting combination of bat speed and feel for the barrel.
Pitcher of the Night: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K.
Ynoa isn’t overpowering, but when his command is on, he can be extremely effective. He has plus control, but he’s still refining his ability to throw good strikes and working on an effective breaking ball. At 21, however, and already in Double-A, he has plenty of time to work those things out.
The Red Sox replace A.J. Pierzynski with a talented defense-first catcher.
The Situation:A.J. Pierzynski and the Red Sox seemed like a nice fit over the winter, but neither his season nor Boston's season went as planned. Pierzynski’s free-swinging ways clashed with the selective lineup Ben Cherington assembled, and his glove was a weakness. As a result, the team grew increasing frustrated with the veteran backstop, leading to whispers that the Sox were contemplating jettisoning him as early as April. With Boston's catching prospects having fine seasons in the minors, the Sox finally pulled the plug on Pierzynski on Wednesday, calling up 23-year-old catcher Christian Vazquez. Vazquez’s breakout year at Pawtucket has tempted Boston to make this move for some time, and the hope is that he can inject a new energy with his impact defensive skills.
Background: The Red Sox took Vazquez in the ninth round of the 2008 draft out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and signed him for an $80,000 bonus. Even with a top-10-round grade, Vazquez was seen as a project on both sides of the ball, and his short, stout frame gave rise to concerns about his body, though those liabilities can sometimes turn into assets behind the plate in terms of durability. At the plate, Vazquez’s small frame isn't conducive to power. His bat speed isn’t a strength either, and swing-and-miss has been a big issue. Vazquez has always been able to throw, but the rest of his defensive game lagged behind. Concerns about his glove were such that in the low minors he saw time at third base, with a smattering of appearances at first and second. Over the last couple years, however, he's addressed many of these doubts.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Yankees slugger Peter O'Brien and Giants righty Kyle Crick.
Hitter of the Night: Peter O’Brien, C, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-3, 4 R, 2 HR, BB. O’Brien has split time behind the plate, at first base, and in right field since being promoted to Trenton. He has struggled to make the contact he was making in Tampa, but he’s hit for plenty of power nonetheless, which is why the Yankees continue to find opportunities to get his bat into their lineup. His right-handed power is legitimate, but his extreme 14-to-86 BB:K ratio is worrisome and has been exploited by Double-A pitching.
Pitcher of the Night: Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 10 K.
The ability to miss bats is what makes Crick so enticing and why the Giants continue to keep him as a starter, though even on his best days, needing 99 pitches to get through just five innings leaves his bullpen with a lot of outs to get.
How would the first round of the 2010 draft go down with the benefit of hindsight?
It's been just over four years since the 2010 draft, and we've gotten a good look at how that crop of highly touted amateurs has has performed in the pros. To see how much perceptions of those players have changed, we decided to do the draft over again, just as we did with the 2013 draft, the 2012 draft, and the 2011 draft. We assigned 32 picks to BP authors and re-drafted from scratch, selecting only from the pool of players who were drafted and signed in 2010 and ignoring team need. Here's how the first-round redraft shook out.
1:1 Washington Nationals Actual Selection:Bryce Harper, OF Draft Position Change: None Explanation: I think there is a real case for Chris Sale at no. 1 (and I imagine there'd be one for Harvey if he wasn't hurt), but I have to stick with the chalk here. I remain firmly in the camp that sees Harper as an emerging superstar. His start hasn't been as fast as Mike Trout's, but holding anyone to that kind of standard is absolutely insane. The numbers Harper has put up at these ages are also historic, just not as monstrous. —Paul Sporer
The top prospect in baseball hasn't changed, but plenty else has since our preseason top 100.
With as many eyes as we can possibly put on the prize, we seek to provide the prospect temperature of the given moment, as we take to the fields night after night armed with our stopwatches, radar guns, and in my case, thermometers. As in previous top 50 updates, we will not be including prospects recently promoted to the majors, nor will we be including prospects recently selected in the amateur draft (further explanation provided below the Top 50 courtesy of Nick Faleris). This is a list of the top prospects currently in the minors, and we use a scouting-heavy approach to support the work, either in the form of our own eyewitness accounts or via our industry sources, although in most cases the rankings are indicative of the blissful marriage between the two.