The prospect team checks in on Noah Syndergaard's struggles and a slew of baby-faced killers, including Orlando Arcia, Keone Kela, and Alex Verdugo.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas)
When a player experiences adversity, we experience doubts and second guessing of our projections. We want to see progress on a definitive upward trend, but the path followed by prospects is rarely linear. There is no doubt that this season has been bumpy for Syndergaard. The 22-year-old blitzed through two levels last year, causing the main question this off-season to be, "When will he be facing big-league hitters full-time?" Syndergaard’s growing pains are a good reminder that even when it seems like players are close, there are still nuances to be mastered. Even the most highly regarded prospects are works in progress and growing pains can appear without warning. My view on Syndergaard is that the 6-foot-6 Texan bounces back and makes the necessary refinements to fulfill his projection. Reports from the second half of the year have been strong and indications were that the issues were more along the lines of fine-tuning his command than any regression of his stuff. –Chris Mellen
Derek Fisher, OF, Astros (Short-season Tri-City)
After failing to sign the first overall selection in the 2014 draft, Brady Aiken (LHP, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)), and potential over-slot fifth rounder Jacob Nix (RHP, Los Alamitos HS (Calif.)), due to a messy set of negotiations surrounding some unexpected findings in Aiken’s medicals, the Astros will look to former University of Virginia standout and 37th overall selection Derek Fisher to anchor their 2014 draft class. Fisher missed six weeks of his junior year thanks to a broken hamate bone and is just now starting to get back to the point where his double-plus raw power is playing in-game.
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In Steven Moya's first big test, he showed massive raw power and a terrifying K:BB ratio. Which indicator will win out?
Some prospects inspire a strong consensus among scouts. The tools and projection are easy to see; we know a player is going to be good, so it’s only a matter of how good. With other prospects, however, there can be a much wider range of opinions. Two scouts can see the same thing from the same player and come up with two totally different sets of opinions. It happens in the seats behind the plate, in meeting rooms before the draft, and in many of the discussions behind the scenes here at BP. To me, this is one of the best parts about scouting. Sometimes there are no right or wrong answers, or at least not ones we’ll know for a few years.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Garin Cecchini, Kyle Crick, and Adam Brett Walker.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 4-4, 2 R, 3B. The biggest knock, and really the only knock, is that Cecchini doesn’t profile as your typical third baseman because he doesn’t have the kind of power usually associated with a corner infielder. What he lacks in power, however, he makes up for in plate discipline. No, it’s not the same, but it does allow him to produce value nonetheless.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Barnes has never quite put it all together this year, but that doesn’t mean he can’t end up being the mid-rotation starter everyone has projected him to be for some time. His strikeout rate dipped this season in Triple-A, yet he remained effective.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday—plus a couple from Tuesday, too.
It’s playoff time, which means the talent pool is watered down and there are only a few games to work with each night. Never fear, however, as the Update carries on.
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 3-4, R, 2 2B, BB. MLU mainstay Matt Olson is having far too much fun this season hitting in the California League to let things end. It should be noted also that despite his three-true-outcome tendencies, Olson also had 30 doubles on the season.
Scouting and fantasy takes on this week's second-tier, but still intriguing, call-ups.
We’ve devoted full articles to the most promising prospects promoted to the majors late this season, but we're offering scouting and fantasy takes on the best of the rest here.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, RHP, Phillies
Scouting Take: The Cuban import entered 2014 having not thrown a competitive pitch since he left his home country. Gonzalez’s medicals revealed some injury concerns that prompted the Phillies to rework his deal and turn him into a reliever this year. He worked in the low 90s as a starter but can work in the mid-90s as a reliever. He also has a splitter and a spotty breaking ball. The Phillies still have plans to convert him back into a starter next year but he’ll have to tighten up the command and work on the breaking ball. —Mauricio Rubio
The new co-directors of the BP Prospect team talk about their plan for coverage.
During any journey, change is inevitable, with the success of the trip often hinging upon a traveler’s ability to adapt to that change without losing his heading. When Nick and I first started outlining a plan for life after Jason Parks, our initial thoughts (after few deep breaths) gravitated to the trove of in-house talent Parks had assembled during his two seasons at the helm of the prospect team, and it quickly became apparent our ability to adapt would be more about tweaking and tightening what we have than undergoing any major overhaul.
The Blue Jays call up a top pitching prospect for the third time this season.
The Situation: With the postseason all but out of reach, the Blue Jays are promoting yet another of their top pitching prospects. Following the promotion of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez earlier this year, left-hander Daniel Norris will cap off his season in the big leagues.
Reports on multiple Cubs third basemen, Reynaldo Lopez, Byron Buxton, Dante Bichette Jr., and more.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown) Two weeks of "you need to go see Reynaldo Lopez pitch" texts finally sent me on a journey to Hagerstown. Surprisingly, Lopez displayed one of the most exuberant pitching performances I have witnessed all season, sitting 94 to 98 mph with life, a biting curveball, and developing changeup. In fact, it is quite interesting how a player of this caliber can be so hidden from the public eye. I wrote a scouting report on him, but wanted to shed some light on the backstory.
Lopez was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $17,000, nothing relative to many international bonuses. From all reports I've received, Lopez routinely sat 88 to 91 mph when he first signed. The Nationals began to make mechanical changes, specifically with how he held his glove on delivery. Lopez dealt with an injury that shut him down in Short-Season Auburn, so he did not have much time to audition for the state-side crowds. Now, fully healthy, he has taken off. He is the definition of a "pop-up" prospect and everyone should remember his name moving forward. This is one of the best pitchers no one is talking about. The journey is still long, but the raw talent is undeniable. —Tucker Blair
With Jason Parks leaving, the prospect team is rearranging, but remains more ambitious than ever.
Sometimes I forget how truly fortunate I am to work in baseball. I quit hearing the sound of the crack of the bat or the pop of the glove. I become numb to the smell of the freshly cut grass, the sound of the organ, and the roar of the crowd as the home team walks off with a win. Because, you see, not unlike many of you, my primary responsibility is to look ahead. My job is create the vision for a company and try to improve on what we have, build on what’s been developed, and help bring new and innovative content to an audience that demands it every day. So, yes, while I still get to a few dozen games a year, enjoy the warmth of Arizona after a long winter in New York, and watch countless games on MLB.TV, there are times when the game right now, at this instant, is not at the forefront of my mind.
But what I never, ever forget are the people I get to work with…the readers, the fans, the players, scouts, front offices, media colleagues, and of course, the staff here at Baseball Prospectus. When I first sat down to write this piece, my intention was to thank Jason Parks and introduce our transition plan for the BP prospect team. I will cover those topics shortly, but forgive me for a moment if I stray.
The Phillies call up the slugging corner infielder, who has recovered from a terrible start to his season.
The Situation: Despite the shine of a Labor Day no-hitter, the Phillies season has quickly slipped away, so as a result it is time to see what the kids can do. Ranked as the Phillies top prospect entering the season, Franco has overcome a miserable start to the season and is now hitting .257 with 16 home runs and 32 doubles.
Notes on prospects who stood out during the long weekend.
Friday, August 29th
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K. The Florida State League is a tough place to develop as a power hitter, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern that his home run total actually dropped from 19 last year to 16 this year. In fact, Vogelbach’s total tied for the league lead. Vogelbach’s raw power is very real, and he’s a good enough hitter to allow it to play in game action. He could explode next year, and that’s a comment on his power potential and not his waistline.