I’ve been on the Almonte bandwagon since his easy delivery first caught my eye during a fall instructional league game on the backfields in Arizona. I’m a sucker for an easy delivery and an effortless release, and Almonte won my heart that day by pumping a low-90s fastball for strikes and flashing a changeup that was already a near-plus offering. Fast-forward to his full-season debut, and the bandwagon is starting to look like a bus depot, as the 20-year-old continues to take steps forward with the arsenal and the production, working a fastball in the 92-97 range, flashing multiple breaking-ball looks including a bat-missing curve, and throwing a nasty changeup. Almonte’s inclusion on the Futures Game roster was a win for the young Dominican arm, a win for the Royals’ amateur scouting and player development teams, and a win for every wannabe scout that finds arousal in easy arm action and heavily pronated changeups. —Jason Parks
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Of all the prospects in the minors, Baez’s status might have the most volatility, with the skill set to blossom into a superstar and the deficiencies that could terminate the dream before it begins. With elite bat speed and the type of raw power that can find a home in the middle of any major-league lineup, Baez could end up as the top prospect in the game. But his one-speed-fits-all approach on both sides of the ball can be limiting: His aggressive, see-ball-hit-ball mentality at the plate often puts him behind in counts and vulnerable to offerings out of the zone, and his tendency to rush the actions and the throws makes him error prone despite his exquisite hands at shortstop. Baez is warming up and is a good candidate to explode this summer, with a chance to sneak into the top 10 prospects in the game. But the Double-A test is looming on the horizon, and without more nuance to his game and a more refined approach, Baez could take a big step back against better competition. The talent is extreme. The risk is just as extreme. —Jason Parks
The first installment of a new series, in which a member of our prospect team will step into the Red Sox' shoes and conduct a shadow draft.
Creating a Mechanism for Evaluation of Draft Strategy
Part of what drew me to Baseball Prospectus, other than my respect for Jason Parks and his vision of a scouting-department-style “Prospect Team,” was the allure of stepping into a ready-made readership eager and able to help me explore baseball on both a macro and micro level. As far as the draft is concerned, that means not only breaking down draft prospects from a scouting perspective on a player-by-player basis, but also working to understand what goes into formulating an overarching approach to player acquisition through the draft. This includes general strategies relating to draft acquisitions, as well as draft-class-specific game planning.
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!
Updates on 12 players from the Arizona Fall League, including the Rising Stars game, and the Dominican/Venezuelan Leagues.
If you haven't heard, Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball. He broke the minor league single-season record of 145 stolen bases, set in 1983 by Vince Coleman, and finished the season with 155 steals between Hi-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.The 22 year-old Hamilton, who was recently moved from shortstop to center field, was easily the most exciting player in Saturday's Rising Stars game. When you start a game like this - leadoff walk, steal 2nd, steal 3rd, score later in the inning - it tends to cause a lot of excitement in the ballpark. Baseball fans, not to mention Fantasy Baseball players, love the stolen base almost as much as the home run. More excitement ensued later in the game when Hamilton bunted for a base hit. Unfortunately, one of the most disappointing moments of the game also occurred during that same play. A two-base throwing error meant that he couldn't steal second and third again. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one yelling, "Stay at first! Stay at first!"
Is it better for a prospect to be very good at an age-appropriate level, or very young in an advanced league?
This article began as a comparison of Tigers third-base prospect Nick Castellanos and former Padres third-base prospect Sean Burroughs. Castellanos tore through the Florida State League this season, hitting .405/.461/.553 in 55 games, before being promoted to Double-A earlier this week, though his raw power has yet to manifest itself outside of batting practice.
At the same age more than a decade ago, Sean Burroughs was working on a .322/.386/.467 season at Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League, two levels ahead of Castellanos’ recently-vacated Advanced Class-A assignment. Burroughs was also two levels ahead at age 19, making the task of comparing the players a challenge.
Best- and worst-case scenarios for Tiger cubs ranging from Turner to Paulino.
Prospect #1: RHP Jacob Turner Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: After being selected ninth overall in the 2009 Rule Four draft and signing a major league deal that included a $4.7M bonus, it quickly became apparent that Jacob Turner was in fact a dream come true, a Ken doll of pitching characteristics with prototypical size and strength, a clean and easy delivery that allows for repeatability and a potentially plus command profile, a lively plus fastball that can touch higher, an above-average 12-6 curve with tight rotation and excellent depth, a changeup with good action, and good overall feel for sequencing and situations.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: After reaching the majors last season, Turner will have every opportunity to claim a rotation spot during spring training. This is a huge jump for a young arm, regardless of the polish and punch of the arsenal, and Turner could face a harsh reality. Turner has advanced strike-throwing ability, but that shouldn’t be confused with advanced command. With the ability to throw his three-pitch mix for strikes, Turner can manage the intensity of the arsenal and force poor contact rather than go for throat rips with every at-bat. Against superior competition, throwing strikes is a good way to win the hearts of the hitters you face, as they can send you a flowers and chocolates after they victimize your offerings. At the major league level, you have to up the intensity of the arsenal while not only maintaining the ability to throw strikes but also refining the ability to throw quality strikes. With the training wheels still on the bike and the minor league blueprint for success still fresh in the mind, 2012 will be a developmental year for Jacob Turner, one that will feature a few highs and more than a few lows, especially if the 20-year-old is thrown to the major league wolves.