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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Today's update features Mariners righty Taijuan Walker, who showed off his outstanding stuff in a 12-strikeout outing for Double-A Jackson, and notes on 15 other prospects.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners (Double-A Jackson): 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K. The 20-year-old Walker has front-of-the-rotation stuff. He features a plus-plus fastball, a potential plus-plus cutter, a potential plus curveball, and a fringy changeup. Walker may have to develop a splitter at the major-league level, but he has ace-level potential; 25.0 IP, 18 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 33 K in four June starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Lewis Brinson, CF, Rangers (Low-A Hickory): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, 2 K. Something very in-depth should be coming on Brinson very soon. I know the strikeout rate is crazy high, but I believe in him.
Jason Cole catches up with the Mariners' top pitching prospect.
There’s no doubting Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker’s immense raw talent. Ranked by Baseball Prospectus as Seattle’s no. 1 prospect (and no. 9 in baseball) entering this season, the right-hander has all the tools a scout wants to see in a potential big-league starter. Walker and his sky-high ceiling have been well-publicized in recent years; he isn’t exactly a pop-up prospect.
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!
Sofa-scouting the mechanics of two high-profile pitching prospects.
In the first edition of Bush League, I discussed the viability of sofa-scouting high-level prospects by scouring the archives of MiLB.tv(for a modest subscription price). I also noted the advantages when evaluating pitchers as compared to position players, given the additional off-camera variables that exist for scouting hitting and defense, along with the caveat that pitchers can have volatile mechanics during their development years. The subjects of the original piece included the top two picks from the 2011 draft, Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen, and today we’ll take a look at another Pirate-Mariner combination of high-end pitching prospects.
Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker were both high-school products of the 2010 draft. Taillon was selected at number two overall by the Pirates, behind top pick Bryce Harper, and Walker was chosen 41 picks later by the Mariners during the supplemental round. I reviewed both pitchers back in July with a brief study of their back-to-back one-inning stints in the Futures Game, and the early returns were impressive. The mechanics of minor-league players are fickle and a pitcher might show different looks on any given day, especially when making a rare relief appearance in a nationally-televised showcase, so the offseason presents a great opportunity to take a deeper look into the performances of these two high-profile prospects.
Jason tries his hand at his own top prospect list, with rankings and commentary.
It’s not that I’m against prospect rankings; it’s just that they’re not my bag. I stand in awe of those who excel at the process of these classifications, as it takes a balanced approach, one measured against the overall subjectivity of the operation. You have to look at the tools and projection, but you also have to respect and appreciate game production, with each prognosticator assigning their own weight to each variable. National writers like Kevin Goldstein, Keith Law, and Jim Callis have established their bones in this particular brand of prognostication, and I always look forward to their lists.
Last week, a Twitter question coerced me to suggest that Jurickson Profar is the top prospect in the minors, a comment that soon prompted a series of follow-up questions about the prospects who would round out my top five. I never intended to execute a formal ranking, mostly because I like to assign tools and projection more weight than I probably should, and once I fall in love with a prospect, I’m hitched for the long haul. I’m a hypocrite: I try to be as objective as possible when scouting a player, but I struggle to remove the thorns of love when it comes to ranking players against each other. Francisco Lindor was going to be in my top 10 regardless of what he did on the field in 2012. I really like Francisco Lindor, and it’s my article, and that’s my approach. Admittedly, it’s not the best approach. But I’m honest about my intentions, and I did try my best to make this more than just a prospect popularity context. As requested, here are the top 10 players in the minors, with detailed write-ups of the top five.
We talk about great pitching prospects being Future No. 1 starters, but what does that really mean?
With both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout getting the call to the big leagues recently, Dylan Bundy is now the official engineer of the Prospect Hype Train, and with good reason. He's faced 52 batters on the young season, and three have reached base, while 25 have struck out. That has prompted the inevitable questions—especially on Twitter—about whether Bundy can become a No. 1 starter. However, becoming a No. 1 starter takes more than just stuff, or more than just command; it takes something that is more than a little bit ineffable.
Kevin shares his picks for Minor League Player of the Year honors.
Making pre-season picks for minor league player of the year honors is a bit more complex than doing the same for big league awards. The biggest issue is, of course, playing time. The trio of Rays lefty Matt Moore and outfielders Bryce Harper (Nationals) and Mike Trout (Angels) are universally seen as the top three prospects in baseball, but none is a good pick for 2012 honors: Moore will open the year in the big leagues, and Harper and Trout will likely follow suit. Instead, you need a player who will spend the entire year away from the majors, either in an environment that is conducive to putting up good numbers, or with an assignment where the player can impress for other reasons. Here are my top ten candidates.