These promising minor leaguers saw their stocks tumble in 2013 but have started 2014 on a high note.
This is the time of year when every article begins with the caveat that stats aren’t worth much right now, but, hey, here are some stats. Well, this is like that except it’s fully acknowledging that the stats aren’t worth anything. All they’re here for is to key in on some players who were highly thought of at one point who struggled through a rough 2013 and have come out of the gates quickly. This isn’t to impart meaning to those good starts, but just identify them as prospects to monitor as the season progresses:
Notes on the prospects who stood out on a day when rain washed away action in half of the country.
A typically light Monday schedule and rain throughout the East and limited the amount of minor-league action we have to choose from, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give you something to read at your desk this morning.
Looking at the early-season returns on shortstops who might stick at the position.
In part one of the series, we checked in on the pure shortstops in the minors, the players who stand above the rest with the leather and project to stay at position all the way up the chain. The criterion for inclusion in this particular series was a placement on the Baseball Prospectus 101, a team top 10 list, or a mention as an “On the Rise” candidate for the individual team prospect ranking series, so the pool of talent is by no means the entire ocean. By breaking down these featured prospects, the goal is to highlight the extreme depth at the position in the minors, while also shedding some light on the early season developments of the talent in question.
Part 2 will focus on the players housed in the tier below the pure leather wizards in the minors, but ones who still have the quality to stick around at the position despite some whispers to the contrary. It needs to be remembered just how difficult it is to profile as a shortstop at the highest level, as only a select few can stand above the crowded field of highly skilled individuals and wear the badge of the position. The “Pure Enough” tier features prospects known more for their offensive potential than their defensive heroics, but we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss their skill at the position just because the profile lacks the cloak of the magus. These combo prospects have some of the highest ceilings in the minors, with impact potential bats and the actions and arms to make plays at a premium position on the diamond.
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!
The BP prospect staff debates Trevor Story vs. David Dahl and Will Swanner vs. a trio of competitive prospects.
As Jason Parks noted in his prospect rankings primer, this year’s rankings are the product of a collaborative process. Before each system’s prospect list is finalized, members of the BP prospect team trade emails about the players involved, enriching the rankings with their own opinions and perspectives. We’ll be publishing excerpts from the best of those discussions throughout the offseason, generally the day after the prospect lists in question appear. Some exchanges have been edited for language or trimmed to stay on topic.
Nolan Arenado could turn into a newt, maybe. What else could go wrong for young Rockies players?
Prospect #1: 3BNolan Arenado Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources Who: Selected in the 2nd round in the 2009 draft, Arenado has emerged as the best pure hitting prospect in the system. Armed with fantastic hands that are both quick and strong, the 21-year-old can barrel balls to all fields, showing the ability to hit in all quadrants against a variety of offerings. He’s not as gifted in the field, were his below-average speed creates a limited workspace at the hot corner, but his glove is at least average and his arm is a plus tool, so his overall skill set will play in the majors. The total package is a first-division talent, with a high-6 hit tool that comes with a mature approach, enough bat speed and strength to prompt some scouts into projecting plus power down the line, and enough defense to stay above water at third.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: Arenado is a great prospect, and every team in baseball would welcome him into the fold with open arms, but what could go wrong in 2012 is that the realities of the skill set start to become more representational against more advanced pitching, leaving the picture of a good prospect, but not one with impact level talent at the next level. I really like Arenado’s approach to hitting, as he’s aggressive without being reckless, and he shows pitch recognition skills and the ability to adjust in sequence. He’s a smart hitter that can stay inside a pitch and drive the ball, and manipulate the barrel to match the plane of breaking balls. But his swing wasn’t built for over-the-fence power, as his linear stroke works better in the gaps, despite the raw strength and bat speed necessary for power. Some scouts think the power will develop down the line, as Arenado learns to introduce more loft in his swing, but how much hit tool utility will be sacrificed for the sake of power? I asked around to get ceilings on Arenado, and the majority saw him as a potential .275+ hitter with 10-15 home runs and a truckload of doubles. I like this projection, as it's reasonable and realistic, but it’s not a first-division talent, is it? A few other sources saw a .300+ hitter with 25+ bombs a year, which would make Arenado an All-Star and one of the most valuable players at his position in baseball. Because he’s taking his licks at the Double-A level, we are going to get a better view of what Arenado will be able to bring to the table in the future, as the major leagues are very much within his reach. We all know Arenado can hit, but the questions will be: how much can hit, and how much power will he be able to bring into game action? Again, I think he’s a great prospect, but I tend to think his future is closer to a solid-average regular than an All-Star, which is still a very valuable player to have.