The Nationals move into first place, Cole Hamels and Tyson Ross duel in Philly, plus more from Wednesday and previews for today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Nationals starting pitchers have issued four walks over their last 10 games. Combined. That’s four walks in 71 innings and just one in their last 54. Giants starter Matt Cain walked four Nats in the first inning of last night’s game alone, including the first three who stepped into the box.
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.
One prospect dominates the present and future of lefty pitching, while another southpaw is falling off the wagon.
For this series, I will be shuttling you through the minor leagues to discover the best talents at each position and ranking them in tiers according to skill, current and future ability, and whether the player in question is from Texas. Need to catch up on how I’m doing the rankings and the top right-handed pitchers? Take a look at Part I.
One expert's educated guesstimate on how things will go down later today.
This one could be a mess folks, and it's all about bonus demands at this point. Right now, you have as many as four high school pitchers-Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke, and Shelby Miller-looking for big, big money, with the first three all telling teams they're looking for Rick Porcello-level deals (or more). This has the potential to blow the first round wide open, and turn it into into a very college-oriented first 30 picks, with numerous top talents falling to later picks than initially expected. One team picking in the top ten I spoke to this morning said he still had very little idea of who was going to be picked ahead of his club's choice.
Pre-draft chatter on players whose stock is rising, the man pulling the strings, and who's thinking what with their picks about to be made.
Scott Boras, Scott Boras Corporation
I received a phone call over the weekend from a big-league executive, and we began a discussion about Saturday's Top 50 Draft Prospects article. "Did you notice what the first five have in common?" I was asked. I certainly didn't notice it while writing the piece, but another glance and I required just seconds to put it all together: all five are being advised by Boras. It might be his greatest draft ever, and the Boras Factor is wreaking havoc both for people working on mock drafts and for teams working on their war-room boards.
Three weeks out, a stab at figuring out who goes in the first round after the Nationals take Stephen Strasburg.
Doing a mock draft nearly three weeks before the real thing is an exercise that combines gathering intelligence with making a lot of dart throws-especially in this draft, where clarity ends after the first pick. Here are reactions from various agents, scouts, scouting directors, and front office officials when I contacted them in reference to this article.