If you think about it, the Royals and Rays, the two teams that completed a massive prospects-for-pitchers trade on Sunday, are a lot alike. Both teams are among the have-nots of the American League, competing with payrolls in the mid-60-millions (last season). Neither one draws well—in the Royals’ case, because of all the losing and because Kansas City is small, and in the Rays’ case, because of all the past losing, the newness of the franchise, and the ugliness and location of the ballpark, where it’s almost impossible to catch a foul ball without some painfuland/orembarrassing consequence. To compensate for the lack of revenue, both teams try to draft, develop, and extend homegrown players as an alternative to paying for wins from free agents, and both have had among the finest farm systems in baseball for the past few seasons.
The Royals are 'listening' to offers for the elite prospect. Is it because something is wrong with Myers or just one of those things?
Prior to last week’s holiday, Ben LindberghchronicledJustin Upton’s life and times as a walking trade rumor. A new rumor popped up no later than hours after publication, continuing a cycle that has no end is in sight. At some point, the Upton saga will reach its resolution. Upton will head to a new team or play well enough to become untouchable. When that happens, the will-he-or-won’t-he trade drama may turn to Wil Myers as its new leading man.
For the second straight offseason, Myers’ name continues to pop up on MLB Trade Rumors. The Royals’ activity level is unclear. Jeff Passan used the verb “dangling,” while Bob Sutton pacified the outraged by indicating the Royals are only willing to listen. Read between the lines and it appears Myers is available, albeit at a high cost. In a sense, that leaves us where we were last winter, when talks between the Braves and Royals broke down over Myers’ inclusion.
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.
These guys are so good, they cut glass. They're razor sharp.
The 2012 minor league season has lived nearly half its life, and over the course of the last two and a half months, provided us with the sensational sights, sounds, and smells of the player development machine. We follow closely to monitor the progress of the supermen of tomorrow, their triumphs celebrated and their failures analyzed in graphic detail, a highly invasive process in which we so eagerly participate. The storylines are vast highways of entertainment, often too complex to appreciate in proper detail, but tantalizing enough in their abstract form to keep us content with snapshots. The following are snapshots of the first-half, painted with a wide and often clumsy brush, as I lack the time or the tools to document the blow-by-blow accounts of the campaign with an ultra-fine point. However, along those same lines, I’m going to use quotes from one of my favorite movies in order to set the scenes of the season, and hopefully add some insight through the vehicle of entertainment. “Too many things too many things too many things... I wanna go for a walk. Let's go for a walk.” -Amber Waves
“Start down low with a 350 cube, three and a quarter horsepower, 4-speed, 4:10 gears, ten coats of competition orange, hand-rubbed lacquer with a huplane manifold….Full f*ckin' race cams. Whoo!”
It’s only taken half of a season, but Dylan Bundy has quickly emerged as one the top prospects in the game. Seen by many as the best player available in the historically stacked 2011 draft, Bundy fell to the Orioles with the number four overall pick, and has shoved it ever since, using a plus-plus fastball, a nasty cut fastball, a curveball, and a very promising changeup to carve up the competition. In his first 11 starts in the minors, the 19-year-old native of Oklahoma has only allowed 18 hits in 45 innings pitched, sending 58 down on strikes and issuing an anemic 6 walks. “Aces” are the blue diamonds of the game, and it doesn’t take a keen scouting eye or a Rolodex full of industry sources to realize that Bundy has all the necessary characteristics to reach the lofty ceiling.
The laws of physics dictate that two objects can't occupy the same space, as these blocked prospects can attest.
As we saw at the end of April, sometimes it takes an injury for a prospect to get his opportunity in the big leagues, even for someone like Bryce Harper. For Mike Trout of the Angels, it took a combination of an injury (Vernon Wells) and a release (Bobby Abreu) to create consistent playing time for him in Anaheim. Sometimes the combinations get even more complicated, which was the case with Will Middlebrooks, who—with Kevin Youkilis returning from the disabled list—has stayed in the big leagues because of the position switch from first base to right field for Adrian Gonzalez. They're hardly the only players faced with this problem, as there are plenty of top prospects in the upper levels of the minors who deserve a shot soon, but figuring out how that happens requires some out-of-the-box thinking.
Interesting backstories dominate after this weekend's games, with surprise performances, defensive shifts, reclaimed prospect status, disappointing contracts, and accelerated big-league arrivals all on display.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Throughout the entire month of April, it was pretty clear that Barnes didn't belong in Low-A, as the 2011 first-round pick allowed just one run over 26 2/3 innings while striking out 42. On Saturday, Barnes showed that he might not belong in High-A either, as he whiffed 12 over six four-hit innings in his Carolina League debut. Just as important as the numbers, Barnes has started to break out the secondary stuff, as after relying primarily on a fastball that can touch 97 in Greenville, he was generating swings and misses with a curveball that has been an inconsistent pitch in the past. His ceiling hasn't changed yet, but his timetable is quickly accelerating.
Of the notable prospects who didn't start the year in the majors, who got jumped ahead and who got left behind?
With Opening Day upon us, roster decisions have been made, and while most players continue to take the standard route up the minor league ladder, there are plenty of prospects either making a double jump, or being left behind to repeat a level. Last week's player of the year watch had three teenagers-- Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and Seattle righty Taijuan Walker--who are all beginning the year in Double-A; here are ten more players beginning the year somewhere other than where many expected.