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In order to become more right, we have to be wrong. But we also have to acknowledge that we're wrong and attempt to figure out why.

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

​Graham MacAree is the Lead Soccer Editor at SB Nation. He co-founded Statcorner and invented tRA. He also owns multiple Jeff Clement jerseys.
 


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The Rangers have a burgeoning farm system, but what could be some stumbling blocks for their top prospects?

Prospect #1: SS Jurickson Profar
Background with Player: My eyes
Who: This highly-touted prospect comes from Curacao. Many saw the former Little League World Series star as a pitcher because of his already promising fastball and ability to spin what projected to be a quality breaking ball. Signed as a position player for a bonus of $1.55 million in 2009, Profar exploded in his full-season debut in 2011, showing an advanced feel for all aspects of the game and emerging as a premier prospect in all of baseball.

What Could Go Wrong in 2012: Not that Profar is all polish and no projection, but unlike most teenaged prospects, the gap between his representational present and his abstract future isn’t as wide. As such, Profar isn’t going to continue his physical tool-based ascent at the same accelerated pace. That isn’t to say his status isn’t legit; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Profar is a rare breed of prospect, one that combines all the physical characteristics of a future first-division major-league starter, with the intense desire to not only reach those heights, but to ultimately eclipse them. This might seem like an odd thing to criticize, but the intense desire to be the best might end up being a hindrance in the short term, even if the #want makes him a better player in the long term.



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The Athletics have recently padded their farm through several trades, but will their prospects pan out?

Prospect #1: RHP A.J. Cole
Background with Player: Industry Sources
Who: He’s a prototypical starter drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. Cole was traded to the Athletics in the Gio Gonzalez deal, and has everything you want in a future major-league starter: size, stuff, and feel for the mound. In his full-season debut in 2011, Cole showed off his combination of polish and power, striking out 108 Sally League hitters while walking only 24.

What Could Go Wrong in 2012: As with any young pitcher climbing the ladder, each step will bring new challenges and adjustments. In 2012, Cole will need to continue his sharp command while focusing more attention on the development of his changeup. With good arm action and precocious command, Cole isn’t likely to fall apart by throwing more changeups. But the changeup is a feel pitch, and it takes time to gain command of the nuances of its utility and execution.



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Is our prospect guru going to jump off the bandwagon on some of his top prospects of 2011?

Who: Christian Bethancourt (Braves)
Background with Player: My own eyes; information from industry sources
Documented Observations and Prognostications: For nearly two years, I’ve been waxing hyperbolic on Bethancourt’s skill set, at times saying he might be the best catching prospect in the minors. On a raw tool front, I have put Bethancourt’s arm strength and release from behind the plate as 80-grade attributes, as I’ve clocked pop times under 1.8 and others (sources) have clocked him even faster (1.65). In fact, 80-grade might not do his raw arm strength justice; if you can’t tell, his arm is insanely strong.

At the plate, the Panamanian catcher has crazy pop, using his raw strength and fast hands to spray balls to all fields. While his batting-practice displays can slick your hair up Teddy-boy style, the translation to game action has been slow. While he’s immature with the total skill package, the promise is overwhelming. I absolutely love Bethancourt, and I think he is going to be a star.



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Before diving into his prognostications, our resident prospect guru begins an open dialogue about prospect evaluation.

As November ages into December, the baseball season continues its transition from full throttle to dead air before thrusting forward again with the push of free agency, the Winter Meetings, and the countdown to report dates for pitchers and catchers. As many in the industry work to contextualize the previous campaign (while simultaneously setting up sales pitches for the eventualities of tomorrow), I find myself already bored with the conjecture and rumor of the winter. What shall I do until my eyes can once again open and focus on live play? Oh, how I already long for thee.

In the coming months, I plan on revisiting a series I started last offseason, where I take the top five prospects in each system and explore the weaknesses in their skill set that could lead to setbacks or stumbles in the 2012 season. We in the prospect prognostication field tend to paint pretty pictures of young talent, choosing to package the dream instead of the reality. Not that hope requires a big marketing push, but focusing on the conceptual world of peak potential is so much easier and palatable than focusing on the negatives.

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Setting Aroldis Chapman to the side, what about the Reds' best four prospects could keep them from attaining greatness?

The face of the Reds’ system is half-man, half-radar gun. That paints an interesting mental image of Aroldis Chapman, but it's an accurate description: the Cuban southpaw with the slingshot for an arm routinely hits triple digits on the gun, often running his heat north of 104 mph, which is just stupid velocity. The sex appeal of his fastball aside, I don’t want to spend too much time focusing on Aroldis Chapman, at least as far as this exercise goes; while technically still a rookie, instructions to keep a spot on the 25-man roster set aside for Chapman are already tattooed on the collective forehead of the front office. Unless his arm detaches from his body and lands in the dugout during a pitch, Chapman is going to be the most feared reliever in baseball at worst, and a top-of-the-rotation starter at best. For this particular article, let’s just move away from the sure thing, and give the next four prospects in the Reds' system a piece of the sidewalk, and detail what could go wrong in the upcoming season.

Prospect #1: Devin Mesoraco
Who:
He's a former first-round pick who finally started to turn his raw tools into game production, hitting a combined .302/.377/.587 over three levels. Armed with above-average raw power, Mesoraco projects to hit 15-20 home runs at the major-league level, with enough behind the plate to stick at the position.



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John Abbamondi, Joe Bohringer, and BP alum Jonah Keri discuss sharing ideas, using scouting versus statistics, and how the Rays work.

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A quick spin through end-of-the-world scenarios for Seattle's best.

This is how lazy and lame I am: when I started researching for this article, I made of list of things the city of Seattle is known for… coffee, rain, sports teams that don’t win championships, Citizen Dick, and WarGames. I didn’t get very far before I realized three things. First, that making a reference to the movie Singles without mentioning the Xavier McDaniel cameo is a daft move. Second, that WarGames still holds up over time, despite its anachronistic qualities. And third and finally, that I was creating an elaborate diversion, because writing about the Mariners system doesn’t interest me a great deal. I'm just being honest.

Of course, it's not like my apathetic response is justifiable, as the Mariners system has a lot of promise, with a powerful one-two punch of Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda, and several low-level jumpers who have tremendous upside. In fact, when I made a list of the prospects I’m most looking forward to seeing in person this spring training, Esteilon Peguero and Phillips Castillo were in the top 10. Of course, I also included WarGames on that list—it’s on every list I make.

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As talented as the Royals system's top prospects are, nobody's perfect, are they?

Falling in love with prospects is like dating someone because of their physical beauty. At first, you are blinded by the fact that you are involved with someone who is attractive, because, let’s face it, ours is a superficial society, and waking up next to David Beckham or Megan Fox is more appealing than waking up next to Clint Howard or Roseanne Barr. It's a little like having a system headlined by Eric Hosmer and Mike Montgomery being obviously more appealing than a system headlined by Mark Rogers and Cody Scarpetta.

But as the relationship advances, you might get to witness the weaknesses of your new dream partner consume their strengths. In the end you could still be left with a good-looking uniform, but it's draped on a prospect who ultimately failed to live up to the ceiling their initial attractiveness suggested was possible. Once you see the light, you promise yourself that you will no longer fall for a face... except that then you once again start looking for pretty faces, and the cycle repeats itself. Eventually, the aesthetic beauty that tickles your fancy actualizes into the complete package, and the world rejoices at your good fortune.

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I was wrong. The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton informed me that Brown does, in fact, have an option left.

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