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Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas)
When a player experiences adversity, we experience doubts and second guessing of our projections. We want to see progress on a definitive upward trend, but the path followed by prospects is rarely linear. There is no doubt that this season has been bumpy for Syndergaard. The 22-year-old blitzed through two levels last year, causing the main question this off-season to be, "When will he be facing big-league hitters full-time?" Syndergaard’s growing pains are a good reminder that even when it seems like players are close, there are still nuances to be mastered. Even the most highly regarded prospects are works in progress and growing pains can appear without warning. My view on Syndergaard is that the 6-foot-6 Texan bounces back and makes the necessary refinements to fulfill his projection. Reports from the second half of the year have been strong and indications were that the issues were more along the lines of fine-tuning his command than any regression of his stuff. –Chris Mellen

Derek Fisher, OF, Astros (Short-season Tri-City)
After failing to sign the first overall selection in the 2014 draft, Brady Aiken (LHP, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)), and potential over-slot fifth rounder Jacob Nix (RHP, Los Alamitos HS (Calif.)), due to a messy set of negotiations surrounding some unexpected findings in Aiken’s medicals, the Astros will look to former University of Virginia standout and 37th overall selection Derek Fisher to anchor their 2014 draft class. Fisher missed six weeks of his junior year thanks to a broken hamate bone and is just now starting to get back to the point where his double-plus raw power is playing in-game.

Over his first 175 or so pro at-bats, the left fielder has shown a balanced approach with a high level of comfort in the box. He’s notching extra bases about once every five hits and has even put his instinctual base running on display, nabbing 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts, belying his average speed. Next year could see the immensely talented Wahoo move quickly through the low minors, but for now Fisher’s focus will be on helping Tri-City clinch the New York–Penn championship series against State College. —Nick J. Faleris

Javier Guerra, SS, Red Sox (Complex Gulf Coast League)
At just 18 years old, Guerra already shows all the necessary tools to be a big-league shortstop soon. He's not there yet, but he's a lot closer defensively than most players his age. With smooth actions left and right which lead to plus range, soft hands, and a plus-plus arm, Guerra could one day be an asset defensively. With the bat, there is potential as well, though he's much further away from being a finished product. Guerra displays plus bat speed and a solid swing plane, but he can get pull happy and can be beat on the outer half. He's also extremely aggressive at the plate and is a reactionary hitter. It doesn't appear to be a pitch-recognition problem at this point, so there's room for improvement with his plate discipline, though it will likely never be a strength. Still, there is the potential for pop in his bat, which, when paired with a plus defender at shortstop, makes for an extremely intriguing teenager. –Jeff Moore

Duane Underwood, RHP, Cubs (Low-A Kane County)
A second-round selection out of baseball hotbed Marietta, Georgia, the 6-foot-2 right-hander has been moved a level at a time, like many Cubs pitchers. Nineteen for much of this season, Underwood found success with his lively fastball, living in the 92 to 94 mph range. The pitch often gets up to 96, and he generates nice downward plane with some arm-side run from a high-3/4 slot. Underwood likes to attack with the fastball, but his command can get away from him when he rushes through the delivery. The command may struggle to reach big-league average, despite the solid 3.2 walks-per-nine. Underwood also features a curve with big break anywhere from 73 to 79 mph, usually living in the middle of that velocity band. It has tight spin and can be thrown down and away to righties for an out pitch, but other times comes out of his hand high and floats. The curveball will have to tighten up at the higher levels, but it has the potential to be a solid-average offering. Underwood's changeup shows promise at 83 to 85 mph with some arm-side run and fade, but he only throws it three to five times an outing to left-handed hitters. In all, the package is intriguing. The young right-hander has had nice results at Low-A, but he's still a long way away from being a pitcher. You have to dream a bit to see the mid-rotation potential; the gap between his present skills and that of a big-league starter are vast. –Jordan Gorosh

Matt Hobgood, RHP, Orioles (High-A Frederick)
The roller coaster continued through the final week of the season for the former first-round selection. Multiple reports have placed Hobgood in the 95 to 97 mph range, with my own views also showing the true potential of the bulky righty. He has the ability to display high-end stuff, with his fastball showing life and explosion. However, his velocity has continuously fluctuated over the course of the season. In my last viewing, he threw 88 to 91 mph, and the fastball lacked life. Body concerns have always surrounded Hobgood, as he has a big frame and needs to keep himself in good condition. It has been difficult for him to stay healthy and productive for an entire season, which is now becoming a trend for his career. The potential may still be there, but Hobgood will never realize it without staying in shape and on the mound. –Tucker Blair

Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Double-A Huntsville)
Arcia posted an above-league-average OPS as a 19-year-old in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, slashing .289/.346/.392 with 38 extra-base hits and 31 stolen bases in 42 attempts. This fine offensive season led to a promotion to Double-A Huntsville for their postseason run. The offensive success this season notwithstanding, the most impressive part of Arcia’s game is his defensive chops. The young Venezuelan is extremely flashy in the field, pairing soft, sure hands with great footwork and preternatural instincts. Despite somewhat ordinary foot speed on the bases, Arcia has superb range to both sides and has the coordination to pull off highlight-reel defensive plays on a consistent basis. His arm is plus with plenty of carry and enough juice to make it across the diamond from the 5-6 hole with ease. On the offensive side, Arcia has impeccable hand-eye coordination, illustrated by the 12 percent strikeout rate he posted this season. His load is noisy, with a big hand hitch and leg lift, causing timing and plate-coverage concerns against well-placed fastballs on the inner half: Arcia does not possess the bat speed to make up for the added length. The trade-off, however, is gap-to-gap power. Paired with impending body maturation, the rail-thin shortstop projects to have low-teens home run output in the fringe-average range at his peak. He shows a solid knowledge of the zone and decent pitch-recognition skills for a barely 20-year-old facing Double-A pitching. Arcia possesses the offensive tools to hit in the .260 to .270 range annually with a chance for more at his physical peak if he cuts down on his swing and shows better coverage of the inner half. All in all, Arcia’s defensive skills and burgeoning offensive package give him the ceiling of a solid-average regular. After ranking fourth in the Brewers’ system prior to this season, Arcia will assuredly climb those rankings and should be in consideration for the top 100 prospects list this offseason. –Ethan Purser

Keone Kela, RHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
I first caught Kela last year out of the bullpen in A-ball. His arm strength immediately jumped out. The 21-year-old creates strong velocity with a loose, easy delivery. His fastball explodes out of his hand routinely in the 96 to 98 mph range, with the ability to touch triple digits when he really reaches back. Kela stays above the ball well, enabling him to throw downhill consistently. There is a chance that the plus-plus velocity is masking mistakes against overmatched hitters. Despite throwing from a high-3/4 arm slot, Kela wraps his curveball from time to time and loses quality shape. When he does stay on top, it flashes power break and the teeth to miss bats. He’s going to need the latter version of his curve to emerge more often to prevent polished hitters from sitting dead red on his heater. Kela’s an intriguing arm, and one that may ultimately pitch out of the back of a bullpen if he can squeeze a bit more polish out of his repertoire. –Chris Mellen

Drew Ward, 3B, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown)
Ward is one of the younger players on a Hagerstown club loaded with talent, but he lacks the high-end impact I see from others on the squad. I like the raw tools, as he displays plus power. However, I am not sold on the hit tool or the defense. The former is working right now, as he is able to succeed while still having a noticeable hitch. His bat speed is merely average, so he sometimes cheats on the fastball and gets away with it. As he progresses, he will not be able to succeed this way and will have some difficulty pulling his hands inside with enough time to make sufficient contact. The defense will never be an asset, but Ward has very slightly improved over the season, at least enough to keep him in the conversation as a third baseman in the future. –Tucker Blair

Michael Chavis, INF, Red Sox (Complex Gulf Coast League)
When it comes to pure hitters in this year’s draft Chavis ranks in the top tier. The 5-foot-10 infielder flashes the loose hands and bat-to-ball ability that lead many to believe he'll develop into a plus hitter for average. I cannot wait to lay my eyes on him and begin building a professional book. I’m especially intrigued to get a look at his secondary skills. The 18-year-old is in a prime position for full-season baseball next year. Whether he can have sustained success hinges upon how well he can manage plate appearances. The talent and potential will likely put him in the conversation for a top-10 spot in Boston’s system this offseason. Proving he’s advanced and can adjust quickly during the 2015 season will put him in the discussion for more. –Chris Mellen

Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers (Short-season Ogden)
A true two-way talent, Verdugo endured an up-and-down spring for Sahuaro High School (Tucson), both at the plate and on the bump, giving evaluators little help in determining where he would fit best as a professional. The Dodgers popped him in the second round (62nd overall), announcing him as an outfielder, and in just over 200 plate appearances this summer Verdugo has responded with aplomb. Entering Sunday’s playoff match-up with Orem, the former Arizona State commit is slashing .353/.421/.511 while walking in 10 percent, and striking out in just 9 percent, of his plate appearances. He’s hitting for average and power (31 percent of his hits have gone for extra bases) and, despite below-average foot speed, is a perfect 11 for 11 in stolen base attempts.

Verdugo should face his share of challenges next year in a Midwest League famous for difficult hitting environments, particularly during the frigid early-season months. Scouts will be particularly interested to see how he handles the inevitable struggles, as a common ding on his profile pre-draft was a tendency to get flustered and expand the zone; some even noted issues with effort and interest when things weren’t breaking right. For now, the biggest concern surrounding Verdugo is figuring out how high he should debut on the Dodgers’ Top 10 when we publish it in early December. —Nick J. Faleris

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newsense
9/08
Does Chavis have a defensive home?
NickFaleris
9/08
I think you could make a case for developing him at 3B, 2B, and even C.
cmellen
9/08
I think it will be interesting to see which of the infield positions he' s trending towards out of the gate. For me, I'd lean towards seeing if it will work at third and whether the bat can stick on the left side of the diamond.