Throughout March, the BP Prospect Team is invading both Arizona and Florida to get some fresh looks at players as they prepare for their 2015 assignments. Between now and the start of the minor league season, they’ll be providing updates (and videos) on the prospects you know and love—and quite a few that you may not.
Amed Rosario, SS, Mets
Known for his glove, and rightly so, Rosario remains as smooth as ever in the field and more than capable of remaining at shortstop for the duration of his career. His long strides lead to plus range, and a quick easy release and strong arm should make him a plus defender at a premium position. There is plenty of time for his bat to catch up to his glove, given that he’s barely dipped a toe into the full-season waters, but it’s going to take major strides in overhauling his swing. Its current iteration involves far too much movement and a significant weight shift that will give him issues against the better breaking balls he has yet to see. Lastly, at just 19, it’s unsurprising that he’ll need to add weight to ever drive the baseball with any authority, but his frame isn’t one that’s built to support a significant weight gain. He can get stronger, but he’s likely to always be thin.
Jhoan Urena, 3B, Mets
Soon to be the jewel of the Mets system, this was my third look at Urena and he gets more impressive with each rendition. Still just 20 and slated for his first taste of full-season ball this year, Urena was clearly the best player on any of the four backfields early in spring training, with most top major-league ready prospects still in major-league camp. Our write-up in the Mets top 10 list said “The knock on Urena is a body that doesn’t really look the part and offers some concerns on how it is going to progress into his mid-20s,” but my first look in 2015 already negates that concern. Gone is last year’s baby fat, replaced by muscle and good weight. Urena has gone from soft to svelte and even more raw power has followed, as he put on a show in batting practice, hitting a far-off shed and frightening maintenance workers. He uses a pronounced leg-kick from both sides of the plate, and while his swing is slightly longer from the left side it also features more natural uppercut. He’s built to drive the baseball and attacks it as such. His body change should increases his chances at staying at third base, and while he might never be an above-average defender or have plus range, he has the hands and arm to remain there.
Luis Guillorme, SS, Mets
There’s a good chance Guillorme never hits enough to play on a regular basis, but putting plus grades on his glove is about as easy as scouting gets. He’s the epitome of smooth, and ideal baseball actions and a plus arm that can play anywhere in the infield. There’s no power in his swing and not much projection left in his 20-year-old frame, but the glove/arm combo is good enough to carve out a role.
Michael Conforto, OF, Mets
Solid is the best way to describe Conforto, in almost every aspect. A solid build and solid collection of tools project him to be a solid major leaguer. There’s not a lot of flash in his game, nor is their a ton of room for growth, but the close-to-finished product has a high floor and a slew of usable, average tools that make for a future everyday player. His frame isn’t long, which, coupled with a two-hand finish, keeps his swing compact and direct to the ball. There is some natural uppercut lift in the swing that should generate some carry and lead to average over-the-fence power. He won’t wow you with tools, and most of his value is riding on his bat, but he should provide enough to carry him to a nice, long career.
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets
Batting practice is Smith’s time to shine, as it allows him to show off his plus raw power that has been otherwise stymied during game action since turning pro. The difference is in the approach. In practice, Smith looks to drive the ball. In games, he does not. A passive approach leads to passive swings instead of attacking the baseball. The good news is that the bat speed is still present. The bad news is that he shows little interest in making adjustments, or much else that’s taking place on the field around him. His body is already worse than it was this time last year, a major concern for a 19-year-old already limited to first base, but his body language may be even worse. Smith had his struggles last year in Savannah, admittedly an incredibly tough place for power hitters, but the Florida State League won’t be much easier this season, so he’ll need to start producing regardless of hitting environment.
Manuel Margot, OF, Red Sox
Some players are built like run producers, but not all embrace it. Margot will have no such problem. Swinging with the force of a mythical lumberjack, Margot attacks fastballs with the intention of never seeing them again. There is no hesitation in his decision-making, as he unleashes a violent force with each attempt to strike the baseball, and does so with a clean bat path and good extension toward the pitcher, keeping his bat within the strike zone for a long period. This helps him to make frequent contact despite the lack of finesse in his offerings. His all-out approach has served him well thus far in Low-A ball, facing older yet less talented competition. As an up-the-middle player with speed to stick but the build of a power hitter and the approach to make the most of it, Margot is a rare combination of force and fast. With great potential comes great responsibility, but if he can rein in his ferocity just ever so slightly, we’re talking about a player who can affect a baseball game in almost every facet.
Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP, Red Sox
Set up with the body of a major-league workhorse, the 21-year-old right-hander doesn’t have the arsenal quite at that level but does enough things well that his developmental curve takes him to the destination of becoming a usable big-league arm. With a low-90s fastball and good, long, clean arm action, the 6-foot-4 Stankiewicz does a good job of generating downward plane toward the plate. His plus command of the pitch allows it to play up. He offers a pair of breaking balls, both inconsistent at present. The low-80s slider has some above-average potential. The variance between the two offers hitters a different look and might help make up for the lack of a good changeup, which is below average at present. Some kind of third, change-of-speed pitch will likely be the difference between a bullpen role and a career as a back-end starter.
You know Wuilmer Becerra (Mets) as the last guy from the R.A. Dickey trade that you hadn’t heard of, but now he’s 20 and will be heading to full season ball with still raw abilities but has tremendous raw power…Javy Guerra (Red Sox) is known for his tremendous glove at shortstop, but he also has surprising pop for his wiry thin frame, showing off with an opposite-field home run in minor-league camp…Michael Chavis (Red Sox) split time between shortstop and third base with in the GCL this season, but his thick legs lead me to believe his days up the middle are numbered, with the big question being how the Red Sox handle he and Devers at third base at the same level…2013 first-rounder Trey Ball had a rough first full season last year, but he creates tremendous downward plane with his fastball, making it tough to barrel up when he puts it in the strike zone.