Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
Nick Gordon is still raw, but flashes the tools to be an above-average big-league shortstop. He’s a skinny, high-waisted player who has the body to fill out and add some lean muscle and strength as he matures.
Gordon is raw offensively, but shows a plus feel for the barrel and ability to hit to all fields. The linear, line-drive swing shows potential for a plus hit tool. He has excellent control of the barrel with the ability to hit to all fields. The power will likely be minimal and more gap-to-gap, but he can turn on the fastball for more power than you would expect from his frame, and that skill should increase as his body matures.
He isn’t a burner, but does have above-average speed. Gordon is quick out of the box—I clocked him at 4.15 to first—and quick defensively. He’s a smart baserunner who goes first to third well and possesses a high baseball IQ, as you would expect from his background. He has a strong arm and solid fundamentals defensively that profile as plus at shortstop, and there is no question he can stick there in the future. –Brandon Decker
Cody Reed, LHP, Kansas City Royals (High-A Wilmington)
The Royals’ second-rounder in 2013, Reed sports a large, well-proportioned pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, with a strong base and length in his torso and arms. His motion features a balanced takeaway but some deceleration in his weight-transfer and a stabbing arm action that flashes warning lights for timing and command. He generates some deception from a high front shoulder and cross-body/slingshot elements to the delivery, though he got quick to his release point at times. It should be taken with a grain of salt on account of the one-inning nature, but in his appearance at the Cal-Carolina League All-Star Game his fastball sat 95–98 (and touched 99) with boring action. The pitch exploded down in the zone, and he backed it up with a tight slider that showed late two-plane darting action at 89–91. It was a premium combination that was tough to pick up out of his hand and made for a particularly uncomfortable at-bat for left-handed hitters.
Reports have him sitting 92–95 as a starter at Wilmington this spring; he has the potential to make noise in the second half. –Wilson Karaman
Mark Zagunis, OF, Chicago Cubs (High-A Myrtle Beach)
As if the Cubs' system needed any more offensive intrigue, they may just have found some in the third round last summer. Zagunis is a converted catcher with the requisite size and strength for the position packed onto a muscular frame. He’s an aggressive player with purpose in his actions, and while he shows strong athleticism in his movement, there’s some rigidity and stiffness in his swing. The bat path is fairly linear and lacks a ton of extension in the follow-through, and that limits his ability to drive pitches to the pull side, but he showed an advanced ability to track pitches and he was consistently short to the ball with above-average bat speed. He controlled the zone well in the All-Star Game despite a couple of whiffs, demonstrating intriguing selectivity in his approach while working up the middle and away in his other three at-bats. I’m not sure how much game power he’s going to be able to develop with the current mechanics and approach, but he showed a very strong baseline package for the hit tool.
Zagunis played center for most of the game and acquitted himself well before sliding over to right. He showed off above-average foot speed into the gap and a strong arm in cutting down an over-aggressive runner at second. The whole package is an interesting one, particularly if continued reps in center yield a player capable of holding down the position even on a part-time basis at higher levels. –Wilson Karaman
Travis Seabrooke, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Short-season Aberdeen)
The Canadian lefty was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. While he was one of the youngest in his draft class, he missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL and is just seeing his first game action since that inaugural 2013 season.
Seabrooke stands tall on the mound, with a 6-foot-6 frame and a projectable body. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, and is able to generate downhill plane on his arsenal. His mechanics are inconsistent at this stage of development, with his front side opening up on his drive and losing tempo often. His arsenal lacks a potential plus offering, but he has three pitches that could all potentially become average. The fastball was sitting 88–90 mph during the first couple of innings before trailing off to 86–88 in the last two innings of his five. The pitch has natural life and arm-side run, which integrates well with the downhill plane he generates. His curveball is a 12–6 offering that has moderate depth and flashes average at its best. His change was the best secondary offering in my viewing, with fade and the potential to be an average offering. Seabrooke needs plenty of refinement before he is able to consistently pitch against stronger competition, but this is a positive sign so far after coming off the ACL injury. –Tucker Blair
Nick Plummer, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Rookie Gulf Coast League)
The 23rd pick in this year’s draft, Plummer is currently getting his feet wet in the Gulf Coast League, an appropriate level for a recent high-school graduate. Using a patient approach at the plate, Plummer offers at the ball with a short stroke, looking to spray line drives to all fields. He’s more slender than his listed weight of 200 pounds would suggest, and doesn’t presently offer much in the power department, though he has the frame to support additional strength. In the field, he shows good actions in center field, ranging gracefully from gap to gap with long strides and a steady eye line and making the most of his abilities with good natural reads off the bat. As with most young players, his ability to stay up the middle of the field will depend on how his body fills out as it ages, but for the meantime, there’s no reason to think he can’t handle center field in the future. –Jeff Moore
Yoan Lopez, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile)
Lopez became a “famous” name over the past week for reasons that had nothing to do with his pitching ability, as he was the subject of debate when the Diamondbacks decided to sell Touki Toussaint in the infamous trade with Atlanta two weeks ago. Since I haven’t seen him in person—Alabama is a bit of a trek from San Diego—I decided to ask an NL East scout who has seen him what type of prospect we’re looking at.
In my looks, he’s looked solid. The fastball is plus; I had him 92–94 for most of the day with some run on it, and I think the frame suggests there’s a couple more ticks to come. The curveball also flashed in that range with pretty good shape and hard spin, though he needs to work on finishing the pitch and it was almost never in the strike zone. I don’t think I saw more than a handful of changes so he’ll need to start throwing that pitch more, especially against left-handed hitters, but the overall stuff suggested starter. The command hasn’t been there, but that’s true for lots of 22-year-old pitchers. Maybe I’m higher than others, but I think mid-rotation starter is what we’re looking at.
Obviously Lopez doesn’t have the upside Toussaint offers, but he might be the safer prospect, and there’s reason for Diamondbacks fans to believe he’ll be a member of the Arizona rotation by 2017. –Christoper Crawford
Alex Jackson, OF, Seattle Mariners (Short-season Everett)
When the Mariners selected Jackson with the sixth-overall pick in 2014 and moved him from behind the plate to the outfield, many believed that decision was made because they wanted to promote his advanced bat quickly through the system. Unfortunately, the Mariners may have put too much faith in the former Rancho Bernardo High School star, as he responded with a .453 OPS at Clinton before Seattle sent him down to Arizona to work through his struggles.
Though the sample size is small, reports are that Jackson has looked much more comfortable in short-season ball, posting a .267 batting average with two doubles and two walks in his 33 plate-appearances. The right-handed-hitting outfielder will still show plus power potential to all parts of the field, but scouts tell me the Mariners are working with Jackson to shorten the swing in-game, which is understandable considering how much he struggled in the Midwest League.
The results have been disappointing, but there’s still plenty of time for Jackson to realize his promising potential. It just may take longer than most figured it would. –Christopher Crawford
Jeff Brigham, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
I had my first live look at Brigham since he was a junior at the University of Washington, and, although there were some shaky moments, there was enough there to believe he has a chance to stick at the back of a rotation.
Brigham’s best pitch is his fastball, a pitch that has been clocked in the high 90s but sat more 92–94 mph in my viewing, with the occasional 96 early on. Because of his size (listed at six feet) he doesn’t get downhill plane, but the pitch does have some run and occasionally had some sink to it as well. The slider was generally 82–84 with some hard tilt, though the pitch doesn’t have the depth or break to be more than an above-average offering. The change has made progress since he was in the Pac-12, not showing much in terms of movement but with better deception from arm speed. He threw all three pitches for strikes on the evening, though command has been a bugaboo in his time in the Dodgers' system.
Brigham’s ceiling appears to be a no. 4 starter, with high-leverage reliever, because of the arm strength, a realistic floor. –Christopher Crawford
Rafael De Paula, RHP, San Diego Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore)
Brigham’s counterpart on Thursday evening was De Paula, a former highly touted prospect with the Yankees who has struggled to put hitters away over the last three years and ended up included in the trade that saw Chase Headley move from the Padres to New York. De Paula still has a plus fastball that sat in the low 90s with sink and touched 95, but the secondary offerings were both below average, showing a 45 slider and a 40—if that—change that had no deception from arm speed and was straight. The delivery was also a mess, with too many moving parts and too much flying open, which leads to obvious command issues.
If I were the Padres, I’d make De Paula throw exclusively out of the stretch and move him to the bullpen. His chances of becoming a starter at this point are slim to none. –Christopher Crawford
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
I was lucky enough to catch Judge just prior to his promotion to Triple-A, and thus out of my coverage area. While the first thing to note about Judge is his extreme size, the next might be the ease with which he carries himself. Whether it’s at the plate or in the field, everything looked low-effort, although the results tended to be anything but. He tracked balls well out of the pitcher’s hand, and off the bat, making one catch in foul ground up against the wall in right field. He also unleashed several throws that showed off an above-average arm that would play as plus if he didn’t take so long to release the ball. His throws lacked oomph but carried well and were extremely accurate.
It was a rough day at the plate; he seemed to have difficulty reacting to a four-pitch mix that saw three pitches arrive within the same velocity band. He was confident in his strike zone, spitting on borderline pitches several times, but seemed to hesitate on some middling stuff while trying decide which (below-average) pitch was on its way. His approach should work well at upper levels, though it’s possible that more advanced pitching will be able to more consistently exploit the holes that exist in such a tall man's swing. When mistakes are made, they’ll likely go a long way, as even a mis-hit from Judge was caught at the wall in this outing. –Craig Goldstein
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