Results tagged ‘ Wil Myers ’
By Danny Wild
As the photo editor for MiLB.com, it’s an annual mission to get the latest, freshest images of baseball’s top prospects with their new teams. Some of MLB.com’s top prospects were promoted to new levels for Opening Day 2013, like Jurickson Profar, Oscar Taveras and Jose Fernandez, a Marlins right-hander who made the jump from Class A Advanced Jupiter to Miami.
Above, Profar helped the Round Rock Express turn a double play against the Omaha Storm Chasers on April 4, 2013 (Photo by Robert Backman). Baseball’s No. 1 prospect, who missed the cycle by a double on April 12, is batting .265 with a homer, six RBIs, three steals and a .432 on-base percentage in 10 games since joining his Pacific Coast League affiliate.
Taveras (I have a Minor League hold on him in fantasy) had a four-hit night on April 12 and is batting .289 with a homer, four RBIs and one steal in 10 games. Allison Rhoades of the Memphis Redbirds snapped this image on April 10.
Some anticipated Myers would begin the year in Tampa Bay, but the Rays are showing patience (some may term it otherwise) with the young outfielder — at Durham, he’s batting an even .300 with 11 RBIs and three extra-base hits (no home runs) in his first 13 games. Myers hit 37 homers last year but hasn’t gone deep yet, although he owns a .393 OBP. Thanks to Carl Kline for the snapshot above.
Taillon is back in Curve, Pa., as they call it, for his second season at the Double-A level. The Altoona 6-foot-6 right-hander (photographed above by Mark Olson) has been really sharp so far with 20 strikeouts and just two earned runs allowed in 18 innings over three starts. Taillon, ranked below No. 1 overall Draft pick Gerrit Cole, is 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA (not a typo).
I spoke with Taillon last week after his 10-strikeout effort against Harrisburg, a start in which he faced two of Washington’s top prospects in Anthony Rendon and Brian Goodwin.
“I felt good, felt strong,” Taillon said. “The last strikeout was the best fastball coming out of my hand all night. They were pretty competitive walks, they were all real close pitches on 3-2 counts. [Nationals top prospect Anthony] Rendon and Souza, I wasn’t going to let those guys beat me.”
Taillon has some interesting stuff to say about scouting reports and how much attention he pays to them. In a time where video and analysis is looked over constantly by fans and players alike, Taillon had a throw-back approach to pitching.
“I was talking to my [pitching] coach, we had a general idea how we’d want to attack them,” Taillon explained. “But I don’t like scouting reports — when it comes down to it, it comes down to my gut, whatever I feel. I see what the hitter does and I throw my pitches and keep going from there.”
To close, I made it out to Citi Field two weeks ago to photograph Jose Fernandez’s Major League debut against the Mets. Citi Field is a nice place to shoot with the secondary photo wells behind home plate, and Fernandez looked pretty composed in his first start.
Here’s some more photos of Fernandez’s big league debut.
There are three main reasons, I think, why baseball is a game so full of player-to-player comparisons.
- because its history, both recent and deep in the past, is so well documented
- because well-kept statistics make it easier to provide beyond-what-the-eye-can-see evidence that a comp is justifiable
- because juxtaposing two ballplayers (or teams or leagues or eras with or without the use of stats) helps us connect our dad’s Major Leagues to our own
Why comps are so prevalent in the talk of prospects should be obvious then: Pitting a retired or current big leaguer against a projected one allows us to connect our own Majors to the future’s.
Thanks to my many conversations with scouts and Minor League managers/coaches as I report stories for MiLB.com, I have come across — and very often asked direct questions to yield — prospects-to-players comps. Here are some I have included in stories in recent months:
- Rangers third baseman has Scott Rolen-like hands.
- Padres catcher Austin Hedges has the athleticism of a young Brad Ausmus.
- Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor plays the game as smoothly as Robinson Cano.
- White Sox infielder Carlos Sanchez has Roberto Alomar-like ability (and the talent level of Robin Ventura).
- Astros third baseman Rio Ruiz is starting the same journey Eric Chavez already took.
- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has many of the same skills Vinny Castilla once showcased.
- Astros first baseman Nate Freiman can become Mark Trumbo Lite.
And lately, here are comparisons I’ve heard in other media reports:
- The Rays’ Wil Myers is the next Dale Murphy.
- The Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras has the violent yet effective hack of Vlad Guerrero.
- The Cubs’ Jorge Soler takes BP like a right-handed Cliff Floyd.
- The Rangers’ Jurickson Profar has a Chase Utley-like lefty swing.
A Frame of Reference
Why I like employing comps in my reporting — and why, I assume, you like reading them — is that putting, say, A’s infield prospect Grant Green side by side with longtime Rangers infielder Michael Young (now the Phillies’ third baseman) gives us a sense of how good Green can become. If we’ve made a smart comp with Green and Young, we know right away how good the former can eventually become: an average defender with a plus contact rate at the plate. We now have a frame of reference.
Today is the first day of Major League Spring Training games — we’ll have to wait longer on the Minors — so we are getting our first looks at lineups with prospects: what positions they’re playing, what slot in the order they’re hitting, etc. For example: Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos, two of the Tigers’ top three prospects, started in right and left field and batted eighth and ninth, respectively, on Jim Leyland’s first card of the exhibition season.
Anyway, that was enough for me to ponder this question: If you could make a lineup — one through nine, with a DH instead of a pitcher — comprising entirely prospects, what would it look like? Well, after doing some thinking, here is what I came up with:
I’m guessing this will be one of the more divisive blog posts in PROSPECTive’s brief history, so allow me in advance to explain some of my choices:
- Profar (Rangers): He is the Minors’ most dynamic player, not quite the base-stealer that the Reds’ Billy Hamilton is, but a much better hitter for both average and power. He would also play a very good shortstop.
- Yelich (Marlins): Hamilton and the Red Sox’s Jackie Bradley contended for this center field slot, but I couldn’t pass up Yelich, who might be the Minors’ most natural hitter. He also has decent power and smarts on the basepaths. I would trust the him to form a solid atop-the-order combo with Profar — they’d make for a good hit-and-run combo.
- Myers (Rays): Speaking of natural hitters, the Royal-turned-Ray might be a better fit for the lineup’s cleanup spot, but I like to alternate lefties and righties so as to stop the skipper in the other dugout from bringing in a relief specialist that would cross off back-to-back sluggers. Superficial of me, I know.
Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 77-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Andrew: Ryan, Starling (now the Royals’ No. 1 prospect) has a higher overall ceiling than Arcia (the Twins’ seventh-ranked farmhand), but it’s not quite that simple. For one, we have larger sample sizes of Arcia — he has played parts of five seasons in the Minors versus Starling who finally completed his first Short-Season in 2012. Therefore, we know a lot more about Arcia. He has, for example, proven he can hit Double-A pitching. Starling hasn’t. That should explain why Starling has greater potential but Arcia has a greater chance at realizing his. And that’s as a hitter. As a defender, there’s less debate: Arcia will top out as an average corner outfielder while Starling is already an outstanding center fielder. If you’re asking me which player I would in my organization, I’d take Starling if only because his talent is too great to pass up.
Andrew: Interesting question, Charlie. If you followed the Drillers in 2012, you already know that Arenado was solid but not spectacular in the way that his ’11 season in the Minors and Arizona Fall League suggested he might be. Dickerson, meanwhile, continued his quick ascension in the Rockies’ system. With that said, my educated guess would be that Arenado has the better season in ’13. His ability to make contact at all costs, plus his cerebral approach at the plate will give him a better shot against the advanced pitching he will face at Triple-A. I know less of the approach used by Dickerson, who will also play for the Pacific Coast League’s Colorado Springs Sky Sox for the first time next spring, but it’s obvious that he is more prone to striking out. Both are well equipped to produce, but my money is on Arenado. I would not be at all surprised to see him jump back into the conversation of best Minor League hitter.
Andrew: This is actually a very easy choice for me, Pierre. I firmly believe Smyly is and will continue to be the best of the quartet you mention. As long as he can stay healthy, Smyly is the one of the four that, in my mind, can be a No. 2 starter in a good Major League rotation. When pitching their best, the other three, are no more than No. 3s. I have seen (and written about) Griffin and Straily the most of these hurlers and that helps inform my opinion here: Griffin will be challenged to repeat his 2012 results (2.82 ERA in the Minors, 3.06 in the Majors) given his lack of a truly plus offering; he will always need to be mixing his pitches well to stay a mental step ahead of hitters. And Straily led the Minors in strikeouts but then found out that fanning Major Leaguers is a different task altogether. He has an excellent slider and a strong changeup, but he consistently leaves his fastball up in the zone, which is hard to get away with in the Majors. I know less of Chen but simply based on age, past numbers and future projections, Smyly comes out well ahead.
Anonymous: How do you evaluate the most recent trades: Myers and Odorizzi to Tampa Bay and Bauer to Cleveland?
Andrew: Well, this question would fall under this blog’s While You and I Were Out category. I was not scheduled to work the last four days and here is what I (and perhaps you, missed):
Our story Sunday: Royals send top prospects to Rays
My take: I understand why Kansas City felt it had to acquire starting pitching, but I completely disagree with how they went about it, yielding three top prospects (and a solid fourth) whom Tampa can control contractually for six years. I’m also on record as a strong believer in the bat of outfielder Wil Myers, who is the best player going to the Rays. Jake Odorizzi will be better than Wade Davis, too. And it seemed like the Royals just threw Mike Mongtomery into the deal. I’m not a believer in Montgomery, but he has the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the trade and is yet another example of KC underselling on the value of its own farmhands.
Our story Tuesday: Bauer sent to Tribe in three-team deal
My take: This deal didn’t involve as many elite-level prospects and wasn’t as lopsided, but it also leaves me wondering about one team’s decision. No matter how highly the D-backs rated Didi Gregorius, the shortstop prospect they’re getting from the Reds, and how much they have soured on pitcher Trevor Bauer, the pitching prospect they’re sending to the Indians, this trade makes little to no sense. It boils down to trading baseball’s No. 5 prospect (Bauer) for the No. 5 prospect in Cincinnati’s system (Gregorius). I realize Arizona was shortstop-starved, but will Gregorius hit that much more than in-house option Cliff Pennington, who is also a very good defender? I’m not so sure.
If Arizona was set on 1) getting a shortstop, 2) unloading Bauer and 3) involving three clubs, I would have explored this one a week or so ago:
D-backs get: Mike Olt (3B from TEX), Luis Sardinas (SS from TEX), Wil Myers (OF from KC), Christian Colon (SS from KC), Mike Montgomery (SP from KC)
Royals get: Trevor Bauer (SP from ARI), Martin Perez (SP from TEX)
Rangers get: Justin Upton (OF from ARI)
What do you think?
Let’s keep this all very simple and put it in bullet-form. According to a report Friday from the venerable Jeff Passan:
- the Royals are willing to trade their top prospect — and, perhaps, baseball’s top prospect — Wil Myers
- the Royals will seek young, front-line starting pitching in any deal for Myers
- the Royals have discussed such a swap with the Rays, the D-backs, the A’s and the Mariners
As much as it might seem a surprise for a down-and-out, on-its-way-back team to be “dangling” or “shopping” such an impactful slugger with zero Major League service time, this news should not, in fact, come as a surprise. Let’s stay simple and explain why:
- the Royals appear set with their outfield to begin 2013 — and unwilling to make room for Myers (he could force the issue with a big Spring Training)
- the Royals appear set with an offensive nucleus of young sluggers (which includes the names Butler, Gordon, Moustakas, Hosmer, Perez — not Myers)
- the Royals do not appear set with their starting rotation (in no small part because prospects Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer have stalled in the Minors)
Which brings us to the Rays, the D-backs, the A’s and the Mariners. What Passan doesn’t tell us, I will. What he doesn’t tell us, of course, is which pitching prospects Kansas City might be targeting from each of these four potential trading partners. Let’s take them one at a time:
- Major League rotation: James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb/Jeff Niemman
- Expendable prospects: Chris Archer (AAA), Alex Torres (AAA), Alex Colome (AAA), Enny Romero (High-A), Felipe Rivero (A), Taylor Guerrieri and Blake Snell (Low-A)
- The proposal for Myers: Chris Archer and Taylor Guerrieri for Myers
- Why it Wil/won’t work: The Rays will be loathe to part with two elite hurlers and may insist on an Archer-and-anybody-but-Guerrieri package, but including their 2011 first-round draftee probably puts them ahead in the race to land Myers. And Tampa Bay might overpay (in its mind) to get a can’t-miss slugger that it can control contractually for the next six years. … Don’t discount Romero or Rivero, who like Guerrieri are far away from the Majors, but have very live arms.
- Major League rotation: Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Hudson, Wade Miley, Pat Corbin/Tyler Skaggs
- Expendable prospects: Trevor Bauer (AAA), David Holmberg (AA), Anthony Meo (High-A), Archie Bradley (A)
- The proposal for Myers: Trevor Bauer, David Holmberg and Anthony Meo for Myers and SS/2B prospect Christian Colon
- Why it Wil/won’t work: We’ve seen national reports that — before they were shot down — depicted the D-backs making and taking calls on Trevor Bauer. So this could be the trade makes the most sense: Arizona trades a pitcher it undervalues to Kansas City for a slugger it undervalues. Has there ever been a prospects-only deal that could also be a change-of-scenery-needed swap for both players? … I expanded my proposal above to include two more Arizona hurlers because we know that the D-backs are starving for a shortstop and that the Royals’ Colon, while not a plus defender at the position, can hit enough to play there. (And Colon is obviously blocked in K.C. by Alcides Escobar.)
- Major League rotation: Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, Bartolo Colon/Brandon McCarthy (free agent)
- Expendable prospects: Dan Straily (AAA), Brad Peacock (AAA), Sonny Gray (AA), A.J. Cole (High-A)
- The proposal for Myers: Dan Straily and Brad Peacock for Myers
- Why it Wil/won’t work: What do Billy Beane and Co. in Oakland have going for them? They may be the lone club of the four that can offer Dayton Moore two Major League-ready, top-of-the-rotation pitchers. The Royals could insist on the more-proven A.J. Griffin or the higher-ceiling Cole, but it’s hard to imagine them not being at least instrigued by a Straily-Peacock combo. … One flaw in this proposal is really two: Peacock, for all of his stuff, had a 6.01ERA at Triple-A this year, and it would behoove GM Moore to wonder if he is too much like another exiled Athletic right-hander: Vin Mazzaro.
- Major League rotation: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez
- Expendable prospects: Danny Hultzen (AAA), Taijuan Walker (AA), James Paxton (AA), Brandon Maurer (AA), Jordon Shipers (A)
- The proposal for Myers: Danny Hultzen and Jordan Shipers for Myers
- Why it Wil/won’t work: Of the four, this deal has the most obstacles to getting done. The Mariners will offer Danny Hultzen, the Royals will want Taijuan Walker, and the Mariners will not want to counter with the logical next best thing: Hultzen AND James Paxton. And I don’t blame them. The M’s MLB rotation is thin, and all three members of the Hultzen-Walker-Paxton trio will probably be needed in Seattle by 2014. Pulling off this transaction would be as gutsy as that Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero memory of last offseason.
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 42-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Kourage Kundahl: If you’re Cincinnati, how do you handle Billy Hamilton? Develop further in Double-A Pensacola, or put him on the AAA fast track?
If I’m Cincinnati, I would start Hamilton at Triple-A Louisville next season. He did enough at Pensacola in 2012 with his bat (.286 .AVG, .406 OBP and 36-43 BB-K in 50 games) to prove that he is ready for another challenge. The International League will present that challenge. The 22-year-old switch-hitter has work to do at the plate — making his swing more fluid would be a start — if he and the Reds want him to be more than a base-stealer. (Remember, to be a good base-stealer, you need to be able to get on base consistently.) So will Hamilton start ’13 in Louisville? The only way, I think, he could be held back for more seasoning at Double-A is if Walt Jocketty and Co. are unimpressed with the shortstop-turned-center fielder’s acclimation on defense. Hamilton is learning his new position in the Arizona Fall League, however, and he obviously has the athleticism and the baseball smarts to be, at least, an average defender. There’s no reason he can’t work on that part of his game at Triple-A, one level below the bigs.
Mike Squier: Could I get your complete analysis of Tyler Collins in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system? What are the chances of him getting to the bigs? His strikeout-to-walk ratio, plus 20 stolen bases — interesting…
Collins is definitely a guy that deserves to be talked about more following his 2012 at Class A Advanced Lakeland: .290/.371/.429 and, as you mentioned that 58-64 BB-K ratio and 20-for-23 success rate on the basepaths. I am high on Collins’ bat, as his swing is not unlike his stature: short, but powerful. It’s hard to argue with his production, too. Where my enthusiasm declines: Collins is, at most, an average defender in left field and, despite that 20-steal total, is very likely a 10-to-12 steal guy when he gets to the bigs. And that was your other question, wasn’t it? His chances of getting to the bigs? I would put them very high because of that bat, his one standout tool. He will be able to hit Major League pitching, though we might differ on how well and how often he goes deep. From the reports I have read, Collins will hit some home runs but should be considered more of a gap-to-gap hitter. This is all starting to sound familiar. Andy Dirks 2.0?
J.P. Schwartz: Who are your top five overall prospects for 2013 and why? Thanks.
Below is my top five, though I preface the list with this: Rankings, as much as you and I might love them, are very subjective and often poorly defined. Are we talking about, for example, the five Minor Leaguers who have the highest ceilings, the five Minor Leaguers with high ceilings who are most likely to reach them or some combination of the two? And is a player further along in his development ranked ahead of a player that is, say, only a year into his career? Every so-called expert weighs these things differently. Let me tell you that I am ranking players with high ceilings who are almost certain to reach them, and I should also add that I show a subjectivity toward position players. (That there are three pitchers in my top five — and seven pitchers in MLB.com’s top 10 — shows just how many elite pitching prospects there are knocking on the door of the bigs.)
1. Wil Myers: He is most natural hitter in the Minor Leagues. From talking to him, opposing pitchers and the Royals, I get the sense that Myers can make up his mind whether he wants to his .330 with some power and some strikeouts or .300 with more power and a lot more strikeouts. Either way, he was the best offensive player in the Minors in 2012 and, barring an Opening Day nod in Kansas City, will be again in 2013. I also like the fact that Myers adds value not only with his versatility, but also his deftness at playing any outfield position as well as third base.
2. Jurickson Profar: No. 1 on a lot of others’ charts, I have Profar a step below Myers despite the fact that he plays a premium position (shortstop) at a potentially gold glove-caliber level. Why then? Well, Profar is still 19 and, in my mind, a ways off from being a star in the Majors. He could probably be an above-average Major Leaguer tomorrow, which is why I don’t disagree with the Rangers promoting him late last season, but he’s not as far along his career path as Myers, who could star tomorrow. One other thing I like about Profar: Like Manny Machado, he seems to play “up” to his level of competition. Not all prospects are like that.
3. Dylan Bundy: At 19 and in his first season, Bundy not only got to Double-A, but to the Majors. And I’m not sure it will be long before he’s back for good. The right-hander has as much or more stuff and poise of any Minor League pitching prospect. And as long as we’re talking ceilings, Bundy is very sure to reach his. Ironically, that is also my only qualm — and many scouts’, too — with the Orioles’ ace of the future. Is he peaking now? How can he get any better? He’s a workout fiend and, at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, isn’t going to change his body as he ages (he turns 20 in eight days, by the way). How good will be when he can no longer pump his fastball up to triple digits? Those questions explain why Baltimore was so intent on Bundy improving his secondary pitches, particularly his changeup, this year.
4. Gerrit Cole: Because I’m working in New York City and not at a Minor League ballpark near you, I tend to place a greater emphasis on a prospect’s actual production than other scribes. It’s a more data-driven, on-the-surface way of looking at things, but I don’t have the scout’s eye that tells me that a guy with an ERA over 5.00 is a better prospect than a guy sporting an ERA sub-3.00. Which bring me to Cole, who happens to projectable and productive. He was consistently strong, if not stellar, in 26 starts in 2012. (He was the No. 1 overall draftee in 2011 but didn’t pitch that season.) I would expect him to be in the Majors by next June.
5. Jose Fernandez: Some won’t have this Marlins farmhand among their top 25 prospects for 2013, let alone their top five. And, to be honest, I can’t understand why. His 1.75 ERA at Class A and Class A Advanced this year shows that, at age 20 and in his first full season, he was facing inferior competition. That won’t be the case when he begins next year at Double-A Jacksonville. Based on where I have him ranked, of course, I expect him to excel there as well.
Josh Pfaffle: Do you think Nick Franklin can make the Mariners roster next year and produce?
Next year, yes. To start next year, I’m not sure. Franklin is a strong prospect, but he hasn’t yet proven his bat against Triple-A pitching: .243/.310/.416 in 64 games at Tacoma last year. I have little doubt that he can, but that’s not the only obstacle to clear before he joins the Mariners. After playing mostly shortstop at Double-A Jackson, the 21-year-old switch-hitter started playing more second base at Tacoma and is playing there almost exclusively in the Fall League. If Seattle’s brass deems him a better defensive fit there, a decision will have to be made about him or incumbent Dustin Ackley.
Josh Pfaffle: How do you think the Mariners prospects will affect the big league team, and how far are they away? Do you see James Paxton or any other prospects getting traded for a proven bat?
That Big Three — starting pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Paxton — needs at least another half-season (and, likely, a full season or more) of development in the Minors. That leaves Franklin, who would need to catch fire in Spring Training to make the Opening Day club, and catcher Mike Zunino, who is probably another full season away, too. So as far as the M’s elite prospects making a difference, I would expect them to make a significant impact — but not before the 2014 season. And, by the 2015 season, watch out. Sluggers like Brad Miller and Stefen Romero should be in Seattle by then, too. Their presence — and continued emergence — would lessen the pressure to deal away Paxton or one the organization’s other top pitching talents. There is a lot to be excited about if you’re a Mariners fan.
Pierre: Andrew, I have the No. 9 pick in my Dynasty League Rookie Draft. All the players who made their debut in 2012 are available. What’s your top 10 list? Harper, Cespedes, Middlebrooks, Machado, Olt, Profar, Darvish, Harvey, Bauer, S. Miller, Bundy, Skaggs, M.Perez, Odorizzi, etc…
Let me say first off, Pierre, that I’m no fantasy baseball expert. I have suggested to my editor that we start a fantasy baseball advice column at MiLB.com, so that could be an addition to our prospects coverage by Opening Day 2013. That said, I’ll try and help you out now. I’m guessing that Mike Trout, who made his Majors debut in 2011, is not available, or you would have included him in your list. So we’ll leave him off mine, too. I’m also assuming prospects who have yet to appear in the Majors (like, say, Wil Myers) aren’t eligible in your draft, so we’ll stick to prospects who made their MLB debuts in 2012. Here’s my list, in order:
- Bryce Harper
- Manny Machado
- Jurickson Profar
- Dylan Bundy
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Yu Darvish
- Matt Harvey
- Shelby Miller
- Will Middlebrooks
- Tony Cingrani
Reena (from Tucson): Which player this year has surprised you the most by excelling as a player? Who do you see as a breakout star?
I would zero in on Tyler Austin (Yankees) and Dan Straily (A’s). Here are the blurbs I wrote about each player’s “Breakout Prospect” bid for our annual MiLBY Awards coverage:
Austin, a 13th-round draftee in 2010, reached Double-A the week of his 21st birthday during his first healthy season. He hit 14 homers in 70 games, including six in one seven-game stretch, with Class A Charleston.
Straily, a 24th-round draftee in 2009, pitched at three levels, finishing in the Majors. The K’s were his calling card, as he led the Minors most of the year.
As far as identifying the next breakout star, it’s very difficult to pick out a guy who goes from nothing to something in such a short span. Austin and Straily, in all honesty, weren’t on my radar entering last season, and I’m not in the minority on that one. Who’s on my radar entering next season? I’ll give you a hitter and a pitcher: Max Kepler (Twins) and Josh Bowman (A’s), guys I’ve written about on this site.
One of the things you will get from this blog is the baseball gods’ honest truth. Here comes a small dose: I do not have a scouting background. I have a reporting background. So when I read something like Mike Newman’s smart analysis of Bubba Starling’s “lengthy” swing on Fangraphs, I ask around. I can see on video what Newman or a pro scout might explain to be a “hitchy load,” but something like that would be harder to identify on my own. I have not been trained to scout. I have been trained to report.
Which brings me to Royals assistant general manager J.J. Piccolo, whom I interviewed for MiLB.com’s annual, team-by-team Organization All-Stars piece this week. (Look for that piece and others like it here.) I asked Piccolo about the swing mechanics of his organization’s best two prospects: Starling and another righty-hitting outfielder well ahead of him developmentally. That would be Wil Myers, of course.
Myers in the Minors in 2012: .314 AVG, 26 2B, 6 3B, 37 HR, 109 RBI, 140 K in 522 ABs spanning 134 G split between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha
Piccolo review of Myers’ mechanics: ”It’s an awkward stance. He’s upright and open, but he has an incredible hand speed and hand-eye coordination and hits the ball as hard as anyone. The ball off his bat has a different sound.”
Starling in the Minors in 2012: .273 AVG, 8 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 70 K in 200 ABs spanning 53 G at Rookie-level Burlington (he also racked up about 150 at-bats in extended spring training before being assigned to the Appalachian League)
Piccolo review of Starling’s mechanics: ”The strikeout totals are something we need to work on. I don’t think he’s ever going to be low-strikeout guy, so he needs to recognize the situations when contact is necessary. He made a lot of improvement overall, made a minor adjustment in his stance, with his setup. He tends to move the bat a lot, so his barrel will drop some, which leads to a longer swing. He needs to be in a better hitting position with his swing, so his bat is in a good position to hit the ball. He tends to get sweepy [sic] with his swing — he does that maybe only 10 percent of the time, but that could be 50 percent of his at-bats [in the future].”
Comparisons are unfair. Someone always gets slighted. But I love comparisons. (When a scout starts to sentence with, “I don’t like making comparisons, but this guy could be the next…”, a noticeable amount of moisture gathers at the corners of my mouth.)
This one might be more of a contrast: Starling, the third overall pick in 2010, is not the natural hitter that Myers, a third-rounder in 2009, is and the guess here is that he never will be. But it is very interesting to look at these two players and their burgeoning careers, even if one is three years behind the other.
For instance, Myers began his first full season in 2010, where Starling just finished his: with the Rookie-level B-Royals. How did he fare there? Let’s put his numbers right alongside Starling’s to — yes — compare:
Myers: .289 AVG, 19 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 48 BB, 55 K in 242 ABs spanning 68 G
Starling: .273 AVG, 8 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 28 BB, 70 K in 200 ABs spanning 53 G
Doesn’t look like that big of a difference, until you notice Myers struck out 15 fewer times in 15 more games. That is a big even if the sample size is not.
Now, we know what Myers went on to, becoming the Minor League leader in home runs and one of the best hitting prospects yet to appear in a big league ballgame. We don’t know where Starling will end up, if he can make adjustments to his swing along the way. This should all be kept in mind when discussing — and comparing — two Kansas City kids who are destined to be compared and discussed.
Oh, and one other thing: Myers may be the better hitter, but Starling is the superior outfielder.