I don’t often hang grades on prospects in my articles. I certainly have a strong interest in grading and I wouldn’t be able to do this job without a pretty good understanding of the process and scale involved. All the same, I’m typically reluctant to do things that would be perceived as me “playing scout,” and it’s easy to embarrass yourself and lose credibility as a writer by consistently pushing a poor grading scale in your pieces. Grading is something I put a lot of thought into, but I find it often doesn’t add much to my articles to include grades.
I had a discussion with a scout a few years ago about grades, and how averse I was (and still am) to labelling someone as having an “80” or “8” tool. The scout quickly agreed with me. We laughed about how despite the fact that there aren’t many 8’s out there, the first few times you see one it’s often… a bit underwhelming, believe it or not. The first time I saw a tool I thought deserved an “80” I thought about it for a couple innings, made damn sure I really felt that way and then finally wrote it down. Then I had a visceral reaction: “Is that it?” “Is that all there is?” “Where is the light shining down from the heavens and the choir of angels that’s supposed to announce this??” The consequence of hanging an 8 on a player’s tool means in 20 or 30 years I should be able to say that tool was the best I ever saw – or at least in the discussion thereof. “That is the best arm I’ll ever see??” The scout laughed and agreed with my sentiment, expressing his own similar reservations and doubts.
Well, I don’t have any reservations or doubts about saying Miguel Sano has 80 power. I’m confident that in my old age if someone asks me who had the most power I ever saw that the name “Sano” will quickly come to mind.
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On May 17th of last year Yan Gomes of the Toronto Blue Jays became the first Brazilian to ever appear in a Major League Baseball game. Chicago White Sox prospect Andre Rienzo is a strong candidate to be the second – and the first pitcher.
Garin Cecchini is the owner of one of the prettiest swings in the minor leagues. Over the last year and a half the Red Sox third base prospect has begun to turn his considerable natural talents into production. Recently Keith Law of ESPN.com even ranked Cecchini among his updated top 25 prospects (subscription required). He’s long been a favorite of mine and he may soon be a favorite for your fantasy team.
I had heard a lot of varied opinions about Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Gerrit Cole over the last couple years so I was glad of the chance to finally lay eyes on him live this week. It’s clear he has tremendous stuff and a talented arm. Whether Cole ever becomes the kind of pitcher who can lead the Pirates staff back to the playoffs or not remains to be seen.
Houston Astros outfield prospect George Springer has some of the loudest tools in the minor leagues. He’s a fantastic athlete with a combination of power and speed that’s rarely found in a player drafted out of college – and a cold weather college at that. Springer has put up some exciting numbers as a professional and offers hope for both fantasy owners and an Astros franchise that really could use some good news.
The New Britain, Connecticut native attended Avon Old Farms School. Avon has been one of the better high school baseball programs in the state in recent years and has sent many players on to Division 1 programs. The Minnesota Twins were intrigued by the raw tools and gave the outfielder a look in the 48th round. Springer didn’t sign and ended up going to UConn as expected. He hit well as a freshman (.358/.454/.679 with 16 home runs) and never stopped hitting for the Huskies. Scouts flocked to the Storrs campus to see Springer along with teammates Mike Olt, Matt Barnes and Nick Ahmed. Springer didn’t disappoint and then also wowed scouting directors on the Cape. He had worked his way into consideration for the top half of the 1st round as a Junior, and the Astros ended up nabbing him with the 11th overall pick. Springer destroyed the California League last season to the tune of .316/.398/.557. He’s off to one of the best starts of any minor leaguer this year with 13 home runs already for Double-A Corpus Christi. The flip side of the coin here is that both those leagues are hitter-friendly and strikeouts have been frequent. Read the rest of this entry »
Center fielder Brian Goodwin has quickly become one of the brightest lights in the Washington Nationals farm system. Goodwin tantalized amateur scouts with his tools since high school. There was some questions about how ready he was for pro ball, but so far the Nats look like they made a shrewd investment in the talented prospect.
When the Twins acquired Alex Meyer in December it marked a turning point of sorts for the organization. Denard Span had been one of the more popular regulars in the Twin Cities going on 6 years. This turning point was about more than sending Span out of town, though. Trading for a true power arm prospect was somewhat out of character for an organization that had recently become known for targeting soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact type hurlers. When G.M. Terry Ryan added Alex Meyer it seemingly punctuated a new trend in the organization’s effort to add well… more pitching in general, but particularly strikeout pitchers and guys who throw hard. Meyer does both these things and he isn’t far from helping Minnesota win ball games.
Left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan entered the 2013 season as one of the top arms in the Philadelphia farm system. I got a chance to see him pitch for triple-A Lehigh Valley last week when they visited Pawtucket.
Morgan was a 3rd round pick (120th overall) in 2011 out of the University of Alabama. He had an up and down college career but showed enough to entice the Phillies to give him $250,000 after his Junior season. Morgan has impressed as a professional. His pro career was punctuated by a strong showing in the Florida State League last season. In 123 innings in the FSL for high-A Clearwater the southpaw struck out 140 batters while only allowing 103 hits and 28 walks. Morgan even ended the year with double-A Reading. Six good starts there apparently convinced the Philadelphia organization that he was ready for triple-A.
I had seen both Tommy Joseph and Ryan Lavarnway before, but when I saw them play against each other on Tuesday the similarities between the two catching prospects were striking. Both are big, bat first catchers. Both strike out a lot. Both hit for a lot of power for backstops. Both have some question marks about their ability to catch every day in the big leagues. What can these guys do for your fantasy team and when?
Tommy Joseph, C, PHI
Last week I took a look at three power arm prospects who could be handling the 9th inning soon for their major league teams. In that article I profiled Detroit’s Bruce Rondon, Toronto’s Marcus Stroman and Seattle’s Carter Capps. Today I thought I’d continue with that theme by looking at a few more players with similar potential who are the property of National League organizations.
Heath Hembree, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Hembree was a 5th round pick in 2010 out of the College of Charleston – a very underrated baseball school. The South Carolina institution has had three or more players drafted every year since 2005. The school hasn’t had a player taken in the 1st round, but they have had three 2nd rounders and also saw current Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner taken in the 3rd round. Hembree was the Closer for a Cougars team that made a run to the NCAA Regional Finals his draft year. A torn right meniscus in his knee and irregular usage somewhat limited his innings in college, but he generated a lot of buzz leading up to the draft. After being picked by the Giants the fireballer then struck out 22 batters in his 11 inning short season pro debut that year. He’s largely continued that success over the last couple seasons.