In the 2013 draft, Kansas City drafted Hunter Dozier in the first round. Considered an overdraft at the time, he clubbed the Pioneer League into submission before producing an 800-plus OPS in the South Atlantic League. With doubters silenced, Royals fans are looking to him as an answer at third base in Kansas City. The team is in first place despite a horrid season from Mike Moustakas. With “Moose” looking like a bust, is Dozier the answer at the hot corner?
2014 has been a struggle for the Texas Rangers. Injuries to key players including Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, others has them out of playoff contention in June. Big league disappointment gives way to minor league promise, however, as the team has a strong Myrtle Beach roster including Joey Gallo [SCOUTING REPORT], Alex Gonzalez [SCOUTING REPORT] and Jorge Alfaro. With Gallo and Gonzalez written up, it’s time to focus on Alfaro. What does the enigmatic backstop have to offer the organization?
In a system decimated by injuries at the highest level, Rangers fans will understandably turn their attention towards an advanced college pitcher from the 2013 draft for help — Alex Chi Chi Gonzalez. The rotation is without Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando; none of these pitchers are expected to return anytime soon. But while the 6-foot-2 right-hander offers plenty of promise as soon as 2015, is a debut this season within the realm of possibility?
An evaluator drives around for hours, sometimes days (a shout-out to our faithful editor in chief Mike Newman) looking to see something to cause their jaw to hit the floor. All of this driving turns up plenty of guys with average tools; it even leads to a smattering of plus tools. Sometimes, they see something they’ve never seen before. On Sunday night, I saw Joey Gallo. It was exciting to walk into Five County Stadium for a 6:00 PM showdown between the hometown Carolina Mudcats (Cleveland Indians High-A affiliate) and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers High-A affiliate). After seeing what the Rangers had to offer a few weeks ago in Hickory, it was time to to see scout last year’s top Crawdads deemed ready to the next developmental rung in the ladder.
Ronald Guzman is the kind of prospect who can change one’s perspective on how to evaluate young ballplayers. Behind every report is an evaluator typing away at the computer at a frenzied pace — sure in their convictions and what they know about baseball, each writes what he/she believes a player will be years from the date of the report. Most do this knowing the results will be used to evaluate a scout’s individual success, or lack thereof. The athletic pitcher with three potential plus pitches and great arm-action is a future three-starter. The athletic shortstop with a plus hit tool is going to be an impact player. But every once in a while, a player comes along who bursts the bubble of preferences every evaluator has. On a chilly April night, Ronald Guzman mashed his way through any preconceived notions I had, and showed the kind of tools that one does not see in many young hitters.
JP Crawford is the Phillies SS of the future.The 16th overall pick in last year’s MLB Amateur Draft, JP Crawford was touted as one of the best shortstop prospects in the entire class. While most were aware of Crawford’s top-line tool set, he surprised by hitting .345 in the Gulf Coast League games to open up his pro career. For a Phillies system that lacks impact prospects beyond Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle, JP Crawford is an exciting prospect for an organization in transition.
Scouts, writers, and prospect aficionados of all kinds perk up when the Hickory Crawdads, Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers arrive in town. With four 1st round draft picks (as well as a 2nd and 3rd rounder) including Lewis Brinson, Travis Demeritte, Kellin Deglan, and major international free agents (IFA) such as Ronald Guzman, Nomar Mazara, Jairo Beras, the roster is loaded with potential impact talent. This team yields scouting reports for weeks, if not months. First up, Lewis Brinson, the Rangers 1st round draft pick in 2012, offers an intriguing tool set that is both fun to watch and capable of MLB-value in the future. The right-handed hitter was 1-5 on Saturday, with two strikeouts and a moonshot home run. Onlookers witnessed both the good and bad of what Brinson brings to a scouting report.
The International League will play home to MLB top prospects waiting for their service clock to pass midnight. In 2013, Nick Castellanos, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Billy Hamilton, and Gerrit Cole spent time at the level, and 2014 will be another strong season in terms of top prospects with impact potential. This season, more than a dozen current and former top-100 prospects will open the year in Triple-A with a shot at MLB glory.
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