Two months ago, I took a break from baseball writing to help relocate our family of six from Georgia to upstate New York. We sold and purchased a new home, packed eight U-Boxes without any help from movers and drove the 940 miles to a sleepy suburb outside of Rochester.
In the Eastern League, baseball prospects are just a step or two away from a Major League debut. Sometimes, the best prospects in baseball will jump from Double-A to the show, but this group of players is still developing and a year or two away from MLB. After a handful of scouting pieces on the best prospects scouted in a series between Trenton (Yankees) and Bowie (Orioles), these notes on select Yankees and Orioles prospects empties the notebook so to speak. Gary Sanchez is the headliner, but several names can fill big league roles — especially if negotiations with David Robertson go wrong.
Considered a reach as the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Hunter Dozier tore up the lower levels of minor league baseball. And with the Kansas City Royals organization lacking a true big league caliber starter at the hot corner, Dozier has a chance to move quickly. However, a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals saw his numbers fall dramatically from .295/.397/.429 to .209/.303/.312. Are the top-100 prospect’s upper-level struggles a sign of things to come, or a blip on the radar as he makes adjustments?
After winning the Texas League batting title, excitement surrounds second baseman Odubel Herrera as he heads into a Rule-5 eligible off-season. However, the top-20 Rangers prospect resides in a system filled with upper-level middle infielders including big-league starters Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor and defensive specialists Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto. A successful return from a recurring shoulder injury by Jurickson Profar would further clog Herrera’s path to the big leagues. Will the Frisco RoughRider be able to separate himself from the pack or will he need to find his way to another organization for an everyday job?
After declining Alex Rios’ option for 2015, does waiting on Double-A Frisco RoughRider Nick Williams to develop make sense? The Texas Rangers have a hole to fill in the outfield and the best MLB options are a struggling Michael Choice, or former minor league free agents Jake Smolinksi and Jim Adduci. This leaves Texas to choose between signing or acquiring 2015’s starting right fielder, or flipping a coin from within. As the club works to identify a replacement, does the organization need to take a wait and see approach with Williams and Nomar Mazara (ROTOscouting Report) on the horizon?
In Year one A.M. (After Mo) the Yankees’ bullpen did not miss a beat. In Year two, 2014 draftee, Jacob Lindgren, needs to chip in and keep the ship afloat. The 2013 season saw failed starting pitching prospect, Dellin Betances, author one of the greatest relief seasons of all time. In doing so, he stakes a claim as closer of the future. Adam Warren, former back of the rotation starting pitching prospect, improved on a solid 2013 major league debut as a reliever. And David Robertson, after years of serving as the setup man for Mariano Rivera, was excellent in his first year as the team’s closer. Unfortunately for the Yankees, as quickly as Robertson established himself as closer, free agency may find him in another uniform next season. As the Yankees consider what to do with Robertson, Lindgren looms large.
Ray Black is a relative unknown in prospect circles. Who wouldn’t be after missing two seasons with Labrum surgery and its lingering effects? Entering 2014, the right-handed pitcher was finally healthy and able to pitch his first innings as a professional. The results? 35.1 innings and a 71/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And with just 16 hits allowed, his WHIP was a miniscule 0.93. Now 24, is Black a fast riser capable of replacing a key piece in the veteran laden Giants bullpen?
Keury Mella entered 2014 as a prospect with helium, but a June injury put the breaks on a successful season with the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League. Behind a big fastball, the San Francisco Giants prospect posted a 2.79 FIP in full season baseball with strong strikeout (8.55/9) and walk (1.76/9) rates. Upon returning from injury, the organization had the right-handed pitcher rehab and finish out the season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes where he dominated. Entering 2015, will Mella’s stuff translate to a successful California League stint and cement him as a top prospect in the Giants system?
Ep. 6 of the ROTOscouting Baseball Podcast features Joel Henard and I discussing the Royals World Series run, MLB playoffs, the top-50 fantasy baseball prospects scouted and Boston Red Sox prospects with David Laurila of FanGraphs. It’s a fast paced hour filled packed with the best in fantasy baseball fueled by baseball scouting.
Was Orioles prospect Chance Sisco the best pure hitter in the South Atlantic League in 2014? After batting a lowly .249 in 13 April games, the left-handed hitter never hit below .321 in a subsequent month, peaking at .404 in June. Overall, his .344 batting average paired beautifully with a .406 on base percentage and .448 slugging percentage. At 19, this level of offensive production is unheard of from a catching prospect. In fact, the top high school catcher in Sisco’s draft class, Reese McGuire, managed a .262/.307/.334 line in the same division. Does the 2013 second round pick’s outstanding offensive performance match his present set of skills?
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