The Baseball America Top 100 And More Prospects Seen
Yesterday, I discussed Baseball America top-100 prospects scouted who ranked higher than I expected them to. Today, we’ll flip the switch and focus on players who ranked lower than anticipated. For whatever reason, it was much easier to identify guys with too much helium over players with too little. With five of the eight players expected to surface for good in 2013, it won’t be long until this list can be tested.
Mike Zunino – It’s not often I scout a prospect who swings through more than a handful of pitches, strikes out three times, and still impresses. Zunino did that in the Southern League playoffs. His bat whip, swing plane and potential for loft points to a power hitting catcher with a well-rounded offensive game. Of course this is based on the belief Zunino is truly the sub <20% strikeout guy his numbers indicate and my look was a blip on the radar. At present, I’d rather build a roster around Zunino than a number of players ranked higher. He’s a borderline top-10 guy for me. Just remember Wieters was expected to dominate quickly and it took awhile.
Taijuan Walker – I scouted Zack Wheeler in the South Atlantic League at the same age Taijuan Walker was in Double-A last season. Walker was further along in the development process. Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs were also not as good. Yes, Walker struggled a bit as a teenager, but he should have. If he repeats the level, I expect him to dominate and surge into the top-5 for 2013. I’ve fielded questions about Walker moving to Tacoma, but the Mariners would be smart to slow play his 2013 and prepare him for a 2014 debut.
Travis D’Arnaud – If not for D’Arnaud’s recent string of injuries, I’d prefer him over Mike Zunino. Back in 2009, I saw a .285 hitter with 18-25 home run potential and his surge in minor league production has made this a real possibility. I’d love to see him get the nod on opening day, but John Buck is serviceable, so why push D’Arnaud’s arbitration clock? Sometimes being a pragmatic prospect guy really ruins the fun doesn’t it?
Kyle Crick – Crick is as good a pitching prospect as Allen Webster and better than McCullers, Meyer and Guerrieri. He’s a top-20 overall prospect in the making as long as Crick remains healthy and continues to develop consistency. Seeing him handcuffed to Taylor Guerrieri on so many lists is interesting considering they are polar opposites. Crick is the classic power guy while Guerrieri relies more on command and movement. I’ll concede the Rays prospect is a better bet to reach his ceiling, but Crick’s ceiling is higher and carries greater weight at the lower levels for me.
Adam Eaton – I see Brett Gardner redux. Eaton may be the least sexy prospect in the entire top-100, but he’ll produce. I commend Baseball America for placing him at all. For me, it’s a hat tip to real MLB value “tweener” types have produced over the past few years. Guys like David Murphy, Peter Bourjos and Gardner gained little traction in the prospect community and turned our sense of outfield value on its head. Eaton is the next in line to take his shot at SABR stardom.
Martin Perez – After seeing both Martin Perez and Danny Hultzen, I do not understand why 52 spots separate the two. Would I prefer Hultzen? Probably, but Perez will have just turned 22 on opening day and is 16-plus months younger than the Mariners left-hander. There’s something to be said for any MLB pitcher who isn’t terrible at Perez’ age. He’s a functional starting pitcher at the MLB level now with room for more. To have Perez ranked only one spot ahead of Tony Cingrani is a travesty.
Arodys Vizcaino – Seeing Vizcaino ranked behind names like Cingrani, Peralta and a number of others is confusing regardless of Tommy John surgery. When I scouted Peralta, he was a two-pitch pitcher who was less athletic than Vizcaino, had less velocity and a similar quality breaking pitch. I’m fine knocking him for the injury, but this is too big a knock given his stuff. Plus, the opportunity he’ll have in Chicago to contribute quickly is second to none with the holes their staff presently has.
Trevor Story – Another prospect who’s not flashy, I think he’s hampered by stigma of Caucasian shortstops. For me personally, he has the defense to stick and provide above average offense at the position — Especially if his strikeout totals begin to shrink. Should he slide over to second to accommodate Troy Tulowitzki, then he’s a plus defensive second baseman whose offense loses a bit of its luster. Regardless, Story is a high floor player who deserves more respect than he has received.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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