76: Will Middlebrooks/3B/Boston Red Sox/9-9-88/ETA: 2012
Forecast notes: Breakout 2011. Peak .250/.300/.429 with some power.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Middlebrooks played in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), where he continued his tendency to be impatient. His strikeout rate was quite high, 31.7 percent, in 60 plate appearances. He was also invited to spring training, and received 20 at-bats, in which he walked zero times, and struck out eight times.
Small samples or not, his play in the AFL and spring training illustrate he needs to cut back on striking out, and learn to work walks at a better rate. This isn’t anything new for Middlebrooks, but at some point, projection of him reducing his strikeouts and becoming more patient need to become reality, or his fantasy value will be limited.
He will begin the season in Triple-A, and being that Kevin Youkilis hasn’t been a stranger to the disabled list in recent years, could see time in the majors. The Red Sox own a $13 million club option with a $1 million buyout for Youkilis in 2013, which leaves open the possibility that Middlebrooks could be the club’s starting third baseman as soon as next year.
October 2011: Projected to be more of a doubles hitter than a big bopper, but does have useful home run power potential. Middlebrooks has the defensive tools necessary to stay at the hot corner, which is big because his value won’t translate well to other positions. His poor walk rate and high strikeout rate leave me questioning his batting average ceiling. He should be awarded the opportunity to further hone his strike zone command and hitting in Triple-A next year, and probably see a cup of coffee in September when rosters expand if he continues to play well. He doesn’t have an elite ceiling, but as a third baseman succeeding in the upper minors, his floor is relatively high at a shallow offensive position.
77: A.J. Cole/SP/Oakland A’s/1-5-92/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Awesome strikeout rate and walk rate in the low minors this year project to translate to the majors by about 2016.
Scouting notes: March 2012: The Nationals sent Cole packing, with others, to acquire Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A’s. He moves to the more offensive friendly American League, but also moves to a more favorable home ballpark for pitching. He pitched all 2011 in Low-A, and will likely begin the 2012 season pitching in High-A for Stockton.
October 2011: Cole throws a plus fastball with good velocity and projection for even more as he matures. His curveball and change-up lag behind the heater, but the curveball has plus potential and his change-up is in the development stages. His control is very impressive for a tall (6-foot-4) 19-year-old who pitched in full season ball. That solid control hasn’t come at the expense of strikeouts— his 10.92 K/9 is superb. He was a 2010 draft selection out of high school, but may move fast for a prep pitcher; he took well to Single-A this year. Even if he spends a full season in both Double-A and Triple-A, he’d reach the majors as a 22-year-old.
78: Jonathan Schoop/2B-SS-3B/Baltimore Orioles/10-6-91/ETA: 2013
Forecast notes: Projects for playable power, low-to-mid teens home run totals, for a middle infielder. That won’t play if he is a third baseman, though, as he doesn’t make up for it with a standout average or speed.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Schoop has shared the infield with seventh-ranked prospect Manny Machado. He has played both second base and third base next to Machado, and filled in for him at shortstop when he was hurt. It isn’t clear what his defensive home will be in the long run, but Will Lingo of Baseball America believes it to be third base. John Sickels of Minor League Ball believes he’ll end up at second base.
Schoop enjoyed a breakout last year, and at just 20 years of age, already shows solid command of the strike zone having struck out in only 13.4 percent of his plate appearances last year and walking in 7.4 percent of them. He’s not a threat to steal bases, but he projects to hit for a solid batting average and offer at least average home run power in his peak years. Most reports suggest Schoop and Machado will open the season as teammates, which means a trip back to High-A Frederick is likely. It is possible they could both open in Double-A though.
79: Francisco Lindor/SS/Cleveland Indians/11-14-93/ETA: 2016
Forecast notes: No projection as a 2011 high school draftee
Scouting notes: March 2012: He doesn’t have any offensive tools that will blow fantasy gamers away, but he does project to hit for a good batting average. Lindor is a solid base runner with above average speed, and could also contribute stealing bases. He isn’t a slugger, but could develop enough power to hit teen home run totals annually. If he does all of the above, he’ll be a fantasy asset at a position, shortstop, noted for defense. He should open 2012 in Low-A.
October 2011: Lindor is a pure shortstop who is a wizard with the glove and won’t require a position change. His defense gets better grades than his offense, but he’s expected to hit for average. His power potential gets mixed reviews that range from gap at best to better than that. His speed isn’t a plus, but it is above average and should allow him to steal some bases. The offensive ceiling isn’t overwhelming, but a shortstop capable of hitting for a bit of pop, stealing a pinch of bases and hitting for average plays well in fantasy formats.
80: Jake Odorizzi/SP/Kansas City/3-27-90/ETA: 2013
Forecast notes: His MLE walk and strikeout rates took a step forward while his ERA and WHIP took a step back.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Odorizzi was invited to Royals camp this spring, and pitched in two games totaling four innings. The results weren’t particularly notable, and do nothing to harm nor help his prospect stock. He’ll open the year repeating Double-A, and could reach Triple-A in short order. It is possible he’ll have a shot at reaching the majors this year.
October 2011: Odorizzi’s numbers were tremendous in High-A, but took a huge step back against advanced competition in Double-A, where his strikeout rate plummeted from 11.83 K/9 to 7.08 K/9. His walk rate remained very good, below 3.0 BB/9, but his extreme flyball profile has the potential to be crippling to his fantasy value. Kevin Goldstein noted improvement this year at the midway mark, but Keith Law suggested otherwise at the same point. Baseball America described his fastball as his lone plus pitch coming into the season. It has good, but not elite, velocity.
I haven’t read any scouting reports discussing how he’s using his fastball, but given his batted ball tendency and high strikeout rate in High-A that dipped in Double-A, I’m guessing he’s throwing it up in the zone. That approach would leave less advanced hitters swinging through it and more talented competition catching up to it and punishing it. Perhaps the vibe I’m getting is unwarranted, but Odorizzi has a Chris Tillman feel to me. Most prospect rankings have him higher, but his present stuff and projection don’t offer a high enough ceiling to ignore his struggles in Double-A.
81: Zach Lee/SP/Los Angeles Dodgers/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Underwhelming MLE on his pro debut.
Scouting notes: March 2012. Lee was in Dodgers spring training camp, and threw a perfect inning, striking out one. He’ll look to follow up on his solid debut in Low-A, and should open the year in High-A with a chance to reach Double-A before season’s end.
October 2011: Lee was a two-sport prep superstar with a scholarship offer to play football for LSU. The Dodgers surprised most by selecting him last year and meeting his bonus requirement, spreading it over five years. His strikeout rate of 7.51 K/9 and walk rate of 2.64 BB/9 are impressive for a 19-year-old (he turned 20 on Sept. 13) debuting in Single-A, and even more impressive when realizing he didn’t concentrate on baseball exclusively in high school. As you’d expect of a player recruited to play football at an elite college program, he’s a great athlete and has a ton of projection. Scouting reports are better than his solid results.
82: Chad Bettis/SP/Colorado Rockies/4-26-89/ETA: 2013
Forecast notes: Projects as a bit of an innings-eater type with solid control but underwhelming strikeout totals.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Bettis didn’t pitch in any offseason leagues, but was a non-roster invite to Rockies camp, and threw in two spring training games. He’ll open the year in Double-A continuing to refine his secondary pitches. The Rockies’ decision to develop him as a starter looks good thus far, but the high minors will prove a greater test. His plus fastball/slider combination give him a high floor of a potential closer should he falter along the way as a starter.
October 2011: Bettis’ fastball is his best pitch, and is above average, but it’s the gains that he has reportedly made with his secondary offerings that are most promising. He was outstanding in High-A and looks to tackle Double-A next year. He induced more flyball outs than groundball outs, and works well down in the zone. He’ll need to continue that trend if he hopes to succeed at Coors, and before that in the launching pad that is Colorado Springs.
Stellar performance paired with positive scouting reports allows Bettis, who wasn’t highly touted coming into the season by most outlets (Sickels seemed most bullish giving him a “B” grade), to land on this list.
83: Daniel Norris/SP/Toronto Blue Jays/4-25-93/ETA: 2016
Forecast notes: No projection as a 2011 high school draftee
Scouting notes: It’s unclear where Norris will begin his minor league career, but the Blue Jays’ tendency to start prep pitchers in short-season leagues means the Northwest League is a reasonable bet.
October 2011: Like fellow second-round pick Josh Bell, Norris fell due to signability concerns. The Blue Jays took a chance, and ended up netting him for $2 million. He’s a skinny southpaw who throws between 89-92 mph regularly and can touch 96. He also throws a change-up that has plus potential and is his curveball also has plus potential. As he fills out, he should be able to show premium velocity on his fastball more regularly. Tantalizing blend of stuff, and most scouting reports say he has a feel for pitching and isn’t simply a thrower.
84: Brandon Jacobs/OF/Boston Red Sox/12-8-90/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Breakout in 2012 leads to projections of mid-to-high teens home run power with a dash of speed as well.
Scouting notes: Jacobs was an above slot, $750,000 bonus, 10th-round selection in the 2009 amateur draft out of high school. He is a well built athlete who had a scholarship offer to play running back at Auburn. Upon signing, he played in eight rookie level Gulf Coast League games in 2009, and followed that up with a short-season New York-Penn League assignment in 2010.
His play in 2010 showed flashes of power and patience, but he took his game to another level in 2011 in Low-A. He increased his isolated slugging (ISO) from .169 in 2010 to .201 last year. Part of the reason for the increase in ISO was a jump in his home run rate. He hit just six home runs in 263 plate appearances in 2010, which equaled one home run per 43.8 plate appearances. In 2011 he hit 17 home runs in 502 plate appearances, or one home run per 29.5 plate appearances. He projects to hit for above average power by all of the major scouting outlets.
His strikeout level has been acceptable at each minor league stop for a player with developing pop. Jacobs’ ability to his the ball hard to all fields and avoid striking out at a high rate bode well for his batting average. He may not continue to be a .300 hitter, but he should be an asset in the category nonetheless. He stole 30 bases at an efficient 81.1 percent rate last season, but he isn’t a burner. He has average speed with good instincts meaning he’ll likely see his stolen base totals drop against better competition, but he’ll still have a chance to be a contributor.
The whole projects to be greater than the sum of its parts with Jacobs. He doesn’t project to be a monster in any single category, but his ability to help across the board will make him appealing in fantasy. After spending the entire season in Low-A in 2011, he’ll open 2012 in High-A.
85: Mason Williams/OF/New York Yankees/8-21-91/ETA: 2015
Forecast notes: Big year in the New York Penn-League resulted in an MLE slash line of .311/.338/.432.
Scouting notes: March 2012: The early returns are good on the Yankees’ above slot fourth-round selection in the 2010 draft. Williams played in just five games after signing, and got his first extended taste of pro baseball last year playing in the short-season New York-Penn League. There, he hit a robust .349/.395/.468 in 298 plate appearances. He showed off his wheels legging out six triples and stealing 28 bases.
His efficiency needs work, as he was caught stealing 12 times leading to a success rate of just 70 percent. As he continues to work on the finer points of base stealing, he should be able to use his burner speed to be a big contributor in the stolen base category in fantasy games.
Williams makes a lot of contact, and projects to continue to hit for high averages as he moves up the ladder. He doesn’t offer much pop, and his ceiling is average power, which would equate to low teens home run totals. He has the speed and hit tools to profile as a leadoff hitter, but he’ll need to work on walking more often if he hopes to maximize his value there. He’ll take his hacks in full season ball for the first time in 2012, starting the year in Low-A.
86: Bryce Brentz/OF/Boston Red Sox/12-30-88/ETA: 2013
Forecast notes: Breakout in 2011 leads to projections of mid-20s home run power.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Brentz saw time in three spring training games, receiving four at-bats in total. He’s ready for Double-A, and there aren’t many obstacles in his way to making a 2013 major league debut if he continues to slug the ball.
October 2011: His power is his best fantasy asset. Not everyone is sold that it will play as he moves up the ladder, but he took a huge step forward after a poor debut, so he gets the nod over other outfield prospects with plus power potential in the future, but lesser results now. He’s going to have to cut back on the strikeouts, or advanced pitchers will pick him apart.
87: Mikie Mahtook/OF/Tampa Bay Rays/11-30-89/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Jack of all trades, master of none. Projects to hit for some power, steal some bags, and hit for a low, but passable, batting average.
Scouting notes: March 2012: The Rays held nine picks in the first round and supplemental first round combined. Mahtook was the second player selected in those nine picks, and went 31st overall. He played his college ball at Louisiana State, where he hit .383/.496/.709 in his last year, his junior year, in spite of college baseball’s change to less potent bats.
Mahtook is a good athlete with above average power and speed. He partook in the AFL and showed off his entire offensive profile. He played in 18 games, receiving 78 plate appearances and hit .338/.410/.544 with a nine percent walk rate and a 20.5 percent strikeout rate. He hit three home runs, and added five stolen bases in six chances. He’s very polished, and shouldn’t need more than two seasons in the minors. He’ll begin his affiliated ball career in High-A.
88: Tyrell Jenkins/SP/St. Louis Cardinals/7-20-92/ETA: 2015
Forecast notes: Too small a sample for useful MLE forecast.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Most outlets seem to think Jenkins will bypass short-season Batavia, and begin the year in Low-A pitching for Quad Cities. Jenkins remains a prospect worth dreaming on with a live arm and solid results, but he’s still quite a ways away from reaching the bigs.
October 2011: He didn’t make either Baseball America’s or Kevin Goldstein’s Midseason Top-50 Prospect lists, but he did crack Keith Law’s. He was drafted in last year’s supplemental first round out of high school. He played multiple sports in high school, and is described as a tremendous athlete. Because he didn’t play baseball full-time in high school, he’s a bit of a project, but one with the upside of three plus pitches (fastball, change-up and curve). He already throws hard, and throws strikes. His strikeout-to-walk rate is better than four-to-one. He gives up a lot of hits, which suggests he’ll need to work on throwing more quality strikes. He’s a high risk/high reward type prospect.
89: Dellin Betances/SP/New York Yankees/3-23-88/ETA: Arrived
Forecast notes: Huge slip in walk rate from 2010 to 2011. His poor walk rate in 2011 falls in line with his career, with 2010 looking like the outlier.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Betances didn’t pitch in any offseason leagues, but did see action in five spring training games totaling eight innings pitched. He didn’t walk a batter in three of the five games, but walked two in one game, and three in the other. In all, he walked five batters in eight innings. He’ll open the year in Triple-A, where he’ll continue to work on ironing out his wonky control.
The Yankees added depth to their rotation in the offseason, so Betances’ best shot at making an impact in the majors this year would be in a relief role. As it stands, he may be best suited in that role anyway; his fastball/curveball combo could make him a lethal option at the back of the bullpen.
October 2011: Betances offers the combination of electric stuff and a big physical build that allows scouts to dream of a workhorse fronting a major league rotation. Unfortunately, Betances has enough warts on his game that a shift to the bullpen may be necessary. One obstacle is his lack of a consistent change-up to use with his plus fastball and plus-plus curveball. (He also throws a slider which he’ll use to strike hitters out.)
The other, larger, obstacle for Betances is his lack of control. In short, he walks too many hitters. One possible reason is his large frame. Often times, bigger pitchers struggle to repeat their delivery. Betances isn’t overly athletic, further aiding the difficulties of repeating a delivery. Last year showed what Betances is capable of when he can keep the walks in line, and his relatively high floor as a high leverage reliever, and potential heir to Mariano Rivera‘s closing job, makes this a fair rating.
90: Jarred Cosart/SP/Houston Astros/ETA: 2012
Forecast notes: Strikeout rate and walk rate both took steps in the wrong direction, but had average MLEs in 2010 and better than average in 2009.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Cosart pitched in one spring training game for the Astros on March 25. He gave up seven hits, but struck out five in 3.1 innings. Putting much stock in spring training stats is a bit foolish, but it is good to see him miss bats regardless of the level of competition and circumstances.
Cosart has electric stuff, but his inconsistent secondary pitches have prevented him from using it to rack up strikeouts. After pitching in just seven games for Double-A Corpus Christi last year, he is expected to return there to open the 2012 season.
October 2011: Cosart impressed on the big stage in his Futures Game performance where his stuff played up in a small dose. He throws a plus fastball and curveball and induces a ton of ground balls. To take the next step, he’ll need to start missing bats. He’s not striking out nearly enough batters to be fantasy relevant. Further hurting his ranking are concerns Keith Law voiced about his delivery across his body in his Midseason Top-50 Prospect list.
91: Wily Peralta/SP/Milwaukee Brewers/5-8-89/ETA: 2012
Forecast notes: Got his MLE strikeout rate back to pre-2010 levels while reducing his walk rate. Projection still lackluster.
Scouting notes: March 2012: After throwing a career best 150.2 innings last year, Peralta didn’t partake in any offseason leagues. He reported to Brewers camp this spring, pitching in three games before being reassigned to minor league camp. He’ll open the year in Triple-A, and should be the first name called if the Brewers need a starter this season. If the rotation remains healthy and effective, Peralta could get his majjor league introduction via the bullpen this year.
October 2011: Peralta is a bit of an enigma. His strikeout and walk rates have been up and down throughout his minor league career, and his groundball rate has fluctuated as well. He throws three pitches with average to above-average grades, and he put it all together this season. His walk rate in Double-A could have been a smidge better (3.61 BB/9) but his strikeout rate was solid, and both have improved greatly in his promotion to Triple-A. Small sample warning applies, but his performance has been electric in the friendly hitting environment of the Pacific Coast League.
Scouting reports back up the statistical improvements, and Peralta’s frame suggests he can develop into a workhorse. Most scouting reports mention his easy delivery, which is further reason to believe in him piling up innings at his peak maturity. He appears to be close to maxing out his potential, but the package looks useful in fantasy and he is knocking on the door of the bigs.
92: Enny Romero/SP/Tampa Bay Rays/1-24-91/ETA: 2015
Forecast notes: Huge spike in strikeouts… but a huge spike in walks as well.
Scouting notes: March 2012: The Rays have a southpaw who throws with plus velocity, strikes batters out, and has control issues. Does that sound familiar? Projecting Romero to make the same leap fellow southpaw Matt Moore made would be more than a little ambitious. That said, the Rays have handled young pitching very well, and Romero has a nice foundation of goods and performance for them to work with.
In his first year pitching in a full-season league, he blew hitters away with 11.05 K/9. As I alluded to above, his control was poor, and it resulted in a 5.37 BB/9. When hitters did put the ball in play, it resulted in a groundout-to-flyout rate of 1.40.
He effortlessly pumps out fastballs that sit in the 92-97 mph range. He’ll show an above average curveball at times, but its lack of consistency makes it a below average offering currently. He gained feel for his change-up in 2011, but like his curveball, it lacks consistency. If he’s unable to rely on his secondary pitches regularly, a move to the bullpen could be in order. For now, he’ll move up from Low-A to High-A this year and continue his development as a starter.
93: Jesse Biddle/SP/Philadelphia Phillies/10-22-91/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Ugly walk rates lead to a high WHIP projection and bloated ERAs.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Biddle finished his 2011 campaign in Low-A strong. He’ll look to carry that over to High-A to start 2012.
October 2011: Biddle got off to a rough start, but has been much better after April. He’s a big southpaw with plus, but inconsistent, velocity on his fastball. He also throws a developing change-up and curveball that flash swing and miss potential. The biggest hurdle for him to reach his ceiling is commanding his fastball. That’s certainly not a small hurdle. He’ll also have to continue to develop his secondary offerings, but the ceiling is high if everything comes together, and at just 19, he has plenty of time to hone his craft.
94: Justin Nicolinio/SP/Toronto Blue Jays/11-22-91/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Oliver projects Nicolino get his K/9 in the upper sevens with a sub-three BB/9 by 2015.
Scouting notes: The Blue Jays took a gamble drafting Nicolino in the second round given his commitment to Virginia, but were able to coax him to join the organization with an above slot $615,000 bonus. He’s the second Blue Jays southpaw to crack this list, but unlike Norris, he has an excellent professional season under his belt.
He opened the year in the short-season Northwest League and put up video game numbers there. His 1.03 ERA and 0.75 WHIP were otherworldly, and were supported, as much as silly stats like those could be, by his 11.01 K/9 and 1.89 BB/9. He earned an in-season promotion to Low-A Lansing, where he started three games.
Nicolino attacks batters with a three-pitch mix of fastballs, curveballs and change-ups. He added velocity since getting drafted, and could be in store for more as he fills out his 160-pound, 6-foot-3 frame. His fastball now sits mostly in the low-90s. His curveball is coming along and could be an average offering, but it is his change-up that really stands out. The change-up is a plus pitch that he used crush the spirits of opposing hitters.
He’s lauded for his pitching IQ, and because of that, is probably a safer bet than most young pitchers in the low minors. He’ll likely head back to Low-A, but should be in line for another in-season promotion if he continues to baffle hitters in the Midwest League.
95: Henry Rodriguez/2B/SS/3B/Cincinnati Reds/2-9-90/ETA: 2012
Forecast notes: Projects for teens home run and stolen base totals with an average in the .280s.
Scouting notes: March 2012: He won’t show up on most top prospect lists, but this isn’t most prospect lists. This is a fantasy baseball prospect list, where offense is king. This diminutive infielder has hit, and hit, and hit some more at every professional stop. His career line in over 1,800 plate appearances is .307/.358/.445, and he was at his best last season splitting time between High-A and Double-A hitting .320/.372/.469 with 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Rodriguez rarely strikes out. His career minor league strikeout rate is just 12.2 percent, and was 13.8 percent last year.
Most of the questions about Rodriguez revolve around his defense. He has spent time at second base, shortstop and third base. His bat profiles best up the middle. He is a switch-hitter who can sting the ball from either side. His power is mainly to the gaps, but he possesses enough pop, and a favorable enough home ballpark, to project mid-to-high teens home run totals. He isn’t a burner, but he is an above average base runner with good base running instincts. He’s stolen 30 or more bases in consecutive seasons, and was as efficient as ever stealing 18 bases in 21 chances at the Double-A level.
Should he shore up his defensive shortcomings, he could be an in house candidate to replace Brandon Phillips, whose contract is up at season’s end. He is ready for Triple-A, and could see the majors this September.
96: Taylor Guerrieri/SP/Tampa Bay Rays/12-1-92/ETA: 2015
Forecast notes: No projection as a 2011 high school draftee
Scouting notes: March 2012: As a prep pitcher, Guerrieri will probably open the year in extended spring training before heading to the Rookie level Appalachian League, or, if the Rays are aggressive, the short-season New York-Penn League.
October 2011: Few scouting reports questioned his stuff coming into this year’s draft, but he slid a bit as there are concerns about his makeup. Guerrieri throws a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that sits in the 93-96 range and maxes out at 98, a plus curveball, a change-up and a cutter. He hasn’t used the change-up or cutter often in games, and both lag behind his fastball and curveball but offer him further options to retire hitters as he develops them. As long as his makeup issues don’t get in the way, there is a lot to get excited about.
97: Tommy Joseph/C/San Francisco Giants/7-16-91/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Projects to be a 20-plus home run hitter with a palatable average in the near future.
Scouting notes: March 2012: He didn’t play in any offseason leagues, but he did turn some heads in the spring. Joseph played in four spring training contests and received 11 plate appearances. He showed up his trademark power muscling up for two home runs in those plate appearances. It should be noted that he didn’t face the stiffest competition, and it is spring training so the stats should be taken with more than a single grain of salt. That said, it was a good start to the new calendar year for Joseph, who will take to the upper minors. He’ll start the year in Double-A.
October 2011: Joseph is a work in progress behind the plate, but one who by most accounts has made strides this year. His standout tool is his power, which showed well in games already as he played as a 19-year-old most of the season. His walk rate is low, but being that it’s often referred to as an “old man skill,” there is reason for optimism that he’ll improve it in time. His strikeout rate was a bit high last year, but he made huge strides this season even while stepping up a level. He finished the season on a high note, hitting 16 of his 22 home runs post All-Star break, and seeing an increase in his average from .240 to .301. If he fully develops, his power will play in fantasy from any position, but would be much more tantalizing from his current position.
98: Noah Syndergaard/SP/Toronto Blue Jays/8-29-92/ETA: 2015
Forecast notes: Small number of innings pitched, but promising debut.
Scouting notes: March 2012: No Canadian bias including another pitcher north of the U.S. border on this list—Syndergaard earned inclusion. He was a supplemental first round pick in the 2010 draft, and saw time in five games for the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. He followed that up by pitching at three stops in 2011, reaching Low-A before season’s end. That’s pretty impressive for a young man that won’t turn 20 until August. He has struck out better than a batter an inning, 74 strikeouts in 72.1 innings in his pro career, while pounding the zone, with 2.74 BB/9.
He is big, 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, and throws a fastball to match his big frame. He pitches in the mid-90s and can hit 100 mph with the heater. That pitch is his bread and butter, and he relied on it heavily. He also throws a promising curveball that has plus potential, and a change-up that resides in the mid-80s. He has plenty of time to develop his secondary pitches, and working off a premium fastball is quite the solid starting point. He’ll begin this season where he finished last season, back at Low-A.
99: Jed Bradley/SP/Milwaukee Brewers/6-12-90/ETA: 2014
Forecast notes: Below replacement level projection based on college stats and AFL play.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Bradley was the Brewers’ second first-round selection in the 2011 amateur draft, following fellow college pitcher Taylor Jungmann. He signed at the deadline, and thus didn’t pitch in any minor league games. He did, however, pitch in five AFL games. He has followed that up with two spring training appearances. In all, the appearances resulted in just over 10 innings of work. The stats are a bit rough, but he was able to strike out 10 batters in 10.1 innings.
The Georgia Tech product is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound southpaw with good stuff. His fastball velocity has a wide range. He usually sits in the low-90s, but can drop to the upper-80s on occasion. On his good days, he can hit the mid-90s reaching as high as 96 mph. He also throws a plus slider, and an above average change-up. His college performance didn’t match his stuff, but his upside is that of a number two starter. He should open the year in High-A.
100: Jeurys Familia/SP/New York Mets/10-10-89/ETA: 2012
Forecast notes: MLE walk rate dropped from 8.1 BB/9 in 2010 to 4.0 BB/9 in 2011.
Scouting notes: March 2012: Familia’s offseason included an addition to the Mets’ 40-man roster. He made one forgettable spring appearance, and should open the year in Triple-A. If he picks up where he left off last year, and doesn’t revert to his 2010 form, he’ll likely be called up over the summer.
October 2011: Familia’s money pitch is his premium fastball, which has plus-plus velocity in the mid-to-upper-90s. His command took a huge step forward this year without sacrificing a great deal in strikeouts. He also throws a power slider and is working on his change-up. It sounds as if he’s made strides with both secondary offerings this year. He’ll need to continue to develop both, or he’ll be relegated to the bullpen. Even that wouldn’t necessarily cripple his value if the Mets choose to groom him as a closer. For now, though, expect to see the Mets continue to develop him as a starter after a bounce-back 2011 campaign.