THT’s top 100 prospects, part 4

76: Wily Peralta/SP/Milwaukee Brewers/ETA: 5-8-89/ETA: 2012
Forecast Notes: Career best 7.8 K/9 and near best BB/9. Forecast not overly promising.
Current Level: Triple-A
Scouting Notes: 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.

77: Kaleb Cowart/3B/Los Angeles Angels/6-2-92/ETA: 2015
Forecast Notes: Low average, little pop, poor walk to strikeout rate.
Current Level: Rookie Level
Scouting Notes: Cowart was a 2010 firs- round selection. He was a two-way prep star, with some teams preferring him as a pitcher. He spent the entire year as a fielder, and will be developed as a switch-hitting third baseman. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus describes him as having plus-plus power potential. He needs to develop his hitting, namely from the right side, where he was much less successful than as a lefty. He got off to a good start as a full-time position player, and he has a high ceiling, so he could be a big mover on this list.

78: Will Middlebrooks/3B/Boston Red Sox/9-9-88/ETA: 2012
Forecast Notes: Breakout 2011. Peak .250/.300/.429 with some power.
Current Level: Triple-A
Scouting Notes: 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.

79: Guillermo Pimentel/OF/Seattle Mariners/10-5-92/ETA: 2016
Forecast Notes: A few years from showing his power in the majors, embarrassingly low walk rate and lots of strikeouts.
Current Level: Rookie
Scouting Notes: Pimentel is a project, but one worth gambling on due to his 80 grade power potential. Raw power like that from a left-handed hitter is the stuff dreams are made of. His strike zone command is lacking, and he’s extremely aggressive, leading some to question his future hitting. He did make modest gains in walk rate, and cut back on his strikeouts a bit this year but has a lot of work to do. He has yet to reach full season ball, so those investing in him will have to wait.

80: C.J. Cron/1B/Los Angeles Angels/1-5-90/ETA: 2013
Forecast Notes: Power but few walks. Peak .270/.321/.481.
Current Level: Rookie
Scouting Notes: Cron was the first-round selection of the Angels out of Utah, where he clobbered the ball. As a college draftee, he’s expected to fly through the system. He’s described by some as having above-average power, by others as having massive power by others. He gets high grades for his pure hitting skills. He didn’t walk a ton in college, and his walk rate in his Pioneer League exposure leaves something to be desired, but otherwise he offers the total hitting package you’d look for from a corner infielder.

He grades out terribly in the field, and the Angels already have Mark Trumbo, and a rehabbing Kendrys Morales, so it’s possible he could end up at designated hitter at a young age much like Billy Butler.

81: 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.
Current Level: High-A
Scouting Notes: 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.

82: Daniel Norris/SP/Toronto Blue Jays/4-25-93/ETA: 2016
Forecast Notes: No projection as a 2011 high school draftee
Current Level: Unassigned
Scouting Notes: 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.

83: Jarrod Parker/SP/Arizona Diamondbacks/11-24-88/ETA: 2012
Forecast Notes: Projects to post ugly major league numbers with no positive fantasy contributions.
Current Level: Double-A
Scouting Notes: John Sickels wrote an outstanding Prospect of the Day piece recently about Parker. In short, his stuff is still there, but he’s still working to regain control after Tommy John surgery shelved him last season. He isn’t throwing his slider as much, but it remains a plus offering. Before his injury he’d have ranked much higher. If he goes back to using the slider more frequently as a punch-out pitch and his strikeout rate climbs, he’ll shoot up the list.

84: Yonder Alonso/OF/Cincinnati Reds/4-8-87/ETA: Arrived
Forecast Notes: Modest power and average but no exceptional quality.
Current Level: Majors
Scouting Notes: Alonso is a finished product for the most part, and thus, his floor is about what you see. His home run rate in the majors won’t last, as he is more of a high teens home run hitter than one pacing for 30 plus. His hitting is good enough that he may be capable of flirting with .300 annually. He’s playing outfield now because he’s blocked at first base by Joey Votto, but make no mistake about it, he’s a first baseman in the outfield.

If he isn’t traded in the offseason to a team in need of a first baseman, he’ll find himself battling Chris Heisey for playing time in Cincinnati and will almost certainly be lifted regularly for a defensive replacement late in games he does start. If he is dealt, his value will take a huge hit as soon as he sheds outfield eligibility.

Potentially further hurting his future value would be a change in home ballparks. Few parks enhance home run hitting as much as Great American Ballpark, so any move likely will hurt his already modest power potential. Think Gaby Sanchez type value with a touch more average. In the outfield, that gets him on this list. As a first baseman, he’d just miss.

85: Francisco Lindor/SS/Cleveland Indians/11-14-93/ETA: 2016
Forecast Notes: No projection as a 2011 high school draftee
Current Level: Unassigned
Scouting Notes: 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.

86: Addison Reed/RP/Chicago White Sox/12-27-88/ETA: Arrived
Forecast Notes: Gaudy strikeout rate as a top-flight reliever.
Current Level: Majors
Scouting Notes: Reed was an equal opportunist in embarrassing hitters at four minor league stops before reaching the majors (where he hasn’t stopped striking batters out). He throws a plus-plus fastball and a plus-plus slider. He also throws a change-up, but it isn’t as consistent as his other two pitches. He started and closed games at San Diego State, but it appears the White Sox are content with him dominating in a late-inning role. Sergio Santos did a fantastic job closing games for the White Sox, so Reed may not pick up saves anytime soon, but he should still be a fantasy asset.

87: Jesse Biddle/SP/Philadelphia Phillies/10-22-91/ETA: 2014
Forecast Notes: Ugly walk rates lead to a high WHIP projection and bloated ERAs.
Current Level: Single-A
Scouting Notes: Biddle got off to a rough start, but has been much 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.

88: Taylor Guerrieri/SP/Tampa Bay Rays/12-1-92/ETA: 2016
Forecast Notes: No projection as a 2011 high school draftee
Current Level: Unassigned
Scouting Notes: 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.

89: Tommy Joseph/C/San Francisco Giants/7-16-91/ETA: 2014
Forecast Notes: Mid-20s home run pop by 2014.
Current Level: High-A
Scouting Notes: 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.

90: Joe Panik/SS/San Francisco/10-30-90/ETA: 2013
Forecast Notes: Jack of all trades, master of none. Modest contributions across the board, which play well from the shortstop position.
Current Level: Low-A
Scouting Notes: Most observers viewed the Giants’ selection of Panik as a reach, and a selection based on signability. Not everyone is sold that he’ll stick at shortstop due to his lack of top-end athleticism, but most say he has a chance to stick there. Most scouting reports describe him as fundamentally sound and like his bat.

His hitting is a plus, but it’s also his only plus tool. He is a disciplined hitter who should draw his share of walks. John Sickels had the most favorable things to say about Panik and expects him to turn out better than some players picked before him. As a polished college draftee who ripped the cover off the ball in Low-A, expect him to advance rapidly through the Giants system.

91: Chad James/SP/Florida Marlins/1-23-91/ETA: 2014
Forecast Notes: Ugly walk rate and nothing that resembles a useful fantasy season.
Current Level: High-A
Scouting Notes: James’ win-loss record may have been ugly, but in this day and age most baseball observers realize wins are a poor way of judging a pitcher’s performance. Not all was rosy, though, even after dismissing his record as being unlucky. His walk rate improved from 2010 to 2011, but his strikeout rate took a step back with the improvement of his control.

Still, as a southpaw with plus velocity (for a left-handed pitcher) on his fastball that sits in the low 90s, and a change-up that’s developing as a put-away pitch, there is promise for strikeouts in the future. He also throws a curveball and slider. Coming into the season, Baseball America described one breaking ball that had slider velocity and curveball break, and considered it a plus pitch. Newer reports from in-season discuss two distinct pitches, but neither is discussed as glowingly as his change-up. He’s a work in progress, but one that is making strides.

92: Casey Kelly/SP/San Diego Padres/10-4-89/ETA: 2013
Forecast Notes: Two-to-one strikeout-to-walk rate, but that’s a product of a decent walk rate, and an underwhelming strikeout rate.
Current Level: Double-A
Scouting Notes: Kelly’s star is rapidly losing its luster. He’s not missing many bats, and there is a possibility he develops into nothing more than an innings eater who pounds the strike zone. Most scouting reports still like the stuff, and love his pitching acumen, but the song remains the same with all; strike out more batters or fail to reach the lofty ceiling previously projected.

93: Josh Sale/OF/Tampa Bay Rays/7-5-91/ETA: 2016
Forecast Notes: Train wreck projections that include the Triple Crown of yuck: low average, little power and almost no stolen bases.
Current Level: Rookie
Scouting Notes: The numbers are ugly in Sale’s pro debut, but he was drafted out of high school and burying him after a tough start would be premature. He was considered the top prep hitter in last year’s draft and has hit and power tools that grade out as potential plus assets in the future. He’ll need to start turning those tools into production at some point, but for now, one positive is that he showed the ability to walk at a reasonable clip and didn’t flail helplessly: He struck out in less than 20 percent of his at-bats.

94: Yorman Rodriguez/OF/Cincinnati Reds/8-15-92/ETA: 2015
Forecast Notes: Peak .250/.292/.400.
Current Level: Single-A
Scouting Notes: Rodriguez’s stats in his first year of full season ball are a bit disappointing, but he is toolsy and raw so it was to be expected. His walk rate went up as he moved up from Rookie Level ball, which is a positive to glean from a free swinger. The tools haven’t disappeared: He’s a plus hitter with plus power and above-average speed. All his tools need to be refined, but considering the Reds spent $2.5 million on him, it’s likely they’ll do everything in their power to get the most out of him. He may still flame out, but he’s likely a cheap gamble with immense upside in dynasty leagues.

95: Anthony Ranaudo/SP/Boston Red Sox/9-9-89/ETA: 2014
Forecast Notes: Peak 3.9 BB/9 and 7,2 K/9 but an ERA above five.
Current Level: High-A
Scouting Notes: Scouting reports are mixed on Ranaudo. Some see a player with a high floor but a less than elite ceiling, and others see a big pitcher with a good delivery that doesn’t generate much excitement for them at all. He was lights out in Single-A, but was a disappointment in High-A. His fastball velocity draws mixed reports, ranging from average to plus, and he has a curveball and a change-up. There are a lot of questions here, but there are enough reports that suggest he can be very good that he warrants a spot at the back of this list.

96: Zack Cox/3B/St. Louis Cardinals/5-9-89/ETA: 2013
Forecast Notes: Peak .265/.314/.392.
Current Level: Double-A
Scouting Notes: Cox hit for average this year, and was considered a pure hitter coming out of last year’s draft. That’s essentially where the positives end. Jim Callis likes him to stick at third base and succeed, but most other reports question his ability to stay there. Even optimistic scouting reports expect him to develop only average power. I nearly didn’t rank him, but if his hitting remains a plus, his power turns out to be average, and he sticks at third, that would play in fantasy.

97: Tim Beckham/SS/Tampa Bay Rays/1-27-90/ETA: 2012
Forecast Notes: Batting average peaks at .251 in the next six years.
Current Level: Triple-A
Scouting Notes: Just to be on this list is a huge accomplishment for Beckham, who had done little before this year to justify the Rays using the top pick on him in the 2008 draft. He still doesn’t possess superstar potential, but scouting reports no longer suggest it is imminent that he’ll move from shortstop. His defense is much improved, and he put together the best hitting season of his young career.

He reached Triple-A at the age of 21, and has potential to hit double-digit home runs, steal double-digit bases and not embarrass himself in the batting average category. The Rays promoted him aggressively this year, which may be because they believed he was ready for it, but may also be because Hak-Ju Lee forced their hand a bit. Regardless, there is a window that he can be a useful fantasy player at shortstop position for the Rays.

Whether he sticks at the position is probably going to be determined by whether the Rays use him as a trade chip when Lee is ready. Lee is the far superior defender, so if both are on the parent club, it is Beckham who will need to find a new defensive home.

98: John Lamb/SP/Kansas City Royals/7-10-90/ETA: 2015
Forecast Notes: Modest strikeout rates with okay, but less than sparkling, walk rates.
Current Level: Double-A (Disabled List)
Scouting Notes: Lamb blew out his elbow early in the season and required Tommy John surgery in June. As a lefty with the potential for three plus pitches—fastball, curveball and change-up—who threw with plus velocity before the injury and reached Double-A as a 20-year-old, he is worth gambling on. Everyone’s recovery timetable is different, so keep tabs on his progress.

99: Alex Meyer/SP/Washington Nationals/1-3-90/ETA: 2015
Forecast Notes: Ugly walk rates with a poor strikeout rate that won’t offset the free passes.
Current Level: Unassigned
Scouting Notes: Meyer has a live arm with plus to plus-plus velocity on his fastball. He’s a large human being who stands 6-foot-9. Unfortunately, being tall has its downsides, one of which Meyer feels in trying to repeat his delivery. That means his control suffers at times. He made huge strides last year, cutting back on the walks significantly. He throws a slider that flashes plus-plus potential and even threw a change-up last year that shows promise. Guys with this type of repertoire are a worthwhile gamble—even if his command is never better than average to slightly below average, he can offset it by overpowering batters.

100: Taylor Jungmann/SP/Milwaukee Brewers/12-18-89/ETA: 2015
Forecast Notes: Solid ERA and WHIP contributions but lackluster strikeout rates.
Current Level: Unassigned
Scouting Notes: Jungmann’s ceiling is lower than a lot of the 2011 draftees. He should reach the big leagues quickly, but his present arsenal includes just a low-to-mid 90s fastball, usable slider that isn’t described as a plus pitch, and a change-up that is a work in progress. His ERA was absolutely lights out at the University of Texas this season, and he should have no problem gobbling up innings. He’s described as a pitcher with a feel for the craft, but his lack of elite level strikeout production in college doesn’t bode well for future major league production.

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Comments

  1. Peter DeMarco said...

    It seems that you are fairly negative about this last group of players in your Top 100, yet I feel there are many players that the industry is very high on which weren’t included.  For example – Drew Hutchinson.

    I guess my question is that if you don’t project a player to be any help to a fantasy league in the future, why not instead include someone with a bit more risk but higher upside, or someone who has been dominating the stat sheet.

    For fantasy purposes just because a player is projected to make the majors and most likely play regularly, I still have no interest in drafting the next Royce Clayton or Fausto Carmona, I’d be better off getting a guy that never makes the major leagues than one that hurts my stats line

  2. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Behemoth

    Thank you for the kind words.  Reading through multiple scouting most certainly does cause for rethinking about certain players.  I reshuffled this list countless times as I read through different scouting reports.  I believe the plan for the list is to have it replace Matt’s that was in the lower right-hand corner of the fantasy page.  I think they’ll all be in one link at that point.

  3. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Peter DeMarco,

    There certainly are a few names, Cox comes to mind specifically, that I question the future fantasy value of.  I suppose the reason I included him over a guy like Hutchinson, who I do like, is because there are still a handful of scouting reports that expect him to flip the switch.  I’m giving him just a little more leash because of being a hitter and a third baseman before he plummets off the list entirely.  As more season recap scouting reports begin surfacing updating players repertoire’s and advances guys like Hutchinson have a chance to move up quickly.

  4. dan said...

    Josh

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Alonso compared to Gaby Sanchez before. You’re selling his power short. It’s pretty important to keep in mind that Alonso had a broken hamate bone which affected his power numbers while in the minors. He’s 100% now and I’m confident that he’ll show that he’s more than a high teens home run hitter.

  5. Behemoth said...

    Josh – I wondered if you could publish all the names in a single list. It’s a little irritating trying to jump back and forward between articles trying to find different players. Also wanted to say that I do appreciate the effort that putting together a list like this takes, and especially when it doesn’t just mirror Goldstein ot Law or Sickels’ lists. Even where I think some of your rankings are a bit off, I think it’s useful to see other people’s perceptions, as it makes you think about players again.

  6. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ dan

    Agreed, that his power was likely held back in the minors because of the broken hamate bone.  Look no further than Jay Bruce to see just how badly a player’s power can be sapped.  It wouldn’t surprise me entirely to see him surpass high teens HR totals, but I still think he’s more like an 18-22 HR type, than 25+ type.  A lot of the appeal about Alonso’s bat, even dating back to when he was drafted, was how advanced it was.  He uses the whole field and has superb strikezone judgement.  Both a qualities I like a lot, but I’ve never read a scouting report that glows about his power.  I’ve read above average in places, which certainly is solid.  He did hit five in 88 at bats in the majors, so that’s promising as well. 

    The uncertainty about his position and long term organization bothers me.  The Reds had an opportunity to use him in LF more than they did, and to see them not do so was disappointing.  Obviously Votto is the long term option at first base in Cinci, so as long as he’s there he’s an outfielder.  If he stays there, and stays in the OF he should be rated higher, but Baker’s reluctance to use him down the stretch regularly makes me question that.  As a first baseman, the bar is so high, that not only Alonso, but all first basemen were nudged down the list a bit.  Between our disputes on Alonso and Cozart, I’d say Alonso is the one of the two that is most likely to make me look bad for ranking him outside the top-75. 

    It has been enjoyable going back and forth on prospects with you Dan.  Thanks for keeping it respectful when presenting your case.

  7. mygodafreshman said...

    How is Jungmann projected to “reach the big leagues quickly” while getting a 2015 ETA?

    2) How far off is E. Salcedo from this list?

  8. Josh Shepardson said...

    @kyle and @mygodafreshman

    I’ll answer your questions about Bogaerts and Salcedo in depth soon.  As for Jungmann, I gave an ETA of 2015, but summer of 2014 wouldn’t surprise me either.  Neither would be Mike Leake quick, but would have him starting in a full season league and repeating no levels.  In that sense, I’d say that’s quick.

  9. Sepheron said...

    Looks like Baseball America ranked Nicolino as the number one prospect in the Northwest League, and if I remember correctly, Hutch was give #13 in the FSL.

  10. Josh Shepardson said...

    @kyle

    Xander Bogaerts was off my radar to be honest.  He wasn’t highly touted by most publications coming into the season.  He didn’t crack the top-30 Red Sox prospects in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, the top-20 for Kevin Goldstein (though was listed as a sleeper there), or the top-20 for John Sickels.  However, he has burst onto the scene showing above average power for a player his age and with more updated scouting reports becoming available, I feel comfortable saying he’s not far off this list.  He’s not expected to stick at SS, the two positions I’ve read rumored for his eventual move as he fills out are 3B and LF.  I’d estimate he’d crack the top-125.

  11. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ mygodafreshman

    Edward Salcedo made some big strides this year, and has projectable power in the future.  He’s still raw, and did less than some of the other raw toolsy players on the list, but he’s not far off.  He’s another guy I’d peg as a top-125, but not top-100 player.  If he takes another stride forward next year in terms of turning tools into playable skills, he’ll move up the list quickly.

  12. Josh Shepardson said...

    @ Sepheron

    Nicolino is in fact the number one prospect in the Northwest League according to Baseball America, and Hutchinson 13 in the Florida State League.  An agitated Jays fan tweeted at Kevin Goldstein in disbelief over Hutch’s rank of only 13 in the FSL, but Goldstein thought it was reasonable.

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