As 'Prospect Season' is fully upon us, I decided to make a list solely of my personal favorite prospects. While they are listed in terms of ultimate upside, their individual ceilings has little to do with why I enjoy them so, but the explanations will give you some insight. This collection isn't to say they are 'better' than some not listed. Rather, these are guys who I'd consider lighting my favorite glove on fire just to watch them play -- with emphasis on 'consider'.
In essence, these players would all rank somewhere near bacon on my personal list of 'Things That Are Awesome'.
Nolan Arenado, 3B COL - Excellent hit tool and ability to change angles with his wrists. Worked hard on trimming down, improving his defense and plate discipline, and accomplished all with aplomb. Damage-to-K ratio is off the charts, as he’s had more XBHs than strikeouts in back-to-back seasons.
Xander Boegarts, SS BOS - Current plus bat speed and power from a frame that will add strength combined with an advanced approach that few 18-year-olds have. Boegarts knows how to spoil and stay alive until a pitcher leaves something he can mash, which he tends to do when he barrels up. More than likely a third baseman than shortstop down the road, but the bat will still play plenty there.
Jesus Montero, DH/C SEA - Hitting shouldn’t be as easy as Montero makes it look, but it can be easy when you have the loose actions, bat speed and raw power that Montero does. You shouldn’t worry about a move to Safeco Field limiting his offensive potential. The only way to do that is to make him hit with a rolled up newspaper.
Anthony Rendon, 3B WAS - Potential for four plus tools, and one of the sweetest swings you'll ever see. Sometimes you see a guy and say 'that's a hitter'. You see Rendon and say ‘That’s a HITTER.'
Bryce Harper, OF WAS - Moon bombs.
Mike Trout, CF LAA - If Clint Smith’s character ‘Sweets’ in Coming to America were a scout, he’d comp Trout to Randy Watson and write him up with the simple line of ‘That boy good’.
Matt Moore, LHP TB - In the words of Durham Bulls pitching coach Larry Hockett of the baseball epic Bull Durham, 'This guy's got some serious sh**'
Yonder Alonso, 1B/LF SD - Line-to-line approach and plane with discipline and patience and enough pop to punish more than his share of mistakes...yup, that’ll play. Lost a significant amount of weight for the 2012 season, which may or may not let him play well in left field, but it should make him much quicker at the plate, which is a dangerous thought given his already good hands and wrists.
Nick Castellanos, 3B DET - Big-bodied player with explosive hands and bat speed. Gets his hands through the ball extremely well and has yet to grow into some man strength or leverage. When that comes and he learns to better hang in against lefthanded pitchers, expect a festival of rockets.
Nick Franklin, SS SEA - Compact swing with smooth actions and the ball really jumps off his bat. A move to second base may be in his future, but offensive minded 2-Baggers who mash are few and far between.
Yasmani Grandal, C SD - Switch hitter with a frame of strength and an advanced approach at the plate, Grandal has the potential to be a 25 home run hitting catcher while still getting on base at a pretty high rate. Or basically the potential to be in the upper echelon of Major League catchers.
Jurickson Profar, SS TEX - Switch-hitting shortstop with a line drive swing plane, speed, excellent defense and a true passion for the game. Basically everything you could ever want in an up-the-middle player.
Josh Bell, OF PIT - While Bell is long armed and a little awkward at the plate, the bat speed, strength and raw power make him one to watch. In time he should smooth out his actions a bit, and he will continue to add strength to an already solid and quick twitch filled frame. Bell uses his legs extremely well and if he clicks we could see some Eric-Davis-type production. Bell could compete for the mythical title of ‘Exit Velocity Champion’ annually.
Ronald Guzman, OF TEX - Body built for the term ‘projection’ with excellent hitters actions and bat speed as well. Guzman is years away from sniffing a Major League field, but he has enough present tools and skills to impress and will continue to get better and stronger.
Starling Marte, CF PIT - Speed and ability to man center field well combined with quick hands and wrists at the plate. A doubles machine who could end up with 20 HR power when he gets into his legs, and though Starling doesn’t walk a lot, he doesn’t need to with that kind of hit tool. Just needs to shore up his discipline.
Wil Myers, OF KC - Big and explosive, Myers isn’t the prettiest of swingers, but he can put a charge into whatever he squares up. Myers could stand to get a little more dynamic with his trigger, which should allow better body and bat control, plus quicken him up a bit.
Christian Yelich, OF MIA - Lanky frame with plenty of room to grow, quick hands and impressive bat speed. He can even run a bit too. Line-drive plane and approach on top of red-velvet-cake-smooth actions leads to plenty of contact. And though he might be limited to a corner spot, his bat will still provide plenty of value.
Trevor Bauer, RHP ARI - A thinking man’s pitcher who also happens to have electric stuff. Bauer doesn’t do anything in a ‘classical’ way, but would rather do it his own way. And with his level of success, he’s earned that right. Bauer really knows how to pitch, and his legendary long toss sessions allow him to carry velocity deeper than most players of his size.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP TB - Combines the exact mechanics and sequence of ‘Coil, tilt, and drive’ that I teach, and look for in a pitcher with plus velo and excellent breaking stuff. His frame isn't super projectable, but there is room for growth available. His tilt could get even better over time, which could lead to more velocity on top of his already good downward plane.
Danny Hultzen, LHP SEA - With outstanding poise and command, above-average fastball velocity and a plus slider, Hultzen is extremely advanced and shouldn’t spend much time in the minors. Hultzen is an intelligent pitcher who works fast and knows how to attack and get ahead of hitters. And in the unlikely case that he doesn’t pan out as a pitcher, he also could swing it pretty effectively as a two-way star at Virginia. He might have some hacks left in him. If nothing else, there’s bound to be some left-side BP battles between him and Dustin Ackley.
Long-term regular upside
Jedd Gyorko, 3B SD - Excellent trigger and wrist action, with a compact swing plane. Frumpy body doesn’t make him the most ‘exciting’ of prospects, but if you can rake, you can rake. They’ll find a place for you.
Ronald Torreyes, 2B CHC - ‘The Little Hit Tool That Does,’ does nothing but rake. Small and lacking great overall tools, Torreyes will have to max out his ability with the bat to provide good value. If he adds strength and picks up some gap power, his hittability (it’s a word) would play up even more.
Josh Vitters, 3B CHC - The hit tool, the hands, the bat speed, it’s all there. What’s not is an approach that allows a consistent application. If you watched just Vitters best swings and you'd wonder how he ever gets out. But when you watch some extended at-bats, you see the approach issues. A teaser prospect, Vitters needs to change his approach and if he does, you might see some rockets at Wrigley.
Brett Jackson, CF CHC - No plus tools, but a number of above-average ones, some quick twitch and a hard-nosed ‘hair on fire’ style of play make him very fun to watch. A loop in his swing will lead to him racking up some strikeouts, but the approach is solid and possible 20-20 ability is there.
Blake Tekotte, OF SD - Underrated pop for a player of his size and tools. A plus defender in center field who can run, Tekotte has a very high floor and with a bit more strength in his upper body to tighten up his swing, could put up some .280-15-20 seasons. Oh, and he can dance.
Austin Hedges, C SD - Ball of energy defensively with an excellent trigger and good hands at the plate as well. Needs to work on pull-happy approach, but compact swing with a line drive plane jumps out and impresses.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B CHC - LOL level raw power.
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