Billy Hamilton is the fastest player in the game. There’s really no disputing it, at this point. In his first 51 games at High-A, Hamilton has 60 steals. Over his last ten games, he’s been on a bit of a rampage, swiping 20 bags (!!!) and putting himself in position to surpass 100 steals before July. Now that’s just plain silly. Hamilton tallied 103 in a full season at Low-A Dayton in 2011, and people thought that was ridiculous. And while there’s no denying the truly remarkable nature of what he’s accomplishing this year, it’s important to keep in mind the other end of this equation: the opposing defenses. I absolutely believe that Hamilton is the fastest dude in baseball, at any level. That speed, however, is only being tested by A-Ball defenses. Pitchers are slower to the plate, catchers misfire to second, infielders are sloppy with tags. Watch any highlight reel of his, and you’ll see what I mean. Not to suggest that his wheels won’t translate as he climbs the ladder — he’ll be stealing plenty of bags when he arrives in the bigs with the Reds. But, don’t expect this kind of absurdity on the basepaths.Please, blog, may I have some more?
With the draft less than a week away, we’re continuing our discussion of some of the more advanced amateur prospects — guys who’ll be popping up on your fantasy radars within the next year or two. Last week we went over Marcus Stroman, Richie Shaffer, and Kyle Zimmer. You can read that post here. Today, three more draft prospects:
Mark Appel | RHP, Stanford
At 6-5, 215, Appel sure looks like a future frontline starter. A combination of size and athleticism allows him to generate mid-90′s velocity with a seemingly effortless delivery. His fastball typically sits 92-95, and he counters with a hard slider and a work-in-progress change. The consensus on Appel is that, given his outstanding athleticism, the secondary stuff will develop nicely (and quickly) in the minors, allowing his plus fastball to play as an even deadlier weapon — he’s been knocked around at times during his collegiate career when facing more advanced lineups who sit on the straight four-seamer. Even so, Appel looks like the safest option among the elite college arms, and there’s a very good chance that Jeff Luhnow and the Astros will take him at #1.Please, blog, may I have some more?
We’ve recently devoted a bit of time to the discussion college ballers, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to lead with this absurdly awesome catch from Derrick Salberg of Lower Columbia College. The context of the moment makes the grab even more unbelievable: two outs, bottom of the ninth, one runner on, LCC leading 4-2. If Salberg is available in your NWAACC (Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges) leagues, I probably wouldn’t grab him (.262 AVG, 4 XBH in 120 PA). But if you haven’t yet seen the catch, please check out that link — it’s truly one of the more amazing plays you’ll ever see in baseball. Now, some real prospects:
Anthony Gose | OF, Blue Jays — Colby Rasmus has been pretty much worthless.Please, blog, may I have some more?
We’re two weeks away from Major League Baseball’s First-Year Players Draft, during which droves of high school and college baseball players will be chosen by MLB organizations to fill their farm systems. Most all the draftees will never make it further than the low minors. A handful of the college guys, however, are already too advanced for short-season or instructional ball. Mind you, this group is merely a tiny fraction of the overall draft class — there aren’t many guys worth noting for fantasy baseball purposes just yet. But there are some. And for the next couple weeks I’m going to highlight a few of my favorites in this weekly feature, which is typically reserved for already-pros. Anyway. We start with a Dukie:
Marcus Stroman | RHP, Duke
Gifted pitchers tend to arrive in the majors a bit more quickly than the hitters. 2011 first-rounders like Trevor Bauer and Danny Hultzen are already on the cusp of breaking through in the bigs, and they’ll be making impacts in fantasy ball this year. Marcus Stroman, a starting pitcher out of Duke, could find himself in a similar position a year from now. At 5-9, 180, Stroman isn’t your prototype pitching prospect, but he’s strong and athletic and can bring it at 98 with his fastball. He counters with a plus changeup and a filthy slider, giving him a three-pitch repertoire that’s not far from big league-ready. His ceiling as a starter is that of a #2, but many think he’d make an outstanding high-leverage reliever. Either way, Stroman will go in the first round and he’s well suited to climb the ladder quickly.Please, blog, may I have some more?
A week ago, I updated Jurickson Profar with news that his hitting streak had reached 21 games. Well, Profar’s streak has now swelled to 29, the longest in pro ball this year. With the graduations of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Matt Moore, Profar takes over as the game’s top prospect and it’s not too soon to start considering how and when he fits in with the Rangers. With Ian Kinsler signed through 2018, and Adrian Beltre through 2016, it seems Profar won’t have a clear path to Arlington ’til Elvis Andrus hits free agency after the 2014 season. I have to assume he’ll be ready before then, however, which leads me to speculate about a transition to outfield or a trade, perhaps. I suppose this is a good problem to have from the Rangers’ vantage point. It’ll be interesting to watch how the situation plays out.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Kolten Wong | 2B, Cardinals | Born: 10/10/1990
Tyler Greene was the 30th overall selection in the 2005 draft. It was the Cardinals second pick that year; they took Colby Rasmus two spots earlier. At this point, both players appear to be busts, really. I suppose St.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Perhaps Bryan LaHair isn’t quite the slob I thought he was. Through 110 PA, LaHair is batting .359/.455/.717 with eight homers and it no longer looks as if he’ll be simply stepping aside to make room for top prospect Anthony Rizzo. If Rizzo is to arrive this season, the Cubs are going to have to find a way to build a lineup that accommodates both players. LaHair made 14 appearances at OF last year, one so far this year, and slotting him permanently at a corner OF post would appear to be the move. With other players (Soriano) complicating the matter, though, it might take another trade from the Cubbies to make space available. Meanwhile, Rizzo’s OPS at Triple-A Iowa sits at 1.077 and with every game that passes, it becomes clearer that he’s too advanced for minor league ball.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Taijuan Walker | RHP, Mariners | Born: 8/13/1992
The Double-A Jackson Generals have quite an impressive rotation. With Danny Hultzen and James Paxton alone, it’d be among the best rotations in Minor League Baseball. Toss in Taijuan Walker, however, and now we’re looking at a truly special Double-A collection of arms, the likes of which doesn’t come around very often.Please, blog, may I have some more?
I don’t think I saw an organizational ranking all off-season that didn’t have the White Sox dead last. Not that they deserve to be ranked higher – the Sox simply refuse to spend big money in the draft, and their presence in the Latin markets has been lacking of recent. The first month of the 2012 baseball season, however, has brought a bit of good news to the Southsiders, as former top prospect Jared Mitchell has reemerged as an elite outfielder in Double-A. Mitchell, who had a rough go at High-A in 2011 after missing all of 2010 with an ankle injury, has posted a .962 OPS through 28 games with Birmingham. He’s gathered 13 XBH and 6 SB within 120 PA. Mitchell’s hot start is greatly encouraging for a system in need of a boost.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Mike Olt | 3B, Rangers | Born: 8/27/1988
The Rangers are flush with high ceiling prospects. At every level you’ll find top-round draftees and highly touted Latin ballplayers, all of whom signed for big money. Perhaps the most glaring example of this impressive collection of youthful talent lies with Double-A Frisco, and more specifically, with the left side of the Roughriders’ infield. Frisco SS Jurickson Profar currently occupies the No.Please, blog, may I have some more?