Last Wednesday, I joined Rudy and Nick for the Razzball Baseball Podcast. On the show, we counted down my top 15 prospects, but truth be told, I was fully prepared to discuss my top 20. So, with the MiLB season winding down and all, I thought now would be a good opportunity to put the entire list out there in written form. This is a preliminary ranking — I’ll roll out more official and specific ranks during the off-season, once the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to gather more intel. Please keep in mind that this list is limited to prospects still in the minors prior to September 1st call-ups. Also, in the interest of not being too farsighted, I included only guys who’ll be making their impacts within the next year or two (which is certainly a matter up for debate). Anyway, my top 20:
1. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers – Current Level: MLB Age: 19 – Five-tool shortstop projects to go 20/20 annually, and he’s certainly gifted enough to do more. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Once considered an elite prospect, Brett Wallace now has few lingering believers. The 2008 1st round pick has already been with four organizations, and is currently passing time in the Pacific Coast League at Oklahoma City, Triple-A affiliate of the Astros. Houston gave Wallace ample opportunity to prove his worth in 2011, but he effectively squandered the 350+ PA, posting a .259 AVG and a .110 ISO, which is pretty miserable coming from a 1B. During a brief stint in the bigs earlier this year, the 25-year-old was much improved, batting .333/.429/.583 in 42 PA. Granted, it’s a small sample, but it conjured memories of why we touted Wallace in the first place — outstanding plate coverage, lightning-quick hands, beautiful lefty stroke, advanced approach, power potential… the works, really, from a hitting perspective. Jeff Luhnow — Houston’s brilliant 1st-year GM, and the man who drafted Wallace in 2008 while handling player procurement for the Cardinals — recently acknowledged that the first baseman should resurface in the bigs before long, which is kind of an ambiguous timetable. Regardless, Wallace’s Triple-A production has been big of recent (.371/.476/.600 through last ten), and he could be useful in NL-Only and deep mixed formats should he return to Houston anytime soon. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Dan Straily | RHP, Athletics | Born: 12/1/1988
Dan Straily hype was virtually nonexistent during the preseason. It wasn’t yet a thing. It’s definitely a thing now, but back in the off-season, Baseball America didn’t feature him as a top 30 Oakland prospect, and Kevin Goldstein didn’t include him in his top 20 A’s prospects over at Baseball Prospectus. Fangraphs didn’t highlight him. Neither did we. Credit where credit is due, however: John Sickels ranked Straily #18 on his A’s preseason list at Minor League Ball. Outside of Sickels, though, you’d have to do some significant digging to find much info on the 23-year-old righty. Of course, it’s hard to stay under the radar when you’ve struck out 171 batters in 132 IP. Or when you’ve posted a 0.92 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP through seven starts in the Pacific Coast League. So now, along with all the other folks who ignored him preseason, I’m writing about Dan Straily. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Storylines in Minor League Baseball are sometimes too good to ignore. Take this past Wednesday, for example, when Sacramento (OAK) battled Tacoma (SEA) in an 18-inning Pacific Coast League affair. The game got away from the managers as it reached deep into extras. Having exhausted their respective bullpens, both skippers resorted to calling on position players to take the mound. Tacoma opened the top half of the 18th with Scott Stavastano, a utility player, on the bump. The 26-year-old pitched a clean frame; 1-2-3. Sacramento countered with outfielder Shane Peterson on the mound for the bottom half. Peterson had struck out the first batter when Stavastano, the utility man/pitcher of record came to the plate in a 1-1 tie. You probably can guess where I’m headed with this — Stavastano worked a full count, then bombed. A walk off to give himself the W on the box. Neat stuff. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Many saw Mark Appel as the odds-on No. 1 overall pick in last month’s First Year Player Draft. Signability concerns, however, caused his stock to slip, and the tall, athletic RHP out of Stanford fell to Pittsburgh at No. 8 overall. In retrospect, he should’ve fallen further, as Appel refused a signing bonus worth $3.8 million, opting to return to Stanford for his senior season. Must be frustrating for Pirates fans. A larger offer from the club would’ve forfeited their 1st-round pick for 2013 under the new CBA terms. Instead, their first selection for 2012 was for naught. With arms like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole already in their minor league ranks, the addition of Appel would’ve given Pittsburgh one of the most impressive collection of starting pitching prospects in the game. Certainly much of the frustration here needs to be directed toward MLB’s new draft slotting system. After paying above-slot bonuses to several later-round picks, the Pirates were handcuffed when it came time to negotiate with Appel and his agent Scott Boras. Still, better foresight from Pittsburgh a month ago could’ve avoided this unfortunate situation. Appel should be near the top of next year’s class once again. For more on him, here’s a brief scouting report I wrote pre-draft. Please, blog, may I have some more?