James Paxton | LHP (SP) | Seattle Mariners | D.o.B: 11-6-88 | 6’3″ | 215 lbs | 4th rd, pk 132, 2010 | MiLB Player Page

Paxton was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009 as a big powerful left-handed amateur. Agent Scott Boras and Toronto disagreed on numbers and consequently Paxton pitched at Grand Prairie (Independent League) in 2010. He was then again drafted in the 4th round (pk 132) by the Mariners and signed on 3/7/11 for $942,500. While in college he threw 93-97 MPH, but at Independent League his fastball was consistently clocked between 88 to 93 MPH. Possess a power curveball which is a true plus-pitch. He has shown solid command and feel for changeup, but infrequent utilization. He repeats his delivery well and can carry the velocity throughout starts,. Some scouts think his command and arm action – described on draft-day scouting reports as “long, slingy arm action” – may mean he’ll be a reliever in the future. Overall command has been inconsistent and a cause for concern. Has a history of nagging injuries: sore elbow in high school, back issues in 2008 and tendinitis in 2009 in left knee. Ceiling is high; a solid number two starter. More likely a strong mid-rotation starter or power reliever.

Stats 2010 (A/AA): 12.4 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9 | 56 IP (A); 39 IP (AA) | 2.37 ERA | 2.24 FIP (A); 2.33 FIP (AA) | 1.22 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 6.9 H/9 | .358 BABIP (A); .302 BABIP (AA) | 73.7 LOB% (A); 81.6 LOB% (AA)

Finally pitching in professional affiliated baseball after two years of ill-fortune and missteps, Paxton dominated in each performance. Statistically speaking, he lost one strikeout-per-nine-innings when promoted from Low-Single-A to Double-A (12.8 to 11.7 K/9). Control concerns are apparent with his overall 4.1 BB/9. Sabermetrically, he was hindered by a high-BABIP at Single-A (.358) but bolstered by a high LOB% at Double-A (81.6 LOB%). The sample sizes are small (95 total innings), the talent is legitimate and he could call Safeco Field home in 2012. His last start of the season was on 8/12/11 when he went 7 IP, allowed 4 baserunners (0 BB), 0 ER and had 10 Ks. He was shutdown on 8/18/11 due to “back soreness and reaching innings-limit.” He’ll need to continue to develop his changeup and shore up some command issues to see success in the majors, or he’ll be pushed to the bullpen as a power reliever. There is the possibility he’ll end up in the Arizona Fall League this fall and battle for a rotation spot come 2012 Spring Training. More likely to see him come mid-summer 2012. Could easily be the 2012 Brandon Beachy.

Jurickson Profar | SS | Texas Rangers | D.o.B: 2-20-93 | 5’11” | 165 lbs | Signed 2009, Curacao | TEX #2 ranked prospect per Baseball America 2011 | MiLB Player Page

Profar is a “young … skinny … true five-tool talent…” once he fully matures physically. He has projection for days. His mechanically sound line-drive swings makes strong contact from both sides of the plate; power projects as average, hitting projects as plus. Has plate-discipline and strike zone awareness beyond his years. Instinctual and excellent baserunner, “not a burner, but he runs well,” according to Jonathan Mayo of MiLB.com. Gold-Glove caliber defense (read: plus-defender): soft hands, vast range, lateral quickness, strong throwing arm. Scouts laud makeup and intelligence. Will need to improve ability to pull the ball. Likes to extend arms and hit outside pitches and it’s expected that his hitting will take time to fully develop. Should develop into an All-Star caliber shortstop.

Career Stats (inc. 2011): .270/.367/.440 | 647 AB | 73 XBH | 15 Hr | .170 ISO | 28/12 SB/CS | 105:90 K:BB
2011 (A): .284/.394/.484 | 395 AB | 50 XBH | 11 Hr | .200 ISO | 20/9 SB/CS | 59:62 K:BB | .312 BABIP

Before the season began, I was skeptical of this skinny kid who helped his little league team win the Little League World Series. However, as he kept amassing one strong month after another, I no longer could divert my attention. At just 18 years of age, Profar has established himself atop the prospect charts. He has exceptional defensive capabilities that will accelerate him to the majors, a strong hitting approach and solid strike zone awareness. Ceiling appears to project as a .290 hitter with 10 to 15 home runs and 15 to 20 steals with plus-plus defense. That’s essentially Dustin Pedroia at shortstop. However, when I was reading through his scouting reports, there was one comparison my mind kept jumping too. I hate to make comparisons. I especially loathe to make comparisons when the one name that kept leaping out was Derek Jeter. It was more than the switch hitting, inside-out swing. More than the position. It’s a combination of the previously mentioned attributes and it’s his “makeup and intelligence,” his strike zone/plate-discipline, his – I hate to use this phrase – “it-factor,” exuding confidence. In all reality, that’s not a fair comparison, but his upside is tremendous. As the Rangers have Elvis Andrus, there is no reason to rush Profar to the majors. There is always the possibility of a trade, a position change by Andrus or Profar, or injury. I wouldn’t expect Profar in the majors until late 2012 or 2013. But then again, the stars always find ways to make it to the majors sooner than expected.

(I never, in all my articles, have felt this exuberant about a hitting prospect in regards to non-fantasy upside. There are more fantasy worthy prospects than Profar, even when taking position scarcity into play. As it is projecting position scarcity two years into the future is difficult. I don’t think anyone would have expected third base to be in shambles in 2011 with David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Evan Longoria headlining the position. Nevertheless, Profar is a very intriguing play.)

  1. Charlie Says says:

    Paxton kept getting stronger as the season progressed. His k-to-bb ratio was terrific his last few starts, though the ball to strike ratio was inconsistent. I can see 2012 going either way, with him at Safeco continuing to improve, or injuries and command holding him back. Decent chance he cracks the rotation out of Spring Training.

  2. Jay says:

    I agree with your general hesitancy to predict position scarcity two or three years down the road, but I think it’s safe to say that SS will be a pretty scarce position for the foreseeable future. There are a few top guys like Tulo, Reyes, Hanley, and maybe now Asdrubal, but the depth at the bottom of the rankings is where the scarcity comes into play. Since many teams value SS defense over offense (and rightly so), you’re always going to have a plethora of light-hitting shortstops in MLB.

  3. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Charlie Says: Concur.

    @Jay: Mhm.

  4. brian fawcett says:

    Not sure how you see a resemblance to Jeter when Profar is a switch-hitter, and can apparently play shortstop well, which Jeter hasn’t been able to do for 10 years, and even when he could, didn’t have lateral range unless there was a grandstand to dive into.

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