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January 10, 2010

Future Shock

Rangers Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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top 11 prospects

Five-Star Prospects
1. Neftali Feliz, RHP
2. Martin Perez, LHP
3. Justin Smoak, 1B
Four-Star Prospects
4. Tanner Scheppers, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
5. Jurickson Profar, SS
6. Danny Gutierrez, RHP
7. Mitch Moreland, RF
8. Michael Main, RHP
9. Engel Beltre, CF
10. Wilmer Font, RHP
11. Robbie Ross, LHP

Four More:
12. Miguel Velasquez, OF: The ultra-talented outfielder could be on the verge of a breakout if his personal issues are totally behind him.
13. Kasey Kiker, LHP: He has a big-league arm, but size and command issues could push him to the bullpen.
14. Max Ramirez, C: His 2009 season was ruined by injuries to both wrists, but his power returned in Venezuela this winter.
15. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP: A deception and command specialist, he could end up as a valuable swingman.

1. Neftali Feliz, RHP
DOB: 05/02/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005 (Braves)
2009 Stats: 3.49 ERA (77.1-69-30-75) at Triple-A (25 G); 1.74 ERA (31.0-13-8-39) at MLB (20 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 1

Year in Review: The top prospect in the system was scuffling a bit as a starter at Triple-A, but dominated out of the bullpen in a stunning big-league debut.
The Good: In shorter stints out of the pen, Feliz was utterly dominant, with his normally mid-90s fastball suddenly sitting at 96-98 and touching 101 mph. He makes the velocity look effortless with a free and easy delivery, and he complements it with a plus 77-82 mph slider that has two-plane break. As a starter, his changeup improved to big-league average, and he was seemingly unfazed by his quick rise to the majors.
The Bad: Feliz seemed a bit out of whack mechanically early in the year, leading to command troubles. His fastball is still his overwhelmingly best pitch, as his other offerings only flash plus, but still have potential. His success out of the pen have some wondering if he should just stay there, which would reduce his overall value.
Ephemera: Big league right-handers facing Feliz went 4-for-47 (.085; all singles) with 21 strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: Well, he's already a dominant big leaguer, no?
Path to the Big Leagues: Feliz will not see another inning in the minors for development purposes.
Timetable:

He'll likely be worked as a starter this spring, but that's no guarantee of a rotation job in 2010, although most in the Rangers organization see that as his long-term role. If he's moved to the pen, he might be best served with a workload similar to Pedro Martinez in 1993, when the 21-year-old rookie appeared in 65 games and threw 107 innings.

2. Martin Perez, LHP
DOB: 04/04/91
Height/Weight: 6-0/178
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2007
2009 Stats: 2.31 ERA (93.2-82-33-105) at Low-A (22 G); 5.57 ERA (21.0-29-5-14) at Double-A (5 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 7

Year in Review: This high-ceiling southpaw lived up to every expectation and more, reaching Double-A as an 18-year-old and holding his own.
The Good: Simply put, Perez is the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. Teenage southpaws whose fastballs sit at 92-94 mph and touch 96 are rare enough, but to find one with two plus secondary pitches is truly unique, with both his curve and changeup ranking as 60-grade offerings (on the 20-to-80 scouting scale), with some projecting them as even better down the road. His command and control is also above-average, while he mixes up his offerings and hits his spots like a veteran.
The Bad: It's hard to find any real weaknesses in Perez' game. He doesn't have the kind of size one is normally looking for in a pitcher, but his arm action is the cleanest in the organization, and few think he'll have any problems holding up to a big-league workload. He can be guilty of throwing too many strikes at times, and could become even more effective by using his secondary offerings as chase pitches more often.
Ephemera: With his workload strictly monitored throughout the year, Perez' six innings in his final start of the year was the only time during the 2009 season that he went past the fifth.
Perfect World Projection: He can be an impact-level big-league starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: Perez is moving very quickly.
Timetable: Perez will begin the 2010 season in Double-A, with his first start coming just days after his 19th birthday. While there are no guarantees, he has the ability to be in the big leagues by September.

3. Justin Smoak, 1B
DOB: 12/05/86
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: S/L
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2008, University of South Carolina
2009 Stats: .667/.714/2.000 at Rookie-level (2 G); .328/.449/.481 at Double-A (50 G); .244/.363/.360 at Triple-A (54 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 2

Year in Review: The club's top pick in the 2008 draft was slowed by an oblique strain and a slump at Triple-A, but saved his best for Team USA at the end of the year, bashing nine home runs in 14 games at the IBAF World Cup.
The Good: Smoak projects as a middle-of-the-order run producer who can score and drive in 100 runs annually. He has the best plate discipline in the organization, and among the best in baseball, with plus raw power from both sides. He has good instincts for the game and is a solid to plus defender at first.
The Bad: Smoak's timing was completely off during his first few weeks at Triple-A, which may have been an offshoot of the oblique problem. He's a below-average runner, and while some see him as calm, cool, and collected on the field, others have questioned his effort.
Ephemera: When leading off an inning for Double-A Frisco, Smoak reached base in 25 of 38 plate appearances.
Perfect World Projection: The same as before: a switch-hitting Justin Morneau.
Path to the Big Leagues: Chris Davis' second-half surge has Smoak blocked for now.
Timetable: Smoak will begin 2010 back at Triple-A. If he looks as good as he did at the end of the year, he could force himself into the big-league lineup, with he and Davis splitting first base and designated hitter duties.

4. Tanner Scheppers, RHP
DOB: 01/17/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2009, St. Paul Saints (MN)
2009 Stats: Did not play
Last Year's Ranking: Did not qualify

Year in Review: The 2008 draft holdout finally signed with the Rangers despite concerns about his shoulder, and impressed scouts in the Arizona Fall League.
The Good: Other than the historic Steven Strasburg, Scheppers had arguably the best stuff in the 2009 draft, as he showcased a 95-98 mph heavy fastball in Arizona while generating plenty of swings and misses with a plus power breaker. His arm is lightning-quick, and in college he maintained his velocity (when healthy) deep into games. He has some feel for a changeup, which could turn into an average pitch down the road.
The Bad: Scheppers turns 23 years old this week and has yet to make his official pro debut. Many believe his history of shoulder issues and violent arm action make him a breakdown waiting to happen, with every pitch he throws in the minors taking one away from what he can do in the majors. One scout said, "They need to get him in the big leagues as soon as possible, because everyone knows he's going to break, so you have to get as much as possible from him before that happens."
Ephemera: Scheppers was primarily a shortstop at Dana Hills High School in Southern California, not taking the mound until his senior year due to a shortage of pitchers.
Perfect World Projection: A lights-out closer, but not one built to last forever.
Path to the Big Leagues: It better be quick.
Timetable: Scheppers is set to begin the year at Double-A Frisco, and likely in a starting role in order to get him innings. If moved to the bullpen, he could reach Texas by the end of the year.

5. Jurickson Profar, SS
DOB: 02/20/93
Height/Weight: 6-0/175
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: Curacao, 2009
2009 Stats: Did not play
Last Year's Ranking: Did not qualify

Year in Review: Seen by most as a pitcher instead of a shortstop, Profar wanted to be a position player and signed with the Rangers, which he followed up with the most talked about showing in the Arizona instructional leagues.
The Good: Rangers officials are convinced that Profar has the ability to turn into the system's top prospect, and one of the best in the game. He's a switch-hitter with easy raw power, as well as a plus fielder with impressive speed, giving him range to both sides to go with smooth actions and an outstanding arm. His baseball instincts, effort, and take-charge attitude earned glowing reports from scouts, with one saying, "If you put him in a room with other players who have off-the-charts makeup, Profar is off that chart." Even his plate discipline is beyond his years, as over 91 at-bats in a secondary Dominican League this summer, he drew a whopping 26 walks while striking out just eight times.
The Bad: More than anything, Profar just needs playing time. Like many young players, he can get sloppy on defense, leading to silly errors. Some who preferred him on the mound question his pure hitting skills.
Ephemera: Batting fifth in the 2004 Little League World Series title game, Profar went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run, won 5-2 by Profar's Curacao team.
Perfect World Projection: Elvis Andrus with secondary skills.
Path to the Big Leagues: He has yet to play an official game yet.
Timetable: The Rangers are tempted to make Profar the youngest player in the Sally Legaue, but they're not sure it's the best for his development. His showing this spring will dictate if he goes to Hickory, or makes his pro debut in a short-season league.

6. Danny Gutierrez, RHP
DOB: 03/08/87
Height/Weight: 6-1/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 33rd round, 2005, Rubidoux HS (CA)
2009 Stats: 1.65 ERA (27.1-17-7-25) at High-A (8 G) with Royals; 3.60 ERA (5.0-3-0-3) at Double-A (1 G) with Texas
Last Year's Ranking: 6 (Royals)

Year in Review: The troubled righty wore out his welcome with the Royals, who sent him to Texas for two significantly lesser prospects.
The Good: Gutierrez certainly has the stuff to be an above-average big-league starter. His low-90s fastball gets up to 95 mph and features plenty of natural sink, while his hammer curve is a true plus offering and big-league out pitch. He commands both pitches extremely well, and has good feel for a changeup.
The Bad: Injuries (to a shoulder) and off-field issues have limited Gutierrez to just 122 1/3 innings over the past two years, leaving plenty of questions about his future, with one scout noting, "The Royals didn't give him away for very little because they're stupid-they just had enough of him." He was resistant to coaching with the Royals, and also had several runs-ins with the law, being charged at various times with driving without a license, disorderly conduct, and assault. As a ballplayer, he needs to improve his changeup, and just get consistent innings to refine his game.
Ephemera: Dave Liddell, who caught one game for the Mets in 1990, is the only player ever drafted out of Rubidoux High to reach the big leagues (there have been nine).
Perfect World Projection: A good third starter in The Show.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Rangers just want to get him on the right path for now.
Timetable: With two plus pitches and above-average command, Gutierrez has Top 100 ability, but converting that into a major-league career depends on his growing up and realizing the opportunity that has presented itself. He'll begin 2010 at Double-A.

7. Mitch Moreland, RF
DOB: 09/06/85
Height/Weight: 6-2/230
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 17th round, 2007, Mississippi State University
2009 Stats: .341/.421/.594 at High-A (43 G); .326/.373/.488 at Double-A (73 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not ranked

Year in Review: This low-round, low-profile pick just kept producing, including an impressive performance in his first exposure to the upper levels.
The Good: Moreland just hits, period, generating career averages of .321/.387/.518 in his first 266 pro games. Using a quick swing and fantastic hand-eye coordination, Moreland employs a contact-oriented approach while letting his size and strength produce average power and plenty of doubles. He uses all fields, and has no platoon issues.
The Bad: Other than Moreland's bat and plus arm, there's little to talk about on a tools level. Even the arm could end up of little value, as the bulky Moreland is such a slow, bad outfielder that he might be forced to first base. He's an aggressive hitter who attacks balls early in the count and rarely walks.
Ephemera: Few teams, including the Rangers, felt that Moreland had much of an opportunity as a hitter, as the Rangers drafted him with the intention of moving him to the mound. Moreland resisted, and the Rangers decided to give him some time, and the rest is history.
Perfect World Projection: A solid everyday corner outfielder.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Rangers outfield is full, but not exactly loaded, so Moreland is blocked, but not in a crazy, impossible-feat kind of way.
Timetable: Moreland will begin the year at Triple-A with the hope of making his big-league debut at some point in 2010, and giving the Rangers something to think about for 2011.

8. Michael Main, RHP
DOB: 12/14/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/170
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2007, Deland HS (FL)
2009 Stats: 0.00 ERA (3.0-3-0-5) at Rookie-level (2 G); 6.83 ERA (58.0-72-37-49) at High-A (14 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 4

Year in Review: The high-ceiling righty had a nightmarish 2009, as an undiagnosed viral infection sapped him of his strength and turned the year into a lost season.
The Good: While Main was often in the mid-80s during the year with flat secondary stuff, he was healthy in instructional league, and showing again the stuff that the Rangers were so excited about coming into the year: a 91-93 mph fastball, and hammer curve ball that rates as a plus pitch. He's among the best athletes in the game among pitchers, as he has first-round talent as a power/speed center fielder out of his school.
The Bad: Main's overall game needs refinement, so the lost year of development hurts him. His changeup remains a below-average pitch. He needs to incorporate more of his body into his delivery, which employs a bit of a rock-and-fire motion.
Ephemera: In four appearances at the very end of the year once he got his strength back, Main whiffed nine over seven scoreless frames.
Perfect World Projection: Mid-rotation starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: For now, it's simply a path to health.
Timetable: Main has thrown less than 150 innings since being drafted, so he's behind many of his peers developmentally. He'll try to get back on track in 2010 with a return engagement at High-A Bakersfield.

9. Engel Beltre, CF
DOB: 11/01/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/170
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006 (Red Sox)
2009 Stats: .300/.364/.600 at Rookie-level (3 G); .227/.281/.317 at High-A (84 G); .071/.133/.143 at Double-A (4 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 5

Year in Review: An anticipated breakout year turned into a disaster, as Beltre put up putrid numbers in the California League before suffering a broken hamate bone.
The Good: Beltre's tools remain the best of any position player's in the system. He's a dynamic athlete with plus raw power, 60-65 speed, good center-field skills, and a cannon for an arm. While he's yet to put up big numbers, he could spend the next two years in the California League and still be young for the level.
The Bad: Beltre's confident style works against him at times, and he's had trouble making adjustments in his impatient approach, to the point where at times he was against the team's orders to take the first pitch in every at-bat. He flails at breaking balls in the dirt, and compounds his problems by expanding his strike zone once he falls behind.
Ephemera: Beltre saved his best for last with Bakersfield, going 13-for-39 (.333) in the ninth and extra innings for the Blaze. In the first through eight innings, he hit just .214.
Perfect World Projection: These are still star-level tools.
Path to the Big Leagues: If he develops, Julio Borbon is not a huge stumbling block.
Timetable: There's no need to move Beltre up as he's so young, and his performance hardly merited a jump to Double-A. He'll be back in Bakersfield to begin 2010.

10. Wilmer Font, RHP
DOB: 05/24/90
Height/Weight: 6-4/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2006
2009 Stats: 3.49 ERA (108.1-93-59-105) at Low-A (29 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Sleeper

Year in Review: The massive righty nearly struck out a batter per inning in his highly-anticipated full-season debut.
The Good: Font has one of the best pure arms in the system, as when he on, he'd sit at 92-95 mph while touching 97. He flashes a plus power breaking at times, and gained more confidence in his changeup during the second half of the season. As a big, beefy, Venezuelan righty, physical comparisons to Carlos Zambrano are unavoidable, and he should be able to eat up plenty of innings down the road.
The Bad: Font is still a highly unrefined product. Inconsistent mechanics led to equally inconsistent velocity, with him only sitting as low as 89-92 mph on some nights with flat secondary offerings. He can also be guilty of overthrowing at times, leading to control issues for a pitcher who already has problems finding the strike zone.
Ephemera: Font enjoyed the sunshine in 2009, striking out 21 over 16 1/3 innings with a 1.65 ERA when pitching under natural light.
Perfect World Projection: Font has the raw tools to be a star-level power pitcher.
Path to the Big Leagues: This one could take a while, as there is still much work to be done.
Timetable: Font is a one-step-at-a-time prospect, and the next step is High-A Bakersfield.

11. Robbie Ross, LHP
DOB: 06/24/89
Height/Weight: 5-11/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2008, Lexington Christian Academy (KY)
2009 Stats: 2.66 ERA (74.1-68-17-76) at Short-season (15 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not ranked

Year in Review: After signing for an over-slot bonus in the second round, Ross was among the best pitchers in the Northwest League.
The Good: Ross combines impressive stuff for a lefty with outstanding command and control. His low 90s fastball can get up to 94 mph and features heavy sinking action that's nearly impossible to get lift on. He pounds the strike zone with his heater, and throws a darting slider when ahead in the count that projects as a plus pitch. His delivery is free and easy, and his arm action is clean.
The Bad: Ross is definitely undersized, with his short and skinny frame creating some concerns about his ability to handle a big-league starter's workload. His changeup needs to improve, and he needs to find more consistency with his slider.
Ephemera: In his first seven starts for Spokane, Ross generated 43 ground-ball outs with just six of the ground ball variety.
Perfect World Projection: A good fourth starter, and a ground-ball machine.
Path to the Big Leagues: In a system loaded with young pitching, the pressure in on all of them to stand out.
Timetable: Ross will make his full-season debut in 2010 at Low-A Hickory.

The Sleeper: A 24th-round pick in 2009 who received a $300,000 bonus, righty Chad Blackwell is a six-foot-five power pitcher with silky-smooth mechanics and three solid offerings.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (Born 4/1/84 or later)

1. Neftali Feliz, RHP
2. Martin Perez, LHP
3. Elvis Andrus, SS
4. Chris Davis, 1B
5. Derek Holland, LHP
6. Justin Smoak, 1B
7. Tanner Scheppers, RHP
8. Jurickson Profar, RHP/SS
9. Julio Borbon, CF
10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

Andrus is good, but also now a bit overhyped, as he barely manged a 700 OPS in his rookie year. He's not going to hit for power, but should get better with the bat, turning into a .300 hitter with steals and little else to go with Gold Glove-caliber defense. That's a well above-average player, but not a superstar. The adjustments Davis made upon his return to Texas were very real, so expect a bounceback season in 2009. Holland was a disappointment in his rookie campaign, as he lost the feel on his breaking ball, but he remains a high-ceiling arm. Borbon is a lesser version of Andrus, but in center field. He'll hit .280-.290, but it's empty other than steals, and his excellent range in center is offset by a noodle for an arm. He's one of those guys who can hold down the every day job, but you are always looking for something better. Call me crazy, but I still have a bit of faith in Saltalamacchia, and if I ran a team, I'd love to see if he's available as a change-of-scenery player. Just missing are Tommy Hunter (because of his rotation-back-end ceiling) and Matt Harrision, although the latter was impressive as a reliever in Arizona and could take a step forward in that role. As an aside, Ben Snyder mave have been the best Rule 5 pick in December as a lefty-on-lefty monster who already has very usable big-league skill in the role.

Summary: The Rangers' system is down just a tad, as many top prospects had disappointing seasons, but a lack of positional prospects (especially at the upper levels) is more than offset by the most impressive collection of young arms in the game.


Next up: the Toronto Blue Jays.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

51 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

orioles1234

Wow - you like Perez better than Matusz?

Jan 10, 2010 09:42 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Better fastball, better breaking ball, change is not as good (but close), and he's ready for Double-A at the same age Matusz was getting ready for his freshman year in college. I don't have a HUGE gap on them or anything, but yes, I prefer Perez.

Jan 10, 2010 10:04 AM
 
G. Guest

Does the Vlad signing spell a long season at AAA for Smoak?

Jan 10, 2010 09:43 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

It certainly could.

Jan 10, 2010 10:04 AM
 
Randolph314

Holland had a better than 2/1 strikeout to walk ratio as a 22 year old with 30 innings above High A in his resume. That's disappointing?

Jan 10, 2010 10:13 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

So the 6.12 ERA doesn't bug you -- fair enough. I don't think he'd be given that much big league time if a 6.12 ERA is what was expected of him.

Jan 10, 2010 10:30 AM
 
Ira

well, the .315 BABiP was definitely higher than other Rangers, but most importantly, the 11.1 HR/FB % is a bit freaky, which lead to a 1.7 HR/IP rate, which is 4 times his minor league rate of 0.4

It reminds me alot of what happened to Roy Halladay, when in his second year he just kinda fell apart. But even with that, Holland retained his control, and his ability to strike guys out, so I really see a break through coming from him. Many times Holland would be cruising along, then give up something, let some guys on, and then fall apart. That's to be expected in such a young guy.

Jan 10, 2010 11:52 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

You can spin it however you want, but all I'm talking about in 2009. Like you, I've very optimistic about Holland's future, but there's no way to say 2009 was good. It's like the Elvis Andrus thing. I say he wasn't good in 2009, and everyone tells he that he was for a player so young, or for a player without offensive expectations. I'm talking about without qualifiers. Just taken as a big leaguer last year, offensively, Elvis Andrus was not GOOD by any measurement. Guy had a .329 on-base percentage and just 31 extra base hits over an entire year. That's not good. He's certainly GOING to have good years, but 2009 was not one of them.

Jan 10, 2010 12:59 PM
 
tbwhite
(361)

Did Holland lose anything in terms of velocity last year ? BP2009 noted that his breakout was due to him suddenly, and unexpectedly going from average velocity to mid to upper 90's. Did he retain that in 2009 ? Was it just the curveball that he struggled with ?

Jan 10, 2010 16:42 PM
rating: 1
 
gogotabata

Andrus was only not good if we ignore position and defense. Chris Dial's numbers at Baseball Think Factory have Andrus as one of the top 30 most valuable players in the AL when offense, defense and position are taken together, ahead of guys like Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Grady Sizemore, etc. Fangraphs has Andrus as a 3 WAR player last year.

I hate the Rangers (Mariners fan), and have no special love for Andrus, but it's sort of strange to see one of the higher profile guys at one of the higher profile statsy sites just point simply to OBP and say "he wasn't good" when there are various metrics out there stating otherwise.

Jan 11, 2010 04:46 AM
rating: 1
 
Ira

Well, ignoring his age, and according to BP's fielding stats, Elvis comes out as an average hitter for a shortstop and an average fielder for a shortstop. Is that "good"? is that "bad"? Can you really say one way or another. As we all know, "average" has value, hence his 2.4 WARP2.

You can't just look at the .329 OBA and say, "he sucked". Kinda like you can't just look at Holland's 6.11 ERA and say, "he sucked" well, I guess you can, but if you discard him for that reason its going to come back to bite you.

Jan 11, 2010 11:05 AM
rating: 0
 
cdamon

Andrus fits solidly into the middle of the pack offensively for ML SS. There were 26 SS with at least 400 PA. Numbers 11 (Alexei Ramirez at 723) down to 18 (Cristian Guzman at 696) were basically equivalent, with Andrus in the midst of that.

He was roughly an average ML SS offensively, with GG fielding. That is a good, near All Star caliber player. He was maybe the 7th or 8th best SS in baseball last year. Thats a good player that any team should be happy with. With normal player development, he can be expected to gain value in the Hanley Ramirez range of elite SS -- less offensive value but MUCH more defensive value.

Jan 11, 2010 11:37 AM
rating: 0
 
3n2sports

Are you predicting his defense to develop? That's a little backwards from how players generally develop. The guy is a damn good defensive shortstop but he's no Ozzie Smith. Predicting Hanley Ramirez level play is completely indefensible. If we slide over to fangraphs stats page, we see that Hanley is a +45 bat and average to a hair below in the field (call it -2). A very sunny view of Andrus would have him as a +5 bat and +12 defender. That makes Hanley* 26 runs better than sunny day Andrus*.

Jan 11, 2010 12:41 PM
rating: 1
 
sockeye

Kevin,

What kind of speed does Profar have, specifically for stolen base purposes?

Jan 10, 2010 10:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Above average. He's not going to be Jose Reyes on the base paths, but he'll steal some bases.

Jan 10, 2010 10:44 AM
 
airlifting

Uhh....Kevin? Holland is a pitcher. Not a 1B...unless there's been some amazing development in his swing plane, or something :)

Jan 10, 2010 10:53 AM
rating: 0
 
oskinner

Kevin, you might want to correct Derek Holland's position in your Top 10 Under 25 list....nice list with six five-star 25 and Unders for a system that's "down just a tad"!

Jan 10, 2010 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
phuturephillies

I'm curious about Scheppers arm action and mechanics. I'm not an expert or a scout, but from watching video of him in the AFL, his motion looks very simplistic. He seems to have very few moving parts, no violent jerking, and no head whip in his follow through. Can you give a few specific things that worry scouts?

Jan 10, 2010 13:25 PM
rating: 2
 
HeavyHitter

Kevin, this is pure gold. Profar is going to be interesting to watch.

Jan 10, 2010 13:43 PM
rating: 1
 
radm605

You're great at this Kevin, but I am shocked by how much you like Chris Davis and Engel Beltre and how low Robbie Ross ranks. When a guy has stuff, command, and performance, is height really that big of a deal? When a guy has impressive tools and zero (ZERO!!!!) aptitude for controlling the strike zone (or even making contact), is it really wise to put strong weight on his ceiling? Those guys pretty much never live up to their promise. Meanwhile, guys with good scouting reports and results who get knocked down for things like height always seem to exceed expectations. I'd take Ross over the other two without a thought.

Jan 10, 2010 14:00 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I'd rather take the bigger risk with the bigger payoff. You can find big league pieces on the free agent market, but stars are much harder to come by.

Jan 10, 2010 14:55 PM
 
radm605

I guess when I read your scouting report on Ross, it sounds like his ceiling is higher than a #4. How bad is the change-up?

Jan 10, 2010 15:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Schlom

How can Smoak be a 5 star prospect when outside of 14 games in Low A he's never slugged above .500 in the minors? To be a good 1B in the majors I would think you would really need to tear it up in the minors and Smoak hasn't done that yet?

Jan 10, 2010 14:43 PM
rating: 0
 
sungods7n

With 30 games (14 games in Low A and 16 games in the AFL) of minor league experience, a 22 year old hits .328/.449/.481 in AA. THAT isn't tearing it up?

Jan 10, 2010 20:17 PM
rating: 0
 
Ira

I think the better answer is, "Players with his ability won't be in the minors for long enough to produce any meaningful data."

Jan 11, 2010 11:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

I see this as a huge system. It's basically the Yankees' system (loads of high-potential guys) plus a bunch of ready-now impact talent (Feliz, Smoak, Scheppers).

Jan 10, 2010 18:25 PM
rating: -1
 
Drew Miller

Is there a catch-all thread regarding user comments? I'm a little tired of watching comments that do in fact contribute to the discussion get buried simply because someone doesn't agree.

Jan 11, 2010 09:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

Hey, it goes against BP's policy for comments. Just saying. If you want to turn this place into DeadSpin, by all means, continue.

Jan 11, 2010 11:39 AM
rating: -1
 
Ben Solow

Kevin, I'm curious as to your opinion on a comparison between the Rays and Rangers in terms of minor league pitching. Specifically, you've got 4 pitchers with a 5 star rating in the Rays minor league system, but say that the Rangers have the most impressive collection of young arms in the game. Are Feliz and Perez THAT far in front of any of the Rays, or is there another rationale?

Jan 10, 2010 18:40 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

More of a depth thing. The Rangers have just a ridiculous amount of young arms who are not 3/4/5 star prospects YET, but have to ability to turn into them.

Jan 11, 2010 09:41 AM
 
BERSMR

As a related question how much deeper than 11 would you go three stars for the Rays and for the Rangers. My guess is that the Rangers go at least 15 deep at 3 stars and that is at least part of the explanation.

Jan 10, 2010 19:45 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

The Rangers' three-stars go deeper than the Rays.

Jan 11, 2010 09:42 AM
 
mketchen

Kevin,

How far behind Perez is Matt Moore? I know his command is still a little shaky but stuff wise I thought he was beft LHP in minors? Thanks in advance if you get a chance to respond.

Jan 11, 2010 08:17 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Perez gets a slight edge on the fastball, Moore gets a slight edge on the curve, Perez has a BIG edge on the change, and that doesn't even touch Perez' command, control, mechanics and age.

Of course this is moot, as Perez is no longer the top LHP prospect in baseball now that Chapman has signed.

Jan 11, 2010 09:43 AM
 
johnmbarcus

Kevin - How far down the list do you have to go to find Blake Beavan? And what are your thoughts on him?

Jan 11, 2010 08:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He's a weird case for sure, just a different pitcher than what was drafted. He's now this below-average velocity strike thrower with a decent change.

Maybe he has relief possibilities, but I don't see much more.

Jan 11, 2010 09:44 AM
 
Ira

Is it possible that that can change? He held his own at AA and he can't buy alcohol for another few days yet.


The sick thing about the Rangers system (IMO) is the sheer volume of pitchers who could pitch for the team before their 25th birthday. In 2009 we saw:
Derek Holland
Tommy Hunter
Neftali Feliz
Matt Harrison
Pedro Strop

Add into that some minor leaguers who pitched in AA last year who could debut next year before they turn 25:
Martin Perez
Blake Beavan
Kasey Kiker
Omar Poveda
Danny Gutierrez
Beau Jones
Michael Kirkman
Zach Phillips
Tanner Roark

Now, obviously they won't all make it (unless they let the Rangers carry 20 pitchers) but plainly there's a log-jam at the upper levels of the Rangers system in pitching with even more coming up from the lower levels.

Jan 11, 2010 11:47 AM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

Wow, we're getting top prospects who were playing in the LLWS in 2004. I'm getting old. Fast.

Jan 11, 2010 10:33 AM
rating: 1
 
mymrbig

Pretty surprised to see Davis above Smoak in your top 10 under 25 list. I understand the gap is probably small (since Smoak was given 5 stars), but I was wondering what influenced you. Do you not expect Smoak to hit his power upside, do you think Davis' power is just that good, or that Davis will start walking more to minimize Smoak's OBP advantage? Thanks.

Jan 11, 2010 10:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Ira

Since being drafted, here are Davis' home run totals (including majors and minors):

2006: 15 (in 69 games)
2007: 36 (in 129 games)
2008: 43 (in 157 games)
2009: 30 (in 157 games) despite his horrid slump.

He turns 24 during spring training this year. His power is pretty real. He's never been horribly patient, and he's prone to getting called out on strikes, but it looks like he'll hit for average. What I found funny was his number 1 Age 23 comparison on Baseball reference. (hint, he plays in the bronx).

Jan 11, 2010 12:00 PM
rating: 0
 
flyingdutchman

Gotta commend you on answering so many of the comments, Kevin. It's like a chat addendum to every Top 11 piece! We we subscribers appreciate the extra effort.

P.S. Anyone who flags this comment as below the threshold is an insufferable dweeb.

Jan 11, 2010 11:43 AM
rating: 4
 
wonkothesane1
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

It was pointed at to me recently that the definition of scuffling is:

1. To fight or struggle confusedly at close quarters.
2. To shuffle.

So, I'm not sure that "The top prospect in the system was scuffling a bit as a starter at Triple-A, but dominated out of the bullpen in a stunning big-league debut." makes sense using those definitions. Anyone care to correct me?

Jan 11, 2010 11:47 AM
rating: -4
 
gogotabata

Usage is 9/10 of definition. If it communicates the same basic point to a plurality of readers, it works.

Jan 11, 2010 12:12 PM
rating: 2
 
wonkothesane1

I guess, but the way it is used it could be interpreted than the kid was getting into fights in AAA. That's probably not the best way to try to communicate the message.

Jan 11, 2010 15:20 PM
rating: -1
 
Ben Solow

Actually, the second definition you listed is what KG means (I'm pretty sure). Shuffling is defined as "moving in a dragging or clumsy manner." Dragging is probably an accurate description of Feliz's performance at AAA.

Jan 11, 2010 18:38 PM
rating: 2
 
basejaw

Great stuff Kevin! What do you think of Carlos Pimentel? He's been consistently good against older competition but understandable gets lost in the shuffle.

Jan 11, 2010 12:23 PM
rating: 0
 
tfierst

2nd the comment about C.Davis over Smoak. Was Davis EVER considered a 5-star prospect? Maybe after his breakout 1/2 season in 2008, but how did last year improve that?

Just surprised is all.

Jan 11, 2010 20:42 PM
rating: 0
 
Ira

How soon we forget. Davis hit 36 home runs between Bakersfield and Frisco in 2007 at age 21, then followed it up with hitting 23 in 77 games between Frisco and Oklahoma City in 2008 (while hitting .333!) BEFORE he was called up to the majors and hit 17 home runs in 80 games as a rookie. Smoak has a better batting eye, and is more selective, but He's not quite as advanced and certainly not as athletic or as good a defender. Basically Smoak's 2010 is like Davis' 2008 except that Smoak will start in AAA and be a year older.

Jan 12, 2010 05:59 AM
rating: 1
 
mymrbig

HR and raw power are great, and chicks dig the long ball. But Davis's BB% has typically hovered from 6-10% and his K% has been 23-30%. Not saying he will not be a successful player if he can stay in that range for the majors, but his OBP will limit his value. Smoak's BB% has been 14-17% and his K% has been 16-23%. So twice as many walks and 1/4 fewer K's.

For me, Davis definitely gets the advantage if you only think Smoak will hit 20 HR in the majors. But if you project Smoak to hit in the upper 20's or more, he moves quickly in front of Davis (unless you expect Davis to markedly increase his BB% or decrease his K%).

Lots of moving factors for both guys and a nice problem to have for the Rangers. I always thought Davis was a little underrated and was happy to see KG so high on him (even though I'm a Mariners fan), but was still surprised to see him above Smoak.

Worth pointing out that Smoak has shown significantly better walk rates than Morneau every did in the minors or early in his MLB career. Morneau has started walking more the past couple years, but he used to be more of a hacker. Smoak will be walking from day 1.

Jan 12, 2010 10:04 AM
rating: 0
 
BERSMR

I don't think Andrus needs to improve significantly as a defender to be a gold glover, its just very unusual to win that award as a rookie even if deserved. Even if his gold glove calibre defense ends up a bit short of Vizquel and Ozzie Smith, a .300 hitter who walks a reasonable amount (nothing in what he did last year gives any strong reason for concern about his ability to take a walk), wins gold gloves, and steals bases may not be a "superstar" in the Arod sense of the word, but given how early he has started his career, and how long it will likely last, it does sound like a description of a hall of famer.

Jan 12, 2010 09:42 AM
rating: -1
 
hyprvypr

Sounds like the M's did well on their Cliff Lee trade. A ready-now 1B with good defense(and walks!!!), a decent #4/5/bullpen type arm in Beavan, a decent 2B prospect who can bump Figgins to 3B and a potential flame-thrower reliever/closer(?) in Lueke? That about right? A great return on their trio of prospects sent out to Philly.

Jul 09, 2010 15:06 PM
rating: 0
 
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