Evaluating the Prospects: Rangers, Rockies, D’Backs, Twins, Astros, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, Rays, Mets, Padres, Marlins, Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Braves, Athletics, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays & Tigers
I mentioned in some of the top 200 prospects content that this process inherently values the organizational approaches some teams have, while punishing others. The Tigers are a team that gets punished. The cutoff of a certain amount of big league playing time means that I’m ranking guys that Detroit sees as trade chips to help the big league team, whereas a team like Tampa Bay sees the farm as the only way they’ll be able to survive three years from now.
Of guys that would be on this list, the Tigers originally signed then traded RHP Jake Thompson 55 FV, Rangers), SS Willy Adames (50 FV, Rays), 2B Devon Travis (45+ FV, Blue Jays), RHP Corey Knebel (45+ FV, Brewers), RHP Jonathon Crawford (45 FV, Reds) and 2B Domingo Leyba (40+ FV, Diamondbacks), with White Sox RF Avisail Garcia, Rays LHP Drew Smyly and Reds SS Eugenio Suarez all recently traded and recently losing prospect status.
I point this out because the perception from casual fans via perennially low rankings of their farm system is that Detroit’s scouting and development people aren’t good. If the big league team’s strategy was to keep all their prospects and then add some here and there, they’d be somewhere around the middle of the pack in these rankings. Detroit has a clear type of player they like: big, physical power pitchers and up-the-middle type defenders with instincts and some feel to hit. Given that they don’t spend huge internationally but keep finding solid prospects and always draft in the back half of the first round, rarely with extra picks, I think Detroit’s system (for acquiring players) is underrated, even if the current prospect list is in the back third of the league, as usual.
Here’s the primer for the series and a disclaimer about how we don’t really know anything. See the links above for the ongoing series about how I evaluate, including the series on the ever-complicated hit tool.
Most of what you need to know for this list is in the above links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due to injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report. The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (a notch better than the projected tools, or a 75% projection while the projected tools are a 50% projection) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.
Below, I’ve included a quick ranking of the notable MLB players 27 and under that aren’t eligible for the Tigers prospect list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite. Up next is the Cardinals.
27 & Under Big League Assets
1. J.D. Martinez, LF, Age 27, FV: 60
2. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Age 23, FV: 55 (Video)
3. Shane Greene, RHP, Age 26, FV: 55 (Video)
4. Jose Iglesias, SS, Age 25, FV: 55
5. Anthony Gose, CF, Age 24, FV: 50 (Video)
6. Ian Krol, LHP, Age 23, FV: 45
7. Josh Zeid, RHP, Age 27, FV: 45
Organizational Overview by Dave Cameron
This particular Tigers team is reaching the end of its run, with an aging and expensive roster that no longer looks to be the clear favorite to win the American League Central. There is still enough talent to make a run in 2015 and maybe even in 2016, but the window is closing, and the long-term financial commitments to post-peak players is going to make it difficult to avoid a significant collapse. But, as the saying goes, flags fly forever, and I’m sure everyone in Detroit will take a few rough years in the future if it results in the franchise’s first championship since 1984. The Tigers have at least one more shot at throwing a huge parade before they have to figure out when they need to blow this all up. That time is coming, but it isn’t here yet.
50+ FV Prospect
1. Derek Hill, CF
Current Level/Age: SS/19.2, 6’2/195, R/R
Drafted: 23rd overall (1st round) in 2014 out of California HS by DET for $2.0 million bonus
Hit: 20/50, Raw Power: 50/50+, Game Power: 20/45+, Run: 80/70, Field: 55/65, Throw: 50/50
Scouting Report: Hill went in the first round this summer out of a NorCal high school, but that wasn’t surprising since his father, Orsino Hill, is a Dodgers scout and went in the 1st round in 1982. Derek had a big summer on the showcase circuit as a standout defender with some highlight reel plays in big events, lots of hard contact and multiple 80 run times at the Area Code Games. Hill added some strength this spring without losing a step, which allowed him to add more raw power; he put on quite a display in a pre-draft workout in Detroit, easily hitting many balls out in BP.
I grade hit hit tool as pure hitting ability, but his speed will create infield hits and prop up his stats further. He has a simple, line-drive, gap-to-gap swing but I think he’ll slowly grow into his raw power as his body and swing develop. He struggled down the stretch last summer after signing, but Tigers sources say he was tired from a long season.
Hill has a massive upside and has the tools to shoot up this list if/when he puts it all together in one season, which could well be 2015. Scouts that had face time with Hill noted that his handshake is incredibly strong, helping to explain where his power comes from. Having a father that’s a scout and former professional player also led to many predictable reports of Hill’s great makeup.
Summation: Hill should start in Low-A next spring and is a potential impact center fielder with game-changing speed and defense to go with enough power to turn into a better version of Austin Jackson.
Upside: .290/.350/.450, 15-18 homers
FV/Risk: 50, High (4 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: Low-A, 2016: High-A, 2017: AA/AAA, 2018: AAA/MLB
45 FV Prospects
2. Steven Moya, RF Video: Moya is an outlier in more than a few ways, but mostly it’s that he’s 6’7/260 with easy 70 raw power from the left side and he hit 35 bombs last year in Double-A. He’s also shockingly quick for his size, an average runner, and has the plus arm to profile well in right field. As you may have guessed, the question here is consistent contact, in part because of his power-based approach but mostly because of his size/length of his arms. Moya was born in Puerto Rico but trained/signed from the Dominican in October, 2008 for a $220,000 bonus, continuing Detroit’s trend of finding good Latin prospects for low six figure amounts. His power, if he gets to all of it in games, project for 30+ homers annually and his raw power is among the top few in all of the minor leagues.
Moya is an aggressive hitter in part because he has the plate coverage via his long limbs to make contact with almost anything and his swing is low effort because he can lift it out to all fields with a flick of the wrist. The problems come from Moya’s fireplace-sized strike zone, some holes to his swing (especially in) and his tendency to chase pitches on the edges of the zone. Obviously, if he can clean some of this up, he would be terrifying and he’ll be 23 all of this season, so there’s still some hope. He’ll open the season in Triple-A and will get another cup of coffee at some point this year, maybe an extended look if injuries give him a clearer shot at playing time.
3. Buck Farmer, RHP Video: Farmer was drafted with little fanfare, as a 5th round senior sign from Georgia Tech in 2013. He started in college and had three solid average pitches, but the delivery and arm action screamed reliever to many. Farmer has proven those scouts wrong, shooting from Low-A to the big leagues in 2014. He sits 91-94 and hits 96 mph with above average life and an aggressive approach. His changeup is above average and his slider is solid average, so there’s plenty here for a league average/#4 starter as long as the command holds up. Farmer has a sturdy frame at 6’4/225 and hasn’t missed a start in his career. He’ll likely open the season in Triple-A and may get his next big league shot in the bullpen and he may even be a setup guy long-term, but there’s clearly more here that scouts weren’t seeing out of him at Georgia Tech.
4. Bruce Rondon, RHP Video: The 6’3/275 Venezuelan flame thrower had the inside track to break camp in 2013 as the big league closer, but his command wasn’t quite there, so he was sent to Triple-A to start the year. He had a couple stint in the big leagues that season, then was shelved with a elbow soreness that ended up leading to Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for the 2014 season. He’s eligible for this list because he’s only pitched 28.2 innings in the big leagues, but he’s been hanging around the upper levels of the minors since 2011 with big league buzz since the winter of 2012.
Rondon’s arm speed has already proven to be back in the early going in Florida and, at his best, he sat 96-100, hitting 102.8 mph on Pitch F/X. The command will never be great, his slider is a 55, but it’s inconsistent and he’s working in a 90-91 mph changeup that’s rarely used but around average. Indications are Rondon will break camp with the club and it makes sense to get big league value ASAP from this kind of risky reliever before the arm starts barking again, as very few arms can regularly move that fast and stay healthy.
5. Kevin Ziomek, LHP Video: Ziomek was part of a loaded Low-A West Michigan rotation that included Farmer, Kubitza, Crawford and Green, along with a liberal helping of prospects in the bullpen and lineup. Ziomek was a 2nd rounder in 2013 out of Vanderbilt that was a pitchability lefty with some funk that flashed above average stuff at times. He put up huge numbers with strikeouts and ground balls as 22-year-old in Low-A last year and could hit multiple levels in 2015. Ziomek works 89-93 and hits 95 mph with an above average slider that flashes plus at times, along with an average changeup that needs more consistency and solid average command. It’s probably just a 4th starter, but the stuff may play up some from that with the deception and command and we’ll learn more about how that will play at the upper levels in 2015.
6. Austin Kubitza, RHP Video: Kubitza is an outlier in terms of specific skillset and performance. He had 67% groundball rate in 131 innings in Low-A last year, created from his 90-91 heavy sinker with plus life that hits 93 mph. He also has an above average to plus slider that may be even better than his sinker. Kubitza is 6’5/225 and comes from Rice, the school that chews up and spits out young pitcher’s arms like the Cloverfield monster. Kubitza is the one of the few notable pitching prospects in over a decade to come out completely unscathed, but he slid to the 4th round in 2013 due his velo sitting in the high 80’s because he threw his slider so much, losing 4-5 ticks on his fastball from his freshman to his junior seasons at Rice.
There’s still some worry with his crossfire angle to the plate creating some shoulder stress as well, his command being behind his control and his changeup is still below average, but it’s really hard to ignore the size and standout sinker/slider combo. He’s already 23, so he may not stay in High-A long into 2015, with one Tigers source saying Kubitza could easily pitch one inning stints in the big leagues right now.
7. James McCann, C Video: McCann was a 2nd rounder in 2011 out of Arkansas as a glove first backstop. He had his best offensive season last year in Triple-A, earning a quick big league look, further underlining that catchers take longer to develop that other positions due to the wear and tear and the complexities of calling a game and being a catcher taking away from time to focus on hitting. McCann has below average power and speed, but projects as an above average defender and has a plus arm, so he just needs to put the ball in play semi-often to have real big league value. McCann should be a 45 to 50 bat with 35 to 40 power, which is plenty to be a solid backup, with a chance to be a low-end everyday guy for a stretch.
8. Dixon Machado, SS Video: Machado was seen as an advanced glove, only behind Iglesias in the whole organization, that had a very light bat. He took a step forward with the bat this year, hitting well in High-A, then raking in Double-A and put himself back on the prospect map. Machado is an average runner with a plus glove and a 55 arm, but 40 raw power and a bat that’s still a bit of a question mark even after a solid showing in Double-A. Good indicators for the Venezuelan glove man include his consistently good BB/K numbers, added strength in recent years and 2014 being his first full healthy season in years. He’ll head to the upper levels this year and may become a real trade chip should the big team need to add more weapons down the stretch.
40 FV Prospects
9. Hernan Perez, SS Video: Perez signed in 2007 as a 16-year-old from Venezuela and has steadily progressed through the system, with a cup of coffee last year and a chance to break camp as a super utility guy this year. Unlike Machado, Perez has played all over the field and is a better fit in a reserve role. Perez is fine at shortstop, but is more of a fill-in type: he’s a 50 runner with a 55 arm that can play a solid shortstop, but is more comfortable at second base. Perez’s raw power is a 35, but he draws his share of walks and doesn’t strike out, understanding his limitations at the plate. His career likely includes years as a solid super utility guy, then maybe a couple seasons where he’ll hit enough to be a low-end everyday guy; it’s low upside but very high probability.
10. Grayson Greiner, C Video: I first saw Greiner as a freshman as South Carolina and I almost laughed when I saw a 6’6/220 catcher taking infield with the gear on. Scouts ask questions if a guy is too big to catch at 6’3 or 6’4, so how could a 6’6 guy possibly stick back there? A good start is a 70 arm, uncanny accuracy and a quick release, but Greiner is actually a pretty solid receiver with the tools to stick back there. He has 55 raw power and some feel for the bat head and the strike zone, though he predictably strikes out a bit and doesn’t always get to the power in games.
The questions boil down to his size hindering his defense and contact and the position causing health/durability issues down the line, but the tools and performance are hard to ignore. His summer was ended early by a broken hamate bone, but he’ll play in High-A in 2015 and everyone I’ve talked to about Greiner raves about his makeup. The Tigers have a nice recent history with SEC catchers, including Alex Avila (Alabama) and James McCann (Arkansas).
11. Drew VerHagen, RHP Video: VerHagen was a 4th rounder in 2012 out of Vanderbilt (one of six Commodores in the system) and the 6’6/230 righty already got a big league look late in 2014. He’s put up okay numbers all the way up the chain, but he’s the type of guy that can replicate those numbers at each level, working overwhelmingly with a 90-94 heavy sinker that hits 96 mph. His curveball is average most of the time while his changeup is usually below average, so with some minor adjustments, he could be a 5th starter, one of the rare ones that never struck many guys out at any level but kept making it work. At the very least, he should be a solid long reliever/spot starter than can go multiple innings and get ground balls.
12. Tyler Collins, LF Video: Collins was a 6th rounder in 2011 out of a Texas JC and the 5’11/215 left fielder has steadily progressed, getting a big league cup of coffee last year. He may break camp with the team this year, so Collins is already a reserve outfielder, but he likely tops out as a platoon option. He has an average bat, average raw power and solid feel for the strike zone, but is a below average runner with a fringy arm. If the bat ends up being a 45, he’s just an extra guy and if its 50 to slightly better, he’s a fringe everyday guy on the better side of the platoon as a left-handed batter.
13. Javier Betancourt, 2B Video: Like how hard-throwing relievers Nesbitt and Valdez are lumped together as prospects (listed below), scouts lump Fuentes and Betancourt together due to position, age and country of origin, with Shepherd having some similarities as well. Betancourt signed for $200,000 out of Venezuela in 2011 and while he’s okay at shortstop, his pro future is at second base. Betancourt is Edgardo Alfonzo’s nephew and has some of the same tools and instincts as his uncle. Betancourt is a hit over power type with advanced feel for the bat head, 45 raw power that plays down a bit in games, 45 speed and a 50 arm. It isn’t a sexy upside, but an average or better bat up the middle with decent other skills is an everyday player.
14. Spencer Turnbull, RHP Video: Turnbull came on last spring, developing from a big arm strength guy into more of a pitcher, helping the Alabama product go in the 2nd round last summer. Turnbull’s delivery is still a little awkward, but he’s a good athlete and there’s little effort, somewhat of an achievement for a 6’4/230 monster with huge velocity. Turnbull sits 92-95 mph deep into games and has hit 97 mph, with above average to plus life down in the zone. His slider regularly flashes above average and his changeup will flash average in most games, though he’s still more of a thrower than pitcher. If the command and feel to pitch can progress, there’s a potential 3/4 starter here, but more likely he’ll end up as a late inning reliever.
15. Zach Shepherd, 3B: The 6’3/185 Australian has big tools and was already converting them into performance as an 18-year-old in the GCL last year. Shepherd has a strong frame, solid average speed, above average defensive ability and arm strength along with raw power that could be a bit above average as well. He made a lot of hard contact in the GCL and has as much ceiling as Fuentes while showing some of the feel of Betancourt, despite fewer professional reps. It’ll be easy to group these three infielders together the next few years, but it’s anyone’s guess who comes out on top at this point.
16. Steven Fuentes, 3B Video: The 20-year-old Venezuelan will make his full-season debut in 2015 and has shown a solid skill set in short season leagues. Fuentes is a 5’11/180 switch-hitter that signed for $210,000 out of Venezuela in 2011 that shifted from shortstop to third base, where he profiles as a potential big leaguer, though he can fill in all around the infield. Fuentes has an easy plus arm, advanced defensive ability, solid average speed and above average raw power potential. The question is how much contact he’ll make as he’s still working to be more consistent with his approach at-bat to at-bat, but there’s everyday tools here.
17. Angel Nesbitt, RHP Video: Nesbitt sat in the mid-to-upper-80’s when he signed in April of 2009 out of Venezuela. The velo has ticked up a bit since then, as he now sits 94-97 and has hit 99 mph. Nesbitt is a year younger than Valdez and was his setup man at Erie, but scouts are split on who’s the better prospect. Nesbitt throws more strikes, but his above average slider is behind the best version of Valdez’s slider; I’ll lean to the younger guy with more feel to pitch.
18. Jose Valdez, RHP Video: The Dominican righty will flash huge stuff when he’s at his best, sitting 95-98 mph with plus life and an above average to plus slider. The problem is the slider and rarely used changeup vary drastically in quality in each outing, along with the command. The 6’1/200, 25-year-old righty will head to Triple-A in 2015 and should get a big league look if he can keep throwing enough strikes.
19. Wynton Bernard, CF Video: Bernard was a 35th round senior sign out of Niagara by the Padres in 2012 and was treated as such: he got 267 PA in a year and half as a backup at four different levels, then was released. A Tigers scout based in SoCal, Tim McWilliam, saw the San Diego native, worked him out, then called his bosses and said they needed to see this kid, so they invited him to their annual open workout in Lakeland. At the open workout, Bernard ran in the 6.5’s and hit balls over the batter’s eye off a pitching machine throwing 90 mph.
Bernard signed after the workout, went to Spring Training and beat out prospects that got big bonuses for the regular center field job in Low-A in 2014. Bernard got 582 PA and hit .323/.394/.442 with 6 homers and 45 stolen bases while striking out in only 14.8% of plate appearances en route to winning Midwest League MVP. He’s 6’2/195 with 70 speed, plus defense and raw power and a 50 arm, though his game approach doesn’t tap into his power much. Bernard will head back to Lakeland in 2015 at age 24 and may move quickly if he keeps hitting like this. It’s hard to figure where this is headed next, but two Tigers execs compared him to Rajai Davis, which would be a remarkable career given the background.
20. Joe Jimenez, RHP Video: The younger brother of Blue Jays C prospect A.J. Jimenez was a middling Puerto Rican prep arm in 2013 that came on pre-draft, but went undrafted due to a mid six figure price tag. The Tigers had a relationship with the kid and his agent and grabbed him post-draft for a $100,000 bonus, but even Detroit has been shocked at the progress he’s made since signing. Before his draft spring, Jimenez was sitting in the high-80’s and touching the low-90’s, then hit 94 mph with some regularity pre-draft, then sat 95-97 and hit 100 mph with above average life in 2014.
The 6’3/220 righty has worked hard to get in better shape, has put up huge numbers in short season leagues and had a very nice stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League, striking out 15 and allowing 4 base runners in 12.2 innings. He has a slider that’s a 55 at times and fringy command that’s coming along; he’ll head to full-season ball in 2015 and could move quickly, but there’s clear risks with a young minor league reliever.
21. Chad Green, RHP: Green signed for $100,000 out of Louisville in 2013 and has made nice progress since then, with his velocity ticking up a bit. He now sits 91-94 with above average life and has hit 96 mph, with and slider and changeup that are both fringy and flash average at at times. The 6’3/215 righty will head to High-A in 2015 and continue to start, but will turn 24 this season, so he’ll need to move faster or shift to the pen, but likely will continue starting since it’s hard to pass on back-end starter potential.
22. Adam Ravenelle, RHP Video: Ravenelle was a power reliever for Vanderbilt for three years and likely will move fast in the minors on the same track, but he has three pitches, so Detroit will consider starting him. At his best, Ravenelle sits 92-95 and hits 96 mph with a 55 slider and a fringy changeup that flashes average, with some effort to the delivery and below average command. He likely ends up as a middle reliever, but there’s a chance for setup or a back-end starter if the command comes along.
Jason Krizan, OF
Occasionally, during one of his appearances on FanGraphs Audio, McDaniel will suggest with regard to this or that prospect that he “checks all the boxes.” For a batter, that probably indicates some combination of major-league-caliber offensive and defensive skills; for a pitcher, that he exhibits command of a 50-plus fastball and at least one other usable pitch. Kriznan checks another set of boxes — not those generally associated with top, but rather fringe, prospects. Attended college through his senior season? Check. Signed for just $50 thousand in the eighth round? Check. Features offensive profile largely based on contact skills and discipline? Check. Is probably more of a corner outfielder but has also played center a little? Check and check and check. Krizan’s ceiling is pretty low, but he also receives a better WAR projection for the 2015 season than Steven Moya.
In conclusion, here’s footage of Krizan “touching them all” — an act that’s considerably more tasteful than it sounds.
There are three position players in the lower levels to keep an eye on: LF Daniel Fields (Fields got $1.625 million out of a Detroit-area high school in 2009 and has been up and down since then; he’s 6’2/215, has average raw power, speed and arm strength, but his numbers have varied as he was rushed to High-A at 19, then played there for three years; he’s 24 and has performed in AA but had injury problems in 2014 with the upside as a platoon outfielder), RF Connor Harrell (Video big athletic kid was 7th round senior sign from Vanderbilt in 2013 and performed more than expected; above average speed and solid average raw power but tons of trouble making contact, though he hit 21% above league average in High-A at age 23, with 14 homers and 15 stolen bases) and LF Tyler Gibson (signed for $525,000 out of a Georgia HS in 2011 and still has big tools, but lost some playing time due to Bernard’s breakout last year; he’s an above average runner with a fringy arm and solid average raw power to go with solid bat speed and he’s still 21, but he needs reps and numbers).
There are six position players in the lower levels to keep an eye on: 3B/C Joey Pankake (Video 80 name was seen as a prime candidate to convert from college infielder to pro catcher, but Tigers needed him in the infield after signing; the arm is plus, the feet are quick for his size and Pankake is game to convert, so look for that to come soon, flashes average raw power and some feel to hit), C Shane Zeile (nephew of Todd Zeile was 5th rounder last summer from UCLA and had his pro debut shortened after breaking his thumb from a backswing in the GCL; he’s still relatively new to catching but the tools to stick are here and he’s a contact bat in games that’ll show some raw power in BP), RF Mike Gerber (15th rounder last summer was senior sign out of Creighton, but he had tools, with 55 raw power and solid average speed and arm strength; he lasted that long due to crude plate discipline, but this already looks like a bargain pick), 1B Dominic Ficociello (thin 6’4/185 athlete has played all over the diamond but fits best at first base, has smooth lefty cut, had nice full-season debut, but raw power is mostly projection at this point and he’s been older for his league), RF Julio Martinez (signed for $600,000 out of the Dominican last July 2nd, which is almost the highest bonus they’ve given in years; 6’2/195 righty hitter has present raw power and some feel to hit; will spend 2015 in the DSL) and C Arvicent Perez (Venezuelan backstop just turned 21 and will head to Low-A this year; was seen as a catch-and-throw guy with a light bat before a breakout 2014 with a short look at Low-A filling in for an injured Grenier successfully; Perez has a plus and and will stick behind the plate; if he keeps hitting, he’s a guy).
There are three lefties in the upper levels to keep an eye on: LHP Kyle Ryan (6’5/210 lefty has fringe to average stuff but gets ground balls, had a a cup of coffee last year and may turn into a #5 starter, but is likely a swing man), LHP Kyle Lobstein (is often lumped with Ryan as big lefties with fringe stuff that are big league ready and get by with moxie and feel, with minor differences, like Lobstein using four pitches) and LHP Blaine Hardy (Video older lefty has three usable pitches and sits 88-91 mph with solid average stuff in short stints, but can go multiple innings if needed).
There are three righties in the upper levels to keep an eye on: RHP Edgar De La Rosa (6’8/235 monster works in the mid-90’s as a starter, but his slider, changeup and command are all fringy, so he likely fits in middle relief), RHP Endrys Briceno (the super lanky 6’5/175 Venezuelan has the stuff to start with a 92-94 mph fastball, solid average curve and changeup that flashes average, but his command comes and goes due to his length, which may push him to the bullpen) and RHP Melvin Mercedes (jumbo 6’3/250 righty got cup of coffee in 2014, sits 92-95 mph with plus life but his slider is below average, flashing average at times, so he’s limited to middle relief).
There are seven pitchers in the lower levels to keep an eye on: RHP Artie Lewicki (2013 Tommy John and 2014 oblique injuries hindered his progress, but Lewicki found his stride late in 2014 for UVA, sitting 90-94 mph with an above average slider; he could be a steal for $60,000 in the 8th round), RHP Josh Laxer (Video another 2014 pick with a relief profile, Laxer sits 92-94 and hits 96 mph with effort but a breaking ball that flashes above average, giving him setup upside with more command), RHP Jeff Thompson (Video 6’6’/245 monster was 2013 3rd round pick out of Louisville and has some arm trouble in 2014, but flashes three 50-55 pitches at his best, though he’s still growing into his frame), LHP Gabe Speier (acquired with Yoenis Cespedes in the Rick Porcello deal this winter, average-sized lefty will flash solid average stuff and command, but is still inconsistent), RHP Zach Reininger (Video 6’3/170 righty is aggressive with 91-93 mph heater and solid average slider; he could move quickly as a middle relief type), LHP Joe Mantiply (solid average stuff, feel and moxie from 6’4/200 lefty gives high probability to reach middle relief ceiling that’s a nice 27th round find from Virginia Tech, will open 2015 in the upper levels) and RHP Sandy Baez (20-year-old Dominican power righty sat in the mid-90’s in the GCL and flashed and average curveball, but it came and went and the changeup and command lag behind; he’ll keep starting but likely ends up in relief).
Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.