Evaluating the Prospects: San Francisco Giants

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, AngelsDodgers, Blue Jays, Tigers, Cardinals, Brewers, Indians, Mariners, Pirates, Royals & Giants

Top 200 Prospects Content Index

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

Draft Rankings: 2015, 2016 & 2017

International Coverage: 2015 July 2nd Parts One, Two & Three, 2016 July 2nd

The Giants aren’t the most prolific system in baseball, annually ranking in the bottom third of the league in terms of org system rankings. Due to the big league club’s payroll and success, they’re generally picking near the bottom of the round and recently haven’t had much in their international and domestic bonus pools, in addition to generally not trading for prospects. San Francisco tends to play the draft straightforward, taking the best player at each spot, recently avoiding huge bonuses in the international markets and not being a huge player with Cuban free agents.

The Giants have their idea of the kind of player they like, don’t usually fall into industry-wide consensuses and it’s hard to complain about their results. This system has produced Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Zack Wheeler, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, among others. You can choose to not like the process, but the same guys have been in charge for this whole run and they built a multiple time World Champion team mostly from within, which is the whole point of having a farm system, so kudos to them.

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 Giants prospect list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite.

27 & Under Big League Assets
1. Buster Posey, C, Age 27, FV: 80
2. Madison Bumgarner, LHP. Age 25, FV: 80
3. Brandon Belt, 1B, Age 26, FV: 60
4. Joe Panik, 2B, Age 24, FV: 55
5. Hector Sanchez, C, Age 25, FV: 45

Organizational Overview by Dave Cameron

The defending champs feature a few franchise cornerstones and some solid young complimentary pieces, but by and large, this team is old. The pitching staff is particularly long in the tooth, but the outfield is also entirely on the wrong side of 30; this whole team looks vulnerable to injuries. While the franchise has had remarkable success wringing unexpected production out of veteran reclamation projects, it’s not hard to see a bit of a transition phase coming. How well — and how quickly — the players listed below can become significant contributors may well determine whether the Giants end up reloading, or if they are headed towards a legitimate rebuild.

50+ FV Prospects

1. Andrew Susac, C
Current Level/Age: MLB/25.0, 6’1/215, R/R
Drafted: 86th overall (2nd round) in 2011 out of Oregon State by SF for $1.1 million bonus
Hit: 40/45+, Raw Power: 55/55, Game Power: 40/50, Run: 35/35, Field: 50/50, Throw: 55/55

Scouting Report: Susac was a potential first round pick in 2011, but then he slid after breaking his hamate bone a couple months before the draft. He was seen as an offensive catcher that had the tools to stick defensively but needed some work receiving, but his offensive strength was power, which would be sapped for a year or two while recovering from the hamate injury.

Susac has above average raw power, but likely won’t get to all of it in games due to his leg kick. The kick allows him to create some power but can also disrupt his timing when he’s fooled by off-speed pitches, so that move helps create his power-over-hit tendency at the plate. There’s above average bat speed, which will give him some margin for error against big league pitching that other catchers don’t have.

Given the shortage of offense from catchers in the big leagues, a 45 bat and 50 game power is more than enough to be an everyday option if you are even passable behind the plate, which Susac is. He’s an average defender, with some scouts thinking he’s even a tick better than that now and his above average arm plays. The question is how much offensive impact he’ll have, but he should be a big league regular of some sort, even if he’s currently blocked by the best catcher in baseball.

Summation: He’ll open the season in Triple-A as the Giants’ 3rd catcher, behind Posey and Sanchez. Susac still has some things he can work on, but, by the end of the season, will be looking to force his way in to the lineup at a corner position if there isn’t a hole behind the plate he can slide into.

Upside: .270/.330/.440, 15-20 homers
FV/Risk: 50, Low (2 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB

2. Tyler Beede, RHP
Current Level/Age: SS/21.9, 6’4/200, R/R
Drafted: 14th overall (1st round) in 2014 out of Vanderbilt by SF for $2.613 million bonus
Fastball: 60/65, Curveball: 45/50+, Slider: 40/45, Changeup: 50/55, Command: 40/45+

Scouting Report: Beede was a hyped prospect that went in the 1st round out of high school in 2011, opting not to sign with the Blue Jays before going in the first round again in 2014 out of Vanderbilt to the Giants. Beede was maddeningly inconsistent in college, only showing flashes of his immense promise at times, but his velocity spiked into the high-90’s before the draft and his changeup still flashes plus at times, so there’s #2/3 starter upside here if a pitching coach can get through to him.

Beede changed advisors just before the draft and, on a Vandy staff full of pitchers making lots of progress with new/improved pitches and deliveries, he looked the same all three years, further underlining the concerns that scouts had about his coachability, among other things. Beede’s plus changeup from his high school days was more 50 to 55 in his junior season and his curveball would flash 55 at it’s best but also wasn’t consistent, particularly with his command of the pitch.

I saw Beede pitch weeks before the draft and he sat 93-95 with life and hit 99 mph; he was 93-95 mph at times after signing, but, like many young pitchers, has also been a tick or two below that at times.  He’s working on an 85-88 mph pitch right now that has cutter action and slider velocity, along with working on a true sinker rather than just a fastball with some life. Beede also dropped some tracks while at Vandy under the name rap name Young Beedah that…exist.

Summation: Beede will head to the A-Ball levels this year and could get to Double-A if everything breaks right this season, but he likely won’t get to the upper levels until 2016.

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter, High (4 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: Low-A/High-A, 2016: AA, 2017: AAA/MLB

3. Kyle Crick, RHP
Current Level/Age: AA/22.4, 6’4/220, L/R
Drafted: 49th overall (sandwich round) in 2011 out of Texas HS by SF for $900,000 bonus
Fastball: 60/70, Slider: 50/60, Curveball: 45/50, Changeup: 45/50+, Command: 35/45

Scouting Report: The 6’4/220 bulldog was an arm strength guy with some questions about his polish out of high school and he’s still that guy almost four years later. Crick has electric #2/3 starter stuff, is still only 22 and is in the upper levels of the minors, but his command has never been strong. Some guys with big stuff just take time to develop the feel and find consistency in their delivery, so the Giants will give Crick more innings to figure it out. If he has trouble developing those starter traits again this season, Crick could get a big league audition in relief and he may stick there, with real closer upside.

At his best, Crick sits 94-97, hits 99 mph and will show heavy sink down in the zone. His mid-80’s slider flashes plus with hard cutting action, he mixes in an average curveball to change eye levels, and his changeup is above average when he throws it perfectly. Crick’s feel still wanders a lot, affecting the crispness and consistency of his off-speed stuff and command. Some of this is due to him being new to pitching when he was drafted, but he also doesn’t have the cleanest delivery, so there’s intangible feel issues and real mechanical issues to work out.

Summation: Crick will head to the upper levels at an appropriate age and hope that his feel to pitch will progress, so the Giants won’t be tempted to break him into the big leagues in the bullpen, a place some young pitchers have trouble getting out of once they succeed there.

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter or Closer, High (4 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AA/AAA, 2016: AAA/MLB

45 FV Prospects

4. Christian Arroyo, 2B Video: Before his senior spring in high school outside the Tampa area, Arroyo was seen as an advanced bat with no position. He matured physically for his senior season, developed average raw power to go with his above average hitting skills and above average arm. The Giants surprised many by taking a industry consensus 2nd round type talent at 25th overall and he’s performed pretty well the last two summer, though he struggled in his limited taste of Low-A. Arroyo has slimmed up his frame and gone from a 30-35 runner to a 45 runner, allowing him to play in the middle infield, though second base is a much better fit for him long-term.

Like another 2012 Florida prep product, Marlins prospect Avery Romero, Arroyo has been rumored to be an option behind the plate (neither have done that in pro ball yet), with their best current fits at second or third base. Arroyo has the tools to stick behind the plate, though you never know how a player will react in his first exposure to the position and he doesn’t seem open to it at this time. Arroyo’s power plays down a notch to the 12-15 homers annually area due to a contact-oriented, line drive approach in games. Scouts still aren’t too worried about his sturggles at Low-A, as the tools are skills are still here for a 50 or better bat at a premium position.

5. Keury Mella, RHP Video: The 6’2/200 Dominican signed for $275,000 in 2011 at age 18 and got his first full season in America in 2014, jumping on the prospect landscape in a big way. Mella sits 93-96 mph with life and a clean, fluid arm action, but he doesn’t have the smoothest delivery and doesn’t have much plane or projection remaining. His slider and changeup are inconsistent and still developing, with the slider flashing solid average and the changeup is fringy. The ingredients are here and teams have been asking about Mella in trades after his breakout 2014. He’ll pitch at the A-Ball levels this year as a 21-year-old and could have another breakout coming.

6. Adalberto Mejia, LHP Video: The 6’3/200 Dominican signed for $350,000 in 2011 and has moved a level per year, performing well and with his left-handedness and/or slightly more stuff helping his rank ahead of a similar pitchers like Ty Blach and Clayton Blackburn. Mejia will be in Triple-A most of 2015 and a over a year young for the level, turning 22 in late June. He has a sturdy starter’s frame, flashes average command, sits 91-94 and hits 95 mph, working in an above average slider and a solid average changeup. That projects as a #4 starter, with the size, handedness and age all positives for the projection, though his K rate falling in Double-A does raise some concerns.

7. Steven Okert, LHP Video: The 6’3/210 reliever was drafted late in both of his years at a Texas JC but didn’t sign, then went in the 4th round after his junior season at Oklahoma. Some teams toyed with the idea of converting him to a starter, but the Giants have left him in relief and he’ll head to the upper levels for 2015, likely getting a big league look at some point. Okert sits 92-94 and hits 97 mph, working in a mid-80’s slider that’s above average to plus and fringy command that’s enough to allow those two pitches to play against advanced hitters. Okert also throws the occasional changeup, but it’s below average. There’s some funk to his top-half-heavy delivery, so there are the usual reliever risks associated.

40 FV Prospects

8. Ty Blach, LHP Video: Blach was a 5th rounder in 2012 out of Creighton and he got straight to business, heading to High-A in 2013 and Double-A in 2014. His strikeout rate backed up in 2014, though his solid average four-pitch mix won’t produce a lot of strikeouts at the big league level. He sits 89-92 and hits 94 mph with an above average changeup that’s his go-to off-speed pitch. Blach’s curveball is slightly better than his slider and both are around average, while his command is also around average. His last name is pronounced “block” and he’ll head to Triple-A for 2015, with an eye toward being big league inventory or a #5 starter in 2016.

9. Aramis Garcia, C Video: Garcia took a big step forward last spring for FIU, going from the 4th-5th round area to becoming the Giants’ 2nd round pick. His receiving improved to where his solid average arm plays and he has a good shot to stick behind the plate long-term, though his raw defensive tools are just average.  The 6’2/220 backstop has fringe average raw power and advanced feel to hit with a gap-to-gap line drive stroke. He’ll be 22 all season and will play at the A-Ball levels.

10. Michael Santos, RHP Video: The 6’4/170 Dominican teenager threw well in the AZL last year, showing average now stuff with feel and projection. His fastball ranges from 88-94 mph depending on the day, mixing in a slider that’s above average and may be plus once he fills out his frame. His loopy curveball is fringy and his changeup flashes average, so there’s at least back-end starter stuff here with a chance that his projection will deliver mid-rotation stuff in a few years. Scouts like Santos’ makeup, focus and feel for the game at a young age and are inclined to think he has a good chance to reach his upside.

11. Matt Duffy, 2B Video: The 2012 18th rounder out of Long Beach State got $50,000 but rushed through the system, playing 34 big league games last year. This was due to a Matt Carpenter-esque increase in offensive production after turning pro, by adding some strength and overhauling his swing. Duffy fits best at second base long-term, but can play every position on the field thanks to average speed, good hands, advanced instincts and a solid average arm. Duffy doesn’t have much raw power and there isn’t much impact in the bat, so the versatile glove likely makes him a valuable super utility type, but there’s a chance for a low-end everyday type.

12. Clayton Blackburn, RHP Video: Blackburn signed for $150,000 late in the 2011 draft out of a Oklahoma high school. The 6’3/230 righty has performed well at every stop and will get a taste of Triple-A in 2015, but scouts aren’t too enthusiastic about his stuff. He sits 88-91 and hits 93 mph with his sinker, backing it up with a curveball that’s usually above average and his best off-speed pitch, but the slider is sometimes sharper and the changeup is average. Blackburn has a sturdy workhorse frame, a solid delivery and some feel to pitch, but there isn’t more than a back-end starter here.

13. Hunter Strickland, RHP Video: Strickland signed out of a Georgia high school in 2007 with Boston then went on a long journey before emerging late in 2014 for the Giants. He was traded to the Pirates in an Adam LaRoche deal in 2009, missed all of 2011 with shoulder surgery, then was claimed on waivers by the Giants at the end of 2013 spring training, months before he ended up getting Tommy John surgery which held him out until late May of 2014.

He always threw hard, but things ticked up in 2014 and Strickland sat 96-99, hitting 100 mph. Strickland backs it up with a hard mid-80’s curveball that’s above average to plus at it’s best, but his command issues, caused by his inconsistent finish, cause his curveball to play closer to average. He has an aggressive approach to pitching, mixes in a decent changeup and throws strikes, but his command is limited by his delivery. Strickland will start 2015 in Triple-A but should get another extended big league look this year.

14. Chris Heston, RHP Video: The 6’3/195 inventory starter got a big league look last summer and has fringy stuff: he sits 87-91 and hits 92 mph, mixing in a solid average curveball and average changeup. He’s a pitch-to-contact ground ball #5 starter with little margin for error, but he’s already putting up impressive numbers this year in an extended audition. Heston may be one of the small percentage of potential #5 starters that turns into more, but we’ll need to see how he performs his second time through the league.

15. Ray Black, RHP Video: The power reliever signed for $225,000 as a 7th rounder in 2011 out of Pittsburgh that had huge stuff and a 6’5/225 frame, but an elbow surgery, knee injury, infrequent appearances and command issues all conspired against him. He signed too late to play in the 2011 season, then missed all of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to shoulder surgery. The usual caveats with relief prospects apply and Black has his own set of concerns, but the stuff was so good in Black’s pro debut in 2014 that scouts are still excited.

Black sits 96-100 and has been as high as 102 mph, mixing in a curveball that’s a 55 or 60 when he can command it.  Black struck out two batters per inning in 35.1 innings over two A-Ball levels and the walks weren’t out of hand, so if he can do anything close to that in 2015, the big leagues can’t be far away. Given his injury history and concerns that this kind of arm speed can create, Black is the type of arm that a big league team may want to use his bullets in games that matter rather than waiting for him to get 100% big league ready.

16. Mac Williamson, RF Video: Williamson is a tooled-up 6’5/240 right fielder that was a 3rd round pick out of Wake Forest in 2012. He had Tommy John surgery early in 2014 and will return at some point in 2015. Williamson has an above average arm, fringy speed and plus raw power to all fields, making for a class right field profile, but there’s questions about his contact ability at upper levels due to his trouble with off-speed pitches. Williamson has performed everywhere he’s been in the minors, but he’ll be 25 this season, so performing in Double-A this season will go a long way towards changing those opinions.

17. Luis Ysla, LHP Video: Ysla signed out of Venezuela in 2012 as a 20-year-old and the 6’1 lefty has performed well in his two pro seasons. He’ll head to High-A next year as a 23-year-old and could move fast if he’s moved to the pen, which is his likely long-term fit. Ysla sits 91-95 with life and has hit 97 mph, mixing in a solid average two-plane slider. There’s a chance he develops more starter traits since it’s still early in his career, but the delivery has some effort and the changeup lags behind (though it flashes average at times), so relief looks likely at this point.

18. Dylan Davis, RF Video: Davis is the rare tooled-up college player, drafted in the 3rd round last summer out of Oregon State. He hit 98 mph in relief at his best, but was one-dimensional on the mound and won’t pitch in pro ball. Davis has plus raw power and  bat speed along with  a 65 or 70 arm, so the right field profile is easy to see. He has a squatty 6’0/215 frame and well below average speed that may move him to first base eventually, though it would be a shame to waste his arm. Davis also can get uphill and too aggressive at the plate, while he also has trouble converting his BP power into games, but will show flashes.

19. Chris Stratton, RHP Video: Stratton emerged in his draft year (2012) and the Giants took him 20th overall out of Mississippi State. I saw one of his better starts before the draft, flashing four above average pitches and command in spurts, but he hasn’t been able to replicate that in pro ball. In some pro starts, he’s worked as low at 87-91 mph after sitting 91-94 mph in 2012, though he’s often between those two ranges. Stratton’s slider has remained his best secondary pitch and is above average to plus at it’s best, with the curve and changeup more fringy to average. If the velo or command can tick up a notch, there’s a back-end starter here, but right now he looks like a 7th or 8th inning reliever.

20. Chase Johnson, RHP Video: The 2013 3rd rounder out of Cal Poly had a velo bump this spring, but is still mostly the same kind of pitcher. He sat 91-94 mph in college, sat 93-95 and hit 96 mph early in starts in 2014, then sat 96-99 mph last week in Scottsdale. Johnson likely can’t hold that upper-90’s velocity as a starter and, at that velocity, still has the same issues with the rest of his game. His changeup is a hair ahead of his slider, but both are consistently below average, flashing average at times and his command is even farther back. Right now, he looks like an arm strength reliever, but some key adjustments could make him into an intriguing starter prospect.

21. Ryder Jones, 3B Video: The 2013 2nd rounder out of a North Carolina high school is one of the very rare Stanford commits to turn pro, signing for $880,000. Jones is a 6’2/200 and hits lefty with solid average raw power and a plus arm, along with a chance to stick at third base, though some scouts think he fits better at one of the other corner spots. Jones is a below average runner and was overwhelmed by the pitching at Low-A at age 20, so he’ll take another shot at that this year. If he can answer questions about his offensive approach and slow the game down at the plate, there’s everyday upside, but scouts that saw him last year aren’t optimistic.

Cistulli’s Guy

Adam Duvall, 1B/3B

Prorated to a full season, the top home-run hitter for the Giants in 2015 — as projected by Steamer, at least — wouldn’t be Brandon Belt or Hunter Pence or Buster Posey, but rather Duvall. This isn’t surprising in light of his established levels: he’s recorded isolated-power figures above .200 in hitter-friendly environments (like the California and Pacific Coast Leagues) but also in neutral environments, too (such as the Sally and Eastern Leagues). His power on contact is a real asset — and he’s made contact with reasonable frequency, never producing a strikeout rate worse than 21%. The most pressing question is one of defense: Duvall has split time in recent years between third and first base. As an average example of the former, Duvall might deserve a 50 or 55 FV; relegated merely to the latter, however, he’s probably a 40 with some value in a platoon arrangement. On any given day, his defense at third can appear entirely adequate. His usage suggests that the Giants aren’t convinced. In any case, Duvall might find himself with an opportunity should Casey McGehee find himself injured or ineffective.

Others of Note

There are five arms at the upper levels to keep an eye on, so I’ll split them into two paragraphs: RHP Joan Gregorio (he’s listed at 6’7/180 and that’s pretty accurate; Gregorio is a starter now but likely moves to relief due to his length, command, fringy off-speed and lower arm slot; he sits 92-94 mph with more in the tank and a sweepy average slider, but command and a changeup that lag behind), RHP Stephen Johnson (6’5/215 righty drew attention when he hit 100 mph at D2 St. Edwards College in Texas before the 2012 draft and he went in the 6th round since he was a relief only fit with some injury and delivery issues; he sits in the mid-90’s with an above average curveball that flashes plus at times, but the command and consistency vary and his delivery and usage suggests he’s still a bit fragile), RHP Derek Law (6’2/210 reliever with funk had 13 saves in Double-A last season when his elbow popped and he’s set to return this summer from TJ surgery; he sits 91-93 mph with sink and an above average curveball that both play up due to his deception and command, along with an average slider and changeup to keep hitters honest), RHP Cody Hall (6’4/220 reliever is 27, was drafted low and promoted slowly, but has performed everywhere; he has middle relief upside with a 92-96 heater that’s hit 98 mph and a solid average slider, but he’s more of a control over command guy) and LHP Bryce Bandilla (6’4/235 reliever sits 92-95 and hits 97 mph, mixing in an above average changeup and rarely using a below average curveball; he was a 4th rounder in 2011 that aborted a starting attempt, has had some minor dings and big command issues in a brief Double-A look late in 2014).

There are five arms at the lower levels to keep an eye on: RHP Sam Coonrod (6’2/190 power arm was 5th rounder last summer from Southern Illinois and likely ends up in relief; he was 94-97 mph with life earlier this week and frequently threw that hard the last few years; he mixes in an average mid-80’s slider that’s a 55 at times, but the command and changeup lag behind), RHP Logan Webb (6’2/195 righty was 4th rounder out of NorCal high school last summer after popping up out of nowhere in part due to playing quarterback; Webb hit 96 mph late in the spring in a heavily-scouted matchup, but the velo tailed off and he had a heavy workload, but flashed starter stuff at his best), RHP Rodolfo Martinez (late-blooming Dominican reliever signed at 19 and sat 94-96 mph earlier this week, turning 21 and mixing in a fringy slider with just okay feel), LHP D.J. Snelten (Video 6’6/215 reliever is funky and some worry about his long-term health and command, but he has plenty of stuff, sitting 91-93 and hitting 95 mph with a solid average slurve and usable changeup) and RHP Stetson Woods (Video 6’8/200 righty got $175,000 last summer out of a NorCal high school and has average now stuff–88-92 mph with a solid average curveball and average changeup at his best–with lots of plane, some deception and projection, but he’s still learning to coordinate his limbs consistently in his delivery).

There are six hitters at the upper levels to keep an eye on, here are notes on three of them: 1B Adam Duvall (Cistulli’s guy is a 6’1/205 righty with plus raw power and he got big league look last summer, but doesn’t have another average tool; he needs to learn to adjust to the big league breaking ball to fit into his wrong-side-of-a-platoon power bat role), CF Daniel Carbonell (Video 24-year-old Cuban defected in October of 2013 and signed with the Giants in June for four years, $1.4 million; the lanky 6’3/195 Carbonell has plus-plus speed, a plus arm and solid average raw power, but is short on instincts at the plate and in the field; he may fit best in right field while his aggressive approach and length to his swing undermine the offense) and SS Ehire Adrianza (Video the 25-year-old Venezuelan has played in 62 big leagues games as a utility guy, with a hamstring strain last year keeping him off the field and his prospect status alive; he’s a plus defender at shortstop with a plus arm and above average speed, but the bat is light and there isn’t much power; his upside is a Cesar Izturis-type utility guy, but he was DFA’d yesterday because he’s out of options)

The three other hitters to watch at the upper level: LF Tyler Horan (Video 6’2/230 lefty isn’t pretty in any way, but is deceptive fringy runner, allowing him to play the outfield, while his stiff swing is somehow still working and his 55 or 60 raw power is showing up in games; scouts are betting against him, but they’ve been wrong so far about the 8th rounder from Virginia Tech), SS Blake Miller (Video 2013 25th round senior sign out of Western Oregon has been old for every level, but he’s hit, has lots of average tools and can play all over the field, so he may work into a utility role if he can keep it up) and RF Chuckie Jones (6’3/235 righty has plus raw power, above average speed and a solid average arm, but has lots of trouble with a consistent approach at the plate and laying off the slider off the plate; he’s still 22 and has a huge upside, so don’t give up just yet).

There are eight hitters at the lower levels to keep an eye on, so I’ll split them into two paragraphs: 3B Kelvin Beltre (5’11/170 Dominican got $650,000 in 2013 and has above average bat speed, a chance for five average tools with a third base profile), CF Gustavo Cabrera (6’2/190 Dominican got $1.3 million in 2012 but missed all of 2014 due to serious surgery on his left wrist, when he braced for a fall with his hand on a glass table; it’s unclear if he’ll be the same post-surgery, but he had above average bat speed/raw power potential/arm strength along with plus speed, though he was very raw offensively), 1B Skyler Ewing (Video 6’1/225 pure power bat was part-time catcher in college but got $247,000 last summer for his plus raw power; it’s bat-only value wise and there’s some looseness and feel to hit, but there’s still contact questions) and RF Austin Slater (Video Stanford product got $200,000 in 8th round last summer and is a little stiff at the plate, but has feel to hit along with solid average arm and raw power, so he profiles if he can hit)

The other four hitters from the lower levels: CF Mikey Edie (Video Venezuelan signed in 2013 for low six figures, is above average to plus runner with above average arm that can play center and good feel to hit, but below average power and limited projection), CF Johneshwy Fargas (Video later round $100,000 bonus kid from Puerto Rican high school in 2013 is a plus plus runner with a plus arm and some bat speed, but not much power or polish), RF Brayan De Pena (Video 6’4/200 Dominican signed for $425,000 last summer at age 16; he has an arm for right but speed that likely moves him to first but the carrying tool here is his plus raw power from the left side and quick hands; he hit a massive bomb in the linked video that’s worth checking out) and LF Sandro Fabian (Video 6’1/180 Dominican signed for $500,000 last summer at age 16; he’s an advanced game hitter but it otherwise fringy to average across the board at this point).

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.

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8 years ago

What are the chances Blackburn’s command and pitch mix allow him to outshoot his projection and possibly be a #3?

8 years ago
Reply to  NYYFan

It’ll be interesting to see Blackburn’s career play out. On paper, he’s literally elite – K%, BB%, HR%, BAA….you name an advanced stat, and he’s killed it, and usually at a level of comp much older.

Cool Lester Smooth
8 years ago
Reply to  NYYFan

It’s really, really tough to be a #3. That’s Samardzija/Lynn/Porcello level.

8 years ago

I’d put Shark more as a #2, but yes, you’re correct. I should rephrase #3 as middle of the rotation type/reliable innings-eating #4.

He’s consistently put up great peripherals, so I’m wondering if he can outproduce the reports and be that kind of guy. Or is the expectation that he will hit a wall once he gets to MLB–a point where his act just no longer plays and he gets beat up a bit more by MLB hitting?