Author Archive

Is Jose Ramirez a Starter or Reliever?

Jose Ramirez‘s live arm was on display against Kevin Gausman this past Friday. The New York Yankees’ minor-leaguer consistently unleashed 94 mph to 95 mph four-seam fastballs against the Bowie Baysox from his low three-quarter arm slot. The pitch touched 97 mph, but Ramirez’s low release point kept it on the same plane on which it was released. It did, however, feature arm-side run.

Ramirez complemented his four seamer with an 81 mph to 84 mph changeup that featured significant vertical drop and slight fade as it neared the plate. The right-hander commanded the pitch well down in the zone and it was his go-to out pitch when he was ahead in the count. But his arm speed slows down noticeably during his delivering when compared to his fastball.

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Kevin Gausman, MLB Ready?

Rick Peterson looked on from the Bowie Baysox’s dugout as Kevin Gausman stated his case. The Orioles’ prized right hander decimated the Trenton Thunder over six innings, striking out ten and allowing few well hit balls. With Baltimore four games behind the American League East division leaders and their rotation in shambles, expect Gausman to earn a promotion after the super-two deadline passes in mid-June. In eight starts with Double-A Bowie, Gausman has been nearly untouchable. He’s third in the Eastern League in FIP, and owns a 25.7% strikeout rate and a 2.6% walk rate.

The high-waisted 6’3″ right hander has a long, lean frame and he’s listed at just 190 lbs. There is plenty of room for growth throughout his body, if he should choose to cultivate mass. In the windup, Gausman has a high leg kick. He brings his left leg to his hands, which rest chest high at takeaway before he delivers the ball from a high three quarter arm slot.

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JD Sussman Prospects Chat – 5/17/13

JD Sussman: Hey everyone, sorry for running a few minutes late. I know you’re thrilled that Mike will not be joining us. Post questions!
Comment From LarryA
Do you take Roto Questions?
JD Sussman: Whatever your heart desires, LarryA. Though, like Mike, I’ll only take questions on guys I’ve seen or guys I’ve heard a good deal about.
Comment From TK
I know he’s repeating low A but is Rossell Herrera playing his way back into relevance? Top 100 guy down the road? Position?
JD Sussman: I’d bet on Herrera’s tools. I need to cut the video of him from spring training, but he’s a LONG athletic kid. Really love what he was doing from the left side. I just took him in a deep 14 team league, and I’d advise grabbing him. But, he isn’t a SS.
Comment From OJones
Roman Quinn had a little hot streak last week but has fallen back a bit. I know Mike was very high on him through the offseason, do you see him starting to perform to Mike’s lofty expectations?

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Hamate Break Halts Jorge Bonifacio’s Breakout Season

If you knew Emilio Bonifacio‘s younger brother was an outfield prospect in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system, you might assume the two are roughly similar. But Emilio — a speedy, switch-hitting, utility man for the Toronto Blue Jays — and Jorge have little in common, at least when it comes to their games. Jorge, the younger of the pair, is a burly right fielder with a strong arm. He was enjoying an excellent campaign as a 19-year-old in the Carolina League when he broke his hamate bone Tuesday during batting practice. Reports suggest he’ll miss six to eight weeks.

It’s difficult to say how the injury will affect his development. Even after returning to the field, the alleged power-sapping effects of a hamate break can linger. Whether appropriate or not, the injury will cast a shadow over the rest of his season.

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Defense Is Key For Indians’ Naquin

Drafting 15th in 2012, the Indians selected Texas A&M right fielder Tyler Naquin. A collegiate standout, Naquin earned the Big 12 Player of the Year Award before Cleveland selected him and shifted him from right field — where he started 115 games as a freshman and sophomore — to center field. As Marc Hulet noted last month, Naquin’s ability to play his new position will determine his success.

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Mets Dig Deep, Find Logan Taylor

The Mets’ farm system rates in the top third of baseball due to a plethora of pitching prospects. In addition to Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni in the upper minors, the organization’s Florida State League affiliate has the minor leagues’ best rotation. It features Noah Syndergaard, Domingo Tapia, Luis Mateo (who is on the disabled list with an elbow injury), Michael Fulmer (DL – Meniscus) and Hansel Robles. The Savannah Sand Gnats are stocked with intriguing arms as well. Mike Newman recently discussed Gabriel Ynoa and Rainy Lara with his audience, and I mentioned the resurgence of Steven Matz several weeks ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Francisco Lindor, Simply Elite

When the Indians selected Francisco Lindor 8th overall in the 2011 draft, he possessed a high floor and upside. Drafted out of Montverde, Florida, he was an accomplished shortstop but questions about how long it would take his bat to develop surrounded the young Puerto Rican. In his full season, Lindor has put rest to any doubt whether he will be one of the game’s brightest stars. Coming into 2013 he was ranked 20th by Marc Hulet, 9th by my colleagues at Bullpen Banter, and 8th by myself and early returns suggest he has staked his claim on next year’s top spot.

Lindor projects to be an elite defender, if he isn’t already. While not he’s a burner – his time from home to first is consistently a shade below four seconds, great but not excellent for the position – his defensive range can be attributed to the quickness of his first step, not his speed. His ability to covers yards of dirt in a single step is bolstered by his confidence using his backhand on balls hit towards third base. At 19 years old, his instincts actions at shortstop are remarkable making Mike Newman’s nickname for him – “Bruce Lee Lindor” – oddly fitting.

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Tony Wolters, Catching Convert

Rarely do players successfully transition to more difficult positions, but the Cleveland Indians believe second base prospect Tony Wolters can be the next infielder to be successful converted into a catcher. It’s common for a player to move to a less valuable position when his abilities fall short of major league competency, but occasionally a player will increase his value by moving to a more demanding position. At Florida State University, Buster Posey played third base before permanently moving to catcher. Philadelphia’s backstop Carlos Ruiz was a second baseman before making the switch. Like Posey and Ruiz, the Indians think Wolters can be a starting catcher on a championship caliber team.

Wolters was selected in the third round of the 2010 Rule 4 draft out of Vista, Calif., and signed for $1.35 million, the equivalent of a mid-to-late first round bonus. He’s a grinder — an intense, hard working scrapper who plays above his tools — with a chatty demeanor that fits perfectly behind the plate. As a hitter, Wolters derives surprising power from his quick hands and aggressive line drive swing. When he starts swinging for the fences he isn’t as short to the ball, but generally he stays within himself with a crisp gap-to-gap approach.

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Frustrated Bogaerts off to a Slow Start

The first two-and-a-half weeks of the season have been a struggle for Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts. Last year, the shortstop excelled in the Eastern League and earned his place as one of baseball’s elite prospects. But his return to Double-A Portland has been underwhelming thus far. Against New Britain, Bogaerts went 0-for-6 with a strikeout, a walk and a groundball double play. His frustration was palpable. But there were still plenty of positives too.

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Double-A Red Sox Pitchers: Bard, Ruiz and Workman,

Brandon Workman, a 24-year-old Texan, dominated an undermanned New Britain Rockcats lineup over six frigid innings last week. In 2010, he was selected out of the University of Texas by the Red Sox in second round of the Rule 4 Draft. In his first two full seasons he’s posted strong peripherals, striking out more than eight batters per nine innings and walking fewer than two. Early in 2013, he sits near the top of Carson Cistulli’s Eastern League SCOUT Leaderboard (see bottom of this post); but Workman’s statistics are misleading. He profiles as a reliever or as a spot-starter.

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Sizing Up Tony Cingrani

The Reds received a scare when Johnny Cueto was placed on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle. As he returned to Cincinnati for further testing yesterday, the minor leagues’ hottest pitcher took the mound in Louisville awaiting to hear whether he would replace Cincinnati’s ace. In three Triple-A starts, Tony Cingrani destroyed the International League: he struck out 26 batters in 14.1 innings. But is he ready? Read the rest of this entry »

NL Pitching Prospects Debut: Stepheson, Fried, et al

Ah, minor league baseball.  Another season began last week and thousands continued their journeys towards a potential major league career. Today, we discuss the debuts of several high profile National League pitching prospects and then unlikely story of Tommy John survivor attempting to overcome a three year layoff. Of course, .gifs are included for you viewing pleasure. Read the rest of this entry »

Julio Teheran’s Missing Changeup

After a dominant spring, many hoped Julio Teheran had turned a corner. His disappointing 2012 campaign was attributed to a variety of mechanical changes, but offseason reports suggested Teheran had corrected those flaws. His tour of the Grapefruit League appeared to validate winter reports, as he struck out 35 batters in 26 innings and posted 1.04 ERA. While Teheran’s spring was cause for optimism, his first start of the regular season didn’t go so well, and the performance suggests there’s still more work to be done.

Last season, we discussed Teheran’s inconsistencies. Entering 2012, Teheran was ranked FanGraphs’ fifth best prospect in baseball, but he struggled to live up to the hype. To pinpoint the cause of his problems, I watched a random start from the 2011 season. On July 26 against the Durham Bulls, Teheran’s fastball velocity sat 93-95 MPH and frequently neared triple digits. His curveball, while erratic, showed promise. It featured a tight 11-5 break and, when thrown well, caused the Triple-A Rays to flail. His changeup was his best offering. After he established his fastball, hitters were helpless against his low to mid 80s changeup. His three pitch arsenal was electric and justified Marc Hulet’s ranking. Here are a couple of GIFs of Teheran pitching against the Mets in September of 2011, so you can see the movement for yourself.

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Trevor Story, The Forgotten Shortstop

Trevor Story is one of the minor league’s best shortstops. Today, elite shortstop prospects are plentiful. As they develop, the next generation of Major League shortstops could be spectacular. Jurickson Profar is a blemishless prospect, the perfect blend of tools and ability. Carlos Correa, last June’s top draftee, is joined by Xander Bogaerts, Javier Baez and Addison Russell to form a cadre of shortstops who could reintroduce offense to the position. Trevor Story rarely appears in the discussion, but he should. Read the rest of this entry »

Cactus League Prospects: Sussman’s Take

Mike Newman and I traversed the back fields of Cactus League last week. When we weren’t berating one another with insults, we analyzed the prospects we watched.  After hours of back and forth we decided to memorialize our differences in “Dueling Prospects Lists.” So that we don’t taint our lists, we haven’t discussed these rankings or the analysis with each other. 

You can see Mike’s list here, if you’re so inclined.

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Stryker Trahan: Building a D-Backs Backstop

When scouting, the first instinct is to comp. You fight the urge, knowing every player is an individual, but the desire to quantify the unknown inevitably creeps into your thoughts. Who has a similar body type? A similar swing? Approach? Range and athleticism? Background? Instinctively, you formulate a first impression by answering one question: Who does he remind me of?

Then there are prospects like Stryker Trahan. The attributes packed into his dense 5-foot-10 frame are anything but ordinary:

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Taijuan Walker, Francisco Lindor and Cactus League Sleepers

Simultaneously FanGraphs’ trip to the desert and minor league games began Wednesday in Arizona. Trips to Goodyear and Scottsdale begot opportunities to view dozens of top prospects and some sleepers too.   Read the rest of this entry »

Ripe Grapefruit League Prospects: Gausman, Yelich and Wacha

The Grapefruit and Cactus leagues have an unmatched concentration of talent. With ample opportunities for playing time, we’re afforded a glimpse of an array of players — including baseball’s top prospects. On Wednesday, the FanGraphs staff and I will descend on Arizona’s Cactus League, so I’ll take the opportunity to discuss a few Grapefruit League prospects who impressed me. Read the rest of this entry »

Jorge Soler: Baseball’s Next Big Prospect?

Since winning the National League Central in 2008 the Cubs have been in steep decline, culminating in a 101 loss season in 2012. Whether the organization is able to rise up from the cellar may hinge on a trio of hitting prospects, Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler. It’s easy to fall in love with Baez’s dreamy bat speed or Almora’s rare combination of tools and polish, but it is Soler who is the game’s next elite prospect. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 5 Pitching Prospect Duos

The two things everyone loves about the off-season are hot-stove rumors and prospect lists. The beginning of Spring Training marks the end of hot-stove season — outside a very lonely Kyle Loshe — and gives us our first glance at the young phenoms we spend the off-season debating. Today, let’s look at teams that have the best one-two pitching punches coming down the prospect pipeline.

Please note that all videos have sound.

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