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Early Risers

After spending the majority of the week day-to-day with flu like symptoms, I mustered the energy to begin my mid-season Top Prospect List. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of lists, as they often beget spats about order rather than rationale. Alas, we must give the people what they want! Thus far, here are some biggest risers from my pre-2012 Top 100 list and, of course, the all important rationale for their movement.

Oscar Taveras (Pre-Season Rank: 56): Oscar Taveras tore up the Midwest League. That is undeniable. But, coming into the season, some questioned if his free swinging approach would undermine his outstanding tools – myself included. I typically don’t care about a player’s walk rate prior to AA, but one’s walk rate is mutually exclusive from one’s approach to a plate appearance. Oscar Taveras doesn’t possess anything that would resemble plate discipline, but can one blame him? Previously, I’ve labeled his hit tool “uncanny,” his swing is long and unconventional but he simply does not miss the ball. Taveras has tools in spades, but it’s hard to go “all-in” on a guy with that approach. For me, he’ll have to prove at every level that his approach will not undermine his ability to make consistent quality contact. Still, I’ve got him moving all the way to my number 7 overall hitting prospect.

Mason Williams (Pre-Season Rank: 69): Just prior to creating my list Bullpen Banter colleague Al Skorupa took a scouting trip to see the Yankees’ outfielder. He followed the trip up with one my favorite pieces of the off-season, which includes enough .gifs to make your prospect-loving heart explode (and your browser too). The article started a heated e-mail exchange where I stood alone to argue that despite a small frame Williams projected to have average or above average power. Only time will tell if I was correct, but even so, Williams has an interesting fantasy profile. His speed is elite, and his ability to make contact is very strong. However, like the aforementioned Tavares, he too is a free swinger. Of course, he can’t steal first base and he doesn’t barrel balls like Tavares so his lack of discipline is slightly more worrisome. Still, Mason projects to a well above average defender with who can hit for a high average, steal a ton of bases and maybe even have surprising pop for a guy his size.

Rougned Odor (Pre-Season Rank: N/A): Unless you’re drafting based on awesome names, Odor probably isn’t selected in your league. If you don’t pick him up soon, someone else surely will because Odor is likely to be the top second baseman in the minors at year’s end. By my eye, he’s grown quite a bit and is now a very muscular young man. He’s going above average home run power for a second baseman and when I’ve seen him he’s has no problem bombing the ball the ball the opposite way. He’ll be exciting one to watch.