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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 4/5/13

Padres Showcase Four First Rounders In Arizona

With the closest Padres affiliate nearly 10 hours away from the Atlanta area, spring training is my only opportunity to scout Padres prospects. Last week, Dave Laurila and I tag teamed a piece on top catching prospect Austin Hedges. And while he was the most impressive position prospect in the organization, a pair of right handers ruled the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 3/29/13

Cactus League Prospects: Newman’s Take

In Arizona, J.D. Sussman and I hit the back fields together to scout talent from the Mariners, Indians, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Cubs. Each of us took notes, collected radar gun readings, worked angles and collected the best information we could.

Back from the warm weather, we decided to rank the 10 best prospects we scouted together to highlight differences in opinion and player preference. Scouting is an inexact science. Prospect followers tend to pit opinions of writers against each other, but of course there’s room for dissent and discussion even among friends and colleagues.

Here’s my top-10 of players I liked the most. J.D.’s list will follow in an hour.

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Padres Austin Hedges Is Cerebral And Skilled

Austin Hedges is considered the third-best catching prospect in baseball behind the Mariners’ Mike Zunino and the Mets’ Travis D’Arnaud. Regarded as a fantastic defender, he surprised with the bat as a 19-year old in the Midwest League last season. With offensive numbers 19 percent above league average, Hedges effectively shed the draft label of defensive specialist. The top prospect in the San Diego Padres organization is now regarded as an all-around talent.

Asked last week if he considers himself more advanced with the bat or behind the plate, the confident youngster hedged his bets.

“I don’t think you can ask me that one,” responded Hedges. “I like to think they’re equal.”

Interview by David Laurila.
Scouting Observations by Mike Newman.

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Lindor Or Paulino: Who’s The Indians Future SS

In Arizona, the Cleveland Indians were a “must see” franchise for me. A few years ago, their Lake County (Ohio) affiliate left the South Atlantic League for the convenience of the Midwest League. This created a blind spot in my scouting coverage remedied by my time in the Cactus League.

Current buzz surrounding the Indians organization is centered around a pair of young shortstop prospects in Dorssys Paulino and Francisco Lindor.

Lindor, a 2011 first rounder posted a .257/.352/.355 triple slash line in Single-A.

Paulino combined for a .333/.380/.558 triple slash line across two levels of short season baseball as a 17-year old.

There’s no question about both being top flight prospects within the organization, but the debate over the shortstop of the future continues to be a hot topic. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 3/22/13

Spring Training Notes: Mariners Bats

In addition to scouting a trio of young Mariners pitching prospects, a number of top position prospects also made the trip to Goodyear Stadium.

Nick Franklin batted second and played shortstop alongside Brad Miller. Franklin struggled at the plate and in the field as he failed to make hard contact and booted two balls on the infield. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Training Notes: The Arms

When arriving at Cleveland camp to scout future Indians, a trio of A-Ball infielders were tops on my list of “must see” players. Francisco Lindor, Dorssys Paulino and Ronny Rodriguez stretched and ran sprints on back fields and I was content to watch them doing morning drills.

Then, a conversation with volunteer field staff forced a change of plans.

In the “B-Game”, the Indians would be playing the Mariners. Out of curiosity, I hurried to the far field to see which Seattle prospects made the trip.

Taijuan Walker? Check.

James Paxton? Check.

Nick Franklin? Check.

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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 3/8/13

Is Nolan Arenado the Rockies’ Best Third-Base Option?

Nolan Arenado‘s development has been a roller coaster ride. From prospect with major helium, to disappointment with maturity issues, the third baseman lost his luster this off-season.

With four home runs in his first 17 at bats this spring, Arenado is all the rage again as he attempts to wrangle the third base job away from the combo of Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco.

Of course arbitration clocks, service time and other internal decisions will be a part of the decision making process, but what about the production? Will 150 game of Nolan Arenado have more on field value than Nelson/Pacheco? I’m not so sure.

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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 3/1/13

Zack Wheeler And “The Zing”

Zack Wheeler‘s spring debut set the prospect world abuzz as the right-hander showed elite stuff in two scoreless innings of work. Having seen him pitch twice for the Augusta GreenJackets in 2010, Wheeler’s outing is an example of projection blooming into production.

Reading through older reports while watching Hotel Transylvania left me looking for “The Zing”, or the moment when one becomes smitten with a prospect knowing he’ll be special. Wheeler provided one of those in 2010 when I wrote,

“Wheeler had a definite “wow” factor which the overwhelming majority of prospects simply do not have. Behind Julio Teheran, he’s the second best pitcher I have ever seen at the level and has true impact starter upside.”

Seeing Wheeler pitch in Grapefruit League action is an opportunity to reflect on memories from three seasons ago, and identify areas where he has grown. Read the rest of this entry »

Injuries Equal Opportunity For Hunter Morris

In Milwaukee, Hunter Morris will battle former shortstop Alex Gonzalez and fringe big leaguer Taylor Green for the opening day nod at first base. On paper, it seems like the odds are in his favor. However, Morris’ arbitration clock and Corey Hart‘s timetable for returning to the lineup will weigh heavily in the Brewers decision. For a three-to-four week stopgap, it might not be worth it to the organization — Especially when the Brewers are projected to finish with a .500 record.

Recently, Marc Hulet ranked Morris as the 11th best prospect in the Brewers system. He was the third best first baseman I scouted in person in 2012, but this was more indicative of a weak group at the position than Morris being a top prospect. Oliver projections have the left-handed hitter posting a .256/.302/.476 triple slash line and 1.7 WAR if given everyday reps, but this strikes me as generous. While Morris’ power is not in question, the rest of his skill set is.

Video after the jump

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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 2/22/13

Revisiting Red Sox Rubby De La Rosa

Red Sox prospect Rubby De La Rosa is in pitching purgatory. Fully healthy since late in the 2012 season, the right-hander with an electric fastball is nowhere to be found on 25-man roster projections. I don’t expect this to last long since De La Rosa has the arsenal to force his way onto the staff. For now, however, the Dominican will be forced to wait his turn.

It seems like an eternity ago, but De La Rosa’s debut in Dodger blue was impressive. His 3.55 xFIP in 60 2/3 innings included ratios of nearly a strikeout per inning and ground ball rate approaching 50-percent. He walked too many batters — A carry over from Double-A, but De La Rosa was only 22. Time and ability was on his side. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 2/15/13

Like Aaron Hicks, Buxton Will Require Patience

As we inch closer to the 2013 season, top-100 lists are being released with Byron Buxton ranked prominently. As the number-two overall pick in 2012, high rankings are expected. A few years ago, organization mate Aaron Hicks was held in equally high regard.

Today, Hicks ranks towards the bottom of top-1oo lists as five professional seasons have yielded mixed results. For those expecting Buxton’s tools to translate into production immediately, Hicks serves as a cautionary tale. But Hicks’ mini-breakout in 2012 and subsequent shot at the center field position in spring training serve as a reminder to bet on tools — Even if they take awhile to develop.

Video after the jump

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Mike Newman Prospects Chat – 2/8/13

Henry Owens: Stat Line With Silver Linings

Henry Owens‘ final start of 2012 was a scoreless one. In five innings, the 20-year-old struck out four, allowed eight base runners and a number of hard-hit balls. Minus a run or two, it was a typical start for the left-hander.

This off-season, the chatter on Owens has been less polarizing than expected. Yes, a 3.49 FIP and 11.51 K/9 is impressive. However, his 4.16 BB/9, .350 BABIP and low ground-ball percentage are all troublesome. Owens presented similar to his stat line during a September scouting trip to Greenville, South Carolina.

Video after the jump

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