Notable Quotables: Thoughts on the Top 100: 81-90

By Jake Seiner

The Minor League season has come and gone and, sadly, that means Notable Quotables will be heading into hibernation until the games start up against next spring. We’ll still have plenty of regular content, both here on the blog and over at MiLB.com, but to celebrate the end of the 2013 season and the temporary end of this column, we’re going to bring you a “Best Of” from this summer featuring each of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects.

Below, you’ll find prospects 81-90 — you can find 91-100 here. And over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more thoughts and reflections from and about the best prospects in the game.

A quick note: While we managed to feature just about every Top 100 prospect this season, there are a few who evaded our eyes/tape recorders for one reason or another. In that case, rather than leave you hanging, we’re going to drop in one fun fact or statistical quirk of note that hopefully reveals a little something about the player.

MILB: Lynchburg Hillcats at Potomac Nationals

81. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
Cole on succeeding this year after struggling at Class A Advanced in 2012:

“Going through [Class A Advanced] again, I was there last year, got sent down to [Class A] with the A’s, and I just had to bounce back, not be let down about being sent down and then starting at [Class A Advanced] this year. … Basically getting the feel for everything, learning different things and showing that I’m able to play here, pitch here and be successful. I just want that to keep going on.”

82. Alex Colome, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Durham pitching coach Neil Allen on Colome in April:

“He’s starting to learn how to pitch more and become more a pitcher than a thrower. … He’s throwing a split and a slider, and he’s learned to use both doors with his slider. He’ll elevate and expand with the fastball in the proper counts, everything’s starting to come together for him.

“He’s throwing strikes with all his pitches. … He’s got a lot of confidence in all his pitches. The thing we had to do was teach him how to pitch. When, how, why to use his offspeed. When you have a big arm like he does, you tend to just rely on the fastball. He’s really grabbed the concept of what we’re trying to teach him. It was hard for him because he’s got such a big arm.

“When you get to the big leagues, 95 [mph] is nothing. You’ve got to get your offspeed over to succeed at the big league level. The fastball is not the only pitch in baseball, you have to utilize all your tools.”

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83. Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Cecchini on the development of his strong plate approach:

“I just think it’s trusting what God’s given me in my ability to hit and trusting myself to work deep in counts and wait for the pitch that I think I can put my best swing on.

“That’s all I’m doing. If I don’t think I can put a good swing on it, then I’m not going to swing at it until I get two strikes on me, and then I might open up a little bit, but not too much. If I don’t think I can get a really good swing where I can drive the ball, I’m not going to swing at it.

“I think you learn and, you know, I’m still learning what pitches I feel like I can hit with backspin into the game. It just takes time. That’s a key here in the Minor Leagues. Time is on your side.

“Just trying to get a good pitch and drive it takes time and a lot of effort to kind of master your swing and your approach in the cage. It comes back to what the Red Sox have done working with my mental approach and working on my swing.”

84. Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Owings on what he picked up at Major League Spring Training:

“I worked on my hitting a little, just with those guys, seeing their routines. I hit with [Paul] Goldschmidt one time. He talked me through his routine a little bit, about how when things aren’t working out, there’s no reason to not keep doing what you’re doing. Stick with it and things will turn around.”

480 Owings Reno Aces

85. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Rodriguez reflecting after his second-to-last start this year:

“I think I’ve had a good year. This is my best year. … The last one was good, but this is amazing. I have just been working hard in my bullpens.

“I think this was my best start. My fastball was down every time. The fastball, changeup, slider — down, down, every time. That is the difference. Last time, the fastball was up, the slider up, everything up. Home runs, doubles, triples, up. Today, down, down.”

86. Trey Ball, LHP, Boston Red Sox

The 2013 first round pick (seventh overall) made five starts in the Gulf Coast League, striking out five and walking six over seven innings. The New Castle, Ind., native was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in that time.

87. Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers –
Nelson on what he learned pitching through a shoulder injury late in 2012:

“I think it was actually a blessing in disguise. … I learned to pitch when I didn’t have my best stuff, and that has helped me. I also used my changeup a lot more, and now I have another good pitch.”

88. Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies –
Butler on what steps he took to improve in 2013, including the addition of a gloveside four-seamer:

“I’ve never thrown a four-seam really. … I’ve always been a sinker guy. I’ve had it but never really used it. Now, it’s like, all of a sudden at High-A, guys are better hitters and they start laying off of that pitch. They know they’re not going to hit it well, so they don’t want to swing at it.

“All of a sudden, they’re cheating in or they’re getting off the plate or, if it’s in the middle, they’re ready for it, and if you throw it there, they crush it. Being able to work both sides of the plate is a big thing with the organization, and it’s one of the big things I’ve been working with.”

“I’ve even started keeping a notebook this year of guys I’ve been facing, especially in High-A, because that’s where they start being a lot better hitters. … They have smaller holes and when you find that hole, you want to know where it is.

“You want to write that down — what you got them out with and what they hurt you with. Definitely, with that aspect, I’ve learned a lot.”

Butler Danny Wild MiLB edit

89. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers VP of player development De Jon Watson after Urias’ Midwest League debut:

“He was off the record. He has electric stuff, man. He has phenomenal poise and he can command the baseball to both sides of the plate. He is able to add and subtract from his fastball, and when he wants a little bit more he can reach back and get some more. His advanced mind-set when he’s competing against other players is really kind of neat for such a young player.

“It’s pretty rare. You don’t get these kinds of guys very often, but when you do, it really is a pleasure and a treat. We sign a lot of kids who are 16 years old out of the Dominican and Venezuela, but he’s the first one in my seven years here who has been able to come Stateside and go out and contribute and hold his own at such a young age.”

480 Urias Emily Jones MiLB

90. Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Kansas City Royals

Despite missing time with a broken hamate bone, Bonifacio hit .296 with Class A Advanced Wilmington and then .301 with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. At every level that Bonifacio has played at least 25 games, he’s hit .282 or better.

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