Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’

The youngest players on Class A rosters

MiLB: AUG 27 Rookie League - GCL Red Sox at GCL OriolesBy Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

There are a lot of ways to analyze baseball prospects. If you’re a Major League team, you have a staff of scouts who scour the country evaluating swings, deliveries, stuff, makeup and more. Teams are also performing statistical analysis, judging players on stats like strikeout rates, BAPIP, isolated power and more complicated, regression-based numbers that help find players who stand out from their peers. It’s a little tougher when you’re on the outside.

You can keep try to keep pace with the stats. Plenty are doing that — Chris Mitchell’s work over at Fangraphs is a fun follow right now — but with player development, numbers will never tell the full story. That’s particularly true in the lower levels of the Minors, where there are too many variables for the numbers to paint a complete picture.

The teams are working with information we don’t have. They know these players, their personalities and their growth better than we ever will — and they have no reason to share that knowledge. But if you look closely, you can infer some things from teams’ decisions. One great way to get a read on what teams think of their players is through player assignments. If a team pushes an 18-year-old to the full-season level, that signals the team thinks the player is advanced for his age, as only a handful of players that young break camp at the Class A level. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty way to pick out sleeper prospects, you could do worse than simply finding the youngest players teams entrust with full-season playing time.

With that in mind, I combed through the Opening Day rosters for all 30 Class A affiliates and picked out the following 18-year-olds who are breaking camp at the full-season level — plus a couple guys who are 19 by just a few days. (more…)

Notable quotables: Rob Kaminsky

(Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

(Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com The story of Rob Kaminsky’s journey from New Jersey outfields to the mound as the Cardinals top pitching prospect was published today on MiLB.com. Some further quotes from the 20-year-old Kaminsky, private pitching coach Jim Wladyka and Peoria pitching coach Jason Simontacci.

Kaminsky on his 6-0 record with the Chiefs: “Playing in Peoria, it was fun. You get in a better routine when you’re at home because you get the field at a designated time, you don’t have to show up five hours early and sit in the locker room, so that’s nice. But at the end of the day, it’s 60 feet, 6 inches, so I don’t think it matters where it is on the map.” (more…)

How they got here: The roster constructions of the Giants, Cardinals, Royals, Orioles

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By Sam Dykstra/MiLB.com

With the League Championship Series slated — and I use that word hesitantly, given the precarious weather forecasts in both Baltimore and St. Louis — to begin Friday, it’s an appropriate time to look at how the final four teams got here. No, not how they did in the LDS. (For the record, the Orioles and Royals swept the Tigers and Angels, respectively, and the Giants and Cardinals needed four games apiece to beat the Nationals and Dodgers.) Rather, it’s a good spot to look at how these franchises constructed the 25-man rosters they will use as they march toward the World Series.

Here are their rosters broken down by those acquired by trade, the Draft/international free agency and regular free agency.

TRADES

Orioles (12) — Brad Brach, Tommy Hunter, Andrew Miller, Bud Norris, Chris Tillman, Nick Hundley, J.J.Hardy, Kelly Johnson, Jimmy Paredes, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Jones, David Lough

Royals (nine) — Tim Collins, Wade Davis, Jason Frasor, James Shields, Erik Kratz, Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki, Lorenzo Cain, Josh Willingham

Cardinals (four) — John Lackey, Adam Wainwright, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk

Giants (two) — Jake Peavy, Hunter Pence

This comes from the magic of Dan Duquette. Since he became Orioles general manager in November 2011, he’s acquired eight of the 12 players listed above via trade, and while some are bit players, like Johnson and Paredes, there are those that have major influence. Norris went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA in his first full season after being acquired from the Astros in a deadline deal last year and tossed 6 1/3 scoreless frames in the Game 3 clincher against the Tigers. Similarly, Miller was acquired on July 31 and has continued to be one of the relievers in the game. The 29-year-old left-hander posted a 1.35 ERA with 34 strikeouts and four walks over 20 innings for the O’s after the deal and didn’t allow a hit across 3 1/3 frames in the ALDS, when manager Buck Showalter leaned on him in high-leverage situations. The above figure also isn’t counting slugging first baseman Steve Pearce, who was picked off waivers from the Yankees in late 2012 and posted a .293/.373/.556 line with 21 homers in 102 games this season.  (more…)

Progress report: Evaluating the graduates from MLB’s top 50

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

As it does before every season, MLB.com released its 2014 ranking of the top 100 prospects in the game in March. As the season progressed, some of these players “graduated” from the ranking upon acquiring 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 days in the Majors. This is a look back at which prospects graduated from MLB.com’s top 50 and how they’ve done in their first collective tastes of the Majors. If nothing else, it should serve as a reminder that Major League Baseball is incredibly hard.

All stats are through games of Sept. 9.bogaerts_544

2. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox): It’s been a rough first full season in the Majors for the talented shortstop, who had a career .862 OPS in the Minors. He’s slashed only .235/.300/.356  with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 129 games while being moved between shortstop (his life-long position) and third base for the Red Sox. To drive the point home, his OPS+ is 84 and is bWAR was 0.1, indicating that he did little to play above replacement level as a rookie. The good news: he’s still only 21. There’s plenty of time for him to develop, and that could happen once he’s settled on a position. One more quick note: Bogaerts’ OPS+ in 83 games as a shortstop was 116; in 44 games at the hot corner, it was just 43.  (more…)

Prospects who could be moved by the July 31 trade deadline

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

Yesterday, we covered which prospects shouldn’t be going anywhere this trade deadline season. Today, we turn our eyes toward which ones could very well be on the move as contenders try to bolster their Major League rosters. This is neither a guarantee nor a prediction that all or any of these Minor Leaguers will be moved before the July 31 deadline. Rather, they’re just some thoughts on players who are good candidates to be traded for a myriad of reasons.

Enough with the disclaimers, onto the potential movers:

Syracuse Chiefs

Syracuse Chiefs

Steven Souza Jr., outfielder, Washington Nationals

This trade is just begging to be made.

Souza, the Nats’ No. 14 prospect, is having an MVP-caliber season in the International League. He leads the Triple-A circuit in all three slash-line categories (.371/.449/.615) as well as RBIs (62) through 74 games with Syracuse.  The 25-year-old right-handed outfielder has also hit 14 homers and stolen 21 bases. With those numbers — which have gotten even better in July when he has a .458 average and 1.325 OPS in 12 games — it’s no surprise he was a starter and the IL’s No. 3 hitter in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game.  (more…)

Prospect Q&A: Cardinals LHP Marco Gonzales

Gonzales

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

On Monday, I caught up with Cardinals No. 5 prospect Marco Gonzales, who induced 15 groundouts over eight scoreless innings for Class A Advanced Palm Beach on Sunday. The 22-year-old left-hander is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in his first five starts of the season and could be a candidate to move quickly through the St. Louis system. We talked about his latest gem, the Cardinals organization and what he thinks about climbing the ladder.

MiLB.com: What made you so effective Sunday?

Gonzales: Really, it was mostly just the location of my fastball. That’s something I work on and focus on every start. It helps everything else in my repertoire. I was able to throw my offspeed stuff for strikes too, just to keep guys off-balance. But I feel like if I’m going to be effective, I have to have my fastball command down.

MiLB.com: So was it your fastball that helped you get so many groundballs or did that come from the offspeed when they were off-balance? (more…)

Rounding the Bases: Top 100 talk, Part II

By Sam Dykstra/MiLB.com

How’s everybody doing? Feeling like you’re in the best shape of your life? Optimistic about what’s to come? Are you reconnecting with old friends and making new ones at the same time?

If you said yes to the any of those questions, congratulations, you’re a professional baseball player who’s made his way down to Spring Training.

If no to all of the above, you probably live in the northeast corridor of the U.S., where the polar vortex has kept most indoors (read: away from the gym and friends) and pessimistic that winter will ever end.

If you’re a mix of yes and no, I hope the idea of Spring Training has at least brought out some optimism in you. Otherwise, you’re a physically fit friend to everyone you meet who is still somehow pessimistic.

All that aside, let’s round the bases …

A poll of polls of sorts

Baseball America released its list of top 100 prospects — its 25th edition of such a collection, it should be noted — on Thursday. Between that, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, we’ve got three major prospect rankings heading into the 2014 season.

I’ve already compared and contrasted the MLB.com and BP lists, so let’s look at this from another angle. What if we combined the three sets to see how the aggregated rankings would sort out? As with any set of data, the more points you have, the stronger the collection should be considered. Is three a big enough sample size? Not necessarily, but it’s better to take the average of three lists than the midpoint of two.

(Note: Normally I’d extend this to four and include Keith Law’s rankings for ESPN. However, those are behind an Insider paywall, and I’m not in the business of disrupting another business’ revenue stream. MLB.com, BP and BA all released their lists for free, although you have to pay the latter two if you want in-depth scouting reports.)

There are a few more caveats to this little experiment. It is not done to say that if the three groups got together in a room, this is what they’d devise. There would, of course, be a back-and-forth discussion over the merits of Prospect X over Prospect Y. Some could be swayed; others, not so much.

Nor is it done to belittle any of the lists on something as small as a data point. There are innumerable sources, opinions and just plain man hours that go into making each of these prospect rankings. There also are individual touches that make them unique to each outlet. We can look at the same things in the same way and come to different conclusions. It’s called subjectivity, and that’s why there’s such a wide-open market for prospect rankings in the first place.

Treat this more like a melting pot. It’s not any more “right” than any of the other lists. It is just an amalgamation of the three and provides yet another way of stacking up the game’s best prospects. No more, no less.

With that in mind, here’s how I came up with the aggregated ranking. It’s based on a point system in which the top spot in an individual ranking earns 100 points, the second spot gets 99, etc. You can’t just take the average ranking because there were several players who didn’t appear in all three sets. This controls for that. The first tiebreaker is appearing in the most polls, the second is highest top ranking. For example, Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon both have 256 points, but Polanco gets the nod because his highest ranking (No. 10) trumps Taillon’s (No. 16).

With that settled, here’s the top 25:

Aggregate Player Position Org MLB BP BA Points
1 Byron Buxton OF MIN 1 1 1 300
2 Xander Bogaerts SS BOS 2 2 2 297
3 Oscar Taveras OF STL 3 3 3 294
4 Javier Baez SS CHC 7 4 5 287
5 Carlos Correa SS HOU 8 5 7 283
6 Archie Bradley RHP ARI 5 9 9 280
7 Miguel Sano 3B MIN 4 14 6 279
8 Taijuan Walker RHP SEA 6 8 11 278
9 Francisco Lindor SS CLE 10 6 13 274
10 Addison Russell SS OAK 12 7 14 270
11 Kris Bryant 3B CHC 9 17 8 269
12 Noah Syndergaard RHP NYM 11 11 16 265
13 Jonathan Gray RHP COL 14 16 12 261
14 Gregory Polanco OF PIT 13 24 10 256
15 Jameson Taillon RHP PIT 16 19 22 256
16 Dylan Bundy RHP BAL 20 15 15 253
17 George Springer OF HOU 21 20 18 244
18 Robert Stephenson RHP CIN 19 22 19 243
19 Kevin Gausman RHP BAL 31 10 20 242
20 Austin Hedges C SD 24 18 27 234
21 Yordano Ventura RHP KC 35 12 26 230
22 Nick Castellanos 3B DET 15 37 25 226
23 Mark Appel RHP HOU 17 21 39 226
24 Lucas Giolito RHP WAS 44 13 21 225
25 Albert Almora OF CHC 18 25 36 224

Near-misses: Kyle Zimmer 221, Aaron Sanchez 217, Andrew Heaney 214, Eddie Butler 212, Maikel Franco 208

A few things to point out: There’s obviously agreement on the top three, and that shouldn’t be a huge surprise, given what we know about Buxton, Bogaerts and Taveras.

The dissension comes one spot later with Baez, and we’re off from there. That’s actually a good place to start because while most agree Baez has a monster ceiling — BP’s Jason Parks said in a chat last month one front office source believes the shortstop has “Hall of Fame potential” — there’s plenty of disagreement on whether he’ll reach it.

That being said, the widest gulf in opinion among the top 10 belongs to Sano, who is a top-six prospect, according to MLB.com and BA, but drops to 14 on BP’s list. The disagreement stems from how highly you view the Twins third baseman’s power — BP actually said Baez had a better power tool than Sano and ranked him 10 spots ahead — and whether his hit tool projects to be anything better than average.

Giolito is perhaps the most polarizing player in the top 25. So it goes when you’re talking about a right-handed prospect with lightning for a fastball, a tornado for a curveball — call it hyperbole if you want; Parks give both 80 potential grades — and a developing changeup who, by the way, is coming off Tommy John surgery and only has 38 2/3 innings under his belt.

Meanwhile, the pictures of consistency are Springer, who comes in between 18 and 21 in the three polls, and Stephenson, who is No. 19 for both MLB.com and BA and checks in at 22 for BP. The virtual agreement among the three sides helped the Astros outfielder and the Reds right-hander in this area, who moved up to Nos. 17 and 18 respectively, despite not being that high on any of the three lists.

Overall, there aren’t too many surprises in our aggregated poll. If nothing else, it illustrates the wide ranges of diverse opinion across the prospect ranking landscape and while hopefully ironing out some of those differences. After all, most agree on who should be in the conversation for top prospects — it’s the order that causes some haggling. We’ll revisit this at midseason when outlets come out with updated rankings to see who made the biggest across-the-boards leaps and falls.

Fried done for a bit

Not listed in the above top 25 but a top prospect in his own right — he came out an even 50 when you run the aggregate down that far — Padres left-hander Max Fried won’t be on a mound for at least another two weeks, according to news that broke Thursday afternoon.

First things first, it’s important to point out that everything seems very precautionary at this point. Although there’s a forearm issue bothering the southpaw, it’s only muscular in nature and doesn’t involve any ligament problems, which is good because that means you can stop thinking about the UCL and TJ acronyms right away.

Still, you hate to hear about throwing arm issues involving any prospect, especially this early in the year and especially given the year Fried was about to enter.

Barring any other issues and assuming he comes back healthy, the 20-year-old is likely to start his second full season at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore with a good opportunity to move up to Double-A San Antonio by the end of the year. With age, his numbers were likely to actually improve as he harnessed his command, pegged as just a 50 on the scale by MLB.com, and racked up more strikeouts. (His 7.58 K/9 in 2013 wasn’t great on paper but was the fifth-highest in the Midwest League.) In fact, I’d go as far as to say he’s a potential breakout candidate in 2014 as he grows into his 6-foot-4 frame.

All that could be lost if the problem gets any worse, and that’s what leads to worry (and even panic, among some) when the words “shut down” get thrown around. Again, it seems like the Padres are doing all the right things at the moment. It’s much easier to lose a few weeks in late February/March. But this is at the very least worth monitoring as Spring Training continues and the spring leagues pick up shortly.

A love letter to the Stars

I try to keep this feature as prospect-related as I can — “Mascot Item of the Week” discounted — but this particular story hit me good and hard.

Colleague Ben Hill put up a guest post on his blog from Huntsville Stars fan Gillian Richard, who wrote passionately about what it means to her that the local club is packing up and moving down to Biloxi in 2015. Relocation is part of the sporting world, moreso in the Minor Leagues, and we have a tendency of shrugging this kind of stuff off. That’s the business, is usually the go-to dismissive line.

But there are plenty of human stories left behind that deserve our attention. It doesn’t take much to get a Seattle native going on the loss of the Sonics. To bring it closer to home, personally, I grew up near Hartford, Conn. But by the time I grew into hockey, the Whalers were long gone. I know a lot of people who still clamor for the days of “Brass Bonanza” and Pucky the Whale.

So read Gillian’s account and put yourself in her shoes. Then read Ben’s Q&A with Stars GM Buck Rogers about the future of baseball in Huntsville, and hope that there is one. 

Mascot Item of the Week

Well, I did just mention hockey …

Quick Hits

Notable Quotables — Thoughts on the Top 100: 1-10

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By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

The Minor League season has come and gone and, sadly, that means Notable Quotables will be heading into hibernation until the games start up again 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 1-10 (also see: 11-2021-3031-4041-5051-6061-7071-8081-9091-100).

A quick note: Although 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.

1. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz prior to Buxton’s promotion to the FSL: 

“I wanted him out of Spring Training, I kept at it at every meeting: ‘You know, he needs some humidity, he needs to come here first.’

“But he maybe spent 10 days with my team in Spring Training and I got to kind of know him on a personal level, a little better. Obviously, the tools are through the roof, but his parents would be proud at how he handles himself, a great kid. He still says, ‘Yes, sir’ and I get mad at him because I’m not that old yet.”

2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Taveras on the lingering ankle issues that eventually cut his season short:

“I have problems a little when I run on the bases. … I try to get better every day, putting the tape on my ankle and exercising in the training room. I try to get better because that’s hard to play that way. I just want to play. I want to help the team.”

Taveras added that the ankle caused a little manageable discomfort when he swings. “When I try to push too hard, just a little, not too much.”

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3. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz on Sano’s makeup: 

“He’s a phenomenal kid, wise beyond his years. He’s a great teammate, one thing he did was take guys underneath his wing. He was great to kids, great to fans, and the guys really responded to him. He’s a future team leader.

He wants to do really well. He doesn’t take at-bats off. He understands the importance of being a good teammate. Obviously, the talent speaks for itself, but it’s the other stuff that I was pleasantly surprised at, how well he treated everyone with the team.”

4. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Tacoma manager John Stearns after Walker’s Triple-A debut:

“To think he’s here doing this at age 20, at this level, you can really fantasize about what’s going to happen in the future with him.

“It was really one of the most incredible, really impressive performances and showed the maturity of him; his baseball IQ maturity at a young age was just tremendous.”

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5. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Indians assistant director of player development Carter Hawkins on Lindor’s athleticism:

“He’s extremely well-rounded, instinctual as well. … He has outstanding hands, arms and agility. He’s one of the most agile guys in the organization in the last five to 10 years in terms of pure physical measurements. Given that, he’s able to make almost any play at the shortstop position, and his natural baseball intelligence on top of that makes him a valuable asset.

“His quick feet, decision-making, arm strength, quick hands, his knowledge of the game — all that allows him to lead the infield as a shortstop and be that field general.”

6. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina on his initial impressions of Bogaerts:

“I was around Mike Trout the past couple of years and it doesn’t amaze me what these 20-year-old kids can do these days. … He fits right in with this team and he plays with a lot of energy.

“He’s still learning the game, especially some of the intricacies of the position. He needs to do things better.

“He retains information and he applies it,” DiSarcina said. “You can tell he’s a quick learner and he doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice. He is driven by that. He wants to be successful.”

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7. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona D-backs
Bradley on his Minor League experience to date:

“The one thing people have said coming into pro ball is enjoy the process, understand that what you’re learning here is all to prepare yourself for the big leagues. And that’s the approach I came in with. And with the help of our pitching coach here [in Mobile], Dan Carlson, he’s just helped me tremendously as far as the mental part. … Physically, I felt I was on my way, but mentally, the strides I’ve made are tremendous.

“You know that giving up a run is OK. You never want to give it up, but understanding that there are situations where it’s OK. Giving up one run in a certain situation won’t kill your outing. It’s how you pitch out of jams, do damage control, understanding how to go deeper and controlling the emotions, everything that’s mental about pitching.”

8. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
Quad Cities manager Omar Lopez in May on his instructions for Correa:

“It’s not that he’s chasing the ball or he’s got a bad approach or that he’s overmatched. … Sometimes he’s too anxious. He’s 18 and anxious. He needs to be more under control. I understand. He probably has high expectations and high goals for this season — we don’t.

“We told him, ‘You hit this, you hit this, you’re fine.’ We looked at shortstops in the big leagues and how was their first season in pro ball, and they were hitting .240, 36 errors, but now they’re superstars. It’s a process.”

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9. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Tennessee hitting coach Desi Wilson on Baez’s development from August 2012 through August 2013:

“Last year, I think everything was speeding up for him. Basically, he was just swinging at everything they threw up to him. Everything was going so fast. He was just trying to do too much. Him going to big league camp, going to Spring Training and the work he’s done, it obviously has paid off because his leg kick is not as high as it was last year.

“Last year, he wasn’t selective at all. He was swinging early in the count. Now, he’s not afraid to fall behind, 0-1, 0-2. That’s the difference I see in Javy. He’s not swinging as early in counts, being a lot more selective in his [at-bats] compared to last year.”

10. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon on returning to Double-A after getting a taste of the level in 2012:

“Coming up here last year and having some success, even a small bit, gives me confidence that I can get guys out at this level. … My last couple of years, I started strong and hit a wall. I think I’ve gotten better with in-game adjustments.

“As a whole, the game is a little cleaner, a little faster [at Double-A]. The hitters don’t miss mistakes. That’s probably No. 1.”

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Five names to watch in the Rule 5 Draft

By Sam Dykstra/MiLB.com

Wednesday was a big day in Minor League circles, and that was pretty evident on Twitter alone, as seen by the feeds of Adam DuvallStefen Romero and Tucker Barnhart. These were the reactions of players who had just been added to their parent club’s 40-man rosters before Wednesday’s deadline.

Of course, everyone didn’t enjoy the same fate, and for certain players (i.e. those who were signed when they were 19 or older and have been in pro ball for four years OR those who signed at 18 or under and have been in the game for five years), that means they’re eligible to be selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. You can read more about the Rule 5 Draft here, but these are the important points. Once a player is selected by another club in the Rule 5 Draft, they must stay on the team’s 25-man roster for the entire season. If he doesn’t (which is usually the case), he must be returned to his original organization.

In that vein, Rule 5 selections should be seen as second-chance tryouts with a different organization on the player side and low-risk, potentially high-reward moves on the team side.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some players who weren’t placed on 40-man rosters Wednesday and are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Andy Wilkins, first baseman, White Sox — Since being taken in the fifth round out of the University of Arkansas in 2010, Wilkins’ prospect stock has gone on a bit of a roller-coaster ride. He was ranked among the White Sox top 20 prospects following a solid campaign (.278/.349/.485, 23 homers) in 2011, only to drop out after last year (.239/.335/.425, 17 homers). He rebounded a bit in 2013, slashing .277/.353/.452 with 17 homers  between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He could provide a team with some decent left-handed power off the bench, and there’s a chance someone takes a flyer on him for that purpose. (Think Mike Carp Lite with the Red Sox this season.)

Andy Wilkins

Brian Fletcher, outfielder, Royals — Like Wilkins, there’s lots of pop to Fletcher’s game that could catch a club’s eye. The 25-year-old left fielder battled injury issues last season but managed to hit 17 homers and put up a .505 slugging percentage in 78 games between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. The 2010 18th-rounder has hit 48 longballs in 305 Minor League games and owns a career .837 OPS. Considered a below-average defender, he spent a decent amount of time as a DH in 2013 and actually received most of his starts at first base at the Class A Advanced level in 2012 before the Royals decided to keep him in left. It’s likely that it’s his defense and low walk rates (5.4 percent in 2013) that kept the former Auburn slugger from being protected by the Royals, but another club might deem his big bat worthy of a look.

A.J. Schugel, right-handed pitcher, Angels — If you were to look at the back of Schugel’s baseball card, you probably wouldn’t like what you see from his time at Triple-A Salt Lake last season. A 4-6 record. A 7.05 ERA over 19 starts. A .324 batting average-against. That’s not particularly exciting. However, his peripherals look a little better. A 4.49 FIP. 7.66 K/9 (in line with career averages). 3.32 BB/9 (lowest for a full season in his career). And then there’s the .376 BABIP, which might suggest he wasn’t getting much help defensively. Since the college infielder made the move to the mound after being drafted in 2010, Schugel’s shown in flashes that he has dominant stuff, especially on the fastball side. That could be enough for a team to take him, although it’s likely that they’d do so with a relief role in mind.

Schugel

Tommy Kahnle, right-handed pitcher, Yankees — This seems like a cut-and-dry pick here. Known as a high-velocity hurler, Kahnle has been known to rack up strikeouts by the handful. He finished with 74 strikeouts in 60 innings last season — a K/9 rate of 11.1 — to go with a 2.85 ERA for Double-A Trenton. A 6.75 BB/9 — a number that was raised when issued two or more free passes in five of his final six appearances — is cause for concern, but he’s shown the stuff to be more than effective in extended outings of the bullpen. That’s perfect Rule 5 bait.

Seth Blair, right-handed pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals — This might be the definition of a flyer, but hear me out on this one. Like Schugel, Blair’s numbers weren’t all that great in 2013 — 3-9, 5.07 ERA, 18 homers in 129 2/3 innings. That came at Double-A Springfield and followed a year after a tumor in his knuckle caused him to miss most of 2012. All that against him, scouts still seem to like him, and indeed he is currently ranked No. 12 among Cardinals prospects. His fastball is average, but his curveball projects to be a 60 on the 20-80 scale. Command issues were the biggest concern entering this year, and his walk rate dropped from 6.83 BB/9 in 2011 (his last full season) to 3.33 in 2013. The Cardinals would probably prefer that he iron out his other issues in their system, even if they didn’t add him to their 40-man roster. But another organization might be willing to give him a shot (and a new opportunity) as a long reliever/emergency starter.

Seth Blair

Notable Quotables: Thoughts on the Top 100 – 11-20

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

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 11-20 (also see: 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90, 91-100). 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: Though 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.

11. Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers
Castellanos on the transition to playing outfield:

“It’s not like I used to play outfield when I was little — when I played my first game in the outfield for [Double-A] Erie, it was the first time I had ever played in the outfield in my life.

“I took an infield glove with me out there because I didn’t feel comfortable using the big glove. I had never used one before.”

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12. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan on Syndergaard’s development

“He’s really coming along well. I think he’s making a lot of strides. … He’s understanding a lot about pitching and he’s just a tremendous kid, soaks up knowledge and wants to learn. I think he’s done exceptionally well for his age and where he’s coming from. He’s not afraid, he goes right after [hitters, he’s] aggressive on the mound. I think he’s got confidence in himself, and that’s all part of it.”

480 Syndergaard Gordon Donovan Binghamton Mets

13. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Altoona manager Carlos Garcia on welcoming Polanco to Double-A

“Right now, at this point, I just want to sit and watch him play. He has a lot to offer and I want to make sure he feels comfortable, so he’s able to learn in every game. … And I want to make him understand it’s going to be a lot of competition up here, at this level. But I don’t think he cares about that too much, he just enjoys playing.

“We just want to keep him healthy, keep him playing the game the right way, which I don’t think is going to be a problem for him because that’s what he does.”

14. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Bundy’s agent, Jay Franklin, on Bundy’s reaction to having to undergo Tommy John surgery:

“He’s down, you can imagine. … That’s tough on anyone, especially someone with his level of competitiveness. [Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John] Wilckens and Dr. [James] Andrews are very qualified to make that recommendation, and to me it is the right decision.

“The good thing is, because of how young he is, he should be able to heal quickly. … Not many people are in better shape.”

15. Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Memphis manager Pop Warner on his impressions of Wacha:

“Obviously he’s good enough to do it. … He’s just composed, the guy’s just mature beyond his years. This is the first time I saw him. He just carries himself right.

“[He’s] driven, competes really well and obviously he’s pretty polished with his stuff. Combine all that and you’ve got a pretty good player on your hands.”

Wacha

16. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Louisville manager Jim Riggleman on the aspects of Hamilton’s game beyond speed:

“He’s naturally a right-handed hitter, and from that side of the plate, he’s pretty accomplished. … The left-handed swing is more of a work in progress.”

17. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Dayton pitching coach Tony Fossas on Stephenson’s abilities and mentality:

“Robert has all the God-given talent to proceed. … He’s blessed. Now can he put everything to work and maintain his health? Can he maintain his endurance year after year? He’s willing to learn — he’s willing to try things. He does have a little stubbornness, but I like that. He has a great work ethic, and as a person, he’s off the charts.”

18. Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
Russell on adjustments he made in the second half:

“The way I’m playing now is the way I think I should have been playing in the beginning of the year. … It’s a long year, my first year, and it’s just a learning curve. The good thing is that I think I struggled in the beginning and I learned how to come back from it, stay positive. Instead of trying to force it more when it was going bad, sit back, relax and let your ability and talent take over.”

480 Russell Kenny Karst MiLB

19. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
Singleton on making his 2013 debut with Quad Cities after serving his suspension:

“I was pretty anxious. … I actually didn’t get too much sleep, but once I got to the ballpark today, I was calmed down a little bit. Once I got the uniform on, I was ready to go.”

20. Travis d’Arnaud, C, New York Mets
d’Arnaud on his relationship with Syndergaard:

“What can I say about an outing like that? He had an absolutely electric fastball, his curveball was pretty devastating and his changeup — I didn’t even know he had a changeup like that. It just made his fastball look so much quicker and harder. The whole thing was effective.

“I think he threw it eight or 10 times today and used it pretty effectively each time. If he’s having any trouble with it, I couldn’t tell. It works really well with the fastball and the curveball.

“I think the pitcher-catcher relationship is actually one of the most important and most undervalued part of the game. If those two guys get along, you can work at a better pace and really get in that groove.”

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