Blessing’s 2012 Top 50 Prospects Scouted: Prospects 30 Thru 21
Going through all my boxscores this season, I watched over 450 different players play across three levels of the minor leagues. I’ve seen guys who are familiar to casual prospect follower, like Byron Buxton and Zach Lee, to guys who are just trying to hang on like Brahiam Maldonado and James Adduci. I’ve seen some good baseball. And I’ve seen some bad baseball. This series of articles is about some of the good I’ve seen this year; the Top 50 Prospects Scouted during the 2012 season.
30. Didi Gregorius SS DBacks – I covered more shortstops this season than any other position. In many respects, this year was the “Year Of The Shortstop” for me. While some shortstops flashed the ability to play the position in the big leagues, only one player that I scouted could play that role on a big league club right now. And that man is Didi Gregorius. Offensively, Gregorius isn’t very special. Holes, and the length in his swing, suggest he’ll likely bat lower in the order than any of the other shortstop prospects featured in this list. It’s likely that Gregorius starts 2013 as the Diamondbacks starting shortstop. For a complete scouting report on Gregorius, click on this link.
29. Onelki Garcia LHP Dodgers – Onelki Garcia was a pleasant surprise for me during the Southern League Playoffs. The 2012 draft pick made his Double A debut in dominating fashion, striking out 7 in three innings of work. Sitting in the lower 90s with his fastball, Garcia proved tough to hit. Facing a good Jackson Generals ballclub, he overpowered hitters such as Mike Zunino, Brad Miller and Stefen Romero with sneaky-quick fastballs and a plus slider. Of all the prospects I’ll get to see again this year, Garcia is the one I’m most excited about. He should start 2013 as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts (Double A).
28. Aderlin Rodriguez 3B Mets – If I did another draft of this ranking, Rodriguez probably falls a few spots. He would probably drop below fellow Mets prospect Gavin Cecchini. My opinion didn’t change regarding Rodriguez, I just like the players below him a little more. I’ve scouted Rodriguez for a third straight season and I am still impressed with his power potential. I expect that once he makes it out of the Florida State League his home run total will significantly increase. My biggest problem with him is the amount of contact he’ll make as he settles into the upper minors. While he showcases average contact skills for his age and level, he struggles to identify breaking balls that fall out of the zone. I have seen little improvement with his pitch recognition skills in the three seasons covering him. He’s likely to start 2012 in High-A St Lucie.
27. JR Graham RHP Braves – One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 minor league season here in the Southeast was the rise of Braves Prospect JR Graham. For every heralded pitching prospect the Braves seem to find, a guy like JR Graham comes out of nowhere to share in the spotlight. While I’m not sold on Graham’s ability to be a starter in the big leagues, I believe he’s the second best relief prospect on this list, behind Mariners prospect Carter Capps. The Braves will give Graham every chance to find a consistent change up to go with his refined fastball and slider. Look for Graham to start 2013 in Triple-A Gwinnett, with a good chance of a late season promotion to the big league club. To Read a complete scouting report on Graham, click here.
26. Travis Harrison 3B Twins – Going into my trip this year to the Appalachian League, Travis Harrison was a guy I viewed as a bonus get. The big prizes for me were more recent draft picks like Byron Buxton, Gavin Cecchini, Carlos Correa & Lance McCullers. I came away impressed with the Twins young third baseman’s ability to make contact and hit line drives. I believe the power will come for the young third baseman. The defense at third was very smooth for a lower minors prospect. I expect Harrison to move up to Class A Cedar Rapids to start 2013.
25. Garin Cecchini 3B Red Sox – Prospects 21 through 33 were rather difficult for me to rank. With each draft, the picture became much clearer. Well, for everyone else but Garin Cecchini. While I like Cecchini’s bat a lot, my enthusiasm is tempered by two things. His position limits him and his inability to dominate a league in which he was an older prospect raises questions. Most top prospects drafted out of high school have passed the Sally League before their 21st birthday. The ones that haven’t dominate the league. I would like Cecchini much more if he played short or second. While I think he has the makings of an above average defender at third, I don’t get the feeling that he would easily adapt to second base, being a bit limited by a lack of range. 2013 is a huge season for Cecchini’s prospect status. Look for him to start 2013 in High A Salem, which hopefully I get to visit for the first time this season. To read my scouting report on Cecchini, please click here.
24. Carter Capps RHP Mariners – My glimpse at Carter Capps consisted of only four batters. The velocity and the command of his fastball was impressive, especially when you take into account his unorthodox delivery. His 3/4 arm angle creates pure havoc for right handed hitters. A three pitch reliever, Capps features a plus fastball, a good slider and an above average changeup. I would be disappointed if Capps doesn’t become a dominant late-inning reliever. Capps will start 2013 in the Mariners bullpen.
23. Zach Lee RHP Dodgers – Some scouting publications viewed Zach Lee as a top 50 prospect as late as mid-season 2013. Those observations went against much of what I heard from contacts in the California league. The stuff just wasn’t there. In fact, Bullpen Banter had toyed around with a roundtable that I can probably be blamed for not pushing forward with. I scouted two of Lee’s games; one, a total annihilation of Lee, and the other, a solidly pitched performance. My impression is a ceiling of a number 3 starter. I just can’t rationalize his top-flight potential. To me, he’s a sinker ball pitcher who doesn’t miss bats. The revered slider I had heard all about is non-existent. He’s still young and I’m sure I’ll see much more on him in 2013, as a member of the Double A Chattanooga Lookouts.
22. Allen Webster RHP Red Sox – Allen Webster has been as inconsistent as they come since I first scouted him in August of 2011. After five games scouted, the potential is there for four quality pitches. Unfortunately, Webster is incredibly frustrating to project because of his inconsistency and his lack of stamina. If I’m the Red Sox, the first thing I try to establish is a consistent fastball while also working on his strength and fitness regime. All attempts must be made to keep this kid a starting pitcher. I personally would start Webster in Double A Pawtucket in 2013. To read a more in depth article on Webster, click here.
21. Joc Pederson OF Dodgers – Prior to Pederson’s arrival for the Southern League playoffs, the Lookouts have not had a significant hitting prospect come through Chattanooga in almost two seasons. Relaxed at the plate, Pederson features an above-average hit tool and a swing primed for hitting line drives. Add some above average wheels to his hitting ability and the Dodgers have a pretty good offensive prospect. Defensively, he lacks fluidness, instincts, and proper route running in centerfield. Likely to be a corner outfielder in the majors, the one throw I saw was fairly poor. Here is a scouting report I did on Pederson earlier this offseason. Pederson likely returns to Double-A Chattanooga for 2013. For a complete scouting report, click here.