Blessing’s 2012 Top 50 Prospects Scouted: Prospects 40 Thru 31
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.
40. Logan Verrett RHP Mets – In an organization that touts pitching prospects such as Zack Wheeler, Michael Fulmer, Rafael Montero and Domingo Tapia, a guy like Logan Verrett can get lost in the shuffle. While not doing anything particularly good, Verrett has three pitches that could potentially play in the big leagues. Older and harder throwing than Giants prospect Clayton Blackburn (47), Verrett gets the nod as the better overall prospect due to the greater likelihood he can break into a major league rotation someday. His floor is also higher, bottoming out as a Major League middle reliever. He should start 2013 in the Double A Binghamton Mets rotation. For more, check out my scouting report on Verrett from last spring.
39. Blake Swihart C Red Sox – An underwhelming prospect compared to what I read on the internet, the switch hitting Swihart left me with a feeling of total “averageness.” In game action, I saw a kid who had no real strengths or weaknesses. Although on defense, he sometimes failed to keep his body squared on the ball and was forced to reach across to make a backhanded stop. His hitting mechanics were as consistent as any switch hitter I’ve seen in the Sally. If he did not play catcher, he would have ranked lower on the list. He’ll likely start 2013 in High A Salem.
38. Patrick Leonard 3B Rays – A strong kid, I wasn’t privileged enough to see any of his power on display when I scouted him in mid August. I saw a kid that handled third base admirably and should be able to stick there as he moves up the chain. He was one of the few power hitters on the Burlington Royals that didn’t have either a huge hole or gap in his swing. The only player in the bottom 25 of my top 50 who maintained the same ranking in each draft. He’ll likely start 2013 as a member of the Bowling Green Hot Rods (High A)
37. Jorge Polanco 2B Twins – A switch hitting second baseman, Polanco will likely gain reps at third and short as he makes his way through the organization. He had a fantastic 2012 for Elizabethton and is poised to make the transition to full-season ball. He is one of the few switch hitters in the lower levels that is equally as strong from both sides of the plate. Despite only six stolen bases, Polanco has good foot speed. I clocked him a shade over four seconds from home to first. A good defender, Polanco is a helium watch candidate. Polanco will likely start 2013 as a member of the Cedar Rapids Kernals (Full Season A Ball)
36. Jose Vinicio SS Red Sox – At first sight, Vinicio looks like he’s a strong wind away from being knocked down. Imagine my amazement when Vinicio sat on a first pitch fastball and deposited the ball over the right field berm in Rome. A good hitter from the left side of the plate with quick hands and a compact swing, the switch hitting Vinicio appears almost mechanical from the right side of the plate. In a year of strong, defensive shortstops, Vinicio was one of the top 3 that I saw. He also has a good speed tool; however, he shows little baserunning aptitude when trying to swipe bags. Like Swihart, Vinicio will start 2013 as a member of the High A Salem Red Sox.
35. Chris Reed LHP Dodgers – I liked Chris Reed much more after my first look at him, early in the summer. By the end of the summer, I failed to see much promise of Reed becoming an effective starter. Most of his time spent in Chattanooga was in search of consistency with his slider. While a nice pitch, I don’t believe his fastball/slider combo can work from the rotation. Likely, Chris Reed is a future late inning reliever. If he can consistently command his two-plane slider, he could be trusted to be a lower division closer. Chris Reed is likely set for a return engagement to Class AA Chattanooga in 2013. For more on Reed from my first trip to see him, click on this link.
34. Alex Wood LHP Braves – The first of two Braves pitching prospects that make my list, Alex Wood is was a little more than I thought he’d be. Coming into the draft, I had heard some talk about him having only reliever upside. While I do believe his upside is fairly limited as a starter, I ranked him here because there is something about his mechanics, if he were ever to throw a consistent change up, he could become a front end starting pitcher. His fastball sat in the low 90s and he featured a slurve that was going through a bit of an identity issue. He’s a pitcher that I felt I didn’t get the best read on and had hoped to catch a second start of his later in the season. Unfortunately, his turn in the rotation always coincided with conflicts for me, usually a better splattering of prospects at another stadium in the region. Wood should start 2013 with the Braves High A affiliate in Lynchburg.
33. Matt Magill RHP Dodgers – On a pitching staff that at times featured five former first-round picks, including Allen Webster and Nathan Eovaldi, 31st round 2008 draft pick Matt Magill was able to make a significant impression on me. I scouted him five times this season, watching a kid find himself while striking out the Southern League. Early on, he mixed an average fastball with an above average slider that proved to be a true out pitch. As the season moved on, his changeup became a viable weapon. While not destined to be a top flight starter or a strikeout pitcher in the majors, Magill is likely set for a career as a 3rd-4th starter type. For 2013, Magill will start for Triple A Albuquerque as he inches himself ever so closer to the big leagues. For a complete scouting report, click this link.
32. Gavin Cecchini SS Mets – The first of two Cecchini’s in my top 50, Gavin, a 2012 first round draft pick of the Mets, is a high floored, teenage shortstop prospect. With advanced hitting skills and a very quick, line drive swing, I saw a player that could potentially be a solid major league hitter. His upside isn’t what you’d expect out of a top 15 draft pick though. Nothing about Gavin screams future major league all star but nothing screams future high draft pick bust. I wouldn’t be shocked if Cecchini starts 2013 in Class A Savannah but it’s more likely he’ll make his 2013 debut with Short Season Brooklyn.
31. Stefen Romero 2B Mariners – Listed as a second baseman because of his defensive limitations, his future is as a corner infield type, likely a first baseman for the Mariners. A baseball contact of mine’s at-first-sight comp for Romero was a lesser Dan Uggla type, due to his size and the force of his swing. It was a comp I felt was fairly accurate. Remembering the prospect I saw in 2005 as a member of the Peoria Javelinas, Dan Uggla had a whole lot more bat speed and pop but made much less contact than the Romero I saw this season. Coincidentally, Romero played for the Peoria Javelinas this season during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. I believe, overall, Romero is a future big league regular. I think it’s reasonable to expect a .290/.350/.490 line during his prime. Romero is primed for his debut in Triple A with Tacoma of the PCL.
Bonus Prospect. Chandler Lawson, AKA Miss Tennessee 2012 – Despite poor pitching mechanics, Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson showcased a strong pitching arm while throwing out the first pitch before a July Chattanooga Lookouts game. With a combination of beauty and shiny, dangling earrings, she could have neutralized the first hitter of the game, Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, had she been left in to pitch. She also showed off some versatility by being the only first pitch participant I scouted this year that pulled double duty by also singing the Star Spangled Spectacular, which was fantastic. Ms. Lawson is a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. A fine institution that sadly lacks a division 1 baseball program, which I fully blame for Ms. Lawson’s poor throwing mechanics. Ms. Lawson will start 2013 competing for the Miss America title. I project that she will win!