Blessing’s 2012 Top 50 Prospects Scouted: Prospects 50 Thru 41
Seasons Greetings! It’s prospect list season here at Bullpen Banter. Last week, Al & Jeff debuted our 2013 organizational prospect lists. Our lists are as good as any you’ll find that aren’t hiding behind a pay wall… We’ve seen these players. We’re not a bunch of Google-aided, YouTube-video-stealing prospect writers. We’re in the field gathering our information, not holed up in our cozy home, hundreds of miles away from the closest minor league park, relying on “sources” no one in the business believes we have. With an extensive network of scouts and prospect writers, we’re the best kept secret in the baseball prospect world.
Going through all my boxscores this season, I watched over 450 different players play across three levels of the minor leagues. From guys who are familiar to avid prospect followers like Byron Buxton and Zach Lee, to guys who are just trying to hang on like Brahiam Maldonado and James Adduci. I’ve seen 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.
50. Ethan Martin RHP Phillies – I contributed a brief write up about Ethan Martin when he was traded to the Phillies in the Shane Victorino deal at the trade deadline. I had a scout tell me that the 2012 Ethan Martin that we both saw was very much like the Ethan Martin he scouted in 2008. The only thing that has changed is his improved fastball command and havng a catcher following a game plan. While I list him as a starting pitcher, his major league role is likely a 7th or 8th inning reliever. I just believe his straight, mid 90’s, fastball will play as a reliever over a starter, especially since he is lacking a solid changeup to go with it.
49. Ryan LaMarre CF Reds – I had three occasions to scout Ryan LaMarre this summer and nothing about his offensive game screamed out “major league starting outfielder.” Despite this, his bat can play as a lower division starting center fielder, when his defensive value is factored in. While not a gold glove quality defender, his route running, acceleration, and reactions on contact, combined with an above average throwing arm, would make him a top 10 defender at the position. It’s conceivable, even with his defensive ability, that LaMarre never hits enough to be more than a AAAA player.
48. Niko Goodrum SS Twins – A tall kid, Goodrum moved better in the field than most of the shortstops I saw last summer. While he’s as toolsy as any lower minors shortstop I’ve seen, I have doubts that his bat will ever progress enough to take advantage of those tools. A weak switch hitter, Goodrum struggled mightily to make solid contact, both in batting practice and in game action. A definite project but upside is worth the continued gamble.
47. Clayton Blackburn RHP Giants – A physically mature 19 year old old, Clayton Blackburn has little to no physical projection left. Blackburn put up fantastic 2012 as a command and control type in the South Atlantic league. I see him as a tweener type who should continue to put up solid numbers even as competition bumps up in Double A and Triple A. I don’t think his stuff will improve enough to play in the big leagues. While completely different types of pitchers, his elevated prospect status is reminiscent of former Mets prospect Yusmeiro Petit. Petit, another young pitcher who dominated the lower minors, had about the same amount of physical projection at the same age as Blackburn. Earlier this offseason, I wrote a comprehensive scouting report based on a Clayton Blackburn start.
46. Keury De La Cruz OF Red Sox- If you told me in June that Keury De La Cruz would end up with a .308/.352/.536 slash line, I would have laughed at you. The fourth best position prospect on a weaker-than-normal Greenville Drive team, De La Cruz was like no other prospect I’ve seen before or since. Armed with an unorthodox swing that shouldn’t produce much bat control, De La Cruz flashed a better than average hit tool. I’m afraid reality for De La Cruz will come in a steady diet of breaking balls and change ups as he makes his way through the Red Sox chain.
45. Scooter Gennett 2B Brewers – Recently added to the Brewers 40 man roster, Scooter Gennett is the shortest player featured in my top 50. Turning 23 during the 2013 season, the 5’9’’ second baseman projects as a solid major leaguer at his position. Able to work the count to allow a base stealer a chance to swipe a base, while also being an above average fastball hitter able to take advantage of the protection a big bopper affords in the three hole, Gennett would project as a traditional two-hole hitter. Problem is, Gennett tends to expand his zone with two strikes, attempting to foul off pitches that would be called balls.
44. Humberto Arteaga SS Royals – I had a brief look at the young Royals prospect this summer before he exited the game after being hit by a pitch. While not possessing the tools of the previously mentioned Niko Goodrum, Humberto Arteaga is the better player now and, likely, the better player in the future. A smooth defender with a strong arm, Arteaga has a solid hit tool. If he is able to hit, he’ll be a big league shortstop given his defensive aptitude. He’s still a ways away from the big leagues.
43. Ariel Ovando RF Astros – Of all the prospects I scouted this season, Ariel Ovando is the rawest. A big, strong kid, the potential is there for Ovando to become a superstar. He has the size, the bat speed and power potential to be a real difference maker some day. He also could flame out in the Midwest League next season. Presently, Ovando has a very long swing. He strikes out way too much for an Appalachian League hitter. His .287/.350/.444 line could easily be slashed by 30% if adjustments aren’t made to his swing.
42. Christian Bethancourt C Braves – I shouldn’t have had the opportunity to scout Christian Bethancourt this season. Why? He had no business being in the Southern League. I have voiced my displeasure at the Braves’ aggressive development strategy with this kid before. Christian Bethancourt should have never been promoted out of Rome in 2011. With his much publicized throwing tool from behind the plate, Bethancourt also has some potential at the plate. However, it’s hard for a player to work on his craft when the competition is much more seasoned than he is. The kid is an overly aggressive out waiting to happen. With a more conservative approach towards the kid, he could develop into a nice hitter given his power potential and his ability to make consistent contact.
41. Rio Ruiz 3B Astros – A 4th round steal for the Astros in the 2012 draft, Ruiz works a count better than anyone I’ve seen right out of high school. In fact, during one game that I saw, he was victimized by bad umpiring for having a more advanced strike zone than the rookie ump. When batting practice is rained out, and a kid is as patient as Ruiz, you’re only given one or two swings with which to form opinions about the type of player Ruiz could be. Those couple of swings showed me enough to rank him ahead of his helium watch teammate Ariel Ovando. Also, Ruiz has above average range and is a slick fielder at his position.