Sunday, April 1, 2012
Buried Treasure Top 100 Prospects: #21-30
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Archie Bradley can bring the heat. As a high schooler, his fastball was often clocked in the triple digits. Bradley adds a hammer curveball that is already a plus pitch. Bradley rounds out his arsenal with a changeup that will need work, but should improve. The Oklahoma high school product – which means Bradley was only the second best prep pitcher from the Sooner State in 2011; that honor would go to Dylan Bundy – also has an impressive 6'4, 225 lbs frame, a clean delivery, and good athleticism. The sky is the limit for Bradley.
22. Zack Wheeler
Team: New York Mets
It's clear a prospect is well-regarded when he is the only player traded for one of the best trade chips on the market in a given season. That's exactly what happened in Wheeler's case when he was traded from the Giants to the Mets in a one-for-one exchange for outfielder Carlos Beltran. The Giants first round pick (6th overall) in 2009 oozes potential. Wheeler's arsenal is headlined by a fastball and curveball that both gain plus grades and have a chance to be even better. In addition, his frame (6'4, 185) and loose, clean delivery offer plenty of projection. All together, Wheeler offers top of the rotation upside and he took a big step last year in realizing it. Ultimately, that helped vault him up prospect lists.
23. Christian Yelich
Team: Miami Marlins
Yelich doesn't have the elite athleticism or light-tower power that make people fall in love. In fact, Yelich doesn't really have a single stand-out tool. What Yelich does have is an impressive well-rounded game that is amplified by his work ethic and intelligence. On top of that, Yelich increased his value dramatically by his performance this year that suggested he may be able to stick in centerfield. For a comparison, think a young Nick Markakis who can play centerfield. Yelich may be able to add a bit more power as well. That's quite impressive.
24. Drew Pomeranz
Team: Colorado Rockies
When he was drafted 5th overall in 2010 by the Indians, Pomeranz's strength wasn't an elite ceiling. Instead, Pomeranz was considered polished and safe, with a high floor that made him worthy of a top 10 selection. Thus far, he's proved his worth. Traded to the Rockies as part of the Ubaldo Jiminez deal, Pomeranz shot through the minors in 2011, starting in A+ ball and finishing the year playing for the Rockies during a September call-up. In college, Pomeranz had a solid arsenal consisting of an above-average fastball with great movement, a plus curveball, and an above-average changeup. On the flipside, Pomeranz's control was less than stellar. It's improved as a pro and now it looks like there is a very good chance Pomeranz could be a #2 starter. If not a #2, Pomeranz will almost certainly end up as a mid-rotation starter – a #3 or #4 – and that gives the Rockie prospect plenty of value.
25 Francisco Lindor
Extraordinarily young, Lindor won't turn 19 until this coming November. That means that all signs point to Lindor playing the entire season at Low-A ball while still only 18 years of age. Lindor's quite the athlete and should have no problem sticking at shortstop thanks to soft hands, great quickness, and a strong arm. Offensively, Lindor will never be a masher, but he should have a plus hit tool, average pop, and the ability to take a walk and steal a base when he's a finished product. That adds up to an plus defensive shortstop with an above-average or better offensive game, which is enough that Lindor rounds out my top 25.
26. Miguel Sano
Team: Minnesota Twins
Back in 2009, Miguel Angel Sano was the most coveted 16 year-old on the international free agent market. The Twins coughed up 3.15 million dollars to sign him and thus far, it's looked like a worthwhile investment. Originally a shortstop at age 16, Sano has already outgrown that position and is now a third baseman. That's perfectly fine because Sano's calling card is his bat, particularly his raw power. In fact, next to Bryce Harper, most pundits agree that Sano has the best raw power in the minor leagues. The twins prospect does have some swing-and-miss in his game, but he has a solid chance of sticking at third base and has the power to hit 40 homeruns one day.
27. Bubba Starling
Team: Kansas City Royals
7.5 million dollars convinced Starling he didn't need to play quarterback for the Nebraska Huskers. That speaks to how incredible of an athlete the new Royal prospect is. Starling is the prototypical five tool prep player that makes scouts drool. He's got plenty of speed to coverage huge amounts of ground in centerfield and an above-average, accurate arm. At the plate, Starling is raw and chases breaking balls at times, but he's got the bat speed to hit for a good average down the road. In addition, Starling has plus raw power. Just drafted as a high school player, Starling is years away from the majors and his bust rate is high, but so his mammoth ceiling.
28. Carlos Martinez
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Red Sox fans must be furious. Martinez had a deal with the Red Sox that was voided and the Cardinals became the beneficiaries. Martinez throws absolute fire, hitting 100-mph with ease with his electric fastball. Martinez also has a nasty curveball with a sharp bite that sometimes loses it's shape and that he sometimes has trouble controlling. The Cardinals pitcher also throws a sinker that flashes solid movement. At this point, Martinez is more of a thrower than a pitcher. He also may be destined for the bullpen, but there is no denying his electric arm that gives him plenty of potential.
29. Jarrod Parker
Team: Oakland Athletics
Say hello to a survivor of Tommy John surgery. In fact, Parker is actually thriving after missing the entire 2010 season due to his elbow injury. Parker, who was the main piece in the deal that sent Trevor Cahill from Oakland to Arizona, can run his 4-seam fastball up to the 96-97 mph range. However, it's his 2-seam rather than his 4-seam fastball that's his best pitch. It sits in the low 90's with nasty movement, but run and sink, that makes it a huge weapon, especially in producing groundballs. In fact, Parker maintained a 2.60 GB/FB ratio last year while pitching as a 22 year old in AA. Parker rounds out his arsenal with a slider, changeup and curveball. The curve is a show-me pitch, but the slider and changeup are both above-average to plus pitches that are able to generate swings and misses. Parker, who will be starting his age 23 year, could see time in the major league rotation, so he'll be ready sooner rather than later.
30. Yonder Alonso
Team: San Diego Padres
Critics of Alonso will point out he doesn't have prototypical power for a firstbase man. While that may be true, Alonso makes up for that with a myriad of other skills. Speaking of first base, that is where Alonso will have to end up despite Cincinnati's experiment of putting Alonso in left field. The new Padre – he was traded to San Diego as part of the Mat Latos deal – has an excellent hit tool. In addition, Alonso has really good plate discipline that should allow him to make up for his lack of power by getting on base at an elite rate. Speaking of power, Alonso may never hit more than 25 homeruns in a season, but he'll consistently hit in the high teens with plenty of extra base hits. Ultimately that doesn't add up to the highest ceiling, but conversely Alonso might be the safest player on this list.