Sunday, April 1, 2012

Buried Treasure Top 100 Prospects: #41-50

41. Hak-Ju Lee
Position: SS
Team: Tampa Bay Rays

As it looks today, Lee will almost certainly be the best player the Rays received from the Cubs for trading Matt Garza. I doubt they are complaining. An elite, young shortstop might be the most coveted player type in baseball and the Rays seem to have that in Lee. Lee is a trend setter. He was originally signed by the Cubs as a teenager out of South Korea for a fairly large bonus. Now Lee is an elite defensive shortstop with great range and instincts. Offensively, Lee lacks pop but makes up for it with a great hit tool, electric speed on the basepaths, and good plate discipline. For the last several years that the Rays have been competitive, they've seemingly lacked a franchise shortstop. That soon may change, at least if Hak-Ju Lee has anything to say about it.

42. Brett Jackson
Position: CF
Team:  Chicago Cubs

Jackson is similar to a player two spots ahead of him, George Springer. He's got some swing-and-miss in his game and that will hurt his average, but Jackson also offers some solid tools. He's got the speed and athleticism to be an above-average centerfielder and a positive contributor on the basepaths. Jackson's best tool is probably his power as his bat speed and raw strength gives him plenty of pop. Jackson will have to work on plate discipline and even with improvements it may keep him from being a star, but the Cubs centerfielder of the future will be major league ready soon and projects to be an above-average up-the-middle player which has plenty of value.

43. Nick Franklin
Position: SS
Team: Seattle Mariners

Franklin's prospect value is contingent upon whether or not he can stick at shortstop. He's got, the range and athleticism for short, but his arm and instincts leave something to be desired and could play better at second base. Offensively, Franklin has impressive pop, especially for a middle infielder. He's also a switch-hitter with a solid hit tool, although there are scouts who believe Franklin would be better served by just hitting left-handed. The Mariners's prospect has average speed and acceptable plate discipline, so as an overall package, Franklin could be one of the top shortstops in baseball, but that's if he's able to stick at that position defensively.

44. Nick Castellanos
Position: 3B
Team: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers didn't have a first-round pick in 2010, but they managed to land a first-round talent in Nick Castellanos. The Tigers picked the prep shortstop with the 44th overall pick in the supplemental first-round and signed him to a hefty 3.45 million dollar bonus. Castellanos does have some issues chasing breaking balls, but still has produced a good walk rate to go along with an impressive hit tool. As he develops he will have at least average power and could end up with plus pop as a finished product. Add that to good instincts and range and a strong arm, and Castellanos is a well-rounded third base prospect – the Tigers immediately moved him to that position – with all-star upside.

45. Jean Segura
Position: SS
Team:  Los Angeles Angels

Segura has taken an unusual path. Generally prospects start at shortstop, and then either move to third base or second base due to defensive inefficiencies. The Angels middle-infield prospect has done the opposite, moving from second base to shortstop. The move has increased Segura's value significantly. At second base, his bat looked promising but at shortstop it looks potentially elite. Segura's bat speed is elite and should allow him to flirt with .300 as a pro. In addition, he should be able to hit for solid pop, with potential homerun totals in the high teens or more. Segura will never have an elite walk, but at the same time, he does very well in avoiding strikeouts.

46. A.J. Cole
Position: SP
Team: Oakland Athletics

Cole is part of the group of young arms the Oakland Athletics stockpiled via trade over the offseason. Cole was originally drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round in 2010, although he was considered closer to a first round talent. Cole saw his stock shoot up after a very successful first season in 2011 and the Nationals packaged him, Tim Milone, Brad Peacock, and Derek Norris in a trade that brought back Gio Gonzalez in return. Cole's fastball can already touch 98 and generally sits in the mid 90's. That's even more impressive considering the projection left in Cole's 6'4, 180 lbs frame. For his secondaries, Cole has a curveball that flashes plus although it's very inconsistent and a changeup that should end up as a third above-average pitch. Combine that with good athleticism and Cole is an intriguing pitching prospect with top-of-the-rotation upside.

47. Jarred Cosart
Position: SP
Team: Houston Astros

In return for sending Hunter Pence to Philadelphia, the Astros got my #34 prospect Jon Singleton. In addition, they received pitcher Jarred Cosart. Cosart features premium stuff, although he has trouble commanding it at times. Despite a slender frame – 6'3, 180 lbs – Cosart can hit 98 mph with his fastball and generally sits in the 94-96. He also adds a plus curveball with nasty bite and a changeup that flashes plus on occasion. Cosart is athletic, but still has an effort filled delivery. That may contribute to his slight wildness and it also raises questions about his durability, especially when combined with his frame. Those factors make Cosart's ceiling closer to a #2 rather than a true ace, but there is no doubting his electric stuff.

48. Xander Bogaerts
Position: SS
Team: Boston Red Sox

Talk about a breakout. Bogaerts went from relative unknown to top prospect in one season, but that's what happens when a player absolutely rakes. Bogaerts - who played virtually the entire season last year at age 18 - put up a .260/.324/.509. That's a .249 ISO fueled by 16 homeruns and 34 total extra base hits. Defensively, Bogaerts has plus athleticism, but he still will probably have to move off shortstop and to either third base or left-field, two positions that will utilize his strong arm. Last season suggested the Red Sox prospect has massive power potential and that's why he has one of the highest ceilings in baseball.

49. Andrelton Simmons
Position: SS
Team: Atlanta Braves

Simmons is another young prospect that plays shortstop currently. However, the Braves prospect relies on elite defensive tools and should have no trouble staying at short. Simmons has impressive instincts, great range, soft hands, and a cannon – he's hit 98 mph on the mound and some teams liked him more as a pitcher than shortstop – arm. Offensively, Simmons does a good job avoiding strikeouts, but at the same time he also rarely walks. He also has good bat speed and can turn on the occasional fastball, but Simmons projects to only have average power that is more gap-to-gap than over the wall. He also had a horrible time on the basepaths this past year, getting throw out on more than half of his steal attempts. Simmons is raw the plate, but if he can improve and be an average or above-average hitter, his elite defensive skills will make him one of the better shortstops in baseball.

50. Anthony Gose
Position: CF
Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Gose has absolutely incredible tools. Incredibly loud and incredibly sexy, they starts with his arm. As a high school pitcher, Gose was able run his fastball up to 97 mph. If bested by anything, Gose's arm is bested by his athleticism, specifically his speed. It allows Gose to patrol centerfield as an elite defender and makes him a terror on the basepaths as evidenced by his 70 stolen bases in 137 games. Gose also flashes above-average as he manged to his 16 homeruns last year. Right now, Gose does lack a solid hit tool. He's never hit higher than .263 over a full season. That might never improve, but Gose should still be able to manage solid OBP numbers if the walk rate over 10% he managed last year is not a fluke. On the other hand, Gose will have to drastically cut down on his strikeout rate, which is currently a hair under 30% for his career. There was some improvement last year as it dipped to 26.2%, a clear step in the right direction. Because of his tools and athleticism, Gose has a solid floor based on defense. On the flipside, if he puts it together offensively, Gose could be a superstar.

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