Sunday, April 1, 2012

Buried Treasure Top 100 Prospects: #51-60

51. Chad Bettis
Position: SP
Team: Colorado Rockies

Bettis flashes premium stuff, highlighted by a fastball that sits in the mid 90's and touches 98 mph. The Rockies prospect is able to keep that velocity late into games, which portends that he could be a good starter. On the other hand, a lack of a good third pitch – Bettis does have a plus slider as a second pitch – suggests that he will have to be reliever instead. Currently, Bettis is working on developing either a curveball or changeup. Both pitches are currently below-average and the changeup lags behind the curveball, but if Bettis is able to harness a solid third or even fourth pitch, he profiles as a workhorse #2 starter. If that doesn't happen, he could be on the fast track to a closer role instead. Both would be solid outcomes for Bettis.

52. Tyrell Jenkins
Position: SP
Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Jenkins is an incredible athlete who could be playing D-I football right now for Baylor University. Instead, he's part of an impressive group of pitching prospects the Cardinals have assembled recently. Jenkins has a loose, clean delivery that does have some raw spots in it. That delivery can already produce a fastball that reaches 96 mph, although the heater generally sits in the 91-93 range. For his second pitch, Jenkins has recently abandoned a fringy slider for a 12-6 curveball that flashes a tight spin. The Cardinals prospect also has a developing changeup that will need plenty of work. Combine Jenkins athleticism with his 6'4, 180 lb frame and he just oozes projectability that could one day translate into a top-of-the-rotation starter.

53. Garrett Richards
Position: SP
Team: Los Angeles Angels

If Jenkins is the north pole, then Richards is the south pole. A college pitcher drafted out of Oklahoma by the Angels, Richards is already pretty filled out at 6'3, 215 lbs. His arensel features a 2-seamer that sits 94-95 with tons of sinking action and a 4-seamer that can hit 99. Richards rounds out his pitching repertoire with a slider with power tilt that flashes plus and a changeup that also shows good movement. Richards is already close to major league ready. He actually got three starts for the big-league club and should be in Los Angeles for good sooner rather than later, where he projects as a #2 or #3 workhorse starter.

54. Yasmani Grandal
Position: C
Team: San Diego Padres

With Mesoraco primed to take over the starting spot behind the plate for the Reds for the next several years, Cincinnati was able to pull the trigger and deal Grandal as part of the package that brought back Mat Latos in return. Now a Padre, Grandal is a solid catcher both offensively and defensively. Defensively, he's got an above-average arm and is a solid receiver despite some problems with passed balls. With a bat in his hands, Grandal brings a good approach to the plate that has resulted in solid walk and strikeout numbers throughout his career. In addition, the Padres catching prospect has put up numbers indicative of a strong hit tool – he's hit .286 and .305 in his two pro seasons – and good power – his ISO was .195 last year.

55. Manny Banuelos
Position: SP
Team: New York Yankees

Banuelos has nasty stuff, especially coming from a lefty. The Yankees top pitching prospect can throw three plus pitches when he's on. First, he throws a heater that comes in at 96. However, at times Banuelos can only bring it at 89-90 mph. His curveball is a power breaker with sharp bite that comes in at 80 mph. His changeup flashes good fade. Right now, Banuelos is more a thrower than a pitcher. Specifically, he has trouble commanding his pitches, with issues locating the fastball standing out in particular. Those issues keep Banuelos lower down on this list, but he definitely has the stuff to be a #2 starter or even a borderline ace.

56. Gary Brown
Position: CF
Team: San Francisco Giants

With a bat in his hands, Brown does something unusual. He chokes up a good bit on the bat and it suggests that Brown is nothing more than a slap hitter. That's an incorrect description of the Giants prospect however. He has explosive wrists and great bat speed which results in surprising pull power and good gap-to-gap power all around the diamond. However, much more important than Brown's power is his ability to make solid contact and get on base where he is able to wreck havoc with his true 80 speed. Brown's speed also helps him in the field as he's a plus-plus defensive centerfielder with an above-average and very accurate arm. Overall, Brown may never have enough power to even be an average offensive threat at the plate, but he should be plenty valuable through stealing bases and with a glove in his hand.

57. Michael Choice
Position: OF
Team: Oakland Athletics

Choice has a couple of positives going for him including solid athleticism and speed. However, Choice's primary calling card is his prodigious power. In fact, last year Choice hit a total of 36 homeruns. Perhaps more importantly he greatly cut down on his strikeout rate and maintained an impressive walk rate. Choice still has an elaborate swing with plenty of moving parts and that will prevent him from ever being an elite contact hitter, but if his athleticism allows him to stick at centerfielder like the Athletics hope, Choice will have incredible power for an up-the-middle defender. Even if that doesn't happen, Choice has well above-average power potential for a corner outfielder.

58. Wilin Rosario
Position: C
Team: Colorado Rockies

Rosario is a fairly well-rounded catcher, although his exceptional arm and plus raw power stand out as his best tools. Add a good pop time and a quick release and Rosario is excellent at shutting down the running game. Rosario also only has average lateral quickness, but solid instincts allow him to still be a solid receiver. Offensively, Rosario has a short, compact swing that produces good power, but he's is also impatient and is susceptible to breaking balls which has lead to low OBP numbers. Still, Rosario shows plenty of potential as a plus defensive catcher with plus power to mitigate his troubles getting on base.

59. Rymer Liriano
Position: CF
Team: San Diego Padres

Liriano has one of the best tool packages in all of baseball. Recently, Liriano has translated those tools in results as indicated by his .319/.383/.499 line last year in the Midwest League while playing for Padres affiliate Fort Wayne. Those numbers occurred over 116 games and over that same span Liriano stole 65 bases, demonstrating his lightning speed. As he fills out, Liriano will probably lose a step. Considering his range doesn't currently play up to his speed, the Padres farmhand will most likely end up in right field where he should be able to utilize his strong arm. Power also won't be an issue in right-field as last year Liriano hit 12 homeruns and had a total of 50 extra base hits resulting in a .180 ISO he If Liriano can continue to translate his incredible tools into impressive results, he could end up as one of the best right-fielders in baseball.

60. Jake Marisnick
Position: CF
Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Another young, toolsy outfielder, Marisnick enjoyed a breakout season last year for Blue Jays affiliate Lansing. There he posted a .320/.392/.496 line. He also managed to steal 37 bases while only getting caught 8 times in a total of 118 games. During that same span, Marisnick smacked 14 homeruns and a total of 47 extra base hits that statistically equaled a .176 ISO. The Blue Jays farm hand also displayed solid plate discipline with a 17.4% K rate and 8.2% BB rate, both respectable numbers. Defensively, Marisnick has above-average speed and solid instincts that translates to plus range. Marisnick also has an above-average arm to round out the 5-tool package. It's those tools, along with a good work ethic, great instincts, and solid plate discipline that give Marisnick a mammoth ceiling, although that's still years away.

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