Sunday, April 1, 2012

Buried Treasure Top 100 Prospects: #61-70

61. Zach Lee
Position: SP
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

When the Dodgers selected Zach Lee in the first round in 2010, it was seen as a ploy. The Dodgers were in financial trouble and Lee had a huge asking price, leading many to believe they had no intent to sign Lee in an attempt to save money. However, those critics were silenced as Lee signed a contract that included a 5.25 million dollar bonus. Luckily for the Dodgers, they were able to spread that bonus over a five year period because of Lee's two-sport background. That also speaks to Lee's athleticism. The Dodger pitcher was recruited to play quarterback at LSU along with baseball. On the mound, Lee features a fastball that can touch as high as 98 when he reaches back for more. Generally it sits in the low 90's. Lee also has an exceptional cutter and three pitches that need development in a curveball, slider, and changeup. Combine that with a projectable frame, a loose, athletic delivery, and impressive command, and Lee is an exciting pitching prospect.

62. Drew Hutchison
Position: SP
Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Hutchison will never put up elite radar gun numbers, but that doesn't mean he lacks in the “stuff” department. His fastball sits in the mid 90's but he can cut it or sink it and commands both pitches well. Hutchison's also has a great changeup and a slider that is a swing-and-miss pitch when it stays tight. The Blue Jays pitcher commands both pitches well in addition to his fastballs. Add pitch-ability, specifically how to mix-up pitches, to Hutchison's solid stuff and excellent command and the end result is a pitcher with #2 starter upside and a solid floor to back that up.

63. Wily Peralta
Position: SP
Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Peralta has explosive stuff, highlighted by a 4-seamer that can touch 98 mph, a 2-seamer that jams right handers, and a slider with sharp bite. Peralta does well to keep his fastball down in the zone, although he still struggles at times to locate some of his pitches, especially his secondary offerings. Those struggles, along with Peralta's general rawness as a pitcher led to the belief that the Brewers pitcher has a future as a set-up man or closer. Recent strides by Peralta to refine his command and learn how to pitch have assuaged any fears about a move to a bullpen and now talk centers around Peralta's #2 starter upside.

64. Mason Williams
Position: CF
Team: New York Yankees

Williams has a small frame – he's only 6'0 and currently weighs 150 lbs – but electric speed comes with that frame. It rates as an 80 on a 20-80 scale and allows Williams to steal plenty of bases and play gold-glove centerfield defense. In both areas, Williams needs to add polish to fully utilize his speed and athleticism. At the plate, Williams has good bat speed, although his swing plane gets choppy at times. In the future, that swing should allow Williams to have an above-average hit tool and average power. Combine that with speed on the basepaths and solid plate discipline and Williams should be a solid leadoff hitter with great defense in centerfielder.

65. Nestor Molina
Position: SP
Team: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox got Molina in a one-for-one swap for closer Sergio Santos. Molina, a converted third baseman, throws a fastball that only sits in the low 90's and sometimes dips into 80's. What Molina's fastball lacks in velocity it makes up for in movement, specifically sink. That movement, along with Molina's impeccable command has led to elite groundball and walk rates throughout his time in the minors. Molina also has a good curveball, a splitter that flashes hard tumble, and a straight changeup that needs works. Similar to his fastball, the White Sox prospect is able to command his secondary pitches very well. Ultimately, Molina will never amaze anyone with his raw stuff or velocity. Instead, he will produce great results with his pitch-ability and command, giving Molina a ceiling of a #2 starter.

66. Robbie Erlin
Position: SP
Team: San Diego Padres

Erlin is similar to Molina as both rely on their ability to locate their pitches rather than pure velocity or movement. Erlin's fastball sits in the low 90's and can touch 94 on occasion. He complements his heater with a changeup with nasty fade that he's able to command well. The pitch is a true swing-and-miss weapon. The Padres farmhand – he came over from Texas when the Rangers acquired Mike Adams – also has an excellent curveball that sits in the low 70's. Knocks against Erlin include his inability to post elite strikeout numbers and his penchant to give up flyballs that often turn into homeruns. Still, Erlin's secondary stuff and elite command give him a very safe floor, even if his ceiling is only that of middle-of-the-rotation starter.

67. Leonys Martin
Position: CF
Team: Texas Rangers

Martin is a solid offensive player with a good hit tool and gap-to-gap power produced by lighting-quick bat speed. Generally Martin has good plate discipline, but his swing can get long at times leaving him susceptible to breaking balls and subsequently strikeouts. In the field, Martin has above-average speed that plays up because of his impressive instincts. The Rangers farmhand - a former defector from Cuba and Yoenis Cespedes's backup on the national team - also features a plus-plus arm that improves his defensive profile even more. Martin will be ready sooner rather than later, although he profiles as more of a solid regular than a star at the next level.

68. Cory Spangenberg
Position: 2B
Team: San Diego Padres

Spangenberg relies on two main tools, his hit tool and speed. His ability to make contact could mean a future .300 hitter and his 70 speed supports that notion. It should also allow him to be a weapon on the basepaths. In the power department, Spangenberg projects to only have gap-to-gap pop and he may struggle to reach double-digit homeruns from year to year. Defensively, the Padres farmhand has been moved to second base where his athleticism should allow him to be an above-average at that position. Due to his speed, Spangenberg may also be able to play centerfield. Overall, Spangenberg projects as an above-average, early in the lineup hitter and an average or better defensive second baseman.

69. Keyvius Sampson
Position: SP
Team: San Diego Padres

Sampson is smaller than the prototypical starting pitcher. He only stands 6'0, although he weighs a solid 185 lbs. Despite his smaller stature, the Padres pitcher still throws an explosive fastball. His heater touches the mid 90's and sits in the low 90's, but the pitch is lethal largely due to the late running action it possesses. Sampson is able to compliment his fastball with a plus changeup. The pitch has solid fade but it's true strength lies in its deception; Sampson's has virtually the same arm speed for his fastball and changeup. Sampson's third pitch, a curveball, is well behind his other two offerings right now. However, Sampson's athleticism allows him to repeat his mechanics well, which suggest that he will be able to improve the curveball and refine his command. If Sampson is able to do that, he could be a strong mid-rotation starter. If that doesn't happen, elite late-inning reliever is a viable fallback option.

70. Cheslor Cuthbert
Position: 3B
Team: Kansas City Royals

Unlike most international signees from Latin America, Cuthbert is lauded not for his physicality or potential due to tools, but rather his polish. His swing is a thing of beauty mainly due to it's simplicity. Paired with an excellent approach, natural strength, and impressive hand-eye coordination, and Cuthbert projects to have a plus hit tool and plus power down the road. Cuthbert is a well-below average runner and the chances of him sticking at third base defensively are slim. That will knock his value a bit, but his bat projects enough to play at any position, even if that's at first base.

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