Sunday, April 1, 2012
Buried Treasure Top 100 Prospects: #81-90
Team: New York Mets
Familia excites scouts and fans alike with premium stuff and project-ability. His fastball touches 99 mph on occasion and sits comfortably in the mid 90's. The heater also has nice sinking and cutting action to go along with it's plus velocity, making it a lethal pitch. Along with his fastball, Familia throws an average, but inconsistent breaking ball that flashes above-average. The Mets prospect rounds out his arsenal with a raw, fringy changeup that at times displays promising sinking action. At the moment, Familia is more of a thrower than a pitcher. He's raw, especially in the control and command department. In fact, Familia's upside is currently limited to a mid-rotation starter or power reliever if he's unable to refine his command. That said, Familia still does have a bit of time to develop and there's no denying his top-of-the-rotation stuff.
82. Mikie Mahtook
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Conventional wisdom would dictate that Mahtook will end up in a corner outfield position, most likely left field due to an arm that's barely average. However, if Mahtook's able to buck conventional wisdom, and he's got the mentality and work ethic to do just that, the Rays farmhand could be an impact player in the majors. The former LSU standout will probably never be a batting champion, but his short, compact swing and patience at the plate should ensure solid average and OBP numbers. Mahtook also offers well above-average power due to the backspins he's able to generate from his swing. Already an above-average runner, the centerfielder's instincts will help him get even more out of his speed on the basepaths. Ultimately, Mahtook doesn't have any loud, sexy tools, but he is a well-rounded 5-tool player that could one day turn into an underrated star.
83. Brody Colvin
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Injuries hampered Colvin's ability to be effective in 2011 and overall the Phillies pitcher has a poor year. However, when healthy Colvin has a great arsenal that includes three pitches that project to be at least above-average. His fastball has great sinking movement and sits in the mid 90's, peaking as high as 96. A curveball and changeup compliment the fastball and both will probably be above-average offering and it's even possible that Colvin could end up with three plus pitches in his repertoire. As part of his delivery, Colvin throws across his body. That adds deception and movement to his pitches. On the other hand, it also increases Colvin's injury risk and it negatively affects his command. Colvin has #2 starter upside, but his delivery, and the baggage that comes with it, may derail that and instead Colvin could end up in the back-end of a rotation or in the bullpen. That makes Colvin a tantalizing high-risk, high-reward prospect.
84. Jedd Gyorko
Team: San Diego Padres
Speaking of high-risk, high-reward, Gyorko is the opposite of Colvin. The Padres farmhand's upside is limited, mainly due to his athleticism, or lack thereof, and where it forces him defensively. That said, Gyorko is also very safe due to the high floor associated with his bat. Defensively, Gyorko currently mans the hot corner. With his athleticism leaving plenty to be desired, the former West Virginia Mountaineer (shoutout!) relies on a strong arm, a great work ethic, and excellent footwork. He may eventually have to move across the diamond to first base, but Gyroko's bat will play at either position. His swing is short and compact and it allows Gyroko to hit to all fields, demonstrating a plus hit tool. Add in great plate discipline and patience, and Gyroko should post great OBP numbers. In the power department, Gyroko only has average power, which may not make him the prototypical corner bat. That said, Gyroko should be an excellent offensive player and the method by which he produces – his hit tool and patience translating to OBP – makes him as safe as any prospect on this list. That gives him plenty of value, even if he doesn't ooze the tools of the ultra-high upside prospects scouts love to drool over.
85. Oscar Taveres
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Taveres had a fantastic season and that may be an understatement. He posted a ridiculous .386/.444/.584 line over the course of 78 games for the Low-A Cardinals affiliate at the tender age of 19. That production makes Taveres impossible to ignore and it certainly boosted his prospect status and rightfully so. Taveres has phenomenal hand-eye coordination and an ability to barrel a baseball that borders on supernatural. Taveres isn't quick or athletic enough to play center, but he should be a plus defensive right fielder due to above-average range and a solid arm. All that said, Taveres does come with some red flags. His swing is unorthodox and high-effort, which isn't automatically a death knell, but it does raise some concerns. According to some, the Cardinal prospect's swing is so unique and potentially problematic that he would have to be an extreme exception to be successful. Considering how naturally gifted Taveres is, it's quite possible that he will be that exception and his production thus far supports that notion. Taveres certainly has a high ceiling and he could beat high odds and achieve his potential, but there is no denying that Taveres also has a high bust rate that stems from both his swing and from simply being so far away. Balancing those two realities and Taveres is still quite the prospect.
86. Derek Norris
Team: Oakland Athletics
Norris owns a career .249 average in the minor leagues, which rarely translates well to big league success. That said, the Oakland – he was recently traded from Washington to Oakland as part of the deal that made pitcher Gio Gonzalez a National – catching prospect excels in so many other aspects of the game that he's still a top prospect. First, defensively he's a catcher. Currently, Norris is actually a below-average defensive backstop, but he showed tremendous improvement in the receiving, footwork, blocking and game-calling aspects of catching 2011. That improvement, combined with a very strong arm, suggests that Norris could become a defensive asset down the road. At the very least, he should be an average defensive catcher, which in itself is quite valuable. Offensively, Norris has an incredible career OBP of .403 despite his low average. That's an isolated patience of . 154, which speaks to how many walks Norris takes which easily offsets his poor hit tool. He's also is a power threat, slugging 20 homeruns last year in route to a .237 ISO. As an added bonus, Norris is an above-average athlete who's actually a threat on the basepaths. Norris's skill set is certainly unique, but ultimately it makes him an excellent prospect.
87. Luis Heredia
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Heredia's combines an incredible ceiling with a surprising floor, making him an exciting prospect. Heredia, who won't even turn 18 until August, already stood at 6'6 last year and threw a fastball that touched 96 mph and sat in the 92-94 mph range. This spring, reports indicate that Heredia has grown an inch and has hit 98 mph on the radar gun, absolutely incredible velocity for a kid who can't legally buy cigarettes and barely weighs 200 lbs. The Pirates prospect throws three secondary pitches, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider. All three project as plus or better offerings, although the slider currently lags behind the other two offerings. Heredia already repeats his mechanics well which is particularly impressive considering his size and youth. Add in his advanced feel for throwing his non-fastball pitches and Heredia has a much higher floor than your average seventeen year old. That said, Heredia is still seventeen. He pitched in the Gulf Coast League last year and walked more than a batter an inning, displaying his rawness. That rawness can't be understated and Heredia is eons away from making the majors, which limits his prospect value, even in the face of unfathomable ceiling.
88. Justin Nicolino
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Nicolino's fastball is currently only about average. It touches 94, but it sits anywhere from 88-92 mph. Still, Nicolino is 6'3 and only weighs 160 lbs, which suggests he can add plenty of muscle and as a result fastball velocity. While Nicolino's fastball may only be average, his changeup is already an excellent pitch, and should end up as a plus pitch with a chance to be even better than that. Nicolino also commands both pitches well. The Blue Jay prospect has a third pitch, a curveball. It needs plenty of work and only projects as average currently. Nicolino has enough projectability that his ceiling is a #2 starter. His excellent changeup, good command, and advanced pitch-ability also gives him a solid floor. Balancing the two, Nicolino has a good chance to end up as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, making him a valuable prospect.
89. Sammy Solis
Team: Washington Nationals
Solis is the definition of a word that closely resembles his name, solid. He doesn't have a sexy fastball or a lethal curveball, two pitches wow scouts. Instead, Solis has a solid fastball that has good tailing action and sits in the low 90's and he's able to command it well. The Nationals prospect compliments his fastball with a solid curveball that peaks as a plus pitch. Solis's third pitch is a changeup that projects as above-average. Put all that together and Solis projects as a boring, solid #3 starter, which is both a solid floor and a solid ceiling. That might not incite giddiness or any type of intense emotion, but it does provide solid value, making Sammy Solis a solid prospect. Solid.
90. Matt Barnes
Team: Boston Red Sox
Barnes featured pitch is an impressive fastball that touches 97 and sits in the mid 90's. Barnes is able to maintain that velocity deep into games due to an effortless delivery that causes the ball to explode out of his hand when he throws the heater. Barnes also throws a inconsistent curveball that ranges from fringy to plus. The Red Sox prospect also has a changeup that flashes above-average, although it too is inconsistent. Barnes has good control and has no problems throwing strikes, but his command can be spotty and he leaves the ball up in the zone from time to time. Despite the inconsistency of his secondaries, the former Uconn Huskie is a polished pitcher who should be ready soon. Ultimately, Barnes projects as a mid-rotation starter, although he could end up as a #2 if things click.