Monday, February 8, 2016

From the Prospect Handbook: Raw numbers

The annual Baseball America Prospect Handbook showed up in my mailbox this weekend, and I figure to wring a few posts out of it.

BA ranks the Top 30 prospects for each organization in the book; buyers who order it directly from Baseball America get an additional pamphlet listing Prospect No. 31 for each team. (The Twins list was compiled by Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, a former BA writer himself.)

Of the 31, I have seen 14 play in person, mostly at Cedar Rapids but one at the Futures Game:
Bryon Buxton (1); Jose Berrios (2); Max Kepler (3); Nick Gordon (4); Jorge Polanco (6); Kohl Stewart (8); Nick Burdi (10); Alex Meyer (12); Adam Brett Walker (17); Jake Reed (20); Randy Rosario (22); Yorman Landa (23); Felix Jorge (24); Ryan Eades (31). I've also watched Stephen Gonsalves (9) and Mason Melotakis (28) throw in spring training, and Engelb Velma (18) take infield instruction from Tom Kelly on a Fort Myers back field. Most of the rest have been in the very lowest levels of the system or, in one case, playing in Korea.

Of the 31, 18 are pitchers; of the 18, six are left handed. Three of those southpaws -- Taylor Rogers (14), Rosario and Melotakis -- are on the 40-man roster and are at least theoretical candidates for the big league bullpen, although only Rogers has a realistic shot at coming north in April.

Of the 13 position players, one (Stuart Turner, 16) is a catcher. Three are listed as first basemen, including Byung Ho Park (7); one as a third baseman; five as shortstops; and three as outfielders. That may look like an awkward distribution, but a lot of minor league shortstops wind up reaching the majors at a different position. See, for example, Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier. There's a scouting rule of thumb that says you don't sign an amateur second baseman; if a player has the talent to play second in the majors, he's almost certainly a shortstop in amateur ball. At least one of the five shortstops on the BA list, Polanco, will most likely be a second baseman where ever he gets to have his major league career.

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