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Where did the year go?
The 2013 minor league regular season is in the books, and the lucky few are currently competing in the playoffs. We've seen a lot of exciting moments during the year. We've also seen a lot of prospects significantly improve their values. To celebrate the best of the best, MLBTR is celebrating the 2013 All-Prospect All-Star Team, which features the top players in the minors at each position. Given the depth at some positions — as well as the lack there of at others — this was no easy task.
The players were chosen by considering a mixture of future potential and statistical results.
Catcher: Austin Hedges, Padres — Because of his abilities on both defense and offense, San Diego's catcher of the future narrowly edged out the Yankees' Gary Sanchez. His abilities on both sides of the ball also impressed his employers, according to Padres Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald. "He has the tools and skill set to impact both sides of the ball… and we are excited about his future with the San Diego Padres," MacDonald said.
Hedges will probably never be the strongest offensive catcher in the league but he won't embarrass himself, either. Behind the plate, he's perhaps the best defensive catcher in the minors if you take everything into consideration: arm, receiving, blocking, game calling and leadership.
First Base: Dan Vogelbach, Cubs — This position was the hardest one to find a deserving candidate. The Astros' Jonathan Singleton missed the beginning of the year due to a suspension and then struggled with his consistency. The Angels' C.J. Cron failed to consistently tap into his raw power. Vogelbach, just 20, performed well at two A-ball levels and showed the ability to hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a solid clip.
Brandon Hyde, the Cubs' director of player development, said Vogelbach's successes came from hard work. "It was an impressive season with raw power to all fields," he said. "He has an advanced approach for his age, and he controls the strike zone."
Second Base: Rougned Odor, Rangers — Second base was another tough position to settle on the winner. The Angels' Taylor Lindsey, Cardinals' Kolten Wong, and Twins' Eddie Rosario also received serious consideration before the award went to Odor. The Rangers' prospect hit more than .300 between High-A and Double-A with a strong OPS and 32 stolen bases — all at the age of 19. The left-handed hitter also popped 58 extra base hits, including 41 doubles. With all the middle infield depth in Texas, Odor could make things very interesting — and crowded — in short order.
Third Base: Miguel Sano, Twins — Sano was the runaway winner at third base, although the Cubs' Kris Bryant could give him a run for his money in a year's time (assuming both prospects are still in the minors). The Dominican native launched 35 home runs and produced a .610 slugging percentage. However, he didn't hit for a great average after his promotion from High-A to Double-A, and he combined to strike out 142 times in 123 games, so there are some holes in his game that need to be addressed.
Shortstop: Javier Baez, Cubs — There were five players that were considered in this slot, including Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Athletics) and Carlos Correa (Astros). Baez, though, came out ahead when considering his outstanding statistical results and the fact that he has a chance to be as good as any other player on the list. Just 20, he finished the year in Double-A and hit a combined 37 home runs with 20 stolen bases and a .920 OPS.
Hyde was impressed with Baez's ability to make adjustments after being promoted to Double-A. "He hit in the middle of the order on a prospect-laden team. He made huge strides defensively and with his plate discipline," Hyde said. "He has a unique combination of raw power, speed and off-the-charts instincts, especially for a 20 year old in Double-A."
Outfielder: George Springer, Astros — Springer, 23, had an eye-popping season while playing at both Double-A and Triple-A. He narrowly missed becoming a 40-40 player (HR-SB) with 37 homers and 45 steals while playing at the highest levels of the minors. Springer's approach produces massive strikeout numbers, but he showed improvements in that area as the year progressed.
The prospect impressed the club's front office not only with his play but also his attitude, according to Quinton McCracken, the Astros director of player development. "George is an exceptional five-tool talent, and even better person. He has great makeup, work ethic, off-the-chart intangibles coupled with incredible athleticism… He's a very special player," he said.
Outfielder: Byron Buxton, Twins — Buxton was the biggest no-brainer on this list. Just 19 and in his first full pro season, the five-tool outfielder played at two A-ball levels while hitting more than .330 and producing double digits in doubles, triples and homers. He also got on base at a .424 clip, stole 55 bases in 74 tries and played above-average defense in centerfield. The Twins have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball and could be a massive threat in two to three seasons.
Outfielder: Gregory Polanco, Pirates — Polanco edged out a few other players because, at a very young age, he showed a five-tool approach and had an impact in numerous areas. The 21-year-old outfielder showed that he may one day develop into a 20-20 or perhaps even a 30-30 player. After beginning the year in A-ball, he ended the season in Triple-A.
Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said the most impressive thing about Polanco's growth has been his maturity. "He has fit into each clubhouse and added value to the culture of each club that he's been on," Broadway explained. "He continues to approach the game with a learner's mentality and is always looking to find a way to get better. He's not afraid to make a mistake in the process, which has allowed him to progress well in all areas of his game."
Starting Pitcher: Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks — Bradley and Dylan Bundy grew up playing baseball together, but the former passed the latter on top prospect lists after the Orioles' prospect blew out his elbow. Just 20 years old, Bradley spent the majority of the year in Double-A and finished the season with a combined ERA of 1.84 and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings of work. He also allowed just 115 hits.
Starting Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mariners — Utilizing a strong fastball and excellent breaking ball, Walker, who just turned 21 on Aug. 13, made older competition look foolish as he produced outstanding numbers in Double-A and Triple-A before earning his MLB promotion. The right-hander struck out 160 batters in 141 1/3 innings while allowing just 112 hits.
Chris Gwynn, the Mariners director of player development, said Walker is oozing talent but he's also an extremely hard worker. "Going into the offseason last year he realized there were some things he needed to work on to get better," Gwynn said, listing fastball command (down in the zone, to both sides of the plate) and improved secondary pitches as two of those things. "Coming into this season he was a man on a mission… and had a dominant season in Double-A and Triple-A didn't phase him. It shows he wants it really bad."
Starting Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, Mets — Jameson Taillon (Pirates), Kevin Gausman (Orioles) and Robert Stephenson (Reds) also received consideration as the one of the top pitchers in the minors but the final spot went to the Mets' prospect. Syndergaard showed a rare combination of power (his fastball can tickle triple digits) and control when he struck out 133 batters in 117 2/3 innings and issued 28 free passes. Just 20, the Texas native finished the year with 11 starts at the Double-A level.
Reliever: Steve Geltz, Rays — It's hard to find a worthy reliever because many of the best MLB bullpen aces originally come from the starting ranks. Geltz, though, is still only 25 years old and he was the hardest pitcher to hit in Triple-A (minimum 50 innings) by allowing a batting-average-against of just .152. That mark was actually the seventh lowest in the entire minor leagues. His strikeout percentage (31.3 percent) was good for 12th in Triple-A ball. Not bad for a player that went undrafted and signed with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in 2008.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks | Austin Hedges | Byron Buxton | Chicago Cubs | Dan Vogelbach | George Springer | Gregory Polanco | Houston Astros | Javier Baez | Miguel Sano | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | Noah Syndergaard | Pittsburgh Pirates | Prospect Rumor Roundup | Rougned Odor | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Steve Geltz | Taijuan Walker | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers
FRIDAY: Despite Towers' comments, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Diamondbacks are at least discussing Jake Peavy as a possibility, noting that the White Sox have scouted Randall Delgado (Twitter link). Given the number of available relievers the White Sox have, the Diamondbacks could ask for both Peavy and a bullpen arm in a trade, though that's just speculation on my part.
THURSDAY: While many of the rumors regarding the D-Backs' search for pitching thus far have focused on starting pitchers such as Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Samardzija, GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that bullpen help is the team's bigger need:
"I'm not as concerned probably with our starting pitching and looking externally for starting pitching as much as trying to get a bullpen arm," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.
Towers feels that injured starters Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy can help to upgrade the team's rotation when they return from the disabled list. Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com echoes that sentiment (Twitter link), adding that Towers will not trade top prospects Tyler Skaggs or Archie Bradley. Skaggs had been mentioned as a possible component to a Gallardo trade.
The Diamondbacks have actually received a combined 3.33 ERA from their bullpen this season, but J.J. Putz has been injured and Heath Bell has an 8.38 ERA over his past 11 appearances. They also lost one of their top relief arms when Matt Reynolds hit the disabled list in early June. So far, the Diamondbacks have been linked to the Brewers' bullpen options such as John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez and Michael Gonzalez. Other teams such as the Marlins, White Sox and Twins figure to have bullpen arms that could be moved in the coming weeks as well.
You can't begin a month much better than Jake Odorizzi did during his start on May 5th against the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. The young pitching prospect combined with three relievers to no-hit Boston's minor league affiliate. Odorizzi worked seven innings while walking four batters and striking out three. He was removed from the game early due to workload limitations. Relievers Frank De Los Santos, Kirby Yates and Jeff Beliveau preserved the no-no.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Odorizzi, who said he had all his weapons working during the game. "Everything was going my way. The defense was good behind me. It seemed everything was hit right at someone. Just kind of one of those days where everything goes your way." He has now held opponents scoreless in each of his last two starts (12 innings).
Although it's easy to get excited about Odorizzi's quick start to the season, the hype comes with caveats. The young hurler has always been an extreme flyball pitcher and his groundball rate is well below average on the year at slightly more than 22%.
Odorizzi's pitching repertoire includes solid stuff but he lacks "plus stuff." He has average control and above-average command of his offerings: an 87-92 mph fastball, slider, curveball and change-up. In pre-season top prospects lists, Keith Law of ESPN (68th), Baseball America (92nd), and MLB.com (42nd) all ranked Odorizzi amongst the top 100 in the game. Baseball America's scouting report referred to the hurler's ceiling as that of a No. 3 or 4 starter.
Originally selected 32nd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers during that 2008 amateur draft, the Illinois native has been traded twice in his young career. He was sent to the Kansas City Royals in December 2010 during the Zack Greinke deal. Almost exactly two years later, Odorizzi was flipped to Tampa Bay in the James Shields/Wade Davis swap. If Tampa Bay — specifically its pitching staff with the fifth worst ERA in baseball — continues to struggle into the second half of 2013, the pitching prospect could become a big-league option later in the year.
Prospect Tidbits: Selected 46th overall in the 2012 amateur draft, Colorado Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler is off to a hot start to his career. Beginning the 2013 season in A ball, he's allowed just 18 hits in 41 innings of work. If the Radford University alum continues to pitch like this he could make quick work of the minor leagues…..The Miami Marlins brought in a lot of minor league talent during last November's shocking trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite that, prospects originally drafted by the club continue to see their values soar. Outfielder Christian Yelich went 5-for-6 with two triples and a home run on May 8th. As MiLB.com's Ashley Marshall tells us, the performance also caught the attention of his manager. "It was one of the most impressive displays of a young hitter I have ever seen," Andy Barkett said. It raised Yelich's average to .343 on the year…..Baltimore's Dylan Bundy reached the big leagues in his first full pro season in 2012 but his development in '13 was halted by an injury. The bad news gives his Oklahoma high school opponent and friend Archie Bradley a chance to close the gap between the two a little bit. After five dominating starts in the potent California League (43 strikeouts, 1.26 ERA in 28 2/3 innings), the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted the pitching prospect to Double-A and he's struck out 11 batters with a 1.13 ERA in eight innings over two starts.
The Diamondbacks have signed seventh overall pick Archie Bradley for $5MM, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). BBI Sports Group represents the high schooler. The sides may have agreed to a two-sport deal.
Though he's a football standout, Bradley prefers the baseball diamond to the football field and said after being selected that "the frontrunner has always been baseball." Bradley is friends and workout partners with Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' top pick in the 2011 draft.
With today's deal, the Diamondbacks have officially signed both of their top picks, Bradley and Trevor Bauer, who has a 1.93 ERA with 16.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in his first 14 innings as a pro.
You can keep track of which top picks have signed with MLBTR's list.
The Mets released Wily Mo Pena on this date two years ago. The slugger resurfaced with the D'Backs yesterday, when he homered in his first MLB game since 2008. Here are some links for Wednesday night as Pena attempts to hit another homer or two…
- A scout tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Twins seem less likely to become sellers than they were a few weeks ago (Twitter link). Minnesota has re-entered the playoff race thanks to a 14-3 tear.
- Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group hears that the Giants are not one of the six teams on Mark Ellis’ no-trade list (Twitter link). Ellis has lost his starting second base job in Oakland and the Giants have had internal talks about obtaining him.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com hears that top draft choices Gerrit Cole (Pirates) and Danny Hultzen (Mariners) will sign for roughly $10MM or so. Two high school arms, Archie Bradley (D’Backs) and Dylan Bundy (Orioles), will likely obtain $6-7MM and some executives see high school outfielder Bubba Starling (Royals) signing for more than Cole or Hultzen.
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick examines the case for expanding active rosters to 26 players. Teams now have sprawling bullpens and demanding travel schedules, so there's support for bigger rosters from Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd, Marlins infielder Wes Helms and others.
After out-matching the opposition all season long, it was Archie Bradley’s turn to be overwhelmed. The 18-year-old right hander could barely contain himself when the Diamondbacks selected him seventh overall in tonight’s draft.
“I almost broke down in tears,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “For me to finally hear my name called was amazing.”
The Broken Arrow high school product posted a 0.37 ERA with 137 strikeouts and 11 walks in 71 1/3 innings this year (while hitting .395 and leading the team with nine homers). He’s just a teenager, but D’Backs’ director of amateur scouting Ray Montgomery says he already compares favorably with older players.
“The tools Archie Bradley brings fits with what we were looking at with the guys on the college front, and he happens to be two years younger,” Montgomery said. “Bradley is big, physical, athletic and has the stuff to be in our starting rotation in the future.”
He also has the stuff to start at quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. The 6’4” 215 pound Bradley has signed a letter of intent to play football at Oklahoma, which gives him a negotiating tool that others don’t have.
Bradley says “the frontrunner has always been baseball,” though he loves football as well. He declined to say whether he and advisor Jay Franklin would accept ‘slot’ money to sign with Arizona.
“I have no comment on that,” he said. “I’m still just enjoying the moment. That comes later down the road.”
The D’Backs have until August 15th to sign Bradley, third overall selection Trevor Bauer and the rest of their picks.
The first and supplemental rounds are over and teams are reaching out to their top picks and setting up media conference calls with them. Here’s the latest on the draft from the players and teams themselves…
- Archie Bradley (selected seventh overall by the D’Backs) says fellow Oklahoma high schooler Dylan Bundy (selected fourth overall by the Orioles) pushes him to be a better player. “With his workout and the way he goes about the game, it puts some weight on my shoulders to try to equal that or better that” Bradley said.
- High school infielder Jake Hager (selected 32nd overall by the Rays) wants to start his pro career soon. Though he sees himself as a shortstop, he remains flexible to playing elsewhere on infield if that’s where the Rays want him to play. Hager describes himself as a hard worker who’s coachable. The Nevada native “had a feeling” the Rays would take him, since they were scouting him hard most weeks.
- High school outfielder Bubba Starling (selected fifth overall by the Royals) describes himself as an equally good football and baseball player. The Kansas native admits to being a Royals fan, though he says he didn’t have time to see tons of games, since he plays so many sports. Starling says he felt stronger later in the season, after returning from a tweaked quad muscle.
- Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken explained the selection of Javier Baez (ninth overall). “Javier has a tremendously live bat, is versatile in the field and we are happy to welcome him to the Cubs organization,” Wilken said in a team statement. “He has a great arm and is a smart baserunner in tune with the game.
Keith Law of ESPN.com has written up his final projections for tonight's draft. Here are some of the latest highlights (Insider subscription needed):
- The D'Backs select UCLA righty Trevor Bauer with the No. 3 pick, meaning two of the first three picks will be Bruins after the Pirates take Gerrit Cole at No. 1 overall.
- The Orioles, turned off by Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen's hefty contract demands, take prep righty Archie Bradley out of Oklahoma at No. 4. Dylan Bundy then falls to the Royals at No. 5, which Law says would be a steal, and Hultzen slides back to the D'Backs at No. 7, a "dream scenario" for Arizona. That could lead to tricky negotiations considering Hultzen's demands and the fact that the pick is unprotected after Barret Loux didn't sign last year, but Bauer and Hultzen would represent quite a boon to the D'Backs' rotation in the near future.
- The Mets meet their organizational mandate to take a pitcher at No. 13, selecting UConn righty Matt Barnes.
- The Brewers, with an unprotected pick at No. 15, need to take a signable player, and may be looking at Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray or Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson.
- The Red Sox probably won't spend too wildly at No. 19 and could focus on a high-probability player like Alex Meyer of Kentucky as they did a year ago with Kolbrin Vitek.
The day of the First-Year Player Draft is finally upon us. Here's the latest news and rumors as tonight's event draws nearer …
- The Pirates, as has been speculated for several days, will take UCLA righty Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have long been linked to prep pitcher Dylan Bundy out of Oklahoma with the No. 4 pick, but they may be shifting focus to Archie Bradley, another prep pitcher, writes Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com.
- Ed Barkowitz of Philly.com identifies TCU lefty Matt Purke as a possibility for the Phillies with their first pick, No. 39. Purke, who was a first-round pick of the Rangers in 2009 but didn't sign, has seen his stock tumble as a result of shoulder troubles.
- Because the Cardinals have only one pick on Day 1 of the draft and only two in the top 100, they're less likely to take risky players, writes Nathan Hart of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The Redbirds are tentatively planning to take a position player, though that is not definite.
- The Rangers are looking at Massachusetts prep righty Tyler Beede, writes Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report, noting how difficult it can be to accurately predict draft picks.
- The Rockies are still on Utah first baseman C.J. Cron at No. 20, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
- It's never too late to draft a superstar, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo!, who runs down some of the best steals in draft history.
- The Dodgers worked out Trevor Gretzky, Wayne's son, and Ryan Garvey, Steve's son, on Sunday, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, though both players have committed to college.
- Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald has had a strange journey through the minors, which is why drafting two-sport stars is tricky, writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. Ryan Hannable, also of WEEI.com, has tallied up the experts' projections for the Red Sox's draft picks.
- Owning the first overall pick in the draft does not guarantee future success, writes Rob Neyer of SBNation.com.
A few items of note on the club formerly known as the Colt .45s as Albert Pujols smacks a walkoff homer, his second jack of the day:
- The Astros continue to deny any rumors that they've been trying to work out a pre-draft deal with Stanford pitcher Chris Reed with the intent of selecting him at No. 11 overall, tweets Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Goff predicts the Astros will take Archie Bradley (Twitter link), and ESPN.com's Keith Law writes in his latest mock draft that they'll take prep shortstop Francisco Lindor or Bradley if he's still available.
- The Astros have improved their farm system under GM Ed Wade and his stable of area scouts, according to Goff. Wade's first draft as Astros GM was in 2008, when Houston selected Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles, both of whom have reached the bigs.
- In contrast to their relative improvements in drafting and developing minor league players, Wade admitted that releasing Bill Hall represented a failure in judgment, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.