Broadcaster Christmas: Prospect Handbook Arrives

There are few things that get radio guys more excited than new research materials.  It’s like Christmas morning when a new media guide comes in the mail, heck, I even collected media guides for the longest time.  Space eventually became an issue and the collection bit the dust.

That being established, you can imagine how excited I was this past week when my 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook came in the mail.  It’s 511 pages of stats and analysis on all of the top prospects in the minors.  The book list the top 30 prospects for each Major League team, draft breakdowns for the last few seasons, organizational breakdowns and lists of who has the best particular  skills in those systems.

Yes, the book sounds like a broadcaster’s dream.  And in all honesty, you could probably read the thing cover to cover and call a game sounding smart enough to get by.  But before we dive into the content about the Rangers/Pelicans there are a few words of caution.  You do always have to take the stuff inside with a grain of salt.  For years, Alex Escobar was rated as the New York Mets top prospect.  That clearly didn’t work out.  Sometimes prospects don’t.

Last year Quincy Latimore vaulted into the Top 30 prospects for the Pirates after he drove in 100 runs in A-ball in 2010.  He struggled last year at Double-A and is not longer listed among the Top 30.  Does that mean he’s no longer a prospect?  No.  He could be ranked No. 15 next year with another strong showing in 2012.  Who knows.

Finally, if you’re a top draft pick you vault to the top of the list.  Of the 30 Major League teams, Baseball America has a first round pick from 2010 or 2011 as a top-4 prospect for 21 of those 30 teams. In some cases those players have never played a professional game.  So take all of this with a grain of salt, but enjoy.

The Pelicans could have a ton of Top 30 Baseball America talent in 2012.  Here’s a look at prospects that could end up on the Grand Strand.

1.  Ranked as the top prospect in the Texas system, the 19 year old Jurickson Profar hit .286 in his first full season at Low-A Hickory last year.  He was voted as the South Atlantic League’s MVP and singled off Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson in the 2011 Futures Game.

“He wants to reach the big leagues as quickly as his hero, Elvis Andrus, who debuted in Texas four months shy of his 21st birthday.  That would put Profar in the majors at the end of the 2013 season, which is ambitious, but not impossible.”

6. A second round pick out of high school in 2010, Cody Buckel has moved quickly through the minors.  Skipping short-season Spokane, Buckel jumped to Hickory last year.  He starred, going 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA.  His ERA as a starter dropped to 2.04.

“As with [Diamondback Trevor] Bauer, Buckel’s unorthodox and torque-heavy delivery creates deception.  While he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, he has a deep four-pitch mix, outstanding pitchability and a fiercely competitive nature.”

8. Singed out of Mexico in 2008, Christian Villanueva was noticed at the 2008 Junior World Championships.  He has excellent power, blasting 17 homeruns at Low-A in 2011.  Villanueva began in 2009 in the DSL before hitting .314 in the AZL in 2010 and skipping Spokane altogether.

“Scouts compare Villanueva to fellow countryman Vinny Castilla.”

10. Matt West began his career as a hitter, batting .241 in four seasons with 350 strikeouts.  He turned to pitching in 2011 and racked up nine saves at Spokane.  Some compare him to St. Louis closer Jason Motte.  West pitched one game for the Pelicans last year in the regular season and got the save in game one of the playoffs.  His fastball can hit 96 on the gun.

“His pair of plus pitches could take him to Texas by September.”

18. Luke Jackson was a first round supplemental pick in 2010 out of high school in Florida.  Signed for $1.5 million, Jackson went 5-6 with a 5.64 ERA in his first professional exposure at Hickory first year.  His fastball touches 97.

“Jackson could profile as a No. 2 starter if everything breaks right.”

19.  Acquired in the Saltalamacchia trade, Roman Mendez has been added to the Rangers 40-Man roster.  The 2011 season was his first full year in the Rangers system and he shined.  Mendez went 9-1 with a 3.31 ERA at Hickory.

“The development of his secondary stuff and command will determine his future role, as some scouts see Mendez as a mid-rotation starter…”

21. Will Lamb is a local guy, taken in the second round last year out of Clemson.  He was a two way player in school and pitched mostly in relief.  The Rangers have used him mostly as a starter so far and he posted a 0.48 ERA in four games at Low-A Hickory last season.

“Lamb has a live, loose arm that generates fastballs that sit at 92-95 mph and touches 98.”

23. In a system chock full of catchers, Kellin Deglan stands out as a first round pick from 2010.  He hit only .227 in Hickory last year and the book says he may return there this season.  The book also makes mention of a good accurate arm and a solid power storke.

24. Jake Scole is the younger of two pro baseball playing brothers.  He turned down Georgia Tech to come to the Rangers out of high school.  Skole batted .264 last season with nine homeruns.  He played center last year and the book says he could eventually move to a corner spot.

25. Thomas Telis is a Venezuelan signed in 2007.  He split time with Deglan in Hickory last year and hit .297 with 11 homeruns.  He also ripped 28 doubles (31 led the Pelicans last year) so he’s got good gap-to-gap power you’d presume.

27. Odubel Herrera is a second baseman, also from Venezuela. He hit .306 last year at Hickory and stole 34 bases.  The book calls him a “gamer” who doesn’t have “loud tools” but who does have one of, if not the fastest bat in the system.

We still don’t know exactly who will end up with the Pelicans on Opening Day, and we still won’t for some time now, but it’s always a fun look when the Baseball America Prospect Handbook comes out.  So chew on that info as the season continues to draw nearer.

Till Next Time,


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