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Baseball America Posts BAL Top 10


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http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2010/269300.html

TOP TEN

PROSPECTS

1. Brian Matusz, lhp

2. Josh Bell, 3b

3. Zach Britton, lhp

4. Jake Arrieta, rhp

5. Matt Hobgood, rhp

6. Brandon Snyder, 1b

7. Brandon Erbe, rhp

8. Kam Mickolio, rhp

9. Mychal Givens, ss

10. Caleb Joseph, c

BEST

TOOLS

Best Hitter for Average - Brandon Snyder

Best Power Hitter - Brandon Waring

Best Strike-Zone Discipline - Matt Angle

Fastest Baserunner - Xavier Avery

Best Athlete - Mychal Givens

Best Fastball - Kam Micklio

Best Curveball - Brian Matusz

Best Slider - Jake Arrieta

Best Changeup - Brian Matusz

Best Control - Brian Matusz

Best Defensive Catcher - Caleb Joseph

Best Defensive Infielder - Blake Davis

Best Infield Arm - Mychal Givens

Best Defensive Outfielder - Matt Angle

Best Outfield Arm - Billy Rowell

PROJECTED 2013

LINEUP

Catcher - Matt Wieters

First Base - Brandon Snyder

Second Base - Brian Roberts

Third Base - Josh Bell

Shortstop - Mychal Givens

Left Field - Nolan Reimold

Center Field - Adam Jones

Right Field - Nick Markakis

Designated Hitter - Brandon Waring

No. 1 Starter - Chris Tillman

No. 2 Starter - Brian Matusz

No. 3 Starter - Zach Britton

No. 4 Starter - Jake Arrieta

No. 5 Starter - Matt Hobgood

Closer - Brandon Erbe

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My takeaways from the full write-ups (so, what stuck with me based on the scouts Baseball America has spoken with):

1. Matusz - As most here have thought, he is a legit potential ace. Above-average stuff and elite pitchability. Total package.

2. Bell - BAL willing to let Bell continue to switch-hit, and is committed to handing him 3B when ready.

3. Britton - Stuff improving and turning heads. Control/command worse than I thought, leading the staff in walks and the entire league in wild pitches. Worries me because my biggest question is how he's getting his groundballs -- if advanced hitters will chase that sinker out of the zone.

4. Arrieta - BAL thinks he'll be a 200 IP mid-rotation guy; other scouts think he's bullpen bound because of command. Should be a BIG year at AAA for Jake.

5. Hobgood - Topped out at 90/91 in fall instructionals. Plenty of time to improve. Scouts agree he's basically topped-out physically, so his bump is going to come from refinement.

6. Snyder - Right-handed Sean Casey -- I think we've heard that around here, eh?

7. Erbe - Likely bullpen-bound -- closer potential. I think we've covered that, too.

8. Mickolio - Refining now. Closer stuff.

9. Givens - Great athlete, BAL liked the way he looked in instructionals. Reading between the lines, scouts have the same concern some of us had pre-draft -- he's a bit of a tweener where his electric arm plays best on the mound (but he doesn't project to start) and his ceiling is high as a position player (but there is A LOT more work to be done). I think it'd be prudent to put him and Avery in the same category (generally speaking) and not count on them moving quickly. Let them progress at their pace.

10. Joseph - Scouts like his defensive tools, but blocked by Wieters. Personally, if the footwork and agility are there, I'd think a shift to 2B would be ideal. Might have pop for 3B, as well.

For subscribers, full reports are here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2010/269300.html

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Heeeeeeyyyyyy, Billy Rowell's still on the best tools list. Probably not the spot he/we would like him to be in, though.

I don't know why they still do the projected lineups - I've never really liked them. But this one is interesting in that they project Tillman slotting ahead of Matusz.

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Heeeeeeyyyyyy, Billy Rowell's still on the best tools list. Probably not the spot he/we would like him to be in, though.

I don't know why they still do the projected lineups - I've never really liked them. But this one is interesting in that they project Tillman slotting ahead of Matusz.

And Erbe officially in the closer spot. I like that the list tells you where the team will likely need to be adding talent over the next year or two (cough==SS/DH/1B==cough). :)

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One of the best reports I seen on Matusz and some very encouraging stuff on Britton, IMO, confirming the status Tony has conveyed.

Perhaps a bit disappointing that we have at least two guys who project as relievers (Erbe and Kam and possibly Arrieta), but we did graduate a lot of talent last year.

Overall, it's a much better list than I expected at this time last year and it's encouraging to know there are so many good prospects from 11-30.

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3. Britton - Stuff improving and turning heads. Control/command worse than I thought, leading the staff in walks and the entire league in wild pitches. Worries me because my biggest question is how he's getting his groundballs -- if advanced hitters will chase that sinker out of the zone.

I always thought your biggest concern was that he was a two pitch pitcher - and, to be frank, I tended to gloss right over it with my optimistic belief that he'd pick up another quality pitch (change). Regardless, it seems this isn't really the case any longer, though further development is likely needed:

Britton seems like the typical sinker/slider pitcher, except that his fastball touches 94 mph. His velocity improved last season, and he usually works in the 88-92 range with his sinker, adding a four-seam fastball to go with it. His slider has become an effective weapon against lefthanded hitters, and his already-solid changeup improved as well, in part thanks to tips he got from Brian Matusz.

So, good news there. It also notes that his command has improved. I think the wild pitches and walks are important to note, but this is equally important:

The only concern at times is his walk totals, but the walks have more to do with Britton struggling at times to get his pitches over because of the movement on them then any underlying mechanical issues. Also, batters tend to take pitches because of their inability to make good solid contact off him. He significantly improved his command throughout the year walking 4.9/9 in April and May before settling down to a respectable 2.8/9 over his last 16 starts in June through August.

(From OH.)

All-in-all, I think there's solid evidence that Britton has taken significant steps forward, and that it's safe to be bullish on him at this point, although this year's efforts in AA will be very important.

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I always thought your biggest concern was that he was a two pitch pitcher - and, to be frank, I tended to gloss right over it with my optimistic belief that he'd pick up another quality pitch (change). Regardless, it seems this isn't really the case any longer, though further development is likely needed:

So, good news there. It also notes that his command has improved. I think the wild pitches and walks are important to note, but this is equally important:

(From OH.)

All-in-all, I think there's solid evidence that Britton has taken significant steps forward, and that it's safe to be bullish on him at this point, although this year's efforts in AA will be very important.

Mmmm, I've defintiely talked about being a 2-pitch pitcher -- I didn't read BA's piece as anything more than that his change was improving. Great news.

I'm not concerned about walks, I'm concerned that if he's getting K's and groundballs because of pitches with that much movement, I question whether that continues to play-up at the upper levels. THat's all. I've seen Arrieta succeed, so I feel more comfortable with that.

It very well coul be that Britton will continue the exact same success at AA -- heck, lots of people are very excited about his potential. I went from thinking of him as a future lefty in the pen to a potential solid mid-rotation starter. But I think the manner in which he's getting his SOs and GBs matters -- we've seen from highly-touted prospects like Andrew Miller what happens when your stikeout pitch is a chase pitch that hitters stop chasing.

As always, I'm pulling for Britton. He's just a notch below Arrieta and Erbe on my personal list.

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Mmmm, I've defintiely talked about being a 2-pitch pitcher -- I didn't read BA's piece as anything more than that his change was improving. Great news.

I'm not concerned about walks, I'm concerned that if he's getting K's and groundballs because of pitches with that much movement, I question whether that continues to play-up at the upper levels. THat's all. I've seen Arrieta succeed, so I feel more comfortable with that.

It very well coul be that Britton will continue the exact same success at AA -- heck, lots of people are very excited about his potential. I went from thinking of him as a future lefty in the pen to a potential solid mid-rotation starter. But I think the manner in which he's getting his SOs and GBs matters -- we've seen from highly-touted prospects like Andrew Miller what happens when your stikeout pitch is a chase pitch that hitters stop chasing.

As always, I'm pulling for Britton. He's just a notch below Arrieta and Erbe on my personal list.

No argument here. I just liked the "already solid" component of the change comment.

As for the other stuff, no question about that moving forward. On the other hand, isn't it the case that a lot of guys with swing and miss stuff (say, Bedard's slider) would have similar questions moving forward?

Or is a sinker less prone to projecting continued OOZ swings and misses? (I could see why it might be - it involves a different kind of movement and so the read is different.)

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No argument here. I just liked the "already solid" component of the change comment.

As for the other stuff, no question about that moving forward. On the other hand, isn't it the case that a lot of guys with swing and miss stuff (say, Bedard's slider) would have similar questions moving forward?

Or is a sinker less prone to projecting continued OOZ swings and misses? (I could see why it might be - it involves a different kind of movement and so the read is different.)

My experience is it's very difficult to predict OOZ misses without really looking at the case at hand. In all honesty, I like Britton's chances of succeeding because he gets good LATE movement on his sinker. I don't know that his slider has the same bite that late in the trajectory, but admittedly haven't seen him recently. If he's getting late bite, it's more likely to continue to be at least moderately successful even if he isn't great at commanding it.

In the lower minors, you can find plenty of hitters who start their swing early because of poor pitch-ID, or poor bat speed. Those guys rack-up a lot of strikeouts against pitches with good movement, regardless of if the ball ends up out of the zone, and regardless of whether the break comes too early in the path towards home. Someone like Miller, who relied and depth, rather than bite, ran into an issue where at a certain points hitters identified that slider early and could lay off.

If I were to give a full write-up about concerns and things I like, the "like" category would be longer for Britton. I like that he's improved his FB velocity and that BA referred to his change-up as solid (though that means different things to different appraisors -- you'll see a high school kid's change referred to as solid if he can throw it with any kind of deception in arm speed, sometimes). I like the numbers everyone points to, and I like that he's a lefty. I dislike the WP and BB numbers only in as much as they indicate he doesn't have a firm grasp of his pitches, yet. Good that there was an up-trend, but it's a flag I want to see erased against better competition.

For Britton to succeed at the highest level, I think his game is going to be:

  • spotting his 4S fastball early and elevating it late
  • showing his slider and change as a change-of-pace pitch for strikes (looking)
  • getting soft contact with his SL against righties (requires placing it away)
  • setting his SL up with lefties by spotting his 4S away and using the SL late (OOZ)
  • getting soft contact and K's with the SI (obvious, but needs to be able to set it up to be effective, I think)

In order for that to happen, I think commanding his 4S/SI are paramount, and throwing his SL/CH for strikes are a close second. I don't think he's yet faced the competition necessary to get a read on if that can be his game, and how effective it will be, so I wait another year and see what kind of pitcher he is at AA. And that's just my opinion. I'm sure BAL would tell you different things they'd like to see, and some pitching experts would suggest a different approach to attacking advanced hitters.

After all, I'm just a lawyer. What do I really know when we get down to it? :)

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No way is Givens playing SS there in 2013. I highly, highly doubt he's there in 2015. Or 2018 or 2020. He might, MIGHT see Bowie. But if you can't hit .400 in HS ball, when you're a year or two or three years older than most everyone else, how the heck are you going to hit pro pitching? It's simply false.

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No way is Givens playing SS there in 2013. I highly, highly doubt he's there in 2015. Or 2018 or 2020. He might, MIGHT see Bowie. But if you can't hit .400 in HS ball, when you're a year or two or three years older than most everyone else, how the heck are you going to hit pro pitching? It's simply false.

If his offensive prowess is that poor then why the hell did the O's draft the guy in the 2nd round and give him such a high bonus?

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No way is Givens playing SS there in 2013. I highly, highly doubt he's there in 2015. Or 2018 or 2020. He might, MIGHT see Bowie. But if you can't hit .400 in HS ball, when you're a year or two or three years older than most everyone else, how the heck are you going to hit pro pitching? It's simply false.

Agree. Disappointed in the standard industry guys ranking Givens so high. Doesn't seem to mesh.

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