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As we approach Wednesday’s deadline for trades without waivers, I’m beginning to suspect that most of the rumors swirling are going to be just that: rumors. Today has brought us less-than-blockbuster deals for Jose Veras and Scott Downs. Jake Peavy might be the most significant player to change addresses before the deadline, and that’s using the word “significant” loosely considering his age, performance and health history.
While there may not be major transactions, there will be several swaps in the next three days, and Baseball America will cover them all at Trade Central. We’ll not only break down how the deals will affect big league clubs, but we’ll offer scouting reports on every prospect who changes hands.
If players who were signed this summer out of the draft or the international market were eligible for BA’s midseason Top 50 Prospects list, how many of them would make it? Where would they appear on the list?
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Which 2013 draftees would have made the midseason Top 50 Prospects if they were eligible, and where would they have fit in?
On the 20-80 scouting scale, the mediocre 2013 draft crop rated as a 40 or 45. But as in any draft, there were talented players available, and I see six who would have cracked our midseason Top 50 had they been eligible:
Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs (No. 2 overall). Bryant led NCAA Division I with 31 homers this spring, a record for the BBCOR bat era and more than 223 of the 296 teams at that level. I think he’s the best prospect in a deep Chicago system, and thus I’d put him at No. 10, between shortstops Carlos Correa (Astros) and Javier Baez (Cubs).
Jonathan Gray, rhp, Rockies (No. 3) and Mark Appel, rhp, Astros (No. 1). I still find it difficult to separate Gray and Appel, and I still give Gray the slightest of edges because he has a higher ceiling. Pirates righthander Jameson Taillon doesn’t miss as many bats as he should considering his stuff, so I’d slot Gray and Appel in at Nos. 12 and 13, right between Baez and Taillon.
Clint Frazier, of, Indians (No. 5). Frazier has electrifying bat speed but he’s also a high school hitter who has yet to prove himself in pro ball, so I’d temper my enthusiasm a bit. I’d put him at No. 29, behind the game’s best catching prospect (the Mets’ Travis d’Arnaud, who has had success in Triple-A) and ahead of a couple of live-armed righthanders I’m not completely sold on, Yordano Ventura (Royals) and Robert Stephenson (Reds).
Kohl Stewart, rhp, Twins (No. 4). I’d place Stewart at No. 30, between Frazier and Ventura. Yes, Ventura and Stephenson have proven more. But I also had one scout tell me Stewart’s stuff was just as good as Gray’s and Appel’s and that Stewart was a better athlete. I’ll bet on the upside.
Colin Moran, 3b, Marlins (No. 6). Moran was the best pure hitter in the 2013 draft and I see him as a slightly less athletic version of Red Sox third baseman Gavin Cecchini, who was No. 41 on the midseason Top 50 and would be bumped down to No. 46 with the addition of draftees. Moran would fit at No. 49, behind Cecchini, Blue Jays righthander Aaron Sanchez and Phillies lefthander Jesse Biddle, and just ahead of Cubs third baseman Mike Olt.
The international crop was lackluster as well this summer, and I wouldn’t put any of those players on the Top 50 at this point. BA’s Ben Badler ranked Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez as the best international talent this summer, but Ben also noted that there was no consensus top prospect.
Now that Matt Garza is headed to Texas, about where would you rank third baseman Mike Olt and righthander C.J. Edwards on the Cubs top prospects list? In addition, what does the Rangers top prospects list look like now?
With all of their draft and international signings and trade acquisitions, the Cubs are putting together one of the best farm systems in the game. I’m still bullish on Olt despite the vision issues that torpedoed the start of his season, but he’d go from ranking No. 22 on BA’s Top 100 Prospects list to fifth overall among Chicago farmhands. I’d put third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javier Baez and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler ahead of Olt.
Edwards has been a revelation since signing as a 48th-round pick out of a South Carolina high school in 2011, and he currently ranks third in the minors in ERA (1.74) and strikeouts (130) and fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.9). His fastball is unhittable at times, thanks to a combination of velocity (low 90s with a peak of 98 mph) and outstanding life.
He’s still polishing his secondary pitches and his command, and he has made a grand total of one start above low Class A, so I’d caution about getting too crazy about Edwards. But there’s no question that he and Pierce Johnson are the Cubs’ best pitching prospects. Edwards would rank with Johnson, first baseman Dan Vogelbach and infielder Arismendy Alcantara in the 6-10 range on Chicago’s prospect list.
Few prospect lists will change as much as our Rangers rankings will from before this season to after it. Their top five farmhands coming into the year have either graduated to the majors (infielder Jurickson Profar, lefthander Martin Perez, outfielder Leonys Martin) or been traded (Olt, righty Justin Grimm).
My current top five: catcher/first baseman Jorge Alfaro, shortstop Luis Sardinas, third baseman Joey Gallo, righty Luke Jackson and second baseman Rougned Odor. He doesn’t have the lofty ceiling of the position players I have ranked ahead of him, but Odor is a safer bet to become a solid regular in the big leagues.
Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman won BA’s College Freshman of the Year award. What kind of a player is he? How strong of a fielder is he? Does he project to hit for more power as he matures?
The Red Sox drafted Bregman in the 29th round out of a New Mexico high school in 2012, but he lasted that long only because he was strongly committed to LSU. He currently ranks as the best college position player for the 2015 draft and almost certainly will be a first-rounder.
Bregman batted .369/.417/.546 with 16 steals as a freshman while playing a decent shortstop. I think he winds up as an offensive second baseman as a pro, and though Dustin Pedroia comparisons get handed out too easily to smaller second basemen who can swing the bat, Bregman has that type of upside.
Bregman has the bat speed and approach to hit .300, and he may have enough strength and leverage in his swing to have average power. He makes the routine play at shortstop, but his range and arm are nothing special there and fit better at second base. He’s an average runner with the savvy to steal a few bases.