Before They Were All-Stars: Scouting Reports On 2014 All-Stars

With the rosters essentially set for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis a week from today, Baseball America looks back at the scouting reports for the 2014 all-stars, before they became all-stars.

NL Roster

Starters

C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals

This is what Baseball America wrote about Molina after the 2002 season when he was ranked as the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect:

“Molina has the catch-and-throw skills to join his brothers in the big leagues. He receives, throws and blocks the ball well, and he handles pitchers well for his age. He threw out 52 percent (49 of 94) of basestealers and turned nine double plays, showing the strength of his arm.”

1B – Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Paul-Goldschmidt-2014-bm
This is what Baseball America wrote about Goldschmidt after he was ranked Arizona’s No. 11 prospect following the 2010 season:

“Goldschmidt has a proven track record as a power hitter. … There’s no denying Goldschmidt’s legitimate power to all fields, and his supporters believe he has a swing path that will allow him to improve as a hitter. He also struck out 161 times, which some scouts see as an indication that he may struggle against better pitching as he moves higher in the system. … His defense right now is adequate … his speed is well below-average.”

2B – Chase Utley, Phillies
Chase Utley
This is what Baseball America wrote about Utley after he was drafted 15th overall (1st round) by Philadelphia in 2000:

“Utley, a .394-18-61 hitter, has similar hitting skills, though his tendency to be pull-conscious has resulted in teams effectively using a Ted Williams shift on him a number of times this spring. He has excellent hands to hit, enabling him to wait on balls until the last moment to make adjustments.”

SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

This is what Baseball America wrote about Tulowitzki after the 2006 season when he was ranked as the top prospect with the Rockies:

Troy Tulowitzki (Photo by Bill Nichols).“Given his size, he’ll always have to work a little extra to maintain his agility. He built off a solid September in the big leagues by being named the top prospect in the Arizona Fall League. Now he’s ready to establish himself as a big leaguer for good. He … has the clubhouse mentality that will allow him to emerge as a leader on and off the field.”

3B – Aramis Ramirez, Brewers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Ramirez after the 1999 season when he was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Pacific Coast League:

“Everybody likes Ramirez’ bat. They also like his arm, only they wish he would keep it under control more. Most of his PCL-high 42 errors were the result of rushed throws. “He has a tremendous eye at the plate,” said Nashville’s Trent Jewett, who got to watch Ramirez more than any other manager. “He has great recognition of the strike zone for a young player, and he uses the whole ballpark. “He has about as good a throwing arm for an infielder as you’d want. He will determine how good he can become.”

OF – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

amccutchen072502501This is what Baseball America wrote about McCutchen before being drafted 11th overall (1st round) by the Pirates:

“McCutchen’s game isn’t all about tools, though his tools are plus across the board. That starts with the most important tool: the bat. McCutchen has quick hands and a compact swing, producing surprising raw power for his size and giving him the bat speed to lash line drives to all fields. … at the plate, (he’s earned) 60 and 70 grades from scouts (on the 20-80 scouting scale) with 50 raw power.”

OF – Carlos Gomez, Brewers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Gomez after the 2007 season when he debuted in the majors for the Mets and was ranked their No. 3 prospect:

“A true five-tool athlete, Gomez has game-changing speed and a well above-average arm, tools that help make him a premium defender in center field. He also has excellent bat speed that leads to projections of at least average power, if not more. Hitting will be the last tool to develop for Gomez. He’s still searching for the balance between aggressiveness and plate discipline.”

OF – Yasiel Puig, Dodgers

Yasiel PuigThis is what Baseball America wrote about Puig after he was given a seven-year, $42 million contract by the Dodgers, and was ranked the No. 2 prospect in the organization after the 2012 season:

“Puig has the tools to justify his contract. He’s a physical specimen, generating explosive bat speed and plus-plus raw power. He could stand to incorporate his lower body a little better in his swing, but he shows a good load and an ability to get through the ball, so he should hit for solid averages. He does need to be more selective, however, and not get impatient when he sees fewer fastballs.”

Reserves

C – Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Lucroy when he was ranked the No. 5 prospect in the Brewers’ system after the 2009 season:

“He has a good approach and a short swing, squares the ball up and has solid gap power. He bolsters his average arm strength with a quick release and has recorded pop times as low as 1.8 seconds. Lucroy sometimes struggles behind the plate, boxing balls and losing his release point on throws, causing them to sail. He also needs to improve his game-calling skills.”

C – Devin Mesoraco, Reds

dmesoraco11267300di1This is what Baseball America wrote about Mesoraco after the 2011 season when he was the Reds’ top prospect:

“Mesoraco’s biggest impediment has been a series of nagging injuries. Finger and hand injuries have dogged him, but he’s not one to beg out of the lineup. The Reds are thrilled with his makeup.  A potential all-star, Mesoraco will get time to lay claim to a starting job.”

1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves

This is what Baseball America wrote about Freeman after the 2010 season when he was the best hitter for average and power in the Braves system:

“The second-youngest regular in the league, Freeman batted just .170 in his first 13 games. But he figured things out quickly, leading the league in hits (147) and total bases (240) and winning the IL’s rookie of the year award. Freeman generates excellent raw power with his bat speed and the leverage in his swing.”

2B – Dee Gordon, Dodgers

Dee GordonThis is what Baseball America wrote about Gordon after the 2010 season, the second he spent as the top prospect in the Dodgers’ farm system:

“He has plus bat speed and while he’s primarily a fastball hitter, he has shown he can adjust to breaking pitches. Though he hits balls hard consistently, Gordon lacks power and his approach isn’t designed for it, so he’ll likely max out at 10 homers per year. He comes to the plate with an aggressive mentality … and needs to learn to see more pitches. He carries that same aggressiveness with him on the bases and in the field as well. ”

2B – Daniel Murphy, Mets

This is what Baseball America wrote about Murphy after the 2007 season when he was the Mets’ 15th-best prospect:

“A below-average runner, he is more likely to move to first base than the outfield if his defense and/or David Wright‘s presence in New York forces the issue at third. The problem is Murphy’s gap-to-gap power doesn’t profile well at a less challenging position, though optimistic scouts believe he might hit 20 homers annually.”

SS – Starlin Castro, Cubs

This is what Baseball America wrote about Castro after he was the Cubs’ top prospect in 2009:

“Castro covers the plate well for a young hitter and does a nice job of staying inside the ball and using the entire field. He consistently puts the barrel of the bat on the ball. … Castro’s performance has drawn him comparisons with the likes of Tony Fernandez, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada—and even Derek Jeter. … Castro excels defensively as well, with range to both sides, body control and arm strength to make any play.”

3B – Todd Frazier, Reds

This is what Baseball America wrote about Frazier after the 2011 season when he was the Reds’ No. 9 prospect:

“His actions fit better at the hot corner than in the middle infield, and he has an average, accurate arm. After logging nearly 2,000 minor league at-bats, he’s more than ready for the majors.”

3B – Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

Matt CarpenterThis is what Baseball America wrote about Matt Carpenter after the 2011 season when he was the No. 12 prospect:

“Drafted as a fifth-year senior out of Texas Christian and signed for a $1,000 bonus, he’s aware that time and age aren’t on his side. Talent is. His lack of batting gloves and his early-bird workouts got attention during spring training, but he projects as a high-average hitter because of a quick, elegant swing and advanced feel for the strike zone.”

IF/OF – Josh Harrison, Pirates

This is what Baseball America wrote about Harrison when he was the No. 30 prospect after the 2010 season:

“It can be tempting for evaluators to write off Harrison, who is too small to hit for power, too slow to play a small man’s game, too limited defensively to play shortstop, too impatient to draw walks. But all he does is hit, hit and hit.”

OF – Charlie Blackmon, Rockies

Charlie Blackmon (Photo by Bill Nichols).This is what Baseball America wrote about Blackmon after the 2011 season when he was the Rockies’ 2011 prospect:

“He did a better job of handling lefthanders last season and should be able to hit for a solid average. He shows flashes of power, but how much he’ll ultimately have is a question. Blackmon may lack the bat speed to catch up to quality fastballs and do a lot of damage.”

OF – Hunter Pence, Giants

This is what Baseball America wrote about Pence, who was drafted in the 40th round in 2002 and then the 2nd round in 2004, after he 2006 season:

“Pence doesn’t do anything pretty but he does most things well. His approach at the plate is anything but textbook, as he chokes up on the bat and has a hitch in his swing. There were concerns that advanced pitchers might be able to pound him inside, but he put that notion to rest in … Pence has quick hands, terrific bat speed and plenty of strength, so he has no problem catching up to any fastball.”

OF – Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

This is what Baseball America wrote about Stanton in 2009 after he was ranked the best athlete and best power hitter in the Marlins’ system:

“Stanton’s reputation took off after the Marlins refused to include him in a deal for Manny Ramirez in July 2008, even with the Red Sox willing to pay the entire $7 million remaining on the future Hall of Famer’s contract. … he showed regular flashes of light-tower power. He has the ability to stay back on breaking balls and take them the other way with authority. He has a flat swing and keeps the barrel in the zone for a long time.”

Pitchers

Madison Bumgarner, Giants

mbumgarner08267300ds1This is what Baseball America wrote about Bumgarner when he was the Giants’ No. 2 prospect after the 2009 season:

“At his best, Bumgarner shows a mid-90s fastball, a slider with good tilt and an average changeup. His heater has late giddy-up and he has advanced command of it. … He’s an ornery competitor in the mold of Kevin Brown.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds

This is what Baseball America wrote about Chapman after the 2010 season when he was ranked as the Reds’ No. 1 prospect:

“Any discussion about Chapman begins with his fastball. It’s a freak of nature, arguably the hottest heater ever seen. The 20-80 scouting scale fails to fully encapsulate the pitch, because at its best it’s 7-8 mph harder than an 80 fastball. He sits at 99-100 mph and touches 103-105 as a reliever. Even as a starter, he can work at 95-96 mph and get to 101. Hitters can’t try to sit on his fastball because Chapman has a plus-plus slider, a mid-80s dart with sharp break.”

Johnny Cueto, Reds

Johnny Cueto (Photo by Bill Mitchell).This is what Baseball America wrote about Cueto after the 2007 season when he was ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the Southern League:

“Two years removed from Rookie ball, Cueto climbed from high Class A to Triple-A this season, dealing all the way. The 21-year-old compiled a jaw-dropping 170-34 strikeout-walk ratio in 161 innings, including a career-high 13-whiff performance against Carolina in his second SL start. Cueto pounds the zone with a 91-95 mph fastball and an 82-89 mph slider.”

Zack Greinke, Dodgers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Greinke after the 2003 season when he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect with the Royals:

“Greinke is a constant tinkerer and thinker with impeccable control of an array of pitches. He likes developing new pitches and variations by adding and subtracting velocity and changing grips.  … He doesn’t strike out as many hitters as he could because he revels in breaking bats and inducing weak contact to create better pitch economy.”

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Clayton KershawThis is what Baseball America wrote about Kershaw after the 2006 season when he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Gulf Coast League:

“He maintained his stuff throughout the season, regularly showing a fastball that sat between 90-94 mph and touched 96, as well as a plus curveball. His changeup is solid average and has the makings of a dependable third offering. He has a loose arm and repeats his delivery, helping him command his pitches remarkably well for an 18-year-old.”

Craig Kimbrel, Braves

This is what Baseball America wrote about Kimbrel after the 2010 season when he was ranked as the No. 5 prospect with the Braves:

“Kimbrel has averaged 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro, thanks to his heavy fastball, which sits at 93-96 mph with excellent sink. His slurvy curveball gives him a second plus pitch to complement his heater. Reminiscent of a righthanded Billy Wagner, he has the stuff and makeup to finish games.”

Pat Neshek, Cardinals

This is what Baseball America wrote about Neshek after the 2006 season when he was ranked as the Twins’ No. 6 prospect:

“Neshek earned his way to the majors, posting a career 2.17 ERA over five minor league seasons. He has pinpoint command despite a unconventional sidearm delivery that creates tremendous deception. He annihilates righthanders (.140 average, 37 strikeouts in 86 big league at-bats) with his 86-91 mph sinking fastball and slurvy breaking ball.”

Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Rodriguez after the 2002 season when he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect with the (then) Anaheim Angels:

“Despite spending most of the season in the minors, Rodriguez emerged as (Mike) Scioscia’s go-to reliever in critical playoff situations. He made veteran hitters look foolish with his electrifying two-pitch arsenal. His lightning-quick arm generates 94-96 mph velocity on his fastball with explosive late life.”

Tyson Ross, Padres

This is what Baseball America wrote about Ross after the 2010 season when he was ranked the No. 4 prospect with the Athletics:

“Ross features two above-average pitches in his fastball and slider. The fastball usually sits in the low to mid-90s and touched 98 mph late in the season in Triple-A. He uses the sink on his heater to get plenty of groundouts. He also throws a cutter with promise and a changeup that improved last season even though he didn’t use it much as a big league reliever.”

Jeff Samardzija, Athletics (Was with Cubs)

jsamardzija08267300bb1This is what Baseball America wrote about Samarzidja before he was drafted 149th overall (5th round) by the Cubs in 2006:

“If Samardzija were solely a baseball player, he’d be much more advanced as a pitcher and a lock first-rounder. But he’s not … he’s also the top-rated wide receiver for the 2007 NFL draft. His fastball has increased from 89-92 mph in 2005 to 91-94 mph this year, touching 96 on occasion. His 6-foot-5 frame and three-quarters arm slot give him power sink on his fastball.”

Julio Teheran, Braves

This is what Baseball America wrote about Teheran after the 2011 season when he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect with the Braves:

“With an electric arm, excellent instincts and maturity beyond his years, Teheran makes pitching look easy. He mixes four pitches to keep hitters off balance and does a good job of getting ahead in the count. His heater sits at 93-95 mph and touches 97. He commands the pitch to both sides of the plate and isn’t afraid to pitch inside. His changeup is nearly as good as his fastball, featuring outstanding depth and fade.”

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

awainwright07267300ew_0011This is what Baseball America wrote about Wainwright after the 2002 season when he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect with the Braves:

“His fastball, rated the best in the Carolina League by managers, has outstanding movement and frequently fools hitters. Wainwright is nearly as successful with his hard curveball, though he has yet to master consistency and feel with it. He also throws strikes with his solid changeup. Wainwright has an excellent mound presence and can be intimidating with his downward angle to the plate.”

Tony Watson, Pirates

This is what Baseball America wrote about Watson after the 2007 season when he was ranked as the No. 11 prospect with the Pirates:

“Watson has a good feel for pitching, and he knows how to work both sides of the plate and mix his pitches. His fastball sat at 86-88 mph in 2007, a tick or two down from the previous year, and he has lost some velocity since having his labrum repaired. But it plays up because of a changeup that drops off the table.”

Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

This is what Baseball America wrote about Zimmerman before the he was drafted 67th overall (2nd round) by the Nationals:

“Zimmermann … throws a changeup with promising action and uses a loopy curveball as a fourth pitch. Zimmermann regularly touched 93-95 in the Northwoods League, and scouts expect him to show that velocity more often as he adds more strength to his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame.”

AL Roster

Starters

C – Matt Wieters, Orioles

mwieters08267200bm1This is what Baseball America wrote about Wieters before he was drafted 5th overall (1st round) by the Orioles in 2007:

“Wieters has soft hands, good footwork and well-above-average arm strength, as evidenced by the 96 mph heat he has shown from the mound. Despite his size, he shows an ability to handle low strikes and receives quietly. He’s not as vocal on the field as prototypical catchers. Wieters is the most polished hitter in the draft class. He commands the strike zone, displaying patience and pitch recognition.”

1B – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Cabrera after the 2002 season when he was the Marlins’ No. 1 overall prospect:

“Cabrera … projects to hit for both average and power, with annual totals of 35-40 homers not out of the question down the road. He loves to play, doesn’t get too emotional and constantly works to get better. While he has a good grasp of the strike zone, Cabrera should accept more walks and lay off breaking balls out of the zone.”

2B – Robinson Cano, Mariners

Robinson CanoThis is what Baseball America wrote about Cano after the 2004 season when he was the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect:

“A confident player, Cano plays as if he belongs in the majors. His father Jose pitched briefly in the big leagues. Cano’s arm is his best tool and rates as a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. More important, he can hit. He has good bat speed and a fluid swing, allowing him to catch up to good fastballs.”

SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees

This is what Baseball America wrote about Jeter after the 1994 season when he was the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect:

“Besides plus tools, Jeter understands the strike zone, runs the bases intelligently and has leadership skills. He has outstanding range and agile feet. Jeter decreased his errors from 56 to 25 this year, but then made 11 in 16 AFL games … He makes lazy throws on easy plays, something the Yankees believe he will grow out of with experience.”

3B – Josh Donaldson, Athletics

Josh DonaldsonThis is what Baseball America wrote about Donaldson before he was taken 48th overall (1.5 round) by the Cubs in the 2007 draft:

“He’s a work in progress defensively, but shows passable catch-and-throw skills with a solid-average arm. He’s a hitter first, and has relied on plus bat speed and an aggressive approach … His swing is unorthodox, and a hard front step that triggers his swing should be toned down to improve his timing and balance.”

OF – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

This is what Baseball America wrote about Bautista after the 2001 season when he was ranked as the No. 14 prospect with the Pirates:

“Bautista made a big impression with the bat in his pro debut. His quick hands and ability to make adjustments particularly impressed the Pirates. He has good power and can turn on a ball while also hitting for average. Bautista has quick reflexes at third base, a strong arm and good speed. Like many youngsters, he can be made to chase some bad pitches but that problem can be corrected with time. He sometimes shows a hitch in his swing that will have to be eliminated.”

OF – Mike Trout, Angels

This is what Baseball America wrote about Trout before he was taken 25th overall (1st round) by the Angels in the 2009 draft:
Mike Trout
“Trout has turned himself into a favorite of scouts in the Northeast, both for his talent and his makeup. … he’s shown the ability to hit hard line drives to all fields, though his swing still gets loopy and long at times. Halfway through the spring, Trout even began working on hitting lefthanded, and he showed some aptitude for it.”

OF – Adam Jones, Orioles

This is what Baseball America wrote about Jones before he was drafted by the Mariners with the 37th overall pick (1.5 round) in the 2003 draft:

“Jones warrants interest as both a pitcher and position player. He was scouted more as a shortstop early in the season, and then he touched 96 in late April and generated first-round attention … Jones has limited skills beyond raw stuff, and little feel for pitching. He prefers to be an everyday player and is athletic to play almost any position on the field. He is a potential five-tool talent, though his bat is a bit suspect.”

DH – Nelson Cruz, Orioles

This is what Baseball America wrote about Cruz after the 2005 season when he was the No. 8 prospect with the Brewers:

“He uses an aggressive swing, strong wrists and quick hands to generate a buggy-whip swing with violent bat speed. But power isn’t his only plus tool. He also has a plus arm in right field. Cruz has holes in his swing. Pitchers use his aggressiveness against him with offspeed stuff in fastball counts.”

Reserves

C – Salvador Perez, Royals

Salvador-Perez-2014-bmThis is what Baseball America wrote about Perez after the 2010 season when he was ranked the No. 17 prospect in the Royals’ system:

“Perez has slightly above-average arm strength … he does a good job of framing pitches, handling velocity and calling a game. He makes consistent contact and has some gap power, though he rarely draws a walk. The biggest concern with Perez is his lack of speed. He grades as a 25 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale right now, and he already has a thick lower half at age 20.”

C – Derek Norris, Athletics

This is what Baseball America wrote about Norris after he was the No. 9 prospect in Washington after the 2011 season:

“Norris long has been regarded as a gifted offensive player, but early in his pro career there were questions about the converted third baseman’s ability to catch. He answered them by making great strides defensively in Double-A in 2011, when he also slugged 20 homers but hit just .210. … Norris has excellent pitch recognition and the ability to command the zone when he stays back.”

C – Kurt Suzuki, Twins

This is what Baseball America wrote about Suzuki after the 2006 season when he was the Athletics’ No. 3 prospect:

“Suzuki went from walk-on to hero at Cal State Fullerton, leading the Titans to the 2004 College World Series championship as the team’s top hitter and emotional core. … He repeats his short swing, geared to produce line drives, and has improved significantly in using the whole field.”

1B – Jose Abreu, White Sox

jose-abreu-2014-mugThis is what Baseball America wrote about Abreu, the White Sox’s top prospect, after the 2013 season:

“The White Sox have had success with Cubans, from Minnie Minoso in the 1950s to 2005 World Series hero Jose Contreras to current lineup stalwarts Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo. Ideally, he would hit fifth or sixth in the lineup as a rookie, as the team doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him. If Abreu sees time in the minor leagues in 2014, the White Sox will be disappointed.”

DH – Victor Martinez, Tigers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Martinez after the 2002 season when he was the Indians’ No. 2 overall prospect:

“Martinez is a natural hitter with tremendous strike-zone discipline and an uncanny ability to produce from either side of the plate. He rarely swings and misses. He has shown an ability to pick the pitch and count that allow him to drive the ball.”

DH – Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

This is what Baseball America wrote about Encarnacion, the Reds No. 2 prospect after the 2004 season:

“His improved willingness to go the other way and good bat speed have scouts projecting him to hit .280-.300 with 20-25 homers annually. Defensively he has a plus arm, quick hands and middle-infield actions. Offensively, his swing tends to get long when he tries too hard to hit for power.”

INF – Kyle Seager, Mariners

This is what Baseball America wrote about Seager in 2009 before he was drafted by the Mariners with the 82nd overall pick (third round):

“His best tool is his bat. He has a smooth, balanced swing and makes consistent contact with gap power. He ranked third in the nation in 2008 with 30 doubles and was on a similar pace in 2009. He has a patient approach but doesn’t project to hit for much home run power because of his modest bat speed and flat swing plane.”

1B/OF – Brandon Moss, Athletics

This is what Baseball America wrote about Moss, the Red Sox’s No. 11 prospect after the 2007 season:

“He has strong hands, a quick bat, leverage in his swing and a greater understanding that he should just let his power come naturally. He imparts nice backspin on his drives, and though he’ll swing and miss, he does a good job of covering both sides of the plate. He projects as a .270 hitter with 20 homers a year.”

2B – Jose Altuve, Astros

Jose-Altuve-2014-bnThis is what Baseball America wrote about Altuve, the Astros’ No. 28 prospect after the 2010 season:

“Altuve fits no standard profile. He doesn’t lack tools, but he’s difficult to compare to other players. He has a unique build, compared by some scouts to a fire hydrant, and some say he is two inches shorter than his listed height. Defense is his best attribute. He has quick, strong hands that work well at the plate and in the field.”

SS – Alexei Ramirez, White Sox

Baseball America talked to four international scouting directors in 2007 to get a feel for what Ramirez could offer teams before he was signed by the White Sox in 2008:

“‘He profiles as an above-average big leaguer in right field,’ a National League scout said of the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder. ‘He’s got slightly below-average power from the right side, but a hit tool that is well above-average.He played a lot of shortstop in Cuba and I wouldn’t rule that out when he comes to the States because he has the bat to back it up. He’s got a great arm, good hands and very good body control.’”

3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Beltre, the No. 2 prospect in the Dodgers’ system after the 1997 season:

“Beltre may be the most gifted player in the minors. All his tools are at least above-average. His hitting and power are on par with Paul Konerko‘s. He has above-average speed and the strongest arm in the organization outside of Raul Mondesi.”

OF – Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics

Yoenis Cespedes (Photo by Bill Nichols).This is what Baseball America wrote about Cespedes after the 2012 season just before he was signed by the Athletics:

“Cespedes is an excellent athlete whose mother was an Olympic softball player for Cuba. He was the center fielder for Cuba’s teams in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and World Cup … and he was one of the top hitters in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, its top league. … Cespedes is the best Cuban hitting prospect to defect at least since Kendrys Morales, who was younger but less athletic.”

OF – Alex Gordon, Royals

This is what Baseball America wrote about Gordon, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2005 draft, after the 2006 season:

“The Royals are trying to get him to focus on keeping his swing on a slight downward plane to generate more backspin and loft. Gordon has the most room to improve defensively. He was mechanical and a little stiff as third baseman coming out of college, but he has made significant improvement.”

OF – Michael Brantley, Indians

This is what Baseball America wrote about Brantley after the 2009 season when he was the Indians’ No. 5 prospect:

“Brantley is a career .300 hitter with a .387 on-base percentage in the minors because he has excellent plate discipline and plus speed from the left side. He has an easy, compact swing and a good two-strike approach. He pairs his speed with good instincts on the basepaths … His speed is also an asset in center field, where he improved his reads and routes to become a solid-average defender with a chance to get better.”

Pitchers

Dellin Betances, Yankees

Dellin Betances (Photo by Tomasso DeRosa)This is what Baseball America wrote about Betances before he was drafted 254th overall (8th round) by the Yankees in 2006:

“The towering Betances commands attention on the mound, and has flashed big stuff to match his size. He had scouts buzzing when he showed low- to mid-90s velocity in last year’s Aflac game, when he needed just nine pitches to retire the heart of the West lineup. But Betances struggled to regain that velocity in the cold weather early this spring, pitching in the high 80s and topping out at 91. He’s gotten stronger as the season has gone along, pitching back in the 92-93 range and touching 94 while flashing a plus 12-6 curveball with sharp downer action.”

Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays

Buehrle is one of the only players on either roster who wasn’t much of a prospect before finding success in the majors. Here is what Baseball America wrote about Buehrle in our April 17-30, 2000 issue when Buehrle was surprising people in spring training for the White Sox:

“In a year’s time, he went from the rotation at Jefferson (Mo.) Junior College to receiving strong consideration for the White Sox bullpen. It helps to be lefthanded, but Buehrle is proof that good things happen to pitchers who throw strikes. ‘He’s been real good, a real polished pitcher,’ manager Jerry Manuel said. ‘I really believe that you can take a lefthander, and if they have it, they have it. If they don’t, they probably have a good arm and you try to find it.’ Give the White Sox credit for realizing that Buehrle has it.”

Yu Darvish, Rangers

Yu DarvishThis is what Baseball America wrote about Darvish after the 2011 season:

“Darvish ranked as the No. 1 prospect at the 2009 World Baseball Classic top 20 and has continued to dominate in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. … Of mixed Iranian and Japanese heritage, Darvish has everything a team looks for in a frontline starter: stuff, aggressiveness and durability. He throws five pitches, highlighted by a fastball that sits at 92-95 mph and has touched as high as 99 in relief.”

Sean Doolittle, Athletics

This is what Baseball America wrote about Doolittle before he was drafted 41st overall (1.5 round) by the Athletics in 2007:

“As a polished two-way prospect out of a New Jersey high school, Doolittle had all the makings of a perennial all-American candidate when he arrived at Virginia. He stepped into the Cavaliers’ starting lineup as a freshman and slammed 11 home runs, but has hit just 11 since, including seven this season as a junior … He struggled from the mound this year and isn’t considered a frontline pro prospect as a lefthanded pitcher.”

Felix Hernandez, Mariners

Felix Hernandez (Photo by Bill Mitchell).This is what Baseball America wrote about Hernandez after the 2004 season when he was the No. 1 prospect with the Mariners:

“It’s difficult to project Hernandez’ ceiling because his ability seems limitless. All three of his pitches are above average … His fastball and curveball are the best in the system, each rating a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and some club officials give his 60 changeup top billing as well. Hernandez has true power stuff, as his fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 97 mph while his curveball arrives in the mid-80s.”

Greg Holland, Royals

This is what Baseball America wrote about Holland in 2009 when he was in the Royals minor league system on the cusp of making his appearance in the majors:

“Holland found it difficult to attract scouts or college recruiters during his senior season at McDowell (N.C.) High. He was a short, skinny righthander throwing 84-86 mph, but there was a good reason for the velocity dip. Holland spent part of his senior season pitching with his jaw wired shut and dropped 30 pounds, down to about 150 … He eventually walked on at Western Carolina and logged 10 saves as a junior and was named first-team all-Southern Conference in 2007. His velocity … reached the mid-90s, and the Royals picked him in the 10th round in 2007.”

Scott Kazmir, Athletics

This is what Baseball America wrote about Kazmir before he was drafted 15th overall (1st round) by the Mets in 2002:

“If Kazmir were a few inches taller than his listed 6 feet, he would be the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick. Even if he’s not big, his stuff is, as his lightning-quick arm reminds scouts of Ron Guidry. His lively fastball, which reaches 96 mph, and slider are both well above-average pitches, and his hard curveball gives him a third plus offering.”

Jon Lester, Red Sox

Jon LesterThis is what Baseball America wrote about Lester before he was drafted 57th overall (2nd round) by the Red Sox in 2002:

“At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Lester looks like a big leaguer. He is athletic, swings the bat well and runs well enough to be considered a top position prospect, but scouts see him first as a pitcher. His velocity has been up and down this spring, ranging from 88 mph on the day he threw a perfect game to a high of 93.”

Glen Perkins, Twins

This is what Baseball America wrote about Perkins before he was drafted 22nd overall (1st round) by the Twins:

“If Perkins was bigger than 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he’d be a lock first-rounder. He’s a lefthander who shows three plus pitches at times and commands them well. Perkins maintains an 88-92 mph fastball throughout games and can throw it to both sides of the plate.”

David Price, Rays

This is what Baseball America wrote about Price after the 2007 season when he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect with the Rays:

“Price rates off the charts with his stuff, athleticism and disposition, a package that should make him one of the premier pitchers in the majors. He has two plus-plus pitches with a mid-90s fastball and a biting slider. His fastball has outstanding movement with late armside run. His slider is reminiscent of John Smoltz‘s with its depth and 87-88 mph velocity.”

Max Scherzer, Tigers

This is what Baseball America wrote about Scherzer after the 2007 season when he was the Diamondbacks’ No. 4 prospect:

“Scherzer’s fastball can overmatch batters, arriving in the mid-90s with sinking action at its best. His slider also can be a plus pitch, though he’s working on its command and plane. Some scouts who saw Scherzer as a starter at midseason wondered what the fuss was about. Then they saw him relieving in the Arizona Fall League and he was … touching 98 mph.”

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees

Masahiro TanakaThis is what Baseball America wrote about Tanaka after the 2013 season:

“Tanaka pitches off a fastball that sits at 90-94 and touches 96 while making one start a week. … He has the stuff and polish to be a No. 2 starter in the major leagues immediately. Tanaka’s 84-89 mph splitter … is a wipeout pitch … it’s arguably the best splitter on the planet. When Yu Darvish left Japan after the 2011 season, Tanaka became the undisputed No. 1 pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball.”