Scouts talk about tools more than your nearest AutoZone or Sears Craftsman dealer. Skills are important, and eventually skills are what get players paid in the big leagues, but tools are the building blocks of everything a player does.
So as the 2017 season nears, we rounded up the best-of-the-best around the minors. Players had to be prospect eligible and, with few exceptions, we limited this list to players who made the Prospect Handbook. In our conversations with scouts we focus on tools of legitimate major league prospects, so a top-of-the-scale throwing arm on a .210-hitting 24-year-old outfielder in low Class A doesn’t earn a spot on the list.
We’ve tried to update these lists based on injuries as well. Cardinals phenom Alex Reyes would have ranked No. 1 on the list of best curveballs, for example, but after having Tommy John surgery he’s out for 2017.
As one scout explained, athletes like Moncada rarely play baseball if they grow up in the U.S. because they generally end up on the football field. Moncada has the powerful build of a running back, with stocky strength and explosive speed. That power and quick-twitch athleticism give him a chance to be a future 20-20 man at the big league level.
“I’ve never seen so many tools together in one player,” a minor league manager who watched Moncada last year said. “I’ve never seen a player who has so many skills. He needs to continue to work on (some) parts of his game, but he has the speed-power combination. It’s hard to find a guy like that. The closest player I’ve seen to him in the past 20 years is (a young) Carlos Beltran.”