We kick off our online minor league Top 20 Prospects coverage today, starting with the Arizona League. The rankings are free to all, with the scouting reports available only to subscribers.
We’ll present a new Top 20 every weekday through Oct. 10, followed by an independent leagues Top 10 the next day. We’ll also have a daily chat, where the writers of the various lists will explain their thinking. Feel free to send any Top 20-related question to Ask BA as well.
- Do you think there ever will be an international draft, as commissioner Bud Selig has proposed? It sure would make things more equitable in regards to talent distribution.
Ridley Park, Pa.
I don’t think we’ll ever see an international draft, because figuring out the logistics would be tougher than trying to hit Justin Verlander.
MLB has made strides in verifying the identities and ages of Latin American players, but it’s still a laborious process. An international draft would force MLB to investigate numerous players in a shorter period of time. The commissioner’s office also would have to monitor teams conspiring to hide players or depress their stock, and it already has trouble preventing deals getting made before the current signing period officially starts on July 2 each year.
Furthermore, MLB would have to settle several questions related to an international draft. Would players go into the current draft, which would give many of them a better sense of how teams value them, or would they go into a separate draft, which would create an extra set of first-round picks? Will 16-year-old Latin Americans remain eligible for pro ball, which eventually could lead to earlier entry for U.S. players, or will they have to wait until they’re high school seniors, which some scouts believe would harm their development? Will nondrafted Latin Americans become free agents after the draft like their U.S. counterparts, which could lead to all sorts of shenanigans?
A draft would reduce international bonuses dramatically, because players no longer would be able to negotiate with all 30 teams and sign with the highest bidder. But at the same time, small-revenue teams that work hard to sign quality mid-level prospects in Latin America would lose out, especially in a combined draft where they’d have to give up picks for players they previously acquired as free agents. An international draft will create many more problems than it will solve.
- What's your take on Anthony Gose's future with the Blue Jays? With Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista well established in the majors and Jake Marisnick emerging as one of the best five-tool outfield prospects in the game, is Gose's future with the Jays as a No. 4 outfielder? His hit tool doesn't look promising.
These things usually have a way of working themselves out. Gose is two levels ahead of Marisnick and should reach Toronto about 18 months earlier, which will give him time to establish himself. Marisnick shows more potential with the bat, but I wouldn’t sell Gose short.
Gose projects to have more speed and center-field range than Marisnick, though he has less power and control of the strike zone. Gose does have decent patience, and if he could maybe shorten his swing and make more contact, he could become a .270/.365/.450 hitter who can run wild on the bases and in center field. Marisnick doesn’t figure to be up before the second half of 2014, giving Gose some leeway to show what he can do in the majors.
- I watched lefthander Tony Cingrani make Missoula hitters look like high schoolers in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He threw first-pitch strikes to every batter he faced until the sixth inning, striking out 10 in six innings. He failed as a starting pitcher for Rice before succeeding as the Owls' closer as a senior this spring, then dominated as a starter after the Reds signed him as a third-round pick. How much do you have to discount his performance as a 22-year-old in Rookie ball, and how much credit do you have to give him for getting it together?
A third-round pick in June, Cingrani was older than most Rookie-level participants but at the same time, the Reds lacked a short-season affiliate to send him to. Though he was 22, his numbers still resonated in a notorious hitter’s league. He fell 10 innings short of qualifying for various pitching categories, but if he had, he would have topped the Pioneer League in ERA (1.75), strikeouts per nine innings (14.0), K/BB ratio (13.3), opponent average (.190) and WHIP (0.80).
That said, statistics are only a very small piece of the puzzle when evaluating players at the lower levels of the minor leagues. Physical ability matters more, and Cingrani is a 6-foot-5, 205-pound lefthander who works at 93-94 mph and can hit 97 with his fastball. He has some feel for his changeup, but his slider still has a ways to go.
How well Cingrani polishes his secondary pitches will determine if he can remain a starter or if he’ll move to the bullpen, where he has the upside of a set-up man. Either way, he has a better arm than most lefthanders, and he ultimately finished second among pitchers on our Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects list. We’ll have those rankings online on Thursday.