Midseason Prospect Reports: Stock Up/Stock Down Report
See also: Midseason Top 50 Prospects
With the release of our Midseason Top 50 Prospects list, we also wanted to highlight some of the prospects who have helped their stock, even if they didn't crack the Top 50, as well as some who have seen their stock dip in 2011.
Jarek Cunningham, 2b, Pirates:
The Pirates have been patient with Cunningham, who missed 2009 with a torn left ACL and hit just .258/.309/.436 in his full-season debut with low Class A West Virginia. Healthier, Cunningham was tearing up the Florida State League this year with high Class A Bradenton, ranking third in the league in slugging, second in total bases (152) and fourth in home runs (15) while batting .266/.321/.547. His aggressiveness that helps bring his raw power to play in games also tends to get him in trouble, as he swings and misses more than he should (75 strikeouts, 15 walks in 278 at-bats). His aggressiveness and solid-average defensive tools serve him well in the field, and he's a solid runner and athlete who should be able to stay in the middle infield. After just missing the Pirates' Top 30 last season, he's making a greater impact this season.
Drew Hutchison, rhp, Blue Jays:
Few pitchers in the minors were hotter than Hutchison, a 14th-round pick in 2009 who got a $400,000 above-slot bonus. In his first stab at full-season ball, he's made it look easy, earning a promotion from low Class A Lansing to high Class A Dunedin. Straddling the two levels, he'd made six straight starts without giving up an earned run through July 4. Hutchison was pounding the strike zone with a lively low-90s fastball, above-average slider and increasingly effective changeup.
Brandon Jacobs, of, Red Sox:
Jacobs turned down a chance to go to Auburn to play football, which means he lost a chance to be a national champion. Perhaps that's been his motivation for a breakthrough 2011 year, as he's put his physicality and power-speed combination on full display. The muscular 6-foot-1, 225-pounder was hitting .327/.397/.521 at low Class A Greenville, with the caveat of a 24-73 walk-strikeout ratio. He's struck out in 25 percent of his at-bats, so his approach could use some polish, but his upside is undeniable.
J.R. Murphy, c, Yankees:
The Yankees have stockpiled offensive catchers in recent years, searching for a long-term replacement for Jorge Posada. International signees Jesus Montero at Triple-A and Gary Sanchez at low Class A have garnered the most attention, and Double-A's Austin Romine is headed for his second consecutive Futures Game. Meanwhile Murphy, who signed for a $1.45 million bonus in the 2009 draft, has moved up to high Class A Tampa and has had the best season of the organization's backstops. He was signed for his bat and hit well in a return to low Class A Charleston, batting .297/.343/.457 with 23 doubles, fifth-best in the league even two weeks after he'd been promoted to Tampa. Moreover, scouts report he's improved significantly on defense, as he threw out 27 percent of opposing baserunners and polished up his receiving. He's still an offensive catcher, but he's more of a catcher than ever before.
Michael Olt, 3b, Rangers:
Texas has Adrian Beltre signed up for the next five seasons, so it's in no hurry to push Olt through the system. He was doing that on his own this season, pushing himself to high Class A Myrtle Beach in his first full pro season and batting .286/.395/.508 there with 10 home runs in 189 at-bats. Olt provides above-average defense at the hot corner as well, with fluid actions and a plus arm. At the least, he's an excellent trade chip as he comes back from a broken left collarbone.
Chris Archer, rhp, Rays (Preseason Rank: No. 27):
The centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade with the Cubs, Archer has struggled to recapture his breakthrough form of 2010. Scouts who have seen him this year say he doesn't look like the same pitcher, as he has a more mechanical delivery. His stuff remains firm, with a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and a plus slider that scrapes the upper 80s. However, his command has fallen back closer to pre-2010 levels. He averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings in 2010 and is at 4.8 BB/9 in 2011; his prior struggles included a 6.6 mark in 2008 and 5.4 in 2009. Last fall, Archer earned praise for his ability to make in-game adjustments, a trait that hasn't been in evidence as frequently this season. His inconsistent changeup and curveball leave scouts wondering if he'll have to move to the bullpen eventually.
Andrew Brackman, rhp, Yankees (Preseason Rank: No. 78):
Since getting one of the draft's most lucrative contracts as a first-round pick in 2007, Brackman has had his share of ups and downs. He'e had injuries (Tommy John surgery, an appendectomy) and inconsistent performances, with flashes of brilliance that have been too few and far between. He finished 2010 on a high note at Double-A Trenton but has had little success throwing strikes with his fastball with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His fastball velocity remains inconsistent but has more consistently dipped into the average range, after he sat in the mid-90s with a power curveball in Double-A in 2010. Brackman's confidence has taken a hit, and scouts report he throws his curve when he most needs a strike. Triple-A hitters have figured that out as well, hence his 7.94 ERA and 50-53 walk-strikeout ratio in 62 innings.
Alex Wimmers, rhp, Twins:
A 2010 first-round pick, Wimmers narrowly missed the Top 100 in the preseason after a flashy pro debut, in which he struck out 23 and allowed only one earned run (and five walks) in four short starts at high Class A Fort Myers, totaling a hair under 16 innings. This spring, though, Wimmers developed "The Thing," a mental block when he tried to pitch. He walked all six batters he faced in his return to Fort Myers, throwing in three wild pitches for good measure, and hasn't pitched since. It's not unheard of for a pitcher to totally lose command, and the Twins have dealt with it with 2008 supplemental first-rounder Shooter Hunt, Wimmers' Fort Myers teammate and a power arm with 226 walks in 181 career innings. While Wimmers walked just 23 in 73 innings as a junior at Ohio State in 2010, he has had bouts of wildness before, with 85 walks in 145 innings in his first two Buckeyes seasons.
In addition to looking at which players have raised or lowered their stock, here are five players who came close to the list, and likely would be on it with a little bit more of a track record. Scouting is never an exact science, but it becomes even more dificult when you are considering young players who have logged only a few at-bats or innings this summer. This a listing of five young players who are likely Top 100 Prospects who may make arguments to crack the offseason Top 50.
Oswaldo Arcia, of, Twins:
If not for a sore elbow that limited him to designated hitter duty in April, then sidelined him for all of May and most of June, Arcia would arguably be in the Top 50. The 20-year-old right fielder has an extremely advanced feel for hitting, as his bat produces line drive after line drive. Even with the sore elbow, Arcia hit .352/.420/.704 in the extremely difficult hitting environment of a chilly April in the Midwest League. Arcia's elbow healed enough for him to return to the field, and even with an aggressive jump to the Florida State League, he was hitting .313/.353/.500 in his first 32 at-bats with Fort Myers.
"I think he'll be a star," said an AL scout.
Daniel Corcino, rhp, Reds:
Corcino has been gathering Johnny Cueto comps for a while, which is understandable because, like Cueto, he's an undersized (6-foot) Dominican righthander with excellent stuff. And like Cueto, Corcino's breakout onto the mainstream prospect radar has happened now that he's made it to the Midwest League.
It's hard to fault Corcino's stuff: His fastball sits at 91-94, but he frequently touches 96 mph. He pairs that with a willingness to use his developing changeup and potentially plus slider. All three pitches play up because of his advanced command.
The results are impressive as well. Corcino was 8-3, 2.57 with 95 strikeouts, only 16 walks and 66 hits allowed in 81 innings.
If scouts have concerns about Corcinco, they come from his build and delivery. As a short righthander with a delivery that has some effort, Corcino could end up as a power reliever. But if you like him, it's not hard to project him as another Cueto.
David Holmberg, lhp, Diamondbacks:
Part of the prospect haul in last year's Edwin Jackson trade, Holmberg pitched his way out of the Midwest League with a 34 scoreless inning streak that stretched over his final five starts. He's been promoted to high Class A Visalia, which will give him a much tougher challenge.
Holmberg's 8-3, 2.39 record for South Bend can be explained by his advanced command and plus changeup as much as his 89-93 mph fastball. He shows some feel for a curveball, but it's his third best pitch.
And that's why scouts want to wait and see with Holmberg, lefties with a yo-yo changeup often dominate low Class A hitters. So Holmberg will need to show that he can continue to retire more advanced hitters with his change, or he'll need to develop his curveball.
Keyvius Sampson, rhp, Padres:
Unlike several of the Latin American players on this list, Sampson has been playing pro ball in the U.S. since 2009, but injuries had hampered his career. In 2010, he managed to pitch through a shoulder problem that didn't keep him off the mound, but did affect his stuff and his delivery.
Healthy this year, Sampson has responded by going 7-2, 3.38 with 81 strikeouts and 25 walks in 69 innings this year with low Class A Fort Wayne. Sampson ranks second in the league in opponent's batting average (.185). Sampson's 92-95 mph fastball has always impressed, but he's also starting to sharpen his secondary stuff as well.
Miguel Sano, ss/3b, Twins:
Sano's long-term position is still up in the air, as he's extremely likely to grow too big and slow to remain at shortstop, and even third base is a long-term question mark.
But the bat doesn't require a whole lot of projection. For an 18-year-old, Sano has plenty of present power to go with excellent bat speed. Sano hit well in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League in 2010, and the early returns in 2011 are just as impressive. He was hitting .303/.337/.576 in 66 at-bats with Elizabethton and is among the league leaders in extra-base hits.