Picking The Prospect Surprises And Disappointments Of The First Half




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The Midseason Top 50 Prospects update is one of the most volatile rankings we do. Players who had been among our Top 100 Prospects have been promoted to the big leagues while the new draftees and international signings are not yet on the field.

But it also provides a perfect chance to check with scouts about pop-up prospects—players who have gone from sleeper status to compete for spots in next year's Top 100. Here's a look at a dozen prospects who weren't close to the Top 100 coming into the season but may make the list next February.

Jorge Bonifacio, of, Royals: The younger brother of big leaguer Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge doesn't have the defensive acumen of his big brother, but he has a more potent bat. One of best players in the Rookie-level Appalachian League last year has more than handled jump to full-season ball—he's among the top 10 batters in the low Class A Midwest League.

Carter Capps, rhp, Mariners: A high school catcher who moved to the mound at the request of his Mount Olive (N.C.) coach, Capps' arm strength continues to get better. He sat in the low 90s as a starter and 94-97 mph in the Cape Cod League as a reliever. Now he's touching 100 mph while pairing his fastball with a solid slider while closing out games for Double-A Jackson.

Tony Cingrani, rhp, Reds: At Rice, Cingrani was a complete bust as a starter. He posted an 8.58 ERA, which led to a move to the bullpen. Cincinnati gave him another chance to start, and he's responded by posting a 1.57 ERA in 28 starts as a pro. His slider has improved to the point where he has two average secondary offerings on most nights. The fastball is almost always plus.

Kyle Crick, rhp, Giants: With Zack Wheeler traded to the Mets, the Giants were lacking in potential front-of-rotation starting pitching prospects, but Crick has stepped up to fit the bill. A supplemental first-round pick in 2011, Crick has a devastating 93-97 mph fastball and a slider that at times is plus. Developing improved command is next on Crick's to-do list.

Adam Eaton, of, Diamondbacks: A 19th-round pick out of Miami (Ohio) in 2010, Eaton has always been underestimated because he stands just 5-foot-8, but considering his track record for hitting, it's time to start wondering if he can be a big league regular. After all, how many hitters carry a .349/.455/.501 career batting line? He doesn't put many over the fence, which is fine because he profiles as a leadoff hitter.

Wilmer Flores, 3b, Mets: Of all the Mets' aggressive minor league promotions in recent years, Flores may be the most famous. After he destroyed the Appalachian League in 2008, the Mets sent him to low Class A Savannah in 2009 as a 17-year-old and promoted him to the high Class A Florida State League midway through the 2010 season. It took him three tries to figure out the FSL, but now he's hitting in Double-A and playing a position more suited to his skills.

Mike Foltynewicz, rhp, Astros: Because their farm system was so barren, players like Foltynewicz have often been promoted aggressively by the Astros. He couldn't handle the South Atlantic League last year, but Foltynewicz learned from his troubles. He came back from the offseason with better (92-93 mph) fastball and secondary stuff and is now one of the best pitchers in the league.

Miles Head, 1b/3b, Athletics: Considering his barrel-esque body type, Head is always going to draw skeptics. But the man can hit. Picked up in the offseason by the A's in the Andrew Bailey trade, Head leads all minor league hitters with a 1.122 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. It's worth remembering he slugged over .600 in the Sally League last year as well.

Jimmy Nelson, rhp, Brewers: The Brewers' high Class A Brevard County club was supposed to be the launching pad for several of the club's top pitching prospects, but it's been Nelson, not 2011 first-rounders Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley, who proved to be the ace of the staff. Nelson has front-line stuff to go with his fine performance. Jungmann and Bradley were supposed to be on the fast track, but it's Nelson who has beaten them to Double-A.

Gregory Polanco, of, Pirates: When scouts come in to see low Class A West Virginia, Alen Hanson is usually the first prospect they look for. But many times, they will come away equally impressed with Polanco. The 20-year-old center fielder shows power and speed to go with a 6-foot-4 frame that gives him plenty of room to fill out.

Trevor Rosenthal, rhp, Cardinals: Often pitchers see their velocity dip as they adjust to the grind of pro ball. In Rosenthal's case, his velocity has gotten better and better. What was once a 91-95 mph fastball has become a 93-98 mph fastball to go with a plus slider. The only significant knock on him is that some scouts think he'll end up as a reliever because he's primarily a two-pitch guy right now.

Dan Straily, rhp, Athletics: It's been a Saturn V rocket rise for Straily this season. After losing weight and getting into better shape during the offseason, Straily has gained a tick on his fastball, which now often sits at 93 mph. He's throws four pitches for strikes including a much-improved changeup, which explains why he leads the minors in strikeouts by a significant margin.

STOCK DOWN
Here's a look at 10 players from the preseason Top 100 Prospects list whose stock has slipped during the first half of 2012
Player Pos. Org Top 100 Rank
Mike Montgomery lhp Royals 23
Stuff has taken a step back. Lower release point has improved his control, but stuff is more hittable
Brett Jackson of Cubs 33
Has always battled some strikeout issues, but whiffing this year in an unsustainable 38 percent of at-bats
Brad Peacock rhp Athletics 36
Stuff is the same, but he hasn't been able to locate it as well after move to new organization
Gary Brown of Giants 38
Best case scenario is as a speedy center-field regular; has to hit away from Cal League to fulfill that
Wily Peralta rhp Brewers 56
Great 2011 season has been wiped away by lost command in 2012
Dellin Betances rhp Yankees 63
Unathletic, big righthander can't repeat his delivery or find the strike zone
Sonny Gray rhp Athletics 65
Ability to move quickly to majors was one of his big selling points, but he's struggling in Double-A
Jed Bradley lhp Brewers 71
Scouts who have seen him in Florida State League wonder what the fuss was about
Zack Cox 3b Cardinals 88
Questions about his power remain, but he's now also struggling to hit for average
Joe Benson of Twins 99
Failed to win big league spot, sent to Double-A and now hurt; still swings and misses too much
 
STEADY IMPROVEMENT
While they weren't Top 100 Prospects before the season, here are 10 prospects who weren't far off the list before the season and will make serious cases to be on next year's Top 100.
Oswaldo Arcia of Twins
Injuries slowed him down in 2011, now he's a much-needed cornerstone of Twins' future rebuilding
Austin Hedges c Padres
Bat has proved better than the reports coming out of high school, still has a cannon of an arm
Luis Heredia rhp Pirates
Not many 17-year-olds can hold their own in New York-Penn League, but Heredia was off to flying start
Ryan Lavarnway c Red Sox
Will never be great defensively, but should be a solid big league hitter who can catch adequately
Rougned Odor 2b Rangers
Young Rangers middle infielder having a Profar-esque Hickory debut
Adys Portillo rhp Padres
Posted 7.11 ERA in first try at low Class A, much better 1.76 ERA in return trip
Bruce Rondon rhp Tigers
Has fixed some of his control issues. Jose Valverde-esque reliever can touch 100 mph
Aaron Sanchez rhp Blue Jays
Blue Jays have handled carefully; he's dominated in short stints while producing bushels of groundballs
Yordano Ventura rhp Royals
Hard not to think about Tom Gordon when you see a short Royals righty with 96-98 mph fastball
 
ALL DISABLED-LIST TEAM
This is the list everyone wants to avoid: 10 significant prospects whose 2012 seasons have been marred by injuries.
Manny Banuelos lhp Yankees
If healthy, he might be pitching for Yankees right now; instead he's on DL with sore elbow
Josh Bell of Pirates
Has been out since April 23 with knee injury that will cost him much of season
Chad Bettis rhp Rockies
Shoulder strain has kept him sidelined all season with no ETA for a return yet
Jose Campos rhp Yankees
On heels of Michael Pineda's injury, Campos has missed more than a month with elbow soreness
Travis d'Arnaud c Blue Jays
Torn ligament in left knee will force him to miss much of second half of season
Robbie Erlin lhp Padres
Sidelined since May 12 with an elbow injury he's rehabbing
Casey Kelly rhp Padres
First two starts this season were great, but has been sidelined since with strained elbow ligament
Anthony Rendon 3b Nationals
Rendon's ankle injury is his fourth significant injury in as many years; has four pro at-bats
Eddie Rosario 2b Twins
Hit by line drive during BP recently, will miss significant time over second half of season
Arodys Vizcaino rhp Braves
Tommy John surgery this year after several previous injuries means injury-prone tag applies