League Top 20 Prospects

2012 AZL Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports






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1. Angel Villalona, 3b, Giants
2. Engel Beltre, of, Rangers
3. Nick Noonan, 2b, Giants
4. *Danny Duffy, lhp, Royals
5. *Wilmer Font, rhp, Rangers
6. Wilber Bucardo, rhp, Giants
7. Drew Cumberland, ss, Padres
8. Danny Carroll, of, Mariners
9. Cristian Santana, c, Rangers
10. Mario Martinez, ss/3b, Mariners
11. *Mason Tobin, rhp, Angels
12. Michael Anton, lhp, Angels
13. Matt Mitchell, rhp, Royals
14. Yefri Carvajal, of, Padres
15. *Charlie Culberson, 2b/ss, Giants
16. Larry Suarez, rhp, Cubs
17. Clay Fuller, of, Angels
18. Sam Runion, rhp, Royals
19. Ivan Contreras, 2b, Angels
20. Jacob Wild, rhp, Mariners
*Played in the major leagues
TEMPE, Ariz.—The earlier signing deadline for draft picks had an obvious effect on the caliber of talent in the Rookie-level Arizona League. This summer's crop of prospects arguably was deeper than any group in the league's 25-year history. Unlike in past years when Latin American players dominated this list, the 2012 Top 20 features several draft choices from June, starting with the top three prospects: Athletics shortstop Addison Russell, Cubs outfielder Albert Almora and Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo.

Russell and Almora were two of the six 2012 first-rounders who qualified for this list, along with Rangers outfielder Lewis Brinson, Diamondbacks catcher Stryker Trahan, Brewers catcher Clint Coulter and Reds righthander Nick Travieso. Padres lefthander Max Fried fell one inning short of making the cut, while Royals righty Kyle Zimmer authored the AZL's lone complete-game shutout but worked only 10 innings in the AZL. By contrast, only one first-rounder was eligible for this Top 20 in the previous two years combined.

The presence of two high-profile Cuban outfielders, Jorge Soler (Cubs) and Yasiel Puig (Dodgers), also bolstered the league, though Puig fell just short of having enough playing time to make this list. The Rangers captured their first AZL championship by defeating the Athletics in a one-game playoff and dominated the Top 20 with five of the league's best prospects. Gallo led that group after setting league records with 18 homers, a .733 slugging percentage and an 1.169 OPS.

1. Addison Russell, SS, AZL Athletics
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 185  Drafted: Pace (Fla.) HS, 2012 (1st round).
Signed for $2.625 million as the 11th overall pick in June, Russell is an explosive player, both offensively and defensively. He offers a promising combination of power and speed as well as the range to play shortstop at the major league level.

Russell batted .415/.488/.717 during his 26-game AZL stint and continued to hit after promotions to short-season Vermont (.895 OPS) and low Class A Burlington (.817). His quick hands generate above-average bat speed, causing the ball to jump off his bat. He needs to clean up his swing mechanics but he still finds a way to regularly barrel up the ball.

Scouting reports from earlier in his high school career indicated Russell likely would need to move off shortstop because he has a thick body, but he lost 20 pounds as a senior and is capable of staying there. In addition to his good range at shortstop, he also has an above-average arm. A plus runner, he stole 16 bases in 18 attempts across three levels.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
106 29 44 4 5 6 29 14 23 9 1 .415 .488 .717
02. Albert Almora, OF, AZL Cubs
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 170  Drafted: Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla., 2012 (1st round).
Like Russell, Almora is a Florida high school product who went in the first round in June, signing for $3.9 million as the No. 6 overall pick. His reputation as an extreme hard worker was evident from the first day he arrived at the Cubs complex in Arizona, as he required frequent reminders from the staff to pace himself in the extreme summer heat. He drew raves for his off-the-charts makeup.

"He's humble, he's willing to learn and listen," Cubs manager Bobby Mitchell said. "You don't always get that on players picked that high."

Almora has the tools to match his outstanding character. With his loose swing and solid speed, he projects to hit for a high average, and he has the bat speed and raw power to hit 20 homers annually once he gets stronger. The stands out in center field with his tremendous instincts, jumps and routes, and he also has an above-average arm that combines strength and accuracy.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
75 18 26 5 1 1 13 2 8 5 1 .347 .363 .480
3. Joey Gallo, 3B, AZL Rangers
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 205  Drafted: Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas, 2012 (1.5 round).
The Rangers paid a well above-slot $2.25 million to sign Gallo in the supplemental first round. Some scouts questioned whether his top-of-the-scale raw power would translate to pro ball because he swings and misses a lot, but he emphatically answered the doubters by shattering the AZL record with 18 homers in just 43 games. The league MVP has very good bat speed and good leverage in his swing.

"I've never seen a kid with anywhere near that much power, and power to all fields," Rangers manager Corey Ragsdale said.

Gallo drew 37 walks but also struck out in a third of his at-bats, with many of the whiffs coming when opponents stopped challenging him and he started chases pitches out of the strike zone. Clocked up to 98 mph on the mound in high school, he has the arm strength for third base but lacks quickness, range and footwork at the hot corner. He made 12 errors in 40 games and may be destined for first base.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
150 44 44 10 1 18 43 37 52 6 0 .293 .435 .733
4. Jorge Soler, OF, AZL Cubs
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205  Signed: Cuba, 2012.
One of the most coveted players to defect from Cuba in recent years, Soler signed a nine-year, $30 milllion contract with the Cubs two days before the July 2 international signing period began. He hadn't played in organized games in nearly a year and the rust showed during his time in Arizona, but his talent was evident and he hit better following a promotion to low Class A.

Soler has a lean, athletic body and should get stronger. He'll need to curb a tendency to overswing, but he has above-average raw power and the ball makes a different sound when it comes off his bat. He has slightly above-average speed from home to first and is better underway, and he's an instinctive baserunner who stole eight bases in as many tries in the AZL.

Soler has the biggest room to improve on defense, especially with his routes and angles on balls. He has average arm strength for right field and makes accurate throws.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
54 14 13 2 0 2 10 6 13 8 0 .241 .328 .389
5. Dorssys Paulino, SS, AZL Indians
Age: 17  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 175  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
The Indians were aggressive in assigning Paulino to the AZL for his first pro season after signing him for $1.1 million bonus in 2011. He was anything but overmatched, ranking second in batting (.355) and third in OPS (.610) while providing 26 extra-base hits in 41 games.

Paulino brings a mature, disciplined approach to the plate. His quick hands, bat speed and exceptional hand-eye coordination allow him to use a short stroke that should allow him to hit for both average and power. "His swing is so natural, you don't need to mess with it so much," Indians manager Anthony Medrano said.

Some observers believe Paulino doesn't have the tools to stay at shortstop, and he may grow out of the position anyway. He makes the routine plays and has a decent first step, but he needs to improve his range and accuracy on his throws. He's a good baserunner with surprising quickness on the bases.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
172 42 61 14 6 6 30 15 31 9 1 .355 .404 .610
6. Lewis Brinson, OF, AZL Rangers
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 170  Drafted: Coral Springs (Fla.) HS, 2012 (1st round).
A third Florida high schooler who went in the first round in June, Brinson signed for $1.625 million and sparked the league-champion Rangers from the leadoff position all summer. He topped the league in runs (54), doubles (22), extra-base hits (36), total bases (124)—as well as strikeouts (74)—while showing off extreme athleticism.

Brinson is still very much a raw talent who struggles with breaking balls, though he improved his pitch recognition as the season progressed, specifically learning which curveballs to lay off. Rangers staff worked with him on his swing mechanics, keeping his hands back and shortening his stride. He has plus speed that makes him a basestealing threat and a quality defender in center field, where he also displays a strong arm and draws comparisons to Cameron Maybin.

"In three to five years, I see a special player," Ragsdale said. "He's a very good kid, he's a smart kid and he wants to be good, he wants to get better. He's got that fire in his belly."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
237 54 67 22 7 7 42 21 74 14 2 .283 .345 .523
7. Stryker Trahan, C, AZL Diamondbacks
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 215  Drafted: Acadiana HS, Lafayette, La., 2012 (1st round).
Trahan is a tough but friendly kid named after a character in a Burt Reynolds movie, and Arizona's first-round pick (signed for $1.7 million) brought a big dose of Cajun attitude to the desert this summer. Hitting comes easy for him, as he combines discipline, bat speed and the strength to drive the ball out of the park. He has enough bat to handle a move to first base or the corner outfield, which could be in his future.

"With his patience and his power, he can do a lot of damage down the road," Diamondbacks manager Hector de la Cruz said.

AZL observers were mixed as to whether Trahan can stay behind the plate. While he has a strong arm, he threw out just 24 percent of basestealers and his receiving and blocking skills are below average. The Diamondbacks believe he has the base skills to succeed and the aptitude to learn, and had him work all summer with former big league catchers Robby Hammock and Bill Plummer.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
167 29 47 11 3 5 25 40 48 8 1 .281 .422 .473
8. C.J. Edwards, rhp, AZL Rangers
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 155  Drafted: Mid-Carolina HS, Prosperity, S.C., 2011 (48th round).
Lightly scouted in high school, Edwards lasted until the 48th round of the 2011 draft and was headed to junior college before signing for $50,000 at the Aug. 15 signing deadline. He was still pretty raw when he reported to the Rangers' complex in Arizona, and it wasn't until he learned to repeat his delivery during extended spring training this year that he really took off. He pitched 20 scoreless innings in the AZL and continued to excel after a promotion to short-season Spokane.

Edwards possesses a fast arm and a good feel for pitching. Though a lot of projection remains in his frame, his fastball already sits at 95-96 mph and peaks at 98, and he maintains his velocity deep into his outings. He locates all of his pitches, including a mid-70s curveball and an effective changeup.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
3 0 0.00 4 3 0 20 6 0 0 0 6 25 .091
9. Daniel Robertson, ss/3b, AZL Athletics
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190  Drafted: Upland (Calif.) HS, 2012 (1st round supplemental).
A supplemental first-rounder signed for $1.5 million, Robertson had more baseball savvy and polish than most high school players. He has a true feel for hitting, along with a pure swing and good bat speed. His power mostly goes to the gaps now, but he should develop into a home run threat as his body gets stronger.

Roberston split time between third base and shortstop in the AZL and at short-season Vermont, getting most of his time at short after Addison Russell was promoted from both clubs. Robertson is more comfortable at third base, where he projects as an above-average defender with sound hands and a strong arm. He's an average runner with good instincts, but speed won't be a big part of his game.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
101 25 30 10 2 4 22 16 15 2 0 .297 .405 .554
10. Clint Coulter, C, AZL Brewers
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210  Drafted: Union HS, Camas, Wash., 2012 (1st round).
The 27th overall pick in the 2012 draft and recipient of a $1.675 million bonus, Coulter is a hard work who projects as an offense-first catcher. He started slowly in the AZL before getting adjusted to the faster professional game and straightening a hitch in his swing. He posted a 1.012 OPS in season's final month and led the league with a .439 on-base percentage.

Coulter is more of a line-drive hitter for now, but he should develop more home run power because he has a quick bat with good leverage in his swing. He does a good job of laying off pitches he can't drive.

His offense is ahead of his defense, but he has a better chance than Trahan of staying behind the plate despite throwing out only 16 percent of basestealers and committing 21 passed balls in 26 games. Coulter has solid arm strength but needs to improve his footwork and agility, which should come with more reps. He takes a businesslike attitude on the field and shows good leadership skills.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
169 37 51 3 3 5 33 37 40 3 5 .302 .439 .444
11. Nomar Mazara, OF, AZL Rangers
Age: 17  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 195  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
The Rangers signed Mazara for $4.95 million in 2011, setting a record that may never be broken with the new limits on bonuses for international amateurs. Mazara and fellow Dominican Ronald Guzman, who signed for $3.45 million on the same day, both started their pro careers in the AZL this summer at the age of 17.

Rangers coaches worked with Mazara on his hitting mechanics, reducing his leg kick. He still tends to swing and miss a lot at the plate, but he also drew 37 walks in 54 games and the ball jumps off his bat when he makes contact. He's a solid right fielder with average speed and plus arm strength, though he's still very raw defensively.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
201 40 53 13 3 6 39 37 70 5 2 .264 .383 .448
12. Ronald Guzman, 1B, AZL Rangers
Age: 17  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 205  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
The other half of the Rangers' Dominican spending spree in 2011, Guzman was an outfielder as an amateur but switched to first base at the start of instructional league last September. Regardless of where he plays, his bat will carry him.

Guzman has fringy bat speed, though his long arms give his swing significant leverage. He's more of a line-drive hitter now by design, with the Rangers having him work gap to gap until he gets stronger. The AZL hit leader with 68, he shows good raw power in batting practice and should hit more balls out of the park as he physically matures.

Guzman still is learning to play first base and steadily has improved, especially with his footwork around the bag and pre-pitch setup. While he had below-average speed, he has good instincts and looks for opportunities.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
212 29 68 15 3 1 33 19 42 7 1 .321 .374 .434
13. Renato Nunez, 3B, AZL Athletics
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 185  Signed: Venezuela '10.
Another international bonus baby, Nunez signed for $2.2 million in 2010. His 2011 pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League earned mixed reviews, especially related to his plate discipline and defense, but he showed steady improvement during extended spring training and in the AZL this year. He's still just 18 and learning what kind of player he can become.

Nunez's biggest asset always will be his bat, which should play at other positions if needed. He has a good feel for hitting, slightly above-average bat speed and raw power to all fields. His swing has natural loft and an ability to generate backspin.

Nunez worked hard on his defense and showed some improvement, but he still needs more consistency after making seven errors in 30 games.  His range is limited and he lacks quick reactions and hands. He always plays hard and has an aggressive personality.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
160 31 52 18 3 4 42 17 32 4 0 .325 .403 .550
14. Dan Vogelbach, 1B, AZL Cubs
Age: 19  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 250  Drafted: Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla., 2011 (2nd round).
Vogelach played briefly in the AZL after signing for $1.6 million as a second-round pick in 2011. He returned to post a 1.078 OPS in the first month of this season before moving up to short-season Boise, where he was equally productive. There aren't many big leaguers with 6-foot, 250-pound builds and his value is tied mostly to his bat, but it has the potential to be a very special bat.

Vogelbach combines raw strength, quick hands and good knowledge of the strike zone. He has a tremendous feel for hitting and plus power to all fields. He's a well below-average runner and most scouts question whether he'll ever be good enough to play a major league-caliber first base, though he does work hard on his defense.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
102 16 33 12 2 7 31 12 14 1 0 .324 .391 .686
15. Mitch Brown, RHP, AZL Indians
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Century HS, Rochester, Minn., 2012 (2nd round).
Just the fourth Minnesota high school pitcher ever drafted as high as the second round, Brown was inconsistent in his pro debut but his potential was obvious. The son of a Korean powerlifter, he has a sturdy, muscular body and pitches with good mechanics. His delivery doesn't involve a lot of effort and the ball comes out of his hand nice and easy.

Brown's fastball usually sits at 91-93, touching as high as 96, and he commands it well. He has good feel for an average changeup and pitches with some deception. The only breaking ball he used in the early part of the season was a slider, but he worked with pitching coach Steve Karsay and made progress with refining his curveball.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
2 0 3.58 8 8 0 28 20 16 11 3 10 26 .194
16. Nick Travieso, RHP, AZL Reds
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215  Drafted: Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla., 2012 (1st round).
A strong high school senior year propelled Travieso into the middle of the first round, as he went 14th overall and signed for $2 million. In Arizona, his fastball ranged from 90-93 mph, down a couple of ticks from his spring velocity because the Reds had him focus on his mechanics. They wanted him to finish on the back side of his delivery more to keep from pitching up in the strike zone too much.

Travieso's fastball will be his bread and butter, though it may need added movement. He has recently added a hard curveball that can be a plus pitch once he improves his command of it. His changeup provides some deception, but he needs to control it better and keep it down in the zone.

Travieso stands out for his mound presence. He has a stocky build and will need to continue to work on his conditioning. Some observers believe that his best role ultimately could be as a late-inning reliever if his secondary pitches don't develop enough.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
0 2 4.71 8 8 0 21 20 11 11 3 5 14 .241
17. Gabriel Guerrero, OF, AZL Mariners
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
Vladimir Guerrero's nephew led the Dominican Summer League with 11 homers before reporting to Arizona to finish the season. It didn't take long for Gabriel to start drawing raves from AZL observers, and he came on strong with four homers in the last five games.

Like his uncle, Guerrero is a free swinger who can hit just about any pitch near the plate, but he's selective enough that he handles offspeed pitches and doesn't strike out much. He has plus bat speed and strong hands, and he should be able to add more strength to his projectable frame. He has a slight uppercut swing with power to all fields and the Mariners worked with him to get better extension at the plate.

Guerrero is still very raw defensively and must improve his routes and angles in right field. His arm is strong but not very accurate. He also offers some intangibles, with Mariners hitting coach Andy Bottin believing Guerrero could be a silent leader in the clubhouse.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
75 17 25 5 0 4 18 3 13 0 0 .333 .350 .560
18. Tyler Pike, LHP, AZL Mariners
Age: 18  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 180  Drafted: Winter Haven (Fla.) HS, 2012 (3rd round supplemental).
The Mariners drafted Pike in the supplemental third round and gave him sandwich-round money ($850,000) to keep him from going to Florida State as a two-way player. He'll concentrate on pitching as a pro and led the AZL in ERA (1.78) and opponent average (.193).

Pike stands out with his poise, easy delivery and potential for three solid pitches. His fastball ranges from 88-93 mph with natural lefty tail, and he locates it well down in the strike zone. He also throws a curveball and changeup, and he relied heavily on his curve early in the season before learning to use his fastball.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
2 1 1.78 11 11 0 51 34 13 10 1 21 57 .183
19. Zach Bird, RHP, AZL Dodgers
Age: 17  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 177  Drafted: Murrah HS, Jackson, Miss., 2012 (9th round).
Los Angeles may have gotten one of the better bargains in this year's draft in Bird, who draws comparisons to another Dodgers draft pick from the past, James McDonald. Bird signed for $140,000 in the ninth round, but scouts who saw him in Arizona said he should have gone in the second or third round.

Bird has very good movement on an 89-92 mph fastball that touches 94 and should add velocity once he gains more strength. "I've never seen anyone at this age that had such good swing-and-miss stuff," Dodgers manager Matt Martin said.

Bird has the makings of a good curveball, while his changeup is still a work in progress. He pitches with good downhill plane, and when he's able to repeat his delivery he's very tough to hit. He's a fierce competitor who takes a very cerebral approach to the game, closely observing opposing hitters when he's not on the mound.

W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 2 4.54 10 10 0 40 36 24 20 2 17 46 .232
20. Matt Olson, 1B, AZL Athletics
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 236  Drafted: Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga., 2012 (1st round supplemental).
Oakland's second sandwich pick in June behind Robertson, Olson would have been a two-way player at Vanderbilt had he not signed for $1,079,700. His best attribute is his lefthanded power and he led the Athletics with eight homers, including three in his first five pro games. He has a quick bat, the ability to turn on inside fastballs and nice leverage in his swing.

Olson's stroke is generally short but gets too long at times, leading to strikeouts. Though most of value comes from his offense and he's a below-average runner, he regularly makes good decisions on the bases. He's a solid first baseman with good reactions and a strong arm for his position.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
177 29 50 16 1 8 41 16 46 0 0 .282 .345 .520