League Top 20 Prospects

2012 Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




Follow me on Twitter


See also: GCL Top 20 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler
See also: Complete 2012 League Top 20 Prospects Schedule
FIVE YEARS AGO
1. Michael Burgess, of, Nationals
*2. Jesus Montero, c, Yankees
*3. Ben Revere, of, Twins
*4. Che-Husan Lin, of, Red Sox
5. John Tolisano, 2b, Blue Jays
6. Pedro Baez, 3b, Dodgers
7. Oscar Tejeda, ss, Red Sox
8. Neftali Soto, ss, Reds
9. Luis de la Cruz, c, Cardinals
10. Andrew Lambo, 1b/of, Dodgers
*11. Devin Mesoraco, c, Reds
12. Kevin Aherns, 3b/ss, Blue Jays
13. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp, Reds
14. Scott Moviel, rhp, Mets
15. Jairo Heredia, rhp, Yankees
16. D'Marcus Ingram, of, Cardinals
17. Deryk Hooker, rhp, Cardinals
18. Daniel Berlind, rhp, Twins
19. Angel Morales, of, Twins
20. Tyler Kolodny, 3b, Orioles
* Has played in major leagues
For the first time in several years, the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League was deep with prospects. With the signing deadline for the draft pushed up a month to July 13, several top draft picks signed quickly and received enough playing time to qualify for the list, which hadn't been the case in recent years.

The top two picks in the draft, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, made their pro debuts in the GCL before moving up to the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Neither player stood out in terms of performance, but both players made an impression around the league despite their lukewarm statistics.

The Pirates won the league championship and placed four players on this Top 20, starting with catcher Wyatt Mathisen at No. 5. Taiwan hasn't been a hotbed for prospects and has been more notable for producing pitchers than position players, but two Taiwanese hitters cracked our prospect list: Red Sox shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin and Pirates catcher Jin-De Jhang.

1. Byron Buxton, of, GCL Twins
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 188  Drafted: Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga., 2012 (1st round).
Buxton was the top prospect in the draft, so the Twins were elated to get him with the second choice after the Astros drafted Correa No. 1 overall. Buxton's $6 million bonus was the biggest in his draft class, and while he only hit .216 in the GCL, he flashed all five tools before his promotion in early August.

Buxton has a high-waisted, projectable body with plenty of quick-twitch athleticism. He has a simple swing with good plane, excellent bat speed and a nice idea of the strike zone for his age. He didn't show much in-game power during his high school season, but he has flashed plus raw pop.

Buxton has considerable offensive potential and is particularly alluring as a two-way threat. He's at least a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, making him a threat to steal bases and allowing him to cover huge amounts of land in center field. He has a plus arm and could be a premium defender.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
88 17 19 4 3 4 14 11 26 4 3 .216 .324 .466
2. Carlos Correa, ss, GCL Astros
Age: 17  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 190  Drafted: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R., 2012 (1st round).

The first Puerto Rican player ever drafted first overall, Correa signed quickly for $4.8 million. One of the youngest players in the draft, he didn't get off to a great start in the GCL, but he performed better after the Astros promoted him in mid-August. He draws physical and skill-set comparisons Manny Machado, another big-bodied shortstop with considerable offensive upside.

Correa has a long, lanky build with outstanding rhythm and balance at the plate. He has a mature approach to hitting, doesn't chase pitches out of the strike zone often and uses the middle of the field. He has excellent bat speed and his swing generates loft, so he should hit for average and power.

He's a plus runner who may slow down as he adds weight, so while some think he may end up at third base, he has the defensive tools to stay at shortstop and is better than Machado there. Correa's footwork is clean, his actions are smooth and his arm is another plus tool.

"You can't help but notice a guy like him," Cardinals manager Steve Turco said. "He's one of those kids who just stands out regardless of how well he does statistically."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
155 23 36 11 1 2 9 7 36 5 1 .232 .270 .355
3. D.J. Davis, of, GCL Blue Jays
Age: 17  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180  Drafted: Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss., 2012 (1st round). 
The Blue Jays were drawn to Davis' speed and athleticism when they drafted him 17th overall in June and signed him for $1.75 million. One of the youngest players in the draft, he struggled to make contact in the GCL but finished the summer in the short-season Northwest League and helped Vancouver win a championship.

Davis has a handsy swing that's short and repeatable, and he whips the barrel through the zone with good bat speed. He has excellent strength through his hands, wrists and forearms, which leads to more pop than might be expected from a lithe player known most for his speed. Some scouts think he has a chance to hit for a high average, but he's not a pure hitter and he's still learning to incorporate his lower half in his swing and to recognize offspeed pitches.

The fastest player in the 2012 draft, Davis is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. His routes to the ball aren't always direct and he's doesn't always play under control when he's coming in on a ball, but his speed gives him outstanding range in center field. He can become an elite defender despite a below-average arm.

"He makes adjustments very quickly," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "If you tell him something, he does what you say. Then tools-wise, it's pretty fun to watch."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
163 30 38 7 2 4 12 18 54 18 7 .233 .339 .374
4. Rio Ruiz, 3b, GCL Astros
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180  Drafted: Bishop Amat HS, La Puente, Calif., 2012 (4th round).
Ruiz had a chance to go in the first round of the 2012 draft before his high school senior season ended early when he had surgery to remove a blood clot from his neck in March. After evaluating Ruiz the previous summer and fall, the Astros had strong conviction that he was one of the top players in the drat, and they backed up that belief by signing him for $1.85 million in the fourth round.

Ruiz drew widespread praise for his offensive potential. He has a mature hitting approach and a pretty lefthanded swing with great bat path, which should help him hit for a high average. He presently has gap power but his quick hands and bat speed give him the potential for average to plus pop in the future.

A below-average runner, Ruiz spent more time at DH than third base in the GCL. That was mostly an attempt to ease him into pro ball, as he has fine defensive instincts and body control, clean hands and a plus arm.

"He DH-ed against us in the beginning and then played third base," Marlins manager Jorge Hernandez said. "I was going, 'Wow.' He was making great backhand plays and great plays in the hole."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
85 13 23 8 2 0 11 12 22 2 0 .271 .361 .412
5. Wyatt Mathisen, c, GCL Pirates
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 205  Drafted: Calallen HS, Corpus Christi, Texas, 2012 (2nd round).
Though he was one of the top prep catching prospects in this year's draft, Mathisen spent more time playing shortstop and pitching for his high school team this spring. His tools, athleticism and baseball intelligence all aided him in the full-time transition to catching, and he drew widespread praise around the league for his all-around game.

Mathisen has a plus arm, quick release and good lateral agility, which helped him throw out 36 percent of GCL basestealers. He should develop into a good receiver in time, though his inexperience shows at times behind the plate when he flinches at balls. Managers liked the way he handled his pitching staff and took control of games.

Mathisen has a sound approach at the plate, gets in a good hitting position, repeats swing and uses the middle of the field. He didn't show much over-the-fence power in his debut, but has the strength for power. His speed grades out close to average, which is fast for a catcher, but he figures to slow down.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
139 24 41 8 0 1 15 16 19 10 8 .295 .388 .374
6. Carlos Tocci, of, GCL Phillies
Age: 16  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 160  Signed: Venezuela '11.
One of the top prospects on the 2011 international market thanks to his speed and advanced baseball instincts, Tocci signed for $759,000 as soon as he turned 16 on Aug. 23. While the Phillies have an academy in his native Venezuela, they started his career with an aggressive assignment to the GCL. Despite being the lone 16-year-old in the league, he held his own at the plate.

Tocci shows a good idea of the strike zone for his age, with the ability to consistently barrel the baseball and use the whole field. He has minimal power right now, and while his extremely skinny frame should scream projection, several scouts look at his narrow shoulders and aren't sure whether the power will come.

Tocci's best present tool is his speed, as he's a plus-plus runner who picks his spots well when attempting to steal. With the jumps he gets on balls, his quickness and his strong arm, he has the potential to be an elite defender in center field.

"He's really skinny, but I tell you what—I like him," Tigers manager Basilio Cabrera said. "He's got a great arm, good speed and he's very good at the plate."

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
97 13 27 2 0 0 9 6 18 9 2 .278 .330 .299
7. Dilson Herrera, 2b, GCL Pirates
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 150  Signed: Columbia '10.
Among the most active teams in Colombia, the Pirates work closely with a youth team called Con Familiar, which is how they got to know Herrera when he was 12. They signed him four years later in 2010 for $220,000, and he played well in his U.S. debut this summer. He led the GCL in runs (41), extra-base hits (22) and total bases (96) while ranking second in homers (seven) and slugging (.482).

Herrera's bat is his best tool, as he shows natural rhythm and good plate coverage thanks to a swing with few holes. After switch-hitting as an amateur, he has hit exclusively righthanded as a pro. He has an all-fields approach, surprising power for his size and plus speed that makes him a threat to steal bases.

Herrera played third base last year in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League, but his arm is fringy and he moved to second base in the GCL. Hitting comes more naturally to him than fielding, but he has good range and should be at least an adequate defender at second.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
199 41 56 11 4 7 27 18 41 11 4 .281 .341 .482
8. Tzu-Wei Lin, ss, GCL Red Sox
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 155  Signed: Taiwan '12.
The MVP at the 18-and-under world championships in 2010 when he was 16, Lin nearly signed with the Yankees that year for $350,000. Though New York followed the protocol agreement between major league teams and Taiwanese amateur players and MLB declared him a free agent, the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association threatened to ban Lin from playing or coaching in Taiwan if he signed before he graduated high school. The deal fell apart and Lin signed with the Red Sox this June for $2.05 million.

Lee felt some soreness in his right knee after a few weeks in the GCL, and while there was no structural damage, Boston held him out of games for two weeks at the end of July. When at full strength, he shows a quick swing and an advanced offensive approach for his age. He's undersized and doesn't offer much power, but he's a plus-plus runner who could become an above-average hitter.

Some scouts consider Lin an average fielder with an average arm, while others think he's a better defender. After the season, Lin played in the 18-and-under world championships again and was named the tournament's most outstanding defensive player.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
110 21 28 5 1 0 16 16 28 4 2 .255 .341 .318
9. Tyler Glasnow, rhp, GCL Pirates
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Hart HS, Santa Clarita, Calif., 2011 (5th round).

A 2011 fifth-round pick who signed for $600,000, Glasnow didn't make his pro debut until this year. He was one of the youngest players drafted last year, so the Pirates held him back in extended spring training and let him get his feet wet in the GCL. His stuff has started to develop as Pittsburgh had hoped when it bet on his huge, projectable frame.

Glasnow's fastball often sat in the mid-80s in high school but zoomed to 91-94 mph with a peak of 96 this summer, with steep downhill angle. His curveball at times gives him a second plus pitch that can miss bats, with hard, sharp break in the upper 70s when he throws it right. His changeup is still is a work in progress, as is his command, and the latter might always be the case given his size.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
0 3 2.10 11 10 0 34 19 15 8 3 16 40 .156
10. Jose Peraza, ss, GCL Braves
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 167  Signed: Venezuela '10.

Signed for $350,000 in 2010, Peraza is an athletic shortstop with excellent hand-eye coordination. He routinely barrels the ball and was one of the GCL's hardest hitters to strike out because his swing is short and quick and covers the whole plate. He has minimal power, but he sprays line drives to all fields and could grow into 10-15 homers per year at his peak.

Peraza takes advantage of his plus-plus speed and has keen instincts on the basepaths. He has good range and instincts at shortstop, though he still needs to add polish there. He'll flash a solid-average arm, but he's prone to making errant throws on the run and needs to improve his accuracy.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
85 17 27 3 3 0 10 4 6 10 3 .318 .348 .424
11. Steve Bean, c, GCL Cardinals
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190  Drafted: Rockwall (Texas) HS, 2012 (1st round supplemental).
The Cardinals initially sent Bean, a supplemental first-round pick, to the Rookie-level Appalachian League after he signed for $700,000. He stumbled in Johnson City, hitting .125/.263/.213 in 24 games and struggling to make contact, but rebounded when he went down to the GCL.

Bean impressed GCL observers with his offensive and defensive potential. He has a good idea of the strike zone for a young hitter, makes consistent hard contact and understands how to use the middle of the field. His power is below average now, but he has good strength through his forearms and his lower half and could develop into a home run threat in the future.

Bean's arm grades as a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His receiving skills are still a work in progress and he butchered a few balls in the GCL, but he has good mobility behind the plate and projects as a solid receiver. While he's a below-average runner, he's athletic for a catcher and plays with a lot of energy.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
50 8 16 4 0 0 7 8 11 0 0 .320 .424 .400
12. Alberto Tirado, rhp, GCL Blue Jays
Age: 17  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 177  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
The Blue Jays had a strong contingent of young Dominican starting pitchers. Yeyfry del Rosario and Jario Labourt both averaged more than a strikeout per inning, but it was Tirado who made the biggest impression. Though he's not tall, Toronto looked at his skinny, athletic frame and extremely long arms when it signed him in July 2011 and saw plenty of projection that has started to come true. His fastball peaked at 91 mph when he signed, rose to 94 by the end of the year and sat at 91-94 with a high of 96 in the GCL.

Tirado has plus velocity and the ability to command his fastball down in the strike zone, an unusual combination for a player his age. He flashes a solid changeup that's ahead of his slider right now, though he's getting better at staying on top of his breaking ball. He threw a curveball as an amateur that some scouts preferred to his slider, but he has scrapped the curve for now.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 2 2.68 11 11 0 37 28 12 11 0 12 34 .201
13. Luis Merejo, lhp, GCL Braves
Age: 17  B-T: L-L  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 175  Signed: Dominican Republic '11.
Listed at 6 feet, Merejo didn't draw a lot of attention when he tried out for teams in the Dominican Republic. He signed in August 2011 for $65,000, a deal the Braves immediately felt was a bargain. They believed he was advanced enough to skip the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League and make his debut in the GCL, where he ranked third with 53 strikeouts.

Merejo repeats his delivery well for his age and pounds the strike zone with his fastball, which ranges from 88-93 mph with good life. His curveball is inconsistent, but it's a swing-and-miss pitch when it's on. He has shown some feel for a changeup as well.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
0 5 4.61 10 8 0 41 38 25 21 1 9 53 .236
14. Jake Thompson, rhp, GCL Tigers
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 235  Drafted: Rockwall-Heath HS, Heath, Texas, 2012 (2nd round).

Detroit's top pick (second round) in the 2012 draft, Thompson dominated GCL hitters for seven starts before his arm got tired. He held opponents to a .149 average and struck out 9.9 per nine innings before the Tigers shut him down in early August.

Big and physical, Thompson has a lively fastball that sits at 88-92 mph and reaches 94. He throws strikes and held his velocity deep into his starts during the high school season. His slider is a plus pitch at times though flat at others, and he also has flashed some feel for a changeup.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 2 1.91 7 7 0 28 14 6 6 1 10 31 .141
15. Austin Schotts, of, GCL Tigers
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180  Drafted: Centennial HS, Frisco, Texas, 2012 (3rd round).
Schotts was known more as a standout safety and wide receiver on his Texas high school football team before his baseball stock climbed last spring. He hit .388/.433/.538 before dislocating a finger on July 19, then batted just .227/.272/.360 after a three-week layoff.

Schotts' best tool is his plus-plus speed. He played shortstop in high school, but his fringy arm didn't fit well at the position, so the Tigers moved him to center field in his pro debut. He made quick adjustments to the outfield and showed excellent range.

While Schotts performed well at the plate before he got hurt, his swing gets long at times and leads to too many strikeouts. He shows occasional power but will need to get strong. Managers liked him because he's aggressive and always plays hard.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
155 31 48 11 1 3 21 12 41 15 4 .310 .360 .452
16. Kolby Copeland, of, GCL Marlins
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190  Drafted: Parkway HS, Bossier City, La., 2012 (3rd round supplemental).

Another high school football standout, Copeland led the GCL with six triples and 34 RBIs. He has a physical frame and impressed GCL observers with his swing and the way he managed his plate appearances.

Copeland has a good approach to hitting and a nice swing path that leads to a high contact rate. His bat head stays in the hitting zone a long time and he's able to make hard contact to all fields. Though he didn't hit any home runs in his pro debut, some scouts project him to have average or better power.

The questions with Copeland are whether he can remain in center field and if not, whether he'll have the power to profile well in left. His speed is average at best and might not be enough for center field, where managers were mixed on his reads and routes. His arm strength is average.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
217 34 62 14 6 0 34 16 27 2 6 .286 .331 .406
17. Avery Romero, 2b/3b, GCL Marlins
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Menendez HS, St. Augustine, Fla., 2012 (3rd round).
After signing for $700,000 as a third-round pick, Romero didn't post great numbers in the GCL but he still gave glimpses of his offensive potential. He has a short swing that can get a bit uphill at times, but his good hand-eye coordination allows him to make consistent contact. He's a gap-to-gap hitter who should develop average to plus power down the road.

A high school shortstop, Romero split time between third and second base in the GCL. A below-average runner, he moves well laterally and fits better at the hot corner, where his plus arm is an asset. He didn't look quite as comfortable at second base, where he's still getting used to turning the double play.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
121 8 27 6 0 3 15 10 21 0 1 .223 .309 .347
18. Harold Castro, 2b, GCL Tigers
Age: 18  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 145  Signed: Venezuela '11.
When the Tigers scouted Castro, he weighed just 140 pounds, but he showed plus speed and a knack for putting the barrel on the ball consistently. Signed for $29,000 in March 2011, he had a strong debut in the Venezuelan Summer League that persuaded the Tigers to let him make the jump this year to the GCL. He ranked fifth in the league in hitting (.311) and third in doubles (14).

Though he's skinny, Castro generates good bat speed and is more than just a slap hitter. He's an aggressive hitter with a good approach who can turn on an inside pitch or flick his wrists at pitches on the outer half to drive the ball to left field. He needs to get stronger and doesn't project to have much more than gap power.

Castro's plus speed makes him a stolen-base threat and his athleticism helps him in the field, but defense doesn't come as naturally to him as hitting. He's still raw at second base and has fringy arm strength.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
193 24 60 14 2 1 21 10 25 15 3 .311 .343 .420
19. Jin-De Jhang, C, GCL Pirates
Age: 19  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 220  Signed: Taiwan '11.
The Pirates had two of the best catchers in the league, though they come from very different backgrounds. Jhang split time between catcher and DH with Wyatt Mathisen in his pro debut after signing out of Taiwan last year for $250,000, the top 2011 bonus for a Taiwanese hitter.

Jhang has a strong and stocky build, a quick bat and good strike-zone discipline. He recognizes pitches well, stays inside the ball and shows the ability to hit to all fields. He shows occasional power, mostly working gap to gap right now, but he could hit 15-20 homers per year in his prime.

Jhang spent a lot of time at third base before signing. His arm is an above-average tool and helped him post pop times as low as 1.9 seconds while erasing 29 percent of GCL basestealers. He still has work to do on his blocking and receiving, but he has made strides there.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
128 12 39 5 2 1 23 14 16 1 1 .305 .382 .398
20. Francellis Montas, rhp, GCL Red Sox
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185  Signed: Dominican Republic '09.
Montas spent two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, where he compiled a 7.60 ERA and had all sorts of trouble trying to find the strike zone. He took a big step forward in his U.S. debut this summer, showing his trademark outstanding arm strength along with improved control.

Montas' fastball touched 100 mph last year and did so again consistently in 2012, sitting at 94-98. He throws his fastball with good angle and late life, which makes it a nightmare for hitters to barrel up.

The rest of Montas' game is still raw. He threw a slurvy curveball last year and now goes with a slider that's a work in progress, as is his firm changeup. He threw more strikes this year than he had in the past, but he's still learning to become more of a pitcher than a thrower. If he can't round out the rest of his arsenal, his fastball still should play well out of the bullpen.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 5 3.98 12 9 0 41 34 22 18 0 12 41 .218