League Top 20 Prospects

2012 Carolina League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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FIVE YEARS AGO
1. *Jordan Schafer, of, Myrtle Beach (Braves)
2. *Chris Marrero, of, Potomac (Nationals)
3. *Elvis Andrus, ss, Myrtle Beach (Braves)
4. *Max Ramirez, c, Kinston (Indians)
5. Wes Hodges, 3b, Kinston (Indians)
6. Chorye Spoone, rhp, Frederick (Orioles)
7. Brandon Erbe, rhp, Frederick (Orioles)
8. *Tommy Hanson, rhp, Myrtle Beach (Braves)
9. Adam Carr, rhp, Potomac (Nationals)
10. Matt Whitney, 1b, Kinston (Indians)
11. Mitch Einertson, of, Salem (Astros).
12. *Daniel Cortes, rhp, Wilmington (Royals)
13. *Josh Rodriguez, ss, Kinston (Indians).
14. Sergio Perez, rhp, Salem (Astros)
15. Brad James, rhp, Salem (Astros)
16. *Brad Bergesen, rhp, Frederick (Orioles)
17. Shelby Ford, 2b, Lynchburg (Pirates)
18. Jairo Cuevas, rhp, Myrtle Beach (Braves)
19. Julio Pimentel, rhp, Wilmington (Royals)
20. Kyle McCulloch, rhp, Winston-Salem (White Sox)
*Has played in major leagues.
Dylan Bundy couldn't have arrived in the high Class A Carolina League with higher expectations. After beginning his pro career with seven weeks of near-perfect baseball in the low Class A South Atlantic League, the 19-year-old hit a few bumps in the road with Frederick but still was the league's most complete pitcher and best prospect.

"He looked like a No. 1 major league starter who came down to pitch a Carolina League game," Wilmington manager Vance Wilson said.

Salem had three of the CL's four best prospects but didn't make the playoffs, finishing in second place in the Southern Division during the first half and sinking to last place in the second half after shortstop Xander Bogaerts, righthander Matt Barnes and center fielder Jackie Bradley moved on to Double-A. Six of the league's eight teams placed a shortstop on this Top 20 Prospects list, with Lynchburg's Nick Ahmed winning playoff MVP honors after leading the Hillcats to the championship.

1. Dylan Bundy, rhp, Frederick (Orioles)
Age: 19  B-T: B-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Owasso (Okla.) HS, 2011 (1st round).
Bundy spent two months in Frederick and averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings before moving up to Double-A and ultimately Baltimore. He joined Edwin Jackson, Felix Hernandez and Madison Bumgarner as the only 19-year-olds to pitch in the majors in the last decade.

Bundy overwhelms hitters with a 95-98 mph that jumps on hitters, a knee-buckling curveball that he located with better consistency as the season wore on, and a sinking changeup that at times is his second-best offering. The Orioles had him shelve his two-seam fastball and his cutter so he could focus on commanding his fastball down in the strike zone. Like most young pitchers, he's still mastering consistent command of his pitches.

His work ethic is as impressive as his repertoire. Bundy warms up before starts with a detailed long-tossing regimen and arrives to the ballpark early the following day to run stairs and work out with a conditioning coach.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
6 3 2.84 12 12 0 57 48 20 18 5 18 66 .219

2. Xander Bogaerts, ss, Salem Red Sox
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 175  Signed: Aruba '09.
A year after smashing 16 homers in 72 South Atlantic League games as an 18-year-old making his U.S. debut, Bogaerts was even more impressive at Salem and hit his way to Double-A but August. He became more selective at the plate and continued to show legitimate power to all fields. Nine of his homers came at the unfriendly confines of Salem Memorial Stadium, which has a 25-foot high outfield fence.

Bogaerts has a good actions and plenty of arm strength at shortstop, and he has cut back on careless errors by learning to not try to complete impossible plays. He's capable of staying at short for a while, though he lacks the true quickness for the position and figures to outgrow it once he fills out. He has average speed and runs well but isn't a stolen-base threat.

"You can definitely see that he is developing and learning how to be a hitter," said Salem manager Billy McMillon, who also managed Bogaerts in 2011. "There would be times when he would be so aggressive that he would get himself out on the first or second pitch, but then the next time up or later in the game he would make adjustments. You can see improvements and adjustments being made game to game."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
384 59 116 27 3 15 64 43 85 4 4 .302 .378 .505

3. Matt Barnes, rhp, Salem Red Sox
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 205  Drafted: Connecticut, 2011 (1st round).
Like Bundy, Barnes is a 2011 first-rounder who made quick work of the South Atlantic League at the start of his pro debut, allowing one run in five starts. He has the makings of three quality pitches with a 93-97 mph fastball, a hard curveball and a changeup. He's aggressive, throws strikes and likes to pitch inside.

CL hitters got to Barnes in the second half of the season as he tired. He'll need to refine his secondary pitches as he advances, but he made good progress this year and profiles as a possible No. 2 starter. He throws with an easy arm action that bodes well for his durability but may cost him some deception.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 5 3.58 20 20 0 93 85 42 37 6 25 91 .234

4. Jackie Bradley, of, Salem Red Sox
Age: 22  B-T: L-R  Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 180  Drafted: South Carolina, 2011 (1st round supplemental).
After an injury-plagued junior year at South Carolina contributed to his slide to the 40th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bradley showed what he could do when healthy. He was leading the league in hitting (.359) and on-base percentage (.480) when promoted to Double-A at midseason, and managers rated him the circuit's best defensive outfielder.

With his feel for the strike zone and ability to work counts and make consistent line-drive contact, Bradley has the makings of a true leadoff hitter: His sound lefthanded stroke generates doubles power and shows home run pop to his pull side at times. He has average speed but plus quickness, which combined with his skill at reading pitchers allows him to steal bases.

Bradley gets exceptional jumps, takes precise routes and covers a lot of ground in center field. He has a strong arm that also earned recognition as the league's best. He relentlessly works on his defense, shooing pitchers out of his way as he shags balls during batting practice, and opposing managers praised his dedication.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
234 53 84 26 2 3 34 52 40 16 6 .359 .480 .526

5. Cody Buckel, rhp, Myrtle Beach (Rangers)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 170  Drafted: Royal HS, Simi Valley, Calif., 2010 (2nd round).
The Rangers have a knack for finding undersized pitchers who miss bats, and Buckel is another example. He was unhittable in 13 starts with Myrtle Beach before heading to Double-A in early June. He's a student of the game who works hard at mastering a repertoire with three potential above-average pitches.

His 88-92 mph fastball tops out at 94 and plays up because he hides it well with an unorthodox, torque-heavy delivery similar to Tim Lincecum's. Buckel also gets swings and misses with his curveball and changeup, and he mixes in a cutter/slider that induces groundouts. He commands his offerings well and gets hitters to chase out of the strike zone because they have difficulty picking up his pitches.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 3 1.31 13 13 0 76 49 12 11 2 25 91 .178

6. Carlos Sanchez, ss/2b, Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175  Signed: Venezuela '09.
Sanchez may be the first player on this list to become a regular in the major leagues—and that opportunity could come next season. He won the CL batting title at .315, then batted .370 during a month in Double-A before finishing the year in Triple-A.

After incorporating his legs more into his swing, Sanchez has a more balanced approach at the plate. He won't hit for much power, but he makes consistent line-drive contact. An average runner, he has soft hands, range to both sides and a strong, accurate arm that play well at both second base and shortstop.

"Carlos is one of the best defenders I've been around in 30 years, not only at second base, but he has been electric at shortstop too," Winston-Salem veteran manager Tommy Thompson said. "He's a Gold Glove-caliber player at the highest level and will be an everyday player at second base or shortstop."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
365 58 115 14 6 1 42 31 64 19 10 .315 .374 .395

7. J.R. Graham, rhp, Lynchburg (Braves)
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 185  Drafted: Santa Clara, 2011 (4th round).
The Braves may have gotten a steal when they drafted Graham in the fourth round a year ago. After breezing through the CL and finishing his first full pro season in Double-A, he owns a 17-4, 2.49 record in pro ball. One scout who saw him at Lynchburg compared him Kris Medlen.

Graham is a bulldog who attacks hitters and induces groundballs. His 4.2 groundout/airout ratio would have led the league if he had enough innings to qualify. He throws a pair of fastballs, a 93-97 mph four-seamer and a low-90s sinker, and backs them up with a sharp slider and an in-progress changeup.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 1 2.63 17 17 0 103 88 34 30 6 17 68 .222

8. Yordano Ventura, rhp, Wilmington (Royals)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 140  Signed: Dominican Republic '08.
Ventura handed Bundy his first loss as a pro on June 2, striking out six in five shutout innings of a 1-0 victory. Ventura was at his best that day, showing off a 93-98 mph fastball, a 12-to-6 hammer curveball and an effective changeup. He doesn't always command his electric stuff and still lacks consistency.

Though he lacks size and scouts wonder he can be effective as a long-term starter, Ventura carries his fastball velocity late into games. How well he can command his fastball and refine his secondary pitches will determine whether he remains in the rotation. He often racks up high pitch counts and needs to use his changeup more often.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
3 5 3.30 16 16 0 76 66 32 28 7 28 98 .224

9. Christian Villanueva, 3b, Myrtle Beach (Rangers)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160  Signed: Dominican Republic '10.
Villanueva batted .567 with two homers in his final eight games with Myrtle Beach before the Rangers packaged him with Pelicans righthander Kyle Hendricks to get Ryan Dempster from the Cubs. Javier Baez projects as Chicago's third baseman of the future, but Villanueva has the all-around talent to force his way into the lineup.

Villanueva uses a short, compact stroke to hit line drives to all fields. He understands the strike zone and puts himself in position to hit. Primarily a doubles hitter at this point, he shows sporadic power to the pull side and could develop into an average home run threat.

With solid range, soft hands and a plus arm, Villanueva has all the tools to play third base. His first-step quickness shows up in the field and on the basepaths, where he can use his average speed to swipe the occasional bag.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
375 45 107 19 1 10 59 24 83 9 9 .285 .356 .421

10. Orlando Calixte, ss, Wilmington (Royals)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160  Signed: Dominican Republic '10.
Calixte can be equal parts electrifying and frustrating. He has tremendous bat speed and more power potential than most infielders, but he's also a free swinger who struggles to recognize offspeed offerings. He can make highlight-reel plays at shortstop but also mishandles routine ones.

Though he batted leadoff for Wilmington, Calixte is hardly a traditional tablesetter and is more reminiscent of Alfonso Soriano in that role. His long swing and attempts to pull everything led to an inconsistent season at the plate, though he did hit .316/.357/.496 in the final month to help the Blue Rocks make the playoffs. He has average speed who's not much of a threat to steal.

Calixte has a strong arm and average range at shortstop but lacks consistency. He made 46 errors in 123 games between two Class A stops. He has improved his defensive mechanics since last season and fields the ball in a better position to make a throw.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
256 38 72 17 4 4 28 15 65 8 3 .281 .326 .426

11. Erik Johnson, rhp, Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 240  Drafted: California, 2011 (2nd round).
Johnson was a late arrival to Winston-Salem, arriving in mid-July after being shut down in spring training with shoulder fatigue. He made his full-season debut in the South Atlantic League, then helped guide the Dash to the Carolina League championship round after he arrived. The highlight was a pair of strong playoff starts, including taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning of an eventual loss to Myrtle Beach in the first round.

Johnson works off fastball, which sits in the low 90s, tops out at 96 mph and could add more consistent velocity as he smoothes out his delivery. His No. 2 pitch is a hard-biting slider, while his curveball and changeup remain works in progress. After battling his control in his first two pro stops, he did a good job of filling the strike zone while with the Dash.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 3 2.74 8 8 0 49 43 19 15 0 10 48 .225

12. Hanser Alberto, ss, Myrtle Beach (Rangers)
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175  Signed: Dominican Republic '09.
Alberto earned South Atlantic League all-star honors in the first half, batting .337/.385/.463 splitting time in Hickory's middle infield with Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas. He became the CL's second-youngest regular following a late-June promotion, and while his numbers at Myrtle Beach weren't as impressive, his tools still attracted attention and drew comparisons to those of Elvis Andrus.

Alberto has fast hands and drives the ball to all fields. Some of his doubles should turn into homers as he adds strength and experience. He can be impatient at the plate, though he makes contact with ease.

An above-average runner, Alberto uses his speed on the bases and in the infield. He has plus range, soft hands and a strong, accurate arm at shortstop. He made just 10 errors in 65 games with the Pelicans.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
279 36 74 11 2 4 34 2 27 9 3 .265 .273 .362

13. Nick Ahmed, ss, Lynchburg (Braves)
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205  Drafted: Connecticut, 2011 (2nd round).
Ahmed saved his best game of the season for his last, lifting Lynchburg to the league title by going 4-for-5 with three doubles and making several key plays at shortstop in an extra-inning win over Winston-Salem. That capped a fine first full pro season in which he led the CL in runs (84), doubles (36), steals (40) and fielding percentage at shortstop (.963).

Ahmed is particularly impressive in the field and on the basepaths. He uses his above-average speed and first-step quickness to steal bases and cover plenty of ground to both sides at shortstop. His strong arm plays up because of his quick release and throwing accuracy.

Offensively, Ahmed was at his best early in the season when he worked counts to get a pitch he could drive. He began swinging for the fences and chasing high fastballs in the second half. He has enough bat speed to pull a fastball but needs to focus on taking offspeed pitches the other way and improving his bunting skills to better utilize his speed.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
506 84 136 36 4 6 49 49 102 40 10 .269 .337 .391

14. Edward Salcedo, 3b, Lynchburg (Braves)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195  Signed: Dominican Republic '10
Salcedo has tremendous raw power that should only increase as he gets stronger. However, he's overly aggressive at the plate, swinging for the fences on every pitch, and struggles to recognize offspeed offerings. He has been equally tantalizing and frustrating in the field.

Salcedo has the arm strength and hands to stick at third base, but his lack of focus and poor footwork led to him committing a league-high 42 errors at third base. While he runs well for his size and did top CL third basemen in putouts (79) and assists (265), a move to the outfield could be in his future. Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar believes more playing time and improved concentration is what Salcedo needs most.

"A couple of years from now, he will be a very solid player," Salazar said. "He needs to slow down a little bit and play under control. When he does that, he is a hell of a third baseman."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
471 65 113 26 2 17 61 33 130 23 14 .240 .295 .412

15. Nate Karns, rhp, Potomac Nationals
Age: 24  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230  Drafted: Texas Tech, 2009 (12th round).
A 12th-round pick in 2009, Karns had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder shortly afterward and didn't make his pro debut until 2011. He looked like a new man during his full-season debut this year, leading the minors in opponent average (.174) and ranking fourth in ERA (2.17).

Karns works in the low 90s and touches 95 mph with his fastball. He throws his heater on a downhill plane, and it can jump on hitters coming out of his retooled delivery. His sharp downer curveball can be a plus pitch when he locates it consistently.

Karns' changeup has the makings of becoming an average pitch after he worked hard on it this year. The development of his third pitch and how he handles the workload of another full season will help determine if he sticks in the rotation or moves to the bullpen.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
8 4 2.26 13 13 0 72 47 23 18 1 26 87 .179

16. Luke Jackson, rhp, Myrtle Beach (Rangers)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185  Drafted: Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 2010 (1st round supplemental).
Jackson may lack consistency, but he has the makings of two above-average pitches. He throws his 92-95 mph fastball on a tough downhill plane, and his curveball is a true 12-to-6 hammer than can be an out pitch. When he's on—such as when he struck out 12 in five innings against Wilmington on July 17—the fastball and curve are all he needs.

Jackson still lacks feel for a changeup and often battles his control and command; his career walk rate is near five per nine innings. There's some effort to his delivery, which needs some fine-tuning. Some CL observers believe he'll fit best as a late-inning reliever, perhaps even as a closer.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 2 4.39 13 13 0 66 67 35 32 2 32 74 .254

17. Christian Vazquez, c, Salem Red Sox
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R., 2008 (9th round).
Vazquez continues to prove he has the skills behind the plate to play in the big leagues, but his performance at the plate could delay his arrival. Managers rated him the Carolina League's best defensive catcher one year after he received the same honor in the South Atlantic League. He led the league by throwing out 42 percent of basestealers.

With an average arm that plays up because of his quick release and sound footwork, Vazquez regularly gets the ball from home to second in 1.9 seconds. He has improved his blocking and receiving skills, and his passion for baseball shows on the field. He's a natural leader who's learning to call a game.

While Vazquez may have focused too much on swinging for the fences this season after hitting a career-high 18 homers in 2011, he's at his best when he shortens his swing and drives pitches up the middle. He projects as a decent hitter with perhaps average power. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
293 43 78 17 0 7 41 40 70 2 2 .266 .360 .396

18. Trayce Thompson, of, Winston-Salem (White Sox)
Age: 21  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195  Drafted: Santa Margarita Catholic HS, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., 2009 (2nd round).
Thompson led the league in homers (22), extra-base hits (55) and RBIs (90). The son of former NBA No. 1 overall pick Mychal Thompson, he worked to shorten a long, uppercut swing and use the entire field. The adjustments paid off in the second half, when he batted .301/.353/.526 at Winston-Salem and earned promotions to Double-A and Triple-A.

An above-average runner, Thompson has the potential to become a dual home run/stolen base threat. The key to his development will be improving his pitch recognition and cutting down on his strikeouts. He ranked 10th in the minors with 166 whiffs after tying for fifth last year with 172.

Thompson also uses his speed to cover a lot of ground in center field, where he has improved his reads and jumps. He has a solid arm that's stronger than that of a typical center fielder.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
449 77 114 28 5 22 90 45 144 18 3 .254 .325 .486

19. Ronny Rodriguez, ss/2b, Carolina (Indians)
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170  Signed: Dominican Republic '10.
Rodriguez shared shortstop and second base with Tony Wolters at Carolina, and he has the ability to play either position at higher levels. He has a legitimate 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and plus range. He sometimes forces plays he shouldn't, which led to 28 errors in 80 games at short.

Rodriguez has surprising raw power for his size, and it should translate into more homers as he becomes more disciplined at the plate. For now, he's a free swinger who can get fooled by breaking pitches. He has above-average speed but has yet to grasp the art of basestealing. 
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
454 67 120 20 4 19 66 19 88 7 7 .264 .300 .452

20. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3b, Wilmington (Royals)
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190  Signed: Nicaraugua '09.
The youngest regular in the league, Cuthbert struggled for most of the season but rallied to hit .308/.345/.364 in the final month. He has a strong swing and when he's at his best, he drives the ball to all fields with plus power. However, he struggles to pick up curveballs and chases pitches out of the strike zone.

With soft hands and a strong arm, he can make both the routine and the difficult plays at third base. Some scouts wonder if the thick-legged Cuthbert might outgrow the position, but others project his future range as plus. He's a below-average runner but not a liability on the bases.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
475 47 114 18 0 7 59 37 80 6 3 .240 .296 .322