League Top 20 Prospects

2012 Florida State League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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FIVE YEARS AGO
*1. Jay Bruce, of, Sarasota Reds
*2. Cameron Maybin, of, Lakeland (Tigers)
*3. Jake McGee, lhp, Vero Beach Rays
*4. Wade Davis, rhp, Vero Beach Rays
*5. Johnny Cueto, rhp, Sarasota Reds
*6. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Clearwater (Phillies)
*7. Ian Kennedy, rhp, Tampa Yankees
8. Deolis Guerra, rhp, St. Lucie Mets
*9. Jose Tabata, of, Tampa Yankees
*10. Austin Jackson, of, Tampa Yankees
*11. Chris Volstad, rhp, Jupiter (Marlins)
*12. Alcides Escobar, ss, Brevard County (Brewers)
*13. Tyler Colvin, of, Daytona Cubs
*14. Josh Outman, lhp, Clearwater (Phillies)
*15. Adam Ottavino, rhp, Palm Beach Cardinals
*16. Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Jupiter (Marlins)
*17. Frank Cervelli, c, Tampa Yankees
18. Eduardo Morlan, rhp, Fort Myers (Twins)
*19. Jeff Samardzija, rhp, Daytona Cubs
*20. Rhyne Hughes, 1b, Vero Beach Rays
*Played in major leagues
Most leagues are lucky if one or two elite pitching prospects make an appearance during the season. In 2012, the high Class A Florida State League had two of the game's top 10 pitching prospects on the same team.

Righthanders Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, and Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 selection in 2010, spent the first two months together at Bradenton before Cole was promoted to Double-A. As impressive as they were, the (Pirates) finished with the FSL's second-worst record and another frontline starter, Jupiter's Jose Fernandez(^), earned the nod as the league's top prospect.

Fernandez and Cole were two of four 2011 first-rounders to spend significant time in the league. The others, Brevard County righthander Taylor Jungmann and lefty Jed Bradley, failed to make this list. Jupiter also claimed the top position prospect in the league, with outfielder Christian Yelich beating out Lakeland third baseman Nick Castellanos for that honor.

1. Jose Fernandez, rhp, Jupiter (Marlins)
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215 Drafted: Alonso HS, Tampa, 2011 (1st round).
Fernandez pounds the bottom of the strike zone with a 93-97 mph fastball that tops out at 99, but FSL observers were even more impressed with his advanced approach. He shows excellent feel for pitching and advanced secondary stuff for a high school draftee in his first full pro season.

He sometimes loses his fastball command, often because he overthrows, which for most young pitchers would mean they're in for a long night. But Fernandez responds by throwing his hard-breaking curveball and potentially average changeup more often early in the count to get ahead of hitters. Once he does that, he often get hitters to chase his fastball out of the zone.

Fernandez's extremely confident, some say cocky, mound demeanor also drew plenty of notice. It turned off some opposing managers, but others point out that he's an excellent teammate whose love of the game is apparent.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
7 1 1.96 11 11 0 55 38 12 12 0 17 59 .187

2. Gerrit Cole, rhp, Bradenton (Pirates)
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 220 Drafted: UCLA, 2011 (1st round).
Cole wasn't the only FSL pitcher who could hit triple digits on the radar gun. Lakeland's Bruce Rondon did it regularly and late-season Clearwater callup Ken Giles did the same. But Cole was the only pitcher regularly hitting the century mark as a starter.

"He was up to 101 against us. He was very impressive. He's sick," Brevard County manager Joe Ayrault said. "It's tough when you see a guy throw 101 mph for strikes."

Cole throws an upper-90s four-seam fastball he can elevate, as well as a mid-90s two-seamer that he can sink or cut. He plays off the two-seamer with a plus-plus 88-91 mph slider, and he can pair up the the four-seamer with a slower curveball. To top things off, he throws an average changeup that has late action.

The biggest knock against Cole is that hitters can often can catch up to his premium velocity because they pick the ball up easily out of his delivery. That didn't stop one scout from comparing him to Justin Verlander.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 1 2.55 13 13 0 67 53 24 19 5 21 69 .209

3. Jameson Taillon, rhp, Bradenton (Pirates)
Age: 20 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 225 Drafted: The Woodlands (Texas) HS, 2010 (1st round).
On any other staff, Taillon's stuff would stand alone. Pitching in the same rotation with Cole, his 94-98 mph fastball, developing breaking ball and average changeup gave opponents just an extra reason to dread a trip to Bradenton.

Taillon is 14 months younger than Cole and further from the big leagues. While Cole is working on refining his command and reading swings, Taillon is tweaking grips and arm angles for his breaking ball. He has junked the spike curveball he'd thrown since high school, replacing it with a slurvier breaking ball that he can control better and throw from the same arm slot as his fastballs.

The Pirates allowed Taillon to throw a two-seam fastball again this year, giving hitters something else to worry about and providing contrast to his straight four-seamer. His overall command sometimes comes and goes, and he needs work on holding runners after giving up 30 steals in 33 attempts.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
6 8 3.82 23 23 0 125 109 57 53 10 37 98 .225

4. Christian Yelich, of, Jupiter (Marlins)
Age: 20 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 189 Drafted: Westlake HS, Westlake Village, Calif., 2010 (1st round).
In a league with several intriguing center fielders, Yelich stood out the most and especially with his bat. He led the FSL in slugging (.519) and finished second to Palm Beach's Mike O'Neill in hitting (.330) and on-base percentage (.404).

"Christian Yelich is the best hitter in the league," Palm Beach manager Johnny Rodriguez said. "He'll hit for power and average."

Yelich has excellent pitch recognition and can pull the ball or go the other way, with plenty of pop to left-center field. A slightly above-average runner with good instincts, he should be a solid to plus center fielder. His fringy arm is his worst tool, with a long arm action and slow release hampering his throwing ability.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
397 76 131 29 5 12 48 49 85 20 6 .330 .404 .519

5. Nick Castellanos, 3b, Lakeland (Tigers)
Age: 20 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 210 Drafted: Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla., 2010 (1st  round supplemental).
The FSL has had just one .400 hitter in its 82-year-history (Dan Keith in 1955), but Castellanos made a run at becoming the second until the Tigers promoted him in early June. He made impressive adjustments and consistent contact at the plate, showing easy power to the opposite field. He could hit 25 or more homers annually once he matures.

League observers were mixed about his defense, with some believing he can become an average third baseman and others thinking he's too tentative. He made 13 errors in 51 games and often got caught between hops on grounders. He's a solid runner with a strong arm, but Detroit moved him to right field full-time in mid-July.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
215 37 87 17 3 3 32 22 42 3 2 .405 .461 .553

6. Enny Romero, lhp, Charlotte (Rays)
Age: 21 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 165 Signed: Dominican Republic '08
The Rays keep producing pitchers, and Romero looks like the next in their long line of hard-throwing starters. His fastball sits at 93-97 mph, making him one of the hardest-throwing southpaw starters in the minors. He led the league by limiting opponents to a .201 average.

Romero's downer breaking ball lacks consistency but gives him a second strikeout pitch when it's on. Though changeup requires even more refinement, it also shows flashes of becoming a solid third offering.

He doesn't fully understand his delivery and he scatters his fastball. He ranked second in the FSL with 76 walks and if he can't harness his control, he could wind up working out of the bullpen like Jake McGee did for Tampa. Romero is still young and his mechanics have no obvious flaws, giving reason to believe he'll be able to stick as a starter.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
5 7 3.93 25 23 0 126 89 67 55 5 76 107 .201

7. Oswaldo Arcia, of, Fort Myers (Twins)
Age: 21 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 210 Signed: Venezuela '07
If not for an elbow injury that cut short his 2011 season, Arcia likely would have begun this year in Double-A. He needed just two months to earn that promotion, impressing FSL observers with his ability to hit for both average and power. He works counts into his favor, then unleashes his plus raw power.

Arcia is a tick below-average runner who figures to get even slower because he has a thick, powerful build. He'll still an average defender in right field, thanks to his good reads on flyballs. His strong arm keeps runners honest.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
207 22 64 16 3 7 31 23 45 1 3 .309 .376 .517

8. Tyler Austin, of, Tampa Yankees
Age: 20 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Drafted: Heritage HS, Conyers, Ga., 2010 (13th round).
Austin sustained a concussion when a pitch hit in the helmet during his FSL game, knocking him out of the Futures Game and sidelining him for three weeks. The layoff didn't affect his prowess at the plate, as he continued to show excellent hand-eye coordination with good power to all fields. He finished the season with a .331 career batting average in pro ball.

Austin's most notable asset may be his ability to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He also shows good instincts on the bases, where he knows how to read pitchers and pick his spots. Though he has just average speed, he has succeeded in 41 of his 43 career steal attempts.

A catcher in high school and a corner infielder in 2011, Austin found a home in right field this year. He has a plus arm and average range.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
134 20 43 13 1 2 23 12 28 6 0 .321 .385 .478

9. Gary Sanchez, c, Tampa Yankees
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 220 Signed: Dominican Republic '09
Like his teammate Austin, Sanchez has the chance to hit for average and power. He has a quick bat and while his raw power stands our more than his pure hitting ability, he showed a more controlled swing as the season wore on. By doing so, he learned that he could balls over the fence without swinging from his heels.

It's still uncertain whether he can make it as a catcher, but Sanchez improved as a receiver and played with more energy this year. He does have arm strength and can get the ball to second base in 1.9-2.0 seconds. He threw out 29 percent of basestealers and committed eight passed balls in 38 FSL games.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
172 21 48 10 1 5 29 10 41 4 0 .279 .330 .436

10. Jesse Biddle, lhp, Clearwater (Phillies)
Age: 20 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225 Drafted: Germantown Friends HS, Philadelphia, 2010 (1st round).
The second-youngest ERA qualifier in the league behind Taillon, Biddle led the FSL with 151 strikeouts in 143 innings. Clearwater manager Chris Truby, who skippered him last year in low Class A, said Biddle made considerable improvements this season.

"His command of his fastball got better," Truby said. "And I thought his breaking ball became more consistent. He's now throwing it for strikes. It's not just a swing-and-miss pitch, he buries it."

Biddle effectively spots his 90-93 mph fastball to set up his hard curveball. He doesn't throw as hard as most of the pitchers on this list, but his fastball seems to get on hitters quickly. He has made progress with his changeup, using it to induce weak contact.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
10 6 3.22 26 26 0 143 129 64 51 10 54 151 .232

11. Jake Marisnick, of, Dunedin Blue Jays
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200 Drafted: Poly HS, Riverside, Calif., 2009 (3rd round).
Marisnick was one of the best athletes in the FSL and is at least a four-tool player, but his chances for stardom will depend entirely on how well his fifth tool (his bat) develops. He struggled to recognize FSL breaking balls, especially when he's swinging from the right side, and he chased pitches out of the strike zone. Pitchers exploited those weaknesses when he spent the last two months in Double-A, where he batted .233/.286/.336.

Marisnick has a quick bat with above-average power potential. His speed and arm are plus tools as well, with defense standing out as the most impressive part of his game. Not many balls found the gaps against Dunedin when Marisnick was roaming around center field.

"Bloopers that fall in everywhere, he's camped underneath them," Tampa hitting coach Justin Turner said. "And he gets to balls going back too."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
266 41 70 18 7 6 35 26 55 10 5 .263 .349 .451

12. Adam Morgan, lhp, Clearwater (Phillies)
Age: 22 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195 Drafted: Alabama, 2011 (3rd round).
The worst trip in the FSL for a lefthanded hitter was Clearwater. Between Biddle, Morgan and Austin Wright, the Threshers had three tough southpaws in their rotation.

Morgan led the league in strikeouts per nine innings (10.2) and WHIP (1.07). He actually throws a little harder than Biddle, sitting at 91-93 mph, and 94, though Biddle's fastball seems quicker to hitters. What Morgan doesn't have is the second plus pitch that Biddle has with his breaking ball.

Morgan throws a slider and a changeup, both of which could end up being average pitches. His slider shows flashes of being better than that with occasional bite. For now, he succeeds largely because he can locate his fastball to both sides of the plate and because it has excellent late movement.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 10 3.29 20 19 0 118 100 44 43 6 27 133 .221

13. Avisail Garcia, of, Lakeland (Tigers)
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 240 Signed: Venezuela '07
FSL managers were struck by how much Garcia looked like Miguel Cabrera, which is both positive and negative. Garcia has excellent power potential, as one would expect from a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder. But the 29-year-old Cabrera didn't look like this when he was 21, which leads to some questions about what Garcia's body will look like when he's nearing 30.

Garcia was in the FSL all of 2011, and observers remarked on how much more locked in he appeared this year. He gave away fewer at-bats and wasn't as much of a free swinger. As his approach matures, he shows signs of hitting for average to go with his power.

Garcia arm was one of the strongest among FSL outfielders, and he handles right field with no problems. He's an average runner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
266 47 77 8 5 8 36 11 57 14 4 .289 .324 .447

14. Bruce Rondon, rhp, Lakeland (Tigers)
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190 Signed: Venezuela '07
Rondon carries 80 pounds more than his listed weight of 190, but his fastball is just as large as his dimensions. No one in the minors throws harder than Rondon, routinely hits 100 mph and touches 103. At the Futures Game, Rondon didn't throw a pitch under 100 mph.

Making life even tougher for hitters, Rondon's fastball has late life. He also throws a mid-80s slider and destroys righthanders, who hit .104 with no extra-base hits in 106 at-bats against him in the minors this year. He also throws a changeup that flashes some late sink.

Though Rondon's control has improved, he's still prone to stretches of wildness. He'll have to keep his walks and his weight in check in order to get to close games in the big leagues, but he has a chance to be an elite reliever.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 0 1.93 22 0 15 23 12 5 5 1 10 34 .146

15. Marcell Ozuna, of, Jupiter (Marlins)
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190 Signed: Dominican Republic '08.
Ozuna joins Marisnick as one of the riskiest and highest-ceiling prospects in the league. He has plus-plus raw power—which he parlayed into leading the FSL in homers (24), RBIs (95), total bases (233) and slugging (.476)—and arm strength to match. "He has the best power and the best arm in the league," Truby said.

But as with Marisnick, there are concerns about Ozuna's hitting ability. He doesn't recognize breaking balls well and he chases pitches out of the strike zone. He does show signs of making adjustments, so his supporters believe he'll eventually become an average hitter.

An average runner, he has succeeded on 40 of his 49 steal attempts as a pro. He's an average defender in right field and capable of filling in in center.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
489 89 130 27 2 24 95 44 116 8 3 .266 .328 .476

16. Jimmy Nelson, rhp, Brevard County (Brewers)
Age: 23 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 245 Drafted: Alabama, 2010 (2nd round).
Jungmann and Bradley were the big names in Brevard County's rotation, but the 2011 first-round picks didn't come close to matching the performance or stuff of Nelson, a 2010 second-rounder. He continued to pitch well after his promotion to Double-A in mid-June, though his walk rate spiked.

Nelson throws harder than the first-rounders, sitting at 92-94 and touching 96 mph. He also has plenty of sink and boring action on his two-seam fastball. His slider is a quality second pitch, and he shows some confidence in his changeup as well.

Nelson works aggressively and confidently, trusting his stuff to get ahead of hitters. The main concern with him is his herky-jerky delivery. It generates some deception, but it features effort and could hamper his command and his durability.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
4 4 2.21 13 13 0 81 63 24 20 3 25 77 .205

17. Slade Heathcott, of, Tampa Yankees
Age: 21 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190 Drafted: Texas HS, Texarkana, Texas, 2009 (1st round).
Because of continual injuries and a pair of surgeries on his left shoulder, Heathcott never has played more than 76 games in a year. His 2012 season didn't start until mid-June and he made just 19 appearances in the outfield, but he still left quite an impression on FSL managers.

"My favorite player in the league is Heathcott," Truby said. "He can flat-out play the game. He has great energy, he plays defense, he runs and he has power. He did it all against us. It's just a matter of staying on the field."

Heathcott is loaded with tools, including above-average power and plus-plus speed, and he also showed a strong arm before his surgeries. He's an asset in center field and on the bases, though his all-out style of play may make if difficult for him to stay healthy consistently. He struggles to maintain his swing and keep it short, in part because of all the time he has missed.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
215 38 66 16 2 5 27 20 66 17 4 .307 .378 .470

18. Nik Turley, lhp, Tampa Yankees
Age: 22 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 230 Drafted: Harvard-Westlake School, North Hollywood, Calif., 2008 (50th round).
When Andy Pettitte joined Tampa while tuning up for his big league return, he had a very interested new teammate in Turley. His big frame and delivery reminded everyone in the league of Pettitte.

Turley uses his size and over-the-top delivery to get good downhill plane on his pitches and generate plenty of groundouts, helping him lead the league with a 2.89 ERA. He works his 89-92 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, setting up a big-breaking curveball that can freeze hitters. His changeup is more erratic, but when it's on, it falls off the table at the plate.
W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
9 5 2.89 23 21 0 112 97 38 36 7 44 116 .224

19. Wilmer Flores, 3b, St. Lucie Mets
Age: 20 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190 Signed: Venezuela '07
The Mets finally moved Flores off shortstop in his third stint in the FSL, and he responded by putting up the best numbers of his still-young career. After a promotion to Double-A in late June, he hit .311/.361/.494.

Flores knows how to stay inside the baseball, and he does a good job of driving the ball to the opposite field. He projects as a potential plus hitter with average power.

Though Flores always has shown offensive upside, his position remains in doubt. He's a 20 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his heavy feet severely limit his range at third base. His hands are fine and he has a strong arm, but his lack of speed leaves first base as his only other option if he can't handle the hot corner.
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
242 31 70 12 0 10 42 18 30 3 2 .289 .336 .463

20. Gift Ngoepe, ss, Bradenton (Pirates)
Age: 22 B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 165 Signed: South Africa '08
The FSL was filled with glove wizards at shortstop, none better than Ngoepe. The South African has plus range and arm strength to go with soft hands, though like many young shortstops he sometimes tries to do too much.

Ngoepe has a chance to be a respectable hitter (albeit without much power) as well. A switch-hitter, he needs to use the opposite field more often but has the work ethic to make the necessary adjustments. He's an aggressive baserunner with solid speed.

"This guy may come on like crazy in the next couple of years," Jupiter manager Andy Haines said. "Every time I saw him I liked him more. He has strong hands and wrists. I think the bat can develop."
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
453 65 104 11 5 8 34 63 131 21 14 .230 .328 .329