Hank Conger may have been the MVP of yesterday's Futures Game, but the most electrifying player was fellow Angels farmhand Mike Trout, whom we discussed in the June 21 Ask BA. I raved about Trout in our Futures Game game story, and Ben Badler and John Manuel did the same in their breakdown of the best tools on display there.
For more Futures Games observations, check out my Twitter feed at @jimcallisBA. As always, feel free to hit me with briefer questions at Twitter and longer ones here.
The draft and international crops weren't particularly strong this year, so very few 2010 signees would have made the midseason Top 25.
Only the top three picks in the draft would merit consideration, all of whom don't figure to sign before the Aug. 16 deadline: Nationals outfielder/catcher Bryce Harper, Pirates righthander Jameson Taillon and Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. Harper is comparable to Yankees catcher Jesus Montero, No. 5 on the Top 25, and I'd give Montero the edge because he has already has destroyed Double-A pitching.
Taillon has overpowering stuff, as does Reds lefthander Aroldis Chapman (No. 14). He's also 2010's top high school pitching prospect, just as Rockies lefthander Tyler Matzek (No. 21) was a year ago. You can make a case for putting Taillon at No. 15, but I'd put him just ahead of Matzek, who has been good in his debut but not as electric as he was last spring.
Machado has a chance to be a five-tool shortstop, giving him a higher ceiling than the righthanders at the end of the Top 25: Kyle Gibson (Twins), Kyle Drabek (Blue Jays), Casey Kelly (Red Sox) and Tanner Scheppers (Rangers). For me, Machado fits behind Matzek.
Three Latin American players have signed or agreed to deals worth at least $2 million so far: Venezuelan righthander Adonis Cardona (Blue Jays), Dominican outfielder Ariel Ovando (Astros) and Venezuelan third baseman Renato Nunez (Athletics). But Ben Badler, BA's international expert, says there are no standouts in that market along the lines of righthander Michael Ynoa (Athletics), third baseman Miguel Sano (Twins) and catcher Gary Sanchez (Yankees) from the past two years, and that none of them will merit inclusion on next year's Top 100 Prospects list, let alone a midseason Top 25.
A 22nd-round pick out of UC Irvine as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2008, Stowell signed for $725,000 shortly before the Aug. 15 deadline. After a mediocre pro debut in 2009, the Indians made him a full-time reliever this year. The new role and some mechanical adjustments have helped his fastball increase from 88-91 mph to 93-96. He uses a slider as a No. 2 pitch and has a ceiling as a setup man.
Burns was an eighth-round pick out of Arizona a year ago and signed for a mere $30,000. He's more of a trickster than a stuff guy, using a twisting, deceptive delivery and a plus changeup to confound hitters. He works at 88-92 mph with his fastball and also throws a knuckle-curve. He projects as a middle reliever.
Don't fret. The Yankees are always active on the international market, with recent gems including Montero, since-traded righthander Arodys Vizcaino and Sanchez.
They, and other teams, are just being pragmatic so far this year. A lot of clubs believe the asking prices on the international market are inflated beyond the worth of the players, and they're waiting for the numbers to come down. Also, many clubs wait until physicals and age/identity investigations are complete before announcing deals.