Ask BA

Happy holidays, everyone. Ask BA will return to a more regular schedule now that the 2013 Prospect Handbook is all but done. We just have to put some finishing touches on it, and if you ordered directly from Baseball America, you’ll have the Handbook (and the bonus supplement with 30 extra scouting reports) in your hands in the second half of January.

I traditionally use Ask BA to update the draft order, and I’ll do so below. Only four potential compensation free agents remain on the market (Braves outfielder Michael Bourn, Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, Cardinals righthander Kyle Lohse, Yankees righty Rafael Soriano). If they change addresses, their former club will get a pick at the end of the first round and their new team will forfeit their top choice (unless it’s one of the top 10 overall).

Here’s where we stand as of today:

First Round

1. Astros

2. Cubs

3. Rockies

4. Twins

5. Indians

6. Marlins

7. Red Sox

8. Royals

9. Pirates (for failure to sign 2012 first-rounder Mark Appel)

10. Blue Jays

11. Mets

12. Mariners

13. Padres

14. Pirates

15. Diamondbacks

16. Phillies

17. Brewers

18. White Sox

19. Dodgers

20. Cardinals

21. Tigers

xx. Angels (forfeited No. 22 pick for free agent Josh Hamilton)

22. Rays

23. Orioles

24. Rangers

25. Athletics

26. Giants

xx. Braves (forfeited No. 28 pick for free agent B.J. Upton)

27. Yankees

28. Reds

29. Nationals

xx. Cardinals (potential pick for free agent Kyle Lohse)

30. Rays (for Upton)

31. Rangers (for Hamilton)

xx. Braves (potential pick for free agent Michael Bourn)

32. Yankees (for free agent Nick Swisher)

xx. Yankees (potential pick for free agent Rafael Soriano)

xx. Nationals (potential pick for free agent Adam LaRoche)

Supplemental First Round (Competitive-Balance Lottery Picks)

33. Royals

34. Marlins (acquired from Pirates)

35. Diamondbacks

36. Orioles

37. Reds

38. Tigers (acquired from Marlins)

Second-Round Changes

xx. Indians (forfeited No. 42 pick for Swisher)

Supplemental Second Round (Competitive-Balance Lottery Picks)

68. Padres

69. Indians

70. Rockies

71. Athletics

72. Brewers

73. Marlins (acquired from Tigers)

Third-Round Changes

76. Mets (for failure to sign 2012 second-rounder Teddy Stankewicz)

96. Phillies (for failure to sign 2012 second-rounder Alec Rash)

Supplemental Third Round

106. Athletics (for failure to sign 2012 third-rounder Kyle Twomey)

    Let me be one of thousands to ask: How would the Mets Top 10 Prospects list be reconfigured with the acquisitions from the R.A. Dickey trade?

    Peter Berryman

    Savannah, Ga.

    How much has the R.A. Dickey trade improved the Mets farm system? And what would a new Mets Top 10 look like? Give a suffering Mets fan some hope for the future.

    Jeremy Sichley

    Silverton, Ore.

    After the R.A. Dickey trade, how would the Mets Top 10 now shake out? Is Noah Syndergaard a potential No. 1 starter? How would you rank the Mets system overall?

    Scott Jacoby

    New York

    After the R.A. Dickey trade, where would the Mets system rank overall?

    Rich Panico

    Miller Place, N.Y.

    After the R.A. Dickey trade, how would you re-rank the Mets Top 10 Prospects? How much do you think the trade helped their organizational ranking?

    Jonathan Rosen

    New York

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and righthander Noah Syndergaard were the top two prospects left in the Blue Jays system after Toronto made the Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle trade with the Marlins, and now they’ve gone to the Mets as part of the Dickey package. D’Arnaud is the second-best catching prospect in baseball, behind only Mike Zunino of the Mariners, while Syndergaard is a potential No. 2 starter. They’be be New York’s second- and third-best prospects, fitting between righthander Zack Wheeler and shortstop Gavin Cecchini.

Dickey is the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and strikeout king, but I’m still surprised the Mets were able to extract Syndergaard as the second player in the deal. Adding him and d’Arnaud gives a significant boost to a system that was as thin as any in the National League before the trade. New York still lacks upper-level talent, but the addition of two blue-chip prospects boosts their system into the 18-20 range.

Every year, it seems there’s a prospect or two who gets left in limbo because of the timing of a transaction that leaves them without a spot on any organization’s Top 10 Prospects list in our magazine or on our website. Those guys always appear in the Prospect Handbook, however. Bauer ranked No. 2 on our Diamondbacks list in the Handbook, and he’d be No. 1 ahead of shortstop Francisco Lindor if we updated our Indians Top 10.

Here’s the Bauer report from the Handbook:

Trevor Bauer, rhp

BA Grade: 65/Medium.

Born: Jan. 17, 1991. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Drafted: UCLA, 2011 (1st round). Signed by: Hal Kurtzman.

Bauer had a storied career at UCLA, setting Bruins career records for wins (34) and whiffs (460) while winning consecutive NCAA Division I strikeout titles. He won the Baseball America College Player of the Year and Golden Spikes awards in 2011, when the Diamondbacks made him the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and signed him to a big league contract with a $3.4 million bonus and $4.45 million in guarantees. In his first full pro season, Bauer ranked as the Double-A Southern League’s top prospect, made his big league debut in June and helped Reno win the Pacific Coast League playoffs and the Triple-A National Championship. But his unconventional approach, which includes extreme long-tossing and the desire to call his own pitches, drew criticism from teammates and even owner Ken Kendrick. Bauer lasted just four starts in his first shot at the major leagues, but he still has outstanding stuff. His mid-90s four-seam fastball touches 96 mph and bores in on righthanders. Both it and his hard curveball grade as plus-plus pitches. He also uses a splitter, slider and changeup, all of which are at least average pitches. Bauer needs to refine his plan on the mound. He gets caught up trying to strike out every hitter, which leads to control issues and high pitch counts. Rather than trying to make each pitch perfect, he just needs to trust his stuff. He puts considerable effort into each pitch, but his delivery works for him and adds deception. Bauer will get a fresh start in spring training and a chance to break camp in Arizona rotation. He needs to make some adjustments but has all the ingredients to be a No. 1 starter.

Following the departure of Myers and Odorizzi, third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and righthander Miguel Almonte moved into the Royals Top 10 in the Prospect Handbook. Cuthbert should be familiar to Baseball America readers after cracking our Royals Top 10 from a year ago as well as our high Class A Carolina League Top 20 in 2012, but Almonte is relatively unknown with just 89 innings of pro experience, all in Rookie ball.

As another teaser for the Handbook, here’s Almonte’s scouting report:

Miguel Almonte, rhp

BA Grade: 55/Extreme.

Born: April 4, 1993. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 160. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2010. Signed by: Fausto Morel/Alvin Cuevas.

Several prospects will rise two levels in a year, but few covered the amount of distance that Almonte did to pull off his jump in 2012. Signed for $25,000 in 2010, he started last season in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, earned a promotion to the Rookie-level Arizona League, then flew cross country to Burlington, N.C., for the Appalachian League playoffs. He’s still flying under the radar because he has moved so quickly. He’s just 19 and has thrown only 27 regular-season innings in the United States.  Almonte has a good three-pitch mix with a heavy 91-93 mph fastball that touches 96, an average changeup and an inconsistent curveball. He does show some feel for spinning for the ball, so he could have three solid offerings in time. Almonte repeats his delivery well and already self-diagnoses to fix mechanical flaws on his own when they do crop up, giving him advanced command for his age. Despite his inexperience, the Royals think the potential No. 3 starter is ready to handle the jump to low Class A.

    Middle infielder Brock Holt was part of the Joel Hanrahan trade between the Pirates and Red Sox. Would Holt have made your Boston Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook had the deal happened early enough to be included?

    J.P. Schwartz

    Springfield, Ill.

Holt stands out more for his floor than his ceiling. A ninth-round pick out of Rice in 2009, he’s a career .317 hitter in the minor leagues and ranked sixth in the minors with a .344 average last season. He doesn’t really stand out in any other regard, however.

He has some modest gap power, draws a few walks and isn’t much of a basestealing threat. Holt’s range and arm strength fit better at second base than shortstop, and he profiles more as a utilityman than a regular on a good team. At age 24, he’s probably not going to get much better than he already is.

Holt ranked No. 22 on our Pirates Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook. I tend to favor high-ceiling players over guys with less upside and more uncertainty, but I would have stashed him on the bottom of the Red Sox Top 30 somewhere. You could make a case for him fitting anywhere behind corner infielder Travis Shaw, who was No. 23. I probably would have put him at No. 30, behind lefthander Miguel Pena.

" Dec. 10 Ask BA