It won’t be long before Kevin Gausman is winning over fans in B-More.
The 2013 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit continues today with Part II of our Top 60 Prospects.
So while you Curtis Granderson owners figure out what do to without your dude, let’s review prospects 50 through 41.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
50. Kevin Gausman, SP, Baltimore Orioles (NR): Many experts peg Gausman as a prospect inside the top 50, but considering he was just drafted last year and has barely had an opportunity to get his feet wet as a pro, we’re being a little more conservative here. Still, he’s clearly near the top of the Oriole prospect chart and he’s been a coveted draft prospect since he was in high school, and through his LSU days. After signing last year, Gausman made a couple of starts at Low-A, showing nice strikeout potential, and then a few more at High-A, where he actually upped his K rate. Taken fourth overall by B-More last year, he is currently in Spring Training with the team and is expected to be put on a schedule this year that would allow the O’s to use him in September and October if they need him. The 22-year-old has just five pro starts under his belt, but the fact that Baltimore thinks he might help the team this year speaks volumes. Landing in Charm City is a good fit for Gausman, given that his pitching coach at LSU was Alan Dunn, who spent four years as the bullpen coach for the Orioles. Limited baserunners in Gausman’s forte, but he’ll need to do a better job of keeping the ball in the park as he moves up the ladder. At 6′4″, 185, he has an ideal pitcher’s frame and he’s going to rack up plenty of swings and misses with that 97 mph heater.
49. Michael Choice, OF, Oakland A’s (49): When we ranked Choice 49th a year ago in our 2012 Top 55 Prospects list, we talked about his prodigious pop. Well, the former UTA star moved up to Double-A last year, but he left much of his power in the low minors. Choice remains one of the top prospects in the A’s system, but the 10th overall pick from 2010 had his 2012 season derailed by a busted hand. Oakland has way more depth in the outfield now than it did a year ago, so there is no reason to rush Choice, which is good, because clearly lots more seasoning is in order. Last year, he only managed a third the number of homers he had smoked in 2011, and while his prospect status was tarnished in the minds of many, we have kept him steady and decided to give him a mulligan. Choice is still only 23, so the snag in the road that was 2012 is not nearly enough to completely derail his chances. But assuming his extra-base power recovers this year, he should start bouncing back on the prospect lists. There is just no way you can give up on power like Choice has. And if his contact skills ever improve even just a tad, look out. At 6′0″, 215 pounds, this kid is built to mash and this season will tell us much about whether he’ll become a star or fade into obscurity.
48. Zach Lee, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR): The consensus top prospect in a Dodger system that has gotten a bit better recently but is still far from elite, Lee is a 21-year-old righty that possesses tremendous raw skills, yet we are still waiting to see them translate into performance. LA’s first rounder in 2010 started last season at High-A, but his bottom line results left something to be desired. Regardless, Lee was moved to Double-A at midseason and he actually improved his results at the higher level — a very good sign. If nothing else, this control specialist got some valuable experience last year, but we worry about his gopheritis and how that may get worse as he nears the majors. Ultimately, Lee should emerge at the minimum as a fine No. 3 starter, but for now, he’ll likely start this season back at Double-A with another midseason promotion in the offing should he continue to improve.
47. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (NR): Houston’s first round pick in 2011, Springer really landed squarely on the prospect map in his first full season last year. Tim McLeod sure liked what he saw of him in the AFL as Springer, sporting those high socks, came off as a throwback, Hunter Pence-type. If nothing else, Springer is in the right organization to move up the ladder very quickly. One of the top prospects in the Houston system, he is known for his very hard swing and when he makes contact, the ball earns some serious travel miles. What we liked was that he made better contact in the AFL, and that was a great sign. Now if he can build on that in Double-A, Springer’s ascension will be accelerated, but he’s not expected to see any time in Houston this year. There’s no doubt that his stock rose with the AFL experience, but the UConn product had already had prospect hounds salivating after combining to hit .302 with 24 homers and 32 steals between High-A and Double-A last year. Springer’s power excites us more than anything, and if the contact skills improve to the point where they are merely mediocre, we could be looking at a future Fantasy stud with 30-30 upside (and likely a slam dunk for consistent 20-20 seasons). He’s a gifted athlete that should spend most of the year at Double-A with a possible MLB debut sometime midway through 2014.
46. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, Boston Red Sox (NR): In his second pro season, Bradley announced himself as a prospect worth tracking. He only has a half season above A-ball, but he’s jumped aboard the Boston express and it’s not going to be long before he’s making his mark at Fenway. In fact, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Bradley could make his debut at some point in 2013. After all, he absolutely dominated in his 305 plate appearances at High-A before forcing a promotion to Double-A. Bradley could start the year at Triple-A, although perhaps it would be wiser for him to go back to Double-A after his BA dipped from nearly .360 at High-A to .275 in Double-A. The 22-year-old is already the best defensive outfielder in the Red Sox system and given his offensive breakout last year, he’s poised to replace Jacoby Ellsbury, who will either get traded this year (if Boston struggles again) or leave as a free agent after the season. A first round supplemental pick (40th overall) in 2011, Bradley’s slugging dipped at the higher level, but he really does not have a weakness in his game. Patience is his best skill and that, combined with his speed, is going to make him an ideal top of the order threat. A poor junior season at South Carolina (which was exacerbated by a wrist injury) hurt Bradley’s draft stock as he was originally expected to go around 20 to 25 overall, but given his 2012 showing, it’s clear the BoSox may have hit a home run on this pick.
45. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals (NR): We like Wong enough to place him 40th in our Second Base Rankings because we believe he’s going to make some noise this season. Others are so high on him that they thought he could have helped the Cards in the playoff race last year. While that’s debatable, there’s no mistaking the fact that St. Louis opted not to sign Marco Scutaro because it did not want to block Wong — and that speaks volumes. Last year, Wong showed developing power at Double-A and while the Cards are trying to convert Matt Carpenter into a second baseman, we don’t think for a second that he’d offer anything more than token resistance to Wong over the long haul. St. Louis’s first rounder from 2011, Wong flashed his speed at the AFL last year. In looking at his skills, there’s really nothing lacking — contact is his best asset; power is his worst, but the fact that it started to develop more last year was extremely promising. Wong is not a big dude (5′9″, 190), but after a bit of seasoning at Triple-A, he could be ready to have a big impact on the Cards later this year.
44. Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs (38): Jackson’s readiness this spring has a chance to affect new Cubs like Nate Schierholtz, but the youngster is driven to make an impact in 2013. With this in mind, this winter Jackson retooled his swing to speed it up and while he’s likely targeted to Triple-A to start the season, he’s not conceding anything, so it’s a position battle worth watching this spring. He made his MLB debut last year, earning 120 at-bats, but he struggled both at the plate and on the basepaths — hardly looking like the leadoff man the Cubs have been waiting on for some time now. No wonder Jackson felt like he had lots of work to do this offseason and no wonder the Cubs also felt the need to add Scott Hairston as an insurance policy. Assuming Jackson begins the year in the minors, once his contact skills improve, he’ll be brought back to Wrigley. He did show he can draw a walk in his brief time in the majors, but he simply must cut down on the strikeouts. It’s not too late for the 24-year-old to prove he was worth the supplemental first round pick the Cubs used on him in 2009. Jackson’s home run power continued to emerge at Triple-A last year, but the University of California product was much more impressive in his half season at Triple-A in 2011, so overall last year was somewhat disappointing, tempered to an extent by the fact that he got his feet wet in the majors. Jackson’s best tool is his speed (91 steals in four minor league seasons, including 27 in 106 games at Triple-A last year), but he fanned almost 160 times and then whiffed another 59 times in 44 games with the Cubs. Yuck. Still, this dude has some serious tools and is in an organization that has no choice but to show patience, so we still really like what he’s capable of long-term, notwithstanding a 2012 season that exposed plenty of flaws in his game.
43. Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (NR): Davidson has steadily moved up the ranks in the D-Backs’ system, but last year’s breakout propelled him onto this list and into the Fantasy owners’ consciousness. The fourth best prospect in a stacked Arizona organization, he turns 22 next month, yet is already within shouting distance of the bigs after spending the full season last year at Double-A. We love the fact that he dramatically improved his walk rate en route to helping Mobile repeat as Southern League champions. Some aren’t as high on Davidson as we are, but given his age, the fact that he’s conquered Double-A, is getting better as he moves up the ranks and plays a premium position all led us to slot him in our top 45. A supplemental first rounder in 2009, Davidson stayed moderately healthy last year, but he failed to consolidate his gains in the AFL, struggling to a .200 mark. The kid has pop — smacking 43 homers combined over the past two seasons — but very little speed (he swiped his first three bases as a pro last year, but was caught four times). Davidson is a big man at 6′2″, 225, offering a bit of a resemblance to an Arizona third baseman of days gone by — Matt Williams.
42. Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres (NR): We like Gyorko’s prospects for 2013 enough to have placed him 35th on our Second Base Rankings. He’s in competition for the second base job this spring with Logan Forsythe, but is a natural third base by trade. After hitting .325 at Triple-A, Gyorko has nothing left to prove in the minors, but he’s blocked at the hot corner by Chase Headley, so the Padres are hoping the youngster can adjust to life at the keystone corner. The fact that Gyorko’s power spiked with the move to Triple-A suggests he’s really coming into his own, so he’s a very intriguing prospect in redraft leagues as well as keeper formats. Sure, he’s played in less than 50 games at second base in his minor league career, but Gyorko will be given every opportunity to win this position battle. San Diego’s second round pick in 2010, he has scored a combined 199 runs in the past two seasons in the minors and his BA potential (.328 at Triple-A last year; .365 at High-A in 2011) remains his chief weapon. Gyorko stole a dozen bases in 2011, but speed is not his thang, so don’t expect more than the occasional swipe in the bigs. The bottom line here is his bat will play at any position — just don’t expect any Gold Gloves from Gyorko.
41. Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants (39): We ranked Brown inside the top 40 prospects last year when he scored a ridiculous amount of runs at High-A. Well, his numbers weren’t nearly as impressive at Double-A in 2012, hence his slight regression in our rankings. Brown got off to a tough start last year, but with just Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco currently in his way in San Francisco, he’s not as far from the majors as it seems. Brown earned valuable experience last year and now that he’s in his third Spring Training with the Giants, he’s not satisfied to just be there — his goal is to bag a roster spot. In all likelihood, he’s ticketed for Triple-A, but that will leave him just an injury away from the bigs. Brown somewhat salvaged his season with a strong hitting performance in the AFL. The Giants’ first rounder in 2010 is a serious speedster, swiping 86 bases in the past two seasons combined, although his success rate at Double-A was pretty disappointing, and that will need to be addressed if he’s going to get the green light when he arrives in the Show. We’d also like to see him develop more patience if he’s going to be a top of the order threat. Brown has never walked much, but just 40 free passes in 134 games last year was a substandard performance even by his standards. He is such a good contact hitter, though, that we can see Brown ultimately winning a batting title (he finished second in the Cal League in 2011 with a .336 mark before faltering last year). This is the centrefielder of the future in San Francisco. Whether that future begins this year or next year depends on Brown’s ability to adjust to Triple-A.
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