Welcome back! Yesterday I unleashed my introduction along with prospects 1-3 in my 2011 Top 30. In this edition, I unveil prospects 4-6. I’ll spare you the rambling, lets just get right to it.
Volume 1 can be found here
04. Jarred Cosart, RHP
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2010 Summary: Cosart was excellent at Lakewood in 2010, showing swing and miss stuff and getting scouts all hot and bothered. His strikeouts were excellent, his control was good, and he generated tons of groundballs.
Strengths: Cosart has the biggest arm in the system, consistently sitting at 92-97 and touching 98 frequently. His fastball has solid movement, and the ball explodes out of his hand. His arm action is still long, but the Phillies have quieted his delivery down a bit, removing some of the excess motion and moving parts. He’s an excellent athlete, which will help him repeat his delivery and should promote excellent command in addition to his already solid control. While neither secondary pitch is a consistent plus pitch at present, he’ll snap off good breaking balls and show an average if inconsistent changeup. At 6’3, 180, he still has room to add a bit of muscle.
Weaknesses: The biggest concern right now is Cosart’s health. He didn’t pitch at all in 2008 after being drafted, and arm issues shut him down early in both 2009 and 2010. He was given a clean bill of health by Dr Andrews, but until he pitches a full season and stays healthy, the injury question will be with him. On a pure talent level, he’s the top pitcher in the system, but health is just as important as actual baseball skill or raw tools.
Best Case: If he can put the injuries behind him, he has the pedigree of a true number 1 starter. When he is fully developed, his fastball should comfortably sit in the 94-96 range, regularly touching 98 with good movement. He’s shown aptitude for his offspeed pitches, but the lack of innings and health are holding him back from refining and improving the pitches. Even if he can’t hold up with a starter’s workload, his fastball alone makes him an elite closer candidate. In other words, he’s really talented, and should be a fixture at the top of this list for the next 2-3 seasons.
MLB ETA: Staying healthy for a full season is priority #1. He figures to head to Clearwater with Brody Colvin and Trevor May in 2011, and he’ll set his own timetable. Conservatively, 2013 seems like a good bet.
Ranking Difficulties: The injury is what prompted me to drop him below Colvin and Singleton. His peripherals were excellent, his raw tools are excellent, but he has to stay on the field to get the most out of them. As I mentioned in my Brody Colvin writeup, I think Colvin is 95% of the prospect Cosart is, and he’s healthy, so he gets the nod. I considered Singleton and Colvin as near equals, so it made sense to me to drop Cosart down to #4. If you want to rank him #2, I can totally understand that. I felt more comfortable ranking him 4th.
Final Thoughts: Theres a ton to like here. Lets just pray for a healthy 2011. Also, you should follow Jarred on twitter, go here, he’s very fan friendly. Just play it cool!
05. Trevor May, RHP
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2010 Summary: After a solid 2009 at Lakewood, the Phillies promoted May to Clearwater, where things didn’t go so well. He struggled with his mechanics, which led to poor control of all of his offerings. More experienced hitters didn’t do him favors by chasing his fastball and hammer curve, and the result was a demotion back to Lakewood. Upon his return, his numbers ticked back up.
Strengths: On his day, May’s raw stuff is nearly as good as that of Cosart and Colvin, as he can regularly pitch in the 91-94 range, touching 95. He compliments his fastball with a big curveball, and a changeup that shows promise. May creates some deception in his delivery which makes it tough to get good swings off of him.
Weaknesses: The biggest issue facing May is his command and control. His delivery has a lot of moving parts, and as Mike over at scoutingthesally.com pointed out just today, May struggles maintaining a consistent release point, which completely hinders his command of all of his pitches. On a given day, he’ll look like a front of the rotation guy, but those days weren’t as frequent in 2010, especially at Clearwater.
Best Case: If he can refine his mechanics and quiet his delivery down, his raw arm strength and feel for a curveball gives him a chance to pitch closer to the front of a big league rotation than the back. If he’s never able to develop consistency in that regard, his downside looks to be that of a late inning reliever.
MLB ETA: Mastering Clearwater is the first step for May. Unlike Colvin and Cosart, May lacks polish and above average command/control, which will slow his timetable a bit. Still, late 2013/early 2014 seems like a reasonable assessment.
Ranking Difficulties: While May is still rough around the edges, he does have considerable upside. However, the 5th spot on the list is pretty much the high water mark for him.
Final Thoughts: 2011 is a big year for May. He’s proven that he can blow his fastball by SAL hitters, but repeating Clearwater is going to be a big step.
06. Sebastian Valle, C
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2010 Summary: 2010 was a mixed bag for Valle at the plate, but behind the plate the reports on his defense improved. Though he still has a bit of work to do, he reduced his rate of passed balls, improved his caught stealing percentage to 33% and caught a career high 101 games. At the plate, his raw power began to emerge.
Strengths: Catching is always at a premium, and Valle represents not only our best catching prospect, but one of the better catching prospects in the minor leagues. He has extremely strong wrists, which help him generate his power, and though he can be overaggressive at times, he attacks fastballs and drives them to all fields. As mentioned, his defense, once thought to be a big question mark, has shown steady improvement, and he now looks like a real solid bet to stay at catcher.
Weaknesses: As you can see in his stat lines, Valle isn’t a model of patience at the plate, walking in just 5.6% of his plate appearances. While his defense has improved, he can still refine his gamecalling and framing of pitches behind the plate. His selectivity, or lack thereof, could (will) catch up with him at higher levels, but he’s young enough to make adjustments.
Best Case: The offensive threshold is so low at the catcher position, Valle has all the makings of an above average all around catcher. Carlos Ruiz, prior to his excellent 2010, was looked at as a glove only guy, and the Phillies love him, and pitchers love throwing to him. Valle’s defense will have to be at least average to above if he’s going to be an every day starter on the big club, but he’s very young and has time to round out his game. If his power is for real, and he can develop just a bit more selectivity, he could be a borderline all star at the position.
MLB ETA: Valle is a long way away. Catchers generally take the longest to develop, because there are many facets to being a big league catcher, from learning how to frame pitches, call games, work with the different personalities of each pitcher, shut down the opposing running game, and also not be a complete zero in the batter’s box. Valle turned 20 in late July, and figures to be 3-4 years away from getting a crack, possibly even longer.
Ranking Difficulties: I briefly considered ranking Valle ahead of May, simply because of the value placed on catching prospects. However, his defense isn’t plus yet, and his approach is still far from optimal. This spot feels right.
Final Thoughts: Valle has 2 excellent tools in his raw power and athleticism to go with a strong arm. He’s taken well to instruction, and has shown rapid improvement defensively. He’s a ways away in terms of his overall approach, but he has the makings of an excellent catcher. It will be interesting to see how he handles the hot summer sun of Florida, and again catching 3 premium pitching prospects in Cosart, Colvin and May.