More excerpts from the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, for your reading enjoyment. Remember that the actual comments in the book come with stats and a list of previous grades for that player.
It seems like he's been around forever, but Jai Miller is still just 25 years old. He is entering the prime "unexpected performance spike" window, which is why I'm putting him in the book. Miller is a good athlete and has always had strong physical tools, but he's been held back by poor plate discipline. Although his two Triple-A campaigns in the Pacific Coast League produced mediocre (for context) numbers, keep in mind that this was the same guy who, back in A-ball, hit .205 in 2004, .207 in 2005, and .209 in 2006. He's come a long way since those days. Miller is a good defensive outfielder at either corner and isn't bad if you have to stick him in center. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see him have a surprisingly strong season in '10, coming out of nowhere and doing something interesting. Grade C.
Mills was drafted in the eighth round in 2007, out of UNC-Charlotte. His senior year was a stunning success: 14-2, 1.01 with a 141/27 K/BB in 143 innings, just 93 hits allowed. He lasted until the eighth round because of lack of size as well as a below average, 86-89 MPH fastball. However, his feel for pitching is outstanding, and he survived the Double-A Finesse Pitcher Acid Test last year. Mills mixes his fastball with a good slider, decent curveball, and effective changeup. His K/IP and H/IP marks weren't very good last year, but he never walks anyone and isn't afraid to challenge hitters. I can see him developing into a useful utility pitcher, but he'll never get a lot of slack. Grade C.
In terms of pure tools, Jared Mitchell was one of the premier talents available in the 2009 draft. The 23rd overall pick, he earned a $1,200,000 bonus. He could have gone even higher if he had concentrated on baseball in college: he also played football, and didn't turn his attention towards baseball full-time until last spring. As a result, he was rather raw as college players go. Even so, he made dramatic improvements last spring, as his LSU numbers above show: note the improved power production along with a much higher walk rate last year compared to 2008. Mitchell is an amazing athlete with excellent speed and plenty of physical strength. He doesn't show much home run power yet, but many scouts think he'll develop at least 10-15 home run power to go with 40-50 steal potential. Unlike most raw tools players, Mitchell works counts and draws plenty of walks, boosting his on-base percentage. His swing is very smooth at times, but he goes through phases where he can't make contact, giving him a high strikeout rate that could be an issue as he moves up. He is still learning how to steal bases, and scouts have sometimes criticized his outfield routes, although I think the latter issue is overblown and reviews on his glovework in the Sally League were positive. He's intelligent and coaches praise his makeup and work ethic. I really like Mitchell a lot, and while he has work to do refining his game, his upside is very high and I think he's already made a great deal of progress refining it. My main worry is that the White Sox will rush him before he's ready. Grade B.
Jesus Montero is an amazing young hitter. He has excellent power to all fields. Although not a walk machine, he controls the zone well and doesn't strike out very much for a power hitter. He hits fastballs. He hits breaking balls. You might fool him once but don't try the same trick too soon or he'll make you pay. He murdered the Florida State League to the tune of a +45 percent OPS, and he remained extremely successful in the Eastern League at +26 OPS despite%2
Eammon Portice, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 185 DOB: June 18, 1985
There are a lot of interesting things going on with Eammon Portice. Statistically, he posts consistently excellent K/IP ratios, and he also lowered his walk rate last year. He picks up a lot of ground balls, including a 1.47 GO/AO last year and a 2.40 mark in '08. He has good stuff, with a 90-92 MPH sinker, a very good splitter, and a solid changeup. The stuff plays up because of a freaky delivery where he turns his back to the hitter. Scouts hate it because it looks like his arm is going to fall off, but it's very deceptive and so far he's avoided major injury problems. Although used primarily as a starter thus far, Portice projects best as a bullpen arm, coming in to get a ground ball or strikeout against a right-handed hitter. He turns 25 in June so he's not particularly young, but as Grade C prospects go I like him.