Looking for a great holiday gift for your special baseball fan? Order a copy of the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book!
It will have reports (examples below the fold) for over 1,100 minor league players and prospects. Target shipping date is February 1st, although it may go out a day or two before that, and we are also selling the .pdf version from the beginning this year.
The book can only be ordered from me at johnsickels.net. It's a win-win situation: support American jobs, read about baseball, and make that special someone happy!
Ryan Lavarnway, C, Boston Red Sox
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 225 DOB: August 7, 1987
2009: Grade C+; 2010: Grade C; 2011: Grade B-.
(In the book, statistics for the last two years will be included here, but the formatting doesn't translate to this sample)
It is no longer possible to doubt Lavarnway's bat. He's improved his power production every year against stiffer competition. He has reasonable plate discipline and power to all fields. Scouts no longer complain that his swing is too long, and while he's not going to hit .300 in the majors, he is likely to hit .250-.270 with 15-20 homer power and a solid OBP, assuming regular playing time. Doubts about his glove remain, although I think there is some groupthink about that. Scouts outside the Boston organization grudgingly admit that Lavarnway's defense is better than it once was, although they still critique his footwork, blocking, and throwing as mediocre, at best. The Red Sox are more optimistic and talk a lot about Lavarnway's work ethic and improved glove. It is natural for a team to put a positive spin on things like that, but the objective data supports what the Red Sox are saying. He threw out 38% of runners for Portland, 36% for Pawtucket, while his error and passed ball rates are reasonable. This doesn't mean he is an excellent defender; far from it. But he doesn't have to be. If his defense is even just barely adequate, he could play regularly as a catcher/DH. I like him a lot. Grade B.
Chris Lee, LHP, Houston Astros
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-3 WT: 175 DOB: August 17, 1992
The Astros drafted Chris Lee in the fourth round last year, from Santa Fe Community College in Florida. He has an 89-94 MPH sinking fastball, which helped him post a 2.64 GO/AO in his pro debut. He also has a good slider, but his command is unreliable and he was hit hard at times in the Appalachian League. He held lefties to a mere. 195 average, but right-handers were more successful, hitting .302 against him. He needs better command and another weapon against right-handed hitters, but he has enough arm strength to be interesting. Grade C.
Patrick Leonard, OF, Kansas City Royals
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 200 DOB: October 20, 1992
The Royals drafted Leonard in the fifth round last June, from high school in Houston. They spent $600,000 to keep him from college ball at the University of Georgia. He has a strong throwing arm, good overall tools, and prodigious power potential, but some scouts have a bit of skepticism, pointing out problems with his swing and a significant lack of pitch recognition. Others are more optimistic and say he just needs time. He's raw, in other words. Grading Leonard is quite difficult. There is considerable upside but his risk of failure seems high too. Grade C for now, but that could go a lot higher next year if the optimists are right about his bat.
Jorge Lopez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 165 DOB: February 10, 1993
I really like this one. Jorge Lopez was drafted in the supplemental first round last year, 70th overall, out of high school in Cayey, Puerto Rico. He's very athletic, and quite projectable with a long lean frame. He already throws 88-93 MPH, and as he fills out his body there is a decent chance that velocity will increase. Lopez also has a very good curveball, and while the pitch isn't perfect, it works well most of the time. He throws strikes and has a better feel for pitching than most moundsmen his age. At this point, Lopez needs to gain strength and stamina, work on his changeup, and basically just gather experience. I am quite high on him, and if he stays healthy he has a chance to be a special. Grade B-, with higher potential. If all goes well he could be one of the top right-handed prospects in the game within two years.
The ace of the Texas A&M pitching staff in 2010, Barret Loux was drafted by the Diamondbacks with the sixth-overall pick in the first round. However, Loux failed a medical examination, and Arizona decided not to sign him. The commissioner's office declared him a free agent, and the Rangers acquired his services for $312,000. Loux had a solid season for Myrtle Beach in the High-A Carolina League, with impressive K/IP and K/BB ratios, but he wore down in July and his season ended a month early due to "arm fatigue." Loux has a 90-95 MPH fastball with some hop to it, and he throws strikes. But his curveball and changeup are just average, and he has a disconcerting health history, with elbow and shoulder issues dotting his medical reports like chickenpox. The "arm fatigue" thing doesn't ease these concerns. He was successful as a starter last year, but most scouts think he will end up as a reliever due to stamina issues. Grade C+.