2012 MLB All Star Futures Game Preview: US Team Hitters
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies: Drafted in the second round in 2009 from high school in El Toro, California, Arenado is hitting .285/.339/.413 in Double-A. He was more dominant in High-A last year, hitting .298/.349/.487 in the friendly Cal League, but scouts still like him despite his power slippage this year, pointing to improved defense in particular, as well as his young age (21).
Tyler Austin, OF, Yankees: Selected in the 13th round in 2010 from high school in Conyers, Georgia, Austin is mashing A-ball pitching this year, hitting .317/.404/.593 with 14 homers and 17 steals in 268 at-bats. Although his physical tools and defense aren't special, his hitting skills are, and he's done nothing but murder pro pitching, hitting .350/.420/.572 last year in short-season ball. He's only 20.
Rob Brantly, C, Tigers: A late addition to the U.S. roster, Brantly was drafted in the third round in 2010 from UC Riverside. Age 22, he's hitting .306/.351/.415 between Double-A and Triple-A this year, while throwing out 32% of runners. He lacks home run power, but is an adept contact hitter with a solid glove.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers: Chosen in the supplemental first round in 2010 from high school in Southwest Ranches, Florida, Castellanos hit a stunning .405/.461/.553 in 55 games in High-A this spring. He hasn't been as good in Double-A (.294/.299/.461) but has held his own considering he's 20. His power isn't fully developed, but scouts are very high on his offensive upside and he has good defensive tools as wlel.
Michael Choice, OF, Athletics: Drafted in the first round in 2010 from the University of Texas-Arlington, the 22-year-old Choice is having a disappointing season in Double-A, hitting .257/.325/.370 with 82 strikeouts in 311 at-bats. Scouts still like him, focusing on huge power potential and solid tools.
Travis D'Arnaud, C, Blue Jays: D'Arnaud was named to the Futures Game shortly before tearing a knee ligament that will keep him out until August. Drafted in the supplemental first round by the Phillies in 2009 from high school in Lakewood, California, then traded to the Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay deal, he is the best overall catching prospect in baseball, on the basis of his strong bat (.333/.380/.595 in Triple-A) and well-regarded defensive work. He is 23.
Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers: The stereotype scrappy second baseman, Gennett was drafted in the 16th round in 2009 from high school in Sarasota, Florida. He's hitting .294/.337/.397 in Double-A at age 22, showing gap power and reliable defense at second base. Scouts love his makeup and work ethic.
Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays: A second round pick by the Phillies in 2008 from high school in Bellflower, California, Gose came to Toronto via Houston in 2010. Age 21, he has remarkable tools including blazing speed and superior arm strength, but his hitting skills are unrefined and he strikes out more than once per game, although he'll draw walks too. He's hitting .293/.373/.422 in Triple-A. Scouts are unanimous about his outstanding upside, but opinions are mixed about if he'll hit enough to fully reach it. Given his age, anything is possible. He is only a month older than Billy Hamilton but playing two levels higher.
Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds: Selected in the second round in 2009 from high school in Taylorsville, Mississippi, Hamilton is so fast it isn't fair. He's stolen 100 bases in 79 games this year in High-A, hitting .323/.413/.441 overall with 48 walks in 322 at-bats. His defense remains questionable and he may end up in the outfield, plus scouts want to see him hit outside the California League. Nevertheless, his speed and athleticism are remarkable.
Tommy Joseph, C, Giants: A second round pick in 2009 from high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, Joseph is a 20 year old with huge raw power who knocked 22 homers last year in A-ball. He has been much less impressive in Double-A, hitting .252/.297/.357 with only four knocks so far, although scouts remain very intrigued with him and he is very young. He's also thrown out 50% of runners trying to steal on him this year, and the Giants are high on his leadership skills.
Manny Machado, SS, Orioles: Selected in the first round in 2010 from high school in Hialeah, Florida, Machado turns 20 this weekend. He's hitting .263/.346/.410 in Double-A, not spectacular but solid for his age, and has been on a roll of late. His plate discipline is good for such a young player at this level. Although some scouts fear he will outgrow shortstop, Machado has the range, hands, and arm strength to be a fine third baseman if need be.
Wil Myers, OF, Royals: Myers is destroying upper minors pitching at age 21, hitting .329/.408/.677 with 27 homers already this year in Double-A and Triple-A, unleashing the offensive skills that were hampered by a knee injury last season. The former catcher is still refining his outfield defense, but he is a good athlete with a strong throwing arm. He can't be held back in the minors much longer.
Mike Olt, 3B, Rangers: Chosen in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft from the University of Connecticut, Olt is a 23-year-old power hitter currently batting .302/.409/.597 with 22 homers in Double-A. Although prone to strikeouts, he's quite patient and draws more than his share of walks. Olt is also a very good, if not excellent, defender at third base, although there has been talk of him switching positions due to the presence of veteran Adrian Beltre in Texas.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros: Drafted by the Phillies in the eighth round in 2009 from high school in Long Beach, California, Singleton came to Houston in the Hunter Pence deal. Just 20 years old, he's hitting .265/.384/.474 with 12 homers and 51 walks in 268 at-bats in Double-A. He hasn't fully tapped his raw power yet, but he controls the zone well. He needs to improve his hitting skills against southpaws.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals: Wong was drafted in the first round last year from the University of Hawaii. Age 21, he's adapted to pro ball quickly, hitting .317/.391/.452 with 15 steals in Double-A. He also provides impressive defense at second base, featuring good hands and a very strong arm for the position. His bat looks quite special, scouts love his polish and work ethic, and he's got good tools as well.
Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins: Drafted in the first round in 2010 from high school in Westlake Village, California, Yelich was a first baseman in high school but is a center fielder now, and a good one, despite some issues with his throwing. His bat looks terrific: he's hitting .316/.387/.573 with 10 homers and 14 steals in 206 at-bats, good numbers at any level but especially for a 20-year-old in the High-A Florida State League. Scouts praise his feel for hitting and he's exceeded already-lofty expectations.