February 23, 2015
The Post-Offseason Top 10s: American League
And so we've reached the official end of the Top 10s season.
After an offseason of moves, some teams' top 10s need tweaking. So, to answer all the many questions we get asking where [X] would rank in his new system, we've updated the lists where applicable and written supplemental scouting reports on each player who is new to a list—either by changing organizations or by taking over a spot vacated by another player. Any teams not listed here have seen no changes to their top 10s. All teams' rankings, along with our Top 101 and organizational rankings, can be found here.
Original List (December 10, 2014)
Updated Top 10
10. Jomar Reyes
What Happened in 2014: Reyes made his stateside debut just months after signing, spending 2014 at the Florida complexes at the age of 17, impressing with his raw power and feel at the plate.
Strengths: Physically imposing; larger than listed by an inch or two and ten-plus pounds; big raw power; simple stroke and plenty of strength to carry the fence, pole-to-pole; tracks well; comes to battle with solid offensive approach for age, experience; enough feel to hit for some average despite long levers; strike-zone command should help grow the on-base profile; plus arm with easy release; hands work at the hot corner.
Weaknesses: Body may quickly force Reyes across the diamond to first base; well below-average runner, likely stretched in an outfield corner; lower half lags in the infield, limiting range and ability to convert at the margins; may have more difficulty limiting coverage holes against more advanced arms; chance for swing and miss to manifest.
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player
Realistic Role: High 4; bench player/below-average regular
Risk Factor/Injury History: High; complex-level resume.
The Year Ahead: Reyes gives the Orioles a chance for some homegrown impact power—something that has been sorely missing from the organization affiliates in recent years. While he looks every bit the part of a bruising thumper, the swing is quicker and more compact than the presentation suggests. That, along with his strike-zone awareness, leaves the door open for the big-bodied Dominican to hit for a little bit of average, and early signs indicate a willingness to lay off the close strike and allow arms to work around him, boding well for his future on-base ability. He seems destined for a defensive home at first base, though Reyes has soft enough hands and a strong enough arm to hang at third if he proves capable of cleaning up and quickening his lower-half actions as he continues to mature, physically. Though he’ll play all of 2015 at the age of 18, Baltimore could challenge Reyes with a full season gig in Delmarva, where a strong showing could quickly catapult him onto the national prospecting scene.
Major league ETA: 2019
Original List (December 3, 2014)
Updated Top 10
1. Daniel Robertson
What Happened in 2014: Robertson took a firm developmental step forward in the California League, showing improved actions in the field and a more efficient swing at the plate, which allowed both his approach and bat speed to play up.
Strengths: Contact-friendly stroke; barrel stays on plane; some natural lift and ability to backspin; firm front side and efficient use of body, strength; good balance; comfortable using full field; bat speed to turn on velocity as well as allow the ball to get deeper and drive off outer half; improved fluidity in field; arm strength plays on left side and would be an asset turning two or behind the bag at the keystone; hands and lower half work up the middle; chance to stick at short long term; good overall approach; positive makeup mentions.
Weaknesses: Below-average run; fringy value on the bases; lacks ideal range for short; reliant on reads to convert at the margins; could struggle to make all the plays as the game continues to speed up; power projects to fringe average.
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player
Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer
Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to reach Double-A.
The Year Ahead: This past season was a coming-out party of sorts for Robertson, as the former first-rounder began to win over evaluators on both sides of the ball. The offensive promise that flashed in the Midwest League more regularly manifested in his time with Stockton, with added strength through a maturing body allowing Robertson to shorten his load some while providing for more consistency and efficiency across his swing. Defensively, Robertson has improved enough for the hands, arm, and overall feel to play well at the six spot, though his limited speed will make him reliant on good reads and positioning in order to continue to hold down short at the upper levels. Should he eventually shift to another defensive home, the skill set would fit at second or third. Robertson will step up to Double-A in 2015 and could be ready to contribute to a retooling Tampa club as early as 2016, profiling as a top-of-the-order table-setter.
Major league ETA: 2016
6. Steven Souza
What Happened in 2014: The outfielder continued to show that his career is back on track this past season, where he unleashed an onslaught of power and speed on the International League and got his first taste of The Show.
Strengths: Strong body; well filled-out frame; athletic for size; above-average foot speed; quiet swing set up; keeps balance; taps into core and lower body well; above-average bat speed; can drive ball with carry and loft to all fields; plus-to-better raw power; willing to use the whole field; punishes mistakes out and over the plate; easy plus arm; can challenge runners; has overcome early-career issues.
Weaknesses: Highly leveraged swing; shows in-zone miss; hands lose timing and come under the ball; can be beat by good stuff middle-in; questions on hit translation against elite competition; contact may ultimately end up playing down and limit power output; defense on the limited side; reads off pitchers need improvement to utilize speed on bases.
Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular
Realistic Role: High 4; fourth outfielder/below-average regular
Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major leagues; hit-tool translation.
The Year Ahead: After a variety of issues during the early part of his career that seemingly had him down and out, Souza has been able to put things together on and off the field the last few seasons to get back on track, which culminated with an opportunity in the majors this past year. The highlight of the outfielder’s game is power. He unleashes a stroke that is designed to do damage, and when an opposing arm makes a mistake they typically pay. The 25-year-old has the type of power to translate into around 20-25 home runs, provided a full complement of plate appearances over the course of a season. And, that’s the big key. Souza’s swing has some timing where his hands can get a little late, which leads to swing and miss or getting himself tied up. How well he can adjust and keep his stroke fluid against elite arms will be the driving force to maintaining enough contact to profile as a regular over the long run. To reach the potential role, Souza will have to continue his recent adjustments sharpening his approach and keeping the swing together. If the contact does indeed play down, the profile points more to a bench player over the entire body of work. Souza will likely get an extended chance in 2015 to show what he can do and try to prove he’s up to the task against quality stuff consistently.
Major league ETA: Reached majors in 2014
Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @NickJFaleris