This might seem like a relatively quiet time in the Pipeline world. But while it's true that we are two months past the Draft, a month beyond the Futures Game and with the Top 100/Top 30 re-rank and the non-waiver Trade Deadline in the rearview mirror, there is still plenty of prospect talk to go around.
This week's Inbox proves that point as we talk new Top 100, 2016 draftees, command specializing right-handers and even a certain former Heisman Trophy winner.
@JonathanMayo Is there any hitter on the updated Prospect Watch Top 100 you think could be an annual .300/30 guy?
When I first saw this question, I thought, "Absolutely." Then I started exploring it more, and while there are definitely some candidates, there are no slam-dunk choices.
Basically, someone who hits .300 and gets to 30 homers should have a least a 60 grade in both average and power on the 20-80 scouting scale. Currently, no one on the Top 100 has a 60-60 combination, but some are close.
The first choice might be the guy currently No. 1 on the list, Alex Bregman, something I probably wouldn't have said a year ago. But he's shown he has more playable power than anticipated. The .300 part should be a no-brainer (65 hit grade). The 30 homers might not be something Bregman does annually (55 power) -- 25 might be more of his ceiling -- but could he get to that .300/30 plateau a time or two? Sure.
No. 6 prospect Andrew Benintendi is also a 60 hit, 55 power prospect, while No. 7 prospect Brendan Rodgers flips that as a 55 hit, 60 power guy. I might give Rodgers the edge to be a .300, 30 type hitter thanks to playing home games at Coors Field in the future. The same could be said for David Dahl, even if he's a 55 hit, 55 power prospect. Austin Meadows of the Pirates is 60-55, but has yet to show that power consistently in games. New Brewers outfielder Lewis Brinson has 30-30 potential and a 55 hit grade, so don't rule him out.
This is a well-timed question, as I just took a look at some of the top performers thus far in the 2016 Draft class. And there is a White Sox representative on that list.
You can't talk about how Chicago's Draft class is doing if you don't start with second-round pick Alec Hansen. Heading into the spring, the Oklahoma product was thought to be one of the best college arms in the class, but an inability to throw strikes really hurt his Draft stock. Granted, Hansen has only pitched in Rookie levels, but it's hard not to be encouraged by his 14.6 K/9 ratio, his .113 batting average against and, most importantly, his 2.8 BB/9 rate. In his past two starts, he's gone 12 innings (six in each outing), striking out 21 and walking four.
First-rounder Zack Collins has been OK, holding his own with an aggressive push to the Carolina League that could put him on a faster track (.254/.365/.444 in 63 ABs in Winston-Salem). Fourth-rounder Jameson Fisher is playing with Hansen in the Pioneer League, and he's tearing it up with a .346/.439/.474 line. We'll finish up with Zack Burdi, the organization's second first-rounder. Most felt the Louisville closer would move quickly, and he's been up to the task. After scuffling a bit in Double-A, Burdi hasn't allowed an earned run in his past six outings. That's a span of 9 1/3 innings, during which he has allowed just one hit while striking out 12.
I'm not a huge fan of comps, but I have to say, this one isn't bad. It's not a comp of body types, that's for sure. Nola is slender and 6-foot-2; Musgrove is much more physical at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds. But stuff-wise -- and more importantly, command-wise -- they are pretty similar. Both probably are underrated in terms of their pure stuff because they are known as control specialists. That's for good reason. Nola has walked just 2.3 per nine in his big league career after walking just 1.5 in his brief time in the Minors. Musgrove has been even stingier, with a 1.1 BB/9 rate as a Minor Leaguer. Both have more than enough fastball to succeed in the big leagues long-term (though don't expect Musgrove to be this dominant all the time), with good enough secondary stuff as well. We're not talking finesse pitchers here, though their ability to move the ball in and out will help them.
This Tim Tebow trying to play baseball thing has gotten a lot of attention, so I figured I'd use up Inbox space just one time to discuss this. I have nothing against Tebow, and if he wants to give baseball a try, I think he should go for it. That said, I'd have to put Tebow's chances at success at nearly nil.
This isn't a dig at him at all. But let's look at this objectively. He's 29. The last time Tebow played competitive baseball in any fashion was his junior year of high school. That was in 2005. While I did find one scout who remembered him from back then -- he said he had strength and power and thought he could've been a decent prospect had he focused on baseball -- the key here is the use of past tense: "could have been" and "had he focused." The game of baseball, I'm sure you've heard, is extremely hard to play. I don't care how gifted of an athlete you may be, to pick up a bat after that much time and expect to succeed at any professional level, to me, is wishful thinking. Just ask Michael Jordan.