This time around in Promising Prospects, I am going to profile three guys who are all highly rated prospects in their respective organizations. There are no sleepers in this bunch. Also, all three of these players have had huge Spring Training’s with their club, and one guy is making a case to make the majors much sooner than anticipated.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. OF, BOS
Highest Level: AA
MLB ETA: 2013
The former College World Series star at South Carolina was drafted by the Red Sox in the 1st round of the 2011 Amateur Draft. While he does not have much power, Bradley is a great contact hitter, with good speed, and plays plus defense in the outfield. This spring, Bradley is hitting .423 against mostly major league pitching. Because of his success in Spring Training and a hole in LF, Bradley is forcing the Red Sox hand, and they might have no choice but to start Bradley on the opening day roster. It is still up in the air whether Boston begins the year with Bradley, who is one of their top prospects, on the 25 man roster, but if they do, look out. I think we may be talking about this year’s AL Rookie of the Year.
Yasiel Puig OF, LAD
Highest Level: A+
MLB ETA: 2013-2014
Last season the Dodgers surprised everyone when they signed OF Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42-million contract. Puig was known as a solid prospect with perhaps a bright future, but nobody saw the money that he got coming. The Dodgers were ridiculed at the time, but look who is laughing now. Puig has been in big league camp all spring and is destroying pitching. He is putting up a ridiculous batting average of .526 and slugging .842. He has put on a show, and is making it extremely tough for LA’s front office to send him back to the minors. Unfortunately for Puig, there is simply no room in the Dodger’s outfield with Carl Crawford in LF, Matt Kemp in CF, and Andre Either in RF. That being said, as long as he continues to hit in the minor leagues, Puig will be the first to step in if one of those guys struggle or get injured. That $42-million contract just might turn out to be a steal.
Javier Baez SS, CHC
Highest Level: A+
MLB ETA: 2014-2015
The first thing that you always hear about when it comes to the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect Javier Baez, is bat speed. His swing is extremely fast and generates some serious power. I have heard Baez be compared to a young Gary Sheffield many times, which is a very exciting comparison to hear for Cubs fans. Defensively, he has certainly improved over the past year or so and it appears that he may be able to stick as a SS at the big league level, although with Starlin Castro holding down the spot in the big leagues he may have to switch to 3B or 2B eventually, but that is a problem for the future. While Baez does hit for good average and power, his plate discipline needs some serious work. He is getting away with swinging at everything in the lower levels, but when he approaches AA and higher, he simply needs to learn to be more selective. Baez has been in the Cubs major league camp most of spring and has certainly impressed leading the team in homeruns, but unlike the Bradley and Puig, it is obvious that Baez needs some more seasoning in the minors, and with a team that is probably not ready to compete anyway, the Cubs have the luxury of letting him develop in the minors. There is no doubt that the talent is all there for Baez, and it will be very fun to see him progress in the Cubs’ system.
It will be interesting to see where all three of these prospects end up during this and future seasons. As always, if there is a prospect that you would like me to profile in a future edition of Promising Prospects, just let me know on Twitter (@DSchmelzerTSB) or in the comment section, and I will take care of that.