2015 Top Prospects: 5-1

With the 2015 season on its way, we’re proud to present our Top 30 prospect list. Like last year, this list will contain scouting reports for 30 players plus 3 honorable mentions (with scouting reports of their own as well). One thing to remember with these scouting reports, is that they’re a snapshot of what we know and I can just about guarantee you that our minds will change with more information about these prospects. The publication timeline will look like this:

Jan. 21 – 30-26 + HM’s
Jan. 23 – 25-21
Jan. 25 – 20-16
Jan. 27 – 15-11
Jan. 29 – 10-6
Jan. 31 – 5-1

Well, let’s get right to it then.

Nick Tropeano5.  RHP Nick Tropeano

Age: 24
Height/Weight: 6’4″ 200 lbs
Draft Information: 5th round in 2011 by the Houston Astros Bonus: $155,700
2014 Stats: 23 G, 20 GS, 124.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 17.9 K%-BB%, .248 BABIP, 74.4 LOB% (Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA))

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What Happened In 2014: Tropeano had a strong season at AAA Oklahoma City for the Astros, even doing so in the PCL. Had a 3.03 ERA with a solid 17.9 K%-BB% and made4 starts for the Astros, throwing 21.2 innings with a 4.57 ERA (3.32 FIP).

 How They Improved From 2013: Tropeano had a bit better of a strikeout rate in 2014 (23.1% compared to 24.7% in 2014) and a very similar walk rate (6.9% compared to 6.8% in 2014), stranded more baserunners (72.7% compared to 74.4%), and allowed significantly fewer hits decreasing his WHIP from 1.34 to 0.99.

 What We Like: Tropeano has a nice tall frame, with surprisingly good balance and posture for such a funky looking delivery. A common theme with the best Angels pitchers is that they all posses a very strong changeup and Tropeano fits right in with that being his best pitch. Very nice fade on the pitch, a strikeout pitch, and it’s what makes him a definite starter and less on the “fringy starter” side.

 Tools:

Mechanics   P F Repertoire
Balance 60 FB 50 50 Average velo, can touch mid 90s on occasion, nice sink
Momentum 40 SL 45 45 Fringe-average pitch, not the tightest slider but gets job done
Torque 55 CH 55 60 Easily best pitch, great fade
Posture 60      
Release Distance 45        
Repetition 40        
Overall C        

What We Dislike: Tropeano has a very strange delivery, especially when the ball tropeano deliveryseparates from the glove. It’s one of the oddest separations I’ve ever seen however I’m not too sure if it will harm Tropeano going forward. Tropeano also doesn’t get the most out of his body, his delivery seems to be a bit short, similar to what happened to Tyler Skaggs in Arizona, which makes me believe that the Angels will be able to kink that out.  Other than that, there’s not much else to dislike, the command and slider could be better  but his demeanor on the mound and solid-average change makes up for it.

Ceiling: 4th Starter
Realistic Outcome: 5th Starter
Floor: Long Reliever/Swingman
ETA: 2015
Video:

 

Nate Smith24. LHP Nate Smith

Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6’3″ 200 lbs
Draft Information: 8th Round Pick in 2013; Bonus: $12k
2014 Stats: 21 G, 21 GS, 118 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 15.65 K-BB%, .270 BABIP, 71.1 LOB% (Inland Empire 66’ers (A+)/ Arkansas Travelers  (AA))

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What Happened In 2014: Smith started out at Inland Empire in 2014 and made 10 starts before being promoted to Arkansas. Smith made great improvements in getting strikeouts and limiting hits. Smith shot himself to the top of the prospect list by showing big improvements in the stats and proving the stats, with the #stuff.

How They Improved From 2013: Coming out of Furman University, Smith started his 2013 at Orem and started in 9 games, while appearing in relief 6 times. Smith showed strong control, putting up a 4.9 BB%. With a bigger workload, it made sense to see Smith to regress a bit with the walks, but Smith improved in strikeouts as well as giving up hits. Smith jumped from a 21.8 K% to a 24.75 K%, as well as going from 8.7 H/9 to 6.8 H/9 in 2014.

What We Like: Smith is a left-handed starter, capable of having a high workload because of solid mechanics. The fastball is average, though Smith locates it very well, which bumps it up to a solid-average pitch. Smith’s repertoire also holds a slow curve and a hard curve, mixing between the two. The pitch can be inconsistent, but when Smith brings it, it shows great depth, most likely not a strike out pitch but more of a get-me over pitch. The changeup is Smith’s bread and butter, a very strong pitch with great downward action. Like the fastball, Smith locates it very well. It’s one of the better changeups in the system and can definitely be a strikeout pitch.

Tools:

Mechanics   P F Repertoire
Balance 45 FB 55 55 Low 90s/High 80s, locates well, 4 seam FB
Momentum 45 CV 45 50 Throws two curves, one slow and one hard, mixes the two
Torque 30 CH 55 60 Good downward action, locates well
Posture 60      
Release Distance 60        
Repetition 45        
Overall C        

What We Dislike: What separates Smith from being a MOR (middle of the rotation) arm, is velocity. If Smith threw 93-96, you’re talking about a solid #3 in the rotation. Unfortunately for Smith, he doesn’t have that kind of velocity. Luckily, Smith has the kind of velocity and pitch mix, he doesn’t have to be a “crafty” lefty and have to work to get guys out. The good thing about Smith is that there’s not much to dislike, a lot of good things come to players with high floors, and Smith is one of them.

Ceiling: #4
Realistic Outcome: Low #4/High #5
Floor: Swing man
ETA: 2016
Video:

Roberto Baldoquin23. SS Roberto Baldoquin

Age: 21
Height/Weight: 5’11” 176 lbs.
Draft Information: Signed in 2014 as an International Free Agent Bonus: 8MM
2014 Stats: N/A

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What Happened In 2014: Signed a contract with the Angels for 8MM

How They Improved From 2013: Became 8MM richer

What We Like: Baldoquin looks to be a strong defender that can play 3B, SS, or 2B. Smooth fielding skills with a quick, accurate arm. The lower body looks very strong, power should play to all fields. As far as the hit tool goes, the only information we have can be from his mechanics at the plate and while it looks promising from the power side, the contact side is a bit discouraging. However, the Angels FO seem to be impressed by him, which they should be since they invested over 8MM on him. This scouting report will become complete once we have eyes on him at Inland Empire.

Tools:

Hit 40 45  The one tool where I’m personally not sold on, line-drive approach but swing looks extremely slow, might not be able to catch up to 95+ heat. No information on plate discipline, yet.
Power 50 55 Strong lower body, should be able to hit for power all around the field
Glove 55 60 Quick first-step to both sides, slick fielder
Arm 55 60 Strong arm that can play anywhere around the diamond
Run 45 45 Worst tool, which is a tad bit scary for a shortstop

What We Dislike: Limited exposure to U.S. pitching, that isn’t so much a dislike of Baldoquin, it’s not his fault but it is a concern. The majority of Cuban players that have signed, lit up the majors (Chapman, Abreu, Cespedes, Puig), Baldoquin won’t be that guy right away, he’ll be like Soler, Guerrero, and Arruebarrena in that he’ll start off in the minors.

Ceiling: All-Star Shortstop
Realistic Outcome:  Above-Average Regular
Floor: Utility Infielder
ETA:  Baldo will start off at Inland Empire and the California League (hitter’s paradise), so hopefully Baldo can get a confidence boost before moving up to Arkansas and the Texas League (pitcher’s paradise). As for the majors, he might get a cup of coffee in September but look for Baldo to make an appearance in 2016.
Video:

 

Sean Newcomb2. LHP Sean Newcomb

Age: 21
Height/Weight: 6’5″ 240 lbs.
Draft Information: First Round Pick (15th Overall) in 2014; Bonus: 2.518MM
2014 Stats: 6 G, 6 GS, 14.2 IP, 6.14 ERA, 1.5 WHIP, 18 K%-BB%, .337 BABIP, 77.1 LOB% (AZL Angels (R)/Burlington Bees (A))
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What Happened In 2014: Newcomb was drafted 15th overall out of Hartford University where he posted a very impressive 19.6 K%-BB% in 93.1 innings with a 1.6 GB/FB ratio.

How They Improved From 2013:Newcomb increased his workload by 21.1 innings, improved his K%-BB% by 1.5%, and increased his GB/FB ratio by 0.3.

What We Like: Sean Newcomb is one of the most intriguing guys on the board this year, especially from the Angels’ perspective.  He is a big-bodied lefty with extremely smooth and easy velocity.  Sitting in the low 90s and touching 96, Newcomb possesses one of the best fastballs in the entire draft.  His next best pitch is a 80-82 MPH slider with very good bite away from lefties.  He also throws a changeup and bigger curve that aren’t spectacular at present but project to be solid-average pitches.  Scouts can dream on Newcomb more than the average college junior because he hasn’t thrown a whole lot, being in the Northeast.  That’s the most exciting factor with Newcomb.

Tools:

Mechanics   P F Repertoire
Balance 70 FB 65 70 Good tail, easy velo
Momentum 20 SL 55 60 Big bite, tough against LHB
Torque 60 CH 40 55 Undeveloped but has promise
Posture 70 CV 35 45 Big curve, needs more work
Release Distance 50        
Repetition 65        
Overall B        


What We Dislike:
College competition.  Being from Hartford, Newcomb isn’t exactly facing the premium talent in college baseball.  Also due to the fact that Newcomb lacks polish, he often leaves the ball up in the zone and sometimes has problems repeating his (sound) mechanics.  Nothing too concerning here from a young pitcher like Newcomb.

Ceiling: #2
Realistic Outcome:
#3
Floor:
Low #3/High #4
ETA:
Late 2015
Video:

 

Andrew Heaney1. LHP Andrew Heaney

Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6’2″ 185 lbs.
Draft Information: First Round Pick (9th overall) in 2012 by the Marlins Bonus: 2.6MM
2014 Stats: 24 G, 23 GS, 137.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 18.7 K%-BB%, .290 BABIP, 66.2 LOB% (Jacksonville Suns (AA)/ New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA))

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What Happened In 2014: Heaney continued to climb the ladder as one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. By the end of the year, he was a consensus top 3 left-handed prospect in the game. Expectations for his fastball came down a little bit, as he settled in the low 90s, but his off-speed stuff really took a jump. He got a cup of coffee for with the Marlins and he’s now right on the cusp of being a full-time major leaguer.

How They Improved From 2013: It’s hard to improve from a year in which you have a 1.60 ERA and are dubbed as the 30th best prospect by Baseball America, but Andrew Heaney did. Heaney threw more innings, (137.1 compared to 95.1), struck out batters at a better rate (25% compared to 21%), and slightly improved his walk rate (6.3% compared to 6.55%).

What We Like: A helluva lot. Heaney has excellent mechanics, showing nice posture and balance throughout his delivery and doesn’t lose a step when pitching out of the stretch. Heaney has a lightening quick beginning to his windup but slows a bit down when he releases the ball. The fastball is a solid pitch, not a lot of movement with it, typically it sits in the low 90s but he can shove it when needed. The slider is a wipeout pitch, absolute death on lefties and solid against righties as well. The change is an average pitch, looks exactly like his fastball but comes in around 10 mph slower, not a whole lot of movement with it but what I especially like about it, is that Heaney will use it a lot. Heaney uses all of his pitches aggressively, can shove it when needed, and has the build to be able to withstand 200 innings. He’s going to be very fun to watch.

Tools:

Mechanics   P F Repertoire
Balance 70 FB 55 60 Sits in the low 90’s but can touch 95, commands the pitch pretty well
Momentum 55 SL 60 60 Strikeout pitch, 2-plane break, downright nasty
Torque 60 CH 55 55 Sits low 80’s which is ideal however not much movement, however Heaney uses this pitch aggressively
Posture 70      
Release Distance 50        
Repetition 60        
Overall A        

What We Dislike: There is one small thing mechanics-wise that I dislike and it’s that pitchers with Heaney’s delivery are prone to be eaten up by right-handed hitters. However with Heaney’s repertoire I believe he should be able to overcome this, but it is something to lookout for. The other problem is that the Marlins promote their pitchers very aggressively. Heaney could’ve used a bit more seasoning at the end of 2013 instead of being up in the show. However, Heaney looks to be ready this year, and unless something happens in Spring Training, he should be on the big league club.

Ceiling: #2
Realistic Outcome: High #3
Floor: #3/Low #3
ETA: 2015

Video:

 

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