Scouting Spring Training: Top 10 Prospects

Spring training can be an important proving ground for baseball's best prospects. It gives us a glimpse of any improvements they've made since last season or perhaps a first look at them in professional baseball. National Baseball Expert, Frankie Piliere, spent the spring scouting these prospects and compiling a list of the impressive players on display in Arizona and Florida.

(Note: This list only includes players scouted first-hand. This does not include all prospects in professional baseball, and instead is a glimpse at particular prospects that stood out in first-hand viewings.)

1. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

It would be difficult to look much better than Bradley did this spring. Showing off an effortless 93-96 mph fastball, a plus curveball, and highly improved and now average changeup, he's already showing a high quality three pitch arsenal. His durable frame, command, and mound presence all stand out as well. By all indications, he should cruise through the lower levels in short order and move up quickly. This young man has all the ingredients of a dominant big league ace.

2. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

The Yankees didn't want to part with Jesus Montero, but the off-season deal that sent him to Seattle is a little easier for them to swallow considering the presence of Sanchez. And, unlike Montero, Sanchez appears to be an asset defensively. He's throwing the ball extraordinary well right now, moving quickly behind the plate, and appears to have matured quite a bit in terms of attitude and leadership in the last year. As far as the bat, it speaks for itself. Sanchez consistently showed outstanding opposite field power this spring and had high quality at-bats. This is an impact bat that has more than enough ability to stick behind the plate.

3. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

The scouting term "pitchability" doesn't even begin to describe Justin Nicolino. With command of three pitches, Nicolino is an impossibly unpredictable at-bat for any hitter. The left-hander worked at 89-91 mph with his fastball this spring and should settle in around 90-92 during the season. But, it really is not the fastball that defines him. His great feel for his potential plus-plus changeup at 79-81 mph and his sharp 72-74 mph curveball give him a very complete, well spotted, and dangerous arsenal.

4. Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox

Coming out of last year's draft, Barnes and his raw stuff were not exactly a secret, but you could argue he could have gone much higher than 20th overall. Going by his spring performance, he looks like a steal that low in the round. The tall right-hander worked at 93-96 mph, topping out at 97 with his fastball and showed some good life through the zone. Consistently breaking bats and inducing weak contact on the fastball, Barnes also mixed in a plus curveball at 77-81 mph. The changeup is now a bigger part of his arsenal as well, grading out as an average pitch. If Barnes attacks the zone and throws as many quality strikes as he did this spring, he may rocket up the ladder in 2012.

5. Ronald Guzman, OF, Texas Rangers

Yes, there are some question marks surrounding his long term defense, but this youngster may have a truly special bat. He's already growing into his frame and will continue to do so. As that happens, his power, which is already impressive, will continue to improve as well. Guzman dazzled scouts this spring with his offensive upside despite his very young age and lack of experience. He has tremendous tools at the plate and an advanced approach to thank for that.

6. Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics

The ever consistent and steady Sonny Gray just got a little bit better. This spring Gray showed a much better feel for his changeup than in the past, making his case even stronger that he's a starter for the long haul. He still has the power fastball at 92-95 mph, as well as the plus breaking ball, but the improvement in the changeup really completes the arsenal for him. He now has more confidence in the pitch and should be comfortable using it regularly during the regular season.

7. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals

Nothing particularly new stood about Starling this spring, aside from the same old fantastic raw tools. He's still as athletic as ever and looks like he's capable of doing anything on a diamond. But, there are still a lot of things he can work on in terms of approach to make himself a refined professional hitter in the coming years.

8. Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants

The best way to describe Crick right now is a highly intriguing blank canvas. There's so much potential, and yet so much he can learn and improve on in the coming years. Right now, what you have to like is the power fastball and relatively clean delivery. He'll sit at 93-95 mph, touch 96 and stay relatively aggressive in the zone. We just need to wait and see what develops in terms of secondary offerings.

9. Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees

Yankee camp is becoming a tough place to stand out, particularly when you play on the same field as Gary Sanchez. Williams still manages to do so, however. He showed off 70 speed on the 20-80 scale this spring, as well as an advanced, plus hit tool that continues to stand out. Don't be surprised if he cruises through Low-A Charleston and finds himself in High-A by year's end.

10. Tyler Goeddel, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

Tyler Goeddel manages to impress just about every time I see him, and this spring training was no exception. Possessing one of the rare combinations of athleticism and feel at the plate, Goeddel seems to be way beyond some of the other Rays' early draft selections in 2012. He has a real idea at the plate, and has the hands to be fooled by an off-speed pitch and still drive the ball to the opposite field.

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