Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
One of the members of the Top 50 this year that generated extensive discussion was lefty Kevin Ziomek. He had a slow start to the season, his velocity was down and his stuff wasn't overly impressive. But as the season wore on, Ziomek started to look more like a bonafide middle-to-back of the rotation starter, as opposed to a four-pitch swingman profile. I received multiple reports of increased velocity in the summer months (consistent 93-94 MPH in the 6th inning), and with a good slider and a serviceable curveball and changeup, that's a very solid prospect, and in my opinion, a slight step ahead of the rest of the pack with a similar ceiling (VerHagen, Farmer, Lobstein), even if he's further behind them on the ladder. I think come this time next year, we're going to be looking at Ziomek as one of the ten best prospects in the organization, and I think the case is there to be made now.
Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting
Of all the prospects we discussed, pushed, and moved throughout the rankings over the course of an extensive debate, I think the one player I ultimately would have liked to have higher is catcher Will Allen. A nondescript prospect from the 2014 draft, Allen signed at the July deadline and never played a game for the Tigers this summer. Allen injured his non-throwing shoulder during the college season and won't make his professional debut until 2015. When healthy, the 6-foot-3, 220 pound Allen is a strong, physical specimen with good defensive potential and raw power in his bat. Because of the injury, Allen's developmental path may be a bit longer than most experienced SEC college prospects, but the payoff could be a power-hitting catcher that plays everyday. Allen carries a significant amount of risk in his profile, but his ranking in the 40s could look very conservative if things begin to come together when he hits the field.
Neil Weinberg, Senior Analyst
I know it's going to sound really trivial, but I'd have pushed James McCann up to fourth instead of Jonathan Crawford. And I honestly might consider him at number three instead of Robbie Ray. Most of this is predicated on the fact that after the top ten or fifteen guys on this list, there is just very few guys who you can argue have a real future in the major leagues. Among those players who do have a future, McCann seems like one of the surest bets in the system, and I'm a big believer in looking at floor more than ceiling. Do Crawford and Ray have the raw ability to have a bigger impact than McCann? Most likely. But McCann is a well rounded player at a premium position. He's a quality defender and can offer something at the plate, especially against lefties. It might seem like it's easy to find backup or platoon catchers in baseball, but catching is a lot less plentiful than it appears. There's a really low chance that McCann becomes and impact player but there's a really high chance that he becomes a solid MLB contributor for a decade. I can't say the same for the two arms, even if the ceiling is higher.
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