Minor Developments: Power players

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

Power is the name of the game this week, as we examine a handful of examples, both on the mound and in the batter's box.

The Royals have some real studs in their system, and one of the best of the bunch is pitcher . He's been quite impressive at Double-A thus far (3.32 ERA, 47/10 K/BB), attacking hitters with his low 93-94 MPH fastball that can be dialed up to 96 at times. He compliments his heater with a curveball, slider, and changeup, giving him a deep starter's arsenal. Odorizzi came over to the Royals in the Zack Greinke trade, and may make his debut later this season if he continues making strides.
Remember Josh Bell? The former Dodgers, then Orioles, and now Diamondbacks third baseman is destroying Triple-A pitching at Reno (.421, 4 HR, 29 RBI). He's shown improved plate discipline, and may finally have figured things out after a few failed attempts to lock down a major league job. The power potential has always been there, and he could push his way into the Arizona lineup with Ryan Roberts struggling and Cody Ransom being Cody Ransom. He's an intriguing add in deeper mixers if your rosters allow, and a lottery ticket in dynasty formats.
Yankees fans have been breathing sighs of relief since pitcher Manny Banuelos returned from the DL. He's been nothing short of spectacular in his starts since returning to the Triple-A Empire State rotation (14.2 IP, 1 ER, 15/0 K/BB), and is continuing to establish himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. One of the biggest knocks on Man-Ban was his frustrating tendency to nibble around the plate and not attack hitters, something he appears to have shaken thus far. His control looks much improved, and it may not be long before he's banging on the Bombers's door.
[Related: Kirk Gibson and the Diamondbacks have lost their hold on NL West]
Staying in New York, we've been getting our first looks at Mets prospect Jordany Valdespin in recent weeks, so let's review a brief scouting report. This comes courtesy of John Sickels over at MinorLeagueBall.com:
"Valdespin is strong for his size and has enough bat speed to put a charge in the ball, although he goes through phases where he'll sell out for power. He's been impatient for most of his career and on-base percentage has not been his strength, although he's shown some improvement in that regard this spring. Likewise, he runs very well but is still learning how to steal bases efficiently."
Valdespin's 17 homers in the minors last year were a huge step forward, putting him firmly on the prospect radar of most dynasty league players. He may not be long for New York this year, but the talent is there for him to be a fantasy asset at some point in the very near future.
While on the topic of Mets, it was nice to see pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia make his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. Pitching for Single-A St. Lucie, Mejia pitched five innings, giving up only two runs while walking two and striking out one. His fastball sat in the 91-95 MPH range, and should only increase as he continues to build arm strength. If the control on his secondary pitchers comes back quickly, he could be in a position to start for the Mets in the next month or so. I'm still a believer that he can carve out a career as a major league starter. He's just 22.
Astros outfield prospect George Springer is showing all of the High-A California League that he's a very bad man. The 2011 first rounder has done nothing but rake in the early stages of this season (.313, 8 HR, 32 RBI), and is looking ready for a promotion to Double-A in order to face better pitching. The Astros are badly in need of a new face of the franchise, and Springer has the skills to develop into an all-star for the club. If he's able to cut his strikeout rate (27.0% in '12), the sky is the limit.
Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras is already causing havoc at Double-A Springfield (.328, 10 HR, 32 RBI), even more so than his NL central division rival Springer. He's always been able to hit for a high average, but his power is finally beginning to blossom. So he's creeping into the discussion for top outfield prospect in the minors. If he keeps this up, he'll be a Top 10 prospect heading into 2013.
We'll close this week with a man many love, but pitchers fear - Twins third base prospect Miguel Sano. Few prospects are tagged with true 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, but Sano already holds that distinction at the age of 19. There has been a noted improvement in his walk rate this year, and the hope is that the strikeouts come down as he continues to mature as a hitter. His numbers this year have been excellent (.292, 11 HR, 35 RBI), and it will only be a matter of time before he takes his big bat to higher levels in the Twins farm system.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. Follow him on Twitter
Have a prospect question? A player you want to see covered? Send it to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com
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