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Bernie On The Scene: Young Guys to Watch For in 2013

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

A number of young prospects got a cup of coffee in the major leagues this month and a number of other prospects got some extended playing time.

In the next two articles, I am going to review some of the players I will be watching carefully in spring training. Not all were on September rosters, and while some may break camp with the club in April, others may not.

This week I look at the American League prospects I think are worth watching. Next week, I will discuss prospects from the National League.

The list of prospects I am watching is not all-inclusive. In fact, there are probably additional prospects that will be relevant for our fantasy teams.

The Arizona Fall League will introduce additional prospects for consideration. I will do in-depth reporting from the AFL when the league begins.

American League Prospects I Will Be Scouting During Spring Training

DYLAN BUNDY - RHP BALTIMORE ORIOLES - 6-1, 195#

The Orioles' top prospect got a taste of the big leagues this season with a late September call to Baltimore. In reality, he hasn't pitched much at all in the pennant stretch.

A former first-round draft choice (2011) Bundy sits in the mid-90s with ease. He is capable of hitting 100 mph on occasion. His fastball (both two-seamer and four-seamer) is extremely effective. He can induce groundballs with late sink, while also throwing a cutter, curveball and changeup. In short, Bundy has a full and well-developed repertoire, and he has a chance to stick full time as a member of the rotation. Spring training will be telling, but I don't think he has nearly enough minor league experience to warrant breaking with the club next spring.

His minor league numbers for 2012 were compiled at Low-A, High-A and Double-A and he threw a total of 103.2 innings. Bundy's combined record was 9-3 with an ERA of 2.08 and a WHIP of 0.96. Very, very impressive. Between the three levels, Bundy had a 10.3 K/9IP and 2.4 BB/9IP, and that's why he got the call to Baltimore.

MANNY MACHADO - SS/3B BALTIMORE ORIOLES - 6-3, 185#

Machado was the Orioles' 2010 first-round pick. He has already made an impact on the club. In all likelihood, Machado will play third base for Baltimore when next season begins.

He has an excellent eye at the plate and can take pitches to all parts of the park with a very level line-drive stroke.

I look for Machado to gain power as he continues his physical development. For now, look for average, runs and RBI from him. Machado is hitting .259 with four home runs so far for Baltimore.

XAVIER AVERY - OF BALTIMORE ORIOLES - 6-0, 190#

Avery is a good outfielder. However, I'm not very excited about his offense. He has an ability to bunt, but I think it will take him a long time to learn to hit big league pitching.

So far, Avery has had 104 plate appearances this season for Baltimore. He is hitting only .223 with 11 walks. I think the Orioles will look elsewhere for a fourth outfielder fielder next season. Again, spring training will be telling. Watch carefully.

MIGUEL GONZALEZ - RHP BALTIMORE ORIOLES – 6-1, 170#

Gonzalez has had a tremendous first season for the Orioles. He has helped get them to their lofty position in the standings this season.

Gonzalez was originally drafted and signed by the Angels. The Red Sox signed him in the Rule 5 Draft in 2008 and then released him in 2011.

The 28-year old currently has a 3.0 BB/9IP. While that could be improved, his current WHIP is 1.272 because he doesn't give up too many base hits. Gonzalez started working out of the pen for the Orioles, but he's earned a rotation spot – likely for next season as well.

IF/OF L.J. Hoes and IF Ryan Flaherty should also be monitored in spring training for the Orioles.

RYAN LAVARNWAY - C BOSTON RED SOX - 6-4 - 225#

Lavarnway is a guy to really watch in spring training. He may be able to gain some playing time behind the plate for Boston, but he'll have to hit much better than he has so far with the big league club.

Lavarnway has a power bat that can play well in Fenway. However, he's having trouble adjusting to quality pitching. He's hitting only .169 with two homers and 12 RBI through 136 plate appearances. Also of concern is that Lavarnway is still not a good defensive catcher. He's improving, but I'm not sure he can become the first-string catcher by next season. Watch him in Florida next spring.

PEDRO CIRIACO - 2B,3B,SS BOSTON RED SOX – 6-0 - 170#

Where did he come from? Believe it or not, Ciriaco was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a free agent from the Dominican Republic. He was then traded to the Pirates along with catcher Chris Snyder for Ryan Church, D.J. Carrasco and Bobby Crosby. Yikes!

Ciriaco can run. So far, he has 15 stolen bases in only 68 games with Boston. He can also get on base. He's hitting .295 in 242 plate appearances. If I have any issues with Ciriaco, it's his disdain for accepting a base on balls. He's walked only twice so far with Boston.

I don't know where he'll play next season. Will Middlebrooks is the third baseman. Who plays shortstop? So far, Jose Iglesias has not hit in the big leagues. The shortstop battle will be a good one in Boston next season.

Jose Iglesias – SS BOSTON RED SOX - 5-11, 185#

Iglesias has not shown an ability to hit major league pitching. When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League, he looked totally over-matched by mediocre pitching in that league. Twice.

I also don't think Iglesias lives up to his lofty reputation as a defender and I think he takes some plays off.

The Red Sox like him. So far he's hitting .125 for Boston. I don't think he'll hit enough to allow the team to stick with him as their full-time shortstop going forward in 2013.

MAURO GOMEZ – 1B-3B BOSTON RED SOX – 6-2, 230#

Gomez is a big, strong free swinger. He has the ability to hit the ball a long way, but he's not Big Papi. In fact, he has trouble with contact. Gomez has struck out way too much (21 times in 96 plate appearances so far).

Is he better than James Loney? He certainly has more power.

Gomez is 28. He's probably a career minor league player, but he could be a late bloomer. This is a guy we should watch. He may get some spring playing time.

OF Bryce Brentz may have a chance to advance to the big league club next spring. Conversely, I'm not a big fan of IF Ivan DeJesus Jr.

CHRIS ARCHER – RHP TAMPA BAY RAYS – 6-3, 200#

Cleveland signed Archer in the 2006 draft. He has been a career minor league pitcher since.

This season, the Rays have given the strong-armed, power pitching Archer a chance. He has a 1-3 record with four starts and one relief appearance. His ERA is very respectable at 3.62.

Archer is inconsistent at age 23. He should be watched, however. He has the type of arm that can probably be more effective at the back end of the bullpen rather than the starting rotation.

HAK-JU LEE – SS TAMPA BAY RAYS – 6-2, 170#

True to form, the Rays have not promoted Lee to the big leagues. However, I like his chances to show up in 2013 in the mix for the Rays' job.

The team really likes his game-both offense and defense. Keep your eye on Lee. He has a .261 batting average in 534 plate appearances for Double-A Montgomery in the Southern League. He can run, as his 37 stolen bases indicate, and he also has 15 doubles and 10 triples. Walking 51 times has helped his .336 on-base percentage. A problem? He has struck out 102 times – not good.

ADEINY HECHAVARRIA – SS,3B,2B TORONTO BLUE JAYS - 5-11, 180#

Given his playing time this season with Toronto, it would seem the club has decided he is the shortstop of the present and the future.I don't think there is any problem with Hechavarria's defense. He will be an asset to the pitching staff.

I question his ability to hit quality pitching. He has begun his big league career with a pretty empty .252 batting average. Simply put, he's a singles hitter, if that. He has little power or speed and I don't think he will help your fantasy team, but he should be available in your AL-only league. Think, Brendan Ryan.

Anthony Gose – OF TORONTO BLUE JAYS – 6-1, 190#

Frankly, Gose is a defense-first outfielder. He can run and he can go get the ball. Interestingly enough, he also has an inflated opinion of his overall value as a player. Gose is a very highly rated prospect in the Blue Jays' system after being a second-round draft pick in 2008.

So far, Gose is hitting .216 in 156 plate appearances for Toronto. But I've seen some improvement in his offensive game. He is maturing and adjusting.

Gos can bunt and he can steal bases (15, so far.) However, I'm not sure he will offer enough to be an outfielder on a fantasy team. We have to watch his progress.

MOISES SIERRA – OF TORONTO BLUE JAYS – 6-0, 225#

Like Anthony Gose, Sierra is a highly rated player in the Blue Jays' system. He has a chance to be a fairly good hitter. So far, Sierra is hitting .242 with six home runs and 14 RBI with the big club. That isn't too bad.

Sierra has been injury prone in his career, but he should be in the mix for a job next spring.

TRAVIS D'ARNAUD – C TORONTO BLUE JAYS – 6-2, 195#

d'Arnaud was selected by the Phillies in the first round of the 2007 draft. That should say something about his ability. Hee was the part of the huge deal the Blue Jays made with the Phillies for Doc Halladay.

It will be interesting to watch how the Blue Jays handle the presence and ability of d'Arnaud relative to incumbent J.P. Arencibia.vd'Arnaud played this season at Triple-A Las Vegas. He hit .333 in 303 plate appearances. Among those hits were 16 home runs.

His experience this season was limited after he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee sliding into second base.

NATE JONES – RHP CHICAGO WHITE SOX – 6-5, 185#

Jones has been a real surprise for both the White Sox and for baseball fans in general. Jones has been a very strong force in the White Sox's bullpen. So far, he has an ERA of 2.44 and a WHIP of 1.357 in 66.1 innings. He's walking almost 4.0 BB/9IP and that could be a problem. Jones does have enough stuff to induce swings and misses. He has a strikeout rate of 8.5 K/9IP.

Jones is pitching in the middle innings this season for Chicago. It's very possible he will be used more at the end of games next season. In fact, at Double-A Birmingham last season, he saved 13 games.

BRIAN OMOGROSSO – RHP CHICAGO WHITE SOX – 6-4, 230#

Omogrosso is a big, strong right-handed middle reliever. He has made the White Sox late season squad after parts of seven seasons in the minor leagues.

Omogrosso has pitched 15 innings of solid relief for Chicago. He doesn't look like a closer in the making, but if your club places a value on “holds” Omogrosso may be someone to watch.

DONNIE VEAL – LHP CHICAGO WHITE SOX – 6-4, 240#

I first saw Veal when in the 2005 Instructional League. He has never lived up to his potential.

A very big, strong left-handed pitcher, Veal was groomed as a starter. Now he's being used in relief by the White Sox. And having success. Finally.

Like many left-handed pitchers, Veal had trouble finding the plate early in his career. He may have straightened that out. Like Omogrosso, Veal pitches the middle innings. So far, he has a 0.75 ERA for the White Sox this season in 12 innings pitched. Most importantly, he has issued only three walks while striking out 17.

RUSS CANZLER – 1B/OF CLEVELAND INDIANS – 6-2, 220#

While it isn't saying very much, Canzler may be the best hitting prospect in the very weak Indians system.

The right-handed hitting Canzler has some pop in his bat and he may be a late bloomer. He still has trouble hitting breaking balls, and I'm not overly optimistic about his future. But Cleveland does have a problem at first base. Canzler may be worth watching this coming spring.

AVISAIL GARCIA – OF DETROIT TIGERS – 6-4, 240#

Garcia is a big guy and a young man to watch. Just 21, he's already played parts of five seasons in the minor leagues. He has a career batting average of .281, but hasn't shown the power his size might indicate. Garcia only has 37 homers in 2,138 plate appearances. So don't be fooled by his size.

The Tigers have played Garcia down the stretch. In fact, the right-handed hitter is hitting .382 in 37 big league plate appearances. Every one of his 13 hits is a single, while he's carried a 2:6 BB:K.

JAKE ODORIZZI – RHP KANSAS CITY ROYALS – 6-2, 185#

Odorizzi was at the center of the trade with the Brewers for Zack Greinke. It was to be a franchise changing trade for both clubs. Ironically, the trade has not really transformed the Royals.

Odorizzi is now a part of the big league club. He has started one game for Kansas City down the stretch. He threw 5.1 innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits and a walk. It wasn't spectacular, but it was far from a disaster.

The Royals have seen a number of high profile pitchers fail to meet expectations. For Odorizzi, I think the expectations are too high. I see him as a credible third or fourth starter with average to below-average stuff. His fastball is his premiere pitch. His secondary offerings are not as solid as the fastball.

DAVID LOUGH – OF KANSAS CITY ROYALS – 5-11, 185#

Lough is a highly regarded left-handed hitting, 26-year-old outfielder. He's been given a chance to play a little at the major league level. So far, he has a .243 average with zero home runs, a double and a triple among his nine hits in 42 plate appearances.

Lough spent this season at Triple-A Omaha where he hit .275. He did have 10 homers and 11 triples while smacking 19 doubles, showing he has some pop in his bat. Lough also has 26 stolen bases, showing he can run.

WIL MYERS – OF KANSAS CITY ROYALS – 6-3, 205#

I've written quite a bit on these pages about Myers. I believe he is more than ready to assume a role in the Royals' outfield.

I like the way he centers the ball. I like his contact rate. I like his base running and I like his ability to hit for average. This past season at Triple-A Omaha, Myers hit 24 home runs. He hit .303. He drove in 79 runs. I don't know what else he has to prove.

I look for Myers to be in Kansas City next spring.

DARIN MASTROIANNI – OF MINNESOTA TWINS – 5-11, 190#

The Blue Jays drafted the right-handed hitting outfielder in 2007. He played parts of four seasons for Toronto and parts of two seasons for the Twins before getting a good opportunity to play with the major league club this season.

In his 186 plate appearances to date, he has an average of .252 with 3 home runs and 17 RBI. Most impressive, however, are his 21 stolen bases. He's only been caught stealing 3 times.

I'm not certain that Mastroianni will ever be more than a fourth outfielder. In AL-only leagues, outfield is a shallow position. Watch during spring training and see how he does.

Dan Straily – RHP OAKLAND ATHLETICS – 6-2, 215#

Straily jumped over a number of Oakland A's farmhands this season and has shown an ability to face big league hitters.

Straily, only 23, pitched for both Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento this season before being called to the big club. Combined, he had a 9-7 record covering 25 minor league starts while recording a 2.78 ERA.

He showed outstanding command at both levels, walking only 42 while striking out 190 hitters. His solid mechanics and mound savvy earned him the promotion to Oakland. In six starts in the heat of the pennant race, Straily has a 2-1 record for the parent club. His ERA is 3.60 and his WHIP is 1.286 covering 35 innings pitched.

Straily isn't widely known yet. He might be a player to grab at the end of your 2013 draft. Be careful though, because the Athletics are loaded with pitching and they like to rotate their staff between and among the big league and minor league clubs.

JUSTIN GRIMM – RHP TEXAS RANGERS – 6-3, 195#

Like Dan Straily, Grimm arrived with the Rangers prior to projection. He was pitching well in Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock and he earned a look by the big club. He had a combined 11-6 minor league record this season. His ERA was 2.81 although he scuffled a bit at Triple-A, and his combined WHIP was 1.136.

Grimm was overmatched when he arrived in Texas. He has started two games so far and has appeared in two others. His major league ERA is currently 10.64.

The Rangers like his work ethic. They like his mechanics. I believe he will be a Rangers pitcher to watch in spring training. Again, he may be a guy to grab very late for your taxi squad.

TANNER SCHEPPERS – RHP TEXAS RANGERS – 6-4, 220#

Scheppers, 25, has pitched out of the rotation and out of the bullpen for the Rangers in their minor league system.

Currently, he is part of the bullpen with the major league club.

I have always been high on his ability to throw high velocity fastballs. However, there are times his command slips away. Quickly.

He repeated Triple-A Round Rock this season and threw 31 innings, striking out an average of a batter an inning. His walk rate diminished. Since he has been in Texas, Scheppers has pitched in the mid-to-late innings and has an ERA of 4.45 - which is too high for a middle reliever. He has thrown 30.1 innings for Texas. Some say he has a future as a closer. I'm not as sure now as I once was. Be careful. He has suffered some knee problems recently.

JURICKSON PROFAR – SS TEXAS RANGERS – 6-0, 165#

The buzz is beginning. Will the Rangers trade Elvis Andrus. How about for Justin Upton? That makes some sense. Why? Because, in some peoples' eyes, Profar is likely ready for a full-time role with Texas. The only eyes that count belong to the Rangers' brass.

Profar reminds me of Jose Reyes. He can do lots of things that will help your fantasy team. However, I would like to see him spend more time in the Rangers' minor league system. And he may.

So far with the Rangers, Profar is hitting only .176 being called up in September. He has three hits in 17 plate appearances.

He has only 1,366 Minor League plate appearances over parts of three seasons. Profar was called to Texas after having played at Double-A Frisco this season where he hit .281. He had 14 homers, 26 doubles and 7 triples. He swiped 16 bases and was caught four times.

The jump to the big leagues may be too much for Profar by next spring. He still hasn't played Triple-A ball. He has a great deal to learn about hitting good pitching. I'm not saying don't draft him, but watch carefully what happens with the Rangers in the offseason.

BUNTS

The A's Josh Reddick has hit a wall and is in a terrible slump. That said, I thank him for giving me an outstanding power season.

The last two weeks have been a nightmare for the White Sox. With the Division at their fingertips, they have played themselves to a draw with Detroit. Now what? The next few days are very telling.

Indians pitcher Zack McAllister has promise. He has a good fastball, but he really gets it up in the zone way too much. I like his arm.

If you had your choice today-who would you select first following trade deadline deals, Greinke or Dempster?

The Dodgers have all the big names on their roster now, but I really like what Luis Cruz has done for them.

Would the Brewers have been in the playoffs by now had they kept Greinke?

Adam Dunn has 200+ strikeouts and 100+ walks this season.

The Pittsburgh collapse is another heartbreak for a great city.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff during the last week of the season, during the playoffs and during the Arizona Fall League. Also follow me on MLB.com in the Voices section.