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Bernie On The Scene: A Look At Outfield Prospects

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

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

In this series I am looking at prospects by positions. I have tried to establish that both corner infield positions have less power than in the past. I have urged my readers to grab power when they can in keeper leagues.

I have pointed out that the catching position is rich in quality batting average players and it will be getting better with time. The same can be said for shortstop. There are some impact players at that position. Second base will be challenging for a few years.

The outfield holds more promise. While we won't be seeing the power as in the past, there are some impact players waiting for their turn. I am not as bullish on some of the big names as other scouts and writers. All I can do is share my thoughts and let you be the ultimate judge.

Remember just knowing the players doesn't assure a good fantasy season. A great deal has to do with budget money in an auction, draft positions and of course, injuries. For example, every team I have is rocked by key injuries. I'm not whining. Just stating facts.

IMPACT OUTFIELD PROSPECTS

Oscar Taveras - Cardinals

When I saw him hit the batter's eye during batting practice at the Futures Game I realized he is a special hitter. He may be as feared as Albert Pujols was in his healthy prime. And that's saying something. Taveras has awesome power and a strong body. There are few guys I would say can't miss - I don't think Taveras will miss. However, like every prospect, it may take a while for him to adjust to big league breaking balls.

Yasiel Puig - Dodgers

Puig burst on the scene just before the end of last season. He was scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League but an injury derailed him. He really tore up spring training. He has a combination of power and speed that is very rare. Dodgers fans will clamor for his arrival, but we'll have to wait and see what happens with their high priced outfield-especially Andre Ethier. Puig is hitting .308 with six homers, 30 RBI and 11 stolen bases at Double-A. I would grab him anywhere I could.

Joc Pederson - Dodgers

Not only is Yasiel Puig going to challenge for a role with the Dodgers, don't ignore Joc Pederson. He's a real threat. He can hit for both average and power, as he is at Double-A where he's hitting .324 with eight homers, 22 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Pederson is a top- flight prospect that cannot be ignored. The only problem? The Dodgers have that high priced outfield that may block the progress of both Pederson and Puig.

George Springer - Astros

He may be one of the only future hopes of the Astros' offense. He has a chance to hit for some real power in Houston. Currently at Double-A, Springer is hitting .293 with 13 homers and 35 RBI. He can do it all and will likely be rushed through his development. Springer may scuffle a bit with off-speed pitches and breaking balls, but he'll adjust. Be patient with him.

Christian Yelich - Marlins

This guy looks like he was born to hit. I've seen lots of his at-bats. He doesn't get cheated. He isn't fully developed, and the power may be coming later. Right now, he can rake to center field with incredibly hard hit balls. He's also sneaky on the bases, and he might steal a base here and there. Yelich will drive in runs and hit for a fine average.

Byron Buxton - Twins

Remember the name. Write it down. He's only in Low-A now. He'll fly through the system, even if the Twins want to avoid rushing him. He has a lethal combination of power and speed. He has to cut down on strikeouts to be even more effective, but the man can play. He already has seven home runs and 37 RBI to complement his .316 batting average at Cedar Rapids. He is my third highest ranked outfield prospect behind only Taveras and Yelich.

Billy Hamilton - Reds

The only question remaining is this - can he get on base? Converted from shortstop to center field, Hamilton will easily steal 50 major league bases and perhaps more if he can get on first. He has to take more pitches, walk more and keep the ball on the ground. Refining his bunting will help. You will be paying for stolen bases and runs scored with Hamilton. He will not hit home runs or drive in many runs. His average will not be great, but he can't be ignored for the impact he will make on the bases.

Wil Myers - Rays

Myers is starting to heat up after a very slow and frustrating start at Triple-A Durham. When I saw him there, he was just missing the sweet spot on the bat and was fouling off pitches. He's got power and some speed. He can hit for average, but he'll struggle at the big league level if he lengthens his swing. If he keeps it compact, he'll be fine. but he is far from a superstar at this stage. Be cautious and don't get swept up until you see some results. Yes, it might be too late then, but there may always be another draft after he shows us he belongs.

Marcell Ozuna - Marlins

It's a real shame this guy won't be playing in a park where we could see his power at work. He's got amazing bat speed, wrists and raw power. He'll hit homers in bunches-especially on the road. He's just the type of guy that can carry a team for weeks - and he doesn't get much publicity. Don't pay much attention to his numbers yet. At least not until he adjusts to big league pitching. Wait a couple years from now. He's a real impact player in waiting.

ON THE CUSP OF IMPACT

Nick Castellanos - Tigers

Converted from third base because of Miguel Cabrera, Castellanos is an inconsistent hitter. I've seen him good and very bad. When he reaches and flails for pitches, he's very bad. The Tigers need him in the outfield. He'll get his chances, and he'll hit some home runs. But he has to be able to get the big hit and make contact. Jim Leyland is not a patient manager. He is the least impactful of the impact outfielders.

Jorge Soler - Cubs

He may well become an impact hitter. Most scouts think he will, but I don't think he's anything close to other Cuban players with whom he is compared - Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig. Soler is still learning how to hit. He's adjusting to life in America, but he doesn't have the physical presence of the other two hitters. He'll be a fine player. He's at Daytona where he's hitting .298 with seven homers and 25 RBI at High-A. He may be rushed, but I hope not.

Rymer Liriano - Padres

Before he blew out his arm, I had Liriano as one of my impact outfield prospects. The man could really belt the ball. I'm now concerned about how much his injury delays his progress. He may try to come back and make up for lost time and press too hard. He's a line drive hitter with good peripheral skills and tools. Watch his progress. He'll probably recover in the Arizona Fall League to make up at-bats.

Albert Almora - Cubs

Aside from Soler, Almora might be the most exciting of the Cubs' outfield prospects. He can hit, he can run and he can play the game well. He is an outstanding defender to boot. He's a long way from being on the parent club, but Almora has all the talent to be a discussion with impact players.

NOT AT IMPACT LEVEL

Bubba Starling - Royals

It's too early to say the Royals missed with this former first-round pick. However, Starling may have missed not choosing to follow a career in football. This big guy is just now learning how to hit. It will be a while. He'll have the power, but it will take much more time until he's major league ready. He's currently hitting only .209 with 49 strikeouts and four homers at Low-A Lexington. I see at least three more years of development in his future - provided he makes progress.

Avisail Garcia - Tigers

A good hitter, I think he'll end up being a platoon player for the Tigers just as he is now. He can hit the gaps and the home-run power may come. A look alike for his idol Miguel Cabrera, Garcia will have the Triple Crown winner as a great teacher of hitting. He could pop into the impact column with a few good breaks.

Mason Williams –Yankees

The Yankees have a host of quality players that could figure in the outfield. Williams may have the highest upside. Currently at High-A Tampa, he's hitting .243 with two homers and 13 RBI. He has speed to steal bases and he makes good contact at the plate.

Jackie Bradley - Red Sox

I remember warning readers and followers not to get too committed to Bradley. He just hasn't refined his hitting approach enough to consistently hit major league hitting. He was exposed within two weeks and being weak on breaking balls. Back at Triple-A, he is hitting .343 in 17 games. He just doesn't walk enough to suit me. Especially as a leadoff hitter.

Trayce Thompson - White Sox

The White Sox certainly don't have many quality prospects, but he's one of them. Thompson can become a star. He has very fine power and lots of natural speed. He's the type of guy that can carry a club when he's hot. His batting average will likely kill your fantasy team, but the long balls he hits may make up for some of the poor average.

Bryce Brentz - Red Sox

This is actually the Red Sox prospect outfielder I like best. He has some pop in his bat and an ability to hit the gaps. He doesn't see enough pitches or walk enough, but he has the power. The problem is this: he tries to jack everything out of the park with a long swing. That approach will destroy his batting average, but he's a top prospect and someone to watch.

Oswaldo Arcia - Twins

I don't think he will sustain his initial solid performance with the Twins. He's a good player, but not at the impact level. I see some leveling off of with his power when pitchers catch up with him and make adjustments. We'll see if he makes the adjustments in time. Arcia is a solid player and worth selecting in fantasy, but not quite at the impact level - not yet, at least.

Brandon Jacobs - Red Sox

Another highly regarded Red Sox outfielder that will need a chance to prove himself sooner or later. He has more power than most of the other options. He can also run and steal bases - a factor that can't be ignored. Jacobs fits better as a left fielder than anywhere else, but he's strong and powerful.

Michael Choice - Athletics

I really like to watch his homers when he connects. When he doesn't connect, he looks like he's never hit a day in his life. Choice has the power and he'll punish pitches, but he'll strike out. He'll drive in runs. And then he'll strike out again. He's that type of all or nothing guy. Look up his last 3 seasons- .284, .285, 287 and .286 so far this season. I'd say that's pretty consistent. He's on the cusp.

Adam Eaton - Diamondbacks

His injury woes have really slowed him down in his personal development. He was to have been the starting center fielder for Arizona this season. Now A.J. Pollock is taking playing time and it will be tough for Eaton to become an everyday player and unseat Pollock permanently. Eaton has had a recent setback. I'm not sure he's back before August, if then. When he returns, look for average, runs and stolen bases.

A.J. Pollock - Diamondbacks

I really like the defensive part of his game. He's very agile and quick with not only the first step, but the finish of his routes. That doesn't help in fantasy, but he can make contact with an occasional burst of power. He'll also get some stolen bases along the way.

MY OVERRATED BUNCH

Gary Brown - Giants

Brown was a first-round draft pick and for me, he's close to a bust. He can run, but he has to put the bat on the ball to get to first base and steal second. I think quality pitchers give him fits. I'm not very bullish, but I think he'll improve.

Jake Marisnick - Marlins

At one point I felt Marisnick would make a tremendous addition to the Blue Jays. They gave him up in the big deal with Miami and I'm not sure what that will do for his power numbers. He can get hot quickly for a short time and then get frigid for a while. I'm not excited about him.

Evan Gattis - Braves

He certainly got playing time behind the plate while the Braves were waiting for Brian McCann to return from injury. Gattis had a great beginning and earned some buzz. When I saw him play left field in Phoenix, it was an adventure, to say the least. And he really scuffled on high fastballs. Grab him at your own risk. He's streaky, but the good streaks are very solid. I think the league caught up with him in a relative hurry.

Xavier Avery - Orioles

Show me how he gets on base and I'll be happy with his steals, but I didn't see much plate discipline or knowledge of the strike zone from him. If he ever figures out how to hit breaking pitches, he can become a factor. But the Orioles have some nice outfield options currently playing.

L.J. Hoes - Orioles

See Xavier Avery. I think they are interchangeable parts. Hoes might come quickly, however. He, like Avery, is athletic and agile.

Brett Jackson - Cubs

This cat has nine lives. When he comes around is anyone's guess. He's back at Iowa and struggling. There are better options for your fantasy team.

Randal Grichuk - Angels

I am not sold at all on his bat. Other scouts are or he wouldn't have gone in the first round to the Angels. Reported to have quick hands and a quick bat, every time I've seen him his bat has been slow and slower. He has had injuries in his past and is trying to catch up. I'll pass until he shows he can hit more than .243 in the lower minors.

OTHER OPTIONS

Jared Mitchell - White Sox
Gregory Polanco - Pirates (may emerge to the impact list due to great speed)
Courtney Hawkins - White Sox
Tyler Austin - Yankees
Brian Goodwin - Nationals
David Dahl - Rockies
Alfredo Marte - Diamondbacks
Charlie Blackmon - Rockies
Slade Heathcott - Yankees
Jimmy Paredes - Astros
David Lough - Royals
Jonathan Reynoso - Reds
Tyler Naquin - Indians
Kyle Parker - Rockies
Carlos Tocci - Phillies
Jorge Bonifacio - Royals
Alex Castellanos - Dodgers
Logan Schafer - Brewers
Khris Davis - Brewers
Max Kepler - Twins
Brandon Nimmo - Mets (watch him carefully - he's never hit as well as this season)
Josh Bell - Pirates (He may be close to an impact player - not enough data yet)
James Ramsey - Cardinals

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and at MLB.com in the Voices section.

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