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Bernie On The Scene: NL Watchlist

Bernie Pleskoff

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

This is the second of two articles on prospects I believe will have potential fantasy impact next season. This list includes only National League players. Refer to last week's article for a list of American League prospects.

Basically, I wanted to share my 2012 "watch list" with my readers. These are players of interest to me. I will watch their progress in the fall and in spring training. There is certainly no guarantee these players will have an impact in fantasy leagues. Each, however, is intriguing. 

2011 minor league statistics (combined if the player was with multiple classification teams) are listed. 

The following have not been included because of the time they have already spent in the major leagues. However, they should be considered on your watch list as we enter the offseason:

Devin Mesoraco, CIN
Yonder Alonso, CIN
Todd Frazier, CIN
Dee Gordon, LA
J.D. Martinez, HOU
Alex White, COL
Anthony Rizzo, SD (he continues to struggle against big league pitching)


Teheran has had a taste of the big leagues and he discovered the hitters a bit tougher to get out. He has great stuff, good mound presence and the ability to win. He has to refine his delivery a bit more and challenge hitters with his best stuff. The Braves' rotation is awesome, as we know, but somehow they can find room for Teheran next season. Derek Lowe's spot will probably be up for grabs.

15-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 122:48 BB:K


As if having Teheran isn't enough, the Braves also have another very solid right-handed starting option in Delgado. Delgado throws strikes and brings his fastball to the plate anywhere from 93-96 MPH. He has excellent command of all his pitches.

The most intriguing part about Delgado might be his speed differential in his repertoire as he goes from the high heat to a wicked changeup that buckles hitters' knees.

7-7, 3.68 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 135:57 K:BB


Pastornicky is seriously blocked by Alex Gonzalez, but he can really play the game. The irony is that he came to the Braves from Toronto in the same trade as Gonzalez. Pastornicky is a good athlete. He makes contact and has a plan at the plate. At the present time, he projects as a utility player behind Gonzalez, but if the Braves are in any trade talks, his name or that of Gonzalez may be very attractive to suitors. Shortstop depth is a luxury and the Braves have that depth.

.314/.359/.414, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 27 SB


The Mets can't boast of many top prospects ready to make the big league club, but Nieuwenhuis may be one. He has no outstanding tool that will carry his game. Rather, he's a guy that does most everything well. If he were ice cream, he'd be vanilla. The Mets can use a guy that can do everything well.

He's more of a gap hitter than home-run threat. In his future home park, that works. He'd only be frustrated if he changed his stroke to increase his home-run rate. He does have some speed to help out on the bases.

He might be a fourth outfielder or he might crack the lineup. I do think the Mets will give him a good look. A severe shoulder injury limited his progress this season.

.298/.403/.505, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 5 SB


Valdespin is a speedster on the bases. He has the ability to put the bat on the ball and make things happen. He isn't Jose Reyes, but he's good protection in the event the Mets lose their All-Star shortstop.

Valdespin can play both middle-infield spot and if Reyes stays, he may be in the mix to play second. If that happens, the Mets will have a combination of speed demons at the top of the order. He really doesn't have the ability to be a quality defensive shortstop at this stage of his career. So basically, if he makes the 2012 club it will have to be at the keystone.

.294/.333/.468, 17 HR, 60 RBI, 37 SB


I have written quite a bit about Aumont in the past. He was a major piece of the Cliff Lee deal with the Mariners. Aumont has a congenital hip problem that has slowed his progress over the years. A former first-round draft choice from Canada, Aumont is still young enough to convert his game from being a starter at one point to pitching out of the bullpen. He has the stuff (94-96 mph fastball) to set up or close.

The Phillies are always in need of bullpen help and Aumont should make a good option for the club next season.

2-5, 2.68 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7 SV, 78:25 K:BB


Peacock has the ability to be a middle rotation starting pitcher for the Nationals. Behind Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, Peacock can be a real find for any fantasy team. Provided he gets run support. He's getting a taste of the big leagues now as a September callup.

Peacock has an exceptionally good arm. His mechanics are sound and he looks effortless when pitching. His knuckle curveball may be his best pitch.

When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League he worked out of the bullpen. I had him at 93-94 mph with his fastball. It may be even better than that this year. The pen may be where he lands with the Nationals. However, if they have a need in the rotation, Washington may well give him the chance to start.

15-3, 2.39 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 177:47 K:BB in 146.2 IP


Solis is probably the most polished left-handed pitcher in the Nationals' organization. He profiles as a mid-to-back end of the rotation starter.

He isn't overpowering, but he has a wicked combination of good command and a full repertoire of pitches. For a young lefty, he defies the tag of being wild and lacking control. To the contrary, Solis pounds the strike zone. He has a solid fastball, knuckle-curve and an occasional changeup that he can use at any count. His pitches dart and drop, causing great deception for the hitter.

Solis will be pitching in the Arizona Fall League and I'll bring you updates in my AFL reports.

8-3, 3.26 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 93:23 K:BB over 96.2 IP


The Nationals signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract with an option for a third. This year Michael Morse took over the position after LaRoche had shoulder surgery and it looks like his to keep. Of course, he can always be moved back to the outfield if Marrero can hit.
The plan was probably to turn the first-base job over to Marrero once LaRoche was finished in D.C. Now, Marrero must wait his turn or hit enough to convince the brass that he should be playing.

He's a powerful guy but his mechanics have always been an issue. He needs to smooth his approach to the ball and shift his weight properly to take advantage of very good raw power. He can continue to improve his numbers by cutting down on his swing and not being fooled by breaking balls.

.300/.375/.449, 14 HR, 69 RBI, 3 SB


The Cubs like Jackson, but I'm not sold. I'm wondering if he isn't another in the long line of Cubs outfielders that may be more hype and promise than delivery in the mold of Matt Murton, Jason Dubois, Corey Patterson and Felix Pie to name a few. Much is expected of Jackson. Maybe because the Cubs don't have any real prospects to speak of.

He isn't a player with a full tool chest, but he has some ability to make contact and make things happen. He has some speed and he can get on base. That would be helpful. I question his power in the ever-changing wind of Wrigley Field. I say buy with caution and divide the hype in half until you see how he produces.

Jackson will be playing in the Arizona Fall League and I'll bring you updates in my AFL reports.

.274/.379/.490, 20 HR, 58 RBI, 21 SB


I liked Boxberger the first time I saw him. No man crush or anything. I just think he has a fantastic arm. His mechanics continue to need work and at times he over throws. However, the raw stuff is gas.

Boxberger can lose command of his pitches, including his lights-out fastball quickly. When his command goes, he tries to compensate by throwing harder. Then his secondary pitches tank as well. Boxberger could have a role in the Reds' bullpen in 2012. Who would have thought the Reds would have pitching woes? The Reds have pitching woes.

Boxberger will be pitching in the Arizona Fall League and I'll bring you updates in my AFL reports.

1-2, 2.03 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 93:28 K:BB in 62 IP


Clemens got a huge break when he was traded to the Astros in the deal that brought Michael Bourn to the Braves.

If he were still with the Braves, Clemens wouldn't be close to the major leagues because of all the good prospects ahead of him. With Houston desperate for pitching help, he may be closer the big leagues. He still has to learn to command his average fastball and secondary pitches. There really isn't anything about Clemens that is outstanding. He does have an athletic build, but he has to refine his mechanics before he can be taken seriously.

He makes this list only because of his chance to pitch in Houston, but I'm not an advocate just yet.

8-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 125:62 K:BB, 144 IP


Let's start with see the first paragraph of my comments about Clemens, but Oberholzer is much, much better.

Why would the Braves give up pitching for Bourn? We know they are loaded at the minor league level with quality pitchers and they needed a solid leadoff hitter. Bourn has delivered and Oberholzer was the price they paid.

Oberholzer is a big, strong lefty with tremendous upside. He can either become a huge success or a massive flop. I don't see any middle ground for him, but I'm betting he's a success. The only thing that could hold him back could be an awful Astros offense and a porous Astros defense. Those are crucial components of winning ballgames and keeping a pitch count down.

He has a herky-jerky almost funky motion with a good fastball and acceptable secondary pitches.

11-12, 4.01 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 121:52 K:BB, 155 IP


Peralta had Tommy John surgery two seasons ago. He is recovered and he has a chance to pitch in the majors by next season.

Peralta has been known to throw a high-90s fastball, but it is relatively straight. Without movement, a fastball is the easiest pitch for big leaguers to hit. His secondary pitches are slightly above average.

His mechanics are sound and he has a chance to be a back end of the rotation pitcher because of good command. He has improved markedly in his ability to induce swings and misses.

11-7, 3.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 157:59 K:BB, 150.2 IP


Thornburg has drawn comparison to Tim Lincecum for his size and his repertoire of very difficult and diverse pitches. Saying he is like Lincecum is a great tribute. Pitching like Lincecum will yield a great career.

Thornburg can bring his fastball to at least 98. It's his curve that may take him to the big leagues for good. His changeup is a good pitch that he shouldn't be afraid to use. Thornburg has closed games in the past. He might see either role with the Brewers but it's the rotation that is most appealing to the club.

10-6, 2.57 ERA, 1.11WHIP, 160:58 K:BB, 136.2 IP


The Brew Crew made a decision to keep Farris as their second baseman of the future when they traded top prospect Brett Lawrie to Toronto. Farris will certainly have trouble unseating incumbent Rickie Weeks, but he could stick as an option at third base or even as a utility player. Either way, the Brewers like Farris.

I saw lots of Farris in the Arizona Fall League where he replaced Lawrie as a Brewers player and hit .351. He's basically a guy with good eye-hand coordination and solid mechanics. He doesn't have much pop in his bat. He can hit for average and steal bases. Both are valuable in fantasy so watch his progress carefully.

.271/.317/.372, 6 HR, 55 RBI, 21 SB


Sanchez is the Pirates' best hope behind the plate. He is improving both offensively and defensively. While he may not be the top catching prospect in baseball, he has the ability to be an improvement behind the plate for the Bucs.

He doesn't have a great bat yet, but he's learning how to hit and he has some offensive upside. It's really his defense behind the plate that may carry him to the big leagues sooner than later.

.241/.340/.318, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 5 SB


Locke has the ability to pitch in the Pirates' rotation. He isn't overpowering, with a fastball that usually sits in the high-80s to low-90s It's the late life on his fastball that makes Locke's stuff work. Changing the eye level of hitters is what it's all about. He also keeps them off balance with good secondary pitches including a curve and changeup.

Locke isn't a big guy. In fact he has a rather skinny frame. He has awkward herky-jerky mechanics that help in his overall arsenal.

8-10, 3.70 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 139:55 K:BB, 153.1 IP


Miller did something very wrong this season because he was suspended by the Cardinals for violations of team policy. What does that mean for his future? Very little, as Miller was back pitching at the end of the minor league season.

Miller has top of the rotation ability. He has a fastball that can be graded as a 70 on the 20-80 scout pitching scale. That translates to 95 mph with good movement, command and control. That's the pitch that will carry Miller to the rotation.

His curve and changeup don't grade out quite as high, but they are all quality pitches and he has command of all three pitches in his repertoire.

Miller is the type pitcher that can lead the Cardinals pitching staff if Adam Wainwright doesn't return. He's a guy to target in next season's draft, but it may be two seasons before he really shines. As long as he doesn't get in trouble.

11-6, 2.77 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 170:53 K:BB, 139.2 IP


Swagerty is a relief pitcher with the ability to shut down hitters and miss bats. He has a very good curve and fastball that he uses with confidence. His curve is probably his best pitch.

He can bring his fastball in the high-90s at times. Basically he's a mid-90s pitcher. He has enough stuff to be a back end of the bullpen pitcher.

5-3, 1.83 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 89:23 K:BB, 93.2 IP


How would you like to be a first baseman in the Cardinals' organization? Well, that's the situation for Adams. He has to wait for his chance behind Albert Pujols. Who knows? Maybe that chance will come next season.

Adams is coming off an absolutely awesome season in the minor leagues.

Adams has displayed excellent power and bat control. He'll be in the Arizona Fall League and I'll be able to see him first-hand. The Cardinals' staff is raving about his pure swing and power. I'll see for myself. He'll present a possible fantasy option if he makes the Cards or is traded if they sign Pujols.

.300/.357/.566, 32 HR, 101 RBI, 0 SB

Adams will be playing in the Arizona Fall League and I will bring you updates in my AFL reports.


Bauer was the first-round draft choice of the D-Backs this past June. They think he's going to be a starting pitcher as soon as next season. I agree but I don't think it'll be right out of the box. He may come up in June.

He struggled a bit with Double-A hitters at the end of this season. The D-Backs haven't announced their pitching staff yet for the Arizona Fall League but it wouldn't surprise me if Bauer were included on the staff.

He has excellent stuff including a high velocity fastball. He patterns himself after Tim Lincecum with similar training techniques.

1-2, 5.96 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 43:12 K:BB, 25.2 IP


Skaggs was a huge part of the deal the D-Backs made with the Angels for Dan Haren. No Skaggs, no deal. He's a high quality lefty with a chance to be really good. He will fit well with Kennedy, Hudson, Trevor Bauer and Jarrod Parker in the future rotation.

Skaggs uses a curve as his primary pitch. He mixes in a high-80s to low-90s fastball that moves very well. When he commands his pitches he's very difficult to hit. If his command is good he can be very, very tough. That's the part of his game that needs work and improvement.

9-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 198:49 K:BB, 158.1 IP


Until the arrival of Bauer and Skaggs, Parker was the shining star in the D-Backs' pitching galaxy. Now he is among the top-three in the future pecking order. They could have a fantastic pitching staff for years.

Parker has the ability to throw the ball past hitters. He had Tommy John surgery and has recovered nicely. His best pitch is his sharp breaking slider. That will be a tough pitch for aggressive hitters to lay-off. He has an above average fastball to back the slider. I think he'll make the rotation next year and find success.

11-8, 3.79 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 112:55 K:BB, 130.2 IP


I have written about Rosario before. I like his bat at Coors Field. The Rockies are giving him some playing time now in September, but he should really come in to his own by midseason next year.

I don't know what their plans are for Chris Iannetta, but Rosario is a great option for them in the organization. I think he'll bring some power and some RBI to a great hitting park. I'm not as certain he will hit for average, but Iannetta doesn't either. Rosario is slow afoot so he won't be much help in stealing bases. Still, you can do much worse in your second catcher spot if he's able to make the Opening Day roster in 2012.

.249/.284/.457, 21 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB


I close this year's edition of Bernie On The Scene prospect profiles with a sleeper. Not many people talk about Wheeler. You should introduce yourself to him.

He may not make the 2012 Rockies, but I think he may be close. Why? Look at his numbers at the bottom of these paragraphs.

Wheeler has a very good Coors Field bat. He was a first-round draft pick that somehow gets lost in the Bryce Harper/Mike Trout hype. Wheeler will be playing in the Arizona Fall League. That speaks volumes to me. He's on the brink.

Wheeler has to gain more experience against quality pitchers, especially lefties. He has to learn more patience in lying off the breaking balls, something that is common among prospects.

I'll keep you posted on his progress during the AFL.

.287/.366/.535, 33 HR, 86 RBI, 21 SB

There you have it. In the past two weeks I have shared my American League and National League watch lists with you.

I'll be back when the Arizona Fall League begins. Look for "Bernie On The Scene" in October. Have a good couple of weeks.

Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and on in the Opinions section. As always, your comments and questions are welcomed.