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Legends On Deck

Five Potential Breakout Prospects: Hitters

Every year there are prospects who have great seasons and catapult their prospect status. Some examples from 2014 would be Rangers slugging third basemen Joey Gallo, who crushed 42 homers while splitting his season between A+ and AA, or Toronto’s Daniel Norris, who struck out 163 in 124.2 innings and posted a 2.53 ERA– eventually earning himself a promotion to the bigs after starting the year in High-A ball.

This season will be no different, as surely there are players out there looking to follow in the footsteps of Gallo and Norris.

In what follows, I’ll take a stab at guessing which prospects you should keep an eye on for 2015.

Rio Ruiz, 3B (HOU)

D.O.B: 5/22/94rio ruiz

Bats: Left

Throws: Right

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 215

2014 Stats: .293/.387/.436; 37 2B; 11 HR (High-A Cal League)

Ruiz showed signs of improved performance across the board in 2014. Most importantly, he made strides defensively and some scouts think he can stick at third even if he is slightly below average with the glove. The California native flashes plus power in batting practice and it’s starting to show in games. He’s got a solid hit tool, sporting a short, compact swing which lead to posting good contact rates while showing an advanced approach at the plate.

Outlook: Ruiz showed up in the middle of some year-end prospect lists and I think he has the potential to rise even higher, potentially into the top 15-20 with his bat being his calling card.

 

Rafael Devers, 3B (BOS)

Rafael  DeversD.O.B: 10/24/96

Bats: Left

Throws: Right

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 195

2014 Stats: .322/.404/.506; 17 2B; 5 3B; 7 HR (Gulf Coast Rookie League and Dominican Summer League) 

Devers signed with the Red Sox for a bonus of $1.5MM in August of 2013 and it appears the Sox got a bargain. Since being signed the Dominican teenager has done nothing but hit against stiff competition. Drawing comparisons to Robinson Cano because of his sweet swing from the left-side, Devers has a lightening quick bat that helps him barrell the ball despite a swing comprised of a lot of moving parts. He could develop plus power and showed a solid approach for a teenager playing against older competition. Defensively he’s adequate at third for now but may eventually outgrow the position.

Outlook: Devers will likely make an appearance near the bottom third of most prospect lists but the ceiling is incredibly high. His bat is a potentially special regardless of what position he ends up playing at the highest level.

 

Lewis Brinson, CF (TEX)

lewis brinsonD.O.B: 5/8/94

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 170

2014 Stats: .288/.354/.458; 16 2B; 13 HR; 12 SB (Low-A SAL and High-A Carolina League)

Brinson, who was a 2012 first-round pick for the Rangers along with Joey Gallo, it’s a veritable toolshed of a prospect. His lean, athletic build oozes athleticism and has led to him already being a plus defensive centerfielder. His bat is more of a work in progress, but made big strides in 2014. Lewis possesses immense raw power when he connects with the ball. Contact rates have been a concern but improved last season.

Outlook: I fell in love with Brinson as a prospect after seeing him in the 2013 Sally League All-Star Game. He truly stands out amongst his peers from an athleticism standpoint. If he can cut down on the swing-and-miss he can breakout in Joey Gallo-like fashion in 2015. Will likely pop up at the bottom of some prospect lists, with the true believers placing him closer to the middle.

 

Josh Bell, OF (PIT)

josh bellD.O.B: 8/14/92

Bats: Both

Throws: Right

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 235

2014 Stats: .325/.375/.459; 22 2B; 9 HR; 9 SB (High-A Florida State  League and Double-A Eastern League)

Bell appeared to be fully healthy returning from a knee injury that cost him almost all of his first pro season in 2012. The hulking outfielder displayed elite bat speed and hand-eye coordination, leading to high batting averages in both minor league stops. The former second-round pick is already showing an advanced feel for hitting and may have a power spike coming. What was most impressive for me was his contact rate– striking out just 55 times in 108 games despite being extremely young for both leagues he played in during the 2014 season.

Outlook: Although Bell is firmly on the prospect radar, most likely entering most people’s top 50, he is primed to explode in 2015 and could be one of the games brightest prospects very soon.

Amed Rosario, SS (NYM)

amed rosarioD.O.B: 10/20/95

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 170

2014 Stats: .274/.320/.372; 11 2B; 6 3B; 2 HR; 7 SB

Rosario played most of the season in the New York-Penn League playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Despite being three full years younger than the average age of the league, he held his own and showed flashes of being a potential top prospect. The Santo Domingo native possesses plus bat speed and an ability to find the barrel while using the entire field. He could develop solid-average power as he fills out. Defensively he has good instincts including a quick first step and soft hands. Should get his first crack at full season ball in 2015.

Outlook: Rosario is a solid overall prospect with no glaring weaknesses in his game. As his body matures his tools could all tick up a notch making him an easy top 1oo prospect.

(Photo Credit: MiLB.com & Brita Meng Outzen, Boston Red Sox)

Kirk Cahill

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Kirk is very knowledgeable of MLB's minor league system and brings a passion for writing about the stars of tomorrow. Kirk is also a contributing writer for MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net. He is a native New Yorker and lifelong Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @KirkC_.