Feature photo by Rich Biesterfeld
The Friday Five is pretty self-explanatory this week. Hitters are typically graded by scouts based on five tools: their ability to hit for average, hit for power, run, field their position, and show off their throwing arm.
So I wanted to highlight the prospect with the best of each of those five tools. This piece won’t just call out the top prospects in the system. Instead I took a crack at the entire organization. Let’s get it.
Hit — Nelson Maldonado
I was real close to pulling the trigger with James Triantos here and I think going with him, PCA, or Bryce Windham is entirely justified. But when I watch Maldonado hit, it just feels different. He’s very Hunter Pence in the way that he could probably take a year off from playing baseball, come back, pick up a bat, and send a liner over an infielder’s head.
Maldonado has never posted a strikeout rate higher than 18% and his only stop as a professional where he hit below .300 was during his 39 plate appearances in Eugene back in 2019… where he hit .278.
Power — Owen Caissie
You can always sub-categorize Power into two different fields of thought: in-game power and raw power. I’ve argued for quite some time now that raw power as a scouting grade should be a thing of the past because we have exit velocity numbers that describe the exact same thing scouts have done their best at explaining for years.
With Caissie, I’m leaning a little heavier into the raw power category. He hasn’t put many tanks over the fence yet, but that’s partially due to the fact that he spent so much time in Myrtle last year. He records the best exit velo numbers in the entire system, along with Alexander Canario, Christopher Morel, and Nelson Velazquez but I’ll give Caissie a little edge here thanks to his superior hit tool compared to the rest of the bunch.
Speed — Zach Davis
As further proof that this article is truly my picks for the best tools as opposed to giving extra love to top prospects, Zach Davis isn’t exactly the prospect named Davis that you probably expected to see winning one of these categories.
Zach is now in his seventh season in the organization after never even logging more than 115 plate appearances in a season in his college career at Texas Tech. A major reason he’s been such a contributor to the org is because of his speed and, in turn, the defense that he puts on display in the outfield thanks to that speed. He’s now in Triple-A and is always a speed/defense 5th outfielder need away from the bigs.
Fielding — Pete Crow-Armstrong
Speaking of speed and defense. PCA is not only a Major League-ready glove in center field, he would be a plus defender in the majors right now. His routes, speed, and reaction time are all damn near perfect out there. In a system known for deploying plus defensive center fielders over the past several years (Davis, Connor Myers, Christian Franklin) PCA takes the crown.
Arm — Christopher Morel
It’s a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder. Not only does Morel have the strongest arm in the system, but he loves to show it off in a Javy/Willson sort of way, powering up even in times where he doesn’t really need to.
That strong arm plays across the diamond as Morel is at least an average defender at three different infield positions and all across the outfield. Those transitions from position to position become a whole lot easier when you don’t have to think twice about the arm you possess.