I had dinner last night with three very veteran baseball guys (veteran enough that I was the youngest one there), two of whom played in the big leagues and all of whom see players around the country. Some of the thoughts exchanged included:
-- Favorite player here in Lakeland: OF Byron Buxton. "Just give him 400-500 at bats in the minor leagues and see what you have after that. He does everything so easiliy."
-- Asked to compare the two top pitchers in the 2012 class, Lance McCullers and Lucas Giolito, with the the top pitchers from the last two classes, Jamison Taillon and Dylan Bundy, the strong consensus was 1. Bundy, 2. (tie) Giolito and Taillon, 3. McCullers.
-- When asked one of my favorite questions, how do you rank the big 3 SoCal lefthanders, Hunter Virant, Max Fried and Cole Irvin, each of the three picked a different one (which is why it's one of my favorite prospect questions this year). They did agree that they would take all 3 over Henry Owens or Tyler Skaggs, the top SoCal southpaws of the last 2 drafts. I personally would take Fried at this point.
-- They compared Lewis Brinson strongly with Colorado Rockies CF Dexter Fowler, with the qualifiers that Fowler was more polished at the same age but Brinson had more power. One did note "players with those types of bodies, no hips or ass, long legs, they really have trouble maintaining their strength over the course of a whole season."
-- OF Albert Almora doesn't show any real plus tools but everything he does plays up because he plays the game so easily. "You don't worry about his tools as much as some guys because you just know that he can play. The game comes pretty easy to him."
-- RHP Carson Fullmer = RHP Craig Kimbrell
-- The top Puerto Rican players (Carlos Correa, J.O. Berrios, Edwin Diaz) all show their raw tools much better when you see them in Puerto Rico at this age. "Correa hits bombs at home but he's tentative swinging the bat here.....Berrios and Diaz are bumping 95 on the island and occasionally touching 93 over in the states. They'll get more comfortable with experience and maturity." All agreed that this might be the most talented Puerto Rican class since the pre-draft era when players like Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Bernie Williams were signed as free agents in the mid to late 1980's.
-- There was a strong feeling that there would not be a slotting system for draft bonuses in the next CBA. And there was a 100% consensus that if there was a slotting system that the numbers would be equal to, if not larger, than the current MLB recommended bonuses for each slot.