We keep our discussion of the players on the World Team’s roster for the 2012 MLB Futures Game going with the outfielders. For several of them, the future will come sooner rather than later. All of the World Team’s five outfielders are currently at Double-A. But they have as much talent as anyone in the Futures Game.
Oscar Taveras is a player that Cardinals fans can’t get more excited about. Taveras, 6’2″ and 180 pounds out of the Dominican Republic, just turned 20 on June 19th yet is already at Double-A. Taveras has always stood out for his swing. Taveras features a silky-smooth swing from the lefty batter’s box with outstanding bat speed and he has a propensity for hard contact. His approach at the plate is still a work in progress, but he gets away with that thanks to his outstanding bat speed. He projects to hit for a very high average. Taveras doesn’t walk very much, but he doesn’t strike out much either. A question for Taveras has been how his power was going to develop, and this season he has made huge strides getting more lift in his already impressive swing and hitting for a lot more power this season. Taveras possesses average speed and arm tools, allowing to play centerfield for now but which will probably cause a move to right at the big league level. So far in 2012, Taveras has been incredible for the Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League, posting a .320/.370/.594 line with 24 doubles, 4 triples, 17 homers, 62 RBI, 6 of 6 stolen bases, and a 43-24 strikeout to walk ratio. He has played 51 games in centerfield compared to 15 in right, managing 4 outfield assists compared to 2 errors. Taveras has the makings of an excellent major league hitter, and it will be as sight to see him in Kansas City.
Rymer Liriano is the most inexperienced of the group, just promoted to Double-A on June 28th. Liriano, a 6’0″, 210 right fielder, isn’t as flashy as Taveras but he’s another player that can flat-out hit. Liriano is a year minus one day older than Taveras, celebrating his 21st birthday on June 20th. Liriano looks free and easy in the batter’s box and has a natural, fluid swing from the right side. The ball jumps off his bat, although he is mostly a gap to gap line drive hitter at this point. Liriano shows flashes of power and should be a solid home run threat in the future. Liriano’s plate discipline is a bit below average and he strikes out a little too much at point. Even when he doesn’t hit the ball so hard, he beats out groundballs thanks to his speed. Liriano is a bigger player but he’s very fast right now and a very good basestealer. He may lose a step if he fills out his frame anymore. Liriano completes his package of tools with an excellent right fielder’s arm to go along with nice range. Taveras has posted a .291/.356/.431 line so far in 2012 with 23 doubles, 5 homers, 41 RBI, 23 of 30 steals, and a 72-24 strikeout to walk ratio in 80 games, 74 at High-A and 6 at Double-A. He has played 72 games in right field and 2 in center. Liriano is a right fielder with flashes of all five tools, and the Padres are very excited to watch him develop.
Yet another talented right fielder is Twins prospect Oswaldo Arcia, a 21 year old signed out of Venezuela brought up to Double-A on June 14th. Arcia, a 6’0″, 210 lefty swinger, stands out most for his bat speed as he has a quick, compact stroke with the strength to muscle out extra-base hits. Arcia hits a lot of extra-base hits, but he needs to work on getting a little more lift in his swing to hit more home runs. Arcia also is somewhat raw in terms of his approach at the plate as he doesn’t draw many walks and can be fooled by offspeed pitches, although his bat speed prevents him from whiffing too often. Arcia isn’t fast, but he moves fine in right field and has an excellent arm. In 2012, between 55 High-A games and 17 Double-A games, Arcia has managed a .308/.373/ .498 line with 20 doubles, 4 triples, 8 homers, 45 RBI, and 62 strikeouts versus 28 walks. He has played 64 games in right field and 2 in center, posting 10 outfield assists. Arcia’s potential at the plate makes him a promising prospect for the Twins moving forward and a player with a chance to be an integral part of their future.
We finally have a player on this team with the ability to stay in centerfield in Cubs prospect Jae-Hoon Ha, a 21 year old signed out of Korea. Ha, 6’1″ and 185 pounds, has solid current ability with pretty good upside- although not as much as the players above. Ha features a short stroke with good bat speed, showing intermitting displays of power but not nearly enough consistency. He hits too many flyballs for his own good right now. Ha’s pitch recognition skills are lacking right now and he doesn’t walk much, although he does make a good amount of contact. Ha features excellent speed but is still working on translating that into stolen bases. He does run well, something helps him a lot in centerfield, but he doesn’t bunt well and he needs to work more to take advantage of his speed. Ha does show the ability to be a good defensive centerfielder thanks to his outstanding range and above-average arm. So far in 2012, Ha has posted a .261/.329/.357 line with 19 doubles, 3 homers, 27 RBI, 7 of 10 stolen bases, and a 61-27 strikeout to walk ratio in 80 Double-A games. He has played 60 games in centerfield and 10 each at the corner outfield positions, combining for 8 assists at the three spots. Ha’s combination of present ability and some room to grow gives him a chance to contribute at the big league level for the Cubs.
And we finish the World Team’s outfielders with the wild card of the group, Diamondbacks prospect Alfredo Marte. Marte, a 6’0″, 190 23 year old out of the Dominican Republic, burst onto the scene with a big breakout season in 2012, posting a .294/365/.579 line with 19 doubles, 4 homers, 49 RBI, 5 0f 6 stolen bases, and a 44-17 strikeout to walk ratio in 65 games playing exclusively right field. Marte never hit even double-digit homers earlier in his minor league career, but he has finally honed his power stroke now. Marte features very good strength to go along with good bat speed, leading to excellent power. Marte’s swing does get long at times and he is also held back by just decent pitch recognition, hitting way too many pop-ups as he struggles to identify which pitches to drive. Marte is a solid-average runner with good instincts and has a solid right fielder’s arm. We’ll have to see if Marte can keep up his current level of performance, but it’s a good sign that he shot up from little-known prospect to the Futures Game.
That will do it for the players originally named to the World Team, but we have a couple more players who have been named to the team thanks to a couple of players getting called up to the big leagues. I talked about the World Team’s pitchers, catchers and middle infielders, and corner infielders as well.