Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14

Alexi Amarista, IF/OF, San Diego Padres
Current Level: MLB
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 8th (Angels)
Current Value: MLB ready

Recently acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in the deal that sent Ernesto Frieri to the American League, Amarista offers some skills that play very well in San Diego: speed, versatility and defense. The 23-year-old has spent parts of three seasons in triple-A, never hitting below .278. Because he makes a lot of contact, Amarista produces low walk rates and he offers no home-run pop but he does have surprising gap power for his size (listed at 5’7”). Amarista is a great left-handed hitting 25th man for a National League club but he could receive an opportunity for regular playing time now that incumbent second baseman Orlando Hudson has been cut loose. He has the potential to steal 20-30 bases in a full season.

Robert Carson, LHP, New York Mets
Current Level: MLB
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: NR
Current Value: Increasing

Carson showed some promise as a starter early in his pro career but found the going much tougher once he reached the double-A level. A move to the bullpen seems to have rejuvenated his career and he was rewarded for a strong start to the 2012 season with a recent promotion to the Majors. Still just 23, the lefty has a big, strong pitcher’s frame at 6’4” 240 lbs. He’s been commanding the ball much better in the bullpen although his days of above-average ground-ball rates appear to behind him and he’s now much more vulnerable to the home run. Carson is probably not quite ready for the Majors but he might be able to hold his own against left-handed hitters. His ceiling is probably that of a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever.

C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
Current Level: A+
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 3rd
Current Value: Heating Up

You can excuse the Angels’ slugging 2011 first round draft pick for having a slow start to the 2012 season. Given a promotion to high-A ball to begin the year, Cron is coming back from serious knee surgery to repair a dislocated knee cap and he also played last year with a tear in his shoulder labrum (which did not require surgery). The 22-year-old prospect hit just .202 in April with an OPS of .598. He’s rebounded so far in May to hit .339 with an OPS of .892. Cron does not possess much defensive value so his worth is tied almost solely to his bat. Despite the slow start he still looks like a future offensive beast.

Jason Esposito, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
Current Level: A
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 7th
Current Value: Looking Up

The Orioles’ second round draft pick out of Vanderbilt University was known as a defensive stalwart first and hitter second. The early returns on his pro career have mirrored those sentiments. Esposito hit just .221 with a .586 OPS in April but he’s warmed up along with the weather in May. He’s hit .333 with an .827 OPS so far this month. His strikeouts have also plummeted from 24 in 22 games to just seven in 15 contests. A right-handed hitter, Esposito has been killing southpaws so far this year with an OPS of .983 compared to .568 versus right-handers. As a college product from a top collegiate program the infielder should be dominating the low-A league.

Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Current Level: AA
2012 Top 15 Prospects Ranking: 2nd
Current Value: Looking for Consistency

It’s been a bit of an inconsistent year for Seattle’s top draft pick from 2011 – selected second overall – as he’s battled control issues. The southpaw walked just one batter in his last start (7.0 IP) but had issued 11 free passes in his previous two games (11.1 IP). He’s struggled with controlling the ball while facing right-handed hitters, having issued 19 of his 24 walk against them (a combined 30.2 innings). Hultzen, 22, has still been dominant, though, with just 20 hits allowed in 44.2 innings of work. He’s also struck out 44 batters. To be fair, he’s been asked to make his pro debut at a high level of competition, having started out in the double-A Southern League. Once Hultzen solves his control issues, he should face a quick rise to the Majors where he has the ability to become a top-of-the-rotation starter.


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