Baseball Factory Alumni On Baseball America’s 2017 Top 10 Prospects List: A.L. West
We continue our weekly look at Baseball America’s 2017 Top 10 Prospects Index, ranking each major league team’s top players as well as the team’s farm system. This week, we’ll take a look at Baseball Factory alumni from the American League West.
Players from across the country have attended Baseball Factory player events, ranging from Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tryouts to the Under Armour All-America Game.
Rankings are prioritized by Baseball America and numbered 1 through 10 for each team. Let’s take a look at Baseball Factory’s alumni from the American League West, where a total of 10 players land on this week’s list.
Kyle Tucker- OF (BA Rank: #2)
Tucker was selected in the first round (5th overall) in 2015 out of H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, FL. Before being drafted the Florida native had committed to the University of Florida following his older brother Preston Tucker, who was drafted in 2012.
In his first professional season in Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League in a combined 63 games, he hit .246 with three homers, 33 RBI and 18 stolen bases. Last season, he spent a majority with Low-A Quad Cities hitting .276 with 56 RBI and 31 stolen bases before a late advancement to High-A Lancaster where he hit .339 in 16 games. According to CBS Sports, Astros manager, A.J. Hinch said Tucker will receive playing time in the major league spring training games.
The 2015 Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year appeared in the Under Armour All- America Game in 2014 where he showed his athleticism and solid approach at bat.
Forrest Whitley – RHP (BA Rank: #6)
The Astros snagged Whitley with the 17th overall selection in last year’s draft out of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, TX, as the 6’7″, 240 pound righty pitched in eight games with the Astros’ rookie level squads in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues.
Whitley, a 2015 Under Armour All-American, made six starts in his two stops, showing a nice strikeout rate versus walks, picking up 26 strikeouts and walking just six in just 18 2/3 combined innings.
Los Angeles Angels
Nate Smith- LHP (BA Rank: #5)
Smith was selected in the eighth round in 2013 out of Furman University. The 6’3 210-pounder has steadily climbed his way through the organization.
After an impressive 2015 season, starting with Double-A Arkansas and a late promotion to Triple-A Salt Lake with a five-pitch mix inventory, the 24-year old has made a strong impression within the organization. Last season, Smith struck out 122 batters in 150.1 innings with Triple-A Salt Lake.
The Angles selected his contract in November and the former 2008 Team One North participant could see time in the majors this upcoming season.
Grant Holmes- RHP (BA Rank: #6)
The former first round pick (22nd overall) in 2014 by the Dodgers out of Conway High School in South Carolina, Holmes was part of the deal to the A’s with two other prospects at last year’s trade deadline, for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.
After a 2015 season spent with Low-A Great Lakes where he went 6-4 with a 3.14 ERA, striking out 117 batters in 103.1 innings, Holmes started with High-A Rancho Cucamonga in the Dodgers organization, pitching to a 4.02 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 105.1 innings and then, assigned to High-A Stockton after the trade.
In 2012 Holmes attended the Team One Future Series East Event and was named an Under Armour All-American in 2013 as a junior in high school.
Daniel Altavilla – RHP (BA Rank: #9)
At the 9 spot out of Mercyhurst University, Altavilla was selected in the 5th round in 2014. The Pennsylvania native attended an Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tryout in McKees Rocks, PA in 2010 as a junior in high school.
Getting his first taste of the majors late last season, the righty has climbed his way through the organization as he has earned a spot in the Mariners’ bullpen in 2017. He began pitching from the stretch full-time as his fastball improved from 93-95 mph as a starter to 96-98 and touching 100 as a reliever. For the Mariners last season, Altavilla was very good, finishing with a 0.73 ERA and striking out 10 batters in 12 1/3 innings.
Daniel Vogelbach- 1B (BA Rank: #10)
At the No.10 spot out of Bishop Verot High School in Florida, Daniel was selected in the second round (68th overall) in 2011 by the Chicago Cubs. The North Fort Myers, Florida native attended Baseball Factory’s Team One South Showcase and the Under Armour Pre-Season All-America Event, both in 2010.
The Mariners acquired Vogelbach and right-hander Paul Blackburn from the Cubs in exchange for left-hander Mike Montgomery and righty Jordan Pries at the deadline last season.
Before being called up to the majors late last season, he averaged a combined .292/.417/.505 stat line with 25 doubles, 23 homers and 96 RBI. Vogelbach made his major league debut on September 12th for the Mariners last season and according to Baseball America, will contend for a platoon share of the Mariners’ first-base job in 2017.
Cole Ragans- LHP (BA Rank: #4)
Ragans was drafted out of North Florida Christian High School was drafted in the first round (30th overall) last year. He finished his high school career 16-4 with a 0.90 ERA.
Ragans appeared in four games (two starts) with the Rangers Arizona League team. According to Baseball America, there are talks of sending Ragans to Low-A Hickory in 2017. Ragans possesses a low-90 mph fastball with two promising secondary pitches; a change-up and curve.
The Florida native attended an Under Armour Baseball Factory College Prep event in his hometown of Tallahassee, FL in 2014.
Josh Morgan- 3B/SS (BA Rank: #6)
Morgan enters his fourth minor league season with Texas, as the 21-year old was drafted in the third round in 2014 out of Orange Lutheran High School in California. He participated in the 2012 Team One Futures Series West and 2012 Ryan Lemmon Sophomore Showcase.
In 128 games at the Rangers Advanced A-class High Desert last season, Morgan had a slash line of .300/.367/.394 with seven home runs, 64 RBI and 74 runs scored.
He spent most of 2016 at third base and played the position well, though he got reps at shortstop and second base, too. He has the instincts, hands and feet to play second or third, with a above-average arm.
Ronald Guzman – 1B (BA Rank: #7)
The native of La Vega in the Dominican Republic, Guzman enjoyed his best season of his professional career to date, as the 21-year-old slashed .274/.333/.449 with 16 home runs, 21 doubles and six triples between the Double-A Frisco Roughriders and his promotion to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out 2016.
Guzman was one of the youngest to ever play in the Under Armour All-America Game, participating in the 2010 game as a 15-year old and holding his own against older competition.
Alex Speas- RHP (BA Rank: #8)
The right-hander out of McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia was drafted in the second round in last year’s draft.
Speas pitched just 8 1/3 innings, making three starts (four appearances) with 11 strikeouts on the Rangers’ Arizona League team.
According to Baseball America, he throws a power slider in the mid-80s that has the highest probability of developing into an out pitch. He’s still learning to throw his changeup because he didn’t need it much in high school. Getting Speas to make the mechanical adjustments to throw more strikes will be key.
In 2014, Speas attended the Under Armour Futures South Showcase and in 2015 participated in the Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament before being named and starting on the mound at the Under Armour All America Game at Wrigley Field.