The holy grail of player scouting and development is for a team to find a player that has to so-called “five tools” – that is, they can hit, hit for power, run, throw and field.
Many players have one, two, or three of these tools and can sometimes make passable use of the other tools to a lesser degree. Where they lack some of those five tools, teams can often make adjustments and use roster management to make up for the deficiency.
But ultimately, the goal of every organization and their scouts is to find and recruit or draft a “five-tools” player who excels in all of these areas. We present a list of current top five-tools players in the Bull League:
5. CARLOS MENDOZA, RF (RIMOUSKI)
Although now entering the twilight of his baseball career, 35-year-old Carlos Mendoza consistently demonstrated throughout his career that he had, and to a certain degree still has, all five tools available in his arsenal.
Mendoza’s career average of .297 ranks him 40th among players all-time. His 172 home runs put him in the top 30, above Hall of Fame greats like Barry Bats and Mark Fernandes, and approaching Chuck Provost’s 176. Aside from hitting, and hitting for power, he has been an impeccable fielder, winning 5 Platinum Glove Awards at right field, where he is still acknowledged as having one of the strongest arms at that position and a career zone rating of +97.6. Finally, his speed is still among the best in the league, and during his California years he regularly stole a dozen or more bases in successive seasons.
His steals pace has slackened off lately, but he still regularly swipes a base here and there and has tallied 154 over his career, along with over 250 doubles, placing him in the top 15 all-time in that category.
Mendoza, a five-time all-star, has never won an MVP award (though he came close, placing 3rd in 2011), but his work ethic and conditioning has virtually assured a place in the Hall of Fame after he retires. Whenever that may be.
4. GLEN REESE, CF (DENVER)
This young center fielder has barely begun his baseball career, but has already demonstrated that he has all the tools he needs to succeed in the Bull League.
In this fourth season at the major-level, he is maintaining a batting average of .304, and has hit double-digit home runs every year since 2016. He is projecting to hit over 20 this year. While his arm is not as legendary as the veteran, Mendoza, it’s still more than adequate and he has tallied 20 outfield assists and 4 double plays in his career. He’s got speed as well, with a dozen steals this year, 20 career triples, and over 100 doubles.
The 25-year-old has made two all-star appearances, has won the Gold Crown at left field, and was voted 2nd for the AEL MVP award in 2016. Reese is a proven five-tools player with loads of mileage left in his career.
3. KATAI ‘TWO DOGS’ KITAGAWA, CF (St. PETERSBURG)
The St. Pete’s Admirals have a load of talent on their roster, and with sluggers like Takeo Otomo and Chris Pratt in the lineup, it’s easy to overlook just how much talent their regular leadoff guy has. But Katai Kitagawa is not just a speedy contact hitter, he’s also a power-hitting Platinum Glove winning outfielder with a gun of an arm.
The 24-year-old has hit over .300 in his last two seasons, and is flirting with .350 this year. His career average since his 2014 debut is .323. While he was not a big swinging power hitter in his first three seasons, he knocked in 15 home runs last season and is on track to achieve double-digits again this year. He has neared 20 steals a season since last year, and can regularly leg out extra base hits. He is up to 29 doubles and 7 triples this year.
Kitagawa won his first Platinum Glove in CF last season, and has yet to commit an error at that position this season. He’s got 13 career assists from CF, along with 3 double plays. His fielding percentage is and impressive .997, again checking off all five tools.
2. EVANDRO ‘Mutton Chops’ CERIGO, RF (MINNEAPOLIS)
Signed just this spring as an international free agent out of Venezuela, Cerigo has delivered incredible offense and defense to the Minneapolis Ravens all year, quickly cementing himself as a genuine five-tools player within the league.
So far he is batting in the mid-.270’s, and had toyed with .300 around the all-star break. Speaking of the all-star break, Cerigo went 2-for-2 in the All-Star Game, legging out a triple. He hits for power as well, and leads is 2nd on the Ravens in home runs, behind Gabel Reyes. Aside from hitting and hitting for power, he has demonstrated great speed, both in his outfield range and in stretching out base hits into doubles or triples. Only David Baker has more doubles on the team, and he is tied with speedy teammate Roberto Castro in triples.
Cerigo’s arm is an absolute cannon, already racking up 11 assists this season. He has faltered a bit with his fielding at times, committing three errors so far this year, but with his range and glove he has still managed an impressive .978 fielding percentage and +2.1 zone rating.
Cerigo is still young, at 25, and should continue to develop and demonstrate those five tools for years to come.
1. JOSE ‘RACETRACK’ RAMIREZ, LF (MONTREAL)
It is not by accident that all five of the top “five-tools” players are outfielders, and the #1 player is no different. Jose Ramirez continues to consistently demonstrate all five tools, both in his 2 years at the major-level, and his minor league seasons on the path to the top.
Ramirez won the 2017 Carl Simms MVP Award for the LL after posting a league-best .342 average, swatting 10 home runs, legging out 38 doubles and 8 triples, and stealing 9 bases. His WAR of 6.2 was the top in the Lake League. This year, he is on track to best his 10 home runs, and has tallied nearly a dozen steals. While his batting average dipped to the high .280’s, this was mainly due to a rough slump at the beginning of the year, which he seems to have overcome. He now regularly has multi-hit games, and is currently on a lengthy hitting streak of over a dozen games.
Ramirez is the real deal, and boasts the fielding skills, powerful arm, and speed to complement his great contact swing and ability to hit home runs.
Look for Ramirez to once again be in the conversation for the MVP award this season.