Each weekday during the minor-league season, FanGraphs is providing a status update on multiple rookie-eligible players. Note that Age denotes the relevant prospect’s baseball age (i.e. as of July 1st of the current year); Top-15, the prospect’s place on Marc Hulet’s preseason organizational list; and Top-100, that same prospect’s rank on Hulet’s overall top-100 list.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Houston Astros
School: Cathedral Catholic HS
Status: Signed ($6.5M)
MiLB Debut – Gulf Coast League Astros – Gulf Coast League: In recent years the Astros have shipped their high school pitching draftees to an affiliate rather than keep them in extended spring training. In 2010 — before the Jeff Luhnow era — Michael Foltynewicz began his career with the Greeneville Astros in late June. Two years later, Lance McCullers Jr. would debut with the Gulf Coast league in July before advancing to Greeneville. Expect Aiken to follow suit. At best, Aiken could see the New York – Penn League by the end of the year.
Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox
School: North Carolina State
Status: Unsigned (Represented by Scott Boras)
MiLB Debut – Winston-Salem Dash – Carolina League: Last year, Dave Cameron discussed the leverage Mark Appel had in his negotiations with the Houston Astros. Rodon, considered by many to be the best talent in the draft, is in a similar situation as Appel. While Boras may scare some White Sox’s fans, it’s expected Rodon will sign. The most obvious development arc to compare Rodon to that of Chris Sale. Sale pitched 103 innings in his final season at Florida Gulf Coast before he made 4 starts at Winston-Salem and then 7 starts with Triple-A Charlotte. When he debuted on August 6th of that year, the White Sox were in first place and 62 and 47. Rodon had a similar college workload. In his final season with the Wolfpack he pitched 98 innings (injuries and a failed playoff birth limited the total). With the White Sox battling in the tight American League Central — the Twins, Indians and White Sox all have 33 losses, 1 less than Kansas City and 5 less than Detroit — it’s possible Rodon could join the team in August or September like Sale did. The White Sox’s bullpen is poor, the owners the third worst bullpen FIP, and Rodon would be an elite addition.
Michael Conforto, OF, Mets
School: Oregon State
Michael Conforto, OF
MiLB Debut – Brooklyn Cyclones – New York – Penn League: Conforto’s debut is interesting because, outside of Kevin Plawecki, the Mets have drafted high school position players in the early rounds during the Sandy Alderson era. Further, Conforto is a bat-only left fielder in an organization with poor hitting environments in the low minors. Conforto will debut in Brooklyn, but only briefly. Brooklyn serves the dual purpose of allowing the Mets to keep an eye on Conforto while also hyping him to the fan base. Like Plawecki, Conforto is an advanced hitter and should dominate the NYPL. However, left field in Brooklyn’s MCU Park overlooks the water and is death on left handed power. Skipping Brooklyn for Savannah may be unwise too, as it’s one of the least hitter friendly parks in the minor leagues. It would be in the Mets’ interest to send Conforto to St. Lucie after he gets his feet wet.
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