Archive for Prospects

Brad Buys Vladito

The central premise of this article – that I am a bellwether on elite prospects – is rather egotistical. You’ve been warned.

Over the years, one of my most consistent pieces of advice can be boiled down to the following:”y’all crazy about prospects.” I stand by it. You – as in people who aren’t me – need to calm the *&^% down about your prospects.

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New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Yankees system has some very promising prospects and lots of depth but no “can’t miss, impact talent”… at least not yet. There are definitely some candidates to earn that tag by the end of 2019.

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Jonathan Loaisiga | RHP | AAA —> Back in January, I picked Loaisiga as the biggest sleeper in the Yankees system. He made me look good by rising from obscurity, zooming through the minors and even reaching the big leagues. He has the chance to develop three plus offerings but the knock on him is his lack of physicality. And sure enough, he was hurt in 2018 not long after making his MLB debut. If he can hold up as a starter, Loaisiga has No. 2 starter potential. If not, he might end up as a high-leverage reliever.

2. Justus Sheffield | LHP | AAA —> Sheffield is another smallish pitcher but he’s stronger and more athletic than the pitcher above him. He also has a solid fastball-slider combination but the changeup needs a fair bit of polish to become an average offering. Sheffield also struggles with his control at times and I’ve heard that he could stand to be more mature. He gets a solid number of ground-ball outs to go with a health number of strikeouts. I see No. 3/4 starter potential here and he should be ready to pitch out of the Yankees starting rotation in 2019.

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Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Jays have a solid system and a great collection of hitters but I am worried about the general lack of development/advancement of a lot of the arms outside the Top 10 list.

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. | 3B | AAA —> You’ve probably already read a lot about Guerrero Jr… so I’ll keep this fairly short. He has the chance to hit for average, power, get on base at a crazy-high rate and be one of the top hitters in all of baseball. He has limited defensive value but his instincts allow him to play third base for now. I do worry about his conditioning as he matures and, if he doesn’t make some changes now, may start to decline in his early 30s.

2. Bo Bichette | SS | AA —> Bichette receives his fair share of attention but perhaps not as much as he would if he were not sharing the limelight with Guerrero Jr. The young shortstop has swiftly risen through the system and reached double-A in 2018 at the age of 20 — a significant accomplishment. He also more than held his own in a league with an average age around 24. His quick bat generates plenty of raw power but he has yet to become a prolific home run hitter; instead, he slugged 43 doubles (with seven triples and 11 homers) in 131 games. Bichette is an aggressive hitter so there will likely be adjustment periods at both the triple-A and MLB levels as more experienced pitchers exploit those tendencies. He has 20-20 potential.

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Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects Updated

The AL East is currently ruled by the Red Sox and, to some degree, the Yankees. The Rays have the talent to challenge both of them within the next three to five years… but will the organization ever step up and keep the players together long enough to win it all?

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Wander Franco | SS | SS —> Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays has seen a meteoric rise through pro ball and is on the cusp of reaching the Majors despite still being a teenager. Franco, another son of a former big leaguer, is just 17 but has also produced video-game-like numbers despite limited experience in pro ball. He showed an outstanding approach at the plate with a BB-K of 27-19 in 61 advanced rookie ball games. Franco also gets to more in-game power than most players his age. The sky is the limit for this young player but I also want to be a little cautious until I see him in full-season ball.

2. Brent Honeywell | RHP | INJ —> Honeywell appeared on a collision course with the big leagues in 2018 but Tommy John surgery derailed that hope. Now, he’ll hope to reach the Majors towards the end of 2019. The 23-year-old hurler has No. 2/3 starter potential with his potential above-average four-pitch mix, which includes a rare (plus) screwball. There are now some durability concerns with Honeywell, who is not a huge guy, but he’s also very athletic and a smart pitcher so those traits should help him as he moves forward.

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Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Boston Red Sox were a powerhouse team in 2018 at the Major League level but the minor league system is anything but… The system lacks both depth and impact players. With that said, there are definitely some players that project to contribute at the big league level and might even be able to handle every-day roles if the raw, toolsy players realize their full potentials.

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Michael Chavis | 3B | AAA —> Injuries kept Chavis from following up on his breakout 2017 campaign and, in some regards, he took some steps back while battling through a difficult year. He continued to show impressive in-game power and stung the ball with line-drives all over the place. However, the strikeout rate increased after he made some strides in that area last year. He produced a good batting average but the BABIP he produced is likely unsustainable in the long run. Defensively, he’s blocked at third base and it may not be his best position anyway and he may end up on the right side of the diamond.

2. Tanner Houck | RHP | A+ —> Houck is a divisive prospect… some see frontline starter, others see high-leverage reliever. The talent, as well as a strong pitcher’s frame, is there but command issues keep him from missing as many bats as he should. He also has a strong one-two punch with his fastball and slider but the curveball is inconsistent and the changeup is still very much a work-in-progress. Without a strong change-of-pace, he might shift to the ‘pen but I’m on the side that sees improvements coming a future in the starting rotation — even if it’s more of a mid-rotation, innings-eater.

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To The Victor Victor Go The Spoils

really wanted an excuse to use that headline. This post isn’t directly about Victor Mesa Jr. and Victor Victor Mesa, although I will be referencing their scouting reports. Also, there’s a fun pun-ish connection between the headline and my conclusion. Layers!

I’ve already botched this intro. Let’s pretend I wrote a normal paragraph laying out today’s topic is a cogent manner. Oh! The topic is “y’all too &@%*ing crazy about prospects.” Proceed.

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Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Orioles rebuild has begun but, so far, the prospect returns have been fairly underwhelming. The system still needs a lot of work but there are at least a few interesting prospects.

1. Grayson Rodriguez | RHP | R —> Rodriguez was a huge pop-up guy in the 2018 draft and ended up being selected 11th overall. He’s a monster on the mound with the ability to hit the upper 90s but he should eventually grow into more consistent upper 90s. His slider also has the makings of a plus offering and he should be average ratings out of his curve and/or changeup. Rodriguez, 18, has the body to be an innings-eater and the stuff to be a front-line guy. On the downside, he doesn’t have the most athletic delivery and I don’t love the arm action, which could limit his overall command.

2. Ryan Mountcastle | 3B | AA —> It’s been a slow climb for Mountcastle, as a former prep pick, but showed well in double-A in 2018 and could be ready for the Majors at some point in 2019. He’s shown the ability to hit for average and has 15-20 homer potential (more if he added additional muscle to his frame) but he needs to be less aggressive at the plate. He walked just 26 times in 102 games and waiting for better pitches to hit could really help him continue to improve and let him tap into his raw power. He also struggles against the bender.

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Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Braves have steadily fed their big league roster with talent from the minors but they continue to have the best prospect depth in the National League East.

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Mike Soroka | RHP | AAA —> Although he’s not a flame-thrower, Soroka has everything you look for in a young pitcher — and future top-rotation arm. He still has a solid fastball in the 92-95 mph range, as well as two other above-average offerings. His control is above-average for his age and his command should be above-average in time. The biggest concern with the 6-5 hurler is his lack of durability and the shoulder issues that wiped out a good portion of his season. If healthy in 2019, he should be a solid contributor to the Braves’ rotation.

2. Ian Anderson | RHP | AA —> Like Soroka, Anderson has a three-pitch mix that should be better-than-average and his fastball ranges between 92-95 mph. The 20-year-old doesn’t have the above-average control, but it didn’t keep him from striking out 142 batters in 119.1 innings. He allows an average number of fly balls but did an excellent job of keeping balls in the park with just two homers allowed. Anderson has a solid pitcher’s frame and could a solid innings-eater as a No. 2-3 starter.

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Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Nationals system has a few impact players but has a significant lack of depth — especially amongst the arms.

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Victor Robles | OF | AAA —> Robles spent much of the year on the sidelines dealing with injuries while fellow outfield prospect Juan Soto zoomed to the Majors and had a major impact. If healthy in 2019, Robles should have a strong year, too, and has the ability to impact the game in almost every aspect. He is extremely athletic and has a chance to hit for average, power (although this will be his last tool to fully develop), steal a ton of bases and play plus defence.

2. Carter Kieboom | SS | AA —> Kieboom split the year between A-ball and double-A while showing solid offensive potential. And he has yet to fully tap into his raw power, which is manifesting more as gap pop right now. He also has a chance to produce above-average on-base numbers. Defensively, he has a chance to be an average shortstop but may eventually move to third base.

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Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects Updated

The Phillies have a pitching-heavy Top 10 list but there are some intriguing bats sprinkled in — including Alex Bohm, who could develop into a middle-of-the-order power threat.

Click here for the pre-season Top 10

1. Sixto Sanchez | RHP | A+ —> Sanchez’s pitch-ability belies his age. The 20-year-old takes advantage of above-average athleticism which helps him throw a solid number of strikes and also do a good of commanding his three-pitch mix (including a mid-to-high-90s fastball). His change-up and curve give him two other weapons that should be better than average. Standing just 6-feet, durability is a concern and he missed a good chunk of 2018 with elbow issues.

2. Alec Bohm | 3B | SS —> A monster at the plate at 6-5, 225 pounds, Bohn went third overall in the 2018 draft due to his intriguing mix of hitting ability and power. He has a chance to hit for a solid average while also taking a healthy number of walks. Bohm, 22, will have increased value if he can stick at third base but he’s not known as a strong defender and may have to shift to first base. Either way, his offensive abilities should allow him to move quickly and he could open 2019 in high-A ball.

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