Author Archives: joshs0515
Tuesday night featured three separate four-hit performances by a couple of baseball’s top organizational prospects in Ozzie Albies and Jesse Winker, as well as Cuban player Randy Arozarena. Elsewhere, Red Sox first base prospect Sam Travis was called up to show off just how proficient a hitter he really is.
4-5, 1 2B, 1 R, 0 K
From Rookie ball through Double A, Ozzie Albies was gaining significant steam as one of the game’s top offensive up-the-middle prospects. At the time, prior to the acquisition of Dansby Swanson, Albies was a shortstop prospect with offensive upside. – now he’s being groomed at second base. Generally when you’re this type of the player, the buzz will find you. And it did. The Braves bought in and it didn’t take long for Albies to be aggressively promoted from an impressive 82-game run in Double A to Triple-A Gwinnett as a 19-year-old last season.
Albies played his last 52 games of 2016 in Triple A and looked a little overmatched – nothing to bring about serious concern, however. The Braves decided to return Albies to Gwinnett this season and the results had been marginally better but Tuesday night represented a break out for one of the game’s top prospects. Albies collected four hits including a first-inning double from the leadoff spot. The four hits tied a career high in pro ball for Albies to and more importantly might be the start of Albies deciphering Triple-A pitching.
The point here is, Albies worked his way into Triple A as a teenager. The Braves never really gave him a chance to slump. He hit and hit and hit from level to level until he was slowed down, finally, in Gwinnett. At 20, he’ll be able to counter the current game plan on his approach and should be due in the Majors as soon as next season – with performances like Tuesday’s a frequent occurrence.
The Minnesota Twins enter the 2017 draft with three of the top 40 picks. Their farm system is Possibilities flush with talent thanks in part to multiple last-place finishes in the AL Central. While that system has started to bear fruit thanks to the young hitting talent they have drafted and signed in the late aughts, their pitching is arguably the bigger draw. Although these pitchers have yet to reach Triple-A, it’s clear that the Twins have a special staff waiting in the wings. Draft picks Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Jay and Nick Burdi have a chance to follow 2012 first rounder Jose Berrios and strengthen what was arguably the Twins’ biggest weakness.
Picks on Day 1: 1, 35, 37
With that being said, the Twins still stand to be in a “have your cake and eat it” position, thanks in part to a horrific 2016 and a lower payroll. The Twins own the first overall pick, a competitive balance pick, and the first pick in Round 2. With those three picks, the Twins stand a solid chance of bolstering their farm system with a trio of high-level prospects.
The General Manager: Thad Levine
While this is Levine’s first job as a General Manager, it isn’t his first time in a front office. Before joining the Twins, Levine served as the Assistant General Manager of the Texas Rangers. It was during his time in the Rangers organization that the team departed from a philosophy of exclusively buying expensive free agents and instead opted to develop a hybrid team of free agents and homegrown products. While the Rangers have a better track record with international products including Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, and Yu Darvish, their domestic products have value as they have been highly coveted in trades. In their 2016 push for the postseason, they traded top prospect Lewis Brinson and 2014 first rounder Luis Ortiz to the Brewers in a package for Jeremy Jeffress and Jonathan Lucroy. They also traded their first round pick in 2015, Dillon Tate to the Yankees for Carlos Beltran.
Levine comes from an organization that values upside and is willing to take risks, as However, one has to wonder if that culture followed him to Minnesota. One would think that he would be instrumental in implementing a philosophy he learned in Texas, especially since ownership does not appear to be very “hands on” when it comes to personnel. Still, if we’ve learned anything from watching first-time general managers, its that anything is possible.
Monday night featured some great performances by 2016 signees and draftee, in Cionel Perez and A.J. Puk, respectively. The headliner on the evening, though, was Jose Marmolejos of the Nationals who vaulted his Double-A team into the lead with a ninth-inning, go-ahead grand slam in a 14-13 slugfest. The homer was his fifth hit on the evening. Elsewhere, in Triple-A, Matt Olson kept on slugging when he homered yet again – his 11th home run this season.
5-6, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI
Jose Marmolejos is the Nationals best-kept secret, it appears. For two years in a row, he’s captured the honor of being named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Over the course of the past couple of seasons, this farm has been abundant in talent, so for Marmolejos to emerge as one of its best producers in back-to-back seasons, amidst stellar talent, is saying something serious. This season, yet again, he’s racking up the same kinds of results that got the top nod in the first place. He’s slashing .385/.405/.641 in nine Double-A games – he started the year on the disabled list.
Marmolejos was likely due for his first taste of Triple-A ball if it weren’t for that strained left forearm that cost him much of Spring Training and the start of the season. That robust slash line does represent a 24-year-old man out to reclaim a spot on the 40-man roster that was taken away from him after the team’s tardy signing of then-free agent catcher Matt Wieters.
With that being said, you probably haven’t heard of him, but you are now. On Monday night, Marmolejos went 5 for 6 and smashed his second homer of the season, and drove in five runs – four of which came on a dramatic go-ahead grand slam in the ninth inning to grant the Senators a 14-13 lead.
You don’t see him too high on organizational lists because he is without a “wow” tool. He’s a sold hitter who makes regular contact, but as a primary first baseman, he lacks power and doesn’t contain the frame that convinces you he’ll grow into it one day. He’s athletic enough to be a corner outfielder and he’s got a good chance to be a contributory bench bat with a chance for even a little more.
Today’s top prospects looks into Corey Ray, Nick Senzel, Luis Ortiz, Jose De Leon. Every name on today’s list is near the top of the organizational top prospect list and has a significant chance of making an MLB impact.
3-3, 1 2B, 2 BB, 2 RBI
One of the Brewers’ top prospects, and their first-round selection in the most recent draft, Corey Ray, has gotten off to a sluggish start in his High-A home in Carolina this year. Injuries had much to do with this after he missed the first few weeks of the season, but it’s evident Ray’s climbing back into the minds of the folks who saw four- or even five-tool potential here.
On Tuesday night, Ray had one of his best games of the young season. No one on the Down East Wood Ducks staff was able to get Ray out. He finished the game 3 for 3, recorded his 11th double of the year, and walked two other times. It was encouraging to see his plate discipline on display, too. In the early going, Ray’s striking out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances – and has struck out at least twice in five of his last 10 games.
Because of his gifted speed, he’s carrying a contact-first approach to the plate that many evaluators believe is some of the reason as to why Ray is swinging and missing too often. This would lend optimists hope that, if Ray is willing to lessen that approach, he can take more pitches and sit on those he can drive, tapping into more power that he appears to be capable of.
Last nights prospects saw emerging superstars burst through the night. All of Mitchell White, Dustin Fowler, and Shed Long were all on the breakout short list coming into the year and all have been delivering at a very high level.
7 Innings Pitched – 3 Hits – 1 Earned Run – 8 Strike Outs
White has been on a blistering path to be one of the nation’s top prospects. Outings such as this only help that agenda logging more strikeouts than innings while reducing the batters on the base path. White ultimate was leading the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes over the Visalia Rawhide in a 2-1 win on Monday. White started out the game by grounding out the first five batters with the initial three going to first baseman Ibandel Isabel.
White had Tommy John surgery back in high school, but he has fully recovered from it and is throwing just as hard as he was pre-surgery. White has very good stuff and it could carry him up the promotion ladder of the minor leagues. He has a mid-90s fastball, which probably isn’t his best pitch even though it does have some good movement in addition to the velocity. His best pitch may be his cutter that sits in the high-80s and can make hitters look silly at times. His third pitch is a curveball which is still improving and he has a changeup, but that pitch is still in development so to speak. White has a good build, standing at 6’4 and just over 200 lbs, which is exactly what you want in a starting pitcher. His command has been improving with each season he puts the surgery behind him and right now the command would be graded at about average.
White is currently listed as the Dodgers #13 prospect but that number appears to be incredibly too low for his level of talent. White will easily end the year inside the top 100 prospects in baseball with an outside chance of reaching the top 30.
This weekend saw some good performances by all different types of prospects. Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies’ top prospect, had a fantastic day at the plate on Sunday. Unheralded prospects Chance Adams and Lucas Sims both had great outings. Kyle Lloyd made history on Saturday and Tony Kemp had a solid day at the plate.
4 at-bats-4 hits-3 runs-2 RBI-1 Home Run
Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies top prospect, continued raking at High-A on Sunday. Rodgers batting average sits at .418 after a 4 hit day on Sunday. Rodgers got off to an exciting start in his first at-bat, hitting a triple off of Logan Shore. Rodgers would come across to score when the next batter grounded out. Rodgers’ next at-bat would come in the 3rd inning and he would single up the middle. He would tally another single in the 5th inning, this time into left field. Rodgers would have a productive at-bat in the 6th inning, hitting a sac fly to right field. In Rodgers’ final at-bat, the big hit would come, a home run to centerfield, capping a big day at the plate for Rodgers.
As mentioned before, Rodgers is hitting at a .418 clip to start 2017 in High-A. The 3rd overall pick by the Rockies in the 2015 draft, Rodgers has had eyes on him throughout his career and thus far is living up to the hype. Last year he spent the entire season in the Sally league and hit 19 home runs, showcasing his power. Rodgers’ power has yet to come to fruition in High-A, only hitting 3 so far, including the one he hit on Sunday. Perhaps the 19 home runs could be attributed to playing in hitter friendly Asheville last season, but Rodgers has power no matter what park he is in. Rodgers probably can’t wait to hit in Coors Field, but he will probably have to wait at least until late 2018 at best.
Tuesday’s top prospects featured big performances from some of baseball’s most highly touted up-and-comers. The recently promoted Ronald Acuna of the Braves was one of the night’s highlights after a big Double-A debut. One of the Mets top prospects, Dominic Smith, bopped his way out of a slump. Wiry Cleveland righty Triston McKenzie struck out a career-high 14 batters. And Angels lefty Nate Smith made his season debut and pitched a steady 5 2/3 scoreless innings, with dreams of a spot in the big league rotation looming ever closer.
3-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Strikeouts were never exactly a concern for one of the Braves’ top prospects, Ronald Acuna. He’s always demonstrated patience at the plate and has a history of drawing his walks, that’s why his start to his first season of High-A ball was a little surprising. Acuna was striking out over 30 percent of the time while walking less than seven percent of the time; both numbers were far apart from career norms.
That’s why his promotion to Double-A Mississippi was such a surprise. On Tuesday, the Braves decided to let Acuna try his hand at a much tougher level of competition. He didn’t disappoint. Acuna in his Double-A debut belted a two-run home run in his first at-bat. He collected two more hits on the night and made the Braves brass look like geniuses in the very early going.
The aggressive promotion to Double-A was intriguing. Clearly, in the past, Acuna has exemplified proper bat approach and by all accounts appeared to have a great eye, so his walk and strikeout rates in High-A were surely set to normalize soon. One of the game’s best and most under-the-radar prospects is accruing some well-deserved hype after an exciting debut in Double-A.
Thursday saw some very good pitching performances by different types of prospects. Kolby Allard and Michael Kopech went head-to-head in Double-A while pitchers Scott Blewett and Anthony Banda both had impressive games in different levels.
6 innings pitched-3 hits-0 Runs Allowed-11 strikeouts
Kolby Allard was dominant once again on Thursday night, lowering his season ERA in Double-A to 1.36. Allard keeps on showcasing his talent and it doesn’t matter what level it is, he has looked untouchable. Facing another top prospect in Michael Kopech, Allard brought his A game and it paid dividends. Allard would strike out 2 batters in each of the first 2 innings and would continue this dominance throughout the game. He did not get into much trouble the entire game, spreading out 3 singles through the 6 frames, only allowing 1 at most in an inning. Allard would leave the game after 6, but not after striking out 11 batters, tying his career high. Allard’s pitch count was 95 when he left the game.
Allard is one of the Brave’s top pitching prospects and made the jump directly from Low-A to Double-A this season and to Allard there doesn’t seem to be a difference between the levels. He is just as dominant this year as he was last year in Low-A. Allard keeps upping the ante and putting out better performance after better performance.
There were some nice pitching performances across all levels Monday night, but Chance Adams’ continued domination over his Double-A competition stood out most. Royals top prospect Josh Staumont also found his way back onto our daily lists because he recorded 12 more strikeouts in a single outing yesterday and was throwing more strikes than ever. Offensively, Yandy Diaz and Magneuris Sierra each had themselves big days at the plate and are helping skeptics believe they’re turning corners in their own respective ways.
6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K
This is Chance Adams’ second full season as a starter and the results do not vary, they’re just dominant. Through six innings of work on Monday night, Adams allowed just two hits and no runs to the Harrisburg Senators. He did walk three but struck out five over that span, too. It’s not unlike Adams to walk his fair share of opposition, and his three walks Monday aren’t a surprise, but it’s easier to brush them aside when he effortlessly forces soft contact with a solid mid-90s fastball that can touch 97 mph at times and a slider that moves plenty from side to side in the mid-80s.
In addition to Adams’ fastball-slider combo, he nicely rounds out his repertoire as a starting pitching candidate for the Yankees by mixing in an average changeup and curveball that’s under construction.
Adams is generally regarded as a top 10 prospect in this deep Yankees farm system, and is featured at No. 9 on our own list. This season so far, Adams is mowing down his Double-A competition and at this rate he might warrant an end-of-the-year promotion to Scranton.
This weekend saw some very impressive offensive showings as Carter Kieboom put on a fireworks display for Hagerstown and Dustin Fowler hit for the cycle. The Braves’ young pitching depth continued to show their force, this time it was Sean Newcomb with the dominant outing. Francisco Mejia would go deep for the first time in 2017.
7 at-bats- 5 hits- 3 Home Runs- 5 RBIs- 4 runs scored
Nationals’ shortstop prospect Carter Kieboom had himself a day on Sunday. He went 5-7 with 3 home runs in Hagerstown’s beating of Lexington, 22-4, on the same day the Nationals put down a similar score against the Mets. Kieboom began his 5 hit day with a double to left field in the first inning. Kieboom would hit his first home run of the day to left center in the 3rd inning and would follow that up with another home run in the 4th inning. He would fly out in the 5th and then in the 7th would hit his 3rd home run of the night, this one a solo shot. Kieboom would tack on a single later in the game and would get out again in the 9th, popping out to the catcher. Kieboom would finish the day with only 5 RBIs, as there weren’t many runners on base when he hit the home runs.
Kieboom is the Nationals #4 prospect, according to Baseball Ranks. The shortstop is one of three Kieboom brothers playing pro ball and is very raw, but there is a lot to like about him. He has legit bat speed and he flashed his power today. Defensively he is average, but he has plenty of time to improve upon that aspect of his game. Kieboom is only 19 and he definitely turned some heads today with his epic game.
For the second straight year, the Texas Rangers ran away with the AL West with a 95-67 record, and for the second straight year, they failed to make it out of the division series, getting swept by their new arch rival, the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite the repeat result, 2016 was an encouraging year for the Rangers. Older, broken down players like Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton stepped aside, leading to younger players like Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara to start the Rangers identity overhaul. Ace pitcher Yu Darvish finally came back from injury to contribute down the stretch as well, and late season additions Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy ensured that the Rangers would be the AL West’s only postseason representative. And who could forget Matt Bush? The former number 1 pick, who had seen his career bottom out due to addiction and legal troubles, found a home with the Rangers, and became a key part of their bullpen during the season.
Positional players are currently made of both experienced veterans and young phenoms who could be the faces of the franchise moving forward. Jonathan Lucroy is only entering his second season with the club, but has hit the 30-years mark and is an expiring contract. Adrian Beltre is nearing 40 and will likely play out his newly signed contract before hanging up the cleats for good. There are a handful of openings available, but also a number locked up moving forward. Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus are both inked for the next six seasons and prospects Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar have become regular contributors in the everyday lineup. The club is set up in a favorable position if they can reload at the voiding positions in the next couple years.
Texas Rangers’ Minor League System
The Jonathon Lucroy and Carlos Beltran trades saw a great deal of prospects moved to both the Brewers and the Yankees, including 2012. 2014, and 2015 first rounders Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Dillon Tate. In spite of this, organizational rankings put Texas in the middle of the pack. This isn’t to say the Rangers farm system is lacking, in fact, it shows that the remaining Rangers’ prospects do have significant value. With Mazara completely shattering expectations of who he is and Matt Bush’s revival, it’s clear that once the system repopulates from the Lucroy and Beltran deals, the Rangers could once again be a top 10 organization.
The Rangers’ system is very well represented internationally, with their top 5 players all ISD products, and their 2016 draft gave them two top ten prospects as well. Texas has done a lot better with international prospects in the past three years, and it’s likely that that trend will continue. A number of the top options, Leody Tavares and Cole Ragans, remain a few years away from any real contributions at the top level. However, there is a fair mix of players ready to make an impact: Jose Leclerc, Yohander Mendez, and Jose Trevino.
After yesterday’s performance by names you normally don’t see storming up prospect rankings, today the well touted names come into form. Yadier Alvarez and Ian Happ both had star power outtings that are well worth the prospect of the day touting. Though the single hit for Ian Happ is normally not the line you see he played well across all aspects of the game. Joey Wentz and Rhys Hosking both creep into the notable players for the first time this year.
4 innings pitched- 2 hits allowed- 0 runs allowed- 7 strikeouts
Baseball Rank’s #2 Dodgers prospect, RHP Yadier Alvarez, tossed 4 scoreless innings on Thursday. The Dodgers have been extremely conservative with Alvarez ever since they have acquired him and that trend has continued to begin 2017. Alvarez’ first start he went 2.1 innings, then the next one was 3.2 innings, and on Thursday he stretched out to 4 innings. Alvarez did make the most of the 4 innings nonetheless. Alvarez was perfect the first 2 innings, striking out 3 in the process. He would let up a single and a walk in the 3rd, but nothing more than that. His fourth and final inning saw no trouble either as the only blemish was a standalone single. Alvarez threw 65 pitches in the 4 innings and the Dodgers hooked him as he seems to be on an extremely strict limit.
Alvarez defected from Cuba a few years ago and signed with the Dodgers in 2015-16 international signing period. Alvarez has a fastball that has been clocked at triple-digits and a biting mid-80s slider to complement it well in addition to a couple other secondary pitches that have plus potential. Alvarez only pitched 60 innings all of last year and the Dodgers are being very cautious with the 21-year-old Cuban. He is slowly starting to get stretched out this year and it would not surprise me to see his next start go about 5 innings.
For different reasons than you’re typically used to seeing on here, Christian Arroyo has just made the list! Off to a blistering start this season – unlike his parent club – Arroyo has slashed .446/.478/.692 in 65 Triple-A at-bats this year despite being just 21-years old in the class. His promotion to San Francisco is likely to be nothing more than a first taste, filling the role of shortstop while regular Brandon Crawford is added to the bereavement list, but it’s a tip of the hat to the type of start he’s gotten off to.
This season was Arroyo’s debut in Triple-A Sacramento and he’s certainly made the most of it. Even though he’s never walked much, he makes a ton of solid contact and might even be adding a greater element of power to his game, having already hit three this season despite never hitting more than nine in a single campaign.
Arroyo’s glove is pretty capable, too, but profiles more so as a fill-in shortstop but is totally going to be able to manage big-league time on the regular at second and even third.
On Twitter, Arroyo posted that his mom didn’t believe he was telling her the truth when he said he’d been promoted. Maybe a Tuesday night debut in San Francisco will provide the proof she needs.
Thursday saw some impressive pitching outings from some prospects who are not that high on many lists. Pitchers such as Dinelson Lamet, Lucas Sims, and Nick Pivetta are all prospects who have not been talked about a ton, but pitched gems on Thursday. Baseball’s top prospect, Yoan Moncada, continued his hot start.
5.1 Innings Pitched- 13 strikeouts- 3 hits- 3 walks
Dinelson Lamet, one of the Padres’ top prospects, was dealing on Thursday night. Lamet started the night off strong, striking out 2 batters in each of the first 3 innings. He then upped his game and struck out the side in the 4th inning increasing his total to 9 strikeouts through 4 innings pitched. The beginning of the top of the 5th he found himself giving up a walk and a single to begin the inning, but quickly got out of trouble by striking out three in a row. Lamet would give up a home run to Gordon Beckham to begin the 5th inning and would be pulled in the 5th after a few more batters. All said and done, not too shabby of an outing for Lamet, tallying 13 strikeouts over only 5.1 innings pitched.
The last article went over hot starts by South Atlantic League hitters, this one highlights the top pitchers over the first two weeks. This is by no means a definitive list and in no particular order, just a quick update on which prospects are starting off the season red hot.
SP (PIT) – Age 20 – 16.2 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 32 K, 3.24 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
A good way to get your name on this list is to rack up 32 K’s through your first 3 starts. Escobar was signed as a much smaller 16-year-old out of Colombia in 2013. His milb.com page lists him at 6-foot-1, 155 pounds which is laughable to anyone who’s seen him this year. While he’s not exactly Carlos Zambrano, he’s definitely filled in much closer to 200 lbs. With filling out his frame the power stuff has come strong. While he’s still learning how to harness a mid-90s fastball and power curve, minor league hitters are struggling mightily to catch up.
At just 20 years old and starting his first year of full-season baseball, staying healthy and consistent will be a huge key for Escobar. While it’s nice to see him put up these gaudy strikeout numbers, he needs to learn how to pitch for a night where he might not have his best stuff. At this point, he’s only walked 2 batters in 16.2 innings, but he’s been a bit wild at times and helped a bit by some overzealous swings. There is something to be said about a pitcher who generates a lot of swings and misses while still being out of the zone, though I’m not sure how much of it is intentional with him.
The Astros’ farm system flaunted it’s muscles this weekend as top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker both showed what they are capable of and why they are so highly thought of. There were many solid pitching performances over the weekend, a few by top prospects Josh Hader, Enyel De Los Santos, and Walker Buehler.
2 doubles- 7 runs batted in- 1 home run
Kyle Tucker, the Astro’s number 2 prospect in the system, had himself a day on Saturday at High-A Buies Creek. Tucker racked up 7 RBIs in the game, all coming in the first three innings. Tucker doubled in his first at-bat, driving in one run. Tucker had his next at-bat in the 2nd inning, this time with bases loaded, and Tucker delivered. He hit a bases-clearing double to center field, racking up 3 more ribeyes. He would get his third at-bat in three innings, hitting a three-run home run to right center. Tucker would another hit to his tally later in the 7th inning, marking a 4-5 day at the plate.
Tucker, the brother of Astros’ Preston Tucker, is 19 years of age and is impressing at High-A thus far, slashing .343/.395/.714 for the Buies Creek Astros. If he continues raking at this rate it won’t be long until he is called up to Double-A. Tucker has a very advanced approach at the plate and is one of the best hitters in the Astros’ farm. Astros fans have a lot to be excited for in this kid.
It has become general consensus that the Orioles offer one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Various rankings have them placed in the bottom five organizations across the sport. A handful of recent selections have already risen through the rankings as Cody Sedlock (2016 1st round), Ryan Mountcastle (2015 1st round), and Keegan Akin (2016 2nd round) are all in our top ten. Given the offensive success of the team, Baltimore’s focus has turned to developing pitching as these rankings are 60% pitching prospects. Despite regular drafting of young arms, 4 of the 7 best prospects are positional. Chance Sisco is the leading name in the organization with impressive offensive prowess for a catcher. While other organizations are able to offer potential stars like Victor Robles, Austin Meadows, and Francisco Mejia; Baltimore lacks any excitement from top to bottom.
Fans can expect to see a handful of young players work their way to the 25-man roster by season’s end. Trey Mancini began the year at the Major League level with positive results. Jason Garcia may see a return after a full season in Bowie and Gabriel Ynoa brings in exposure with the Mets. The majority of prospects remain a few years off, but the Orioles at least have an exciting enough top level squad to keep the focus away from their desperate farm system.
Thursday saw some very good pitching performances by some top pitching prospects in the minor league. Youngster Kolby Allard showed what he is made of at Double-A and Josh Staumont, Erick Fedde, and Tyler Eppler all had outstanding outings. Cody Bellinger went deep for the second time this season.
Players Of The Day
5 Innings Pitched- 2 Walks- 3 Strikeouts- 3 Hits Allowed
Kolby Allard and his teammate Mike Soroka are two of the youngest players in the Southern League, both skipping over High-A. That label has not slowed either one down and Allard proved it further yesterday.
Allard did not allow a run in his start against the Tennessee Smokies and lasted 5 innings in the effort. He could have gone farther in the game, but there are restrictions in place on Allard due to an innings limit and the such. He did not strikeout many in the game, only 3, but was still very effective pitching to contact. He made it a focus of his to work on his changeup this year and today and from the early looks of it so far this year it is effective. Besides the changeup, Allard has a low-90s fastball with movement and a devastating 12-6 curve. The low strikeout total yesterday should be of no concern as it is clear he was working on the changeup and not trying to be too fine with his other pitches.
Allard is only 19 years old, but is already in Double-A. Allard keeps impressing with every start and it will be interesting to see how he does next time out to see if he can keep up this success. He could be one of the key pieces in the Braves’ rebuild. He isn’t the top prospect of the day due to the outcome of his performance but rather the magnitude of his performance.
Another day of stud loaded stand out performances continues as Jeimer Candelario logs his third five-RBI game of this short season. Brent Honeywell also continued to show why he is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball with another scoreless outing logging eight strikeouts in seven innings pitched. Lastly, Juan Soto and Albert Abreu continue to enamor scouts and fans with their enormous raw potential lower in the minors and adding fuel to the hype that follows both of them.
Player of the Day
4-4 2 R 3B BB 5 RBI
The Cubs’ farm is loaded with good hitting prospects and Jeimer Candelario is one of their best hitting prospects. Candelario is only still in the minors because there isn’t a position for him on the Major-league team where he can see regular at-bats and tap into his potential. The left-handed third baseman picked up his third five-RBI game of the young season. The key to his success has come from his coaches stressing him on being more aggressive at the plate especially with runners in scoring position. Swinging early in his at-bats has helped him collected 15 RBI so far and hitting to the tune of .370. His Double-A hitting coach last year Desi Wilson, mentioned that he can see the difference from last year to this year, before he was starting his at bats 0-1 or 0-2 which made it harder for him get a pitch to hit. Last night he hit a triple showcasing his nice line drive swing into the gap of the outfield.
Since joining the Cubs organization in 2010, Candelario’s development has been a roller coaster having superb seasons and then struggling for extended periods. The inconsistency has lead to having to repeat both High A and Double A. Now that he is showcasing a maturity that has produced consistency the Cubs should be trying to find a position for him.
PLAYERS LIKELY RISING THE TOP PROSPECT RANKING
RANK 218 – FRANKLIN PEREZ
Franklin Perez is a tough cookie to quantify. He is 19 years-old with a decent fastball and a curveball that shows hints of elite status and throws at plus on a bad day.
On the surface, I am in love with Franklin Perez and think he has the chance to be something magnificent long-term.
Question marks arise on pitches outside his curve and are primarily geared at the change up. He also needs to clean up his delivery and become more repeatable. He is very early on in the development for a transitional pitcher from third base.
Though this ranking is likely more passive than aggressive, the future for Perez could net him a top 50 grade by season’s end if he showcases improvement in the mentioned areas. At the moment he looks like a potential SP4 with the upside of an SP2.
With his current offerings and age in mind, he didn’t calculate out higher than other names who are younger or hold better offerings. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t beat them out quickly. Read the rest of this entry
Soroka was Atlanta’s first-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has gone on to climb organizational charts since. After a steady 2016 in a full season of Class-A ball, the Braves brass felt confident promoting Soroka directly onto the Double-A Mississippi Braves roster where he made his 2017 debut on Monday.
Soroka flourished. He mixed in his regular combination of a sinking fastball, slider, and changeup and avoided walking a single batter in five innings of work. He struck out seven batters over those innings – five of his first nine outs recorded – and validated John Hart & Co.’s decision to accelerate his development after that aggressive promotion to Double-A ball earlier than anyone anticipated.
Soroka’s combination of skills allows for optimism regarding his floor. He already exhibits the characteristics of a solid, mid-rotation starter and his early work as a 19-year old in Double-A grants some further hope that he might even be able to take another leap forward toward a front-end slot.
Yesterday’s Top Prospects
On this opening day, we see a lot of studs being studs and players living to the hype that was seen in them over the offseason. Brent Honeywell, Cody Bellinger, and Forrest Wall are all touted names over the last few years but Cedric Mullins continues to showcase his potential. Andrew Moore continues to showcase why he is still among the nation’s best pitchers despite having the electric stuff that normally turns the heads of both scouts and fans.
Players Of The Day
6.0 Innings Pitched – 3 Hits – 2 Earned Runs – 12 Strikeouts – 1 Walk
In an amazing effort that ends in a loss for Montgomery Brent Honeywell was electric in his 2017 Double-A debut. He started off strong striking out Mauricio Dubon on a foul tip and finished the inning striking out Michael Reed. He then went on to strike out every batter in the second. The damage came in the fourth inning when he walked Michael Reed and then proceeded to let both Victor Roache and Jacob Nottingham with hit by pitches. With the bases loaded Honeywell allowed a single to Angel Ortega that drove in Michael Reed and Victor Roache. He escaped the inning by catching Jacob Nottingham in what is logged as a stolen base attempt but ended in a pickle.
Honeywell is one of the nation’s best pitching prospects and rated as our #23 overall prospect in our initial Top 250 MLB Prospects list. The Rays pitching situation is one of the worst in baseball for him in terms of reaching the majors. Nonetheless, Honeywell is more than likely going to see the field in Tampa in 2017. He is still working to develop a true out pitch and needs to find a way to break away from righties.
PLAYERS LIKELY RISING THE TOP PROSPECT RANKING
RANK 218 – FRANKLIN PEREZ
Franklin Perez is a tough cookie to quantify. He is 19 years-old with a decent fastball and a curveball that shows hints of elite status and throws at plus on a bad day. On the surface, I am in love with Franklin Perez and think he has the chance to be something magnificent long-term. Question marks arise on pitches outside his curve and are primarily geared at the change up. He also needs to clean up his delivery and become more repeatable. He is very early on in the development for a transitional pitcher from third base. Though this ranking is likely more passive than aggressive, the future for Perez could net him a top 50 grade by season’s end if he showcases improvement in the mentioned areas. At the moment he looks like a potential SP4 with the upside of an SP2. With his current offerings and age in mind, he didn’t calculate out higher than other names who are younger or hold better offerings. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t beat them out quickly.
RANK 217 – JOSE ALBERTOS
The 6’1″, 18-year-old seems to be making quite the buzz with a high 90s fastball already shown before he truly manifests stateside. The idea that Albertos throws over 100 MPH is running rampant throughout the community and with valid reasons. Though being 185 likely means Albertos isn’t going to find that extra oomph from added size, he already has simple, repeatable mechanics. Albertos can jump significantly up this ranking once he showcases his secondary offerings. He possesses a changeup that flashes plus, and in limited exposure, it was noted that his pitches move with decent horizontal movement. This is a cautionary grade and, as more video and reps manifest, Albertos could see himself within the top 75 prospects in baseball by year end. I expect a potential jump to come from secondary pitches rather than velocity or mechanics.
RANK 208 – GERMAN MARQUEZ
Very similar in nature to Franklin Perez, German Marquez is another pitcher that has a curveball as his best offering, but the fastball is much further along. Marquez is already showing improvement with his changeup and locating his fastball to match the extreme upside his curve alone generates. There is a reason to believe he could eventually turn into a top of the rotation type of arm. When analyzing Marquez, you will notice that he throws a rather straight fastball the later he goes into his starts due to a lowering arm slot. There are also obvious differences in arm speed between pitches, and the arc of the ball becomes visible too early for the curve to enhance the change up. His delivery is very repeatable, but could benefit from becoming more dynamic in the lower half. Higher projection could make him a top 100 type of player, but his current state and the work ahead of him keep him in the SP4 to bullpen bracket.
RANK 165 – PATRICK WEIGEL
Standing 6’6″ with mechanics that are simple while still being able to touch 99 on the gun will generally garner attention. Weigel’s upside varies in time and nature depending on what he is willing to do with his lower half. He already has two off-speed movement pitches that rank as pluses to me (slider/curveball). The issue with Weigel is that controlling those pitches is much harder than throwing for strikes due to how much movement he is able to generate. Increasing the effort in the lower half would only go against enhancing that control, but would move him closer to three elite pitches on pure stuff projection alone. If it wasn’t for the arm action on his changeup, Weigel may be best regarded as a potential bullpen option. Though the pitch is lacking, deception on the changeup could allow him to boast four above average pitches. Moving forward, Weigel could range between an SP2 to a bullpen option, depending on how he harnesses that control while making his lower half more dynamic. As is, he could be a back of the rotation option with dominant outings every now and again. The stuff is there.
RANK 129 – BRANDON WOODRUFF
Brandon Woodruff was somewhat off my radar prior to the improvements he made in the 2016 season. When analyzing tape on Woodruff, he seems to have more control and command than many tend to credit him. He operates with great movement to outside the zone and generates a lot of swings and misses. He has impressive velocity with a lot of life running through the zone than results in weak contact. His primary is complemented by offspeed pitches that offer both work and deception. Overall, Woodruff looks to be a very polished asset in the farm and in a direct comparison could actually outrank Luis Ortiz in their current states. The question for Woodruff is about repeating last season’s performance and answering the question of “what’s next?”. If proves he can maintain a K/9 closer to 9.00 in the next level without sacrificing his pitch usage, it would go a long way in improving his stock. He is someone to carefully eye in 2017 with potential to vastly outperform this ranking.
RANK 95 -NICK WILLIAMS
If you followed Nick Williams at all last year you are well aware of the complete collapse. Williams fell from being a top talent in baseball to a man with more red flags than opportunity provided. The skills are still there and, upon reading media reports and interviews, it appears the issues are more mental and work ethic based than his baseball skill. Williams may continue to slide or he could rise quicker than anyone on this list depending on his mindset this season. With maturity and patience will come opportunity and stardom in regards to Williams’ future. 95 is still higher than many are comfortable with given his results, but I would much Sather take a player in his situation than one already operating at peak potential.
RANK 92 – JUAN SOTO
Juan Soto looks to be the next phenom production from Washington’s system. Victor Robles burst into the top echelon of prospects under the Nationals’ management. Juan Soto looks to do the same.Soto actually holds a comparative advantage at this point in his career when looking at Robles’ move into the limelight. In terms of pure hitting, Soto may completely outclass Robles when they play side by side at the next level. Robles has clear favor when it comes to speed and defense, but Soto has the build to play above average. He will likely only use his speed in the outfield, though, rather than the basepaths. Juan Soto fits into the group of players that Robles, Acuna and himself currently operate with players possessing enough potential to lead their class sooner rather than later. At maturation, though, the order of the three may vary depending on how they adapt this season. Given the level of pitching Soto has seen, I need to see more production against dominant lefties or pitchers offering control of big secondary movement to truly account for how he can adapt to pro play. Acuna and Robles have already displayed the ability, so that should speak to where Soto could land come December of 2017.
RANK 52 – MAX FRIED
In what many may already quantify as a reach at #52, Max Fried looks to become one of the nation’s best pitchers. The lefty possesses strong velocity, excellent secondaries, improved mechanics and could become the strongest southpaw in the minors sooner rather than later. He holds front-end talent at maturation and has displayed that potential early in outings. Coming off Tommy John surgery, conditioning and usage will always come into question…and will be the deciding factors as he moves forward. If they find his arm cannot handle the stress of 7+ innings over 20 starts in a year, he may move to the bullpen, but there is little to suggest the transition yet. There is some concern because Fried showcased dangerous mechanics deep into his starts after the injury. Lulls in technique became more frequent by the inning, but by the end of the year h appeared to correct the issues. With increased stamina via offseason conditioning, he is set for stardom.
Washington was one of two Major League clubs to send a highly touted prospect to the Chicago White Sox this offseason. The Nationals showed their faith in the current staff and future pitchers by trading away Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning, and Reynaldo Lopez for defensive superstar Adam Eaton. Pitching certainly comes at a premium in the current system with only 6 pitchers making these rankings, but a number of them appear well suited for this organization’s layout. Erick Fedde sits behind only Victory Robles as a likely mid-rotation arm in the future. Behind him are Austin Voth and A.J. Cole who, though limited in potential, will work their way onto the 25-man roster for spot starts and relief appearances either in the summer or during September call-ups. Koda Gloves is one of the lower ranking pitches in the system, but an uncertain closer role in Washington makes him a clear name to emerge over the next couple of seasons.
The limited nature of pitchers in the rankings come as a result of the Giolito trade, but also remarkable depth in the field. Washington has prepared for the potential loss of Bryce Harper with seven outfielders making the Top 25, Victor Robles taking the top spot. The teenage phenom remains a ways off of the 25-man roster, but rapid development since signing out of the Dominican Republic has scouts salivating across the league. Youngsters Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom follow suit given areas of need, but the Nationals have a slew of potential stars awaiting in the ranks. What separates this system from many others is that potential stemming from the lower spots. Players like Kelvin Gutierrez, Jose Marmolejos, Spencer Kieboom, and Telmito Agustin all have things that they need to improve, but all profile as potential everyday players given the right situation.
Catching prospect Reese McGuire was sent to Toronto along with promising outfielder Harold Ramirez in the Drew Hutchison deal. With sending away both Polo and Ramirez at the deadline, the Bucs were clearly happy with their strength in the outfield, giving them the ability to shore up a rotation that’s lacked quality back-end starters for awhile now. By shipping Mark Melancon to Washington, the Pirates picked up flame-throwing lefty Taylor Hearn. He was a popular name to surge up prospect lists last year, making our list at #12.
Currently the farm system has good depth, but beyond the top 2 prospects Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow there aren’t many standouts. With 13 pitchers and 12 hitters in the top 25, the Pirates system is relatively well-balanced. Josh Bell should make some major league contributions in 2017, and former first-round infielder Kevin Newman may see some time with the big club as well.
Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek stand 1-2 at the top of the Marlins’ prospect rankings as potential starting arms in a few years. Unfortunately for the team, the search for a new ace would have been facilitated by the fact that they had both Josh Naylor and Chris Paddack within the system last year. However, the two pitchers were traded away in separate deals with the Padres. The organization is now left with one of the thinnest farm systems in all of baseball.
The upper half of these rankings is luckily filled with arms that may be able to contribute. Garrett and Kolek are the clear favorites, but both are a minimum three seasons away from breaking into the Major League rotation. Players like Dillon Peters, Jarlin Garcia, and Drew Steckenrider will all pitch at the top level this season, but they lack the talent to be long term solutions. Further down in the charts are limited pitching prospects, many of whom have already begun the transition to relief.
Miami’s strength comes in the position players they are currently able to field. However, a number of those players may see their way out of the organization in the next couple of years and the Marlins lack the replacements within their system. Brian Anderson and Isael Soto lead the positional rankings, but there remains a glaring hole in each of their games. Fans looking forward to this season will certainly see Tomas Telis and Yefri Perez work at the Major League level this season. Telis sees a limited ceiling behind J.T. Realmuto, but Giancarlo Stanton’s seasonal injury will likely result in Perez seeing greater opportunity in comparison to previous years.
The San Diego Padres’ farm system has improved in talent over the past year via trades and international signings. The Padres have spent a lot of money internationally to restock their farm system and the dividends will soon be seen in the Major Leagues. San Diego has also managed to flip some of the veterans they got in the offseason a few years ago for quality prospects, such as Anderson Espinoza, and this has really improved the overall quality of the system. Some of these investments are going to make an impact very soon and the Padres’ will hope to be competitive once again within the next couple of years.
Dansby Swanson made his way to the Major Leagues last season and was the leading name for farm system loaded with overall talent. Atlanta fans have a reason to be excited about the future with the likes of Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Max Fried, and Sean Newcomb all offering potential that may change the outlook of the franchise for years to come. The system is loaded with high upside younger prospects such as Derian Cruz and Christian Pache and developing assets that could have major league impact such as Lucas Sims, Austin Riley, Patrick Weigel, and Luis Gohara. Then there are the prospects with massive upsides with known weaknesses such as Travis Demeritte, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz and Touki Toussaint. Through and through this is likely the deepest farm in baseball and has the upside to contend with the best.
The Angels commitment to winning a World Series while Mike Trout is still affordable has led to a lot of money and prospects being spent, in most cases, unwisely. Among those lost included future starter and future bullpen piece Sean Newcomb and Victor Alcantara. Furthermore, the team’s hesitancy to draft high upside players in favor of high floor athletes has kept the team as the worst system in Major League Baseball. However, the team does have some promising players acquired via the draft. 2015 second rounder Jahmai Jones may have a ways to go, but the team has put a solid value on his toolsy approach. 2016 first rounder Matt Thaiss may be blocked by Albert Pujols and CJ Cron, but his bat has shown why he was taken with the 15th overall pick. And should 2016 picks Brandon Marsh, Nonie Williams and Chris Rodriguez show the upside that had the team sold on them, the system could start climbing out of the cellar.
Los Angeles Angels Top Prospects
There are some very exciting players to be found within the Reds organization. Last year’s first-round pick Nick Senzel appears to be the real deal. Amir Garrett has the ability to lead a rotation. Jesse Winker, Luis Castillo, and Sal Romano provide a very solid foundation upon which the Reds can raise their floor, and the system contains a great deal of upside with players like Aristides Aquino, Taylor Trammell, and Alex Blandino.
There are few sure things in their Minor League ranks, but the farm is headed in the right direction. With a few breakout seasons from key prospects, the talent is present for this to be the group that leads the Reds back into the postseason for the first time since 2013.