Ray Butler’s 2018 Midseason Top 200 Prospects: #181-200

Written by: Ray Butler

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Let the games begin…

200. Pablo Lopez, SP, MIA, Age: 22

No pitching prospect in baseball has done more to earn your attention this season than Lopez, compiling a 1.15 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning in 54.2 IP between stops at AA and AAA. A former Mariner, Lopez throws a ton of strikes (1.6 BB/9 in 2018), so the floor is comfortable despite the right hander’s unspectacular ceiling. Now a call away from a big league debut, Lopez should eventually settle into the back end of the Marlins starting rotation and perform like a low-end #3 SP from time to time. I recently wrote about Lopez in the Ramblings.

199. Edgar Arredondo, SP, TEX, Age: 21

One of the more under-appreciated pitching prospects in baseball, Arredondo has breezed thru High-A competition this season, mostly as a 20 year old. The 6’3 right-hander has struck out 28% of batters he’s faced in 2018 (good for a 10.3 K/9), all while walking only 1.7 batters per nine innings and posting a 2.88 ERA. Now 21, Arredondo *could* get a taste of Double-A ball before the end of the regular season.

198. Thomas Szapucki, SP, NYM, Age: 22

Following Tommy John surgery in July of last season, Szapucki likely won’t return to competition until 2019, where he’ll likely be a 22 year old pitching in Low-A ball. Drafted in 2015, Szapucki has never thrown more than 52 innings as a professional. There’s obviously a ton of risk here, but with two plus pitches and the ability to miss bats at an astronomical rate, Szapucki still warrants consideration in deep, prospect-oriented leagues.

197. Braxton Garrett, SP, MIA, Age: 20

Another Tommy John recipient who finds himself on the tail end of my top 200, Garrett will return to action in 2019 as a 21 year old. While likely returning to A-ball, the southpaw features a fastball that plays up thanks to a plus curveball and above average command. A 2016 first rounder, Garrett’s professional career is off to a rocky start, but he still has the potential to someday be a middle-of-the-rotation big league starter.

196. Freudis Nova, 3B, HOU, Age: 18

An eighteen year old who’s never played full season ball, Nova is just one of the players (but the first seen in my updated rankings) who epitomizes my new method of ranking prospects. A 6’1 third baseman, Nova is currently graded with a 60-future hit, 50-future game power and 60 grade speed tools. He doesn’t profile as the prototypical powerful hot corner player, but Nova is worthy of your attention nonetheless.

195. Adam Haseley, OF, PHI, Age: 22

Andrew Benintendi Ultra Lite had a poor start to the 2018 regular season, but he’s since positively regressed to a .296/.336/.399 slash with 3 HR and 7 SB in 268 plate appearances. He doesn’t possess the raw power of Benintendi, but Haseley has a well-rounded skillset that should eventually make him valuable in real life and in the fantasy world. I’d love to see the 4.5 BB% improve, but Haseley’s long term status on prospects lists is dependent on the development of his plate approach anyways.

194. Connor Scott, OF, MIA, Age: 18

A 6’4, left-handed prep bat from Florida, Scott was drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the recently-completed MLB draft. Scott possesses a polished plate approach for a high schooler and borderline plus-plus speed, but I suspect there’s more to his power profile than the 40 he’s been graded with to this point. Already drawing comparisons to Kyle Tucker (who actually graduated from the same high school as Scott), the outfielder figures to add muscle to his wiry frame that could change his skillset during his minor league career.

193. Jalen Beeks, SP, BOS, Age: 24

The left-hander is already 24 years old and had an awful MLB debut recently, but the truth is he’s made some substantial improvements to his game and should be considered a potential late-blooming impact arm. I’m more than willing to dismiss his big league debit as a case of nerves, which makes it easier to focus on the fact he’s struck out 34.7% of batters he’s faced in AAA while also managing a 2.0 BB/9. I know the age doesn’t exactly make Beeks an attractive prospect hold, but there’s legitimate low-end 3/4 stuff here. I wrote more about Beeks in the Ramblings last month.

192. Tyler Stephenson, C, CIN, Age: 21

A big-bodied 21 year old in High-A, Stephenson has rode a 11.6 BB% to a .364 OBP so far this season. He’s added 6 HR in 225 plate appearances, and his 60-grade raw power should someday allow him to post 20+ home run seasons. The backstop has a long way to go as a receiver, but he has a cannon for an arm and should remain behind the plate throughout his professional career.

191. Lucas Erceg, 3B, MIL, Age: 23

I so badly want to quit including Erceg in my rankings, but I don’t have the guts to ignore his raw power yet. The third baseman has had poor batted ball luck so far this season (a .257 BABIP that’s led to a .234/.294/.340 slash), but it’s also important to remember that he’s now 23 years old and north of a full season removed from posting notable counting stats. Consider this my last-ditch hope that Erceg plays to his prospect-list potential in the second half.

190. Hans Crouse, SP, TEX, Age: 19

The next few months will be big for the Hans Crouse hype-train, as we’re in the process of seeing the 6’4 southpaw for the first time in Short Season ball. Possessor of a plus fastball and a plus-plus curve, the development of Crouse’s changeup and command will dictate his trek to stardom moving forward. If the walk numbers are down throughout the summer, Crouse should flirt with top 100-125 prospect status next preseason.

189. Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE, Age: 22

The first baseman has done *so much* to put to rest his contact issues from 2016 (29.7 K% then, 22.9 K% now), but the slash numbers have somehow drastically declined during that time. Bradley has had horrific batted ball luck this season, posting a .203 BABIP (!) that’s caused his slash numbers to suffer to the tune of .188/.296/.396. He should exceed the 23 HR he hit last season (he currently has 10), and while the Indians have a long-term need at first base, as a repeater in AA, Bradley seems no closer to a big league debut than he was on Opening Day.

188. Erick Fedde, SP, WAS, Age: 25

I’m hoping Fedde loses prospect eligibility down the stretch of this season, because at 25 years old he’s just about outgrown it. From a fantasy standpoint, the unfortunate reality is that Fedde’s outlook is likely that of a back-end option who posts respectable strikeout numbers along the way. The right-hander’s big league experience to this point has been diluted to an extent due the unsustainably-high HR/FB%, so I’d expect his MLB statistics to normalize once he becomes an official part of the Nationals rotation and can truly settle in.

187. Domingo Leyba, INF, ARZ, Age: 22

It’s hard to be too optimistic about Leyba, who finished last season with fewer than 100 plate appearances and has only appeared in 21 games this season thanks to a shoulder injury. However, he’s basically a sure bet to stick in the middle infield, and his plus hit tool should allow him to maximize whatever power he possesses. A strong, healthy second half would do wonders for Leyba’s prospect status.

186. Chris Shaw, OF, SF, Age: 24

A 70-raw power outfield prospect, Shaw has notched 12 home runs in only 193 plate appearances this season. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate has soared to 37.3% in those plate appearances (he’s in AAA), so there’s some fairly substantial Quad-A risk here. The K% was only 25.7% last season, and improving to that mark this season would be a relief for prospective fantasy baseball rosterers.

185. Kristian Robinson, OF, ARZ, Age: 17

Some evaluators have comped the physically-imposing Robinson to ‘baseball’s Julio Jones’. Others think he’s already Arizona’s best prospect despite the fact he hasn’t even graduated to Short Season ball yet. The reports on the 17-year-old outfielder are almost mythological: 70-future raw power, 60 speed, polished plate approach for his age; Robinson should be a widely-known commodity in the prospect world by this time next season.

184. Michael Gettys, OF, SD, Age: 22

I imagine that I’m the lone ranger who has Gettys as a top 200 prospect, but that’s okay with me. The toosly outfielder is finally making some major strides this season, lowering his strikeout rate more than seven percent (from 37.2% last season to 30.0% this season). With an improvement in contact, Gettys has seen his slash numbers increase in all three categories (.254/.329/.431 last season to .264/.335/.477 now). A lover of combo meals, Gettys is on a 26 HR/26 SB 162-game pace; let’s hope he continues to put the bat on the ball.

183. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN, Age: 21

A high-profile college guy who’s found power this season, Larnach has been a staple on an Oregon State team that’s currently a contender to take home the College World Series. While the outfielder lacks premium speed, Larnach’s offensive profile resembles that of a player who should bat close to .300 with still-developing power. I’m interested to see his strikeout rate as a professional, but Larnach is certainly one of the more polished position players from the 2018 draft class and could move quickly thru Minnesota’s farm system.

182. Jeren Kendall, OF, LAD, Age: 22

Kendall 1) was not included in my preseason top 200 list, 2) currently has 33.6 K% this season, and 3) is not particularly young for High-A competition. So, why? I think we’re currently witnessing Kendall’s contact floor (he’s slashing .228/.332/.391 this season), so the upside is quite appetizing, especially when you consider the 5 HR and 20 SB in 229 plate appearances. It’s important to remember that Kendall only played in 35 Low-A games last season, and while he may never hit for an optimal average, he has 55-future raw power, 70 grade speed and a current 13.1 BB%. Let’s trust the Dodgers to continue to be the best developmental organization in baseball.

181. Adbert Alzolay, SP, CHC, Age: 23

The strikeout numbers that improved last season declined back to the ~6 K/9 mark he posted in 2016. It was also recently announced that Alzolay will miss the remainder of the season due to a strained lat (2018 is the year of the lat injury), an ailment that came at a poor time as it was probable he would make a big league debut at some point this season. Chicago has a long-term need in the rotation, and that’s a spot that should eventually be taken by Alzolay once he’s healthy and figures out Triple-A; for now, the 23-year-old right hander is a back-end guy in my eyes, both in real life and the fantasy world.

On deck: My 2018 midseason #161-180 prospects….

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