Ray’s Ramblings: June 25th

Written by: Ray Butler

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  • Some shameless self promotion: This morning, I released a new group of 20 prospects in my 2018 midseason top 200 prospect list. The list will probably be the most popular thing on the blog this summer, so make sure you check out my #121-140 prospects right here.
  • If you’re looking for the entirety of the released portion of my #MidseasonTop200, check out my composite list right here. The #121-140 prospects will be added to the composite list shortly.
  • Kyle Tucker’s remaining days in the minor leagues are numbered. After a little bit of a slow start to the regular season, Tucker has been all gas no brakes the past month. The left hander is now slashing .314/.382/.509 this season with 10 HR and 13 SB. The walk rate has hit double digits, and he’s striking out in only 19.4% of plate appearances. At only 21 years old, Tucker has always slid under the radar amongst other top position player prospects. He’s never had the hype of players like Gleyber Torres, Victor Robles, and Eloy Jimenez despite posting elite, top prospect numbers at every stop in the minor leagues. Graded with 45 speed, we keep waiting for Tucker’s stolen base numbers to diminish, but the outfielder is simply an elite baserunner who gets great reads and jumps against opposing pitchers. I tend to doubt Tucker will consistently post 20 SB seasons in the big leagues, but double digit swiped bags seems attainable. In a stacked Astros lineup, once Tucker gets called up, there’s a chance he’s simply ‘another guy’ this season as he acclimates to the countless nuances of the big leagues. In the long term, however, Tucker is a 65-future hit, 65-raw power outfielder who should eventually settle into your fantasy lineup for the next decade. He could get the call any day now.
  • Pete Alonso is going to enjoy hitting baseballs in Las Vegas. In only 32 plate appearances since being promoted to Triple-A, Alonso is slashing .333/.438/.704 with 3 HR and 11 RBI. On the season, the 23 year old is slashing .316/.439/.587 with 18 HR, 63 RBI and a strikeout rate lower than 20% (though it has risen since his promotion). Truthfully, other than gaining additional experience, a promotion to Triple-A isn’t going to offer much in the way of trial-and-error that couldn’t also be offered in Double-A Binghamton. The Mets are the Mets, though, and I’d be stunned if Alonso got a shot in the big leagues this season (if you roster Alonso, do you really want Alonso to be part of that trainwreck anyways?). If nothing else, Alonso has quickly risen up the ranks of the prospect world. He’ll always be reliant on his hit and power tools (in other words, you won’t be able to lean on his speed when he’s slumping), but Alonso is beginning to look like a first base prospect who will someday be rostered in redraft leagues.
  • Don’t forget to check out last week’s version of the Ramblings, including thoughts on Yordan Alvarez, Carter Kieboom, Dane Dunning, Justin Dunn, Bryse Wilson, Danny Jansen, Ronaldo Hernandez and Summer League/Rookie Ball players to watch. Read it here.
  • Following another 0 earned run performance on Sunday, Braves SP prospect Touki Toussaint now has a 3.19 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 79 IP for Double-A Mississippi. Perhaps equally important? Toussaint BB/9 is currently sitting at 3.8. The walks have always held Toussaint down, and it’s been the main reason some scouts and evaluators think the right-hander’s final destination is the bullpen. The Braves have remained patient, though, and it’s beginning to pay off in a large way. Atlanta has a plethora of pitching prospects who project to be big league ready within the next two seasons, so it’s feasible Toussaint could eventually be relegated to a bullpen role in a number’s crunch (the 22 year old would be absolutely dynamic in a high-leverage role). My hope, though, is that Toussaint continues to blossom and eventually reaches his #3 SP potential. One of the more athletic pitchers in baseball, the right-hander possesses three plus pitches. THREE. Once on the big stage, Toussaint will be a Pitching Ninja fixture. He’ll be a fan-favorite amongst Braves fans. I just hope we see him once every five days instead of three or four times a week. With more than 100 IP in Double-A under his belt, Toussaint should be promote to Triple-A Gwinnett fairly soon.
  • The participation in our #2000FollowerGiveaway was awesome, with the Beau Burrows Chrome Auto accumulating more than 200 retweets total. The winner? Aaron Goldman (@luvdahiphop on Twitter)! From the looks of things, we’ll be doing a #3000FollowerGiveaway soon, so stay tuned!
  • Forrest Whitley decided to give up some runs this season after all. The right-hander got smacked around a bit on Sunday, allowing seven runs on five hits and three walks in 4.1 IP. He struck out six. Don’t fret, Whitley is still the best pitching prospect in baseball. The 20 (!) year old now has a 3.86 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 16.1 IP this season. Of course the Astros will want Whitley to perform better than Sunday night’s outing before considering calling him up, but I *don’t* think a promotion to Triple-A Fresno is necessary before Whitley makes his big league debut. The PCL is where pitchers go to die, and the one-level promotion in order to pitch in extreme hitter’s environments seems unnecessary. If you think I’m being unrealistic when I say Whitley should make his big league debut in 2018, remember that it’s been confirmed to us by the Astros’ front office that Whitley was almost called up to Houston last September. Yes, Whitley was suspended for the first 50 games of Double-A Corpus Christi’s season. But did it really affect the Astros’ timeline to bring Whitley into the fold? I don’t think it did, and I’ll predict Whitley is pitching in Minute Maid Park before September of this season.
  • The bi-weekly Taylor Trammell update: Our guy is slashing .302/.404/.449 with 6 HR and 9 SB in 264 plate appearances. The slash numbers are phenomenal, and I think we’re about to witness Trammell’s ascension on prospect lists this preseason. I would, however, love to see the counting stats go into overdrive soon. Might he end the season in Double-A? Remember, Trammell was my pick to cement his status as a top prospect this season.
  • I recently ranked Oneil Cruz 145th in my #MidseasonTop200 prospect list, but I’m worried. I’m almost certain my ranking of Oneil will be aggressive compared to other lists, but I’m still not sure I ranked the shortstop as favorably as I should have. Cruz has figured out Low-A pitching. He’s now slashing .318/.375/.547 with 10 HR and 6 SB in 285 plate appearances this season. The AVG, OBP, and SLG have improved each month of the regular season. He’s sporting a 156 wRC+. Cruz’s continued development defensively at shortstop might keep him at Low-A West Virginia for the remainder of the regular season, but I think he’d be better suited facing improved pitching in High-A. Regardless of whether he remains in Low-A or gets the nod to the next level, the next step in Cruz’s development will be to increase his plate discipline. The 19 year old has been noted as somewhat of a free swinger offensively, and while it’s relatively easy to get away with over-aggression at a lower level with advanced contact skills, the same can’t be said once a prospect reaches High-A and Double-A. Cruz’s continued development against better pitching would likely make him a top 100 prospect sooner rather than later. As a wiry, 6’6 middle infielder, Cruz was once known as a fun, unique prospect to monitor. Now folks are beginning to notice the 70-grade raw power and a hit tool that’s been better-than-advertised so far. There’s a chance Cruz is already the best prospect in the South Atlantic League, and he seems to get better by the day. I’m all in.
  • A rolling list of prospects who did not make my preseason top 200 prospect list BUT are worthy of adding or keeping an eye on in keeper league formats (in no particular order): Jeisson Rosario, Corbin Martin, Daulton Varsho, Lazarito Armenteros, Griffin Canning, Anthony Kay, Bryce Conley, David Fletcher, Jose Suarez, Gerson Garabito, Ronaldo Hernandez, Bubba Thompson, Josh Lowe, Jonathan Hernandez, Shane Bieber, Tirso Ornelas, Brandon Waddell, William Contreras, Austin Beck, Jasseel De La Cruz, Tony Santillan, Matt Thaiss, Zac Lowther, Jalen Beeks, Keegan Akin, Sean Murphy, Chris Paddack, Cavan Biggio, Miguel Hiraldo, Cionel Perez, George Valera, Connor Wong, D.J. Peters, Telmito Agustin, Gavin Lux, Nick Neidert, M.J. Melendez, Buddy Reed, Calvin Mitchell, Yasel Antuna, Ranger Suarez, Drew Waters, Luis Medina, Jeter Downs, Bobby Dalbec, Trey Supak, Michael Hermosillo, Francisco Morales, Julio Pablo Martinez, Joe Dunand, Pedro Avila, Oneil Cruz, Randy Arozarena, Micker Adolfo, Jazz Chisholm, Kristian Robinson, Dillon Tate, Edwin Rios, Bryan Mata, Freddy Peralta, Luis Garcia, Nathaniel Lowe, Roansy Contreras, Marcos Diplan, Dennis Santana, Logan Shore, Kevin Smith, Dakota Hudson, Ryan Helsley, Trevor Rogers, Will Benson, Genesis Cabrera, Khalil Lee, Gabriel Arias, Esteury Ruiz, Jorge Alcala, Nick Margevicius, Spencer Howard, Jeren Kendall, Freudis Nova, Pablo Lopez, Everson Pereira, Edgar Arredondo, Enyel De Los Santos, Alexander Canario, Ezequiel Duran, Forrest Wall, Ramon Rosso, Mario Feliciano, Tyler Stephenson, Tyreque Reed, Brusdar Graterol, Vladimir Gutierrez, Austin Allen, Anderson Tejeda, Oscar de la Cruz, Bo Takahaski, Mike Shawaryn. Feel free to ask me about any of these guys any time! Note: This list will be completely overhauled and updated at the conclusion of my #MidseasonTop200 release.

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Featured image courtesy of MyStatesman.com

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