Ray Butler’s 2018 Midseason Top 200 Prospects: #81-100

Written by: Ray Butler

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100. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX, Age: 22

It’s important to note that, regardless of the extensive positive facets surrounding Martinez’s outlook, we’re talking about a 22 year old in Short Season ball currently. We only have an 87 plate appearance sample to work with so far this season (Rookie Ball and A-), but I’m not exactly exuberant about Martinez’s 26.2% strikeout rate. Thankfully, he also has 3 HR and 6 SB in that sample, and the impactful five-tool potential obviously remains intact. Once they feel as though he’s officially settled in, the Rangers should be aggressive with Martinez’s minor league progression.

99. Cal Quantrill, SP, SD, Age: 23

Brace yourself: we’re about to talk about three starting pitcher prospects who are currently trending in an unfortunate direction. Quantrill is a solid prospect and almost certainly has a future in the Padres’ starting rotation, but there is growing doubt in the prospect community concerning the right-hander’s upside. Personally, I think Quantrill is a ~4.00 ERA, 8-9 K/9 future big leaguer whose arsenal and process will play well in the friendly-confine pitcher’s parks in the NL West (Coors Field excluded). He’ll never be a frontline guy, but Quantrill will someday be rostered in redraft leagues in the fantasy baseball world.

98. Chance Adams, SP, NYY, Age: 23

Adams posted 115.1 IP last season in Triple-A. He finished with a 2.89 ERA. He’s currently repeating the level with an ERA nearly double of last season’s number. He’s been passed over on various occasions to make his big league debut. This is telling. There have long been concerns that Adams will eventually transition to the bullpen, that the chance of that happening seems to increase by the day. If his future were clearly in the rotation, Adams would rank more favorably than 98th. As it stands, we’re pacing back-and-forth and crossing our fingers he remains a starting pitcher moving forward.

97. Albert Abreu, SP, NYY, Age: 22

When we discuss disappointing statistics that obviously don’t match up with loud tools, we’re almost always talking about position players. But Abreu certainly fits that description: Three plus pitches according to Fangraphs, but an ERA of 4.28 and a K/9 of only 9.7 (as a 22 year old in High-A). Sadly, there’s been some recent discrepancy of just how dynamic his non-fastball offerings are. When you pair that thought with fringe command, you find yourself with a pitching prospect who’s not living up to the hype. There’s still time for Abreu to right the ship, but there’s certainly reason to be concerned moving forward…

96. Daulton Varsho, C, ARZ, Age: 21

Varsho was well on his way to posting some eye-opening full season numbers before fracturing a hamate bone earlier this month. The injury will likely sideline Varsho for most of the remainder of the regular season, but it shouldn’t damper his performance in 57 games prior to the injury. The catching prospect slashed .290/.377/.467 with 8 HR and….. 15 SB. Varsho is a legitimate stolen base threat, which means he’s as dynamic as it comes as a minor league catcher. As his stock continues to grow, there will be questions concerning his ability to weather a 162-game major league season (Varsho is 5’10, 190 lbs). But until I’m told or have reason to believe differently, I view Varsho as a 55-hit, 55-raw power and 55-speed catching prospect. Need I say more?

95. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE, Age: 20

Vamos, hit tool and lateral agility. There are two concerns with Jones. First, the 27% strikeout rate he’s posted in 270 Low-A plate appearances this season. How much will the swing-and-miss hinder the 20 year old throughout his professional career? Secondly, evaluators who have watched Jones in person this season question whether Jones moves well enough to stick at the hot corner throughout his career. There’s big time power in Jones’ bat, and if everything falls into place, the third baseman could be a top 25 overall prospect by this time next season. I wrote more about Jones earlier this month in the Ramblings.

94. Pavin Smith, 1B, ARZ, Age: 22

An unfortunate .246 BABIP has hindered Smith’s slash to .229/.335/.371 in 278 High-A plate appearances, but the underlying numbers are awfully encouraging. The first baseman already has 7 HR this season, a stat that speaks to his developing raw power (which there were questions about this preseason). With a hilariously good 13.7 K% in his back pocket, I remain bullish about Smith’s outlook. The stock should continue to grow over time. I wrote about Smith in the Ramblings back in April.

93. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA, Age: 22

Remember what I said about Blue Jays OF prospect Anthony Alford earlier in this list? The same holds true with Harrison. The two prospect have different issues, but the respectable performances this season can be summed up in one word: underwhelming. Harrison currently sports a whopping 38.9% strikeout rate that pairs bitterly with his .233/.316/.401 slash in Double-A. The BABIP is .374, so we’re genuinely witnessing an elite athlete who strikes out enough to truly impact their AVG and OBP. It’s easy to fall in love with Harrison’s tools, but sooner-or-later we need to see the skills take shape in the numbers.

92. Joey Wentz, SP, ATL, Age: 20

After a truly mesmerizing 2017 season, Wentz has struggled to an extent so far this season. Many have speculated 6’5 left-hander was dealing with an injury early in the season, but he attempted to pitch thru it before spending a month on the disabled list. Since his return, the southpaw has posted a 0.73 ERA in 12.1 IP. It’ll take awhile for the season-long stats to look pretty due to the horrific start, but there’s still plenty to be excited about with the 20 year old.

91. Jonathan India, 3B, CIN, Age: 21

The third baseman played the 2018 season in better physical shape, and the power developed nicely this season as well, propelling his stock to an eventual 5th-overall draft pick by the Reds. He should stick at third base defensively, and the offensive profile is awfully well-rounded. There’s always volatility when players begin their professional careers, but I’ve got India at 60-hit, 55-raw power and 55-run as he finishes his college career. The Reds have buckets of young infield talent.

90. Stephen Gonsalves, SP, MIN, Age: 24

Follow me here. Statistically speaking, I see some Sean Newcomb in Stephen Gonsalves: A left-hander who’s rarely hit hard, but often finds themselves in trouble due to spotty control. And what Gonsalves lacks in stuff compared to Newcomb, he gains in deception and ‘funkiness’. The 24-year-old southpaw was promoted to Triple-A early in the season, and the returns have had their ups-and-downs since. As a big leaguer, Gonsalves will have stretches where he’ll mimic a SP #3. He’ll also have stretches where he won’t resemble a big league starting pitcher at all. Let’s hope he finally settles in near the ceiling and not the floor.

89. Brady Singer, SP, KC, Age: 21

A 2nd round pick out of high school in 2015, Singer has been on the prospect radar for a long, long time. That means he’s more likely susceptible to prospect fatigue, but I think I have him ranked correctly in my #MidseasonTop200. The Royals will almost certainly tinker with Singer’s mechanics leading into his first full season as a professional, so there may be some #productivestruggle in High-A or wherever they place the right hander. However, there’s potentially three plus pitches under the hood to go along with a sterling pedigree. It’ll be fun to watch Singer and Casey Mize’s stock battle in the coming years.

88. Kolby Allard, SP, ATL, Age: 20

Allard is a surprisingly-polarizing prospect. If you don’t believe me, just ask my Twitter mentions. You may look at Allard’s stats and see a pitching prospect who struggles to miss bats. If that’s your go-to, your next move is to point out Allard’s current 81.0 LOB% this season. I choose to view Allard as a 20-year-old (!) pitching prospect in Triple-A. In the past two seasons, Allard has faced opposing hitters who are, on average, 5.8 years (!) older than him. I’m not saying Allard possesses the ‘stuff’ to ever strike out an elite number of hitters, but I do think he’s capable of much more than the 7.0 K/9 he’s posted so far this season, especially once he begins pitching against hitters closer to his own age. #TrustTheProcess

87. Cavan Biggio, 2B, TOR, Age: 23

The son of a hall of famer, Biggio’s value likely hinges on the format of league you play in. A late-blooming second base prospect, Biggio continues to tap into power that most fantasy baseballers didn’t know the 23 year old possessed. In 306 Double-A plate appearances this season, Biggio is up to 16 HR and 9 SB to go along with a .278/.397/.551 slash. The 25.2 K% is slightly problematic, but Biggio is looking more-and-more like the Blue Jays’ second baseman of the future each and every day.

86. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, MIN, Age: 23

The 28.5 K% and 6.9 BB% is sub-optimal, but Rooker has 65-raw power and has basically been tabbed as the heir to Joe Mauer’s first base throne in Minneapolis. Though he’s already 23, it’ll take some time for Rooker to develop an approach capable of sustaining success at the big league level. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if Rooker doesn’t settle into an everyday role with the Twins until 2020; regardless, the 23 year old has the potential to someday be rostered as a first baseman in redraft leagues. That speaks volumes. I wrote more about Rooker in the Ramblings in May. #HailState

85. Danny Jansen, C, TOR, Age: 23

I have to remind myself he likely doesn’t possess the ceiling of a superstar, but Jansen possesses so many traits I desire out of my catcher in fantasy baseball. In his first full season in Triple-A, Jansen is slashing .299/.413/.474 with 5 HR and 4 SB. Almost equally important from the catcher position, Jansen nearly has as many walks as strikeouts this season (30 strikeouts, 29 walks). Sure, Danny Jansen will never have the fantasy value of a Buster Posey or Gary Sanchez. He also will never play a large role in losing your fantasy team a weekly matchup. If it exists, Jansen is the definition of a safe catching prospect. Acquire while you still can.

84. Joey Bart, C, SF, Age: 21

Want to feel old? The Giants just drafted a player who they perceive as their unquestioned heir to Buster Posey’s catching throne in San Francisco. Posey is now 31 years old, and his days as an everyday catcher seem to be trending downward. Enter Joey Bart. I’ve got 55-hit and 60-raw power grades on Bart’s offensive profile, and the number two overall pick will almost certainly remain a catcher throughout the meat-and-potatoes of his professional career. I’ll be interested to see how aggressive the Giants are with Bart’s progression through their farm system, but the outlook is lovely nonetheless.

83. Matt Manning, SP, DET, Age: 20

A 2016 first round pick, Manning basically gets no play in the roundtable of the top pitching prospects in baseball. But I don’t understand why. Drafted by the Tigers as an unsculpted ball of clay, the 20 year old was recently promoted to High-A Lakeland following a 55.2 IP-stint in Low-A in which Manning posted a 3.40 ERA while striking out 12.3 hitters per nine innings. Now faced with a new challenge, the next step in Manning’s development will be to limit the walks; the right hander posted a 4.5 BB/9 prior to his promotion. Manning possesses the ceiling of a #2 SP.

82. Bryse Wilson, SP, ATL, Age: 20

I’m slightly shook by Wilson’s below-average start in Double-A (a 6.25 ERA thru 44.2 IP), bu then I’m reminded the right-hander is only 20 years old and pitching versus opposition who’s 4.4 years older than him. Then I see the FIP and xFIP is more than two points lower than the ERA in Double-A. Then I see Wilson is striking out more than a batter per inning since being promoted. Then I see his BABIP-against in Double-A is .383. Get the picture? It’s easy to freak out about a pitching prospect who’s seemingly underperforming in a relatively-small sample following a promotion. But the underlying numbers with Wilson suggest the numbers should normalize relatively soon. At 20 years old, he’s certainly one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. I wrote more about Wilson in the Ramblings last month.

81. Shane Bieber, SP, CLE, Age: 23

Other than the unsustainable LOB%, I defy you to find a flaw in Bieber’s first 24.1 big league innings pitched. You can’t. The 23 year old has been fantastic in three different levels this season, and the legend seems to grow every time Bieber takes the mound. While in the long term, I wonder if Bieber can consistently command the ball amazingly enough to not get smacked around from time to time, it’s hard to poke holes in the body of work this season. Statistically, I think Bieber will remind us of Kyle Hendricks moving forward. I wrote more about the right-hander last month in the Ramblings.

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Featured image courtesy of Minor League Baseball

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