Ray Butler’s 2018 Midseason Top 200 Prospects: #61-80

Written by: Ray Butler

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80. Jeisson Rosario, OF, SD, Age: 18

I’m unintentionally setting the tone for this group of prospects with a ‘surprise’ at number 80. Rosario possesses elite plate discipline skills for his age (he’s 18), which is epitomized by his 15.1 BB% and current .387 OBP. He’s 6’1 190 lbs., so I’m hopeful more power is on its way as he finalizes his physical development. If the raw power ever surpasses its current grade (50), Rosario will begin drawing comparisons to another outfield prospect I’m awfully high on.

79. Griffin Canning, SP, LAA, Age: 22

The 2017 second round pick began the 2018 season in High-A. He’s now being considered for a big league call up. Canning slid under the radar preseason due to some questions regarding his health and college workload, but the right-hander has put them to bed with 73 strikeouts in 62 IP with a 2.47 ERA. The walks limit the potential a little bit, but there’s a chance Canning eventually becomes a big league #3 starting pitcher. Staff writer Zach Volland wrote more about Canning in May.

78. MJ Melendez, C, KC, Age: 19

The strikeouts (albeit his age) are slightly frustrating, but how do you not get excited about a 134 wRC+ and .534 SLG for a teenage catching prospect? Evaluators who have assessed Melendez in-person this season already consider him one of the best catching prospects in baseball, with room to grow as he figures out the zone and begins to work counts. If the hit tool gets to league average, Melendez will be a bonafide star. The catcher was featured in the Ramblings in May.

77. Enyel de los Santos, SP, PHI, Age: 22

The longer I evaluate and rank prospects, the more I prioritize safe pitching prospects who are close to the major leagues. de los Santos is exactly that, a 22 year old in Triple-A who’s in the process of posting his best season since Rookie Ball in 2015. The right-hander will almost certainly play a role in Philadelphia as the Phillies’ contention window officially opens, and I foresee a #3 SP who flirts with a strikeout per inning, a sub-3 BB/9 and an ERA between 3.00 and 3.50. That’ll preach any day of the week. I wrote more about de los Santos in May.

76. Seuly Matias, OF, KC, Age: 19

I don’t have the energy to manually check this, but I’ve probably written more on Matias than any other prospect this season. Herehere and here to get you started (side note: Matias was a featured prospect in the first Ray’s Ramblings of the season). When I debated Matias versus Khalil Lee, I mentioned that I thought Matias’s strikeout rate would be close to 50% were the outfielder in Double-A right now. It’s currently 37.1% in Low-A, and that number will be monitored closely throughout his minor league career. The power will always play. Can the hit tool develop to league average?

75. Alex Faedo, SP, DET, Age: 22

I’m reminded of how relatively-new I am to the baseball evaluation process every time I hear a thought process I didn’t know existed in the prospect world. That happened to me earlier this season regarding Faedo, when an evaluator told me to not worry about Faedo’s strikeout numbers in High-A. Why? The right-hander was sequencing differently than he would ever hypothetically sequence at higher levels. He was throwing his 50-grade changeup in pitcher’s counts. That’s part of the battle in evaluating low-minors prospects, and it’s also why there’s more to prospect development than box scores and stat lines. Faedo was recently promoted to Double-A Erie, and he’s been fantastic in his first two starts.

74. Akil Baddoo, OF, MIN, Age: 19

On June 1, Baddoo’s strikeout rate for the season was 31.8%. A month later, it’s sitting at 26.8%. The AVG is still a suboptimal .232, but I literally just finished naming the only flaws to Baddoo’s 2018 performance. Batting leadoff for Low-A Cedar Rapids, the 19 year old is sporting a .361 OBP. He has 8 HR and 13 SB. Despite some swing-and-miss in the profile (though it’s improving) Baddoo’s 16.3 BB% suggests the outfielder does possess fantastic plate discipline. He’s just getting started, but the teenager has 55-hit, 55-raw power and 60-speed grades according to Fangraphs. It’ll be so amazingly fun to watch Baddoo, Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol progress thru the minor leagues together.

73. Justin Dunn, SP, NYM, Age: 22

I feel like there’s a countless amount of pitching prospects who are ‘developing a reliable third pitch’ away from becoming a viable asset in the fantasy world. Dunn’s ascension this season speaks to that point, as the right-hander’s changeup has become a big-time weapon that helps his fastball play to its 55-grade potential. With a wipeout slider acting as his out pitch, Dunn suddenly has the ceiling of a high-end #3 big league starting pitcher. As the Mets inch closer to selling at the big league level, Dunn could make a big league debut as early as sometime next season. The right-hander was recently featured in Ray’s Ramblings.

72. Jon Duplantier, SP, ARZ, Age: 24

With a lengthy injury history thought to be in the rearview mirror, Duplantier missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury and is now on the disabled list in Double-A with a biceps injury. I haven’t seen a timeline for the right-hander to return to game action, and Duplantier missing most of the season with various ailments would be quite unfortunate for a 24-year-old pitching prospect who’s never surpassed Double-A. When he’s been healthy, Duplantier’s statistics and ‘stuff’ have been amongst the best in the minor leagues. Let’s hope he can get healthy and stay healthy.

71. Drew Waters, OF, ATL, Age: 19

55-raw power, 60 speed. When you pair those two grades with the fact Waters may someday possess an above average hit tool, it’s easy to understand the budding stardom we may have on our hands. My fear with Waters is the over-aggressiveness at the plate. We’re currently seeing it with fellow-Braves farmhand Cristian Pache (who I’m also ranking in this group): Free swingers who don’t organically work counts and take walks naturally struggle to maintain optimal slash numbers. Waters’ walk rate is currently 5.2% in Low-A, so his time with High-A Florida (whenever he gets promoted) will be a gigantic test. It’s important to remember that Waters is only 19; if the hit tool truly develops, Waters has 20 HR/20 SB potential (or more) with a solid AVG to boot.

70. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX, Age: 19

I’m won’t lie: Despite the fact he made my 2018 prospect obsession list this preseason, I’m a little skeptical of ranking Taveras inside my top 70 currently. The outfielder hasn’t hit a home run since May 20th, and a once-sexy slash has declined to .253/.323/.345. Taveras is on pace to finish with similar numbers to what he posted last season, which would keep him below league average in the wRC+ department. Remaining mindful of the fact he’s currently 3.5 years younger than his average competition, it’s important to maintain continued patience in evaluating Taveras. For now, anyways.

69. Touki Toussaint, SP, ATL, Age: 22

It happened by accident, but there’s no way I could think of a better prospect to assume the duties of being ranked my 69th-best prospect this midseason. Toussaint has basically improved across-the-board this season, improving his K%, K-BB%, GB%, and ERA. He’s currently sporting a 2.93 ERA with a K/9 north of 11. Yeah. With a promotion to Triple-A possible at anytime, the big question with the right-hander remains: Is his future in the rotation or the bullpen? I’m slightly biased because Toussaint has always been a personal favorite of mine, but I really want Toussaint to remain a starting pitcher. Obviously, his fantasy potential hinges on the answer to that question. We should get our answer sometime within the next calendar year (and hopefully sooner). I wrote about Toussaint last week in the Ramblings.

68. Logan Allen, SP, SD, Age: 21

Allen is a favorably-aged, left handed pitching prospect with strong strikeout numbers in Double-A. I could end my anecdote there and it should be enough to get you excited. MacKenzie Gore, Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon get all the steam, but Allen should eventually find himself in the middle of the mix in the Padres rotation (on a team that should compete for championships perennially). His current numbers in Double-A are roughly what I believe he’s capable of in the big leagues. Allen was featured in the Ramblings last month.

67. Esteury Ruiz, 2B, SD, Age: 19

Probably the surprise of the #MidseasonTop200. His current numbers in Low-A don’t demand this ranking, but Ruiz is a 60-hit, 60-raw power, 55-speed second baseman who’s currently playing full season ball as a teenager. There are questions surrounding Ruiz’s future defensive position, but evaluators I’ve spoken to think the 19 year old will remain at second base throughout his professional career. With the offensive prowess to boot, Alfonso Soriano comps abound. I’ll leave you with this thought: Ruiz might currently be the best-kept secret in the minor leagues. Have a great day.

66. Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, PHI, Age: 19

No one clicks on a link to a prospect list hoping to read that it’s important to remain #patient with young prospects, but the bottom of the standings in deep-keeper and dynasty leagues is littered with managers who gave up on young, high-upside prospects too early. I’m not saying Ortiz is a future big league superstar, but I am saying it’d be silly to abandon ship at this point of his career. Yes, the OBP is under .300. Yes, the strikeout rate is north of 30%. No, Ortiz hasn’t hit for the power that 70-grade raw power would suggest he should. That’s okay. The outfielder was a prospect obsession for me this season, and I’m in it for the long haul. #Believe

65. Chris Paddack, SP, SD, Age: 22

Paddack’s High-A numbers this season are hilarious: A 1.75 ERA with a 15.4 K/9 and 0.8 BB/9. Despite the fact the right-hander is 22 years old, the statistics are impressive. But I’m geared much more to the future. Paddack is primarily a 2-pitch pitcher, featuring a lively, low 90s fastball that’s effective thanks in large part to a devastating 70-grade changeup. The development of Paddack’s curveball is critical in evaluating his long term value. At the big league level, a two-pitch Paddack is probably a very good #4 SP with limited room for error. A three-pitch Paddack will flirt with #2 SP status with a boatload of strikeouts. The 22 year old was featured in the Ramblings in May.

64. Yusniel Diaz, OF, LAD, Age: 21

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say Diaz possesses one of the best plate approaches in the minor leagues, especially considering the numbers he’s posted so far this season as a 21 year old in Double-A. Diaz has walked and struck out an equal amount this season, which leads me to believe he’ll eventually tap into the utmost power he possesses. This season, Diaz is a well-rounded prospect who’s good at everything but lacks the power and speed to be a fantasy superstar. I’m hopeful that the power eventually develops into something special to pair with an on base percentage that should consistently remain closer to .400 than .300.

63. Brusdar Graterol, SP, MIN, Age: 19

Despite the widespread greatness throughout Graterol’s first full season of professional ball, I found myself struggling to rank him this preseason. As a fantasy baseballer in a deep keeper league, I’m wary of the risk associated to hard-throwing, teenage pitching prospects. As an evaluator and prospect list creator, I’m easily drawn to upside. Graterol’s ranking inside of my top 70 is probably a little aggressive, but can you blame me? The fastball is plus-plus, the slider is plus and the changeup is above average. He struck out over 30% of the batters he faced in Low-A this season while posting a minuscule 2.18 ERA. Graterol was recently promoted to High-A, which should be a huge test for a teenager whose command is still developing. His performance for the remainder of the regular season is one of my favorite prospect storylines moving forward. Graterol was featured in the Ramblings way back in May.

62. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL, Age: 19

The future Gold Glove center fielder finally got the “0 professional home runs” monkey off his back, but the holistic numbers have been a disappointing this season. Pache is still in the process of learning how to use his strength to his advantage with a bat in his hands, and I remain absolutely bullish about the 19-year-old’s fantasy future. I think we eventually see the numbers of a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 70-speed prospect, even if we have to wait until next season for it to come to fruition. The 3.4% walk rate this season is concerning (“He’s got a little Adam Jones in him” according to Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame)) and there’s a chance Pache is more valuable in AVG leagues than OBP leagues once he reaches the big leagues. The outfielder was a prospect obsession for me this season, and I discussed him in the Ramblings in May.

61. Justus Sheffield, SP, NYY, Age: 22

Finally, a Yankees pitching prospect we can mostly believe in. Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Sheffield has posted a 2.60 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 72.2 innings pitched. The BB/9 north of four is the concern here. The southpaw has commanded the ball much better lately (2.1 BB/9 in his last three starts), and I’m hopeful he can string together high-floor starts that eventually lead to a big league debut. My gut tells me he’ll eventually show glimpses as a #2 SP, but with his current command, the realistic ceiling is that of a solid #3. Sheffield was featured in the Ramblings last month.

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Featured image courtesy of Pioneer Press

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