Ray’s Ramblings: July 2nd

Written by: Ray Butler

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  • Some self promotion first. This morning, I released my #61-80 prospects from my #MidseasonTop200. I said it on Twitter last night: we’ve reached the most aggressive part of my latest prospect list. You can read about my newly-released prospects right here.
  • If you’re interested in reading about all the prospects from my #MidseasonTop200 that I’ve released, you can find my composite list right here. Now 120 prospects listed.
  • Indians prospect Francisco Mejia was featured in the Ramblings less than a month ago, and I’d like to personally take full credit for the unspeakably-amazing hot streak he’s currently on. Just kidding. Really though, we’re in the midst of a prolonged hot streak for the ages, In the month of June, Mejia slashed .455/.476/.717 with 4 HR and only 14 strikeouts in 99 at-bats. This is a positive reflection, so I’ll elect to not mention the fact he only walked three times during that span. I won’t mention that I’d love to see his current 5.7% walk rate for the season ascend a little before he officially gets promoted to Cleveland. Let’s stay positive. The catcher/outfield prospect played in 24 games last month. He had 45 hits. You do the math. At the end of May, Mejia was slashing a putrid .189/.258/.293 with 3 home runs for the season. He’s now slashing .291/.340/.453 with 7 home runs. It’s been quite the turnaround for the 22 year old, and it’s entirely possible that he’s ready to contribute for the Indians. I fear that by the time it’s all said and done, we’ll eventually look at Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez blocking Mejia the same way Danny Espinosa blocked Trea Turner for half a season in 2016. Of course, there are more nuances to being a big league catcher compared to a big league shortstop, and it’s hard to evaluate how well Mejia manages a game and his pitching teammates from anywhere other than Triple-A Columbus’s dug out. The outfield flexibility is nice and all, as long as Mejia doesn’t fully-transition to the grass early in his career; but does it give the Dominican Republic native a route to everyday playing time this season, barring injury? I doubt it. We’re temporarily stuck with a prospect who’s likely offensively ready for the big leagues right now but remains in Triple-A anyways. Don’t let the suboptimal big league outlook this season put a damper on the fact that Mejia was likely the best hitter in all of baseball throughout June.
  • Make sure you check out my Ramblings from last week. It features thoughts on Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley, Taylor Trammell, Pete Alonso, Touki Toussaint and Oneil Cruz. Read it right here.
  • At what point does it become okay to worry about Luis Robert’s durability? The outfielder suffered a meniscus tear in July of last season, he missed the first two months of the 2018 regular season with a thumb injury, and now he’s landed back on the disabled list after re-injuring the same thumb. From a tool standpoint, Robert’s talents are immense and obvious. And maybe I’m being melodramatic here, but as Robert becomes a consensus top 25 prospect (thanks largely to the process of elimination of graduating prospects), doesn’t the risk in acquisition grow? He’ll turn 21 in August and has fewer than 100 plate appearances in full season ball. I feel as though I’m as patient as it gets when it comes to young prospects, but are you running wild trying to trade for Robert right now? Especially at the price point of a top 25 prospect. With that thought process and after scanning a few industry lists (I’m not about to accidentally reveal any of my top 25 midseason prospects here), you’d have to pay the same price to acquire Robert as you would Sixto Sanchez, Jesus Luzardo or Keston Hiura. All I’m saying is that makes me feel a little slimy. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Robert’s performance prior to re-injuring his thumb: .293/.372/.373 (.407 BABIP) with 0 HR, 5 SB and a 25.3 K% in 87 plate appearances between Low-A and High-A. I know some folks are concerned with the lack of power, but I think the sample is too small to worry. For me, the bottom line with Robert remains the notion that if he stays healthy and develops a league average hit tool, the 65-raw power and 60 speed will make him a borderline superstar. Let’s just hope he can get healthy and stay healthy.
  • I promised myself I wouldn’t digress too much about any one prospect in my #MidseasonTop200 write ups, but of course I have a lot more to say about Padres prospect Esteury Ruiz. I discussed Ruiz, the 67th-ranked prospect in my new rankings, with Dylan Sinn, the Fort Wayne TinCaps beat writer for the Journal Gazette. As someone who’s seen Ruiz play several times this season, he agrees with the emerging offensive skillset. “For a 19 year old, he’s got big power,” Sinn said. “The ball really jumps off his bat. He’s short to the ball, too, which will help down the line when he faces better stuff.” The other eye-opening facet of Ruiz’s tools is the stolen base numbers (24 SB in 68 games in Low-A this season). Sinn’s evaluation of Ruiz’s wheels is in-line for a 55-speed prospect who’s stolen a ton of bases in a short period of time. “He doesn’t have elite speed,” Sinn noted. “But he’s got good instincts and steals a lot of bases that way.” All most folks care about is a big league projection (no labor pains, just the baby). Sinn prefaced his projection with the notion that it depends on the amount of muscle Ruiz adds as he finalizes his physical development (he’s right), but predicted the second baseman will be a 15 HR/15 SB player with a .340 OBP. “20 (home runs) and 20 (stolen bases) is on the high end, but not impossible.” From a scouting standpoint, the biggest knock on Ruiz is his defensive future. He currently plays second base, but an eventual move to third base or right field is certainly a possibility. If he does move across the diamond to the hot corner, Sinn thinks it’s a move Ruiz would be able to handle “He has a good arm, so third wouldn’t be a bad option,” Sinn said. “He’d just have to hit enough to stay there, which I think he would.” Optimism seemingly abounds from people who have watched Ruiz in person this season. Fangraphs grades Ruiz with 55-hit, 60-raw power and 55-speed. I scout I’ve talked to grades the 19 year old with 65-hit and 55-raw power. The common theme with the pair of evaluations is that Ruiz should eventually develop an above average hit tool, which would propel Ruiz to another level. Personally, I tend to lean more towards a 20 HR/15 SB/.350 OBP big league projection, and I think there’s room to grow in the home run and stolen base department. I am absolutely giddy about the potential here, and I decided to stick my neck out there with Ruiz’s ranking in my #MidseasonTop200. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store here. For what it’s worth, Sinn gets to watch Esteury Ruiz, Jeisson Rosario, Tirso Ornelas, MacKenzie Gore, Gabriel Arias, Luis Campusano and Luis Patino on nearly a nightly basis. In my opinion, that makes him one of the luckiest minor league beat writers on the planet. “This is my first season on the beat and it’s been great,” Sinn said. “I’m having a lot of fun coverin them and I can’t wait to follow them as they hit the upper levels and the majors!” Let’s hope he’s right about Ruiz. Let’s hope I’m right about Ruiz. Follow @DylanSinn for additional insight on the Low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps.
  • Twins OF prospect Akil Baddoo struck out in only 19% of plate appearances in June. Why’s that important? The 19 year old K’d in 32.2% of his plate appearances in April and May combined (171 plate appearances). That number, teamed with his .221 AVG and 3 home runs in the first two months of the season, caused Baddoo to be written off in some circles of the prospect world. A month later, the outfielder has 8 HR, 13 SB and a 26.4 K% for the season. The AVG for the season is still just .237, but I expect it to climb in July, especially if he continues putting the ball in play (he’s due for some positive BABIP regression). I ranked Baddoo 161st in my preseason top 200 prospect list, but the teenager jumped to 74th in my midseason edition. Some deep keeper and dynasty players will still be turned off after quickly glancing at Baddoo’s season long AVG and K%, so there’s still a chance you have an opportunity to acquire stock at the ground floor. The 19 year old is certainly trending upward.
  • Staff writer Zach Volland took a look at Kyle Tucker this past week. Tucker has been raking lately, and Volland detailed the outfielder’s mechanics, tools, outlook and ETA in the piece. Give it a look right here.
  • It didn’t make the waves that Esteury Ruiz’s ranking will because it was outside of the top 100, but ranking Luis Garcia 110th in my #MidseasonTop200 was not only aggressive, it was me taking a stand on an eighteen year old. Garcia turned 18 in May and has been in Low-A for the entirety of the 2018 regular season. In 314 plate appearances for Hagerstown, Garcia has a 15.3% strikeout rate. For someone so young playing in full season ball, that’s a fantastic plate to start. As is the apparent theme with prospects in this post, Garcia had a rough start to the season (he hit .198 with an OPS under .500 in April). He’s since settled in. After a 4-for-5 day on Sunday, the infielder is now slashing .299/.339/.406 with 3 HR and 8 SB. The counting stats aren’t spectacular, and at 18 years old, Fangraphs currently grades Garcia’s raw power at 50. At 6’0 190 lbs., he should continue developing physically. That hopefully means additional power is right around the corner. But for what he currently misses out on in the power department, Garcia makes up for with plus speed. The infielder typically bats 2nd or 3rd in Hagerstown’s lineup, and stolen base opportunities have been few-and-far-between to this point of the season. Another aspect of Garcia’s profile that I’m a fan of is the defensive versatility. The 18 year old has double-digit starts at second base, third base and shortstop this season (11 games, 35 games and 25 games respectively). Garcia is already thought of as an above-average defender, and it’s always nice to have that fact in your back pocket when you evaluate a player from a real-life or fantasy standpoint. At the end of the day, Garcia’s power development will speak volumes for his future status on prospect lists. As he finalizes his physical development and learns to tap into his strength at the plate (his current swings inhibits his power), I’m hopeful we see a notable increase in home runs. You can read more about the up-and-coming teenager in my #MidseasonTop200 prospect list here.
  • I have a hunch. Sean Reid-Foley’s stock dropped so much following last season that, despite a great 2018 campaign, he’ll still be underrated whenever he makes his big league debut. SRF began the season repeating Double-A; he posted a whopping 10.6 K/9 and a 2.03 in 44.1 IP at the level before being promoted to Triple-A. Since the bump, the right-hander has struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings in 42.1 IP. The ERA in Triple-A is 4.04, but the FIP and xFIP are both below 3.00, the BABIP-against is unlucky and the 22 year old is walking fewer hitters. There’s a lot to like about Reid-Foley’s profile this season. The right-hander throws three above-average-or-better pitches, and the command appears to be somewhere around league average. With the Blue Jays figuring to sell starting pitcher at the deadline, there’s a chance Reid-Foley makes a big league debut sometime this season. Despite an unfavorable 2017 season, I ranked SRF 192nd in my preseason top 200 prospect list. He ascended to 131st in my midseason edition, and there’s an outside chance he nears or reenters the top 100 heading into next season if he retains prospect status.
  • 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, Jose Devers, 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 Minor League Baseball

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