Written by: Ray Butler
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Instead of digressing on a handful of prospects, this week I’ve got some brief, concise thoughts on several guys……
- If you were unaware, I concluded the #MidseasonTop200 list with the release of my #1-20 prospects. Of course, these prospects are the cream of the crop and players I consider potential big league game changers. You can read about those players right here.
- If you’re more interested in seeing the entire list in one place, you should check out my composite #MidseasonTop200 list. It currently features 180 prospects, and the final 20 will be added later this week. You can find my composite list here.
- Was asked a question earlier this week that I hadn’t taken too much time to ponder: Will Fernando Tatis Jr. be the Padres’ starting shortstop on Opening Day of next season? It’s a fair question. Tatis Jr. has already compiled 14 HR and 15 SB this season in 366 Double-A plate appearances. With a near-.300 batting average. As a 19 year old. Still, I think San Diego will be conservative with their most-prized rebuilding possession. The shortstop has struck out in 28.4% of plate appearances this season, so there actually are facets of his offense that Tatis needs to refine. 2020 is really the year I think the Padres’ contention-window might open, and while Tatis will almost-certainly be an every day player in San Diego at some point next season, the Padres have no real reason to expedite the 19 year old’s path (darn you, current collective bargaining agreement). They could handle Tatis similarly to how the White Sox have handled Eloy Jimenez, meaning a formality-style stint in Triple-A El Paso might eventually be in the cards. It could eventually get frustrating for fantasy owners and Padres’ fans alike, but Tatis Jr. will almost certainly be worth the wait once he finally arrives. The shortstop was the featured prospect in the Ramblings nearly a month ago and is a top-five overall prospect in my recently-released top 200 rankings.
- Don’t forget to check out last week’s Ramblings. They include thoughts on Francisco Mejia, Luis Robert, Akil Baddoo, Esteury Ruiz, Luis Garcia and Sean Reid-Foley. Read it here.
- Man, I love me some Yusniel Diaz. A fun exercise: When you visit a player’s Baseball Reference or Fangraphs page, check their K% and BB% before you do anything else. If the two percents are similar, there’s a good chance I’m a fan of the prospect you’re researching. Diaz is the epitome of that notion. Thru 244 plate appearances this season as a 21 year old in Double-A, Diaz has walked the same number of times he’s struck out. 15.1% apiece. That’s special plate discipline. That’s an elite plate approach. Following a stellar 4-5 day on Sunday, Diaz is now slashing a ridiculous .301/.410/.461 with 6 home runs and 8 stolen bases thru 55 games. The outfielder has always been known for his well-roundedness, but his skills have apparently taken the next step this season. I ranked Diaz 64th on my midseason top 200 prospect list, and it seems as though his stock is not yet done climbing. I feel as though Diaz is still flying under the radar to an extent, so make sure you remedy that in your fantasy league.
- Taylor Trammell update: .307/.403/.441 with 6 HR and 13 SB. The outfielder has walked in 12.7% of plate appearances and struck out in 19.0% of plate appearances. I could probably write a dissertation as to why I believe Trammell hasn’t yet been promoted to Double-A, but for now I’ll suggest you take a look at his write-up in my midseason top 200 list. His prospect-list ascension is happening right in front of our eyes. Back in February, Trammell was my pick for a breakout prospect this season.
- There’s quite a bit to sift through in the Orioles’ organization, but Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan McKenna and Cedric Mullins are all trending in the right direction in the position-player department. Mountcastle was favorably-ranked 55th in my #MidseasonTop200 (the only member of the aforementioned trio who made the list). The 55-hit, 55-raw power grades are seeming more realistic this season, mostly because Mountcastle is walking more often. McKenna is a 2015 fifth round draft pick who’s introduced himself with authority this season. The strikeout rate has been high in the small sample of plate appearances since he was promoted to Double-A, but it’ll be interesting to evaluate the 21-year-old’s numbers at the end of the regular season. A fan favorite in my mentions, Mullins is already up to 10 HR and 15 SB this season between Double-A and Triple-A. With a .300 batting average. And a minuscule strikeout rate. The 23 year old strikes me as a player who’s underrated throughout their minor league career but becomes an above-average big leaguer. A Fringe Five-type player, if you will. The Orioles are a fundamentally-flawed organization currently, but Mountcastle, McKenna and Mullins are worth your attention.
- Bryse Wilson is figuring out Double-A. After a sterling, scoreless 6.1 IP performance on Sunday, the 20 year old right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in two consecutive outings. In that 13.1 IP sample, Wilson has struck out 16 and only walked one. After I tweeted out his stat line, Talking Chop writer @BravesHerbert tweeted me a more-holistic picture: In his last six starts, Wilson has posted a 2.59 ERA with a 34/6 K:BB ratio. The FIP is even better than the aforementioned ERA. For a pitching prospect in Double-A who won’t turn 21 until nearly Christmas, Wilson’s underlying numbers are quite promising. I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that before his prospect status expires, there’s a chance Wilson is more highly-touted than Mike Soroka. I ranked Wilson 82nd on my #MidseasonTop200 prospect list.
- He turned 23 years old this past weekend, but don’t let the unridiculously-young age cast a shadow on what Nathaniel Lowe has accomplished this season. Between stops at High-A and Double-A, the first base prospect is now slashing .346/.428/.586 with 17 HR in 339 plate appearances. Want some icing on the cake? Lowe has struck out in only 15.0% of plate appearances. He’s walked in 12.1% of plate appearances. He’s not oozing with athleticism, but Lowe’s stock is soaring due to his developing approach to all fields. He’s hitting the ball around the yard with authority. Lowe was recently named to the upcoming Futures Game, and it’s feasible he could see time in Triple-A before the end of the regular season. I ranked Lowe 142nd in my midseason top 200 prospect list.
- The statistics never tell the whole story of a prospect’s skillset or development. Never. But the story of William Contreras’s current 2018 stat line is “he is good”. The 20 year old catching prospect got a late start to the season, but in 66 games for Low-A Rome, Contreras is slashing .297/.362/.430 with 8 HR. For a Low-A catcher, Contreras obviously has a long way to go in his development. If he follows the typical path of a catching prospect, Contreras will probably make his big league debut 2021 or 2022. When you invest in young catcher prospects, you invest for the long haul. Despite that, I think there’s a chance Contreras could eventually grade as a 55-hit, 55-raw power prospect. In a fantasy world starved for solid backstop options, Contreras might be worth the wait. Here’s a fun question: Will the Braves win the World Series before Contreras makes his big league debut? I aggressively ranked Contreras as the 130th-best prospect in baseball this midseason.
- A prime trade candidate at the upcoming trade deadline, Dodgers prospect Will Smith’s stock is on the rise. Following his 14th home run of the season on Sunday, Smith is currently slashing .287/.384/.580 in 211 plate appearances this season. And after another start at third base, Smith has now officially played more games at the hot corner than at catcher this season, increasing his positional versatility with catching prospect Keibert Ruiz the inherent heir to Yasmani Grandal’s throne in Los Angeles. Smith will almost-certainly be a topic of conversation in any trade discussions the Dodgers have prior to the deadline.
- He’s only 17 years old, but Rays shortstop prospect Wander Samuel Franco is looking like the real deal in Rookie Ball. Signed for $3.85 million last summer, the development of the power was always going to be what could propel Franco from a pretty good player to a very good player. So far, so good. The shortstop has already smacked 3 HR in only 77 plate appearances this summer, slashing .352/.403/.592 so far. He’s chipped in three stolen bases for good measure. With each passing day, it’s seeming increasingly likely that Franco might push his way onto top 100 prospect lists by the start of the 2019 season. He’s still lightyears away from the big leagues, but if the power is already genuinely developing, Franco is probably worth investing in early. For now, I have Franco as the 179th-best prospect in baseball.
- Red Sox prospects Danny Diaz and Antoni Flores represent the next wave of prominent organizational prospects. Both currently assigned to Rookie Ball, according to @redsoxstats, neither has played recently. According to the aforementioned tweet, Diaz hasn’t played July 2nd and is currently in Boston to apparently undergo additional medical testing. Flores hasn’t played since June 18th due to what is being described as “general soreness”. Both prospects are currently 17 years old, so an injury this season doesn’t necessarily disrupt the big picture or ETA of either prospect. It does, however, speak to the current struggles of the Red Sox farm system. Top prospect Jason Groome recently underwent Tommy John surgery. Third base prospect Michael Chavis was suspended for the first 80 games of the season (though he recently returned). Teenage pitching prospect Bryan Mata has had his ups-and-downs in High-A this season (don’t look at the BB/9). Bobby Dalbec has already hit 19 home runs this season, but he’s also struck out in 31% of his plate appearances. Fringe prospects such as Mike Shawaryn and Josh Ockimey have had solid seasons, but fans know youngsters such as Diaz and Flores likely possess more potential than both. Let’s hope the duo returns to the playing field soon.
- Yankees teenage pitching prospect Roansy Contreras thru 21.2 Short-Season innings pitched this summer: 12 H, 4 ER, 8 BB, 24 K. The ERA is 1.66, and the scouting reports are gleaming. Contreras’s fastball sits at 95 mph, and the slider has sharp, breaking action and has potential to be the right-hander’s second plus pitch. At 6’0 175 lbs., the 18 year old should continue to develop strength as he finalizes his physical maturation, meaning the fastball velocity could continue to ascend. Contreras is athletic, and he could remain under-the-radar until his full season debut in 2019. Keep the name in mind moving forward.
- Absorb it all while you still can. This week, I’ll be recreating my dynasty prospect list. It’ll include a rolling list of prospects who did not make my #MidseasonTop200 but are worthy of your consideration in deep fantasy league formats. Here’s the current list (in no 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, Brandon Lowe, Edwin Rios, Bryan Mata, Freddy Peralta, Luis Garcia, Nathaniel Lowe, Roansy Contreras, Marcos Diplan, Jordan Yamamoto, 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, Ryan McKenna, 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 at any time!
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Featured image courtesy of Outfield Fly Rule