Ray Butler’s 2019 Top 200 Prospects: #101-120

Written by: Ray Butler

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For previous installments of this list, you can check out my #121-140 prospects here, my #141-160 prospects here, my #161-180 prospects here and my #181-200 prospects here.

We’ve hit the halfway point of the #P365Top200! Have a great Tuesday!

120. Antonio Cabello, OF, NYY. Age: 18

I was under the impression Ezequiel Duran was going to be the Yankees’ short season, position player prospect to break out last summer. If not? It would definitely be Everson Pereira. Instead, Cabello stole the show, slashing .308/.427/.522 with 5 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 192 plate appearances last summer before a shoulder injury ended his season (it should be noted that Pereira played at a higher-level of Rookie Ball). The small sample we have on Cabello, combined with his current 5’10 160 lb. frame, make me cringe a little when I say this, but the teenager has a chance to develop into a 60-hit, 60-raw power, 60-speed monster who would be ranked towards the very top of prospect lists. The size, sample and subsequent risk also keep Cabello saddled here until we get a clearer picture on what we can expect moving forward, but the early returns are reports are certainly drool worthy.

119. Seuly Matias, OF, KC. Age: 20

Matias is a big, athletic slugger who exploded onto the scene with 31 home runs in 2018 during his first full season as a professional. According to Fangraphs, an ‘excellent’ ISO is anything at .250 or higher. Matias’s ISO last season was .320. That’s the good news. The bad news is the outfielder’s hit tool may be a 30 right now, and it led to a .231 AVG, .303 OBP and 34.8 K% in Low-A last season. Matias hit the ball over the fence 31 times in 2018; he reached base via a hit 47 other times combined. I think it’s safe to call the raw power an 80, but the approach has so much work to do for Matias to ever come close to reaching his big league ceiling. All eyes will be on the 20-year-old in High-A in 2019.

118. Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX. Age: 23

As you can see, I’m probably the low man on Rodriguez throughout the prospect community. And maybe you think my reasons are unfair, but I can’t currently find myself falling-head-over heals with a prospect who struck out in more than a fourth of his plate appearances as a 22-year-old in Short Season ball last summer. In general, I think the best-case scenario for JPM is topping out at 55-hit and 50-power, and when you consider he likely won’t sniff the big leagues until age 25 or later, it’s hard for me to be a huge fan. Thankfully, our first full season sample from Martinez will come in 2019.

117. Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA. Age: 18

A 17-year-old making his professional debut this summer, Rodriguez slashed .315/.404/.525 with 5 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 255 Rookie Ball plate appearances. He just turned 18 in December, but in my opinion, Rodriguez should get a shot in full season ball to begin the 2019 season. The placement would really test the outfielder’s hit tool, which most scouts agree over-performed to an extent last summer. Rodriguez has a long ways to go, and he now plays for an organization that is full rebuild mode. But the early returns are certainly positive, and if he answers the bell again this season, Rodriguez will gain ground on new Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic.

116. Brady Singer, SP, KC. Age: 22

The Royals’ lack of competitiveness will likely keep Singer in the minor leagues for the entirety of the 2019 season, but it’s entirely possible the stuff and stats scream ‘big league ready’ by the end of the summer. Kansas City’s selection with the 18th overall pick last summer, Singer pitches with lots of emotion and has scouts drooling over his makeup. The right-hander’s delivery is, at minimum, as impressive as any of his offerings, which are headlined by a fastball/slider combination. Along with Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch, Singer’s development and progression will likely signify the reemergence of the Royals as a contender in the American League.

115. Bubba Thompson, OF, TEX. Age: 20

A two-sport star in high school who finally gets to focus on baseball, Thompson was pretty dang impressive in his first full season as a professional in 2018. Fully dedicated to one sport, the Rangers rebuilt Thompson’s swing early last season to improve the outfielder’s contact rate. The numbers continued to improve as Thompson distanced himself from an early-season knee injury; the 8 home runs, 32 stolen bases and .289/.344/.446 triple-slash are overwhelmingly impressive when you consider every factor that was pitted against the outfielder. I’m bullish on the 28.7% strikeout rate from last season decreasing in 2019 in High-A.

114. Jonathan Loaisiga, SP, NYY. Age: 24

I watched every pitch Loaisiga threw in his four starts with the Yankees last season (the right-hander also made five relief appearances in the big leagues in 2018). At times, the 24-year-old looked thoroughly unhittable. At other times, Loaisiga couldn’t buy a strike and bludgeoned his ERA in the process. Despite his age, the right-hander has thrown all of 183.1 IP throughout his entire professional career (I couldn’t think of a proper James Kaprielian joke to go here); despite the stuff being fully-ready, even if Loaisiga takes notable steps forward in 2019, it’s unlikely the Yankees force a full-season’s workload on him. The 24-year-old was profiled by our John Stewart in February.

113. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, MIN. Age: 24

A 124 wRC+ in Double-A last season despite a .254 AVG and 26.4 K% tells you everything you need to know about the thunder in Rooker’s bat. A limited fielder who might snag multi-positional eligibility while being relegated to left field and first base, Rooker, like many others in this portion of the list, will always carry move value in fantasy baseball than in real life. I would imagine Rooker gets bumped to Triple-A to begin his season after spending the entirety of last season with Chattanooga, and while the Twins might choose to let him marinate there until 2020, my money is on the 24-year-old debuting in the big leagues sometime in 2019.

112. Marco Luciano, SS, SF. Age: 17

In a system that, quite frankly, stinks, Luciano has the ceiling of a potential top-5 overall prospect. For a 17-year-old, Luciano utilizes his lower-body really well when he swings. The teenager possesses plus raw power, which will play just fine regardless of whether he sticks at shortstop or eventually shifts to third base. We won’t see Luciano until Rookie Ball this summer, where the shortstop will be a trendy pick to be the 2019 version of Wander Franco. It’s risky to basically pay a top-100 fee for a prospect who hasn’t competed stateside yet (and might not until 2020), but Luciano has the potential to reward your investment in spades.

111. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM. Age: 18

It’s not often I feel as though another site published something so articulate it can’t possibly be topped, but I genuinely feel that way about a recent Fangraphs report on Mauricio: “Much of scouting teenage prospects has to do with identifying good athletes and good frames, and like many of this century’s All-Star, power-hitting shortstops, Ronny Mauricio is both.” The teenager doesn’t yet possess the polish of fellow Mets prospect Mark Vientos, but Mauricio might have a higher ceiling. It’ll be fun to watch the duo over the next few years. Thankfully, as Mets prospects, we don’t have to worry at all about Mauricio or Vientos being artificially inflated by the industry…

Not that they’ll need it.

110. Luis Garcia, SS, PHI. Age: 18

By now, you guys and girls should know how much I respect Prospects Live’s Jason Woodell. Well, in November of last year, Jason ranked Garcia as the top prospect in the Phillies’ system. Above Sixto Sanchez (at the time). “A superstar in the making” in his own words. In all likelihood, we’ll have two Luis Garcia’s in the top-100 by the midseason point of the regular season. The shortstop will play the entirety of the 2019 season as an 18-year-old in full season ball, and it’s fully expected that Garcia will hold his water just fine while at Lakewood. If the power takes a step forward at some point, we’re probably talking about a prospect whose worst tool grades at 55.

109. Nico Hoerner, SS, CHC. Age: 21

A college bat whose immediate mechanical tweaks after the draft paid dividends last summer, Hoerner’s home run output may sneak up on some folks in 2019. The 21-year-old impressed at three different levels (albeit only 60 plate appearances) before an elbow injury ended his summer early. The shortstop returned in the Arizona Fall League, and the scouting reports of the bat-speed and plate approach were drool-worthy. He could eventually shift to second base, but Hoerner’s offensive skillset screams ‘fast mover’ to me, to the extent that he could threaten a big league debut this season. The offensive polish is that good.

108. Deivi Garcia, SP, NYY. Age: 19

I’ve kept denying Garcia, and denying Garcia, and denying Garcia because of his slight build (5’10 163 lbs.), but I can deny him no more. It was only a 74 inning-season for the right-hander in 2018, but it spanned three levels and featured some eye-popping numbers, including a 35.5 K%, a 2.43 BB/9 and a 2.55 ERA. Garcia features a mid-90’s fastball and a curveball that grades by some as plus-plus. The changeup will eventually be a nice third pitch for the teenager, and when the repertoire is paired with Garcia’s advanced command, you begin to see why the Yankees pitching prospect is the apple of many evaluators’ eyes. Garcia should begin the 2019 season in Double-A, but a big league debut sometime this season figures to be in the cards if the right-hander remains healthy. Our John Stewart featured the teenager in a February look at the Yankees’ pitching prospects.

107. Austin Beck, OF, OAK. Age: 20

I mean this quite literally: Beck’s 2018 stat line was as deceiving as any prospect’s inside my top-250. The Athletics stripped down Beck’s old swing, rebuilding it with the necessary mechanics to allow the outfielder to make more contact. The reconstruction seemed to work, as Beck only struck out in 21.9% of his plate appearances after K’ing in 29.3% of his PA the previous season in Rookie Ball. The counting stats were nearly non-existent (2 home runs and 8 stolen bases all of last season despite possessing plus raw power and speed), but it’s assumed future tinkering with the swing will allow Beck to recapture his power. The 6th-overall pick of the 2017 draft, there’s a strong chance Beck makes some notable strides in 2019. A lot of scouts are all-in on Beck breaking out in 2019.

106. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, SD. Age: 21

With a contact profile that arouses me every time I check it out on Fangraphs, Naylor is ‘truly unlocking his massive raw power’ away from bordering on star prospect status. We saw more flashes of it last year, when Naylor hit a career-high 17 home runs in Double-A, which surpassed his previous high of 12. The approach is elite, and it led to the 21-year-old slashing a superb .297/.383/.447 in 2018 with a lovely 12.0 K%. Naylor played more games in left field than first base last season, and with Eric Hosmer unfortunately anchored to the former position in San Diego, Naylor will likely make his big league debut as an outfielder. And despite the Padres currently boasting a jam-packed outfield, the 21-year-old should make an impact sometime in 2019.

105. Christin Stewart, OF, DET. Age: 25

If your fantasy farm system is stocked full of high-ceiling/low-floor prospects with a lot of variance, acquiring Stewart would certainly help offset that. I feel like we already have a really good idea of the type of player the 25-year-old will be on a yearly basis at the big league level. His value will be higher in fantasy leagues that value walks (.263 AVG versus .363 OBP in Triple-A last season), but it feels safe to assume the outfielder will hit anywhere from 20-30 home runs annually (with the juiced balls in the big leagues, he could exceed that). The noticeable difference in Stewart’s performance last season was the drop in strikeout rate; he struck out in 20.3% of his plate appearances in 2018, which was down from his previous career mark of 24.1%. Farewell from my prospect lists, Mr. Stewart.

104. Cole Winn, SP, TEX. Age: 19

The recent history of right-handed prep pitchers being taken in the first round is… not good. To say the least. But I haven’t learned my lesson yet, and Winn’s repertoire made it easy for me to remain a sucker. There’s athleticism, there’s a deep arsenal and there’s sound mechanics that all play in Winn’s favor as a professional. The Rangers have been finicky with their touted pitching prospects early in their professional career, so it’s not a shoe-in that Winn is immediately placed in full season ball to begin the 2019 season. Regardless, if any right-handed prep pitcher can shake the recent curse, it’s probably Winn. We’ll see.

103. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF. Age: 19

We all know Ramos underperformed last season in Low-A, but what goes largely unnoticed is that the outfielder still posted an above-average wRC+ in the South Atlantic League (104). Ramos, like so many other prospects from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, face facets of development that go largely unnoticed throughout the prospect community (for example, Ramos reportedly struggled to acclimate to the cold weather in Augusta early last season). I’ve digressed, but it’s all so much deeper than we could ever know. A 60-raw power, 60-speed prospect with a full season of baseball in the United States under his belt, Ramos will be a popular pick to bounce back in a big way in 2019. Can’t say I disagree. Pray for the hit tool here.

102. Michael Chavis, UTIL, BOS. Age: 23

Chavis is a power-first prospect perfectly capable of making his big league debut in 2019. The problem with that is the Red Sox already have two options at third base in 2019 (one of which, Rafael Devers, is their undoubted future at the position). So if Chavis does head to Boston at some point this season, it’ll likely be to play first base. The problem with that is Mitch Moreland is basically a lock to play against right-handed pitchers, so Chavis would figure to play against southpaws. The problem with that is the Red Sox also have the reigning World Series MVP in Steve Pearce, who platooned at first base with Moreland down the stretch and in the playoffs last season (Pearce has historically hung his hat on mashing left-handed pitching). The Red Sox also have to figure out what they’re going to do with Sam Travis, a former prospect who used to hang out near this portion of prospect lists. Are you maybe seeing the issue with Chavis here? Perhaps surprisingly, the 23-year-old is taking backfield reps at second base this spring, a la Travis Shaw in Milwaukee. If he proves adequate at the position, Chavis’s path to big league playing time in Boston suddenly becomes much more clear. The power is legit. Like, maybe plus-plus, 30-40 home runs at the big league level legit. The top prospect in the Red Sox system is certainly one to keep an eye on this season. Prospect Live’s Ralph Lifshitz recently published a solid, deep-dive piece on Chavis.

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

A three-level pitcher in 2018 (his first season of professional ball) who struck out 26.3% of the batters he faced, Canning skyrocketed up prospect lists and should make his big league debut sometime in 2019. The right-hander has somewhat of a jerky delivery, and deception plays at least a little bit of a role in what Canning brings to the table from the pitching rubber. The 22-year-old has four pitches that are headlined by a mid-90s fastball. Both breaking balls are above-average deliveries. Completed with a changeup, Canning’s arsenal gives him a good chance of becoming a mid-rotation big league starting pitcher. If the right-hander can improve any of his three 55-grade pitches to plus territory (or if the changeup gets to 55), the ceiling will move into the low-end SP2 conversation.

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Featured image courtesy of photographer Kyle Franko and Trentonian Photo

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