Written by: Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643)
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Wow, another month has come and gone, and we suddenly have only one more month of minor league baseball. I feel like each year in August, we’re truly reminded of how fast the season flies by. Thankfully, right after the season, we have the Arizona Fall League and Winter League Ball. Baseball never ends, and I love it. With that being said, I thought it would be a fun exercise to put together a Prospects of the Month team for Prospects 365. Let’s be a little different here. This list won’t include any prospects who made Ray’s midseason top-200 prospect list.
1B – Jared Walsh – LAA – Age: 25 Level: AAA (Salt Lake Bees)
A left-handed first baseman in the Angels’ system, Walsh had a spectacular July. To go along with his six doubles, he also smacked twelve (!) balls out of the park. Walsh strikes out a lot, but his K% dropped in July after only striking out in 27% of plate appearances this month. He also walked at a 15% clip, which is above his 2019 average. At first glance, it appears that Walsh is blocked, with Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols primarily slotting at DH and 1B in Anaheim respectively. However, like Ohtani, Walsh also pitches. He should be an interesting bench piece in September and moving forward.
2B – Samad Taylor – TOR – Age: 21 Level: A+ (Dunedin Blue Jays)
Samad Taylor has been torturing catchers by running wild in the Florida State League. Over the past 30 days, Taylor has swiped ten bases while only being caught three times, which equals a 77% success rate. The power has started to show this month as well with four home runs and two doubles. His season-long on base numbers increased too, hitting .296 and reaching base at a .400 clip. Taylor was a pretty raw prep player when he was drafted back in 2016. He still has some things to work on (he’s hitting .219 with a 26.8 K% for the season) but the increase in power is very encouraging, especially when you pair it with the speed.
3B – Cristian Santana – LAD – Age: 22 Level AA (Tulsa Drillers)
While he is very aggressive at the plate (2.5 BB% this season), the 22-year-old had an excellent month of July. He hit .328 with a .331 OBP (lol) and .466 SLG. The strikeout rate of 19% during the month was right in line with his yearly average of 20%. Santana was another extremely raw player when the Dodgers signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Scouts have said Santana’s bat speed, athleticism and raw power is very interesting. He also has the defensive chops to stick at third base.
SS – Aaron Bracho – CLE – Age: 18 Level: Rookie (AZL Indians 2)
One of my favorite systems in baseball is the Indians’ system. They have some very interesting young bats, and Bracho is certainly among that group. In July, Bracho hit .352 to go along with a .443 OBP. The five home runs will grab the headlines, but he also notched eight doubles, two triples and three stolen bases. Cleveland signed the switch-hitting shortstop for $1.7 million during the 2017 J2 signing period. The bat is his calling card, and scouts have said both swings are smooth and easy. There’s a chance he’s not a shortstop in the long-term, but a move would likely mean he fits nicely at the keystone.
OF – Jared Oliva – PIT – Age: 23 Level: AA (Altoona Curve)
Oliva is having a sneaky good season, and he certainly did not disappoint in July. Throughout the past month, Olivia hit .382 with a .438 OBP, five doubles, three triples and two home runs. Perhaps what is most interesting is the fact Olivia is running rampantly, to the tune of fourteen swipes during the month (he’s up to 30 SB this season). Oliva has reportedly made a swing change at some point during the season, and it has paid dividends.
OF – Franklin Labour – SFG – Age: 21 Level: A- (Salem-Keizer Volcanoes)
Labour was part of the Giants’ July 2nd class in 2015, and he might become a sneaky scouting win for San Francisco. Overshadowed by Lucius Fox signing in the same draft class, Labour was signed for only $70,000 (plus a $60,000 scholarship). Labour has had an excellent summer, and he killed it in July. He hit nine home runs, six doubles and one triple to go along with a .327 AVG and .404 OBP. He also picked up one stolen base, though you shouldn’t count on much impact on the base paths as he moves through the Giants’ system.
OF – DJ Peters – LAD – Age: 23 Level AAA (Oklahoma City Dodgers)
There was a major power surge throughout the state of Oklahoma in July, and it was caused by DJ Peters. Throughout the month, Peters smacked eleven home runs and five doubles while hitting .353. The .465 OBP in July is perhaps even juicier. Yes, I am sure some of this power is part of the PCL/Happy Fun Ball but Peters has always been known for his power. The 23-year-old has a long history of strikeout rates, but the K% has dipped to an extremely manageable 22.6% in his first 137 plate appearances. Perhaps Peter isn’t entirely destined to become the Quad-A player he’s been labeled as.
RHP – Luis Frias – ARI – Age: 21 Level A- (Hillsboro Hops)
Another sneaky system is that of the Diamondbacks, and Frias should be on your radar. During July, the 21-year-old racked up 46 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, which equates to a 39 K%. As is true with a lot of high strikeout pitchers, his walk rate is a bit high at 10%. Some scouts fear the 6-foot-3 righty, thanks to his age and mechanics, is destined for the bullpen with his lights-out fastball. However, Frias currently has an interesting, four-pitch mix that the Diamondbacks will want to keep in the rotation as long as possible.
LHP – Trevor Rogers – MIA – Age 21 Level A+ (Jupiter Hammerheads)
Rogers was a first-round pick by the Marlins in 2017. At the time, the pick was considered a bit risky, since the Marlins drafted Braxton Garrett, another hard-throwing prep arm, in the first round in 2016 before losing him to Tommy John surgery the following season. Fast forward today, and both southpaws are having tremendous 2019 campaigns. Rogers especially had an excellent July, striking out 42 batters and only walking four in 34.2 innings. During his first taste of pro ball last year, Rogers struggled a bit with walks (8.3 BB%), so seeing him put up a sub-5% walk rate this month (5.3 BB% this season) is very encouraging.
Follow staff writer Shelly Verougstraete on Twitter! @ShellyV_643
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of photographer Cliff Welch and MiLB.com