Ray Butler’s 2020 Top 200 Prospects: #121-140

Written by: Ray Butler

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

A wise man once said “there’s no better way to begin a new week than a new portion of prospect rankings.” Or something like that. Here are my #121-140 prospects for the 2020 season.

You can check my #141-160 prospects here, my #161-180 prospects here and my #181-200 prospects here.

140. Justin Dunn, SP, SEA. Age: 24

Since I’m sure there are prospect writers out there who will convince you Dunn’s 30.0 BB% in a microscopic 6.2 big league innings pitched in September means he’s got command issues to iron out, I’m going to use the same sample to excite you about the arsenal. The right-hander was basically a two-pitch pitcher post-promotion last fall, combining to throw the fastball and slider 90% of the time out of 136 pitches. Both pitches found small sample success; the fastball posted a .145 xBA while the slider compiled a .149 xBA. The former didn’t miss many bats (9.1 Whiff%), but the latter certainly did (38.1 Whiff%). See how small samples can help us form any argument we prefer? Here are some indisputable facts: Dunn completely skipped Triple-A en route to making his big league debut. As a new member of the Mariners’ organization (as part of the return in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade), the right-hander increased his strikeout rate while dropping his walk rate while pitching in the Texas League. After underperforming his FIP and xFIP in 2018, Dunn’s 3.55 minor league ERA more closely resembled those marks last season. There are long-standing split issues here, mostly because the right-hander leans so heavily on the FB/SL combo—leaving him vulnerable against lefties. We need to see more willingness to throw the changeup at the big league level this season (it’s flashed above average at times throughout his minor league career), but Dunn’s adequate fastball and life-ending slider lay a solid foundation for mid-tier SP4 upside once the 24-year-old becomes comfortable taking the ball every fifth day at baseball’s highest level. There’s room for a bit more if he can establish the changeup against lefties but pretty heavy relief risk if he can’t. Mariners Rank: 8th

139. Luis Gil, SP, NYY. Age: 21

Gil is an analytics darling, and for obvious reasons. The fastball sits in the mid-90s and has topped out at 99. Just as importantly, the pitch possesses elite spin (2550 RPM, which would rank in the 95th percentile amongst MLB pitchers). The slider is also special, grading as a plus pitch with another elite spin rate. The raw stuff here is some of the best in the minors (perhaps even baseball), but Gil must learn how to harness it. The 21-year-old walked 11.6% of the batters he faced in 2019; the K-BB% was 18.7% thanks to a lovely 30.2 K%, but the command issues must be ironed out in order Gil to succeed in the Florida State (and Eastern?) League in 2020. When you combine the lackluster strike-throwing ability with a lack of a viable third pitch (to this point it appears it might eventually be the changeup), you begin to understand why Gil and the elite metrics of his fastball and slider don’t rank higher on this list. I trust the Yankees’ R&D department to do what’s necessary for Gil to remain in the starting rotation, but I’m also aware a future transition to the bullpen would lead to the right-hander becoming one of the most explosive relievers in the big leagues. The future role should become much more clear in 2020. Yankees Rank: 6th

138. Kody Hoese, 3B, LAD. Age: 22

Hoese strikes me as a prospect who’s really going to pop as a member of the Dodgers’ organization. Selected 25th overall last summer, the 22-year-old’s plus raw power and advanced bat-to-ball skills—both of which profile well from third base—are the exact skills we often target in First Year Player Drafts. When I watch Hoese swing, the first word that comes to mine is ‘uncoil’. The stance is upright with weight shifted to the back leg. When he triggers, the third baseman uses a small leg kick that unleashes his plus bat speed without leaving him overly susceptible to offspeed. As a college bat without swing-and-miss issues, Hoese should progress quickly through the Dodgers’ farm system. Los Angeles loves and prioritizes positional versatility on defense, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the 22-year-old shift across the diamond to first base from time to time beginning in 2020. FYPD Rank: 19th, Dodgers Rank: 6th

137. Jared Oliva, OF, PIT. Age: 24

Oliva is sky-rocketing up prospect lists thanks to a stellar performance in the Arizona Fall League (.312/.413/.473), but this is a prospect who has quietly produced above average offensive numbers at three different levels in three consecutive seasons. If you look at the season-long stat lines, Oliva gives the appearance of a hit-over-power prospect with a massive amount of speed. The latter part is certainly true, but the 24-year-old was actually viewed as a power-over-hit outfielder when he was selected in the 7th round from the University of Arizona in 2017. There’s certainly a joke to be made about the Pirates continuing to find ways to suppress the power of their position playing prospects, but Oliva might be a fantasy asset even if he’s unable to fully unlock his above average raw power. With the leadership change within the organization, one can surmise we might see power upticks from players like Oliva and Ke’Bryan Hayes as soon as the 2020 season. The Pirates are nowhere near contending, so it’s likely Oliva is allowed to cook in Triple-A for a while (perhaps for the entirety of the upcoming season) before debuting in the big leagues. Pirates Rank: 5th

Have you weaponized your Twitter account for the 2020 season? 

136. Liover Peguero, SS, PIT. Age: 19

Before he was traded to Pittsburgh as the headliner of the Starling Marte return, Peguero really made me realize how good the Diamondbacks’ system is. At 19 year olds and standing 6-foot-1 and 160 lbs., Peguero is all lower half and extremely athletic. The guys at FanGraphs comped the current body to Jean Segura, though I expect Peguero to fill out a bit more above the waist. The bat-to-ball skills here are fairly crazy, and there’s a real chance the 19-year-old finalizes as a 60-hit shortstop. Those don’t grow on trees, so the fact he’s an above average runner with potential for above average raw power should really peak your interest. The floor is high here. The ceiling is high here. I need to see the power output materialize a bit more before I name my first-born after him, but there’s a non-zero chance Peguero’s worst tool eventually grades as a 55. A 2020 ascension similar to that of former Arizona farm mate Geraldo Perdomo this past season shouldn’t surprise you. Pirates Rank: 4th

135. Daniel Johnson, OF, CLE. Age: 24

From a BA and OBP standpoint in 2019, I firmly believe Johnson more closely resembles the Double-A version of himself than the Triple-A version. The 24-year-old wants to pull and elevate the ball at the plate, two qualities that will play extremely well at Progressive Field in Cleveland. But they’ll also lead to low BABIPs, which was the main culprit in Johnson’s .253 BA and .337 OBP in 39 games for Double-A Akron last season. There’s a rawness in the box that—upon promotion—will lead to high-variance outcomes throughout at least the early stages of Johnson’s MLB career. That rawness also carries over to the basepaths, where the 24-year-old’s 70-grade speed allowed him to steal 55% of the bases he attempted in 2019 (12 of 22). There’s explosiveness within the skillset that allows anyone who’s seen him in person to believe he can be a multi-win right fielder at the big league level; there’s also a level of unrefinement—along with some minor issues versus southpaws—that puts him at risk of being the strong side of a platoon throughout his prime. Indians Rank: 9th

134. Estevan Florial, OF, NYY. Age: 22

Estevan Florial is like attempting to eat buffalo chicken dip with fragile chips. All the tools for greatness are present and evident, but the entire process becomes much more irritating and annoying than it should be. The 22-year-old has met a crossroads in his development and standing on this list. We can tout the hellaciously loud tools as much as we’d like (and—as you know—I have), but eventually, we need to be able to supplement the loudness with tangible on-field success. Florial will likely open the 2020 season in Double-A Trenton. He’s 22 years old. There is no history of sustained on-field performance that allows us to believe Florial will ever get to showcase some of the best raw tools in baseball at the sport’s highest level. Specifically—thanks to abundance of various ailments–the outfielder hasn’t accrued 400 plate appearances in a season since 2017. And while there have been glimpses of strides taken, the hit tool simply hasn’t progressed like we hoped it would since Florial posted a 146 wRC+ in the South Atlantic League as a 19-year-old. There’s a part of me that believes the injuries have masked the momentum needed for a true breakout to occur—à la Luis Robert in 2019 once he was finally able to stay healthy. But while the biggest breakout of the 2020 MiLB season is within the realm of possibility with this skillset, I concede there’s probably a better chance Florial strikes out in a third of his plate appearances in the Eastern League and is omitted from this list entirely a year from now. Yankees Rank: 5th

133. Jake Fraley, OF, SEA. Age: 24

I really fear the prospect industry (including me) made a grave mistake in mindlessly moving Fraley into our top-100s last midseason following a 61-game break out in the Texas League. The 38 Triple-A games that followed aren’t alone enough to convict, but the 24-year-old was barely above average (104 wRC+) in a Pacific Coast League that was practically defenseless to competent offense. And then you have the MLB debut. The 12-game sample isn’t really worth evaluating, but my eyes begin bleeding every time I look at the numbers (0.0 BB%, 34.1 K%, -5 wRC+ (!!!!) in a minimal 41 plate appearances). Real life prospectors have always been lower on Fraley than the prospect world and—true to form—never wavered their stance while the outfielder was in the midst of breaking out in Double-A. The Mariners aren’t currently close to going anywhere promising in the AL West, so Fraley should see a substantial amount of playing time in 2020. The 19 home run, 22 stolen base total the 24-year-old totaled throughout three levels in 2019 is likely more in a single season than he’ll ever post in the big leagues, but 15/15 with moderate on base skills in Seattle wouldn’t be too surprising. Mariners Rank: 7th

132. Josh Jung, 3B, TEX. Age: 22

Jung has some of the most unique swing mechanics of any position-playing prospect on this list. The stance is really upright as the bat moves through the zone, and the swing itself gets started really late in the process. The hands are fast enough that he still gets that bat where it needs to be when it needs to be there, but the quick trigger leads to a batted ball distribution that leans to the opposite field. This is swell from a batting average and BABIP standpoint, but there’s a big worry we’ll never access the 22-year-old’s full power output if he continues to hit the ball to right field more than 40% of the time. Seeing as Jung will need to hit for above average power (at minimum) to profile well at third base for the Rangers, these facts make him a solid candidate for mechanical tweaks and alterations early in his professional career. We should know before MiLB Opening Day (or shortly thereafter) whether any noticeable changes have taken place; if they have, don’t worry if it takes a while before the 22-year-old benefits statistically in-game. FYPD Rank: 18th, Rangers Rank: 4th

131. Michael Busch, INF, LAD. Age: 22

I’m a sucker for Busch for two different reasons that combine to form my longest-standing archetype: he’s an on base machine with positional versatility. From a Dodgers standpoint, that should make you think of Max Muncy. But when Muncy becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023 (at age 32), Los Angeles may lean on Busch to fill that void. The 22-year-old is more of a 1B/2B/OF hybrid than the 1B/2B/3B triad that Muncy brings to the table, but the above average hit and power tools mean Busch is a potential everyday fantasy starter regardless of position. Much like Kody Hoese (who you read about above), it’s easy to believe Busch will reach his fantasy potential after developing in the Dodgers’ system. And perhaps even more so than Hoese, Busch and his elite plate discipline should progress quickly through the minor leagues. The utility player may be 25-years-old before exceeding 400 big league plate appearances in a single season, but these are skills you should desperately look to acquire in dynasty leagues. The production will be worth the wait. FYPD Rank: 17th, Dodgers Rank: 5th

130. Alex Canario, OF, SF. Age: 19

A year ago, I expected the Giants to push Canario into full season ball to begin the 2019 season. Regardless of how the numbers from last season appear, San Francisco was right to keep the outfielder in the Arizona League and Northwest League last season. Canario found a way to hit .318 in 59 games and 265 plate appearances last summer between the AZL and NWL as an under-aged player, but this won’t be the norm moving forward. The .419 BABIP in the NWL last summer was simply a facade, especially since Canario pulled the ball 48% of the time with a 42.9 FB%. With nowhere to ascend now but to full season ball, the 19-year-old should soon become a level-per-season prospect with strikeout rates worthy of a bit of an eye roll. It might only take development to an average hit tool for Canario to become an everyday starter in right field in San Francisco, but that’ll be much easier said than done. The 19-year-old has a fairly blatant issue with spin, and the issues are deep-rooted enough to at least partially hinder the batting average and power. This is a high variance, power-first corner outfield profile with an eye-opening average fly ball distance and prevalent swing-and-miss concerns. In my experience, this archetype breaks our hearts more often than not. Destined for Low-A Augusta in the South Atlantic League to open the 2020 season, Canario will have to deal with cold weather and full season sequencing for the first time as a professional. I hope you can sense my caution here. Giants Rank: 6th

129. Gabriel Rodriguez, 3B, CLE. Age: 18

Plus plus raw power from the hot corner is hat-hanger of this profile, but the bat-to-ball skills are much better than the Arizona League numbers in 18 games showed late last summer. The swing mechanics show some traits of an extremely young and raw hitter: the lower half isn’t always engaged, and it causes the teenager to finish off balance quite often. There’s also susceptibility to spin, though that’s not out of the ordinary for a (then) 17-year-old facing AZL pitching. The 6-foot-2 frame will certainly add weight with maturity, and with it will come a defensive transition from shortstop to third base. And that’s fine, because the defensive skills and massive power will translate well at third base. There’s no chance for a speed output here, but developing an average hit tool might be all Rodriguez needs to be a top-50 or top-75 prospect someday. I assume the New York Penn League lies ahead for the 18-year-old in 2020, though the Indians might want infielder to check a box or two in the AZL before bumping him to Short Season. Indians Rank: 8th

128. Jeremiah Jackson, INF, LAA. Age: 20

This holistic profile is a little all over the place, and the more I think about it, the more it scares me. Without changes to the swing mechanics, we may be lucky to ever see the strikeout rate drop to 25%. The defense at shortstop has received mixed reviews, and Jackson may be better suited for a shift to the cornerstone eventually. Lastly, I’m not sure we’ll ever see the speed output we assumed we would when Jackson was selected as a ‘premium athlete’ 57th overall in 2018. There’s elite, elite bat speed here. With natural loft, there might be 30 homer seasons in the swing…if the contact skills don’t completely eat it away. There in lies the problem, and a 33.0 K% in the Pioneer League as a 19-year-old doesn’t exactly exude confidence regardless of the other tools. The Midwest League awaits Jackson in 2020, where I’ll be anxiously awaiting reports on the state of the swing. The current ‘never makes it’ floor simply gives me too much pause to rank the 20-year-old more aggressively at this point of his development. Angels Rank: 4th

127. Luis Matos, OF, SF. Age: 18

Once the Dominican Summer League started and subsequent reports began rolling in, Matos quickly epitomized the type of prospect savvy dynasty players jump on. There was a ton about the outfielder we didn’t (and still don’t) know. Can he lay off advanced spin out of the zone? Is the affinity to swing a genuine part of the long-term profile or simply a symptom of being 18 years old? But a few things are certain: Matos possesses plus raw power and speed, and the Giants felt strongly enough about the skillset to bring the outfielder stateside in the middle of the summer. Despite the small frame (5-foot-11, 160 pounds), Matos has thunder in his bat. The size and body should also mean he’s able to maintain stolen base viability throughout his career. The Giants will likely keep the 18-year-old at the complex this spring before placing him in the Northwest League to begin the summer, but there’s an outside chance Matos sees time in the South Atlantic League by the end of the regular season. Giants Rank: 5th

126. Kyle Wright, SP, ATL. Age: 24

Originally wrote “Kyle Wright is Dylan Cease Lite” to begin this write-up, but after some reflection, it’s more like the Spidermen pointing at each other meme. A Statcast darling with near-elite spin throughout the entirety of his arsenal, it’s easy to keep the faith with Wright despite a putrid 25.2 IP sample in the big leagues over the course of two seasons. The right-hander has been a professional for less than three full seasons, ascending Atlanta’s system thanks to some of the best pure stuff in baseball. Wright’s slider is a truly elite pitch, posting xBAs of .166 and .142 and Whiff rates of 50.0% and 42.1% in his different stints in the big leagues. The problem is the fastball, which is quite the unfun problem to have. Wright struggles to command the high-spin pitch, which makes him similar to his aforementioned counterpart on the White Sox. The main difference is, Cease played for a team in 2019 that could allow him to struggle productively at the big league level. The same comparison could apply to Mitch Keller. The Braves couldn’t (and shouldn’t) afford for Wright to take the ball every fifth day at the big league level while being so inconsistent. Understand this: when a pitcher’s fastball has a spin rate in the 79th percentile amongst big league pitchers but BAA of .480 (!!!!) and an xBA of .411 (!!!!), it’s not because the pitch itself is a dud. It’s all about the command and spin efficiency for Wright, who can still be a high-end SP3 if everything clicks. I may look at back at this ranking a year from now and laugh at my pessimism. I may also look back and shake my head at Atlanta’s failure to assist their high-ceiling right hander in overcoming his developmental growing pains. Braves Rank: 4th

125. Aaron Bracho, 2B, CLE. Age: 18

I see Willie Calhoun in Aaron Bracho. A meh-bodied, bat-first prospect who currently plays second base but could eventually be positionless (aka a left fielder). I also see it in their swings: compact with plus bat speed. And since prospect hype can sometimes can get out of hand, I mean the Calhoun comp as a compliment, seeing as he just finished his Age-24 Season as an above-average big league hitter. Bracho was amazing in the Arizona League this summer, slashing .296/.416/.593 with 6 home runs and more walks than strikeouts in 30 games before being promoted to the NYPL. In his AZL Top-100, Jason Pennini stated the switch-hitter could eventually reach 60-hit, 60-power. It’s more of 55-hit, 55-power upside in my eyes, but that’s still the bat of an everyday big leaguer. Conservative, I know. There wasn’t much of a Short Season sample, but I’m hopeful the Indians push Bracho to full season ball to begin the 2020 season. If that were the case, he’d debut in the Midwest League as an 18-year-old. Indians Rank: 7th

Interested in minor league batted ball data and isolated power? Our Tyler Spicer recently made some observations on prospects and leagues that really made their presence felt in that realm last season

124. Shane McClanahan, SP, TB. Age: 22

I tweeted this in November but will repeat it here: when I sourced out my offseason research in preparation of my prospect list and prospect obsession list, so many of my scouting sources went out of their way to hype-up McClanahan. The southpaw officially broke out in 2019, striking out 154 and posting a 3.36 ERA (2.17 FIP) in 120.2 IP between Low-A, High-A and Double-A. When McClanahan was drafted, there were two central concerns: inconsistent command and poor college outings that snowballed due to an overflowing of emotion. By most accounts, the 22-year-old made positive strides in both areas in 2019. The Rays have developed their pitching prospects well enough for long enough that consolidation via trade seems inevitable at some point. It also means, if he remains with the organization, a deserved 2020 big league debut could be delayed due to other capable arms who are already on the 40-man roster. Rays Rank: 11th

123. Bryan Mata, SP, BOS. Age: 20

Perhaps more so than any other pitching prospect on this list, Mata embodies a future SP4. It’s functional athleticism at best, and the body lacks projection that would allow us to believe there’s substantial untapped potential the 20-year-old hasn’t unlocked yet. The sinker will likely touch triple-digits before he debuts in Boston, but it produces an abundance of weak contact instead of missing a ton of bats. The curveball is the best pitch, and it’s a good one. If Mata ever misses more bat than was expected while he was a prospect, it’s because the curveball continued improving and eventually became a dominant pitch. The changeup is above average because it has the same shape as the sinker, and the right-hander has begun throwing a ‘slutter’ that—for now—acts as a ‘show me’ pitch. The pitch Mata will throw the most (his sinker) will never generate a ton of swings-and-misses, so I assume the big league strikeout upside will struggle to overwhelmingly exceed a batter per inning (and that may be too optimistic). The right-hander has been extremely young at each level throughout his development, and he should be pitching in the big leagues before he turns 23. Red Sox Rank: 5th

122. Matt Tabor, SP, ARI. Age: 21

Anyone reading this able to credit a friend with setting you up with you eventual soul mate? I’ve got Prospect Live’s Alex Jensen to thank for my growing love for Tabor. I was given some bad reports on the right-hander prior to the 2019 season, so you can understand my surprise when I was told Tabor’s fastball averaged 92.7 mph and topped out at 96 in Kane County (I confirmed this with multiple Diamondbacks contacts). What’s more, the fastball spin rate of 2450 RPM would rank around the 85th percentile amongst big league pitchers. He’s athletic, his newly designed slider misses bats and his best pitch is a ‘chatter’—a changeup with splitter traits. There’s more room to add solid weight to his frame if the Diamondbacks deem it necessary, so there’s a chance the fastball could tick-up a bit more as the right-hander reaches the upper levels of Arizona’s system. This is a pitching prospect who is undoubtedly on the rise. The California League should serve as a solid measuring stick for the majority of 2020, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s bumped to the Southern League by July or August. Tabor is one of the most underrated pitching prospects in all of baseball, and I included him amongst my breakout prospects for the 2020 season. Diamondbacks Rank: 7th

121. Freudis Nova, INF, HOU. Age: 20

Nova is only 20 years old, but he’s only got one big question he’ll have to answer throughout his development: just how much will the aggression at the plate seep into the slash numbers and raw power? The infielder has great bat-to-ball skills, so the affinity to swing freely won’t show up as much in the strikeout rate as it will with so many other prospects on this list. Instead, it could hinder tools that might otherwise make Nova in a star both in the fantasy sense and in the real world. The hand-eye, raw power and top-end speed all currently grade as plus. Further physical development might mean he’s only an above average runner a few seasons from now, and third base could be the eventual defensive home. If the bat reaches its upside, none of that matters. Nova strikes me as a prospect who may be allowed to fail doing things his own way before the Astros begin to implement portions of their philosophy to his skillset. If they can assist Nova in hitting fewer pitchers’ pitches, the monster tools should begin shining through sooner rather than later. The Carolina League likely awaits the 20-year-old in 2020. Astros Rank: 3rd

Don’t want to wait for the release of the remainder of my top-200? Want more than 70,000 words worth of prospect and active player content for the 2020 season? Our 2020 VIP package is still available and currently discounted

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of photographer Rob Lynn and MiLB.com

Leave a Reply