The Most Overrated Prospects in Baseball

Written by: John Calvagno (@SALNotes), Joe Drake (@JDrake349), Michael Schneider (@mikecschneider), Tyler Spicer (@tylerjspicer), Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty), Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643) and Ray Butler

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

This is the first collaboration in the history of the P365 prospect team! Luckily, we’ve picked a topic that will undoubtedly lead to universal praise and critical acclaim.

Today, each member of our prospect team picks and discusses the player who they perceive to be the most overrated prospect in all of baseball.

In alphabetical order by prospect analyst, let’s dive in!

John Calvagno (Twitter: @SALNotes)

Most Overrated Prospect: Alec Bohm

There’s no obvious answer in the top-50 for me right now. Last year, I thought Luis Garcia (Nationals) and Andres Gimenez were too high; the market has since corrected and Gimenez is actually a pretty good buy right now in my opinion.

If had to pick one it would be Alec Bohm. He’s a nice player for a big man with a big swing. I’m amazed by the amount of contact he make, but the swing is linear and he pulled the ball just 27% of the time last season.

Offensively, Bohm’s game is line drives and sharp grounders to the gaps. So despite the monster raw power, I’m expecting a .270 BA/.350 OBP with 20-25 bombs annually. If he were to change his swing—specifically to add lift and become more pull-heavy—the long swing means he would add power at the expense of the hit tool. His barrel would stay in the zone for a shorter amount of time as he would be swinging uphill, and the batting average would plummet. Maybe something along the lines of .230 BA/.320 OBP with 35+ home runs.

There’s a long track record of defensive questions surrounding Bohm, and the third base situation in Philadelphia has evolved once again this season. The Phillies plan to have Jean Segura play third base in 2020; if he returns to form and Bohm is struggling at 3B in Triple-A, they might just keep him down there until next season.

Bohm is a nice player but he’s probably not a top-30 overall prospect, unless you really value the thought of big league production this year.

Joe Drake (Twitter: @JDrake349)

Most Overrated Prospect: Jarren Duran

I hate Jarren Duran. Okay, not really—I’ve never met the guy! How could I hate him? But, I don’t like him as a fantasy baseball prospect. That much I can say with certainty. Duran is a chiseled, lean and mean second baseman turned outfielder (hmm, I feel like I’ve heard that out of Boston before) who had an incendiary summer in 2019. But, don’t let the inflated numbers deceive you. In 2019, Duran was a 22-year-old beating up on younger competition before meeting his match when he was promoted to Double-A. He slashed .250/.309/.325 there with 1 home run, a 24% K rate and 6.5% BB rate. He sported a meager .075 ISO in Double-A and that’s where the biggest problem with Duran’s fantasy prospects lie: he doesn’t hit for power now and he doesn’t plan to in the future, either.

So what if he doesn’t hit for power, he can just be a speedster at the top of your lineup and rack up steals, right? Ehh, maybe. Yes, Duran had double plus speed. Yes, he stole 46 bags in 59 tries last year, but I’m not sure I want to anoint him as the next Juan Pierre quite yet. To be a table setter at the top of the lineup, you have to be a great hitter with OBP skills, not just a great runner. Last year in Portland, Duran was not that guy. A .309 OBP in the Eastern League with a strikeout rate 4 times the walk rate is not a recipe for success in the minors, let alone in the big leagues. His game looks a lot more like a bottom-of-the-order hitter who you keep in the lineup for his premium defense… except that he’s a bad defender per the fine folks at FanGraphs.

So, should you be using a minor league roster slot for a slap-hitting, bunt-loving, speedster who probably isn’t a major league caliber defender? Personally, I would not. I have seen him ranked well inside the Top 200 prospects and that is far too rich for me. It’s going to be tough enough for him to crack a starting lineup in real life, let alone your fantasy team.

Editor’s note: Joe’s portion of this article was added less than 24 hours after the article was originally published. 

Michael Schneider (Twitter: @mikecschneider)

Most Overrated Prospect: Sam Huff

Huff is a power-hitting catching prospect in the Rangers organization that is ranked 74th in MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospect list. Huff made a name for himself in 2019 by hitting 15 homers in the first 30 games of the season for Hickory in the Sally League. He was repeating the year at Hickory, but after his power surge, the 22-year-old was quickly promoted to High-A with the Down East Wood Ducks in the Carolina League. He finished 2019 with a total of 28 homers and was the MVP of the Futures Game.

Huff is a much less interesting prospect if he does not stick at catcher. His hitting in the Carolina League as a 21-year-old was fine, but unexceptional (117 wRC+ and 28.9 K% in 405 plate appearances). In 97 games, Huff hit .262/.326/.751 with 13 home runs. Offensively, Sherten Apostel, Huff’s teammate, is a more intriguing prospect with an impressive power and patience combination.

Huff is listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. There are only a handful of catchers that are as big as Huff that have been successful at the big league level. Salvador Perez is the only starting catcher at the MLB level today who is close to Huff’s size. The 22-year-old has a good arm and threw out close to 50% of base stealers in 2019. However, in a live look at Huff last August, I thought he was a bit stiff and uncomfortable behind the plate. Bottom line, I don’t think Huff makes it as a catcher and there are many similar first base or designated hitter prospects throughout the real world and fantasy landscapes.

Tyler Spicer (Twitter: @tylerjspicer)

Most Overrated Prospect: Vidal Brujan 

Brujan has been ranked as high as the #3 fantasy prospect in baseball entering 2020. It’s easy to see the career .377 OBP and 151 stolen bases and dream about him at the top of a lineup. I hope he gets there and proves me wrong, but there’s a considerable amount of risk given his current ranking.

First, Brujan has a concerning batting split risk. Throughout the minors, Brujan has consistently hit better from the left side of the plate. As a RHB, the 22-year-old has failed to generate any sort of power posting a .266 SLG last season. In 426 ABs, Brujan has yet to hit a professional home run against southpaws. For those thinking there might be untapped power or that the MLB ball might help him increase power, statistics show otherwise. Last year, Brujan was hitting the ball on the ground over 50% of the time, which is in line with his career average. His estimated FB distance decreased nearly 20 feet from 2018 to 2019. These indicators show it may be unlikely that Vidal will post an ISO outside of his .100 to .125 career range.

On top of this, Brujan’s strikeout rate has been gradually increasing throughout his time in the minors. All else equal, a sub-15.0 K% is still excellent. However, with more advanced pitching, there’s a possibility this trend will continue to increase. Another stat to note is his walk rate. The more times he walks the more chances for steals, right? Well after two seasons of an 11.0 BB%, Brujan posted an 8.6 BB% in 2019.

When he does get on base, Brujan has a modest 70% stolen base success rate in the minors. This isn’t elite but it will be playable along with his above average defense at second base. With the prospect depth of the Rays middle infield (Wander Franco, Xavier Edwards, Greg Jones, Lucius Fox and Taylor Wall) and the current middle infield youth in the bigs (Brandon Lowe and Willy Adames), Brujan may not have a lot of time to “figure things out” with a contending Rays team. With questions about his hit tool and external positional factors, I worry that Brujan might fall into a utility role. Like I said, I hope he proves me wrong – but at his current ranking, other prospects around him simply have more upside.

ops splits brujan

Ian Smith (Twitter: @FlaSmitty)

Most Overrated Prospect: Bryse Wilson

My pick here might be the obvious choice for an overrated prospect simply because of reliever risk, but the reasoning for his inclusion here extends beyond that. Wilson expanded his arsenal to five pitches in 2019, and it led to inconsistent results. A 22.3 K% was the lowest of his career so far, and even more his FIP jumped to 4.70 over his last 170 innings.

The addition and harnessing of more pitches will be key in making Wilson an MLB caliber starter, but the flaws are still apparent when watching him. His aggressive mentality on the mound is something I strive for from elite pitchers, but I believe it’s hurt Wilson to this point. Overly relying on an unelite fastball has made him more and more fly ball and home run prone as he’s developed the past few seasons. In his cups of coffee at the big league level the past few seasons, he’s struggled to fool anyone. Of the 88 batted ball events he’s allowed, 33 of them totaled an exit velocity north of 100 mph.

If he can learn to trust his changeup more often and harness some control in another put away pitch (likely his slider) then there could be a backend starter within this profile, but for now he’s slowly dropping down all of my lists. 

Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643)

Most Overrated Prospect: Royce Lewis

I just want to preface this with I don’t hate Royce Lewis; I just think he is a bit overrated. You might be thinking this is a reaction to his 2019 season, but I assure you that it is not.

Lewis was a ‘surprise’ number one draft pick by the Twins in 2017. I say ‘surprise’ as Hunter Greene was thought to be in the running as the first player off the board but Lewis was projected to still be a top three selection. After being drafted, Lewis dominated the GCL and the Midwest League. His 2018 season began back in the Midwest League and, again, dominated until he got the call to High-A Fort Myers, where he boarded the Struggle Bus.

What has me concerned is this huge leg kick and overall ‘messy’ swing that has hampered his timing (we saw the struggles again last season in High-A and Double-A). For his current swing, he needs to start quickly to get to that higher velocity. His movements leave him exposed to non-fastballs, and most scouts believe the swing absolutely cannot work the higher he moves up the ladder.

Honestly, I hope that I am wrong with the ‘overrated’ label (he started to show it in the AFL), as Lewis has excellent makeup and every interview that I’ve heard/read has been very positive. I’m just not convinced that he is a top-20, let alone top ten prospect at this point.

Ray Butler (Twitter: @Prospects365)

Most Overrated Prospect: Tyler Freeman

Like Shelly, I’d like to preface this write-up by saying Tyler Freeman—in all likelihood—is going to be an above average real life player at the big league level. But what exactly is the fantasy profile going to lean on? Recently on Chris Welsh’s Prospect One podcast, I comped Freeman’s fantasy upside to that of what we just witnessed from Kevin Newman. The latter’s Statcast profile from 2019 looked similar to what I’d like to think Freeman’s will look like someday:

Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 7.40.37 PM

Newman’s surface stats from last season—a triple slash of .308/.353/.446 with 12 home runs, 16 stolen bases and 125 R + RBI—are a fair projection for Freeman from an on base and stolen base output, but I currently struggle to see a clear path to double digit home runs annually, especially if the ball is de-juiced between now and the time Freeman debuts in Cleveland. The 20-year-old ranked 104th in my 2020 top-200 prospect list, so it’s not like I’m discarding him altogether. I’m just not buying the top-50-or-better hype I’ve seen elsewhere.

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Featured image courtesy of photographer Mark Cunningham and Getty Images

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