Last week I ranked the top 100 candidates and the 30 farm systems as the 2021 season approaches. Now it’s time to dive deeper into my team rankings, which end Thursday with the National League featuring the American League rosters.
A quick update on the key term you will see on all team lists : Future Value, abbreviated here and below as FV, is a term that summarizes a player’s value in numbers. It is rated on a scale of 20 to 80. A player at the bottom of the scale is rated at 50, equivalent to 2.0 WAR; a player at a much higher position, #3 or closer, is rated at 60, equivalent to about 3.0 WAR. I don’t throw 80 in the minor leagues because that means I’m one of the best baseball players.
Although the top 100 no longer exists, I rank all candidates who receive an FV score of 45+ or higher, for a total of 167, so the rankings here are included in the team lists. There are reports on the top 10 candidates for each team, then the number of others changes depending on the strength of the system. In general, these will all be over 40 FV, then the interesting prospects that make up the 40 FV are handpicked.
Let’s move on to my hearings.
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1. Corbin Carroll, CF, 55 FV (27)
2. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, 55 FV (39)
3. Christian Robinson, RF, 50 FV (52)
4. Alex Thomas, RF, 50 FV (64)
5. Slade Cecconi, PRP, 50 FS (106)
6. Corbin Martin, RDF, 45+ FS (128)
7. Blake Walston, LHP, 45+ FV (129)
8. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, 45+ FV9
. Wilderd Patino, CF, 45 FV10
. Bryce Jarvis, RHP, 45 FV.
Top 10 reports
Cecconi was one of the 2020 winners, especially since he was selected 33rd by Miami as recently as last June. He briefly reached 94 to 97 mph during the summer show in high school, but that speed has since declined, both because of minor injuries and because he was not a starter. In the fall, before the 2020 draft, and in a few appearances in the spring, he was in the mid-90s for a few innings, and in the training league he was at 96-98 mph. Both hitters are above average to plus, and his changeup is above average if all goes well. He’s athletic enough to play on an average team, but we haven’t seen all those game situations for that long or all at once.
Martin was acquired as part of a deal with Zack Greinke while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He has some above-average stuff that flashes more and commands appropriate for a third/fourth starter. Walston is a perfect lefty, athletic, planned, with starting abilities and extra boards. He sits 93-96 on shorter pitches, has an extra curve, above-average shift and has good control. Bukauskas also has a deal with Greinke. He’s a little guy who has issues with his delivery and team, but he’s able to adapt to any environment, including three throws of 70 degrees at a time. Jarvis was selected before Cecconi, but was excluded because of his low growth potential, as he is a 22-year-old late-career prospect who experienced above-average growth in the spring of 2020. Patino has great growth potential as a talented athlete, with more speed, more arm and more projection to more raw power, but still raw as a baseball player.
The others are in pairs of positions. The RHP Levi Kelly (11, 45 FV) and the LHP Tommy Henry (16, 40 FV) are two different types of starters. Kelly has electric stuff that might work better over short periods of time, but his mid-90s heater, 70-millimeter slider, and intense approach might be better. Henry is a big lefty with a high slot and a TrackMan friendly alignment for his four-length mix, with a good chance of being a starter at the end of the job. RHP Ryne Nelson (15, 40+ FV) and RHP Conor Grammes (22) are the two most interesting guys in the reserve system. Nelson isn’t much different from Bukauskas, with a chance to start and maybe three throws at 70 degrees, but he’s probably suitable as a replacement. Gramm was an athlete, later converted to a college arm, who now sits 98-101 in a few sets. But if the rest of his suit continues to improve, it’s a work in progress.
RF Pavin Smith (13, 40+ FV) and 1B Seth Beer (14, 40+ FV) are both hitters who should be able to help out in the big leagues soon. Bear is heading to DH just in time to become a viable skill in the NL, with the added bonus of raw power and a good choice of pitch. Smith always had more raw power when he was in high school, but he was trained at Virginia. He improved his athletic ability to become a corner outfield option, and he has good zone control to be able to become a cornerback in the big leagues. RF A.J. Vukovic (19, 40 FV) is a late fill-in for a 6-foot-4 multi-sport athlete who has tremendous strength but limited defensive capabilities. His Manuel Pena (20 FV) has been Arizona’s best international player this year and has it in him to become an everyday player.
More ESPN+ prospects : top 100 for 2021 | ranking of the 30 systems | candidates for split | AL top 10s | NL top 10s
1. Ian Anderson, RHP, 60 FV(12)
2. Christian Pace, CF, 60 FV(16)
3. Drew Waters, CF, 55 FV (34)
4. Shea Langeliers, K, 50 FV (95)
5. Bryce Wilson, RHP, 50 FV (117)
6. Braden Shewmake, CC, 45+ FV (147)
7. Michael Harris, RF, 45 FV8
. Tucker Davidson, LHP, 45 FV9
. William Contreras, C, 45 FV10
. Jared Schuster, LHP, 40+ FV.
Top 10 reports
Wilson found his rhythm in the playoffs at the end of 2020, showing not only his positive side as a third/fourth starter, but also the intensity and quality of his fastball to be pushed back at the end of the game. His fastball is a plus because of his movement, the variety of his shots and his command. Usually his command and position change are well above average, and his break-ball moves around average. Davidson used Driveline’s training methods and hit at 100 mph in the paddock and 98 mph in the game, with two balls above average and a solid spread, but too much effort to function comfortably as a starter rather than a multi-inning option. Last summer, Schuster was the Braves’ first player to show up in the spring with more arm speed, but he retained the change and command more than he had before his breakout. His breakthrough ball is very much alive right now, and it’s a pitch to watch as it develops.
Shewmek has made a great pro debut since leaving Texas A&M in 2019 and has a solid set of contact tools and gloves. He’s deceptively fast and has more range than some people think as an amateur, which is why he’s now considered a solid shortstop. It’s 6-4, but the weakness of his profile is his strength. DJ LeMahieu was once something similar, if you want to dream, but you need more than 65 pro games to guess that result. Contreras is the younger brother of the Wilson Cubs catcher and has a great tool base that is valued in the middle infield (except for speed). So far, he looks more like a solid reinforcement than an easy starter.
Harris is my preferred system. He is a great tuner with enough preseason to put him in the top 100. For that, there would have to be 2020 signals from another site, all positive, but no usable stats. He has above average power, speed and defense in the rotation (or up to a midfield), with one more arm. His professional results have been solid so far, but some clubs considered him a pitcher in the 2019 draft, and he hasn’t been a regular pitcher in the summer, so there’s not enough data yet to put him on the list. A strong first half of 2021 in the lower A could be enough. His tools match up nicely with those of some of the top 50 candidates already in the top 100. According to Instagram, Harris also bowled at 300 and attempted a switch, indicating a high level of athletic ability that bodes well for the future.
LHP Kyle Mueller (12, 40 FV) went from a lead pitcher with 55s at the plate to a speed monster in the 90s. He still has that same 55s curve ball and command that is best in an inning or two. The 13-year-old RHP Huascar Inoa fits the bill in multiple innings on the field with his three-hit mix – up to 100 mph with the sink, above-average to the plus slide, a change that makes the solid average flicker – but precise control and command. RHP Jasseel De La Cruz (14) has the same fast ball/slider combo that shows the most, but he is better suited to shorter sections with control and shift change. SS Vaughn Grissom (16) is one of the position players to keep an eye on in the minors, with the ability to stay in short, solid midfield tools all the way.
There are a number of recently called-up players hitting in the 90’s who are likely to enter the arena: RHP Victor Vodnick (17), RHP Spencer Strider (25), RHP Ricky DeVito (27) and RHP Tyler Owens (28). Vodnik is on the short side (graded at 6-foot-4), hitting his fastball at 100 mph and showing a plus, but he is still working on regularity. Strider, who is 6-foot-4, was selected in the fourth round at Clemson last summer. He underwent back surgery by Tommy John, but reached 99 mph last summer. DeVito is 6-for-2 and is an athlete who has shown a more casual curveball, peaking at 97 mph. Owens is 5-8, but he also reached 98 mph and had an extra curveball.
1. Brennen Davis, CF, 50 FV (63)
2. Miguel Amaya, K, 50 FV (83)
3. Brylin Marquez, LHP, 50 FV (111)
4. Adbert Altsolay, PRP, 45+ FV(164
)5. Ed Howard, SS, 45 FV6
. Cole Roederer, RF, 45 FV7
. Eason Santana, SS, 45 FV8
. Reggie Preciado, SS, 45 FV9
. Christian Hernandez, SS, 45 FV10
. Kevin Made, SS, 45 FV8.
Top 10 reports
The Preciado is my preferred system. There are some interesting young bats in this system, with a group of prospects returning from San Diego in the case of Yu Darvish and another group added in the last two international signing classes. When I look at who will be on the list next year instead of the next three, I lean toward one of the oldest prospects in this group who has a lot of untapped potential in Preciado. He is a 6-4 shortstop who has been one of the top players in the 2019 international signing class and has already gone through two training leagues in San Diego before coming to the Cubs in a Darvish trade. He will only be 18 at the start of the minor league season and has the potential to have four above-average tools (other than speed) at third base, where he will likely end up. Santana is much less projectable, and has already taken a leap after signing his contract, but he has above-average potential at all positions.
Howard was selected to the Cubs’ high school team in Chicago last summer. His game worked well over the summer, but the raw tools were selected for above-average performance and give hope that the game will improve. Roederer showed above-average hitting potential and power tools, with an outfield profile between the players. Hernandez is among the top international candidates signed last month, with ups and downs before his contract was finalized (he is among the top in his class). But the assets of running, arm strength, raw power and the ability to stand still give you plenty of opportunities to dream. Made is the best hope for the Cubs in the 2019 class, with a solid comeback despite the absence of official professional games. Alzolay has a mix of power at four levels with changeups and checks behind the fastballs and daredevils, so there is a rescue risk at multiple levels.
RHP Ryan Jensen (12, 40+ FV) comes to Fresno State in 2019 thanks to a mid-1990s fastball that develops to 99 mph. He has the makings of a starter, with a strong secondary middle infielder and command to fit in the top four. The 2B Chase Strumpf (age 11, 40+ FV) was UCLA’s next pick in 2019 and is a first baseman with enough power to hit 15-20 homers.
CF Ismael Mena (15, 40+ FV) and RF Owen Cassey (22, 40 FV) were the third and fourth San Diego pieces in the Darvish deal. Mena won $2.2 million in the 2019 international class and worked two training camps with the Padres, but no official games. He’s a runner with an arm and contact skills, but the rest is hard to say at this point. Cassie has more raw power and more arm and also some points to improve (youth for class and Canadian), but there is still a long way to go. C Ronje Quintero (17, 40 FV) was another premier player in the 2019 class with Made and has strong midrange tools with his defense for currently his offense. LF Jordan Nwogu (23, 40 FV) is moving up the rankings, with some swing adjustments for 2020 to better utilize his considerable raw tools (plus raw power, above-average runner).
1st Tyler Stevenson, C, 55 FV (35)
2. Hunter Green, RHP, 50 FV (67)
3. Jose Garcia, CC, 50 FV (85)
4. Nick Lodolo, LHP, 50 FV (113)
5. Lyon Richardson, RHP, 45+ FV(134
)6. Jonathan India, 3B, 45+ FV (135)
7. Austin Hendrick, RF, 45+ FV (139)
8. Rece Hinds, 3B, 45 FV
9th Mike Siani, CF, 45 FV10
. Tyler Callihan, 3B, 45 FV.
Top 10 reports
Lodolo is not an exciting prospect – he’s been a bit of a good guy, above average, and a rookie pitcher since he was 17, and he’s now 23. He’s probably No. 4 in the starting lineup, as his 90’s fastball plays slightly below his velocity because of his double-strike movement, but doesn’t dive to the limit. Richardson trains in the offseason with Eric Cressey, and his velocity has steadily increased since he was an intriguing and athletic two-seamer in high school. Today, he runs 92-96 at life, with a change of pace for his two beaters and a stroke above average.
India is close to the big league and has above-average tools and a good approach, but it has yet to put all the pieces of the puzzle together because its strength in the game does not match its raw power. Hendrick was selected in the Reds’ first round last summer and has at least 70 batting average, raw power and an above-average arm, but like Clint Frazier, he has such a high batting average that his timing could be an issue.
Hinds also has 70 gross power, but the rest of his profile was the subject of many question marks when he was recruited in 2019 because of problems identifying out-of-speed pitches and questions about his lateral quickness at third base. He still makes a good right-field pitch and still has some issues with pitch identification, but he has improved his numbers and hit several home runs in the alternative field. Ciani has a long hitting record, and is a runner at least, plus center field defense. The level of play he develops depends on whether he is a below or above average regular player. Callihan can hit and has more raw power, but like Hinds, he has some third-row lateral issues that could eventually lead to first base. Some in the game think he could be put away and moved as a second base player.
With Jackson Miller (11, 40+ FV) selected as part of the 2020 Competitive Balance Cycle, he narrowly missed the top 10. He is a hitter who emerged at the end of the exhibition season with solid average gross power, plenty of arms to catch and improved ability behind the plate with tools to hold.
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RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (age 12, 40+ FV) and RHP Tony Santillan (age 13, 40 FV) are both high-level candidates with strong functionality and the ability to play multiple roles. Gutierrez is under 97 years old, has a curveball plus and improved changeup, and has a chance to be a starter. He missed the 2020 season due to an 80-game suspension from the PED, but he did it. Santillan was also in the high 90’s and has an above average to good slide, but the team did not give him a chance to play in the big leagues. Tejay Antone was in a similar position to the Reds and shined in the big leagues, so that could also be the answer for Santillan.
RHP Bryce Bonnin (16), RHP Jared Solomon (17) and LHP Jacob Heatherly (19) also have powerful tools that can be more effective over short periods of time. Bonnin is my first choice for this system. He has multi-inning potential, but is probably not a long-term starter. He has two plus jobs with his fastball and his slider, both of which can go above 60 in one or two innings. Solomon is in the high 90’s and has a plus slider, but recently underwent Tommy John surgery and is probably a relief pitcher. Heatherly has been a summer standout before slipping to the third round after a disappointing spring in 2017. He came back with a better raw game than ever, up to 98 mph and with a curve ball that is at least a plus, if only for a few innings at a time.
1st Zack Veen, RF, 50 FS(46)
2. Ryan Vilade, 3B, 45+ FV(118)
3. Ryan Rolison, LHP, 45+ FV(156
)4. Michael Toglia, 1B, 45+ FV5
. Colton Welker, 3B, 45+ FV6
. Drew Romo, C, 45 FV7
. Brenton Doyle, CF, 40+ FV8
. Chris McMahon, RHP, 40+ FV9
. Aaron Shank, 3B, 40+ FV10
. Adael Amador, SS, 40 FV.
Top 10 reports
Vilade is a first baseman who also has more raw power. So he has real offensive potential, especially in Denver, and has a chance to get into the top 100 with a few stronger months. He went from shortstop to third base and worked a little bit in the corner of the outfield. So he has no defensive value, although a top spot at third base just became available.
Toglia is a switch hitter and former first-round UCLA player who has superior raw power and is a top fielder in the lead position, with enough athletic ability to play a corner if needed. He has average contact skills, although his swing as a right-handed hitter needs some work. He is in the top 100 when using his tools and pedigree during the season.
Welker has a chance for contact and above-average strength, but is only employable at third and first base. Romo was picked 35th last summer, and as a provisional receiver, he probably moves slowly, but has a chance for above-average strength and more defense. Shank (decent contact, little lateral/pulling power, but more raw power, better defense at third, plus arm) is a candidate for a swing change, but was a college choice, so the clock is ticking.
Doyle is my first choice for the system. He could have had a successful regular season in 2020, but his breakthrough depended on showing his abilities in bigger games, and that wasn’t possible. He is still a runner with raw power and an above-average arm coming into center field. The amateur’s biggest concern was that he was late to D2 school, so there was no way to show he could hit at the level needed to compete in some high-level rounds. Doyle has an SPO of over 1,000 – in 51 professional matches. Another season close to the top would put him in the top 100.
Amador left the Dominican Republic in 2019 for $1.5 million. So he has not yet played in an official professional game, but he has impressed in a training competition. He has a raw attacking side, but for now his speed, potential, defense and arm stand out more.
Rolison was a big name in high school and dropped seven figures to go to Ole Miss, where he basically served three years and stayed healthy until the first round. He does the occasional plus, but he’s more of a left-hander with 55 pitches, with his curve ball being his most consistent pitch and a pitch in the fourth set. McMahon finished 46th in Miami last summer and like most Rockies pitchers, he is taking a nosedive. He sits at 93-95 and hits 97 mph with an above-average slider that marks the most and the beginning of pitching.
The first three prospects acquired for Nolan Arenado are 3B Elejuris Montero (11), SS Mateo Gil (16) and RHP Tony Losi (18). Montero is a powerful third base player who needs to work on his physicality and lateral agility to stay at third base. He’s also a worse hitter than you’d like to see if you expect him to use all his raw power in the game, but his above-average batting average partially compensates. Gil is the son of Benji, a former first division player, and he can still be used anywhere on the field with enough punch and power to make his mark if he lives up to his potential. The swing has a frame, can hit for speed in the mid-90s on 100 pitches, and has an above-average breaking point. His mindset is one of relief, and right now his change and leadership are heading in that direction as well.
One of the biggest explosions in the Training League was that of RHP Lucas Gilbreath (12). He was added to the 40-player roster even though he didn’t make A-Ball, will be 25 in a few weeks and hasn’t had much success in pro baseball. His velocity increased in the 1990s and his breaking point improved so much that Colorado feared he would be included in the Rule 5 draft.
1B Grant Lavin (15) started 2018 after finishing 42nd at New Hampshire High School. In 2019, his excellent attack-to-walk ratio has fallen back to barely good levels, and his performance in the game has nearly halved as his exit velocity has not been as good as in the amateur ranks. He is a prospect who can be judged largely on his stats, and 2021 will be an important year to see if he can hit enough to be more than just a platoon option. RHP Riley Pint (19) was the fourth pick in 2016 out of Kansas High School and has never really been my cup of tea (I’m afraid of prepared straights, but especially those at 100 miles per hour as a teenager and with hits to the head), but no one thought he would have such a hard time reaching the professional stage. He’s 23 years old now and just passed the Rule 5 test, but he’s still a big athletic guy with some of the best rough stuff in the minors, so he can hit at any time.
1st Josiah Gray, RHP, 55 FV (36)
2. Keibert Ruiz, C, 50 FV (74)
3. Michael Busch, 1B, 50 FV (88)
4. Bobby Miller, RHP, 45+ FV (123)
5. Andy Pages, RF, 45+ FV (140)
6. Cody Hose, 3B, 45 FV7
. Willman Diaz, CC, 45 FV8
. Diego Cartagia, C, 45 FV9
. Jacob Amaya, CC, 45 FV10
. Ryan Pepiot, PSG, 45 FV.
Top 10 reports
Miller was a contender for Louisville hitting 100 mph and throwing strikes, but he held out until 29th overall because there were questions about the consistency of his out-of-speed pitches and his command, partly due to the action of his longer arm. I’m definitely leaning toward “he’ll find a solution and get there no matter what his role is.” Pepiot ended up being another college pitcher, with a small academic record. He had three innings and at times above-average pitching starts, but was inconsistent in his selection year. The Dodgers moved him to 102nd in 2019, and he has made great strides as a professional screamer.
Pages is only 20 years old and only has experience in rookie ball, but he has the tools and raw power to be a late slugger with some defensive value: plus raw power, plus arm, plus average speed, 29 home runs in 115 pro games. Hoese is another college dropout with some raw tools who could be on the verge of breaking through with solid medium shots, power and defensive tools. Cartagia won $2.5 million in the 2018 international class and still has strong pro-ball chances, with a well-balanced and solid medium tool set (plus raw power and arm strength are the headliners) and strong power. Amaya has an elite batting average and is likely to remain at shortstop, so his developmental flaws are great.
Diaz is my preferred system, even though he signed his first professional contract last month at the age of 16. I don’t usually pick new international players because they are usually 16-year-olds who play at such a low level that their stats don’t really matter. Diaz was my best hope in this current international class (first strike, well-balanced, well-polished outfielder), but he’s been off the radar for almost two years and teams are now exploring DSL to feature him. With a solid start, he could make it into the top 100; his TrackMan data, his league entry, and the fact that he was seen by all 30 clubs could be enough for a prospect with elite talent like him.
RHP Clayton Beeter (11, 45 FV) missed the 2019 season at Texas Tech with Tommy John surgery, appeared briefly in the 2020 preseason and spring with a fastball in the high 90s with the makings of a passing bat and had one more curve ball that shot values to 80 before quitting. The raw elements allow us to project him as a starter, but he had health and/or team issues throughout his career and was just over the line when the season wound down. He finished 66th (for a bonus of just over $1.2 million) and became one of the top pitching development organizations in baseball. RHP Landon Knack (23, 40 FV) is another 2020 winner, as the nearly 23-year-old East Tennessee State senior increased his fastball to 98 mph in the spring, with starting characteristics but more conventional secondary tricks.
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3B Sheldon Noyes (15, 40+ FV) was acquired from Oakland earlier this month and is a serious candidate to become the Dodgers’ magic hitter, Pixie Dust. He has superior arm strength, average defense at third base, and is good at most other positions (consistent with the Dodgers’ preference for versatile players), with superior raw power and solid execution in Triple-A, but his offensive approach will take some settling in time. When he was on the A-list last month, an Oakland official spoke of Noyes’ merits, even at age 26, comparing him to Max Muncy.
CF Jake Vogel (24, 40 FV) and C Jesus Galiz (26, 40 FV) are two newcomers to the sleeper system in recent amateur classes. Vogel is an 80-year-old runner and an excellent athlete, but he still has work to do. Galiz made one of the first world-class deals with the Yankees, but he collapsed late. Then the Dodgers entered the race because they were one of the few teams competing for his first contract. He is the best receiver in the world and offers a broad base of above-average potential tools with defensive capabilities developed for his age.
1. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, 60 FV (11)
2. Jazz Chisholm, SS, 55 FV (31)
3. Max Meyer, RHP, 50 FV (48)
4. Edward Cabrera, RHP, 50 FV (54)
5. J.J. Bleday, RF, 50 FV (55
)6. Trevor Rogers, LHP, 50 FV (78)
7. Monte Harrison, RF, 45+ FV (131)
8. Braxton Garrett, LHP, 45+ FV (137)
9. Connor Scott, CF, 45 FV10
. Peyton Burdick, RF, 45 FV.
Top 10 reports
Harrison brings a distinct set of strengths and weaknesses. He has more raw power, more speed, at least more central defense, and more arms. His skill level is very high, but his confidence in his ability to make contact is low, which can range from Drew Stubbs to Mike Cameron. Garrett has above-average pitching and is led by a curve ball plus and a solid average, but he will probably need another year in Upper Minors before rotating back into the big leagues. Scott has the free swing, plus power potential, 70 speed and an arm with the components to hit and an above average defense to play in the middle of the field, so a breakthrough could happen any time.
Burdick is a late comeback from a small college with surgical training from Tommy John, but he has all the tools and skills to succeed in the minors in 2021, which is why he is my breakaway route of choice. His chance to prove he means business in 2020 didn’t materialize, but the arrows are still pointing up. Burdick is about to turn 24, and he hid in Low-A in 2019, so he could very well find his way into Double-A for most of 2021. He has tremendous raw power, a straight arm and above-average athleticism.
SS Nasim Nunez (11, 45 FV) started late in the 2019 class. He has shown above average and positive skills in all areas except strength and continues to develop. He is coming off a strong 2021 season outside the top 100 consideration. 1B Lewin Diaz (12, 45 FV), RF Jesus Sanchez (13, 45 FV) and RF Jerar Encarnacion (14, 45 FV) are all corner hitters on the 40-man list and all have slightly different tools. Diaz is a more defensive first baseman with more brute force but only a good approach, Sanchez has more arm and even more brute force than Diaz but an even worse approach, while Encarnacion also has more power, just good in right field, and also has a sharp approach. I think one of them will make a big offensive move in 2020, and I am leaning towards one of the outfielders.
RF Kam Misner (15, 45 FS) and LHP Dax Fulton (16, 45 FS) were the buyers of the last two trial classes. Misner managed to get into the top 10 thanks to his tools (more raw power, more speed), but his lack of direction and uneven spring contributed to him getting out of the first round despite his steady progress in professional baseball. Fulton received helium in the middle of the first round after a hot summer, then underwent Tommy John surgery in the fall and completed his rehab in the second round, which has gone well so far.
The new regime’s international program has produced SS Jose Salas (21, 40+ FV), RHP Eury Perez (23, 40 FV), 2B Ian Lewis (26), SS Yiddi Cappe (32) in recent years. Salas (potentially above-average offensive power, able to fit anywhere on the field) and Lewis (contact runner) received further bonuses in the 2019 class, Perez (6-9 and up to mid-90s with strikes) signed below, and Cappe (a happy, pitching shortstop with an above-average chance of having tools at the end of the course) signed last month for $3.5 million.
1st Bryce Turang, SS, 50 FV (112)
2. Garrett Mitchell, CF, 45 FV3
. Ethan Small, LHP, 45 FV4
. Aaron Ashby, LHP, 45 FV5
. Mario Feliciano, C, 45 FV6
. Tristen Lutz, RF, 45 FV7
. Drew Rasmussen, RHP, 45 FV8
. Hedbert Perez, CF, 40+ FV9
. Antoine Kelly, LHP, 40+ FV10
. Eduardo Garcia, SS, 40+ FV.
Top 10 reports
Turang distinguished himself for the first time as a sophomore prep student and maintained his status as top of the class. He’s a hitter, runner and patient outfielder with an extra arm, but his average raw power didn’t play. The upside is something like Stephen Drew, but for now it’s more of a promise than a reality.
Mitchell was identified as a Turang by Scouts early in his career as a SoCal preparer, and his actions have had ups and downs at Scouts because of this exposure. He still has some good tools (55 gross power, 70 speed at 6-3), but he hasn’t changed much in his five years on the national stage. He’s too aggressive at home plate and doesn’t pick up the ball often, and some Scouts doubt his feel for the game and his ability to improve. He’s probably too advanced to be the anti-Mitchell on all these fronts, but there’s a much better chance he’ll improve at 17 than at 22, so he’s a real test of reliability for the Milwaukee player development team.
Feliciano is a little free, but he has above-average contact ability and raw power, which gives him real offensive potential, especially for a receiver. He has enough arms and defensive skills to stay put, but he will be supported by an automatic warning device. Lutz is a great athlete with more raw power, plus an arm for right field, average speed for his height of 6-3, 210 pounds and decent contact skills. His professional production has been solid, but not the kind of hitting or power needed to assume he is an everyday player.
Small has a whimsical (or stealthy) approach to throwing from the high lunge with vertical tricks – a four-point up fastball, a downward curve ball and a dive, all from the same lunge. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 and is now 24 years old, with 21 professional innings under his belt. He was good in the alternate slot and returned with an improved slider at 94 for another look. His results will likely exceed his raw results through misdirection, casting design and command.
Ashby was on the rise in training, with a mid-90s velocity and an above-average four ball mix. He probably can’t sustain and command these things from a starting role, but he has always had a breathtaking curveball, so with some improvement in his command and health, he will have a big role in the league. Rasmussen has had Tommy John surgery twice, no doubt, but he can go up to 100 mph and his slider is a plus, and he made a solid debut in the MLB in 2020. Kelly is an athletic left-handed athlete with a free arm and a 98 heat with good spin ability and a solid center slider. Changes and teams are problems, but he is probably at least the second lefty in the paddock with modest improvement.
Perez and Garcia are my favorites in this system. There is a lot of talent in Milwaukee’s system from the last two internationals, and Venezuelans Perez and Garcia are the front-runners right now. Both are relatively well-suited teenagers and are first-team hitters who have enough tools to play up the middle. Perez currently has a bit more speed and power, while Garcia offers more defensive value and projection.
SS Freddy Zamora (11, 40 FV) got a late boost in the first round which led to a shortened 2020 spring, then he tore the ACL the week before the season started. Many national scouts never got the look they needed to put Zamora at the top of the list, so he dropped to 53rd. His strengths are above-average tools, but more potential at the plate and more current skills with the glove. 2B David Hamilton (14) is another varsity player in the middle. He is a 2019 eighth round pick from Texas who has battled injuries and is a solid alternate offensive platform. His carrying capacity is 70 speed and he will likely play center field in the future.
In addition to Perez and Garcia, the international program has seen solid first returns, including C Jefferson Quero (13), RHP Abner Uribe (18), RF Luis Medina (19), 3B Jesus Parra (20) and CF Jackson Chourio (24). Quero is a 2019 recruit without any professional experience, but with an average batting average on offense and already developed defensive skills. Uribe has reached 100 mph and his cursor is flashing more, but everything else is still in flux. Medina was a great signee in 2018 and is a guy who has striking power that will likely slide down the right field line, while Parra has a similar profile but with more than a second or third base in defense, while Chourio was a great signee in 2020 with tools under his head but a potential more power and currently more speed.
1. Ronnie Mauricio, CC, 50 FV (61)
2. Francisco Alvarez, C, 50 FV (82)
3. Matt Allan, RHP, 50 FV (109)
4. Mark Vientos, 3B, 45+ FV (157)
5. Brett Baty, 3B, 45+ FV (158
)6. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, 45 FV7
. J.T. Ginn, RHP, 45 FV8
. Khalil Lee, RF, 45 FV9
. Shervien Newton, SS, 40 FV10
. Jaylen Palmer, 3B, 40 FV.
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Alan needs about 10 to show that his stuff plays in games against full season hitters with a walk rate of less than 4.5 against 9, and then he’ll probably be in the top 100. He has a combination of fastball and curveball that is between 60 and 70, and he has shown strong average changes and starts at lower velocities, so it is just a matter of balance. Ginn also took two extra shots in his fast/slowball, but they trained for almost a year in Mississippi before he underwent Tommy John surgery, so he should be back to his old self when he gets back on the mound. This version initially included a breakaway ball and high-speed check, but a closer cannot be ruled out.
Vientos has high raw power, maybe more, and it shows in his exit velocity, but his low A-force betrays a poor approach. Although his arm is more, his third base defense is good, so there’s a chance we see a first baseman in the bunch, but there’s also a chance we see an above-average third baseman based on his 2021 season exit. Bati is another third base player with tremendous raw power, at least 65, and over Vientos. He is good enough to play third for at least five more years. He has always been older than his peers as an amateur, so we need professional data to assess his situation. He’s 21 now, and ideally he should be crushing low A and tasting high A in 2021.
Newton is a great shortstop with, wait for it, more raw power and deceptive defensive skills all together. He has a decent approach, but limited control of the bat when he picks up the ball, so there is real potential for a hack/support. Lee was just acquired in a deal with Andrew Benintendi of Kansas City. He’s a potential right fielder with a late count, delayed approach and some defensive value, but he could go as high as .240. Palmer was a late pick out of high school near Shea Stadium and has shown great playing strength and speed of exit to exceed expectations already, but there are some contact and defensive issues down the road.
Crow-Armstrong is my starting point for the system. It matches the recent pattern of purely orchestrated players not making the top 100 after the draft due to lack of data on professionals, and playing in their first full season in a top league the following year. He is a hitter and runner who fits perfectly in center field and should become a major force at home plate.
FC Adrian Hernandez (11) was picked for $1.5 million in the Dominican Republic in 2017 and has had his share of injuries on the court. He still has a chance to establish himself in the field and develop above-average power, but his health and contact skills pose a certain risk. RF Freddy Valdez (18) earned $1.4 million in 2018 and at least has more raw power, plus a funky swing. So far it’s working, so the stats will tell us a lot about his progress. CF Alexander Ramirez (19) earned $2.1 million in 2019 (feeling the theme?) and hasn’t played an official pro game with him yet, but he has a chance at five above-average tools.
From Hall of Fame locks to dream recruits, this is what might bring today’s stars to Cooperstown.
RHP Robert Dominguez (12) is my second choice of exit behind Crow-Armstrong, but he’s much more volatile. He signed for $95,000 after a few demo outings with more velocity and flashes in the top two round commodities (in the high 90s, at least one above average breakout ball, an idea of the direction he’s headed), but has only done it a few times in a competitive environment. RHP Jordany Ventura (16) and RHP Joander Suarez (17) are similar in terms of overall value. Both are in their twenties and have a chance to become mainstays.
1. Spencer Howard, RHP, 50 FV (44)
2. Mick Abel, RHP, 50 FV (108)
3. Rafael Marchand, C, 45+ FV (121)
4. Bryson Stott, CC, 45+ FV (146)
5. Luis Garcia, SS, 45+ FV6
. Francisco Morales, RHP, 45 FV7
. Mickey Moniak, CF, 45 FV8
. Simon Muzziotti, CF, 45 FV9
. Adonis Medina, RHP, 45 FV10
. Johan Rojas, CF, 40+ FV.
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Abel graduated from Oregon High School in his sophomore year and began his first steps in the mid-90s. Last summer he finished first in his class and 15th overall. At his best, he is in the mid-90s with a slider of at least 60 and format changes of 50 or 55, so he has real ace potential if all goes well. Morales has a fastball/slider combination similar to Abel’s, but he’s two years older and his command and changeover are accurate at best, so shorter games are likely. Medina made a big jump in 2018, but his strike rate dropped to Double-A in 2019, with slightly less velocity in his true pitch and his breaking point closer to average; there’s still plenty here for a back-to-back start.
Marchand is the new school form of an athletic receiver with enough contact skills to justify his play on the field as well. He can play anywhere with his 55 long arm, is an above-average defender in most defensive aspects, and has elite hitting skills but little power in the game. Stott has strong average skills and can play short-stops, which could move him quickly; he is 23 years old and has not played a full season. Garcia made a disappointing debut in 2019, but he was an 18-year-old who quit at the bottom of BABIP, which brought him bad luck. He is an outgoing shortstop who has enough power to punish a mistake, so the tools are there for the everyday player.
Moniak probably won’t live up to the hype to be number one, but he has strong average tools, made his major league debut and will become a Big Leaguer of some significance. Muzziotti has a higher level of skill with a little more contact, speed and defense. There are signs that he has improved his power play potential in 2020, but he still has some work to do in this area.
Rojas is my preferred system. Rojas is another instrumental player who took a step forward in 2019 and planned to take another step forward in 2020 – but didn’t have a full minor league season to prove it. He’s too free for a fencer, but he has more raw power, speed and arm strength in his center field profile, so there’s plenty of room for error. Significantly, he has improved his approach a bit and also adjusted his swing to use more of this power in the game.
LHP JoJo Romero (11, 40+ FV) made his big league debut at 94-96 mph, at least three ticks better than in his first year as a junior. His shift and command were clearly worse in this more aggressive, no-load approach, but his slide improved, the curve ball was pushed aside and the Phillies’ paddock was terrible, so that’s probably all positive.
There are three instrumental shortstops with different abilities: SS Kendall Simmons (12, 40 FV), SS Jamari Baylor (13) and SS Casey Martin (14). Simmons was a fielder in high school, but he always had strong tools (at least plus raw power) and has already exceeded some scouts’ expectations with 15 homers in 83 short-season games. His offensive approach continues to gain ground, but he still has the prospect of high variance. Baylor is a more consistent and solid player who may also be better suited for second base. Martin is a rare choice for major college conferences with loud tools – 80-degree speed, 55-degree raw power and shortstop tools – but what many would consider a terrible approach at the plate.
1st Ki’Bryan Hayes, 3B, 60 FV (6)
2nd. Oneil Cruz, 3B, 55 FV (28)
3. Nick Gonzalez, 2B, 50 FV (66)
4. Travis Swaggerty, CF, 50 FV (79
)5. Quinn Priest, RHP, 50 FV (87
)6. Lever Peguero, SS, 50 FV (91)
7. Miguel Yayure, RHP, 45+ FV (133)
8. Hudson Head, PF, 45+ FS (152)
9. Brennan Malone, PRP, 45+ FS10
. Jared Oliva, EF, 45 FS.
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Yajur, Head and Malone were key contributors in Pittsburgh and benefited from the contracts of Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove and Starling Marte. Yajur made his major league debut in 2020 and has an above-average power bat after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2016 and making a jump in 2019. He serves as a No. 3 or 4 starter. Head is a dual-sport product who appeared late, in 2019, from Texas Prep, who had more speed and above-average power. He made a solid start as a professional and was able to enter the top 100 thanks to a solid season start, but he is still a bit of a work in progress. Malone was a well-rounded prep arm in the 2019 draft who hit 99 mph at best and had four above-average pitch controls.
Oliva is a former plan owner who relied on tools. He was a late college player at Arizona, with an above average power/speed combination, but a short track record. He strikes out at every stop of the miners and will have a cup of coffee in 2020, but the question is whether he is the No. 4 outfielder because of his below-average offensive production or whether he is a low-level regular player.
The RHP Tahnaj Thomas (11, 45 FV) has reached 100 mph and is a projected 6-4 with all the attributes you want to see. He is still learning his craft early, but his curve ball is more promising than average, and his finesse and control of the change seems learnable as well, so he could take off at any moment. RHP Carmen Mlodzinski (15, 40+ FV) became South Carolina’s 31st contender last summer, though she missed the 2019 season with a broken leg. The clubs are counting on Cape Town, preseason layoffs and a handful of appearances in 2020. He surges into the mid-90s with a plus-plus and two breakthrough balls, both above average. RHP Jared Jones (23, 40 FV) is a higher variance, with the 2020 College choice ranked 44th. His velocity ran up to 100 mph and was not huge at 6-1, but he managed to turn a baseball on the heater in 2020 and his breaker ball flashed more at times.
After years of struggling with depression and self-doubt, Drew Robinson attempted suicide in April 2020. He now tells Jeff Passan that he wants to use his experience to help others overcome – and maybe play baseball again.
- Read the story”.
- Watch the documentary”.
- Listen to the podcast”.
SS Ji-Hwan Bae (13, 45 FV) is a slightly more runner, he has good contact skills and a real chance to stay as a shortstop, although his strength on the game is the biggest question mark. C Endy Rodriguez (24) was recruited by the Mets as part of the Joe Musgrove trio and has above average contact skills. He has the defensive skills to stay behind the plate, but is also athletic enough to play in the outfield.
SS Maikol Escotto (22, 40+ FV) is my preferred choice for this system. Escotto flashed in 2019 at age 17 in the DSL and then in a training league. One scout compared him to Martin Prado in that he’s probably not a shortstop, but he can play anywhere else on the field and has a powerful hitting profile but enough pop to be in the average. Escotto was Pittsburgh’s second-best player in the Jameson Thion game and could make the top 100 with a solid American debut in 2021.
1. CJ Abrams, CF, 60 FV (5)
2. Mackenzie Gore, LHP, 60 FV (13)
3. Luis Campusano, C, 55 FV (29)
4. Robert Hassell, CF, 50 FV (45)
5. Ha-Song Kim, CC, 50 FV (86)
6. Ryan Weathers, LH, 50 FV (99)
7. Justin Lange, RHP, 45 FV8
. Tucupita Marcano, SS, 40+ FV9
. Mason Thompson, RHP, 40+ FV10
. Reggie Lawson, RHP, 40+ FV9.
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Last summer, Long was No. 34 on the board after a dramatic run at Texas High School. He went from unknowns to solid follower status in the fall, and then began hitting triple digits in the early spring, teaming up with Nick Bitsko in a ridiculous social media routine video. He has rebuilt his body and is a 6-4 cut with strong athletic ability, but there are concerns about the quality of his bottom slot breakaway ball and control given the shortstop.
Thompson rebounded from Tommy John, his senior year of high school in 2015, to throw harder in 2019 (he ran 92-95, hit 97 mph) and then throw harder in 2020 (he was in the mid-90s), adding 40 points this winter. He’s still a joy to watch, but he now has what it takes to take on a late-night role. Lawson will have Tommy John surgery in 2020, but before that he had an above-average profile and fourth starter type. Marcano has extreme contact skills, as well as speed and the ability to hang on to a shortstop every day, making him a solid major leaguer even if he doesn’t add much playing power.
RF Josh Mears (12, 40 FV) is my pick for this system. He’s a last-minute player, plays in cold weather, so some teams haven’t noticed the advantage yet: a 6-3, 230 lb. teenager with plus-plus raw power (up to 115 mph output speed), an above-average arm, and a deceptively plus-plus straight-line speed, though he now slips a bit in game situations. He’s a very powerful guy who somewhat exceeded his expectations when he started as a pro, but he also hit seven home runs in 43 appearances. A 30 percent depreciation rate could put him on the Padres’ team if he continues to do good things in games.
LF Jorge Ona (13) has been looking at the big leagues in 2020 and is probably best suited to play role player/platoon for the future. He can en passant play all three outfields and has raw right hand power, but is limited in batting and fielding control. The 15-year-old 2B Eguy Rosario was left out of the Rule 5 draft, but he could become a major league player because of his good contact skills, enough raw power for 15 home runs and his solid defense.
SS Nervilliam Cedeno (18) and RHP Brian Medina (19) are two young international hopefuls to keep an eye on. In the 2018 class, Cedeno signed for $300,000. He has a solid education and has shown the ability to make contact on both sides of the plate and use his defensive skills to stay on the field. Medina is in the 2019 class, so he has no formal work experience, but he has participated in two instructional leagues and continues to show some tee shots, with a fastball now in the mid-90s.
1. Marco Luciano, 3B, 60 FV (7)
2. Joey Barth, C, 55 FV (32)
3. Heliot Ramos, RF, 50 FV (62)
4. Patrick Bailey, C, 50 FV (100)
5. Hunter Bishop, CF, 45+ FV (136)
6. Luis Matos, CF, 45+ FV (136)
7. Luis Toribio, 3B, 45+ FS (153)
8. Gregory Santos, RHP, 45 FV9
. Will Wilson, 2B, 45 FV10
. Alex Canario, CF, 45 FV
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Bishop has rare raw tools (65 degrees of raw power, 60 of speed) for a college position player and had a huge draft in spring 2019, hitting in the same lineup as Spencer Torkelson. His batting and pitching skills are a bit below average, and his outfield skills and arm are questionable enough to be used in left field. But solid fielding in 2021 will likely put him in the top 100 next year. Matos also has more raw power and speed, with a real chance to stay in center, and some questions about his contact skills. But he’s only 19 years old and signed for less than a million dollars in 2018, so the burden of proof is much lower. Canario is only 20 years old and is already on his 40th year. He has a high strike rate, guard, plus raw power and contact issues, but he adapts on the right field.
Bradford Doolittle stacks the starting lineups and pitching rotations as they are now, while the hot stove is still burning. Composition of the spinning line.
Toribio also has more raw power, but he has fewer contact problems than the previously mentioned group, although he could end up as a first baseman, which puts him in the same group with fingers in terms of prospect value. Wilson is a former senior first baseman who was acquired to get rid of Zack Cozart’s contract. He has average tools around the world, as well as the kind of makeup and toolbox he can use to catch up and become more versatile.
Santos is my pick to break with the system and is one of the most notable prospects to show a spike in business since the pandemic began. He was added to the 40-man list this winter after hitting over 100 miles per hour and shooting over three pitches in the summer and fall. In 2019, his velocity was already occasionally reaching the top of the 90s to go along with more potential slips, but he had shoulder problems and other inconsistent traits. Changeup and health have improved, and although he portrays himself as a multi-round reliever, Santos could enter the top 100 conversations with a strong and healthy season for an organization that excels in pitching development.
LHP Seth Corry (11, 40+ FV), RHP Sean Hjelle (12, 40+ FV) and LHP Nick Swiney (13, 40+ FV) are potential candidates for the interior. Corry has above-average material, but he has some very sharp teams on the left side, but he is likely to play for less time. Hjelle is burly (6-9) and reached Double-A in his first full minor league season. He should continue to move quickly with a dominant profile due to his downhill plan and field size, reaching a top speed of 96 mph. He also has a solid batting average, unusual for a major league pitcher because of his solid athletic ability, and an off-speed technique sufficient to serve as a No. 4 starter. Sweeney left NC State this summer as No. 67 and is in the 90s with an average break point and is looking more forward to a change of position.
The 3B Casey Schmitt (16, 50 FV) and the LHP Kyle Harrison (18) also come from the class of 2020. Schmitt was an excellent two-way player who started in the mid-90s, but proved himself to scouts every day as a more potential third-base player. He has a stronger arm, above-average defensive abilities at third, and more raw power. He also has a few questions about his touch in games that could hamper his power, but focusing on full-time hitting will help. Harrison is a crafty left-hander who comes from the low lunge and runs in the 90s. He also has a solid, above-average curveball average to go along with an above-average team. With a $2.5 million bonus, he’s not the most attractive profile, but he can move quickly and be far ahead of his peers in the big league rotation.
1st Dylan Carlson, LF, 60 FV (18)
2. Nolan Gorman, 3B, 50 FV (51)
3. Ivan Herrera, C, 50 FV (77)
4. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, 50 FV(80
)5. Zach Thompson, LHP, 45+ FV(148
)6. Johan Oviedo, RHP, 45 FV7
. Jordan Walker, 3B, 40+ FV8
. Masin Wynn, SS/RHP, 40+ FV9
. Train Fletcher, CF, 40+ FV10
. Lane Thomas, CF, 40 FV.
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Thompson’s high spin 65 curve ball gives him a very efficient carry tool that will keep him healthy in the big leagues for a long time. He was at his best at 97 mph and has shown that the moves are long term starts, with fluctuating velocity and college pain that will disappear in the backyard with a healthy pro season. Oviedo is a huge 6-6 straight with two pitches over and up to 99 mph and a mix of four. His command allows him to be used at his best on shorter runs.
Walker will have to watch his lateral speed to stay at third base, but he has plenty of arm strength and can hit 70 at home plate. His profile as a prospect has some variations, but you just have to see at least a 40-year-old bat that will allow him to reach his strength in the game. Fletcher has a good base, maybe a four plus one and a Class 50 bat if you get him on the right day. But after being reclassified for the 2019 draft while in high school in Maine, he hasn’t had much high-level experience. Thomas is a fourth speed and defensively oriented outfielder who can hit hard enough to be a fixture at the low level for years to come.
Wynn is my first choice for the system. He is one of the few players in the minor leagues who will develop as both a position player and a pitcher. He will be used primarily as a shortstop, but the Cardinals will keep him open and let him play a few rounds at a time on the mound if the situation allows. For most players in these situations, a role is completely closed off by the club. It’s easy to see why Wynn plays on this trend: He’s a runner who has an extra arm, tends to stay at shortstop and develop above-average raw power, and he’s shown contact skills and a high level of athleticism. On the pitching mound, Wynn moved into the mid-90’s with the type of carry/lift preferred by analysts and a quick escape step. For now, both throws have at least a plus percentage, and the pitching should be plus-plus, but his leadership and replacements lag behind.
RHP Markevian “Tink” Hence (11) and RHP Ian Bedell (19) were two very different options for 2020. Hence was a right-handed athlete with smooth arm movement and a speed jump right before the draw from a steady 90-94 mph to 93-96. Scouts expected this at some point, but he improved his range to see it so quickly that he ended up at number 63. His curve ball is better than his warm-up game, more average at best, while the elements are there for at least an average team. Bedell is making some projections because his velocity in Cape Town (91-95) was not the same as spring 2020 (87-91), but it is reasonable to assume he will creep up with a normal length spring. If his arm speed is low in the 90s, Bedell has above-average skills that could allow him to play the role of third/fourth starter in an optimistic scenario.
RF John Torres (12) was acquired from Cleveland and is even more promising than he is today, with more raw power, a solid approach and a stronger arm. 1B Luken Baker (18) was in high school in the mid-90s with a good breaker ball, but eventually chose TCU and pro ball, where his profile is based on reaching his 70 gross power in games. His pitching choice is good enough for that, but his batting control lags a bit, so he could be a .240 hitter with steps and power. RF Alec Burleson (21) was a two-way player in college as a left-hander at 87-91 mph, but will become a full-time professional baseball player. He has 55 years of raw power, some baseball skills and solid athletic ability, but he needs to sharpen his approach at home plate.
1 Jackson Rutledge, RHP, 50 FV(98)
2. Cade Cavalli, RHP, 45+ FV(166)
3. Andri Lara, RHP, 45 FV4
. Matt Cronin, LHP, 45 FV5
. Cole Henry, RHP, 40+ FV6
. Yasel Antuna, 3B, 40 FV7
. Seth Romero, LHP, 40 FV8
. Mason Denaburg, RHP, 40 FV9
. Armando Cruz, SS, 40 FV10
. Tim Keith, LHP, 40 FV8.
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Cavalli, Henry, and Denaburg are the three likely starting players in this group. Cavalli recruited Sean Newcomb in the draft because he looked perfect in terms of frame, delivery, athletic ability, and more, but he didn’t play the games that well and the team wasn’t quite where the package suggested. The raw material consists of two options at 60 or 70 degrees, so there is a lot of room for improvement and a lot of room for error. Henry went from arm strength in high school to a freshman at LSU with a hammer plus, then some minor injuries and dropouts took him from the middle of the first round to the second round. Denaburg was knocked out in the middle of the first round in high school, threw two 65s and high features, but was hit hard in pro ball, albeit without surgery.
Cronin, Romero and Keith are all scheduled as replacements. Cronin is a big and strong left-hander who throws from a high hand position, very mind-blowing, with lots of vertical movement. He threw fastballs almost exclusively in college, but now has an above-average curve ball and a comfortable changeup. He could quickly become a henchman in the mold of Sean Doolittle. Romero has had Tommy John and makeup problems over the years, but he has always managed to score three pitches at 55 or 60 degrees with reliable control, quickly moving into a bull’s-eye role. Keith is a left-hander with a plus hook and a low hitter who floats in the mid-90’s at shortstop with Tim Collins as a companion.
Lara is my first choice for this system. He has the build of Lebanon Hernandez: a sturdy frame, a fastball that is already at 92-95 mph, a breaker that shows plus size, and traits to stay as a starter. He has the peculiarity of being 18 years old and not very developed physically yet, but more strength and maturity will come with things and teams advanced for his age. He hasn’t played an official professional game yet, but he was in the training league last fall, shortly after leaving Venezuela.
Antuna won a $3.9 million bonus in the 2016 international class, but has since been overtaken by Luis Garcia of the same group. But now it’s Antuna’s turn, impressive on the other side with four above-average tools (except speed). He has played just 87 games all season and is now on the 40-player list, so his options are eagerly awaited. Cruz received $3.9 million in January as one of the top talents in the 2020 class. He has elite arms, possibly Class 80, and an athletic and projectile frame, but for now he is mostly potentially aggressive.
The 1B Drew Mendoza (11) has a little more raw power and enough arms to be used anywhere on the field, but his lateral quickness now limits him to first base. He has good fielding to match his performance in the game, but his plate coverage is quite good. RF Jeremy de la Rosa (12) has more raw power, some contact skills, and has enough arm strength and speed to play right field, but he is only 19 years old and has only 26 professional games to his credit.
The 3B Sammy Infante (age 13) was a showcase a year ago, with the added bonus of batting speed, raw power and game performance, but he was a year too old for the class, so his poor performance in the minors will be a better indicator in the future. C Israel Pineda (age 16) has the components for average contact, he has average gross power and plans to be about average behind home plate, which could be enough to one day be among the top 30 catchers in baseball. His plate work has been good all season and he will need to keep an eye on his conditioning.