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Daily Prospect Notes: 9/14/2021

These are notes on prospects from Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments of the Daily Prospect Notes here.

Games on 9/12

Mason Fox, RHP, San Diego Padres
Level & Affiliate: Double-A San Antonio Age: 21 Org Rank: 38 FV: 35+
1 IP, 3 K

Fox’s previously dominant fastball (he had a 0.55 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 2019, mostly in short-season ball) wasn’t as nasty during the spring. Sitting in the low-90s, he struggled and was shut down, and was put on the Development List for most of July and August. Back for about three weeks now, his fastball velocity has more often been in the 93-95 range again, though his curveball still lacks bat-missing power and depth. Because 2021 is his roster evaluation year (either he’s put on the 40-man or subject to the Rule 5 Draft in December) and because he’s thrown so few innings so far this season, the Arizona Fall league is perhaps a logical assignment for Fox and the Padres.

Jackson Rutledge, RHP, Washington Nationals
Level & Affiliate: Low-A Fredricksburg Age: 22 Org Rank: 5 FV: 45+
4 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 4 K

Speaking of other potential Fall League candidates (I’m drawing logical conclusions here, not reporting anything or leaking dope), Jackson Rutledge has struggled to take the ball every fifth day because of an early-season shoulder injury, and more recently, recurring blister issues. Sunday was Rutledge’s third blister-free start since his most recent activation. He’s sitting in the 94-98 range since returning, with his stuff intact coming off those dreaded shoulder issues. Obviously context is important here (it’s not as if Rutledge has gone every fifth day all year and is sitting 94-98), but that’s an encouraging sign for his health. Having amassed just 32 innings this season, Rutledge is a prime Fall League candidate. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Prospect Notes: NL Postseason Pitching on the Way

I recently sourced scouting info and wrote about prospects (and rehabbing veterans) who contending American League teams have on the way during the season’s final stretch, players young and old who lurk beneath the big league surface and might yet make an impact on who hoists the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of the season. Today, I examine the National League.

NL East
I have very little to pass along regarding the Braves. Their Triple-A pitchers on the 40-man (Kyle Wright, Kyle Muller, Tanner Roark) have been up and down throughout the year and they haven’t looked appreciably different since they were last up. Chris Martin and Josh Tomlin went on the injured list very recently and haven’t had a chance to rehab yet. The same goes for Jasseel De La Cruz, who had several rough starts in August before hitting the IL. Yoan López, acquired from the Diamondbacks earlier in the year, has been sitting 95-98 with Triple-A Gwinnett, but his fastball’s lack of movement means it doesn’t miss many bats. His slider is still plus when located properly, though. He’s the lone 40-man member in Gwinnett’s bullpen, though Dylan Lee (throwing strikes, up to 96, lots of in-zone fastball whiffs) has out-pitched him, and Jesse Biddle and Víctor Arano both generate more whiffs than López does. They all might be ahead of him in the pecking order for big league time in case of injury, even if it means making a 40-man move.

The Phillies have a mix of rehabbers and prospects lurking in the minors, with the prospects presenting low-impact/emergency options right now. Young Francisco Morales (who has projected as a reliever for us at FG since signing) has struggled as a starter all year at Double-A Reading, walking 59 in 70 innings pitched. He doesn’t seem to be on the fast track, even in a bullpen role. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Prospect Notes: AL Postseason Pitching On the Way

Whether it’s because they’re only just getting healthy or someone ahead of them has gotten hurt or their talent is kicking down the doors of roster manipulation made brittle by actual competitive spirit, some potentially important participants in postseason play are currently in the minors as we speak. This is especially likely when it comes to pitching, where health and effectiveness are tenuous, and team behavior surrounding promotion tends to be more opportunistic and aggressive.

For both leagues, I’m providing a scouting-centric update on pitching currently in the minors, either because the players are prospects who could conceivably play a September role or make a postseason roster, or because the player in question is a rehabbing big leaguer. Pitching can be streaky and fragile, so any of these guys could be in the big leagues at the drop of a hat, or they may simply convince their front office, like several rookies did last year, that they’re one of the best 26 guys in the org and need to be put on the playoff roster. The level of impact could range from Hunter Greene or Shane Baz dominating like Francisco Rodriguez in 2002, to Connor Seabold or Thomas Hatch humbly eating innings in a blowout loss in effort to save the rest of the bullpen for the series’ next game like J.A. Happ in 2008.

I’ll touch first on the American League this week, then provide some National League options next week. If any prospects moved on The Board due to info or opinions brought to light from this piece, I’ll note that below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Prospect Notes: 8/17/21

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments of the Daily Prospect Notes here.

Antonio Jimenez, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Level & Affiliate: Complex Level Age: 20 Org Rank: 26 FV: 40
Line: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 10 K

Jimenez is an electric little lefty (he stands about 5-foot-10) with big arm speed who sits 91-95 and has a plus two-plane slider that he commands. He’ll also show you the occasional average changeup. He’s loose and athletic and has viable starter’s command, though he arguably falls short of starter projection at the moment due to the combination of his present repertoire depth and size. With starter-level command already in place, I’m betting on changeup improvement due to the looseness/athleticism and care less about how small Jimenez is. He belongs in the Rays system ranked ahead of the hard-throwing relief-only arms. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Prospect Notes: 8/4/21

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments of the Daily Prospect Notes here.

Emiliano Teodo, RHP, Texas Rangers
Level & Affiliate: Arizona Complex League Age: 20 Org Rank: 25 FV: 40+
Line: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K

Like Daniel Palencia (now of the Cubs, formerly of the A’s), Teodo signed just before the 2020 season that never happened and only popped onto the radar screen in 2021, when we actually had consistent minor league activity on the backfields. He’s been parked in the 98-101 mph range and spins in an upper-70s curveball that’s at times in excess of 3,000 rpm. Skinny and featuring a fairly violent delivery, Teodo’s projection skews toward relief, but there’s ample time to develop him because of when he signed. He’s another high-variance/upside arm in the Rangers system. Read the rest of this entry »

Ranking the Prospects Traded During the 2021 Deadline

What a ride this year’s deadline was. All told, we had 75 prospects move in the last month. They are ranked below, with brief scouting reports written by me and Kevin Goldstein. Most of the deals these prospects were a part of were analyzed at length on this site. An index of those pieces can be found here, or by clicking the hyperlink in the “Trade” column below. I’ve moved all of the players listed here to their new orgs over on The Board, so you can click through to see where they rank among their new teammates. Our farm rankings, which now update live, also reflect these changes, so you can see where teams’ systems stack up post-deadline.

A couple of quick notes before I get to the rankings. We’ve included a few post-prospect players here (those marked in blue) so you can get an idea of where we value them now as opposed to where we had them at their prospect peak. Those players, as well as the Compensatory pick the Rockies will receive after they extend Trevor Story a qualifying offer and he signs elsewhere, are highlighted below. We had closer to 40 prospects (and 23 Players to be Named Later) traded last year, with the PTBNL number inflated by 2020’s COVID-related transaction rules. The backfields are not well-represented here, with just four prospects who have yet to play in full-season ball. Two of those are currently in the DSL and have no official domestic pro experience, though Alberto Ciprian has played stateside for instructs/extended spring training. Now on to the rankings. Read the rest of this entry »

Phillies Tug At Heartstrings with Freddy Galvis’ Return

The Phillies’ team defense, specifically their infield defense, has been bad. As a team they’ve allowed a .302 BABIP, which is sixth-highest in baseball, and while that’s not a catch-all metric for team defense, it is a fair shorthand. They are also in the bottom third of baseball in most advanced defensive metrics on the site and second to last in Defensive Runs Saved. The scouty, visual evaluation of their infielders reinforces this. Didi Gregorius will still make the occasional slick play, but he’s lost a step-and-a-half due to age, and so has Jean Segura. Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm have never been good defenders; they should probably be playing at DH and first base, respectively.

Freddy Galvis, who debuted as a Phillie, can’t change all of that on his own, but he will bring his leather wizardry back to Citizens Bank Park and help in this specific area. He has been the platonic ideal of a 45 FV player throughout his career: a flawed hitter with a one-note offensive skillset (in his case, empty power) who can play the heck out of shortstop or second base. His trademark pirouette and ability to make strong, accurate throws from his knees have led to a long highlight reel of defensive plays spanning nearly a decade in the big leagues. He and José Iglesias were both briefly part of the same middle infield in relative obscurity with the 2019 Reds, comprising what I believe is the best defensive middle infield tandem of this century.

The 31-year-old Galvis is currently out with a quad injury, but before being sidelined, he was producing on par with his career norms, which is to say he remains swing-happy, is going to run an OBP close to .300, and will smack a few doubles and homers here and there. It makes sense for him to spell Gregorious and Segura once in a while, especially when Zack Wheeler (50.4% ground ball rate) or the newly acquired Kyle Gibson (50.8%) start.

In exchange for Galvis, the Phillies sent Tyler Burch to the Orioles. A 23-year-old undrafted free agent from Lewis-Clark State, Burch was leading the org in swinging-strike rate at the time of the trade, whiffing 49 hitters in 30 innings (mostly at Low-A) at the time of the trade, though all of that has come in relief. Twenty-three-year-old relievers in A-ball aren’t exciting if you look at them like that, but Burch has real arm strength (93–96 mph, up three ticks from 2019) and a plus breaking ball, and he’s performing at a superlative level on paper. And because of when he signed (2019), there’s still time for him to be seasoned in the minors without occupying a 40-man roster spot.

The Phillies have a habit of trading pitching prospects away (I count eight in the last year) while struggling to maintain competitive pitching depth at the big league level. Netting Galvis fills a small need, one Philadelphia has also tried to address several times in the last year (remember Kyle Holder?). But Burch is the sort of piece recent Phillies clubs have been missing: a young, homegrown reliever who at the very least projects to provide depth and resiliency to injury without forcing the team to turn to reclamation projects or cost them real assets to acquire.

Phillies fans will, and should, be stoked to see Galvis back in the uniform. News of this deal made me feel like someone who quit smoking years ago catching a whiff of an early-morning cigarette on the walk to work. But they also gave up the pitcher missing bats at the highest rate in the org for a glove-first bench infielder who has been freely available on the open market several times in the last few years. It’s logical, but short-sighted.

Oakland Patches Role-Playing Holes with Harrison and Gomes, Part with Drew Millas and Others

The Oakland A’s continued their successful quest to be deadline buyers despite not having a great farm system by acquiring Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes from the Washington Nationals in exchange for three prospects, the best of whom is ultra-athletic catcher Drew Millas.

Gomes, who’s slashing .271/.323/.454 this year (in line with his career norms), fortifies an A’s catching situation that got thin when the club dealt away Jonah Heim for Elvis Andrus in the offseason. Gomes crushes lefties and should get the occasional extra start against them in place of Sean Murphy as a result, but he’s a huge upgrade over incumbent backup Aramis Garcia, whose approach (a 1% walk rate!) has been a significant impediment to any kind of offensive output. Gomes also has a great arm and has had the lowest average pop time in the majors every year since 2015 according to Baseball Savant (scroll all the way to the bottom). But he isn’t a great receiver and sometimes drew the visible ire of his pitchers (especially Max Scherzer) while in Washington.

At age 34, former All-Star Josh Harrison is also having a strong 2021 campaign. Like Gomes, he’s also clubbing lefties, to the tune of a .308/.407/.474 line. And the short-levered Harrison has once again been difficult to beat with fastballs this year. After his Swinging Strike rate against heaters had climbed for nearly a half decade, he’s halved it this year, returning to what it was in Harrison’s prime. Mike Rizzo & co. did a fine job plucking veteran bats out of the bargain bin to keep their window of contention alive until the very end.

Harrison pairs nicely with Tony Kemp in a left/right, mix-and-match 2B/3B/OF role on a roster that was very left-handed heavy entering the deadline. He’s poised to play the role a healthy Chad Pinder would theoretically play, albeit with a more stable feel for contact. And while the the value of these things is obviously subjective, Gomes has deep postseason experience, while Harrison is probably really hungry for some after spending most of his career in Pittsburgh.

The Nationals get back a trio of prospects in catcher Drew Millas and right-handed pitchers Richard Guasch and Seth Shuman. Millas is the only of the three who ranked in the main section of the A’s prospect list upon publication, and has been a personal favorite of mine since he was at Missouri State. He’s an athletic catch-and-throw guy with terrific lateral agility and hands. He also has a pretty looking swing and his athleticism is evident in the batter’s box, with his cut geared more for low-ball contact from both sides. There’s not likely to be impact power here, but Millas has a pretty good mix of patience and feel for contact, especially for a catcher. He’s a high-probability backup with some traits — the switch-hitting, the early-career peripherals, the visual evaluation of his athleticism and frame, both of which are rare for the position — that make me want to round up and indicate that there’s more upside here (hence his 40+ FV grade). He ranks 13th on the Nationals growing prospect list at the time I’m writing this, though that might change due to other deals trickling in. The FV is the important thing, though.

As far as Shuman and Guasch are concerned, neither will be added onto the list but both are fair prospects. Shuman, who is 23 and at High-A, is a pitchability righty up to 94, with command of four serviceable pitches. He’s carving up A-ball because of his competency more than stuff. He lacks a real knockout pitch but could be a fifth starter, and is high-probability upper level rotation depth if nothing else. I’ve seen Guasch up to 96 with an average slider in what is a pure relief look. Both are the sort of prospects who gets mentioned at the tail end of an organizational list right now, with FV ceilings in the 40 (Shuman, as a fifth starter) and 35+ (Guasch, as an up/down reliever) tier based on their current reports.

Scouting the Nationals’ Return for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner

“In a game against the aliens for the survival of the species, who are you giving the ball to?”

Some version of that question has been posed to me many times during my FanGraphs tenure. My response has typically been Max Scherzer, while the most popular answer among readers has leaned toward Clayton Kershaw. Well, now the Dodgers have both after trading for Scherzer and Trea Turner on Thursday. In the process, they gave up their top two prospects in right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz, as well as potential late-inning reliever Gerardo Carrillo and outfielder Donovan Casey, a former two-way player and hopeful late-bloomer.

Even though Scherzer is a rental, the prospect haul Washington is getting for Mad Max and Turner, who was my pre-season pick to win NL MVP (too cute?), is substantial enough to merit its own piece. As part of the Nationals prospect list this April, I wrote that Washington’s system was so bad that I’d rather take Vanderbilt’s roster and their high school commits than the Nationals’ entire minor league system. The White Sox graduated their handful of top 100 prospects, which sank them below Washington in our rankings; this deal, which includes two top 100 prospects, moves the Nationals from 29th to 24th (our farm system calculations tend to like potential stars more than depth). Read the rest of this entry »

40-Man Crunch Situations: National League

Yesterday, I wrote about the American League clubs whose trade deadline behavior might be influenced, at least in part, by impending 40-man roster crunch. That piece, which includes an intro diddy explaining this whole exercise, can be found here. As a reminder, All of these rosters have a talent foundation at the major league level that won’t be moving, and which I’ll ignore below. Instead, I’m focused on the number of players on the 40-man right now, how many free agents will come off that number at the end of the season, which prospects might be added (or not), and who currently on the 40-man is in danger of being passed by the prospects. For the two categories where the rubber meets the road and it’s unclear what will happen (fringe current 40-man members vs. prospects who’ll possibly be added), I italicize the players I view as less likely to stay, or be added to the 40-man. Today, we’ll consider the National League teams with such crunch.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Current 40-man Count: 46 (40 + six 60-day IL players)
Pending Free Agents: 7 (Clayton Kershaw, Corey Knebel, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Kenley Jansen, Jimmy Nelson, Albert Pujols), plus Joe Kelly’s club option
Must-Add Prospects: Jacob Amaya, Michael Grove
Current 40-man Fringe: Billy McKinney, Luke Raley, Jimmie Sherfy, Sheldon Neuse, DJ Peters, Darien Núñez
Prospects on the Fringe: Jose Martinez, James Outman, Jeren Kendall, Guillermo Zuniga, Zach Willeman, Gus Varland, Devin Mann, Ryan Noda

The Dodgers have lots of both low-impact overage and viable big leaguers, but aside from Jacob Amaya, none are likely to be more than a 1-WAR type of role player or middle inning relief piece. The number of departing free agents is high, making Amaya and Grove (who has the best stuff of the potential additions but has been wild this year) comfortable adds, but the rest of the group might find roster equilibrium elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »