Sunday, the Pirates traded starter Jameson Taillon to the Yankees for a package of four prospects. Dan Szymborksi will provide in-depth analysis of the deal as it pertains to the Yankees soon, though I’ll note to start that with the return of Luis Severino and Domingo Germán and the additions of Corey Kluber and now Taillon, the Yankees rotation will be reliant on several high-risk, high-reward starters this season.
Of course, nobody likes trading away good big leaguers, especially those who the club and city care about for reasons beyond their on-field performance. Taillon has persevered through a lot, including testicular cancer and an August 2019 Tommy John, the second such surgery of his career. When he next steps on a big league mound, it will have been nearly two years since he last did so. That layoff (he has been throwing live BP to hitters since late last summer and has been throwing bullpens during the offseason) creates volatility that mirrors the added volatility of this particular prospect package. Taillon could be an anchor of the Yankees rotation next year or might be a shell of himself. Regardless of which he would have been in Pittsburgh, the Pirates are not ready to compete and so I think they did well to trade him for four good prospects today, acquiring upside but also mitigating risk by getting several players in return.
On to those prospects. The quartet heading back to Pittsburgh — righties Miguel Yajure (age 22) and Roansy Contreras (21), 21-year-old outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba, and 18-year-old shortstop Maikol Escotto — is a pretty exciting. Read the rest of this entry »
Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been altered begin by telling you so. For the others, the blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside the org than within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there. Lastly, in effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both in lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.
For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value.
All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.
Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Minnesota Twins. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been altered begin by telling you so. For the others, the blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside the org than within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there. Lastly, in effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both in lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.
Editor’s Note: Danny De Andrade was added to this list after he agreed to a deal with the Twins on January 15.
Read the rest of this entry »
Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Boston Red Sox. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been altered begin by telling you so. For the others, the blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside the org than within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there. Lastly, in effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both in lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.
Editor’s Note: Miguel Bleis was added to this list after he agreed to a deal with the Red Sox on January 15.
Frank German was added to this list after he was traded to the Red Sox from the Yankees as part of the Adam Ottavino trade.
Downs has been a polished, advanced-for-his-age hitter dating back to high school and has a career .276/.362/.526 line in pro ball up through Hi-A (and an insignificant 12 Double-A games). His hands work in a circle that enables him to turn on and lift pitches down-and-in, and helps him scoop breaking pitches with lift, but also in a way that causes his bat head to drag through the zone a bit. After watching Carter Kieboom struggle with a similar-looking swing, I’ve begun to wonder if Downs will be tied up by big league velocity in on his hands. But the closer to the bottom of the zone pitches are, the more Downs punishes them with pretty good pop to all fields. He’s going to pepper the gaps and do a fair amount of damage to right-center field.
Last year, I projected Downs to be a second baseman based on how thick his lower body already was at age 21, and there are folks in the industry who still think that’s the case, but at the alternate site, I thought he looked agile enough to stay at short and be passable in the same way Xander Bogaerts kind of has been, especially on balls in play to his left and in on the grass. I think Downs can be positioned defensively so that he’s making most of his plays in that direction rather than having to go into the hole and backhand balls, which he’s less able to do. His average exit velo was 88 mph in 2019, and there’s not a lot of room on the body, so that might be all, but he strikes the ball hard and with consistency, and that’s typically enough to be an everyday player at one of the middle infield spots. (Alternate site)
You get Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto vibes from Casas’ style of hitting as he tries to combat his lever length by choking up on the bat (even more so when he’s in a two-strike count). Like Votto, he has also played with the depth of his batting stance’s crouch; Casas became more upright throughout 2020 and now has a bigger, more athletic move forward in the box. And he does have a pretty advanced approach and ball/strike recognition for someone his age, and also has enough pure strength to hit balls with power even though his approach appears conservative on its face. Because he’s such a big guy with long, left tackle arms, his swing does have a hole up-and-in that will be difficult to close. But the overall package is still Top 100-strong even though Casas is a 1B/DH without a long, robust pro statistical track record (his 2019 exit velos are unexceptional) because he looks the part and has an unusually long amateur performance resume. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League)
The Red Sox pushed Mata through the lower levels very quickly, even though he had several injury hiccups (including shoulder soreness in 2019) and rashes of wildness. Then, in 2019, he posted a very acceptable 9% walk rate in a season split between Hi- and Double-A and capped his year in the Fall League, where he threw really hard (often 97-99) in front of the whole industry. He came to the 2020 alternate site looking svelte, and showing better feel for his firm, short cutter/slider, a pitch he added later in pro ball.
Mata resides in the 45+ FV tier for several of the same reasons that Adrian Morejon and Justus Sheffield have in the past: the shape of their fastball movement is not suited to missing bats, and they have a spotty command and/or injury track record. Even though Mata sat 93-96 as a starter in 2019, his fastball only generated a 6% swinging strike rate against mid-level hitters. His best two pitches for missing bats are his changeup followed by his well-located slider (the curveball has nastier movement but is an easy ID out of his hand due to its loopier shape). Mata’s release grew inconsistent later in his alt site outings and he’s not as good of an athlete as the typical starter. I think he’ll start for Boston but on a contending team, a guy like this comes out of the bullpen in a valuable multi-inning role. (Alternate site, was on the instructs roster but did not pitch in games)
Jimenez’s listed weight on the Fall Instructional League roster is 50 pounds heavier than it was on last year’s, but the weight (surely there was a lag in Boston updating it, and this gain occurred over a longer stretch of time) does not trouble the scouts I spoke with, as Jimenez simply looks stronger and more physical and hasn’t lost much speed. He’s now only a 70 runner who has a chance to lead off and play impact defense in center field.
The news of the added weight and strength is exciting because, while Jimenez was already a 45+ on last year’s writeup, he had little in-game power due to a very simple, opposite-field, slap-oriented approach, especially from the left side. There’s been a little bit of movement on that score, but scouts still describe his swing as “handsy” and unlikely to produce power as it’s currently constituted, again, especially from the left side. Both swings were previously concerning for several reasons (bat path, balance, varied lower half use) but it’s possible that, even without a mechanical overhaul, Jimenez’s increased physicality will enable him to hit for doubles power down both baselines and to the gaps, which would be perfectly suitable for both traditional and modern leadoff man archetypes so long as he has the requisite secondary skills. He has good natural feel for making contact thanks to impressive hand-eye coordination. And again, this is a plus-plus athlete with what the org thinks is plus-plus makeup, elite speed, and impact defense and arm strength. On top of all this, Jimenez led the college-heavy New York-Penn League in hitting as a 19-year-old primarily hitting left-handed, something he started doing just two years ago in Instructional League. He’ll likely be on this offseason’s Picks to Click and would have been on this offseason’s top 100 had he been able to show in games that the body change impacted the power output, or that he has a high-end feel for the strike zone. (Fall Instructional League)
Song did not pitch in 2020 and instead began his two-year military commitment, which is just as well since there was no minor league season and next year’s might start later than usual. I’ve updated some of the stuff related to his commitment’s timing, but his scouting report is exactly the same: It’s fairly common for a prospect’s trade value to be affected by something circumstantial, but Song’s situation is unique. He was clearly a first round talent ahead of the 2019 draft, but it was unclear where he’d be picked because of his military commitment. At the time, service academy policy stated that Song had to complete two years of Naval service, after the Trump administration repealed an Obama-era rule that allowed athletes to petition for an exemption in order to pursue pro sports or some other activity that might bolster recruitment or the military’s image in general. Then, weeks after Song was drafted, the now-outgoing president reinstated the rule, with the exemption slated to take effect again in 2020. But Song’s application for a retroactive waiver was denied by the Navy. He is eligible to apply for an early release in May.
However long it takes, Song still has among the highest ceilings in this system. He works fast and throws hard, up to 99 during Team USA’s late-2019 Premier12 scrimmages in Arizona, his slider is plus, and he will mix in the occasional knee-buckling rainbow curveball. He at least profiles in a high-leverage relief role given the current composition of his stuff and control, and perhaps more than that had he been put into the developmental pipeline more quickly. We can’t anticipate what’ll happen to his stuff because of the layoff. It’s tough to wrangle just how that affects Song’s standing as a prospect even if it doesn’t impact his talent level, which is rare. (At-home dev)
After the Red Sox asked him to take a mechanical detour early in 2018, Houck’s arm slot migrated south again, back to where it lived when he was an electric college starter. He finally made his big league debut in 2020 and worked with a two-seamer, four-seamer and slider across three starts, with his fastballs sitting in the 90-96 mph range. Some folks in baseball think he’ll be a Justin Masterson-style starter, and perhaps he’ll be put in that role as the Sox rebuild, but on a competitive team, I have Houck projected in a multi-inning relief role, and think his velo could climb to the top of that 90-96 band and touch above it in shorter outings. He started working with a splitter last year, and it showed glimpses of bat-missing bottom at the alternate site (he barely used it in major league games). If that pitches develops, then he’ll just be able to start, long-term. (Alternate site, MLB)
The Red Sox and Duran added yet another wrinkle to his already surprising pro development track by making a very significant swing alteration that was evident during the club’s alternate site activity. He now starts with a narrower base than before, and his hands are set much lower to start, changes that theoretically create better rotation up through the kinetic chain and natural swing loft, respectively. We won’t know if the changes have a substantive impact on Duran’s power output until sometime in 2021, as his alt site hitting metrics are meaningless because they were generated against the same mediocre pitchers he saw over and over, but visually, it now appears Duran can better lift pitches in the bottom of the zone. He didn’t exactly hit for power in Puerto Rico over the winter, though, and the org thinks it’s because his new swing requires more precise timing, which Duran hasn’t yet found.
Still, let’s not forget Duran’s tools (he’s a 70 runner) nor the foundation of statistical performance he has laid dating back to college. Duran hit a career .294 at Long Beach State but produced almost no power and slipped to the seventh round. Then he torched short-season and Low-A ball after signing, and began 2019, his first full pro campaign, with a ridiculous .387/.456/.543 line at Hi-A. But after seeing him at the 2019 Futures Game, I thought there was a gap between his talent level and that of the typical Futures Gamer, to his detriment. He posted a middling Double-A line during the back half of 2019, and he was similarly underwhelming during an extended look in that season’s Fall League.
Despite his speed, Duran’s instincts in center field are still not good (though they’ve improved), and he relies on his speed to make up for what he lacks in off-the-bat feel and anticipation. It’s possible the swing change has unlocked the power necessary to make Duran a regular, but it’s also possible that it has de-stabilized his feel for contact. We won’t know until he’s generated a bigger statistical sample with the new cut. I have him in as a fourth or platoon outfielder, a 1.5-ish WAR type of player. (Alternate site, Liga de Béisbol)
I’ve had both scouts and analysts tell me that I’ve been too light on Seabold leading up to this list’s publication, that he was a prospect they thought they could leverage Philadelphia into parting with based on the Phillies seeming to undervalue him, perhaps due to recent inactivity combined with their desperate desire to patch up a bad bullpen. As our own David Laurila learned from Seabold, he only began throwing his goofy, tailing changeup with his current grip/release in 2019, a year when he barely pitched due to an oblique injury. He picked up innings in the Fall League, where he looked a little out of shape but still sat 90-93 and touched 94 (typical for him) before being shut down again after just four outings. Then he threw at the Phillies’ alt site in 2020 (publicly on video) before the team traded him and Nick Pivetta for Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.
Seabold doesn’t throw all that hard but his fastball spins at an usually high rate for its velocity, and the pitch has flat angle and a spin axis commensurate with the modern, up-in-the-zone approach. The heater and the changeup, which has screwball action, are going to give hitters fits. Both of Seabold’s breaking balls are visually mediocre but he commands them pretty well, and they aren’t easy IDs out of his hand, especially for righty batters. I have him in as a 1.5-ish WAR starter now, and we’ll likely see him in the big leagues soon. (Alternate site)
Short of guys with elite power like Miguel Sanó and Joey Gallo, there’s virtually no precedent for any corner bat to strike out as much as Dalbec does and still have sustained success as an everyday big leaguer. But his raw juice certainly approaches the top of the scale, and I think Dalbec gets to enough of it in games to play a part-time 1B/3B role. He’s athletic enough to handle third base despite his considerable size, but Rafael Devers is entrenched at the hot corner, though he isn’t great there. There’s risk that the hit tool bottoms out but guys like Dalbec tend to find their way into the lineup frequently — think Edwin Ríos. (Alternate site, MLB)
Sometimes pitchers whose fastballs have other impact traits (Bazardo’s has a backspinning axis) suddenly add velocity and see the quality of the heater leap several more grades than the velo bump alone would indicate. That seems to have happened to Bazardo, whose fastball sat 91-94 in 2019, then was 94-96 and torching hitters in the Fall of 2020, though his stride direction has also changed (he used to land closed and is now more direct to the plate, which has caused him arm slot to lower a bit ad may have altered his fastball movement profile). He was added to the Red Sox 40-man and will likely be part of their bullpen mix in 2021. Bazardo’s high-effort delivery and imprecise fastball command both push him to the bullpen, but he may be an impact relief piece because his mid-80s curveball has such ridiculous power and depth. He also has rudimentary feel for creating diving action on a low-90s splitter, though Bazardo doesn’t locate it consistently enough for that pitch to be very competitive right now. He’s 25, much older than most other prospects on this list, but he’s clearly one of the more talented arms in the entire org now that he’s throwing this hard. (Fall Instructional League)
Bello spent 2018 as a 19-year-old in the DSL, then was skipped over two levels and sent right to full-season ball in 2019. He ended up throwing nearly twice as many innings as he had the year before, but rather than show fatigue toward the end of the season, Bello actually had his better starts during the second half of the summer. During those he’s bump 98, miss both right- and left-handed bats with his changeup, and flash an occasionally nasty slider. He continued to throw harder in (manicured) Fall 2020 outings, sitting 94-96 (up from 92-95) and touching 98. The movement profile on Bello’s fastball is mediocre. It has tail when located to his arm side, and its angle makes it look like it has ride at the top of the zone. His slider occasionally has nasty bite but it’s really inconsistent and gets hammered when he doesn’t locate it well. Because of the slider’s mediocrity and Bello’s longer arm action, I currently have him projected in an impact fastball/changeup bullpen role, and he may yet throw harder if that move is made permanently. (Fall Instructional League)
People who read this site probably already know about Groome’s amateur prowess and injury history (he’s made just 20 affiliated pro starts due to a back injury and Tommy John surgery), so I’ll fast forward a bit and point those who are unfamiliar to past lists if they need background. Groome came back from TJ late in August 2019 and got four innings of work before Instructional League, where he got another eight to 10 frames, working 93-95 two innings at a time. Both his 2020 alternate site stuff (a new slider, improving changeup, his trademark curveball) and conditioning were encouraging and he suddenly looked like a lock to be added to Boston’s 40-man and potentially play a role on this year’s big league roster. Mechanically, and perhaps this was due to his improved conditioning, Groome did a better job of getting over his front side at the alt site, which is crucial to his fastball control. Then he arrived for instructs again looking soft-bodied and weighing in at a listed 262 pounds. His velocity was down in the upper-80s and low-90s rather than in the low-to-mid 90s. Boston added him to the 40-man anyway, but it’s clear a big part of Groome’s future depends on his abolity to keep his body in check, which he hasn’t done consistently.
It’s frustrating that even after several years of intense interest, there’s a lot we don’t know about Groome. He’s still just 22 and hasn’t yet had the opportunity to refine his slider against hitters from other organizations. You can assume some of what we don’t know is hidden upside, but certainly most of what we do know is that this is a volatile prospect. His ceiling is higher than several players ahead of him on this list, but he’s a less certain bet to have big league utility. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League)
A heavily-used college reliever, Ward was moved to the rotation in pro ball, added a cutter, and raced to Hi-A in his first full season. He may still end up a reliever, but his athleticism and repertoire depth make it likely to be in a multi-inning role if he can’t be a fourth or fifth starter. Ward was not invited to the Red Sox alt site and he was on the instructs roster but didn’t throw in games there, so I have no new notes on him from this year and his reports remains the same. I think it’s fair to interpret his exclusion from the alt site as evidence that I am, along with my sources from last year’s write-up, a little too high on Ward, but I don’t think that leap in logic is enough to move him yet. He’s a high-priority early 2021 eval because of it, though. (At-home dev)
Here’s what I wrote about Ramirez last year when he was coming off a very successful 13-start stretch in the New York-Penn League (61 innings, 63 punch outs, 16 walks): “Ramirez has a vertical arm slot and hand position that create backspin that will let his fastball play atop the strike zone, though he doesn’t work up there as often as he could. His slider is average but has effective, vertical movement, and he has fairly advanced arm-side changeup feel. An average athlete with a smaller frame, there’s no overt physical projection that allows us to get excited about Ramirez growing into a monster fastball, so instead we think he’s a developmental fifth starter.”
Well, Ramirez started throwing harder. He was sitting 92-94 at Instructional League and was topping out at 96 without having lost any command, or having begun to overthrow his breaking ball, or anything of that nature. Changeup/command guys tend to outpace traditional projections and though the developmental setting could have allowed for a short-term velo bump that won’t hold over a long season (I have Aldo sitting 90-94 in 2019), Ramirez is still on track to be a pitcher similar to Seabold by the time his 40-man deadline arrives. (Fall Instructional League)
If you read the Cleveland prospect list, you’ll know that they (and seemingly other model-driven amateur departments) have a penchant for drafting California high schoolers whose profiles are spearheaded by their hit tool, and that this sort of methodology seems to be spreading. This describes Yorke, who the Red Sox made their surprising first round pick in 2020, and who is perhaps the most divisive prospect I’ve had to write up so far this offseason.
I had a 35+ FV on Yorke, pre-draft. The bulk of my in-person looks came during 2019 PG National and the Area Code Games. During that time, he looked like a polished bat who couldn’t play shortstop due to a lack of arm strength, perhaps a lingering effect of a labrum tear from Yorke’s sophomore year of high school that caused him to spend his junior year DH’ing and playing the outfield. His infield footwork, hands, and actions were all fine, but the arm strength was not, and if that continues, then at best he’ll be able to play second base, which is where I have him projected. That’s still a favorable place on the defensive spectrum and Yorke doesn’t even have to develop a ton of power to profile there so long as he truly has a plus bat that produces bushels of doubles. Indeed, several amateur scouting departments think he’ll easily be able to do that, and even the clubs that didn’t pick him think Yorke was one of the, if not the, most polished high school hitters on the West Coast in 2020.
Pro scouts’ looks in the Fall were not as strong. One noted to me that they did not see Yorke pull a ball in the air at all during Instructional League. He showed up to the Red Sox alt site looking a little heavier and less athletic than he did the summer before, which perhaps puts him on a trajectory to be a shift-aided second baseman, but he’s still young enough for variability in this regard and I’m told that what he looked like at the alt site was better than how he looked physically earlier in the spring. I was light on him before the draft, but still think $2.7 million was overzealous even though it facilitated overslot picks later. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League)
Even in center field, there really aren’t any impact regulars who fail to hit for at least some power, and barring something unforeseen, I think a lack of thump will keep Rosario from being a true everyday player despite his very interesting, and in some ways very special, skillset. This guy walked in nearly 17% of his Hi-A plate appearances in 2019 as just a teenager, and he has a chance to be a special defender in center because of his speed and athleticism, though he was only a 50 runner last Fall (I’m chalking this up to a long, weird year during which Rosario was traded). Rosario is also very tough to get to swing-and-miss in the zone, but some of that is because he’s very conservatively poking, slapping, and slashing soft contact all over the infield and not really trying to hit for power. Realistically, he’s a low-end regular in center field, or some sort of weird meta-game role player if the plus defense finally materializes. (Padres and Red Sox alternate sites, Fall Instructional League)
He’s much more physically mature than is typical for an 18-year-old, but Bonaci can hit. He’s a switch hitter with rare feel for the barrel from both sides, which is especially remarkable considering his age. He has enough arm strength for the left side of the infield but, based on how thick he is at this age, he’s at risk of losing the lateral agility needed to play the middle infield spots. He’s very similar to recent Rule 5 pick Vimael Machin, and, like Machin, projects as a shift-aided role-playing infielder without quite enough in-game power production to play every day. (Fall Instructional League)
Part of Boston’s return from San Diego for Mitch Moreland, Potts has transformed from a glove-first high school shortstop to a power-hitting corner bat in the span of just four years. He hit for power in the lower levels of the minors before running into some strikeout trouble at the upper levels (a 30% rate at basically a whole season at Double-A), though Potts was the age of a college prospect at that point and is still just 22. The power comes from strength rather than lift in the swing. Potts’ swing path is actually quite flat, and even without his strikeout issues, I think he’d hit for less in-game power than his raw due to lack of lift, though perhaps his new club will be able to coax more out of him. There’s bust potential here, just a binary “no” on the hit tool, an outcome in the Juan Francisco/Matt Davidson realm. The middle-of-the-road projection is that of a big power/low on-base part-time bat who plays a couple of the four corner positions. (Alternate site, was on the instructs roster but did not play in games)
Wong is an athletic, multi-positional player who spent his early college career at shortstop, then moved to catcher while moonlighting at a few infield positions as an upperclassman and while with the Dodgers. Then he was part of the Mookie Betts trade and worked only as a catcher at Boston’s alt site. I still expect he’ll eventually catch and play some combination of first, second, and third since that’s the avenue to maximizing Wong’s impact, but it made sense for him to catch exclusively and learn an entirely new organization of pitchers this year. He’s a very upright free swinger who just kind of throws his quick hands at the ball, which results in a lot of strikeouts but also creates impact power on contact. The strikeouts probably limit his role, but because Wong can catch and hopefully play another position or two, it’s a valuable and rare one. (Alternate site)
Lopez was Boston’s top 2018 July 2 signee. He’s well-rounded — he lacks a plus tool at the moment — but has the frame to grow, and Lopez’s hit tool might get there. Of the Red Sox teenagers in instructs, he has the best combination of present feel for contact and physical projection. He’s a switch-hitter with great secondary skills — baserunning, defensive instincts, and feel for the strike zone. This is a high probability teenager, if there is such a thing; Lopez’s ceiling will be dictated by how much he hits, and he’s off to a good early (if not statistically measured) start in that regard. (Fall Instructional League)
Jordan matured physically earlier than is typical and had already grown into impact power as a high school freshman and sophomore. Then he reclassified as a 2020 graduate, making him draft-eligible a year earlier and the youngest prospect available. He barreled older pitching on the showcase circuit and hit for in-game gap power despite a downward cutting swing, evidence that he has rare feel for the point of impact. He’s played a mix of third and first base at big events and I have him projected as first base-only, though I think his hands are excellent and that he’ll be quite good there. Scouts who saw Jordan in the Fall echoed my skepticism regarding his ability to stay at third base. Jordan’s present power and feel for contact are really promising for someone his age. I’m not inclined to project on his raw power very much, even though he’s only 17, because Jordan’s frame is already relatively maxed out. He’s a good version of a profile that I don’t like very much. (Fall Instructional League)
Chacon got Boston’s biggest bonus in the 2019 class because his speed gives him a shot to play center field and his physical projection gives him a chance to grow into power. While his bat-to-ball skills haven’t impressed to the level that Bonaci’s have, and he doesn’t have the present power of some of the system’s other teenagers, there’s still Goldilocks Zone potential here because of Chacon’s speed, frame, and explosiveness. My Fall notes from scouts aren’t glowing, but Chacon was the second-youngest player on Boston’s roster and was still just 17 for most of instructs. (Fall Instructional League)
Another player whose career now has a stock-down context because of the pandemic, Cannon is 23 and hasn’t played above rookie ball. He was a model-friendly college hitter who posted two years of elite statistical performance against mediocre PAC-12 pitching, including a .390/.480/.640 line as a junior and more walks than strikeouts over the course of his career. He is not a clear athletic fit on the middle infield and doesn’t have quite enough arm strength to be a clean fit on the left side of the infield, so he’ll either end up as a 40/45 defender at second base or in left field, which is where some of the Four Corners scouts projected him as an amateur.
The cornerstone of his prospect assessment was on-field production, and now Cannon hasn’t had the opportunity to replicate it in pro ball. He wasn’t invited to the alternate site and garnered generally tepid reviews from scouts who saw him in the Fall. He remains a 40 FV but falls behind others in that tier. (Fall Instructional League)
Circumstances have been rather unkind to Decker’s prospectdom. He was both a Northeast high schooler who had to make a tough leap to pro pitching and one of the older high schoolers in his draft class, making statistical performance an important driver for his early-career industry value. A wrist injury meant he sat for most of his first pro summer when he would have first been able to get his feet wet against pro pitching, and the leap to the Penn League the next summer proved to be too much; he struck out 30% of the time for Lowell. Then the pandemic hit, and Decker had no full-season opportunity. He still has the raw power, physicality, and speed underway that made him a good amateur prospect but his lack of reps against pro pitching make him extremely risky, and his utter inexperience against pro-quality left-handed pitching caps his likely future projection in the platoon corner outfielder bucket, though he could be a Seth Smith/Matt Joyce-level version of that role. (Fall Instructional League)
German was a solid middle-round college pitching prospect going into the 2018 draft, with most clubs treating him as a sixth to eighth round talent who could possibly be a target for the 11th-12th rounds and a $125,000 bonus, as cheap senior signs fill in the later stages of the top 10 rounds. Then German (Dominican-born and whose name is pronounced like the European country) had one of the latest pre-draft velo spikes possible, suddenly hitting 95 mph during the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament in his final college game just two weeks before the draft. High-velocity fastballs are a dime a dozen these days, but German had the athleticism and arm action of a starter and had put on about 15 pounds in the previous 12 months, so some thought this could be coming. Clubs who had scouts at that final start shot him up their boards, and the Yankees jumped to the front of the line to take him in the fourth round.
The velo spike held throughout German’s first summer in pro ball — he sat 92-95 and touched 97 mph in the Fall Instructional League, and put on about 10 additional pounds after signing — and then moved yet another tick in 2019 — 93-96, touch 98 — even though German was still starting. His fastball has plus-plus vertical movement. The length of his arm action and the gap between where his secondary stuff is now (German’s college breaking ball was scrapped, and his changeup is now his best secondary) and where it’d have to be to play several times through the order means German is likely a fastball-heavy reliever. (At-home dev)
The PTBNL in the Kevin Pillar trade with Boston, Wallace was not at the Rockies’ alt site at the time of the trade, did not report to Boston’s alt site after the trade (there wasn’t enough time), and though he was listed on the team’s instructs roster it doesn’t sound like he threw in front of scouts there. His report is unchanged. Wallace has a starter’s mix — mid-90s heat with tail, a changeup with mirroring movement, a sweeping slider — but his arm action is long and low, so he likely projects in relief. There’s clear industry appetite for varied mechanical looks, and Wallace provides one, and his slider will probably be tough for righties to pick up because of his arm action. (At-home dev, was on the instructs roster but did not pitch in games)
An eligible sophomore from the 2019 draft, Cellucci was sitting 90-94 in pro ball after he signed. During instructs in the Fall of 2020, he exhibited a significant velocity spike, touching 97 and sitting 94-96, while also mixing in a really nasty, mid-80s curveball with spin rates topping out over 3,000 rpm. He’ll also show you an occasional splitter, also in the mid-80s, with power sink. Cellucci has a relief-only delivery and struggles to repeat his release. There’s a chance he’ll never throw enough strikes to be anything at all, but his stuff is suddenly very, very good, especially for a lefty, and if he can throw enough strikes then he’ll be an impact relief piece. (Fall Instructional League)
It looks like Kiley McDaniel and I were too high on Lugo before the draft (we 45 FV’d him) based on the reports I’ve gotten during his post-draft summer and now his Fall 2020 look. He went much later than we expected and I initially thought it was perhaps because it was tough for decision-makers to go to Puerto Rico to see him efficiently (it was a multi-day commitment without other high-end players to see) but to this point it seems we were just too heavy on his evaluation. He wasn’t especially toolsy in high school, but I did think he’d say at shortstop and his body was very projectable, giving Lugo the chance to develop relevant power for the position. But while Lugo has gotten stronger, his bat speed is still an issue and it’s compounded by his lever length. He didn’t hit during instructs because of a wrist injury. Now he’s tracking like a utility infielder reliant on his defense. (Fall Instructional League)
Gonzalez is a huge, physical teenager with a maxed out body (a scout’s Franmil Reyes comp is pretty apt), but he has fairly gargantuan pop for someone his age. He’s a long-term, hit-over-power right field prospect who needs to really rake to be an everyday guy. (Fall Instructional League)
This is the same report as last year’s since (as you’re about to read) Whitlock didn’t throw, though I did up his FV a shade since his rehab timeline will have concluded by the time play begins. The Yankees moved Whitlock up the ladder very quickly in 2018, and he looked like a soon-to-be backend starter or swingman sort based on his ability to locate an average sinker/slider/changeup mix. Then he blew out his UCL in the middle of 2019 and had surgery. Whitlock began throwing in January of 2020 but was expected to miss most (if not all) of the year and was likely on track to compete for a spot on the Yankees staff in 2021. Several teams tried to slip unscoutable rehabbing pitchers through the Rule 5 draft, but several of them got picked, including Whitlock. He’s a good bet to break camp with the big league club. I have him projected in a multi-inning relief role as a way to initially limit his workload, though if things work out long-term, Whitlock will pitch toward the back of a rotation. (TJ rehab)
Billed as likely to be one of the 2018 draft’s fastest-moving prospects, Feltman’s 2019 velocity was down from his customary 95-97 to sitting 92-95 and touching 96. He arrived to 2020 instructs with a slightly different delivery (his shoulders are more relaxed, his glove hand doesn’t extend quite as dramatically, his front side clears a little earlier and better) and lived near the top of his 2019 velo band. While it’s encouraging that he’s regained some arm strength and that his fastball has other traits that will enable it to play up, Feltman still looks like more of a middle reliever rather than an impact one unless all of that pre-draft velocity comes back. (Fall Instructional League)
Bleis is a righty corner outfield power projection prospect with a whippy, low-ball swing and room for about 30 pounds on his frame.
Liu was one of the surprise prospects to emerge from the 2019 J2 class, receiving the Red Sox’s second-highest bonus of that year’s crop ($750,000) after the team saw a handful of shorter relief outings before the Fall ’19 Premier12 tournament in Asia. He signed as a 20-year-old out of college in Taiwan; most top Taiwanese talents sign at age-18 out of high school. The Red Sox were actually on Liu as a teenage infielder, but he took a step forward as a converted relief pitcher, hitting anywhere from 98 to 101 mph depending on whose radar gun you were looking at when he threw. When Liu came to the States for instructs in the Fall of 2020, his stuff was way down, in the low-90s. He wasn’t nearly as explosive or athletic as he looked a year ago, and the year away from competitive baseball seems to have impacted him more than most others in the system.
But I’ve made no change to Liu’s FV. He slides down within the tier but is still a bounce-back 40 FV type who has shown three plus pitches in the past (fastball, slider, splitter). He also mixes in a curveball as a fourth pitch. (Fall Instructional League)
I can’t justify moving Rodriguez up at all because again, even though he was on the instructs roster it doesn’t sound like he actually pitched in the Fall, so there’s no new information here. But I’m writing this to tell you that I’m going to be quick on the trigger to move him up in 2021 if he performs, since this report reads almost exactly like Aldo Ramirez’s did last year: Rodriguez carved up the 2019 GCL — 58 strikeouts, 9 walks, 47 innings — by virtue of both advanced stuff (he already has a quality changeup and curveball) and pitchability. He is sleight of build and doesn’t throw very hard, so there’s not big fastball projection here, but Rodriguez does spin his heater much more than is usual for someone who only throws in the low-90s, so it might be an impact pitch even if he only ends up with average velo. He’s a candidate to begin 2021 in full season ball based on how Boston handles polished teenage arms. (Fall Instructional League, but did not pitch in games)
Boston acquired Koss from Colorado in exchange for (converted outfielder) pitcher Yoan Aybar in early December, after Koss had played at Rockies instructs. Like Cam Cannon, Koss is a bat-first infielder who, because of the missed season, hasn’t played above rookie ball even though he’s now 23. Koss had a huge 2019 post-draft summer in the Pioneer League, where the altitude-aided hitting environment is so cartoonish that you can largely ignore his numbers with Grand Junction. But he can hit a little bit. He has a compact line drive stroke and good feel for contact, but his deep load might cause him to struggle versus bigger velocity at the upper levels if it isn’t adjusted. The rest of the skillset isn’t sexy, but Koss is an infield fit with feel to hit, so he’s an interesting hit-tool sleeper whose likely outcome is a bench role. (Fall Instructional League with Colorado)
Vaughan did not have a great Instructional League, but the contingent of pitching he faced there was not only more advanced than what he likely would have faced in the 2020 GCL, but probably a level or two above even that. So, as I’ve done with young, athletic/frame projection prospects this offseason, he’ll remain in the 35+ FV tier even though he didn’t really perform in the Fall. Scouts still think Vaughn runs well enough to play center field for now, though his frame is such that we anticipate an eventual move to right, but with such mass might come power. (Fall Instructional League)
A Day Three pick in 2018, Politi pitched well enough out of the bullpen in 2019 that the Sox stretched him out late in the season and gave him a handful of starts. During that stretch he struck out 61 in 47 innings. Then we had to wait until 2020 instructs before anyone saw him again, and there Politi was frustrating due to a lack of command. His delivery is deceptive, his fastball has ride at the top of the zone, when he can command his slider it is quite good, and it seems like there are several other possible pitches in the mix to be a potential tertiary offering (a changeup, curveball, maybe a cutter) if it turns out Politi can actually throw strikes and continue developing as a starter. (Fall Instructional League)
The Red Sox have remodeled Zeferjahn’s repertoire since drafting him out of Kansas, asking him to ditch his two-seamer and curveball in favor of all four-seamers and a slider. Once his pitches become tougher to identify out of his hand, he projects to be an up/down reliever, unless Boston can tease out more consistent slider execution than I’m projecting. (Fall Instructional League)
The Fall before his draft year at Florida State, Drohan was sitting 92-94 and had a plus curveball. Then, early in 2020 before the shutdown, he struggled to throw strikes as he had in the past and his velocity was more pedestrian during 2020 Instructional League. He has been up and down (both the arm strength and strike-throwing) since high school, but a lefty with a breaking ball like his has a pretty good shot to earn a bullpen role. (Fall Instructional League)
Blalock was a $250,000 overslot high schooler who has had a pretty significant velo bump over the last two calendar years, going from sitting 86-88 as a rising high school senior to bumping 95 suring Instructional League. During that time his body has really developed, gotten leaner and stronger, and Blalock still has room for more good weight. He may also find another gear when his arm action shortens up a bit. Blalock has an extreme north/south arm slot which might also help him create rise on his heater, but he’ll also need to take a longer, deeper stride home to do that, as he’s currently very upright. and his fastball has downhill plane as a result. Blalock is a very raw developmental project who it appears has spent the last year reshaping his body and delivery as he’s grown into notable arm strength. (Fall Instructional League)
Marcano is on the long-term radar assuming he can keep his body in check and remain agile enough to catch. He’s a little swing happy and is definitely a power-over-hit type (à la Deivy Grullon) but he shows some advanced approach elements by cutting down on his stroke with two strikes. He also has a plus, accurate arm. (At-home dev)
Wilson was added to the BoSox 60-man player pool in September (it’s odd that he was on the 40-man but not in the initial pool), so even with some alt site video access for that period, he had little runway to get up to speed and be evaluated. He didn’t make an obvious swing change from 2019, nor did his body develop in an obviously different way, so his report remains the same: Wilson has some carrying tools. He has grown into power, his swing creates natural lift, which enables it to play in games, and he has plus straightline speed. His feel for contact is very limited, so he exists in that Keon Broxton zone, where clear big league tools often get squeezed off rosters by someone with similar skills who hits left-handed, or boasts some other marginal improvement. (Alternate site)
Murphy is a lefty who touches 96, and that on its own is notable. His secondaries — a changeup and curveball — are okay, and his new slider (added in pro ball) isn’t very good yet. Murphy doesn’t have great feel for location, but also doesn’t have a clear knockout secondary pitch to lean on in the bullpen should he have to move. He should be developed as a starter with the hope that either his command or a plus secondary pitch develop. (Fall Instructional League)
Last year, I mentioned that I hoped (and valued him assuming) Flores’ lackluster 2019 was a developmental bump rather than the start of a trend. Well, now it’s a trend. Flores was generating Willy Adames comps during the Fall of 2018, and has since regressed physically and technically. He no longer looks athletically capable of playing the middle infield and has continued to struggle with the bat. He’s in danger of slipping off the list entirely next year unless he performs statistically and looks more athletic early in the year. (Fall Instructional League)
Perales did not come stateside for instructs, so this report remains the same: Since signing in July, Perales has added 10 pounds of muscle and several ticks to his fastball. He’s now up to 95 and has nascent curveball feel, enough that his early developmental focus is on finding a changeup grip. Perales’ frame lacks overt projection, so the upside is perhaps limited by that, but a bunch of velo has already come on. (At-home dev)
Feliz did not come stateside for instructs, so this report remains the same: Had Feliz been born in the States, he’d probably be playing left tackle on Friday nights. Still relatively crude as a hitter (and I’m always skeptical of physically mature hitters performing in the DSL), Feliz is a leviathan with plus-plus raw power. He’ll likely be limited to left field or first base, especially if he somehow gets bigger, which, combined with relatively raw pitch recognition, makes him a prospect of extreme risk. Ordinarily at this stage, that’s just a 35 FV guy, but this dude’s size and power at his age is rare, in the Luken Baker/Josh Naylor area. (At-home dev)
My reports on Wu-Yelland from the Fall are not great, but he’s a lefty up to 96 with considerable tailing action on his fastball, so I’m keeping him on the back end of the list here rather than dropping him into the honorable mentions. Most low-slot guys like this have longer arm actions but Wu-Yelland’s is really short. His breaking ball is tough on lefties because of his slot, and his changeup flashes average, which is his best secondary in a vacuum. (Fall Instructional League)
Other Prospects of Note
Pitching Depth Types
Brock Bell, RHP
Yusniel Padron-Artilles, RHP
Joan Martinez, RHP
Brian Van Belle, RHP
Alex Scherff, RHP
Bell’s fastball has carry and has been up to at least 95 (he sat 91-94 in 2019) and he has a good curveball that gets its depth from its axis rather than raw spin. Padron-Artilles, 23, was born in Cuba but drafted out of Miami-Dade College a couple of years ago. He also has a really sneaky fastball even though he doesn’t throw that hard. Martinez and Scherff have premium arm strength — Martinez is 94-97 touching 99, Scherff is 92-96 with a good changeup — but relief-only projections, and their fastballs don’t play like you’d expect given the velo. Van Belle (undrafted out of Miami) has a plus changeup and a chance to be a spot starter.
Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP
Ceddanne Rafaela, SS
Darel Belen, RF
Ricardo Cubillan, SS
Nathanael Cruz, RHP
Kelvin Diaz, CF
Jhostynxon Garcia, RF
Gonzalez is 6-foot-3 and has already touched 95 at age 18. He had some support for the main section of the list after his 2020 instructs performance. Rafaela has contact skills and can play all over the field. He’s 17, but is only 5-foot-8 and has very little room on the frame. Belen is the opposite. He’s a broad-shouldered power projection bat at 6-foot-4, with average raw, and a plus arm, another right field look. Cubillan was hurt for much of 2019. He’s 22 and plays a good short and has contact skills, but very little power. Cruz is somewhat advanced for a 17-year old pitcher. He’s in the low-90s with fringe secondary stuff right now. Diaz was a shortstop but moved to center field; he’s another wiry frame to keep an eye on in case he grows into impact power. Garcia has similar tools but a slighter build.
Frames with Power
Pedro Castellanos, 1B
Mario Campana, RF
Tyler Esplin, RF
Brandon Howlett, 3B
This is a self-explanatory group. All have very high offensive bars to clear at their respective positions.
This system is not very good because it still lacks the top end prospects that drive the empirically-derived farm rankings here at the site. But it is about 10 prospects deeper than last year’s list as the Red Sox were 2020 sellers at the onset of a rebuild that was partly ownership-imposed and partly caused by the unsustainable way Dave Dombrowski ran the show.
Boston’s 2020 was the rebuild equivalent of a sprinter made of molasses coming out of the blocks. Part of this is because the most talented part of the Betts trade, Alex Verdugo, is no longer a prospect, part of it is because Boston had no second rounder in 2020 because of their sign-stealing scandal, and part of it is because the young Latin American core of this system didn’t really have a chance to get a traditional year of development and evaluation.
Some of it is also, at least at this website, because I didn’t like their draft. I watched film (some from last summer and some from the alt site), talked to pro scouts who saw Nick Yorke after the draft, and doubled back to some crosscheckers on the West Coast who saw him before it. Their opinions were enough to move my pre-draft evaluation of him pretty considerably, but their class still feels sub-par to me. I’m not keen on positionless hitters, and the Red Sox may have drafted two of them. The shortened draft also punished Boston and other teams with thin farm systems, and made it impossible to find late-round diamonds in the rough like Boston did with Blalock and Cellucci in 2019. They did sign more undrafted free agents than other clubs, which makes sense considering the state of this system, though it’s also confirmation that the org is aware it needs more talent.
It’s fairly likely that whoever the Red Sox draft fourth overall in the 2021 Draft will immediately become their top prospect, and rumors of an Andrew Benintendi trade may yet cause this list to grow before the end of the offseason. It’d be smart if Boston flexed its financial might to take on some bad contracts (with prospects attached, of course) while other teams are especially desperate to get rid of them, but it doesn’t seem like ownership would allow that.
Below is an analysis of the prospects in Cleveland’s farm system. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been altered begin by telling you so. For the others, the blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside the org than within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there. Lastly, in effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both in lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.
Editor’s note: Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene were added to this list following their trade to Cleveland as part of the Francisco Lindor deal.
Angel Genao was added to this list after he agreed to a deal with Cleveland on January 15.
In some ways, Tuesday’s three-way trade between the Phillies (who acquired relief lefty José Alvarado), Rays (who acquired first baseman Dillon Paulson and a PTBNL/cash) and Dodgers (who acquired bullpen lefty Garrett Cleavinger) was an extension of the Blake Snell trade from earlier in the week. In that deal, the Rays got two 40-man roster players back in return (Francisco Mejía and Luis Patiño) but sent away only one, which meant they needed to clear a 40-man spot via trade in order for the move to be announced without them losing someone for nothing.
As a result, the Rays were leveraged into giving up the most exciting player in a minor swap in Alvarado, a husky lefty with elite-level stuff, a troubling injury history and frustrating control. It wasn’t long ago that he looked like the Rays’ future closer or high-leverage stopper. In 2018, when he was routinely sitting 98–101 mph early in the year, he ranked seventh among MLB relievers in WAR despite throwing just 53 innings because he was striking out hitters at a 30% clip, and generating ground balls 55% of the time his pitches were put in play. Alvarado became .giffamous (pronounced like infamous) because nobody should be able to throw a ball that moves that much that hard.
Read the rest of this entry »
On Christmas, while I was some combination of calorically comatose and consumed by basketball, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Rangers had signed 28-year-old Japanese righty Kohei Arihara. The move continued an active Texas offseason and streak of curious, perhaps antithetical acquisitions made by a Rangers club that seems to have one foot in rebuilding and and the other in competing. What does Arihara bring to the table right now, and how does his acquisition fit as part of a broader shift in the strategy the org seems to be taking to team building?
Before I talk about Arihara, let’s remember the things that change when a pitcher goes from NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) to MLB. In addition to the leap in hitter quality, there is also a heavier workload. Pacific League pitchers start once a week rather than once every five days as they typically do in MLB. It’s a strange cultural workload reversal from high school, where Japanese pitchers can be sometimes driven into the ground and asked to throw upwards of 120 pitches on little rest during important tournaments. There’s no way of knowing what kind of long-term consequences this has for the pitchers being developed there, good or bad.
The baseball itself is also different. The tackiness and seam height of NPB’s ball differs from MLB’s (there’s also variance within each population on its own), and those attributes play an important role in creating movement on pitches. This is why, more and more often, you’ll see MLB pitchers asking the umpire for a new baseball after feeling the seams on the one they’ve just been given and realizing they are lower than they like. All of these things, in addition to the complexities of a cross-planet move and cultural adjustment, play a role in augmenting teams’ understanding of the pitchers they have scouted, via tech and eyeball evaluators, in NPB or any other foreign league. Read the rest of this entry »
In roughly 24 hours, the San Diego Padres traded away a total of six players who, were they dropped into the amateur draft tomorrow, would come off the board somewhere in the top 50 picks. It’s the kind of talent few orgs have in their systems at all, never mind in such excess that they can ship it away without totally nuking the farm. Rumors that the Padres were in pursuit of Yu Darvish spread through the industry a few days before Christmas, but it’s taken years of focused rebuilding through the draft, international signings, and trades for pro prospects, and the GM himself sometimes roaming the backfields looking at raw, young players, to build toward a week like the one the Padres and their fans have had. On Monday, the rumors became an in-principle agreement to swap Darvish and C/1B Victor Caratini for several exciting young players most recently scouted on the Peoria, Arizona backfields: Reginald Preciado, Ismael Mena, Yeison Santana, and Owen Caissie. I was lucky enough to see more Padres instructs action than any other club’s, and other than Caissie, I’ve had year-over-year looks at all of them.
You can see where I had all the prospects involved evaluated before my Instructional League looks for some context to the movement I’m about to describe, because two of the traded prospects have moved up quite a bit, and a third might still. Let’s start with Panamanian infielder Reggie Preciado, who is the best prospect in the trade and will be on this offseason’s top 100 prospect list as a 50 FV player. Preciado has the overt physical traits that teams have traditionally coveted in the international market. He’s a big-framed (about 6-foot-4) switch-hitter who is athletic enough to stay on the infield. Players like this have a wide range of potential outcomes, and one is for their body to develop in the Goldilocks Zone where they remain agile enough to stay at shortstop, but become big and strong enough to hit for impact power. Though some teams have shown evidence of a philosophical shift in this area, prospects like Preciado are the ones who typically get paid the most money on the international market, and indeed Preciado received $1.3 million, a record for a player from Panama.
When Preciado came to the States for 2019 instructs, he looked like you’d expect a 16-year-old his size to look: raw and uncoordinated. He still had not gained athletic dominion over his frame, and he looked much more like a third base defender than a shortstop. Fast forward a year (because there was no minor league season) to the Fall of 2020 and Preciado now has a batting stance and swing that look an awful lot like Corey Seager’s. It allows him to be relatively short to the baseball despite his lever length, and whether it had to do with the swing change or not, he looked much more comfortable in the box this Fall than he did last year. Because of the missing minor league season, most teams in Arizona brought an older contingent of player to instructs than they usually would, and still Preciado (who is just 17) was striking the ball with consistency and power from both sides of the plate. I still think he ends up at third, but there’s rare hit/power combination potential here and it just takes confidence in one’s eyes to see it might already have arrived. I now have him rated ahead of Cubs first rounder Ed Howard and, barring any more deals, Preciado is likely to rank third or fourth on the Cubs list this offseason. Read the rest of this entry »
Late last night, the Padres and Rays consummated a blockbuster trade that is a microcosm of the two orgs’ approaches to contention. Tampa Bay sent electric lefty Blake Snell to the pitching-hungry Padres for a collection of four young players: Luis Patiño, Blake Hunt, Cole Wilcox, and Francisco Mejía. The move bolsters a San Diego rotation that was beset by injuries so late and so severe in 2020 that the club’s rotation depth and quality for next season was clearly still lacking despite their trade deadline efforts to improve it. The Padres have spent most of the last several years building one of the most impressive collections of minor league talent in the sport and, now that they’ve closed much of the gap between themselves and the Dodgers, have begun cashing in their prospect chips for elite big leaguers, while the Rays continue to bet on their ability to scout minor leaguers who can turn into long-term pieces for their club given its limited payroll. Below are my thoughts on the prospects headed back to the Rays in the trade; Ben Clemens will assess the Snell side of the deal later today.
The obvious headliner here is Patiño, who turned 21 in October. He’s coming off a rocky rookie year during which the Padres promoted him to work in a multi-inning relief role. In mostly two-ish-inning outings, Patiño threw 17.1 innings, struck out 21, walked 14, and amassed a 5.19 ERA. Despite the poor surface-level performance in a small sample, Patiño’s stuff was strong. His fastball sat 95-99 all year, his mid-80s slider was often plus, and his power changeup, which is often 87-91 mph, also has the look of a bat-missing pitch.
Despite his velocity, Patiño’s fastball wasn’t generating frequent swings and misses, perhaps because it sometimes has a little bit of natural cut, especially when Patiño is locating it to his glove side. Fastballs with cutting action tend to run into more bats than ones with a combination of tail and rise. The Rays altered Pete Fairbanks’ heater in such a way that they were able to correct this for 2020 and got an extra gear out of him. It’s possible they’ll do the same with Patiño. Read the rest of this entry »
Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Cincinnati Reds. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been altered begin by telling you so. For the others, the blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside the org than within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there. Lastly, in effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both in lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.