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In-Progress Farm System Rankings Are Now On The Board

You can now view our in-progress farm system rankings over on The Board. If you recall, we debuted this method for ranking farm systems last year — the original post can be found here — but I’ll provide a quick refresher. Kiley McDaniel and I felt that using Craig Edwards’ research on the monetary value of prospects in the various Future Value tiers — which, if I can digress, underscores just how underpaid many hundreds of prospects are — to derive our rankings skimmed away a layer of subjective preference that would otherwise inform the system rankings.

Here’s an example: I like big-framed, projectable players. As such, I’m more likely to prefer a system that has players like that, and am also more likely to grade those players highly as individuals prospects. In essence, I’d be double counting my personal preferences. Using Craig’s research to value a given FV tier still allows me to express my assessment of and preference for individual players, while also adding some rigor to the system rankings.

Craig’s values tend to favor top-heavy systems rather than those with depth based in the lower FV tiers. The Braves and White Sox are the most helped by this, while the Yankees and Phillies are punished the most. Indeed, if you were to ask me which systems would see the greatest difference between the rankings derived using Craig’s values compared to what they would be if they were based solely on my opinion, it’d probably be those four because of my penchant for depth. Read the rest of this entry »


Top 43 Prospects: Kansas City Royals

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Kansas City Royals. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. 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 the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

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.

Royals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Bobby Witt Jr. 19.8 R SS 2023 55
2 Daniel Lynch 23.4 A+ LHP 2022 50
3 Kris Bubic 22.6 A+ LHP 2022 50
4 Brady Singer 23.7 AA RHP 2022 45+
5 Erick Peña 17.1 R CF 2025 45+
6 Jackson Kowar 23.5 AA RHP 2022 45+
7 Kyle Isbel 23.1 A+ LF 2022 45+
8 Khalil Lee 21.8 AA RF 2021 45
9 Austin Cox 23.0 A+ LHP 2022 40+
10 MJ Melendez 21.3 A+ C 2022 40+
11 Carlos Hernandez 23.1 A RHP 2022 40+
12 Seuly Matias 21.6 A+ RF 2022 40+
13 Tyler Zuber 24.8 AA RHP 2021 40
14 Brady McConnell 21.9 R SS 2023 40
15 Jonathan Bowlan 23.3 A+ RHP 2022 40
16 Kelvin Gutierrez 25.6 MLB 3B 2020 40
17 Alec Marsh 21.9 R RHP 2023 40
18 Wilmin Candelario 18.6 R SS 2024 40
19 Zach Haake 23.5 A RHP 2022 40
20 Nick Pratto 21.5 A+ 1B 2022 40
21 Maikel Garcia 20.1 R SS 2022 40
22 Darryl Collins 18.4 R LF 2024 40
23 Grant Gambrell 22.4 R RHP 2023 40
24 Ryan McBroom 28.0 MLB 1B 2020 40
25 Charlie Neuweiler 21.1 A RHP 2022 40
26 Yohanse Morel 19.6 A RHP 2022 40
27 Jeison Guzman 21.5 A SS 2020 40
28 Brewer Hicklen 24.1 A+ LF 2021 40
29 Michael Massey 22.0 R 2B 2023 40
30 Noah Murdock 21.6 R RHP 2023 40
31 Ismael Aquino 21.6 AAA RHP 2023 40
32 Josh Staumont 26.3 MLB RHP 2020 35+
33 Yefri Del Rosario 20.5 A RHP 2021 35+
34 Jon Heasley 23.2 A RHP 2022 35+
35 Foster Griffin 24.7 AAA LHP 2020 35+
36 Drew Parrish 22.3 R LHP 2023 35+
37 Omar Hernandez 18.3 R C 2024 35+
38 Daniel Tillo 23.8 AA LHP 2021 35+
39 Samuel Valerio 18.5 R RHP 2024 35+
40 Adam Lukas 21.7 R RHP 2023 35+
41 Omar Florentino 18.4 R SS 2024 35+
42 John Rave 22.3 A CF 2023 35+
43 Woo-Young Jin 19.1 R RHP 2024 35+
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55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Coleyville Heritage HS (TX) (KCR)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 60/65 25/60 60/60 50/60 60/60

He swung and missed a lot during his showcase summer but Witt’s subsequent fall and spring were strong enough to make him second overall pick of the 2019 draft class. His skillset compares quite closely to Trevor Story‘s. There are going to be some strikeouts but Witt is a big, athletic specimen who is very likely to not only stay at shortstop but be quite good there. He also has a swing geared for pull side lift (he can bend at the waist to go down and yank balls away from him, too) and the power to hit balls out even when he swings a little flat-footed. He is the son of a former big leaguer and carries himself like one, which has endeared him to scouts and coaches during the course of a high-profile amateur career laden with very high expectations. His debut statline lacked power on the surface, but the batted ball data suggests we shouldn’t worry.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Virginia (KCR)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 45/55 91-95 / 97

On the Cape and in the first half of his junior spring, Lynch looked like a solid third round prospect, a pitchability lefty sitting 88-92 mph with mostly average stuff, and above-average feel and command. In the month or so leading up to the draft, Lynch’s velo ticked up, and down the stretch he sat 92-94, touching 95 mph deep into starts, with an assortment of offspeed pitches that all flashed above-average. The track record of Virginia arms is concerning, but Lynch seemed less beholden to the issues traditionally associated with their prospects, with some scouts considering him endearingly rebellious.

He throws a cutter, slider, curveball, and changeup that all flash above-average, with the slider occasionally flashing plus. He was 93-95 last year, and while Lynch missed a month and a half with an arm injury last summer, all of that velo and more was back in the fall, so the velo uptick has held for nearly a year now. He’s a No. 4 starter.

3. Kris Bubic, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (KCR)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/55 55/60 50/55 90-93 / 95

A dominant junior year would have had Bubic in the late first round mix, but his control backed up, especially late in the year. He ended up being a great buy-low value pick for Kansas City as not only did the strikes return, but Bubic was throwing a little harder, too.

He’s far more likely to hang around the 50/45 FV membrane during the rest of his time in the minors than he is to move way up the list, because even though my notes have Bubic up to 95 last year, he still lives in the low-90s and succeeds because of deception and his terrific secondary stuff. I prefer his changeup and curveball to the bat-missing weapons of other arms in Kansas City’s system (Jackson Kowar has a great change and throws a heavy sinker that doesn’t miss bats, while Brady Singer is a sinker/command guy) and think Bubic will be a No. 4.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (KCR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 40/50 55/60 91-94 / 96

Well-regarded in high school in part because of his very loose and athletic (if somewhat unusual) delivery, the Blue Jays drafted Singer in the 2015 second round. Negotiations broke down, one of several times a high school pitcher has been at odds with an org run by current Braves GM Alex Anthopolous, and Singer went to Florida. After an uneven but promising freshman year in the bullpen, Singer’s command improved and he carved up SEC lineups for the next two years.

His stuff and delivery don’t have the look of a dominant, whiff-getting major league starter, at least not at the moment. He has a lower, three-quarters delivery that helps create long tail on his two-seamer, but the pitch only resides in the 91-94 mph area, a 45 raw velocity that I think plays a bit better because of the movement. His low-80s slurve/slider (when it’s down below hitters’ knees it has more length) gets buffed by Singer’s command and also plays up above its raw quality. Singer is a spiky competitor who goes right at hitters and at times has demonstrative body language when he’s frustrated with umpires, which are generally traits the industry likes. On talent, he’s a No. 4/5 type of starter for me, and any change to that will be determined by how Singer’s changeup, which he barely used in college, develops in pro ball. The (+) designation on Singer’s FV comes from his track record of durability, and his potential to eat a ton of innings and have a higher WAR output than you’d think given his stuff alone.

5. Erick Peña, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 17.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/55 25/55 55/50 40/50 55/55

As an amateur, Peña was billed as a well-rounded, instinctive player with a frame that portended a fair amount of additional mass. Though not as overtly projectable as the Kristian Robinson/Alexander Ramirez sorts, Peña was clearly going to grow into some power and, based on how he hit in games and played center field, was thought to have a strong chance to become a well-rounded player, perhaps a five-tool sort, with all the tools close to average. It was surprising then that Peña arrived for his first fall instructional league looking like an NFL cornerback, with one source going so far as to tell me they think Peña has a big league body right now.

Even though his swing is a bit clunky, and his footwork is perhaps unnecessarily conservative, Peña looked pretty comfortable against pro pitching in the fall, the best pitching he’s ever faced in his life to this point; his performance included him roping a single off of Michael Kopech, who was sitting 97 that day. The surprising physicality has already brought about more power and bat speed, and Peña already has the helicopter overhead finish to his swing à la Miguel Andújar and Wander Franco. Once the industry becomes more confident in grading his defense and bat, which will come once he’s faced pro pitching for an extended period of time, he could be a global top 50 prospect based on his place on the defensive spectrum and the hit/power combination.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (KCR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/45 65/70 40/45 93-96 / 98

“What’s the difference between this guy and Chris Paddack?” That was the question put to me about Kowar by a source for this list. On some level, they’re right. Like Paddack, Kowar has a prototypical frame, he throws in the mid-90s, and has a dominant changeup. What we now know about how and why fastballs play, however, creates some separation between the two. Though Kowar has premium starter fastball velocity, the pitch has tailing/sinking action rather than Paddack-style carry and ride, which means it’s going to generate groundballs more than it will miss bats.

Kowar’s breaking ball was comfortably below average in college but the Royals have found a way to add raw spin since acquiring him (his rates are up from 2150 rpm to 2400, still shy of big league average but an encouraging development), and it’s closer to average now. He’ll likely rely on the element of surprise and his ability to locate it in order to be effective. This is all very similar to how Luke Weaver’s reports read coming out of Florida State, and I expect Kowar to have a similar career. He’s a 23-year-old who’s thrown half a season above A-ball, so while I think he’ll be a 50 FV eventually, there needs to be a little gap between him and someone like him who’s ready for the big leagues right now.

7. Kyle Isbel, LF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from UNLV (KCR)
Age 23.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 30/50 50/50 45/55 50/50

You should feel free to toss out Isbel’s 2019 regular season statistical performance. After a red hot first few weeks of the season — .348/.423/.630 — he pulled a hamstring, and shortly after he returned to game action in Extended, he broke his hamate and was shelved again until mid-July. As is typical for hitters coming back from that injury, Isbel’s numbers were poor — .216/.282/.361 overall at Wilmington — and improved the further away from surgery he got, culminating in a strong back half of August and Fall League; his Fall League look especially assuaged concerns.

Isbel has a compact swing (he’s a shorter-levered guy) with line drive plane. It’s geared to do most of its big damage to his pull side, but he can slice extra-base contact down the left field line and into the left-center field gap. Isbel is still relatively new to playing the outfield full-time, which gives him some late projection on the defensive end. I think he’ll be easily supplanted by a superior defensive center fielder but will be a plus corner defender long-term, and I’m intrigued by the idea of him playing a situational second base since he has some experience there, too. He projects as an average everyday corner outfielder.

45 FV Prospects

8. Khalil Lee, RF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Flint Hill HS (VA) (KCR)
Age 21.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/45 55/50 45/55 60/60

Lee had yet another fairly strong year — .264/.363/.372 with a 12% walk rate and a whopping 53 steals (fantasy folks: I’m not betting on that continuing) — spending 2019 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas as a young 21-year-old. He has the tools of a three-true-outcomes right fielder, potentially one who plays above-average defense, but the quality of his at-bats against elite competition has been mixed, at best. It’s likely going to take a swing adjustment to get Lee hitting for relevant power in games. His swing is long, and on pitches he impacts toward the top of the zone, it cuts downward. This causes Lee to be late on good velocity and drive a lot of pitches into the ground. He’s still young enough to make these and other adjustments, but I have Lee projected as the larger half of a right field platoon rather than a true everyday player.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Austin Cox, LHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Mercer (KCR)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/50 55/60 45/50 45/50 89-93 / 95

Cox is a black sheep pitching prospect in an org that has more per capita sinker ballers than perhaps any in the sport. This is a lefty with power relief stuff, at least, and a chance to start based on the depth of his pitch mix and the rate of strikes he’s thrown so far. I think Cox’s fastball would tick up into the mid-90s if he were ever put in the bullpen, which at this rate only seems likely to happen if his breaking balls end up running together, something Cox has worked to mitigate as a pro. He held his velocity last year despite a 20-inning workload increase, his results were not diluted even after he was moved to Hi-A for the back half of last year, and in just two years, he’s gone from a Day Three pick to someone who has the FV of a typical second rounder. Whether Cox ends up pitching toward the back of a rotation or as some kind of fire-breathing, multi-inning reliever (that’s where I’ve got him, and his future value grade reflects that), he’s a huge coup for Kansas City’s amateur department and player dev program.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westminster Christian HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 55/60 30/45 45/40 45/55 60/60

There are Ed Wood movies that seem to have gone according to plan more than 2019 did for Royals hitters at Hi-A Wilmington. Chief among them was Melendez, who was on initial drafts of our top 100 last year before Kiley and my team sources squashed that with their feedback, citing Melendez’s red flag contact issues. They were right. Melendez struck out a damning 40% of the time last year. His swing is geared for low ball contact at a point in time when pitchers are attacking hitters at the top of the zone more than ever, and Melendez gets heat blown past him at the letters constantly.

Everything else that scouts loved about him as an amateur is still extant. He has plus raw power, great long-term body projection, a plus arm, and projects to have a 55 glove, which is beneath the 60 or 70 grades he was garnering in high school but is still a relevant positive. We’re now looking at a likely backup catcher based on how scary the contact issues are, but if the swing issues are fixed, Melendez could really break out because the physical tools that the swing compromises are rare for the position. There are teams/scouts for which Melendez, Pratto, and Matias are just a “no” based on the way they’ve performed with the bat. I’m holding out varying degrees of hope for them, still preferring Melendez because his defense gives him a fallback big league role even if the hit tool never develops enough for him to be a regular.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (KCR)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 45/50 45/50 94-98 / 100

Only six teams played traditional instructional league games in Arizona last fall, and perhaps no pitcher who threw in the desert created as much buzz as Hernandez, who was filling the zone with 94-98 mph fastballs over shorter, three-ish inning outings. Hernandez has had premium velocity since he signed, but has averaged just five innings per start and 67 innings per season since 2017. Two of the three times Hernandez has missed time have been due to issues unrelated to his arm, so injuries themselves are not a concern for me so much as I’m skeptical that he can live in the mid-90s over a full season starter’s workload.

He doesn’t have a cut, athletic physique, and his delivery is reliever-y and somewhat stiff, but Hernandez does repeat, and throws a lot of strikes. His breaking ball has vertical action that enables it to outperform its raw spin rate but it is reliant on his command, which again, during the fall Hernandez had. I’ve seen backfield outings during which I thought his changeup was his best secondary but that’s not typically the case. It’s possible he can start, but I don’t consider it likely, and Hernandez certainly hasn’t proven it yet. If that’s the case, then one of the secondary pitches needs to develop still, which all the missed time has made harder.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 70/80 35/60 50/40 40/45 70/70

With few exceptions (Joey Gallo is one) even the most whiff-prone big leaguers struck out less than Matias (35% career K%, a comical 44% last year before a broken hand ended his season) when they were in the minors. But Matias’ physicality and bat speed are so supreme, the gap between his talent and that of most players so obvious, that there’s a chance he can be one of the exceptions, even if it’s in a streaky, inconsistent manner.

As a teen, Seuly was already posting exit velocities on par with burly, Quad-A type hitters. Most of the issues he has are mental; his swing decisions and defensive instincts are both poor. My sources tend to be pessimistic about improvements/corrections to approach and aptitude, though perhaps that’s because they can’t see those things with their eyes, the tool they use most often and confidently to do the majority of their job. Many of the players ranked beneath Seuly here have a better chance than he does of playing some kind of big league role, but none of them have his ceiling, and based on his age, frame, and athleticism, I’m holding out some hope that he shows us what it is for a few years.

40 FV Prospects

13. Tyler Zuber, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2017 from Arkansas State (KCR)
Age 24.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 55/60 45/50 45/50 92-95 / 97

Zuber was arguably a priority senior sign as a sixth rounder, a distinction he earned when his stuff spiked following a permanent move to the bullpen. His arm is so fast as to almost look subliminal, and Zuber’s command of both breaking balls is much better than one expects from a college relief prospect. His changeup usage has been inconsistent over the last two years but at times it’s a quality pitch, and one Zuber seemed to be rebooting during the spring with some success. Zuber doesn’t have any one dominant pitch, as is typical of high-leverage relievers, but he does have several very good ones that I think will enable him to be a seventh or eighth inning type of arm.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Florida (KCR)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/55 30/50 60/60 45/50 55/55

McConnell is polarizing, much more so than is typical for a prospect who has been on the radar since his underclass high school days. In part because he was old for his graduating class, and also because there were concerns about his ability to make contact, teams didn’t meet McConnell’s high school asking price and he ended up at Florida. That’s exactly the sort of place players like him can go to reinforce confidence in their bat, but McConnell barely played as a freshman and was old enough to be draft eligible as a sophomore, and so by draft time there was relatively little data to fight the skepticism concerning his.

But he’s also got above-average raw power, plus speed, and can play shortstop (he was listed as an outfielder on the instructs roster but did not play), so he can still be a valuable player even if the bat falls short of average and his ceiling is sizable if it gets better than that. If you’ve read the list in order before arriving at McConnell’s blurb, you know this org has had trouble with players who have swing-and-miss issues upon their arrival in the system. I’m not optimistic McConnell hits enough to be a regular, and I think a multi-positional bench role is more likely.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Memphis (KCR)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 262 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/45 50/60 91-95 / 97

Bowlan saw an uptick in velocity just before the 2018 draft, but his stuff backed up after he signed. Kiley and I moved him down the org list too soon, thinking the pre-draft velo bump was an anomaly. In 2019, Bowlan came out with a fastball in the 91-95 mph range, topped out at 97, and threw 65% of his pitches for strikes. Though his secondary stuff is quite average, his ability to locate his slider exactly where he wants to most of the time means it plays better than that. There’s some long-term concern about Bowlan’s hulking build, but for now he profiles as a strike-throwing backend starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 55/55 35/40 40/40 50/55 60/60

Perhaps a swing change away from a mid-20s breakout, Gutierrez has the highest average exit velo in this system but among its lowest average launch angles. The makeup of his offensive DNA (plus contact, an aggressive approach) as currently constituted would play in a reserve role, some kind of 3B/1B platoon that also includes good defense. The Maikel Franco signing was a potential impediment to that.

17. Alec Marsh, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Arizona State (KCR)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 55/55 40/45 45/55 89-94 / 96

Marsh was in the mix for teams as early as the middle of the 2019 second round, so he’s yet another college arm value pick by a Royals org that has taken a bushel of them throughout the last several drafts. He has a middling four-pitch mix that plays when he’s commanding his breaking stuff. He could be a No. 4/5 starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 18.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 45/55 20/50 60/55 40/55 60/60

A source who saw Kansas City’s DSL group thought Candelario was the best of the bunch. He has a relatively projectable frame, great body control and arm strength, and looks likely to stay at shortstop and might be plus there. His bat speed is also plus. But Candelario has some swing and miss tendencies as a result of both his age and switch-hitting swing rawness, and also has a propensity to swing a lot. He’s a switch-hitting shortstop prospect with some power but a high-risk bat.

19. Zach Haake, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Kentucky (KCR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 186 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/45 30/40 92-95 / 97

Be careful with this one. Haake was in our 2018 Draft top 50 coming out of the fall before his junior year because he was working with absolutely nasty stuff while at Kentucky. The next spring, he had trouble holding that stuff deep into starts, creating doubt that he could start at all. A flexor strain (2018) and shoulder soreness (2019) add to that risk. But Haake does indeed have nasty stuff, up to 98 with the fastball and a slider that has plus movement but is rarely well-located. There’s late-inning relief potential here, but that was true when Haake was in college and he still fell to the sixth round.

20. Nick Pratto, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Huntington Beach HS (CA) (KCR)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/45 40/40 50/60 60/60

Free of the context of his high school stardom, pro scouts barely see Pratto as a prospect. A two-way high schooler with a polished approach and a modest but effectual hit/power combination, Pratto has thus far fallen short as a pro hitter, striking out more than the amateur side of the industry anticipated while generating fringe power. Even terrific defensive first basemen like Pratto have to mash, and produce from both a contact and power perspective, to profile at the position. Even though his in-zone contact rates are less concerning than his disappointing peers Melendez and Matias, Pratto still struck out at an alarming 35% clip in 2019 and his exit velos do not reinforce the notion that there’s untapped, underlying power that will profile at first base. Some of his poor performance should just be chalked up to an aggressive assignment, but Pratto’s prospectdom is officially in danger.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (KCR)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 30/40 30/40 55/50 45/55 50/55

Even though he has advanced feel for contact, the Royals have been pretty conservative with Garcia’s developmental track because he’s still so wiry thin and lacking physicality. I’m betting on the frame producing more power long-term, enough that Garcia might be a low-end regular at shortstop.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Netherlands (KCR)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 50/55 20/50 45/40 40/50 40/40

Collins is an imposing physical presence with uncommon ball/strike recognition and feel to hit for someone his age. He also tracks pitches well, has precocious barrel control, and natural feel for lift. Collins hit for power in the AZL thanks to his feel for quality contact and raw strength, but his lower half isn’t well-incorporated into his swing yet, so I think there’s room for more in-game power via mechanical adjustment rather than through lots of physical growth. Because Collins is already pretty big and strong (though it’s important to note he’s limber and athletic, not bulky and stiff), he doesn’t have as much physical room on his frame as is typical for a hitter this age, but he does have a little bit. The positional limitations create greater risk of bust because Collins needs to really mash to profile as a corner outfielder, but early indications are that he’s talented enough to do that.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Oregon State (KCR)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 45/55 40/50 91-94 / 96

At his best, Gambrell sits in the mid-90s with a plus breaking ball and a tailing, mid-80s changeup that he uses in some clever ways, including as a means to jam righties. His stuff has been inconsistent and he missed considerable time with injury during college, which creates some relief risk. His stuff plays in a more traditional power pitcher style than most of the sinkerballers in this org.

24. Ryan McBroom, 1B
Drafted: 15th Round, 2014 from West Virginia (TOR)
Age 28.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/50 60/60 55/55 30/30 45/45 45/45

McBroom was one of several upper-level sluggers who the Yankees acquired, seemingly to build depth behind oft-injured first baseman Greg Bird. The emergence of Luke Voit meant the club could move McBroom to a rebuilding team willing to take a flier on an older stopgap, and the Royals traded international bonus pool space for him last summer. It’s likely that, given his age, McBroom’s window for productivity as some kind of part-time first base/outfield platoon bat is relatively small, but he does have the hit/power combination needed to succeed in such a role for a couple of years.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Monsignor McClancy HS (NY) (KCR)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 50/55 45/55 88-92 / 93

He doesn’t throw all that hard, but Neuweiler’s control and command are both improving (he arguably has late projection in that regard because of his cold weather prep background) and his heater sinks enough to keep hitters from destroying it every time he misses. He also has two great secondary pitches in a knuckle slurve that spans a pretty wide velocity band in the upper-70s and low-to-mid-80s, and a change with late bottom that spins so little I’ve got it classified as a splitter; I’m not exactly sure what kind of grip he uses, though the improvement is so stark that he may have a fresh grip altogether now. I’m optimistic about more control/command coming late and think Neuweiler will end up pitching in the back of a rotation.

26. Yohanse Morel, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/50 55/60 40/50 89-93 / 94

Morel had just arrived in the U.S. last year when the Nationals sent him to Kansas City as part of the Kelvin Herrera trade. At age 17, Morel performed against older competition while being asked to adjust to a new country and parent organization at the same time. His stuff was still strong in the fall, when he was 90-94 with a mid-80s, split-action changeup that was often plus. He’s not physically projectable, but he’s athletic and has some traits typical of sinker/changeup-centric rotation pieces, and his breaking ball spin rates indicate he may have an average breaker one day, too. That would make it easier for him to start.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 30/35 55/55 55/60 60/60

Now 21, Guzman has filled out and developed 45 raw power while maintaining excellent defense at shortstop. He has yet to play anywhere else, but because he falls short of profiling as a regular there on the offensive end, it’s likely he starts to see time at other positions soon — especially because he’s now on the 40-man — so he can be a versatile bench infield option.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from UAB (KCR)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 40/45 70/70 50/55 55/55

Even though he’s 24, 2019 was only Hicklen’s second full year focusing solely on baseball, as he’d been a two-sport athlete of sorts at UAB, where he would have played football had the program been active while he was there. His statistical performance, despite his age, becomes much more impressive in this context. Hicklen has hit .280/.370/.470 as a pro. All of that has been in A-ball, save for the 2019 Fall League, during which Hicklen struggled. His swing is very short and linear and he generates sizable power anyway, but his bat path doesn’t really allow it to play. Barring a very late jump in skills and instincts, he’s a bench outfielder sort.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Illinois (KCR)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/50 30/45 50/50 45/55 40/40

Massey was in the second round mix coming off his terrific sophomore year at Illinois before a back injury during his junior spring dulled his explosiveness and forced him to DH a bunch. He fell to the fourth round. He struck out in just 10% of his college plate appearances, plays a good second base, and has doubles power.

30. Noah Murdock, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from Virginia (KCR)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 45/50 40/50 90-95 / 97

I think it’s possible that the Royals have begun to place some amount of evaluation emphasis on spin rate without also considering how pitches pair together, which is perhaps how they’ve ended up with several pitchers who have a sinker/curveball mix. Murdock is exactly that. The towering 6-foot-8 righty has huge sink in the low-90s and a sharp breaker. He posted insane groundball numbers during his junior spring at Virginia. His pitches are better in a vacuum than they are together, but there’s at least big league bullpen stuff here.

31. Ismael Aquino, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (OAK)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/65 40/45 40/50 30/40 93-96 / 98

Acquired ahead of the 2019 deadline for Jake Diekman, Aquino is a young relief prospect whose profile is driven by arm strength. He’ll sit 93-97 and occasionally fool a hitter with his circle change, but everything else about him lacks consistency, especially his fastball command and breaking ball. The A’s toyed with a cutter for Aquino at one point but scrapped that a month or two before he was traded; it seems like the Royals brought it back after they acquired him, as the pitch went from the slidery low-80s into the 85-88 mph range.

35+ FV Prospects

32. Josh Staumont, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Azusa Pacific (KCR)
Age 26.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 30/30 93-98 / 100

After spending most of the past three seasons stagnant in Omaha, Staumont finally got about 20 big league innings last year. By now you know his stuff is ridiculous. He would sit 96-99 and touch 101 or 102 in college, and he also has a dastardly curveball, but he’s a six or seven walks per nine guy, and hasn’t been able to make headway in the control/command realm as a pro.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (KCR*)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/50 35/50 91-94 / 96

One of the more talented prospects cut loose by the Braves during their international scandal, Del Rosario’s fastball creeps into the mid-90s, and he has a good curveball and a sturdy build that is admittedly less projectable than is typical for a 19-year-old. His strike-throwing took a step forward in 2018, before he missed all of 2019 with a nerve issue. His profile already included fairly significant relief risk made more likely by the injury and how that compresses his developmental timeline.

34. Jon Heasley, RHP
Drafted: 13th Round, 2018 from Oklahoma State (KCR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 40/45 45/50 91-94 / 96

Heasley was a draft-eligible sophomore who simply didn’t pitch all that well in college, the sort of player draft models are only on if they incorporate pitch data (Heasley’s slider spin rates are plus-plus), or if a scout likes the player despite mediocre performance, which is the case here. Heasley moved from the Oklahoma State bullpen to the rotation as a sophomore, but still walked a batter every other inning and gave up more hits than anyone with his quality of stuff should give up in college. It’s been night and day in pro ball, and Heasley now looks like a 40-man inventory arm, and may end up fitting cleanly as a fifth starter.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from First Academy HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/55 50/55 50/55 87-91 / 93

There have been stretches during Griffin’s pro career when either his command or velocity have slipped a tad, and he’s been knocked around. When both are fine, he’s a good pitchability lefty who feeds hitters a steady diet of secondary pitches. Often, this type of hurler becomes Tommy Milone, but Griffin’s curveball is a little better than that (though Milone has a good cutter); more often, this type of pitcher is used in a multi-inning relief role after a power pitcher has opened the game. Barring that, I have Griffin in as a No. 5/6 starter.

36. Drew Parrish, LHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Florida State (KCR)
Age 22.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
35/40 50/55 50/55 40/50 87-90 / 92

Parrish’s velo was on the rise just before the draft, averaging just over 90 for the first time in his career, but in the postseason was back to 87-91 when he had to rely more on his secondary stuff. That’s probably the approach he’ll need to take going forward, as both his changeup and curveball are better offerings than the heater. He projects as a fifth/sixth starter barring an unforeseen bump in velocity. It’s also possible the command ends up as plus and Parrish just grabs hold of a rotation spot of his own that way.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Spain (KCR)
Age 18.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 35/40 20/40 30/30 45/55 55/55

The Spanish-born Hernandez is an athletic catch-and-throw prospect with advanced contact skills but limited power projection because of his shorter build. Hernandez also has some experience at third base. He could be a plus hit/plus glove catcher but teenage catching is perhaps the riskiest prospect demographic.

38. Daniel Tillo, LHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Iowa Western JC (KCR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 40/45 35/40 92-95 / 97

Tillo is a low-slot, sinkerballing relief prospect whose lack of control undermines the playability of his secondary stuff. He’ll likely be up and down during his option years.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/70 40/45 45/50 30/45 94-97 / 99

This is the hardest-throwing pitcher on this list, a teenager whose fastball is parked in the 94-97 range already. But the cement is pretty dry on Valerio’s frame, and his is a sinker/fringe slider profile that needs changeup and command growth for him to have any hope of starting. This is a long-term relief prospect with special arm strength for his age.

40. Adam Lukas, RHP
Drafted: 12th Round, 2019 from Evansville (KCR)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Lukas didn’t pitch at a rookie or short season affiliate after the draft but he was throwing absolute cheddar in the fall, touching 99 during instructs. He’s a bigger bodied guy in the young Jonathan Broxton/Sidney Ponson realm, so that’s worth keeping an eye on. Usable control and a secondary pitch need to develop, but because the velocity is so big, there’s a chance Lukas really pops.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 18.4 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 135 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 30/40 20/35 60/60 45/55 45/50

Signed for $750,000, Florentino is a little spark plug with elite short-area quickness and transfer. His defensive range will play on the middle infield, though his arm might fit better at second. While Florentino has viable swings from both sides of the plate, his raw power projection is limited by his size.

42. John Rave, CF
Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Illinois State (KCR)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 40/45 30/40 60/60 45/55 45/45

Rave has tweener bench outfield tools. He’s a plus runner with a swing geared for low ball contact and he actually hit for power on the Cape, but the raw pop is south of average and we’re probably looking at a fourth outfielder here, unless Rave outhits my tool grades.

43. Woo-Young Jin, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from South Korea (KCR)
Age 19.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
30/40 40/45 55/70 35/50 85-88 / 91

This is the prospect on the list whose attached video I’d most encourage readers to watch, since Jin’s genie-like ability to make his splitter slide out from between his fingers without rotating is incredible to watch on the high speed camera. He also throws a lot of them. Jin needs to reshape his build and throw harder to be anything, but he’s young enough that it might happen.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

More Arm Strength
Andres Machado, RHP
Stephen Woods Jr., RHP
Conner Greene, RHP
Franco Terrero, RHP
Yunior Marte, RHP
Janser Lara, RHP
Anderson Paulino, RHP

Most of these pitchers are in their mid-20s and have premium velocity. Machado is 93-95, touching 97, with sink and an average slider. Stephen Woods was the team’s Rule 5 pick; his full report is here. Conner Greene was once a big time prospect and he still throws really hard, up to 98. Marte is 25, he’s 93-97, and has a really fast arm. He pitched well out of the Double- and Triple-A bullpens last year. Terrero, 24, is similar but has a longer arm action. Lara didn’t pitch in 2019 but was up to 99 the fall before and has a 2800 rpm breaking ball. Paulino is younger (just 21) and is up to 96, but needs a second pitch.

Burners
Michael Gigliotti, CF
Dairon Blanco, CF
Nick Heath, CF
Diego Hernandez, CF
Kevin Merrell, 2B

This is one of the few remaining orgs still obsessed with speed. Gigliotti has the best approach and contact skills of this group but he’s performed against competition much younger than him and has been hurt a lot. Blanco posted big exit velos last year (92 on average) but it was as a 26-year-old in Double-A. He’s a true 80 runner. So is Nick Heath, who might be the only minor leaguer who wouldn’t trade bodies with Luis Robert. Heath is a slash-and-dash hitter who might be a fifth outfielder. Diego Hernandez is more of a 55 runner but his instincts in center are very good, which is partly why KC pushed him to Burlington at age 19.

Bench/Depth Sorts
Erick Mejia, UTIL
Gerson Garabito, RHP
Scott Blewett, RHP
Sebastian Rivero, C
Freddy Fermin, C
Jimmy Govern, 3B
Emmanuel Rivera, 3B

Mejia is a 26th man type who can play all over the place. Garabito and Blewett are strike-throwing innings eaters with quality breaking balls; either could make spot starts. Rivero has a really athletic swing for a catcher but he has 40 power. Fermin is a really athletic catch-and-throw guy. Both project as third catchers on a 40-man. Govern was a small school college guy who raked against AZL pitching and then was listed as a catcher on the instructional league roster. Rivera has a plus bat but is positionless.

Sleepers
Austin Lambright, LHP
Rylan Kaufman, LHP
Rothaikeg Seijas, OF
Tyshaun Chapman, RHP

Lambright and Kaufman are lefties with relief potential. Lambright was up to 95 last year, while Kaufman barely pitched but looked great in during 2018 instructs. Seijas had the highest average exit velos among Royals DSL hitters but he has almost no body projection. Chapman is a small school arm with control problems, but he’ll touch 95 and has above-average breaking ball spin rates.

System Overview

This system has gotten much better over the last couple of seasons and almost all of it has been accomplished through shrewd drafting. A few of the lesser prospects were acquired from Oakland and Washington in deals for relief pitching, but mostly the org has been stockpiling solid college arms for the last couple of years.

This isn’t an org that others around baseball would mention as being among the most progressive of their rivals, and there’s evidence they’re both right and wrong about that impression. First, a surprisingly high number of these college pitchers have high breaking ball spin rates, which are typically coveted in the draft, especially among college arms whose pitch data is more frequently captured by tech. Why then have the Royals ended up with so many? Well, a lot of them have fastballs with sinker orientation that pair sub-optimally with big-arcing breakers.

Kansas City has also altered some players for the better after acquiring them. Jackson Kowar, Ismael Aquino, and Noah Murdock all had their breaking balls altered after the Royals got a hold of them, and the org seems particularly adept at killing spin on changeups, though they may also just target pitchers who throw splitters more often than most teams.

Finally, they let their starting pitching prospects throw a lot of innings. Kansas City had 14 minor league pitchers throw at least 120 innings last year, tied for the most in baseball with Seattle. There are a handful of orgs who had about 10 pitchers carry workloads that heavy in the minors, but typically teams only have four to seven arms who do so.


Eric Longenhagen Chat: 3/27/20

1:18
Eric A Longenhagen: Howdy from Tempe. I’ve got a busy day today so I’m gonna keep this to the 45-60min territory. Hope you’re all hanging in there, executing your scientific, humanitarian and patriotic duty of social distancing relatively free of mental imbalance.

1:19
Noah: Do you have an I-Love-You-Even-Though-You-Always-Hurt-Me prospect?

1:19
Eric A Longenhagen: I assume it’ll be Monte Harrison when all is said and done

1:19
Andrew: If there is a minor league “season”, would it be played at spring training sites?

1:20
Eric A Longenhagen: I have no idea. If I did I’d report it in a way that fed my ego and sense of self importance and you’d already have heard about it.

1:20
Old guy: A few weeks ago you mentioned wishing you could have seen Barry Bonds at ASU. I got that chance during a college visit. Incredible physically. Obviously stood out even on a quality college team. 80 grade arrogance. Warmed up apart from the rest of the team. Legendary coach Brock called everyone in, and everyone but Bonds hustled over. Bonds kept playing catch with a ball boy and later sauntered in when he felt like it.

Read the rest of this entry »


In the Time of COVID-19, Sweeping Changes Are Made to the Amateur Draft

Among the many significant repercussions of yesterday’s agreement between the MLBPA and MLB in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic were alterations to the amateur talent acquisition processes, changes that will have both immediate and long-term effects on all stakeholders (owners, players, people in scouting, agents, college coaches and staff, international trainers, etc.) in that arena. Last night, after the details of the agreement were reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, I spoke with several of those stakeholders for their immediate thoughts and reactions.

The splashy news, and the detail of yesterday’s agreement that will impact team personnel and the player population soonest, is the soft rescheduling of the 2020 draft — the specific date will be determined by MLB, but it will occur by “late-July” — and the straight razor shave it was given by the owners and player’s union, cutting the 2020 draft to five rounds with the option to trim the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, down from the usual 40. MLB can choose to add rounds to the draft if they wish, and a few people in scouting told me they thought it was a real possibility that MLB will, though there’s no clear financial incentive for them to do so.

MLB can also delay the start of the 2020-2021 international signing period, which typically begins on July 2, to as late as January 2021, and can also push the following period by six months so that it spans the 2022 calendar.

While these developments raise some obvious other questions (such as if and where 35 rounds worth of players end up playing baseball again), the two most significant conclusions drawn by many of my sources in baseball were that the trimming of the draft is a convenient opportunity for MLB to shed rostered players in advance of minor league contraction, and that the new flexible start date for the IFA period is another precursor to an international draft.

The seemingly imminent affiliate contractions means teams will soon need fewer minor leaguers, and cost-conscious MLB, ever seeking to save money where it can, is taking what industry people consider a shrewd and opportunistic approach to the culling of minor league rosters at a time when there’s a convenient pseudo-reason to do it now that their 2020 revenues have been dashed by a pandemic. Why draft and sign 40 rounds worth of players who may not play this summer because of a global health crisis when many will be released next spring after a significant portion of the minor leagues is contracted? Read the rest of this entry »


Top 38 Prospects: Seattle Mariners

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Seattle Mariners. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. 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 the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

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.

Mariners Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Julio Rodriguez 19.2 A+ RF 2022 60
2 Jarred Kelenic 20.7 AA CF 2021 60
3 Logan Gilbert 22.9 AA RHP 2021 55
4 Evan White 23.9 AAA 1B 2020 50
5 George Kirby 22.1 A- RHP 2022 45+
6 Noelvi Marte 18.4 R SS 2023 45+
7 Justus Sheffield 23.9 MLB LHP 2020 45
8 Kyle Lewis 24.7 MLB RF 2020 45
9 Cal Raleigh 23.3 AA C 2021 45
10 Justin Dunn 24.5 MLB RHP 2020 45
11 Sam Delaplane 25.0 AAA RHP 2021 40+
12 Brandon Williamson 22.0 A- LHP 2023 40+
13 Juan Then 20.1 A RHP 2021 40+
14 Wyatt Mills 25.2 AA RHP 2020 40+
15 Jake Fraley 24.8 MLB LF 2020 40
16 Isaiah Campbell 22.6 R RHP 2023 40
17 Braden Bishop 26.6 MLB CF 2020 40
18 Jonatan Clase 17.8 R CF 2024 40
19 Gerson Bautista 24.8 MLB RHP 2020 40
20 Joey Gerber 22.9 AA RHP 2021 40
21 Elvis Alvarado 21.1 A RHP 2021 40
22 Carter Bins 21.9 A- C 2023 40
23 Ljay Newsome 23.4 AAA RHP 2021 40
24 Josias De Los Santos 20.7 A RHP 2022 40
25 Devin Sweet 23.5 A+ RHP 2022 35+
26 Yohan Ramirez 24.9 AA RHP 2020 35+
27 Jorge Benitez 20.8 A- LHP 2022 35+
28 Damon Casetta-Stubbs 20.7 A+ RHP 2023 35+
29 Aaron Fletcher 24.1 AA LHP 2022 35+
30 Raymond Kerr 25.5 AAA LHP 2021 35+
31 Milkar Perez 18.4 R 3B 2023 35+
32 Kristian Cardozo 17.4 R RHP 2025 35+
33 Luis Liberato 24.3 AAA CF 2020 35+
34 Austin Shenton 22.2 A 3B 2022 35+
35 Sam Carlson 21.3 R RHP 2022 35+
36 Levi Stoudt 22.3 R RHP 2023 35+
37 Ty Adcock 23.1 R RHP 2022 35+
38 Jake Haberer 25.1 AAA RHP 2020 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 60/65 25/60 40/40 45/50 55/55

Like most Millenials, I share account passwords with friends and family to create a Megazord collection of streaming services while only actually paying for one or two. One of these shared logins is for a DAZN account I procured in order to enjoy the platform’s boxing archive, only to discover it had several classic MLB games as well. Among these is footage of Miguel Cabrera’s big league debut, which I put on one fall night as I prepared to cut up Fall League video of Julio Rodriguez taken earlier in the day. As I split my attention between a fresh-faced Miggy and a young Julio, I noticed a rare similarity: front foot variation. Some hitters are capable of altering their stride direction based on pitch location, perhaps best exemplified by a famous GIF of Cabrera hitting home runs on pitches in six very different parts of the strike zone. In that GIF you can faintly make out how Cabrera’s footwork varies on several of those swings, and though he doesn’t do it consistently yet, Julio shows glimpses of this same seemingly innate aptitude, especially his ability to open up, clear his hips, and wreck pitches on the inner half.

He can be fooled by sweeping breaking balls that make him want to open up and pull the ball, and he’ll swing at inside sliders that finish away from him, but other than those consistent issues, Rodriguez is a very mature hitter, with a mature personality and body to match. He excelled despite Seattle’s very aggressive full-season assignment, a move I was skeptical of, and had an impressive Fall League as an 18-year-old. He’s already a 40 runner (I had him timed in the 4.4s throughout Fall League), which means he is ticketed for right field rather than center, but the bat is real. I have plus hit and power projection here and I know scouts who have a 70 on the bat, though his approach and the way his head was flying out during some of his AFL at-bats stopped me from going that heavy with my hit tool grade. I think he’s going to come up quickly and be an All-Star outfielder and the affable face of the franchise.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Waukesha West HS (WI) (NYM)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 45/55 55/50 45/45 60/60

It was an injury-laden year for Kelenic (a wrist and ankle during the summer), who was supposed to pick up Fall League reps until those was delayed by wisdom tooth extraction and then ultimately squashed by back tightness. Despite that, and especially in spite of the wrist injury, the beefcake Wisconsinite hit .291/.364/.540 with 23 dingers and 20 steals across three levels, and reached Double-A as a young 20-year-old. Kelenic is absolutely jacked but it hasn’t detracted from his twitch, nor has his size borrowed from his range in center field, which is suitable if unspectacular for the position.

The carrying tool here is the bat, which has been the case since Kelenic was 15. Like most elite prospects he’s been one of the — if not the — best hitters his age from the time scouts began to see him, and Kelenic hit elite prep pitching all throughout high school. He is short to the ball with power, and can just turn his hands over and catch heaters up, in, or both, which bodes well for him against a pitching population that is working up there with increasing frequency. The .540 SLG% from 2019 is a bit above what’s realistic going forward, largely because there’s just no more room for mass on the body. As is the case with most hitters evaluated in this stratosphere, reports of Kelenic’s competitiveness and work ethic are strong, and have been since he was in high school. In fact, one scout on the amateur side thought he was too intense at times, sort of in the Jimmy Butler realm of teammate interaction, but I haven’t heard anything like that lately. He’s much more stick than glove, but Kelenic looks like an All-Star center fielder who’s rapidly approaching Seattle.

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stetson (SEA)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 50/55 45/50 50/60 91-94 / 96

Last year I wrote about the possibility that Gilbert would experience a velo rebound in pro ball because I thought he had been overtaxed at Stetson. He was sitting 92-96 as a rising sophomore on the Cape, but often sat 90-94, and sometimes 88-91, throughout his starts the following spring. Last year he was again up to 96 but sat 91-94, about the halfway mark between his peak and nadir as an amateur. Considering how readily pitchers lose velo in pro ball, that’s still a win for Seattle. While all of Gilbert’s secondary pitches are average and flash above, I think his command will enable them to play above their raw grades, which, combined with what the innings count could be because of his frame and how efficiently he works, will still make him an above-average WAR generating starter.

50 FV Prospects

4. Evan White, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Kentucky (SEA)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 55/55 45/50 60/55 60/70 55/55

White’s pre-draft skillset was tough for some teams to wrangle. All of the window dressing — plus-plus first base defense, plus speed, a backwards hit/throw profile — was nice but ultimately, some teams saw a first baseman without sufficient power. After they drafted him, the Mariners made subtle changes to his lower half, drawing his front knee back toward his rear hip more than he did at Kentucky, and taking a longer stride back toward the pitcher. White is more often finishing with a flexed front leg now, which has helped him go down and lift balls in the bottom part of the strike zone by adjusting his lower half instead of his hands. The power output improved and is supported by the measurable underlying data. Now that he’s signed a pre-debut deal, it’s very likely that White breaks camp with the big club, and he projects as a solid everyday first baseman.

45+ FV Prospects

5. George Kirby, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Elon (SEA)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/45 50/55 45/55 55/70 91-96 / 97

If you tally up Kirby’s three years at Elon, his summer on the Cape, and his brief pro debut, he has a 307-to-51 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 276 innings since 2017. That’s a 4% walk rate, and in Kirby’s most recent calendar year of innings, it has been a microscopic 1.3%. While his pre-draft velocity was strong (touching 97, often 93-95 early, 91-94 late in starts), his secondary stuff was very average. His slider and curveball (the latter is better) ran together a bit, and his changeup had inconsistent finish. But often, elite command of what is a 55-grade pitch in a vacuum leads to elite results (see: Bieber, Shane), and I think that sort of secondary pitch effectiveness is possible for Kirby.

One of Seattle’s stated post-draft goals for the right-hander was to make him stronger. In 2020 spring bullpens, Kirby looked noticeably thicker and stronger, and he is indeed throwing harder, touching 99 mph several times in Peoria side sessions. Logan Gilbert threw very hard in a similar setting the year before, and though his in-season velo band was beneath his pre-season bullpens, he was still above the prior year’s range. The difference is the obvious change in Kirby’s body. I expect something similar to Gilbert’s trajectory here (and for Juan Then, who appears later on this list and was also throwing much harder in the spring before baseball shut down). Even with fairly vanilla secondary stuff, mid-90s heat and Kirby’s potential for elite command gives him a mid-rotation ceiling.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 25/60 60/55 40/50 60/60

When it comes to both the broad, back-of-the-house view of his amateur profile and his promotion/big league time horizon, Marte’s career has mimicked Julio Rodriguez’s so far. He was a bigger, more physical signee than is typical for the international market, the sort most teams would not hesitate to debut in domestic rookie ball. And like Rodriguez, the Mariners allowed Marte to spend his first pro summer dominating competition that simply didn’t challenge him (the average DSL fastball velo last year was 88 mph), which led to a .309/.371/.511 line. Marte had a chance to earn an aggressive assignment with a great 2020 spring (probably not Low-A, but perhaps a summer Northwest League placement), putting him on a relative fast track for a teenage hitter, though like the rest of baseball, that possibility in now on hold.

From an individual tools and skills perspective, Marte’s peers are elite high school players. As an amateur, there was uncertainty surrounding his hands, actions, and general ability to stay on the infield, but pro looks have been more favorable, backed by enough arm strength to hide potential future range deficiencies. My previous research into shortstop size has shown that most teenage prospects gain about 30 pounds between when they’re 18 and 21 years old, which puts Marte’s baseline body projection in the Willy Adames/Trevor Story realm, or about 210 pounds. So long as his hands have indeed improved, that’s a pretty favorable comp for his body/range-based fit at short. It means there’s Goldilocks Zone power/defensive spectrum potential here, as Marte already has 50-grade raw power at age 18 and will probably have at least a full grade more at maturity. His TrackMan power metrics (they’re over on The Board) are in the 40/45 range right now because Marte’s swing elements are not always well-timed. They are, however, very athletic. The big leg kick (which Marte is balanced enough to utilize), the little bit of bat wrap to create some loop and lift, and the ability to move the barrel around the zone are all encouraging swing elements, but we really don’t know a lot about Marte’s bat-to-ball skills right now because he just hasn’t faced good pitching yet. There’s clearly huge ceiling here and I have Marte in the same FV tier Zac Veen, my highest-ranked prep amateur right now.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Tullahoma HS (TN) (CLE)
Age 23.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 50/55 40/45 89-94 / 96

The roller coaster prospectdom of Justus Sheffield may finally be reaching its terminus. Several repertoire changes, two trades (and the scrutiny that comes with that), fluctuations in his walk rate, some injuries (most notably shoulder stiffness in 2018), and mixed performance at the upper levels have caused a constant need for re-evaluation. The latest of these many developments is a logical shift, given Sheffield’s sinker-friendly arm slot, to a two-seam look on the fastball. Sheffield’s 2020 spring velo was parked in the 89-93 range, but now his fastball has more tailing/sinking action, which dovetails very nicely with the shape of his slider. Sheffield will throw a shorter, curt slider in the zone for strikes (one scout source who saw Sheff this spring thought it might be a separate cutter) and a longer, nastier, bat-missing version that finishes out of the strike zone. This pitch is plus, and was used heavily in Sheffield’s electric spring outings, especially as a back foot out-pitch to righties.

Sheffield’s changeup is also good, but his arm side command of all his pitches is not, so whether he’ll be able to consistently set up the change with well-located fastballs is in doubt. So, too, is Sheffield’s ability to eat innings like a traditional starter because of his hot and cold strike throwing. Some teams just have him projected in the bullpen because of how erratic the strikes have been historically. He’s in the same FV tier as Red Sox righty Bryan Mata, who also has sinker-oriented stuff and significant relief risk.

8. Kyle Lewis, RF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Mercer (SEA)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 70/70 55/60 50/45 45/50 60/60

“He’s still a 24-year-old who struck out 29% of the time at Double-A.” This was the general industry response to early drafts I circulated of my Top 100, which had Lewis toward the back of the 50 FV tier where players like Jose Siri and Monte Harrison have been when they’ve made the list. Lewis and his knee (he tore his ACL in 2016) finally looked healthy last year (his swing had more movement, a bigger leg kick, and he seemed to be twisting and bending it with more comfort), and his underlying power data, which I’ll get to shortly, is spectacular. But in some ways what Lewis’ health helped reinforce was skepticism regarding his hit tool. There are folks in baseball who think that on a binary level, Lewis will not hit enough to have a meaningful career. I think he’ll be a high-variance big leaguer, grinding through some frustrating, 1-WAR seasons while he clubs 30-plus bombs in others, similar to Jorge Soler, Domingo Santana, and countless other tantalizing toolsheds who strike out a lot.

As for that underlying power data I promised you, Lewis’ is very encouraging. If you’ve been reading this year’s lists, you know the Southern League offensive environment was very unkind to hitters last season. A source not with Seattle told me that based on his TrackMan/Statcast data, Lewis’ Expected SLG%, was about .100 higher than his actual output, with an xSLG up around .500. He averaged 92 mph off the bat last year and hit 53% of balls in play at 95 mph or above (a 70 on the scale); another source whose team tracked Hard Outs among 2019 minor leaguers (balls in play at 95 mph or up that resulted in outs) told me Lewis made more than 40 of them last year, which was in the top 10 in all the minors. On balance, I think Lewis is a 45, a 1.5 WAR player on average during his years of team control. But he has plus-plus, impact power and could get hot and make some All-Star teams during that span, while other years will be quite lean.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Florida State (SEA)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 40/50 40/40 45/50 45/45

Teams that had been tracking Raleigh’s framing ability since college have been optimistic about him profiling at catcher for longer than most individual scouts, who see a bigger-bodied guy with mobility issues. Last year, as many orgs have done, Mariners catchers began working on one knee, a move that tends to be favorable for framing but not for throwing, a skill of dwindling importance (for now). Perhaps not coincidentally (or perhaps because we were wrong about Raleigh’s arm grade last year, when we 55’ed it), reports on Raleigh’s arm strength are worse than they were a year ago, though it appears he’s a viable, long-term catcher, if an unspectacular one. If that’s true, then Raleigh has a great chance to be an average everyday backstop thanks to his power and a sentient approach that enables him to hit for it in games and reach base at an above-average clip.

10. Justin Dunn, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Boston College (NYM)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/55 50/55 45/50 90-93 / 95

Scouts and execs see Dunn settling into one of two outcomes: either he ends up living in the mid-90s as a power reliever, or he sits, as he did in 2019, in the low-90s as an innings-eating No. 4/5 starter. Brendan Gawlowski’s spring look at Dunn, during which the right-hander sat 92-94 over three innings, is perhaps indicative of the former since Dunn rarely worked with his changeup at a time when most starters are working heavily with their tertiary pitch in preparation for the season. Still, I remain somewhat bullish on Dunn’s changeup development. He’s had stretches in the past where it’s been a plus pitch and it’s arguably the best long-term fit with his fastball’s tailing/sinking shape. What I’m less optimistic about is Dunn’s starter stamina. He looked gassed late last year and while into the mid-90s early, was not throwing as hard in subsequent innings this spring. Ideally his fastball lives in at least the 93-96 mph range out of the bullpen and Dunn can be a dynamic, three-pitch reliever. I have his future fastball grade projected as if that’s the outcome.

40+ FV Prospects

11. Sam Delaplane, RHP
Drafted: 23th Round, 2017 from Eastern Michigan (SEA)
Age 25.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 70/70 40/45 92-95 / 97

Delaplane has power, vertical action stuff that I think is going to play in a high-leverage relief role. He creates a nearly perfect vertical arm slot by striding wide open, starting on the third base side of the rubber but landing in the middle of the mound. It helps give his fastball plus-plus carry and ride. Delaplane also has a power, Brad Lidge-style slider with late, downward movement. He has less raw arm strength than the Nick Andersons of the world, but the stuff works in the same way, and I think Delaplane will be a reliever of rare quality.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from TCU (SEA)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 55/60 45/50 40/45 92-95 / 97

It’s not as if Williamson didn’t show plus stuff at TCU; he would be parked at 92-93 in the first inning or two, and flash two plus breaking balls. He did, however, struggle to hold it deep into starts. By the fourth, he was often living in the 88-91 range. After the draft, in one- and two-inning outings, he sat 92-95 with a plus curveball (and fewer, if any, sliders). I’m skeptical that Williamson can hold 92-95 as a starter for a whole season because of how his stuff has waned in the past. He also suffered a severe hip injury while in junior college (he tore both labrums dunking a basketball and needed surgery) that might impact his ability to do it. I buy that the velo will be there in short stints and that both breaking balls, assuming the slider returns, will be plus. As such, I have Williamson projected as a three-pitch power reliever.

13. Juan Then, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 40/50 40/50 92-94 / 96

Then (pronounced “Ten”) was originally signed by Seattle, then was sent to New York when the Mariners were swapping low-level prospects for 40-man depth at the end of their last competitive window, before he returned in the Edwin Encarnación deal.

He had a velocity spike over the offseason and, after sitting 91-95 and topping at 96 last year, was up to 99 mph in the bullpen this spring before baseball ceased operations due to the pandemic. Similar to the way Vanderbilt and Kyle Wright found an extra gear for his fastball before the draft, a lower, more naturally comfortable arm slot for Then is part of what seems to have brought this about. Last year, his well-located sliders were plus and the rest of his repertoire below, but he’s lanky and loose, and quite smooth, so that stuff has been at least somewhat projectable. How the lower slot impacts the secondaries and command we won’t know until after Then has taken the new delivery for a spin, but even if things go awry, the velo bump everyone’s been hoping for has seemingly arrived, so a late-inning reliever outcome is now in play.

14. Wyatt Mills, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Gonzaga (SEA)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 45/50 50/55 92-94 / 95

At the very least, Mills profiles as a good, sidearm “look” reliever who can enter the middle of the game and present hitters with a visual conundrum because of his sidearm slot. His combo of repertoire depth and command are both rare for a reliever, and I think he has a chance to have some peak years like Luke Gregerson, Steve Cishek, Brad Ziegler, or other low slot relievers who closed in recent seasons have had. The statistical case for it — 30% strikeout rate, 54% groundball rate — is strong and Mills has better surface-level stuff than most sidearm relievers do.

40 FV Prospects

15. Jake Fraley, LF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from LSU (TBR)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/50 45/45 35/40 55/55 50/55 40/40

Fraley is officially in tweenersville. He plays a fine center field but he’s not such a black hole that it makes up for his lack of power on offense and enables him to profile. Perhaps plus corner defense with a slightly better hit tool than I’ve projected means Fraley can be a platoon 45 FV, but I think enough puzzle pieces with power are floating around that he ends up a Ben Gamel style, luxury bench outfielder.

16. Isaiah Campbell, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Arkansas (SEA)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 45/50 40/45 40/50 90-93 / 96

Campbell was granted a medical redshirt in 2017 because of surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. His stuff was not totally back in 2018 and the Angels tried to buy low on the then redshirt sophomore in the 28th round. He returned to school, his stuff bounced back, and Campbell went in the 2019 second round. He was ridden pretty hard at Arkansas, and the Mariners chose not to run him out after the draft. We don’t yet know what changes might be made to his repertoire, which was full of average stuff in college. He projects as a No. 4/5 starter.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Washington (SEA)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 50/50 40/40 70/70 70/70 55/55

Bishop remains strangely snakebitten by injury, the latest and most bizarre of which was a 2019 lacerated spleen. He’s still a glove-first, bench outfield prospect.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 17.8 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/40 70/70 45/60 45/45

Clase packs quite a punch for someone his size, and his swing is very short but also geared for some lift. He has a relatively projectionless build, but part of that is because he’s added a bunch of muscle since signing and is now built like a little tank. His speed gives him a shot to be a special center field defender, while the contact feel and seemingly mature idea of the strike zone might weaponize the speed on the bases. There’s a right tail, everyday center field outcome in here.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/50 45/45 35/35 92-97 / 99

This is another of several older relief prospects in the system, one whose report you’re probably familiar with by now. Bautista was part of Seattle’s return in the Díaz/Canó trade; the Mets acquired him from Boston for Addison Reed at the 2017 trade deadline. He’s an arm strength-dependent reliever (96-99 mph) who’ll likely lose list eligibility as soon as we have baseball again. He’s erratic, but as long as he has crude control he’ll bully hitters with his fastball and 84-87 mph slider in a middle relief role.

20. Joey Gerber, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from Illinois (SEA)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 40/40 92-95 / 96

Other than the odd, chicken wing arm action Gerber uses to unfurl his stuff, he has a pretty standard mid-90s heat/power slider relief profile. The fastball gets on hitters more quickly than they expect, and it comes in at a flat angle that hitters also seem to struggle with. He might be up in September.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (WSN)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 183 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/70 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 98

A converted outfielder, Alvarado was up to 100 during extended and sat in the mid-90s with bat-missing movement throughout the rest of the summer. He’ll flash an occasionally nasty slider but it’s not consistent right now, nor is his strike-throwing, but of course he hasn’t been pitching for all that long. He’s a 2020 40-man add and will have to develop pretty quickly to merit a 40-man spot this winter, but Seattle has had success developing pitching lately and this guy has big ceiling if things click. Based on his build and athleticism, they might.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2019 from Fresno State (SEA)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/55 25/45 45/45 40/50 60/60

Bins has plus bat speed and a great build for a catcher. His swing is grooved and he needs defensive polish, but he at least has power/arm carrying tools and a good chance to be a whiff-prone backup.

23. Ljay Newsome, RHP
Drafted: 26th Round, 2015 from Chopticon HS (MD) (SEA)
Age 23.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/45 55/60 55/60 89-92 / 94

Like Gerber, Newsome has a short, weird arm action that seems to bug hitters and create abnormally strong results on a fastball that is, in most respects, barely average. He does have a plus changeup and throws an obnoxious rate of strikes. To this point, Newsome’s smoke and mirrors have worked as a starter up through Hi-A. The velo bump he worked for two offseasons ago has made a difference, and he projects as a swingman type now.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 45/55 90-95 / 97

The Mariners pushed De Los Santos to full-season ball last year because his secondary stuff desparately needed reps and they trusted him to scrap through starts early on even though it wasn’t ready. He succeeded and now looks like a fastball/cutter/slider relief prospect.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Devin Sweet, RHP
Drafted: 0 Round, 2018 from North Carolina Central (SEA)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/45 55/60 50/55 90-93 / 95

Sweet was a 2018 undrafted free agent senior sign who had a 2019 breakout. He began the year in the Low-A bullpen (50 K, 9 BB in 35 innings), then in June was moved to the rotation and thrived for 12 starts. He made a few late-August starts at Hi-A, and was good there, too. Sweet has fastball command, fastball ride, and a plus changeup. He’s a little light on velocity, only sitting 90-93, but he’s garnered swings and misses at that velocity at the top of the strike zone so far. His changeup has bat-eluding sink and fade, and is used against righty hitters. The breaking ball is just okay, but he can land it for strikes to start counts.

It’s a 40-man look, to be sure. Perhaps the velo would tick up in the bullpen in an interesting way (all our Sweet info comes from folks who’ve seen him start), but for now he projects in the fifth or sixth starter area.

26. Yohan Ramirez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 60/60 20/35 94-97 / 99

Ramirez’s career got off to a late start (he didn’t begin playing pro ball until he was 21) and he was also a little slow to develop, languishing in A-ball for several years. His stuff really started to pop in 2018, and last season he showed bat-missing, multi-inning stuff — 92-97, up to 99, two plus breaking balls. He walked 74 hitters in just over 100 innings last year, which needs to be better if he’s going to stick.

27. Jorge Benitez, LHP
Drafted: 9th Round, 2017 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (SEA)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/55 40/50 35/45 88-93 / 94

Rejoice! Those who saw Benitez as an amateur and hoped he’d enjoy a pro velo bump have been proven correct, as the 20-year-old lefty was sitting 89-92 and up to 94 last year. He has big curveball spin rates but the pitch is pretty easy to identify out of his hand, and he barely throws it. It’ll be interesting to see if the dev group tries to make the curveball more playable or if they explore other out-getting avenues now that viable velo appears to be on the way.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from Kings Way HS (WA) (SEA)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 55/60 40/50 89-93 / 95

The fastball/frame projection here is just okay, but Casetta-Stubbs has two excellent breaking balls and an advanced understanding of how to deploy them together to thwart hitters, similar to how Drew Pomeranz attacks guys. He’s a black sheep relief prospect.

Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Houston (WSN)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 50/50 35/35 90-93 / 94

Fletcher’s big hip turn helps him hide the ball pretty well, his slider has sufficient sweep despite low spin rates, and his changeup and two-seamer pair well together. He’d be a 40 FV relief prospect if his command were a shade better.

30. Raymond Kerr, LHP
(SEA)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/65 40/45 50/60 40/50 30/40 94-98 / 100

Kerr can dunk a basketball, he has superlative weight room exploits, and he has rare lefty velo. His splitter flashes plus and the Mariners have worked with his slider enough to create viable sweep on the pitch. The strike-throwing and secondary consistency are present issues, but Kerr has come so far, so fast (he was sitting in the low-90s early last spring) that it’s fair to project on that stuff, even though he’s in his mid-20s.

31. Milkar Perez, 3B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Nicaragua (SEA)
Age 18.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 173 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/45 40/30 40/50 50/55

Perez has more of a frame than his measurables suggest, he has advanced feel for the strike zone and for contact, and he might grow into enough power to profile as a well-rounded everyday third baseman. But the frame isn’t so overtly projectable as to make it a likelihood.

32. Kristian Cardozo, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (SEA)
Age 17.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 45/50 40/50 30/50 null / 92

Cardozo signed for just shy of $600,000 last July. He doesn’t have the typical July 2 prospect’s physical projection, but his delivery is loose and repeatable. He’s been up to 92 with feel for his breaking ball and change.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/50 35/40 60/60 50/50 60/60

He’s 24 but I still think Liberato’s physical tools and relatively solid track record of performance merit inclusion in this FV tier. He runs well, has a great frame, and made substantive improvements to his contact rates with a 2018 swing change. I think there’s still a chance he contributes in some way.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Florida International (SEA)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/55 30/50 30/30 40/45 50/50

Shenton had a loud Cape, then regressed athletically the following spring and looked more like a future first baseman. He has pop, but needs to hit a ton to profile at either corner spot.

35. Sam Carlson, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Burnsville HS (MN) (SEA)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 50/60 40/55 89-93 / 94

We’re still collectively waiting for Carlson to pitch coming off of Tommy John. At his prep peak, he was into the mid-90s with a good changeup and more strikes than is typical for such a hard-throwing, cold-weather prospect.

36. Levi Stoudt, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Lehigh (SEA)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 40/45 50/60 40/45 90-92 / 94

Stoudt is a relief prospect with a plus changeup who went lower in the 2019 draft than his talent suggested because the industry knew he needed TJ after signing.

37. Ty Adcock, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Elon (SEA)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 213 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 45/50 40/50 45/50 30/35 94-97 / 100

Adcock is a catcher conversion arm who emerged a year after he was first draft-eligible. He’s an upper-90s power relief prospect who didn’t throw after the draft.

38. Jake Haberer, RHP
Drafted: 0 Round, 2018 from Eastern Illinois (SEA)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Sits/Tops
65/65 45/50 94-97 / 99

An undrafted free agent who was signed out of Indy ball with the notion that he’d eventually be an in-office contributor, Haberer cruised through A-Ball and now is in the upper levels at age 24 and throwing very hard. He was up to 99 last year and has a shot to be a bullpen contributor.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Arm Strength Relief Sorts
Yeury Tatiz, RHP
Dayeison Arias, RHP
Natanael Garabitos, LHP
Taylor Guilbeau, LHP

Tatiz almost made the main section of the list. He’s 19 and up to 95 with an average slider. Arias has performed as a pro, striking out 160 hitters in 116 pro frames. He’s consistently been in the 92-96 range as a lower-minors closer. He has an odd, swinging gate delivery that swivels about an axis created by a stiff front leg. If that’s not a long-term issue, then he’s a middle relief up/down type. Garabitos was up to 97 at age 18 but has little idea where it’s going right now. Guilbeau is in the mid-90s (it doesn’t play that way, though) with a good changeup and is on the big league roster fringe.

Bench Bats
Donnie Walton, SS
Dom Thompson-Williams, OF
Connor Hoover, INF

There’s not much upside from this group. Walton is a versatile 26th man possibility. DTW is now 24 and the late-blooming possibilities are gone. He’s a smaller-framed guy who is a fifth outfielder at best. Hoover was old for his level last year but his swing has some verve and he might be a bat-first infielder.

Older Depth Arms
Penn Murfee, RHP
Anthony Misiewicz, LHP
Kyle Wilcox, RHP
Darin Gillies, RHP
Scott Boches, RHP
Nick Duron, RHP
Collin Kober, RHP

This group is pretty self-explanatory. They’ll sit at the upper-levels and provide viable innings if a rash of injury occurs. Murfee and Misiewicz are pitchability arms. Murfee is the current minor leaguer most likely to be a GM based on what people in and out of the org say about his aptitude for learning and implantation. Wilcox and Gillies both throw pretty hard (up to 96/97) and performed at upper levels last year. Boches is a spin/ride mid-90s relief arm, Duron has more arm strength and is up to 97 but with fewer underlying traits to bolster it, and Kober is a heavy sinker submariner who has missed bats.

Young Sleeper Arms
Blake Townsend, LHP
Tim Elliott, RHP
Danny Chang, LHP

Townsend is a strong-bodied teenage Aussie up to 93 with a shot for an above-average slurve. Elliott has a plus curveball and fringe other pieces. Chang struck out a lot of AZL hitters with a spin-efficient fastball in the mid-80s but needs to get much stronger to develop viable big league velo.

System Overview

It’s clear the developmental changes on the pitching side have already begun to produce results in the form of the many older, 40-man-worthy arms on this list. The same is not yet true for the hitters. 50% of prospects on The Board are hitters, but they only comprise a third of this org’s list, and it’s an even lower ratio if we include the Others of Note. Several of the bats on the list are very good, though, and have responded well to aggressive assignments.

That’s not to say this org doesn’t still have some odd, developmental quirks. Out-of-place, early-season assignments for players like Deivy Florido (Triple-A, stuff dipped throughout the year and he didn’t make the cut here), Damon Casetta-Stubbs (Hi-A), Cesar Izturis Jr. (Triple-A, 2018), and Connor Hoover (Double-A), or mid-season, single-game promotions for Ray Kerr, Ljay Newsome and Colin Kober (all to Triple-A) look, to me, like ways of toying with opponents’ pro scouting models by indicating to the model that those players were promoted. The org’s explanation for my tinfoil hat theory is that the Mariners reward pitchers for hitting measurable goals and would like to get them acclimated to the idea of going up a level to pitch on short notice and then heading back down, both of which are pretty reasonable explanations.


Eric Longenhagen Chat- 3/20/2020

12:20
Eric A Longenhagen: Good morning from Tempe, folks. Lots of smoke to talk about today…

12:20
The West is Wild: If the draft were to get canceled, how much of the reasoning would you put on: a) lost revenues for team and, b) the fact that scouts have no one to, uh, scout right now?

12:20
Scott: If MLB cancels the 2020 draft but plays a partial 2020 season (say, e.g., 81 games), how would the 2021 draft order be determined. Perhaps use teams’ combined records from 2019 and 2020?

12:20
The West is Wild: If the draft were to get canceled, what happens with those prospects? Does a draft happen in October/November? Do they get rolled into the 2021 draft, and if so, does baseball enlarge bonus pools? Is this the precursor to abolishing the draft altogether?

12:20
Garland: If the 2020 MLB season is canceled, but they still hold the 2020 MLB draft…how do they determine the draft order for the 2021 draft?

12:22
Eric A Longenhagen: There are lots of questions regarding 2020 draft cancellation in the queue. I’ll start by saying Idon’t think it’l happen, that it creates too many logistial problems for the following year to be worth MLB cramming two draft classes into one year so they can play one year’s worth of bonuses for two years of talent. I think cancelling the draft is one of many possible things the league has indeed discussed and that it was floated to see how everyone would respond, including the MLBPA, just in case it presents MLB with the most cost-effective course of action.

Read the rest of this entry »


Top 56 Prospects: Tampa Bay Rays

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Tampa Bay Rays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. 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 the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

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.

Editor’s Note: Esteban Quiroz was added to this list after he was received by the Rays as the Player To Be Named later in the Tommy Pham trade.

Rays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Wander Franco 19.1 A+ SS 2021 80
2 Brendan McKay 24.3 MLB LHP 2020 60
3 Vidal Brujan 22.1 AA 2B 2021 55
4 Josh Lowe 22.1 AA CF 2021 50
5 Brent Honeywell 25.0 AAA RHP 2020 50
6 Xavier Edwards 20.6 A+ 2B 2023 50
7 Randy Arozarena 25.1 MLB CF 2020 50
8 Shane Baz 20.8 A RHP 2022 50
9 Taylor Walls 23.7 AA SS 2021 45
10 Shane McClanahan 22.9 AA LHP 2022 45
11 Yoshitomo Tsutsugo 28.3 MLB LF 2020 45
12 Greg Jones 22.0 A- SS 2022 45
13 Joe Ryan 23.8 AA RHP 2022 45
14 Alejandro Pie 18.1 R SS 2024 45
15 Ronaldo Hernandez 22.4 A+ C 2022 45
16 JJ Goss 19.2 R RHP 2024 45
17 Tyler Frank 23.2 A+ 2B 2021 45
18 Seth Johnson 21.5 R RHP 2023 40+
19 Peter Fairbanks 26.3 MLB RHP 2020 40+
20 Nick Schnell 20.0 A CF 2023 40+
21 Kevin Padlo 23.7 AAA 3B 2020 40+
22 Abiezel Ramirez 20.1 R SS 2022 40+
23 Ford Proctor 23.3 A SS 2022 40
24 Riley O’Brien 25.1 AA RHP 2021 40
25 Moises Gomez 21.6 A+ RF 2022 40
26 Jhon Diaz 17.5 R CF 2025 40
27 Lucius Fox 22.7 AAA SS 2021 40
28 Drew Strotman 23.5 A+ RHP 2021 40
29 John Doxakis 21.6 A- LHP 2022 40
30 Michael Perez 27.6 MLB C 2020 40
31 Anthony Banda 26.6 MLB LHP 2020 40
32 Curtis Mead 19.4 R 2B 2023 40
33 Michael Plassmeyer 23.4 AAA LHP 2022 40
34 Tristan Gray 24.0 AA 1B 2020 40
35 Tanner Dodson 22.9 A+ RHP 2021 40
36 Joel Peguero 22.9 A RHP 2021 40
37 Resly Linares 22.3 A+ LHP 2022 40
38 Brian O’Grady 27.8 MLB CF 2020 35+
39 Esteban Quiroz 28.1 AAA 2B 2020 35+
40 Graeme Stinson 22.6 R LHP 2023 35+
41 Sandy Gaston 18.3 R RHP 2023 35+
42 Jelfry Marte 19.0 R SS 2023 35+
43 Niko Hulsizer 23.1 A+ LF 2022 35+
44 Cal Stevenson 23.5 A+ CF 2021 35+
45 Colby White 21.7 A- RHP 2023 35+
46 Audry Lugo 21.4 A- RHP 2023 35+
47 Neraldo Catalina 19.7 R RHP 2023 35+
48 Aneudy Cortorreal 20.3 R RHP 2023 35+
49 Logan Driscoll 22.4 A- C 2023 35+
50 Victor Munoz 19.2 R RHP 2022 35+
51 Alberto Figuereo 19.9 R 2B 2022 35+
52 Daiveyon Whittle 20.4 A- RHP 2023 35+
53 Michael Mercado 20.9 A- RHP 2022 35+
54 Jayden Murray 22.9 A- RHP 2023 35+
55 Angel Felipe 22.5 R RHP 2022 35+
56 Carlos Garcia 21.3 A+ RHP 2023 35+
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80 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 19.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 80
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
60/80 55/60 45/60 60/60 50/55 60/60

This is the first 80 FV prospect of the Future Value era at FanGraphs, the best prospect on the planet, and the best I’ve evaluated during my tenure here. What does it take to draw such significant expectations? Let’s first examine the statistical case. Franco has played 175 career games, all at levels well above what is typical for a player his age (he doesn’t turn 19 until March). During those games, he’s hit .336/.405/.523 with 71 extra-base hits, 20 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. In fact, across two levels in 2019, Low- and Hi-A, Franco not only walked more than he struck out, but walked about twice as much. He has one of the lowest swinging strike rates in the entire minor leagues, and it’s possible the power hasn’t fully actualized yet because Franco still hits the ball on the ground a lot (48% last year). How about the TrackMan data? Franco’s exit velos and hard hit rate are both above big league average, which, again, is ridiculous for a teenager who’s playing against competition four and a half years older than he is in the Florida State League.

Of course, the visual baseball evaluation is also incredible. Franco had one of the best BP sessions at the Futures Game (his was better than Jo Adell, Nolan Jones, and everyone not named Royce Lewis) and the best infield. His hands are a powder keg, accelerating to the point where he can do huge damage, and he doesn’t need mechanical length to get there. This is true from both sides of the plate; Franco can’t be thwarted by turning him around and forcing him to hit from a weaker side. He might not ever produce big home run totals without a swing change, but it’d be ridiculous to alter this guy’s swing considering how elite his performance has been. A scouting director once told me, “Elite players are elite all the time,” and that has been true of Franco since he was a young teen. He’s been a force of nature offensively, he plays a premium defensive position very well, and my degree of confidence in his ability to do both in perpetuity is high because that’s all Franco has ever done.

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Louisville (TBR)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 50/55 50/55 55/70 91-95 / 96

McKay was 1.1 innings shy of graduating off of prospect lists entirely this year, which means there is as much hard data on him as it’s possible to have when deciding how to evaluate him before he exits my scope. He was unusually homer-prone during his big league stretch, something that has never been an issue before even with middling velocity, because McKay’s command is so good. I think it’s a small sample blip that will regress over more innings, though I did have folks from analytically-inclined teams suggest that I slide McKay down on my overall rankings when I circulated the list for feedback.

His fastball only sits 90-94 and touches 96, which is pretty average, but McKay keeps it away from the middle of the zone where it can really be hammered and often ties hitters up with it because he locates so well; his swinging strike rate on the heater was close to 17% in the minors, so I think it’ll play. His cutter command is arguably even better, and he peppers the glove side of the plate with it at will. Changeup usage was scarce in his big league sample but I think it will be one of the focal points of his repertoire, perhaps usurping the curveball, which has a stronger visual evaluation than it does if you look at the spin data. It’s a repertoire/command profile similar to a lot of good lefties (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Minor, Cole Hamels), though most of them are more reliant on the cambio than McKay has been to this point. He may not have the rate stats of the other arms in the 60 FV tier, but I expect he’ll make up for all of that with volume because of how efficiently he works.

55 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr S / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/65 45/50 30/45 65/65 55/70 50/50

This is my favorite player in the minors, a top-of-the-scale athlete who is sneaky strong despite his height and one of the most electric, in-the-box rotators in all of the minor leagues. He split 2019 between Hi- and Double-A and his walk rate took a bit of a hit at those levels, but otherwise, his on-paper performance was strong, well above league averages (.277/.346/.389 with 48 bags in 61 attempts, and 28 extra-base hits in 100 games). His exit velo data is not great, but it was instructive to watch Brujan in the Fall League next to several other players with similar statistical and defensive profiles who aren’t nearly as athletic or as physically projectable as he is. There were lots of other narrowly built infielders of similar age who simply don’t have Brujan’s musculature (you can see his lats through his jersey) or explosiveness. I think there’s room for mass even though Brujan is short, and that he’ll continue to harness his hellacious cut, which, based on his contact rates, he already has abnormal control over. I watched Brujan swing so hard that he’d corkscrew himself to the ground, only to pop back up like a Russian folk dancer. There are scouts who think he can play shortstop, but I think the arm is a little light for that and that instead, he’ll be a plus-plus defender at second base or perhaps play a multi-positional, up-the-middle role. You have to bet on him growing into more pop to get there, but I think Brujan’s going to be a star.

50 FV Prospects

4. Josh Lowe, CF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pope HS (GA) (TBR)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/45 60/60 40/45 60/60

Things may finally be starting to gel for Lowe, who has had tantalizing tools since high school. He was a power/speed prep bat without a clear position, but most of the amateur half of the industry assumed he’d be able to play center field if not shortstop or third base, where he played in high school. He quickly moved to the outfield and has played almost exclusively in center since 2017. He isn’t great there, but most of Lowe’s other abilities have been slow to develop, so it’s possible the feel for the position will come eventually. For instance, Lowe has power but has been strikeout prone since his prep days. But once he started playing pro games and generating data, it became clear that, despite the whiffs, he had a great idea of the strike zone. The raw power didn’t really show up in games until Lowe’s batted ball profile began to shift in 2018. His groundball rates were in the mid-40% range until that year but slowly began shifting downward, then Lowe had a breakout statistical 2019 as a 21-year-old at Double-A.

He’s always going to strike out, but he’s also probably going to keep walking a lot, especially now that the power is a real threat. It’s pretty important that he stay in center field to take some pressure off of the hit tool. If he can do that, he’ll be an everyday player.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Walters State JC (TN) (TBR)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 60/65 55/55 45/50 45/55 92-94 / 97

Honeywell has had a myriad of injury issues over the last couple of years. He had a TJ, then a nerve issue during rehab, then fractured his elbow in the bullpen just after last year’s draft. The sequence of events that has befallen Honeywell is relatively unprecedented, and while he was a 55 or 60 FV arm at peak, his future is now in doubt. And that’s a bummer, because he’s a lot of fun to watch pitch.

A creative sequencer, Honeywell’s deep, unique repertoire is unlike any other pitcher in the minors. Though his fastball touches 98, his stuff is so diverse that he never has to pitch off of it. He can lob his curveball in for strikes, induce weak contact early in counts by throwing a cutter when hitters are sitting fastball, and he’ll double and triple up on the changeup. What you see listed in Honeywell’s tool grades as a splitter is actually a screwball. It wobbles home in the 79-82 mph range, while his true changeup is usually a little harder than that. The screwgie is more than a gimmick and can miss bats, though it’s best in moderation because it’s a little easier to identify out of his hand, and hitters are able to recognize it after seeing it multiple times in the same at-bat.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from North Broward Prep HS (FL) (SDP)
Age 20.6 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/40 20/30 80/80 50/55 45/45

The Rays plan to deploy Edwards as a multi-positional catalyst, a speedy, Chone Figgins-style player. His exit velos are arguably concerningly low. But his contact rates and track record of hitting (X was a staple on the travel ball circuit for several years and might have been the most game-ready high schooler in his draft year) combined with his ability to play lots of different positions, including the ones in the middle of the diamond, make him a relatively high-probability big league contributor. Even sources from very analytically-inclined teams thought he deserved strong placement on this list, a sign that exit velo stuff is less meaningful right now than some fear.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (STL)
Age 25.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 35/40 55/60 60/55 55/55

Kiley and I were sourcing the Cardinals list as the Libby/Arozarena/Martínez deal went down, and everyone we spoke with has Arozarena on either side of the 45/50 FV line. He does have some tweener traits and it’s possible his role in Tampa Bay, where everyone is in some sort of timeshare but is also put in positions where they can succeed, will impact whether or not 50’ing him is the correct call.

His quality of contact is very good, he’s a plus corner outfielder who can pass in center field, and he’s a great baserunner, as well as an intense, high-effort player who pro scouts love watching — Arozarena once turned a routine pop-up into a triple because he sprinted full-tilt out of the box while the infielders miscommunicated.

8. Shane Baz, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Concordia Lutheran HS (TX) (PIT)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/70 55/60 40/50 55/60 40/45 92-96 / 100

It’s highly likely that Baz moves to the bullpen, where his unusually deep pitch mix could enable him to pitch multiple innings, though it’s also possible the pitch mix gets whittled down and he works in single-inning relief. He pitched as a starter during the regular season but was bumping 100 out of the bullpen in the Fall League. The future fastball grade reflects the anticipated move.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Florida State (TBR)
Age 23.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 40/40 35/40 50/50 50/55 50/50

All of Walls’ rather vanilla physical skills are made better by his elite baseball feel and instincts, especially on defense. While the amateur side lacked conviction in his defensive fit at shortstop, the pro side thinks Walls’ first step, internal clock, and situational awareness, combined with suitable foot speed, actions, and arm strength, not only make him viable at short, but actually quite good.

Offensively, Walls is a switch-hitter with great feel for the strike zone and for squaring balls all over it. He’s kinda stiff and really doesn’t have much power, instead punching a lot of liner singles over the heads of infielders. It’s not a sexy skillset but it is a great general profile — a switch-hitting shortstop with on base skills — with enough physical tools to compete with big leaguers. He’s a 2020 Pick to Click who will likely be on next year’s top 100 as a major league-ready, everyday player.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from USF (TBR)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/60 45/50 40/45 93-97 / 100

Throughout his late high school and early college (which was paused by a Tommy John) careers, McClanahan’s stuff climbed from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. In the first start of his draft year, he hit 100 mph and flashed above average secondary stuff, which put him among the draft’s top prospects right out of the gate. But things started to unravel from there. A finger injury, bad weather, fluctuating stuff, frustrating control, and questions about his maturity all contributed to a draft-day tumble to pick No. 31 and the hometown Rays.

A year later, those concerns seem trite. A more consistent, balanced delivery enabled McClanahan to throw more strikes and he absolutely carved A-ball. He got especially hot over a nine-game stretch at Hi-A, where he walked just eight over 49 innings. I still have McClanahan evaluated as a reliever. These are improvements compared to what McClanahan was doing later in 2018, yes, but I still think the command and third pitch fall short of what’s acceptable for a starter. But I also think the fastball/breaking ball combo fits like a glove in a high-leverage relief role.

(TBR)
Age 28.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 214 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 60/60 55/55 30/30 40/40 50/50

The six year window I consider when evaluating prospects warps how I handle older, rookie-eligible players like Tsutsugo. He’ll undoubtedly hit some sort of decline phase during that window, but he’s also someone our readers would like to know about. I have him here purely with the role in mind, which I think is the bigger half of the platoon LF/DH, a 1.5 to 2 WAR sort of player during the life of his deal. Tsutsugo was a .282/.382/.528 career hitter in Japan, averaged 34 homers over his last four years there, and had a 13% career walk rate in NPB. He has all-fields power created by a swing I’ve compared to Eddie Rosario’s. Multiple sources have confirmed to me that Tsutsugo averaged an exit velocity of 92 mph (108 mph max) last year in Japan, which would rank among the top 30 big leaguers, but of course the level and type of pitching he’ll see now is going to be different. Kaz Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome each had comparable peak power numbers before they came over but Matsui didn’t have Tsutsugo’s ball/strike recognition, and Fukudome was a little bit older and didn’t have this kind of physicality.

In addition to regular DH duty, Tsutsugo seems like an obvious platoon partner for Hunter Renfroe in one of the two corner outfield spots. The Rays gave him some time at third base this spring, but he didn’t look great there and he hasn’t played the infield regularly since 2014; the notes I have from pro/international scouts and executives from before he signed indicate that he’s not athletically capable of handling the hot corner. Yandy Díaz isn’t good there either (he used to be, but he’s just too big and stiff now), but still played third situationally, so perhaps Tsutsugo can be hidden there, even if it’s just for a few innings at a time.

12. Greg Jones, SS
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from UNC Wilmington (TBR)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/50 70/70 40/45 55/55

Teams loved Jones’ tools coming out of high school, but he was very raw as a hitter, especially for someone as old as he was relative to his high school senior peers. After a strikeout-heavy freshman year in Wilmington, Jones cut his whiff total nearly in half as a draft-eligible sophomore. He also improved enough defensively to keep the shortstop projection alive. It was enough for him to be in teams’ mix in the comp round zip code, and he was drafted 31st overall by the Rays.

A year and a half later, Jones remains the same sort of player. He struggled during Extended, but had a strong summer in the Penn League, a pretty conservative assignment. Jones has everyday outs. Even if he doesn’t stay at short, he’s going to play up the middle, and so long as he’s getting to the power he has a shot to play everyday. I think there’s still-to-come hit tool growth, enough that the in-game power manifests.

13. Joe Ryan, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Cal State Stanislaus (TBR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 45/50 45/45 50/60 90-94 / 96

Ryan dominated Midwest League hitters in April, then was quickly moved to Hi-A Port Charlotte, where he continued to mow through Florida State League hitters, striking out 35% of them during his first dozen appearances. He did most of his damage with the fastball, which is puzzling because Ryan’s heater doesn’t seem remarkable in any way, even in light of the pitch data I’ve sourced. He’ll touch 96, but sits mostly 90-94 with average underlying components like spin, z-break, and extension. Despite that, Ryan is getting a lot of swinging strikes in the zone with his fastball. Like, a lot, a lot. His arm stroke is curt, and the ball just kind of jumps on hitters, so perhaps that’s contributing to its effectiveness, but it’s not such a unique look as to satisfactorily explain this level of dominance.

The supporting cast — a low-70s rainbow curveball, the occasional cutter or changeup — is only okay, so vanilla that Ryan just pumps his fastball in, pitch after pitch. He used it 73% of the time last year. There’s no precedent for that level of usage among big league starters. Based on the way the fastball plays (the whiff rates indicate it’s an elite pitch, but based on how big league hitters dealt with it this spring, I have a 60 on it) and Ryan’s command, I have him in as a strike-throwing No. 4/5 starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/60 20/50 60/55 40/50 55/60

Pie, who ranked 17th on our 2018 July 2 Board, now looks like top 100 prospect Oneil Cruz did at the same age; endless limbs on an NBA wing player’s frame, uncommon athleticism and body control for his size, uncapped power projection, and much more intrigue than there is certainty about any aspect of the profile. It’s not even clear whether Pie is going to stay on the infield. He runs well enough that center field is a possibility if his actions don’t improve, and he has the arm to play short or third if they do.

Even if Pie tumbles down the defensive spectrum, it likely means he’s grown into substantial raw power, enough to profile at any position. His current tool grade projections indicate what I think things will look like if his frame develops such that it allows him to stay at shortstop, but I think it’s going to take a long time before Pie’s skillset truly comes into focus.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Colombia (TBR)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 60/60 40/50 30/30 40/45 70/70

If you squint and look at Hernandez’s skillset from a certain angle, it looks much like Gary Sánchez‘s did at the same stage. He has big power and breathtaking arm strength, but there are questions about the approach (which might impede the power) and his defensive ability, specifically the receiving. After three straight years of big time slugging performance, Hernandez’s output dipped in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Some of this was due to the hitting environment; some of it was due to more advanced pitchers understanding how to attack him to limit damage. Hernandez’s swing cuts down through the typical hitting zone and his power is out in front when his swing starts to lift, which makes his point of impact of paramount importance to his power production. There are mixed opinions as to whether this is correctable. While what matters for catchers defensively may soon change, the combo of approach and swing issues have caused me to become more tepid on Hernandez’s offensive future. He has everyday tools but needs a good bit of developmental love to get there.

16. JJ Goss, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Cypress Ranch HS (TX) (TBR)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/50 45/55 40/50 91-94 / 96

In a draft demographic filled with wide-shouldered frames and traditional-looking deliveries, Goss stood apart from his 2019 prep pitching peers in many ways. He has a narrow, long-torso’ed frame, a flatter lower half, and a little bit of cross-bodied action to a delivery that resembles Luis Patiño’s from a timing and sequencing standpoint. Goss’ fastball has tough-to-square arm side tail created by his three-quarters arm slot, and its movement pairs well with his fairly advanced changeup, which seemed to evolve into a firm, mid-80s split once he was in pro ball.

He has worked with two breaking balls in the past, both of which reside in the low-80s and have enough depth and movement to be considered future average pitches in a vacuum, but they lack raw spin and were consolidated after he signed. They may play better against righties if Goss’ delivery proves tough for them to parse. There’s some body/delivery relief risk perception throughout the industry — some of which is delivery xenophobia, some of which is injury-related, though I think the mix and command are fine — but otherwise Goss has fourth starter talent.

17. Tyler Frank, 2B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Florida Atlantic (TBR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/45 30/40 50/50 45/50 45/45

Frank was first seen by most scouts as a utility player on college Team USA the summer before he was draft eligible. The setting in which you scout a player can do wonders, and the Team USA look didn’t give Frank much of a chance to show what he could do. He didn’t stand out much, playing all over the field and making contact, but lacking impact tools. He shined much brighter in the spring for Florida Atlantic, with 13 homers and an OPS just shy of 1.000 while playing a passable shortstop.

Scouts who saw Frank in pro ball after the Rays popped him in the second round see a slightly lesser version of Taylor Walls, another under-tooled Rays middle infielder with lots of feel. Frank is seen as more of a second baseman going forward and his 45 raw power, 50 speed, and 50 defense still aren’t loud, but his ability to hit, take a good at-bat, and have advanced feel for the game give him the look of a potential low-end regular who could move quickly through the minors. He missed almost all of 2019 with a left shoulder strain.

40+ FV Prospects

18. Seth Johnson, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Campbell (TBR)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/60 45/50 40/45 45/55 91-95 / 98

It’s incredible how quickly Johnson became a high-end draft prospect. Originally a junior college infielder, Johnson began dabbling with pitching during his sophomore season at Louisburg College, when he threw just six innings. Just a few months later, during Campbell’s fall practices, his fastball touched the mid-90s and he flashed a plus breaking ball, instantly making him a high-priority look for the following spring. His stock and performance peaked in late-March, then dipped closer to the draft when he failed to get through five or more innings in five of his last eight starts. He was sitting 91-95 in 30-pitch outings after he signed, and his slider spin rate spiked once the Rays got hold of him. The pre-draft dip leaves room for questions about his season-long durability, but Johnson was still so new to pitching that expecting him to hold his stuff for five or more innings all spring would have been silly. Assuming that comes (his is a longer arm action, but Johnson is a plus athlete and I think he can repeat it), he has No. 4 starter ceiling. He’ll likely rely on two distinct breaking balls as his secondary weapons (a mid-80s slider, a mid-70s curve) since the longer arm action isn’t typically friendly for change development.

Drafted: 9th Round, 2015 from Missouri (TEX)
Age 26.3 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
80/80 60/60 35/40 95-98 / 99

Fairbanks has elite, late-inning stuff that arrived after he returned from the second of two Tommy Johns and shifted to the bullpen in 2019, a move that helped enable a fastball bump from the 92-94 range to 95-98, touching 100. That fastball has big carry/rise thanks to its spin rate (nearly 2500 rpm) and spin axis; it backspins due to Fairbanks’ slot, and his slider has vertical, curveball-shaped break but rests in the upper-80s and low-90s. This is an impact relief piece who is ready right now, though age and Fairbanks’ injury history round the FV down a bit.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Roncalli HS (IN) (TBR)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/55 60/60 40/50 60/60

Schnell was a cold-weather high school hitter who went bonkers during his senior year, especially during the varsity postseason, which was late in the spring and closer to the draft when high-level scouts were coming in for looks. Based on his physical tools — chiefly, the power and straight-line speed — and body projection, Schnell has big upside. He’s shown opposite field thump, which impresses some scouts though others argue his inside-out contact spray indicates a swing flaw. To possess premium bat speed and face pitching in the 80s but still inside-out home runs suggests that Schnell has been late on subpar stuff, and his deep hand load, which helps create the power, also creates a ton of length back to the ball. It’s still too early to say definitively that this is a problem, in part because Schnell hasn’t played many pro games yet due to injuries, which he has a history of (a broken bone in his right wrist in 2018, minor surgery on his right knee in April of 2019 to correct an ailment he described as stemming from wear and tear). He’s a high-variance corner outfield power projection prospect.

21. Kevin Padlo, 3B
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Murrieta Valley HS (CA) (COL)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 45/50 40/40 45/45 50/50

After undergoing some swing alterations — there have been a few changes to how open Padlo’s stance is and how big his leg kick is — and gutting through a terrible April and May, Padlo became a pull and lift machine for the final few months of the season. It’s a one-note approach that might be pitched around effectively at the big league level, but to this point Padlo has shown to be selective enough to wait for pitches he can yank that way. His slugging performance is up over what’s realistic at the big league level but there is relevant big league power output now. I think Padlo is too heavy-footed to play third base every day but industry opinions are mixed. I think he’s ticketed for a four corner platoon role of some sort, similar to the one Rays fans have seen Yandy Díaz occupy.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/55 30/45 60/60 40/50 60/60

Two years in the DSL means Ramirez’s 40-man timeline is compressed, and that’s especially true now that the spread of COVID-19 has shortened the 2020 season, Ramirez’s last before being Rule 5 eligible. Based on his physicality (Ramirez is a curvaceous, José Ramírez type scaled up to 5-foot-11) and relatively advanced feel to hit, Abiezel was a candidate to be pushed quickly this year to stress test the bat. Ramirez has a handsy, powerful swing that produces whizzing line drives from the left side of the plate. His arm strength fits on the left side of the infield and gives him a shot to stay at short. Barring a swing change or feel for lift that develops naturally as he matures, this is likely to be more of a doubles-oriented power profile, but the bat-to-ball skills may carry him to an everyday infield role even if there’s no change there.

40 FV Prospects

23. Ford Proctor, SS
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Rice (TBR)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/40 30/40 45/45 50/50 50/50

It’s prudent to be skeptical of Proctor’s 2019 Low-A statline because of his age, and he doesn’t have the overt physical tools easy to scout in a short look, but he has a carrying tool in his lefty stick and has a shot to stick at shortstop. He’s done nothing but hit dating back to his freshman year at Rice — Proctor is a .300/.392/.420 hitter, combined college and pro — and I’m confident he’s a high-contact and OBP middle infielder, which, even without impact power, is still a big league role player.

Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from Idaho (TBR)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

O’Brien’s velocity has climbed each of the last two years and now rests comfortably in the mid-90s, with an extra tick of perceived velo due to extension. He’s a classic small-school late bloomer with a good frame and athletic delivery. O’Brien also has an abnormally firm, sinking, upper-80s changeup, and a power, low-80s curveball, both of which look like impact pitches at times. It’s starter stuff, and perhaps more traditional starter’s control will develop late, much like O’Brien’s stuff has.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/55 50/40 45/50 55/55

I’m staying on Gomez despite a) his precipitous 2019 downtick in production and b) his terrifying, swing-happy, corner-only profile. He has nautical mile power and sneaky good plate coverage that’s masked by how often he chases. Despite his maxed frame (he began his pro career as a speedy center field prospect but now has a chonky corner build), Gomez is an athletic swinger who can punish pitches out away from him to center and right-center field, and can also turn on stuff on the inner half and send it skyward. He has heart-of-the-order talent that’s currently at the mercy of an immature approach, so callow that he was passed over in last year’s Rule 5. He’s a high-variance player at the mercy of his own decision-making.

26. Jhon Diaz, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 17.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/40 55/55 45/50 55/55

The Yankees’ all-in pursuit of Jasson Dominguez enabled the Rays to swoop in and offer Diaz more money than New York could trade for in pool space; Tampa inked him for $1.5 million. Diaz has more present skill than he does physical projection, atypical for the July 2 market. There are teams that considered him a tweener fourth outfield type, but I think he’s just short, not small, and has a bunch of above-average tools and good baseball instincts. His path to an everyday role involves him staying in center field and making a lot of contact. If he falls short at either, then we’re talking about a platoon/fourth outfielder type.

27. Lucius Fox, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Bahamas (SFG)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 40/40 30/30 60/60 45/50 55/55

Somehow, despite his relative lack of power, the most consistent aspect of Fox’s performance has been on the offensive end of things. As reports of the quality of his defense have waxed and waned over the last three years, he’s somehow posted an above-average offensive line for each of the last three affiliates at which he’s spent most of the season. That includes a 104 wRC+ in a depressed 2019 Southern League, where the average hitter’s line was .243/.318/.366. Despite major league-average exit velocities, Fox’s contact quality isn’t great, and he has an OBP-driven offensive profile thanks to his keen eye for the zone.

He’d need to be a plus shortstop defender to profile as a low-end regular, and while he has looked like it at times, it hasn’t been consistent, and the Rays began moving him all over the infield late last year. As a switch-hitter who’s better from the right side (his numbers have been much better as a righty bat the last couple years), I think Fox will play some sort of multi-positional, shorter half of a platoon role while also pinch running. If you think he’s a low-end regular at short, then he’s a 45 FV, but I think it’ll be hard for him to be more than a 1-WAR role player without any impact in the bat.

28. Drew Strotman, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from St. Mary’s (TBR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 50/55 45/50 45/50 90-94 / 95

In many ways, the first half of Strotman’s 2018 season was just like that of Phillies righty Spencer Howard. Like Howard, Strotman mostly pitched out of the bullpen at a second tier California college and only began starting full-time in 2018. He was probably slightly underscouted as an amateur, and definitely underdeveloped. For a month and a half of 2018, he showed mid-rotation stuff, then blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John. His rehab was slow and Strotman was 90-93 when he returned, then 91-95 with average secondary stuff late in the Fall League. He looked like a No. 4 starter before the injury (he was 92-97 at that point) and now looks like a backend arm, but based on how his stuff was trending in the Fall, he might be very relevant later this year.

29. John Doxakis, LHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Texas A&M (TBR)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 50/55 50/55 45/60 88-92 / 93

Doxakis works 88-92 with solid average stuff as a pitchability lefty who can eat innings. His slider has great whiff rates in the zone, which gives him a high floor as a reliever, possibly a multi-inning one, who can work through a lineup with heavy use of his breaking stuff. The shape of his fastball should theoretically pair well with a changeup, but Doxakis sometimes lacks feel for his change, a firm, mid-80s offering that has very little spin and has a chance to be an impact pitch. He’s a backed starter if that pitch develops.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2011 from Colegio Vocacional Para Adultos HS (PR) (ARI)
Age 27.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 30/35 40/40 45/50 60/60

I expect Perez will win the Rays backup catching job if and when we have a baseball season, and he would have graduated from this list last year had he not missed a lot of time rehabbing a hamstring strain. He is an athletic catcher with a plus arm, average receiving skills, and some feel to hit. After struggling to perform with the bat during the first several years of his career, Perez has now had three straight seasons of at least league-average offensive performance at Double- and Triple-A. He has a pull-and-lift style of hitting, but not enough raw power to optimize that kind of approach. He’s a safe bet to be a quality backup and has a non-zero chance to hit a little more than I expect and end up a low-end regular.

31. Anthony Banda, LHP
Drafted: 10th Round, 2012 from San Jacinto JC (TX) (MIL)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 40/40 55/55 40/45 92-95 / 97

It’s been a long and winding road for Banda, who has been traded twice — Milwaukee sent him and Mitch Haniger to Arizona for Gerardo Parra in 2014, and then in 2018, Banda was part of the massive, three-team trade involving Steven Souza and Brandon Drury, among others — and finally looked like he’d get a long-term big league look in 2018. He was 10 innings shy of exhausting rookie eligibility when he tore his UCL and had Tommy John in early June, which shelved him until the very end of the 2019 season. He’s still a big league arm for me, probably a fastball/changeup reliever, but he had No. 4 starter stuff when he was healthy. His age and lack of roster flexibility might force his role to be whatever Banda is capable of handling immediately upon baseball’s return.

32. Curtis Mead, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Australia (PHI)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 45/55 20/50 45/40 40/50 50/50

Mead, a 19-year-old Australian infielder, is an interesting developmental project for the Rays, who acquired him from Philadelphia for 40-man crunch reliever Cristopher Sanchez. Mead signed with just a few weeks left on the 2017 July 2 calendar and only played four games during the summer of 2018 before picking up at-bats during instructional league. While my scout and front office sources describe him as being raw, Mead performed surprisingly well — .285/.351/.462 with a 13% strikeout rate — against what was almost certainly the best pitching he’d ever seen. Rookie-level stats aren’t a reliable means of evaluation on their own, but in this case, they underscore a surprising level of competence given Mead’s inexperience.

The international and pro scouting sources I tapped mentioned Mead’s very projectable, 6-foot-2 frame first. He has power projection because of the frame and a fairly advanced hit tool given his background. He played shortstop as an amateur in Australia and all over the infield in 2019. Based purely on how he looks right now, Mead projects as a corner outfielder, but there may be more room for growth — better footwork and actions — as he accrues reps.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Missouri (SEA)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 50/55 55/70 87-91 / 93

Another Day 2 college pitcher quickly flipped by the Mariners, Plassmeyer (who was part of the Mallex Smith/Mike Zunino deal) spent most of his first full pro season at Hi-A, where he walked just 16 hitters in 101.2 innings. Like many of the lefty pitchers the Rays seem to like for the org’s change of pace, bulk relief role, Plassmeyer’s fastball has a lot of lateral action because of his lower slot. He works his fastball in on righties (it has tough angle) and sometimes tails it off the plate away from them for swinging strikes. He can back foot his breaking ball consistently and his changeup has sufficient fade to miss bats. This is an elite pitchability lefty with very average stuff who I think ends up in the Yarbrough role.

34. Tristan Gray, 1B
Drafted: 13th Round, 2017 from Rice (PIT)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 40/45 40/40 45/50 50/50

Like Ford Proctor a few spots higher on this list, Gray was a three-year starter at Rice as a middle infielder and likely projects as a utility guy at the next level, though Gray is more of a shift-aided infielder who fits best at first base and can moonlight at others rather than a guy who’s primarily a middle infield fit. To contrast with Proctor, Gray was a lankier-framed prospect who has slowly filled out and added noticeable loft to his swing last year, so there’s more impact with the bat than there is with Proctor. He’s a lefty infield platoon type similar to 2019 Rule 5 pick Vimael Machin.

35. Tanner Dodson, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Cal (TBR)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/40 30/30 60/60 40/45 80/80
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 45/50 40/45 91-95 / 97

The addition of a 26th man to active rosters makes it less likely that someone like Dodson sees actual time as an outfielder, as teams now have the roster room to house someone who is both better at the things Dodson does as a positional player (he switch-hits, has contact feel from the left side, and throws and runs well) and can also do something else. I think it’s more likely he ends up a two-pitch reliever who only plays the field or hits in case of emergency. Three-batter minimums make obsolete the scenario where Dodson faces a hitter then plays center for a hitter or two before re-entering the game.

36. Joel Peguero, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 35/40 93-97 / 98

Peguero is a late-blooming power arm who took a step forward stuff-wise in 2018, then continued to pitch effectively out of Bowling Green’s bullpen in 2019, typically in two-inning outings. It’s a burgeoning, two-pitch relief profile.

37. Resly Linares, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 45/55 45/55 90-93 / 95

Linares made it through just six 2019 innings before he blew out and needed Tommy John. He’s a low-slot lefty with a great breaking ball and a skinny frame that hasn’t filled out very much. His surgery was early enough that he’s likely to be back sometime in 2020, assuming baseball is. Where his velo is coming out of rehab will dictate if he moves up or down this list.

35+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 8th Round, 2014 from Rutgers (CIN)
Age 27.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/35 55/55 50/50 55/55 45/45 55/55

O’Grady is an older prospect who wasn’t given an opportunity to supplant Billy Hamilton in Cincinnati and found his way to the Rays via a small trade for cash or a PTBNL. I think he has big league tools. His 2019 power output was aided by the Triple-A ball but he has above-average raw power and straightline speed. He’s an interesting 1B/OF (including center) lefty-hitting bench piece.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (BOS)
Age 28.1 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 45/45 35/40 40/40 40/40 45/45

Quiroz was Team Mexico’s leadoff hitter during the 2017 WBC (he hit two homers and a double in six at-bats) and spent 2015-’17 crushing the Mexican League. He signed with Boston in November 2017, and was hot the following April at Double-A, but then missed three and a half months with an abdominal strain. He only played in 24 games at Double-A, then had 62 extra plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League, where he played well and was seen by the entire pro scouting community. San Diego traded a 40-man crunch relief arm to Boston for Quiroz, then later flipped him to Tampa Bay as part of the Tommy Pham deal.

This is a very Rays sort of prospect. He has deft, all-fields contact ability and can (kind of) play an up-the-middle position. Quiroz presents rare 40-man flexibility because he’s arguably ready to contribute to a big league lineup right now, but because of how recently he signed, he doesn’t have to occupy a 40-man spot until this December. He can act as viable upper-level depth without occupying a 40-man spot. He lacks the defensive versatility to play a long term bench role but it woudln’t surprise me if he ended up being a low-end second base regular for someone for a couple seasons.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Duke (TBR)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/60 60/70 40/40 35/45 93-95 / 98

At one point, Stinson had the nastiest two-pitch combo in his draft class. As a sophomore mostly-reliever at Duke and during the following summer, he worked with two 70-grade pitches in his mid-90s heater and 3000 rpm slider. The following spring, Stinson was set to get his first extended look in the rotation but his velocity was mostly in the 80s without a clear reason. He was quickly shut down for the remainder of the college season, though specifics regarding the injury were not divulged at the time; sources have indicated to FanGraphs it was a nerve issue that may not require surgery. Stinson made just one appearance after he signed and sat 88-90. He has high-leverage relief potential with good health.

41. Sandy Gaston, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (TBR)
Age 18.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/65 45/50 45/50 30/45 93-96 / 97

Gaston was a 15-year-old Cuban defector who, right around his 16th birthday, hit 100 mph while working out for teams. That nearly unprecedented velocity for his age obviously garnered a lot of attention in the scouting community, though Gaston often had 20 control when he scraped triple digits. He also isn’t classically projectable — his velocity is already at the top of the scale and he has a maturely-built frame at 6-foot, but he’s done some arm slot and arm action tinkering over the last few years that has affected his control and command. So while Gaston may get stronger as he physically matures, what’s more important is the projection of his feel for pitching, which appears to be more natural at a three-quarters arm slot with velocity more in the mid-90s, where his arm action is also more naturally online, than the higher slot where he was throwing harder and wilder.

Gaston’s best pitching performance was as the main event on the mound at the Víctor Víctor Mesa workout in Marlins Park, where the better version of his arm slot, arm action, and control was first seen by a large scouting audience. It didn’t hold. Gaston walked a batter per inning in his first pro season while sitting in the 93-97 range with the fastball. He’s a teenage relief prospect at this point.

42. Jelfry Marte, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/50 20/40 65/65 50/60 60/60

Marte originally signed with the Twins for $3 million as one of the top position players in the 2017 July 2nd class. That deal was voided over concerns about Marte’s vision, but they weren’t as strong as they were for the last prospect who went through a situation like this, Dominican power-hitting right fielder Wagner Mateo. Mateo signed for $3.1 million with St. Louis in 2009, and after his deal was voided, signed with Arizona for $512,000 almost a year later. He played parts of four seasons before being released by the D-backs, having only appeared in 10 games in a full-season league, with a career .660 OPS.

Marte ended up signing with Tampa Bay less than a month after his deal was voided, this time for $820,000; Tampa Bay saw his vision as a correctable issue. Early looks in pro ball (Marte’s first fall instructs) were positive, but his performance since then has been concerningly bad. The eyeball reports of the physical talent, defense, and speed are still strong, but Marte officially has the contact red flags you’d expect someone with vision issues to exhibit.

Drafted: 18th Round, 2018 from Morehead State (LAD)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 70/70 45/55 45/40 40/40 45/45

The yoked Pennsylvanian became notable when he hit 27 homers as a sophomore at Morehead, but he became legendary when one of them left Choccolocco Park (the Ohio Valley Conference’s tournament site) and hit a fire engine parked well beyond the outfield fence. Hulsizer had a down junior year amid a broken hand but has been mashing since he’s been in pro ball, albeit a level or two below what is typical for prospects his age. He’s a potential three-true-outcomes corner masher.

Drafted: 10th Round, 2018 from Arizona (TOR)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 35/35 30/30 60/60 40/40 40/40

Stevenson is relatively positionless but he has great contact and on-base skills. His numbers are likely inflated due to his age relative to the level, but the industry undervalued him during his draft year because of injury, so it’s possible we’re seeing something closer to the real Stevenson now. He’s already been traded twice (from Toronto to Houston, then Houston to Tampa Bay), so clearly teams are interested in him. I think he’s a fourth outfield prospect but he’s performing like a table-setting leadoff hitter.

45. Colby White, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Mississippi State (TBR)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 92-95 / 97

White is a power relief prospect with a violent delivery. He spent two years at Pearl River Community College, then transferred to Mississippi State, where he dominated, striking out nearly two batters per inning. He’s of the vertical fastball/breaking ball variety.

46. Audry Lugo, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 55/60 40/45 40/50 92-94 / 96

A short, athletic righty with a high arm slot, Lugo pairs a mid-90s fastball and power curveball in a two-pitch relief profile. Of all the hard-throwing arms in this tier of the system, Lugo has the best combination of stuff and athleticism.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/70 45/55 30/40 93-96 / 97

Acquired as the PTBNL in the Wilmer Font trade, Catalina is a huge-framed teenage righty up to 97. He has some Domingo Acevedo flavor to the delivery and a lower arm slot, so he’s likely a reliever.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/70 40/50 40/45 40/45 30/40 93-97 / 99

Like Catalina, Cortorreal is a big-bodied, arm strength developmental project whose heater took a leap when he reconfigured his physical conditioning heading into 2019.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from George Mason (SDP)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 30/45 30/30 40/45 55/55

Driscoll is an athletic catcher who has the physical tools to stick behind the plate, but he is still pretty raw and faced mid-major competition in college. He’s an older developmental project.

50. Victor Munoz, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 45/50 40/50 35/50 90-93 / 95

There was no velo bump for Munoz in 2019, who remains a good-framed teenage projection arm in the low-90s with some feel for spinning a curveball.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 35/45 20/40 65/65 50/55 50/50

Like so many of the hitters in this system acquired from both the international and domestic markets, Figuereo is a contact-oriented middle infielder with a small frame. He’s behind similarly-aged players in the system like Alejandro Pie (physical projection) and Abiezel Ramirez (present physicality, a level ahead), but has a speed/contact foundation that gives him a reasonable utility infield outcome with a shot to hit enough for regularity.

Drafted: 23th Round, 2018 from Fresno City JC (CA) (TBR)
Age 20.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/45 45/50 55/60 40/50 89-92 / 94

A Rubenesque junior college righty, Whittle signed for $100,000 as a 2018 23rd rounder and had a velo spike in 2019. He’s now 89-92 with heavy sink (an over 60% groundball rate this year) and a good splitter, as well as a passable slider. He’s quite athletic and gets down the mound well for a 5-foot-11 guy, and he lives around the zone. It’s probably important that Whittle’s stuff keep improving, but it’s trending up enough now that he’s popped onto the radar.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westview HS (CA) (TBR)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/55 45/50 45/55 89-93 / 94

Mercado had surgery last May and picked up a baseball again in October. He hadn’t had the velocity uptick you’d hope a high school draftee his size would have once turning pro, but he’s still barely 21 and has a prototypical starter’s frame and some curveball feel.

54. Jayden Murray, RHP
Drafted: 23th Round, 2019 from Dixie State (TBR)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
45/55 50/60 35/45 90-94 / 96

Murray was a $3,000 senior sign but it quickly became apparent in pro ball that he had workable stuff because of his ability to spin the baseball. After working three or fewer innings at a time for the first several weeks after he signed, the Rays took the reigns off late in August and Murray turned in some fantastic starts, including a 10 strikeout, one hit, six-inning outing to close out the season. He’s a spin rate sleeper.

55. Angel Felipe, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 45/55 20/35 93-96 / 98

Felipe remains quite raw as a strike-thrower and he’s spent a very long time in rookie ball, but he has a chance to have a dominant pitch in the fastball because of the combination of its velo and supporting traits.

56. Carlos Garcia, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TBR)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 40/50 30/40 90-94 / 95

Garcia bullied Winter League hitters in Australia with a three-pitch mix, all of which flash 55 on the scale. He’s a softer-bodied, relief-only prospect.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Bounce-Back Candidates
Austin Franklin, RHP
Tobias Myers, RHP
Paul Campbell, RHP

Franklin, 22, had a heavy sinker and good curveball before he tore his UCL in mid-2018 and needed TJ, from which he has yet to return. Myers was a trade acquisition who was once a Pick to Click, a late-blooming conversion arm, but his stuff was down last year, a full two ticks since his peak as a prospect. He’s still just 21. Campbell, 24, has what would be the highest fastball spin rate on The Board if his FV merited being on there, at a whopping 2700 rpm. He also has elite curveball spin, though he had a forearm issue this spring.

Thumpers
Oneill Manzueta, LF
Osmy Gregorio, 3B
Garrett Whitley, CF
Stir Candelario, LF

Other than Manzueta, for whom this remains TBD, this entire group has a suspect hit tool. Manzueta, 19, posted big exit velos (averaged 89, maxed 109) in the DSL. He’s a stocky, maxed-out corner outfielder. Gregorio has a big frame and still has power projection at age 21, though it will likely mean he moves to right field and has to hit more than he has so far. Whitley has dealt with myriad injuries since he was a first round prep pick and he’s still a raw bat for a 23-year-old, though his power/speed combo is still dynamic. Candelario hasn’t hit in two DSL seasons but he has 70 raw power projection.

Young Pitchers on the Cusp
Matthew Peguero, RHP
Taj Bradley, RHP
Ben Peoples, RHP
Rodolfo Sanchez, RHP
Franklin Dacosta, LHP

All of these guys have limited physical projection for one reason or another, either due to frame size or physical maturity. Peguero, 20, sits 90-93, touches 95, and flashes an average curve and change. Bradley is maxed out but up to 95, his slurve is the best secondary pitch of this group, and he pitched well in the Appy League last year. Peoples and Dacosta are vertical arm slot types who live in the low-90s. Peoples has an Oliver Drake arm slot and has been up to 93. He was a $350,000 sign on Day 3. Dacosta’s changeup got better last year. He was up to 92 last year and up to 94 in recent bullpens.

Catchers
Roberto Alvarez, C
Rene Pinto, C
Chris Betts, C

Alvarez is a glove/contact prospect who the team has been pushing to levels tougher than is typical for his age (he’s 20), but he regressed athletically last year. Pinto and Betts have rare power for catchers and are both behind the developmental eight ball due to injuries.

“Look” Relievers
Josh Fleming, LHP
Nick Sprengel, LHP
Simon Rosenblum-Larson, RHP
Evan McKendry, RHP

These are all funky slot or tailing fastball relief types. Fleming is a strike-throwing lefty with a heavy sinker, a curve, and a change. He’s pitched his way to the upper levels as a starter. If a velo bump comes in a bullpen move, he’s going to be a big leaguer. Sprengel is that sort, too, a low slot lefty up to 93. Rosenblum-Larson has a multi-arm slot approach that’s cool and unique, and it’s worked up through Hi-A, but I saw him get hit a lot in the AFL. McKendry, 22, is a sinker/changeup righty up to 92.

Variety Pack
Ben Brecht, LHP
Zack Trageton, RHP
Aldenis Sanchez, CF
Daury Del Rosario, SS
Alan Strong, RHP

Brecht, 22, has a sneaky fastball because of its carry, and his changeup is above-average. Sanchez is a speedy 21-year-old with some contact skills. Del Rosario is just 18 and is all body projection on offense, but he’s likely to stay at short. Trageton and Strong are both overachieving pitchability righties.

Pro Department Under the Microscope
Tommy Romero, RHP
Matt Krook, LHP
Jhonleider Salinas, RHP
Sam McWilliams, RHP
Giointi Turner, INF
Brian Shaffer, RHP
Peyton Battenfield, RHP
Hector Figueroa, RHP
Faustino Carrera, LHP

Romero and Battenfield both have big fastball carry that helps their heaters play up. Salinas and McWilliams are huge frames with arm strength. Turner is a plus athlete who was very young for pro ball when the Rays acquired him. Shaffer and Krook have tailing heaters. The next two are former minor league Rule 5 picks. Carrera is up to 97 from a vertical slot; Carrera lives in the upper-80s, has an odd, low-slot delivery, and can really pitch.

System Overview

Yes, this is one of the, if not the, best farm systems in baseball. The team’s ideas about to how to structure the big league club — defensive versatility, platooning, contact-oriented hitters up the middle, a few delivery archetypes on the pitching staff — have now made their way to the farm system, where these types of players are all over the meat of the team’s rosters.

Year after year, the club has had to deal with an overflow of upcoming 40-man adds, which has recently led it to consolidate high-variance prospects into controllable, but older, late-inning relief arms like Fairbanks and Nick Anderson. The way the Rays value prospects in this era of contention is clearly different, and they may have consistent trade partner fits in San Diego and Miami, teams that clearly like the sorts of players Tampa seems more inclined to cash in when their value is high rather than wait and see if they’re for real.


Eric Longenhagen Chat: 3/13/20

12:32
Eric A Longenhagen: Good morning from Tempe

12:36
Eric A Longenhagen: It’s been a weird few days. Most of the questions in the queue are related to the impact of the global pandemic on baseball. Many of them don’t have answers yet, but deserve thought and discussion. The pace of today’s chat may be slower because it’ll likely be about weighty stuff that requires more thought than how hard Georgia Tech’s Tuesday guy throws (vary hard, btw).

12:36
Mitch: I have travel plans to go to AZ on Monday. The main reason is to go to the Cubs’ backfields. I can safely assume that those are gonna be closed to the public, right?

12:42
Eric A Longenhagen: Here’s one I don’t know. I’m not sure what teams plan to do about minor league spring training games. They aren’t typically what would be considered problem areas but now that there’s no other baseball to watch and people are either here or coming here, they’re more likely to draw bigger crowds and become risky. I think the pace at which all of this is developing means that cessation of minor league games altogether is probably coming. Players travel from all over the world to train here.

12:42
Justin: How do you think the disruption and cancellation of seasons and tournaments like the CWS will affect the draft, especially at the top?

12:50
Eric A Longenhagen: There are a couple of variables, and this is just my thinking and talking with folks in baseball to this point. 1. There either is or isn’t any amateur baseball to watch the rest of the year. 2. They either move or don’t move the date of the draft (which may depend on what happens with 1.) 3. What the NCAA does about player eligibility and scholarship numbers may impact who wants to declare.

Read the rest of this entry »


Top 38 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. 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 the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

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.

Blue Jays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Nate Pearson 23.6 AAA RHP 2020 60
2 Simeon Woods Richardson 19.5 A+ RHP 2023 50
3 Jordan Groshans 20.3 A 3B 2023 50
4 Orelvis Martinez 18.3 R SS 2023 50
5 Alek Manoah 22.2 A- RHP 2022 45+
6 Alejandro Kirk 21.3 A+ C 2022 45+
7 Gabriel Moreno 20.1 A C 2021 45
8 Anthony Kay 25.0 MLB LHP 2020 45
9 Thomas Hatch 25.5 AA RHP 2020 40+
10 Miguel Hiraldo 19.5 A 3B 2022 40+
11 Rikelvin de Castro 17.1 R SS 2024 40+
12 Adam Kloffenstein 19.5 A- RHP 2023 40
13 Kendall Williams 19.5 R RHP 2024 40
14 Dasan Brown 18.5 R CF 2024 40
15 Griffin Conine 22.7 A RF 2022 40
16 T.J. Zeuch 24.6 MLB RHP 2020 40
17 Alberto Rodriguez 19.4 R OF 2022 40
18 Kevin Smith 23.7 AA SS 2021 40
19 Leonardo Jimenez 18.8 A SS 2022 40
20 Eric Pardinho 19.2 A RHP 2022 40
21 Estiven Machado 17.4 R 2B 2024 40
22 Julian Merryweather 28.4 AAA RHP 2020 40
23 Reese McGuire 25.0 MLB C 2020 40
24 Otto Lopez 21.4 A SS 2021 40
25 Joey Murray 23.5 AA RHP 2022 40
26 Yennsy Diaz 23.3 MLB RHP 2020 40
27 Riley Adams 23.7 AA C 2021 40
28 Will Robertson 22.2 A- RF 2023 40
29 Jackson Rees 25.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
30 Curtis Taylor 24.6 AA RHP 2020 35+
31 Javier D’Orazio 18.2 R C 2023 35+
32 Patrick Murphy 24.8 AA RHP 2020 35+
33 Roither Hernandez 22.0 R RHP 2021 35+
34 Anthony Alford 25.6 MLB CF 2020 35+
35 Chavez Young 22.7 A+ CF 2021 35+
36 Tanner Morris 22.5 A- LF 2023 35+
37 Naswell Paulino 19.9 A LHP 2023 35+
38 Hector Perez 23.8 AA RHP 2020 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Central Florida JC (FL) (TOR)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
80/80 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 95-100 / 102

Finally, a healthy season from Pearson who had yet to throw more than 20 pro innings in a season until 2019, when he threw 101 across 25 starts. I wasn’t worried about Pearson being a true injury risk because his maladies (an intercostal strain, a fractured ulna due to a comebacker) have been unrelated to the typically concerning elbow and shoulder stuff. Instead, I wanted to see if he could hold his elite velo under the strain of a full-season workload, and what his secondary stuff would be like when he was forced to pitch through lineups multiple times. Not only did the velo hold water but Pearson’s repertoire is very deep. Yes, he’ll chuck 101 past you, but he’ll also pull the string on a good changeup that runs away from lefty hitters, dump a curveball in for strikes to get ahead of you before gassing you with two strikes, and tilt in one of the harder sliders on the planet, a pitch I’ve personally seen him throw at 95 mph and that regularly sits in the low-90s. Does he need to throw well above 100 innings to be a true front-end arm? Yes, but that he was able to retain his stuff amid a huge innings increase in 2019 is a sign he’ll be able to do so with even more innings folded in. A source with offseason intel tells me Pearson also remade his body and has gotten a little leaner. We won’t truly know until he reports to camp, but if that’s true, it bolsters my confidence in him sustaining this level of stuff for several years.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Kempner HS (TX) (NYM)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 45/55 45/55 45/55 92-94 / 97

An athletic, outwardly competitive two-way high schooler, Woods Richardson would also have been a prospect as a power-hitting third baseman were he not so good on the mound. His vertically oriented release point makes it hard for him to work his fastball east and west, and several teams had him evaluated as a future reliever before the draft because they saw a lack of fastball command. But this vertical release also enables him to effectively change hitters’ eye level by pairing fastballs up with breaking balls down, and he has a plus breaking ball.

Woods Richardson works so quickly that it often makes hitters uncomfortable, though scouts love it. He’s developed a better changeup in pro ball, pronating really hard to turn the thing over and create tailing movement. Though he was one of the 2018 draft’s youngest prospects, his frame is pretty mature, so this is a player who might look a little too good on a pro scouting model.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/65 30/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

Groshans immediately stood out to scouts on the showcase circuit, looking like a Josh Donaldson starter kit with similar swing mechanics, plus raw power projection, a plus arm, and a third base defensive fit. He comported himself well during a 23-game jaunt in the Midwest League (.337/.427/.482) before he was shut down with a left foot injury that kept him away from baseball activity until just after the New Year. The mystery and severity of the injury, combined with Lansing’s tendency to caricature hitter’s stats, has much of the industry in wait-and-see mode here, though the power is for real.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 18.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/60 20/50 45/40 30/45 50/55

Martinez was one of the most explosive talents in the 2018 July 2nd class, getting the second highest bonus at $3.5 million, behind only 22-year-old Marlins center fielder Víctor Víctor Mesa. We ranked him behind a number of players in his class because of concerns about his contact skills, and those remain due to wild variation in the way Martinez’s lower half works during his swing. His footwork is all over the place and he takes a lot of ugly hacks. But the bat speed, Martinez’s ability to rotate, is huge. He projects for at least 60 raw power, and he should stick somewhere in the infield, but this is a kid with a high-variance hit tool.

45+ FV Prospects

5. Alek Manoah, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from West Virginia (TOR)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 40/50 40/45 94-97 / 98

Manoah is a big-bodied late bloomer from South Florida who wasn’t a top notch recruit out of high school, but developed into an elite prospect throughout his sophomore year in Morgantown. Once softer and relatively unathletic, he’s transformed himself from a high-effort relief type into a possible workhorse mid-rotation starter.

Manoah still leads with his fastball/slider combo, and remains hulking and somewhat stiff-looking. That power fastball/slider approach to pitching and the Sal Romano body comp creates an air of bullpen risk, but that was the case with Nate Pearson once upon a time, and isn’t anymore. Manoah can back foot his slider against lefties and his changeup flashed averge in college, so he has platoon-fighting weapons at his disposal. He showed no ill effects from a big innings increase from 2018 to 2019 and was still 93-96 with his heater late in the summer after he signed. Changeup and command consistency will reinforce the mid-rotation forecast, which is currently a right-tail outcome rather than the likeliest one.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Mexico (TOR)
Age 21.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 265 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 30/40 20/20 40/45 55/55

A Jeremy Brown situation is brewing here, as Kirk has several elite statistical markers (a tiny 5% swinging strike rate, more career walks than strikeouts, power production in the FSL) and strong TrackMan data (a 91 mph average exit velo, a 48% hard hit rate), but also generates skepticism among eyeball scouts looking at athletes and bodies. Kirk is built like Chris Farley and, like Farley, has moments of surprising grace and athletic brilliance despite his size. But there’s no precedent for someone this big having a robust major league career. The closest comp I could find from a height/weight standpoint is José Molina, who was listed at 6-feet, 250 pounds late in his career. Molina was nearly 40 then, while Kirk — 5-foot-8, 265 pounds — is only 21, and it’s hard to predict what will happen to his build and agility as he ages into his 20s, because pro athletes like this (John Daly, maybe?) don’t really exist.

His age makes the statistical track record even more impressive, though, especially when you consider that Kirk missed a year due to a hand injury and has been young for every level at which he’s raked. He has an all-fields, doubles-oriented approach that prioritizes contact and walks. He’s a 20-grade waddler from base to base, and even visual evaluations of his swing (which features conservative footwork) are mixed despite his numbers. He can turn on balls in and hit balls hard the other way, but this isn’t like Andrew Vaughn, who scouts will acknowledge has defensive limitations and whose mobility they’ll knock, but about whose athleticism in the batter’s box they all rave. This is a weird one, perhaps a prospect who will be aided by coming changes to the way balls and strikes are called in the event that he begins a physical regression very early, as most scouts believe he will.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 30/45 45/40 45/55 55/55

Lansing is the most hitter-friendly park in the Midwest League and it aided Moreno’s 2019 power output. You can’t fake an 11% strikeout rate, though, which was especially impressive considering Moreno made that much contact as a teenager in full-season ball. Even though he is young, it’s relatively unlikely that he develops much more raw power, both because catching takes such a physical toll on the body that it often dilutes offensive production, and because Moreno is a smaller-framed young man. But I think there’s a chance for relevant game power if he can rotate a little better, which might be accomplished if his stride were a little longer and enabled his front side to have more flex.

Right now, Moreno’s all hand-eye/bat-to-ball, punching airborne contact to all fields and running unusually well for a catcher. He has a shot to be a well-rounded, everyday backstop based on the contact and defensive projection (Moreno converted to the position around when he signed and hasn’t been doing it for very long), even more so if he makes an adjustment that helps create more pop.

8. Anthony Kay, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from UConn (NYM)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 50/55 50/55 91-94 / 96

Twenty-one months elapsed between when Kay signed his pro contract and when he finally threw a pitch in affiliated ball. UConn rode him hard during his junior year in Storrs. He faced 36 hitters in a March game the Huskies won 18-1. During conference tournament play, Kay threw a complete game, then pitched again during the tournament on three days rest; he threw 90 pitches amid an hour-long lightning delay. That heavy usage made it unsurprising when he blew out in the fall of 2016.

When Kay finally returned, he looked markedly different than he did in college, when he was a lefty changeup monster with mediocre velocity. Kay’s fastball ticked up and now sits at about 93 mph instead of peaking there, and his two-plane curveball got better. His once-dominant changeup regressed but is still comfortably average, and he has great feel for locating it down, and to his arm side. He was shut down late last year with a back/side issue, so perhaps there’s some extra injury risk here, but otherwise this is a major league-ready, strike-throwing No. 4/5 starter look.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Thomas Hatch, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma State (CHC)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/55 50/55 91-94 / 96

Hatch started using a cutter more (or perhaps he was altering his slider’s shape) later in his Cubs tenure, then upped his changeup usage after he was acquired from Chicago for David Phelps ahead of the 2019 deadline. He has premium fastball spin, and his heater’s performance might take a leap with a slight axis change. I had previously misevaluated Hatch’s control/command, which is clearly in a fairly stable, starter-friendly realm. He’s also been remarkably durable. He repeated Double-A as a 24-year-old last year and his age dilutes his FV by a shade, but there are several major league-quality pitches here and evidence Hatch can handle the workload. He’s a No. 4/5 starter with heightened risk of hitting his decline phase during his arb years.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 50/55 20/50 50/40 40/45 55/55

After his dominant 2018 in the DSL, the Blue Jays pushed the physically mature Hiraldo right past the GCL and sent him to the Appy League at age 18; there he hit .300/.348/.481 with 28 extra-base hits in 56 games. He has a short, high-effort swing, and his hands load high and take a curt, direct path to the ball with plus bat speed that Hiraldo generates with effort and violence. It’s a swing-happy, pull-heavy approach to contact that would ideally become more polished, but there’s rare bat speed and vertical plate coverage here, so Hiraldo has a talent-based shot to both hit and hit for power.

Hiraldo is stocky and strong in general, let alone for his age, and even though he’s playing lots of shortstop right now, I think he’ll end up as a shift-aided second or third baseman at physical maturity. He has physical ability to profile every day in that sort of role but the approach needs to develop.

11. Rikelvin de Castro, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 17.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 30/45 20/35 60/55 45/60 50/55

All of de Castro’s defensive attributes (his range, footwork, hands, and actions) are fantastic, and he has a chance to be a spectacular, athletic defensive shortstop at maturity. All of what he ends up doing with the bat depends on how his body develops. Right now, like most fresh-faced prospects about to embark on their first pro season, de Castro has room on the frame for 20 or 30 pounds. His swing has good foundation, from both a mechanical and a timing standpoint, but he has to get stronger or that’s not going to matter very much. There’s plenty of time for that, and a chance for an everyday role if it happens.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 243 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 40/45 40/50 40/50 88-92 / 94

Some of my and Kiley’s sources projected huge increases in fastball velocity for Kloffenstein while he was a high school prospect, and just a year removed from his draft, he’s now relatively filled out and working with heavy sink in the low-to-mid-90s. There are definite starter components here, led by two breaking balls with different velocities (their shapes are relatively similar) and some nascent changeup feel. The changeup development will be of particular importance because of how it will pair with the sinking action on most of Kloffenstein’s fastballs. Because he doesn’t generate big-breaking spin, Kloffenstein’s slider and curve will depend on his ability to locate them. He’s looking like a backend sinker/slider guy.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from IMG Academy HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/55 45/50 35/45 90-93 / 96

Williams had one of the biggest frames among the high school prospects from the 2019 draft, standing in at a very projectable-looking 6-foot-6. He was much older than the typical high school prospect (he and Adam Kloffenstein, who was drafted the year before, were born nine days apart), and that colors the fastball projection, but what is lost there might be gained through a better delivery. Williams had some cross-bodied mechanical violence as an amateur that might be ironed out in pro ball, and already may have been. He had a Mike Clevinger look in the bullpen this spring.

Whether or not more velo comes, Williams is already a big, strong kid whose fastball has been up to 96, and he creates vertical depth on his breaking ball. There’s sizable relief risk here because of the delivery, but No. 4 starter ceiling if that’s corrected or overcome.

14. Dasan Brown, CF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Abbey Park HS (CAN) (TOR)
Age 18.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 40/45 20/35 80/80 40/60 50/50

Perhaps the industry opinion of his ability to hit is warped by the context of its looks (the Canadian Junior National Team often plays advanced competition), but, like a lot of northern high schoolers, Brown has raw feel for contact and is viewed as a high-risk prospect as a result. He does have many electric, catalytic qualities, though. Brown is twitchy and has elite speed, and his swing is compact and has a chance to enable a contact-oriented leadoff skillset if Brown matures as a hitter. His speed gives him a shot to be an absolute black hole in center field, which would take a lot of pressure off the bat.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Duke (TOR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 70/70 35/60 45/40 45/50 60/60

Conine looked like a sure first round pick after an exceptional 2017 sophomore year and subsequent wood-powered summer on Cape Cod. During his .330/.406/.537 tear on the Cape, he started to strike out more often. That carried into his junior year at Duke in very concerning fashion, as his strikeout rate spiked from 16% the year before to a whopping 26%, a rate that most teams consider a red flag, putting hitters on the wrong side of binary hit tool evaluation.

The strikeouts continued in Low-A but, boy, does Conine have mood-altering power. His exit velos and hard hit rate were on par with Yordan Alvarez’s last year, though Conine is older than Alvarez and played several levels below him. This performance — .283/.371/.576 with 22 homers, 19 doubles, and a 36% strikeout rate — came in just 80 games because Conine was popped for PED’s (ritalinic acid, a stimulant) and served a 50-game suspension to start 2019. He has 35-plus homer power if he hits enough, but typically guys who strike out this much don’t.

16. T.J. Zeuch, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pittsburgh (TOR)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 40/45 50/55 45/50 55/60 90-93 / 94

Zeuch doesn’t have dominant stuff but he’s a keen sequencer with a firm grasp on how best to deploy his pitches to efficiently tally outs. He mostly pitches to contact with a low-90s sinker that has very steep downhill plane thanks to his height and fairly upright delivery. It has helped him generate groundball rates near 60% as a pro. Both of his breaking balls survive because Zeuch locates them. He’ll get ahead of hitters with his curveball and keep his slider just off the plate away from righties. He may be a candidate for a true splitter, or a modified version of it, rather than a straight changeup if the Jays want to try to turn him into Doug Fister, with whom Zeuch shares several other traits. Barring something unforeseen, like a new grip giving Zeuch a dominant secondary pitch, he projects as a backend innings eater.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 25/50 45/40 40/45 50/50

A physical, lefty corner bat with some thump, Rodriguez generated average big league exit velos as a teenager in the GCL last year. Some of his swings are beautiful, left-handed uppercut hacks. He’s not all that projectable and will have to have a potent hit/power combo to profile. That appears to be in play.

18. Kevin Smith, SS
Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Maryland (TOR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/55 45/50 55/55 40/45 55/55

Though not remotely similar to him as a prospect, Smith projects to produce similarly to Freddy Galvis on offense. He has above-average raw power and speed, a rare combo at short, with the thump created by really explosive, lift-friendly hitting hands. But Smith’s grooved swing limits his ability to make contact. He’ll hit for power but be a low average, low OBP middle infielder without the excellent glove work of Galvis, who has been a 45-grade big leaguer.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Panama (TOR)
Age 18.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/30 50/50 45/55 55/55

A heady, workmanlike multi-positional infielder, Jimenez comported himself well in the Appy League last year, hitting an empty .298 with a BABIP-aided .377 OBP. He’s a polished defender with advanced feel for contact, but he lacks an impact offensive tool and there’s not much frame-based projection on the power. Unless he out-hits my projection on the contact skills, he profiles as a utility infielder.

20. Eric Pardinho, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Brazil (TOR)
Age 19.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 45/50 50/55 45/50 45/55 90-93 / 94

Famous at 15 thanks to his World Baseball Classic performance, Pardinho later signed with much fanfare and the second largest bonus among his class’ pitching peers, behind only Shohei Ohtani. At that time, he was more present stuff (he was into the mid-90s at the WBC, which is why he went viral) than physical projection, an atypical look for the J2 market. Based on this, Toronto pushed him to an affiliate quickly, and he pitched at Bluefield as a 17-year-old in 2018, his first pro summer. He dealt with injuries throughout 2019 and his stuff was very average, with the fastball resting in the 90-93 range. He had elbow soreness during the spring of 2019, pitched in Extended for a while, got to Lansing late, made seven starts, then was shut down in mid-August. His elbow barked at him again this spring and Pardinho had Tommy John in mid-February.

What made Pardinho appealing as an amateur — his polish and potential to move quickly — is now gone after the two years impacted by injury, and it’s been a while since his stuff was exciting. What his body and stuff look like coming out of rehab could wildly alter his standing in the prospect landscape in either direction.

21. Estiven Machado, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 17.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 30/40 20/30 55/55 45/60 50/50

Machado is a very flashy, very compact middle infielder with precocious barrel feel for a young hitter, let alone one who switch-hits. The contact ability and defense may need to carry the whole profile because Machado is a smaller-framed player.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Oklahoma Baptist (CLE)
Age 28.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/40 45/45 60/60 50/50 95-97 / 98

He had a breakout 2017, then needed surgery before the 2018 season began, but Merryweather was back late in 2019 and looked ready to make an immediate bullpen impact. He has an unusually deep coffer of pitches for a reliever, and both the fastball and changeup will miss bats. His FV is punished by his age but teams have traded big prospects for high-leverage relievers with lots of team control left, and Merryweather might have proven to be one quite soon.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Kentwood HS (WA) (PIT)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 20/35 30/30 50/60 60/60

McGuire projects as a glove-first backup catcher (his 45-game big league statline is impressive, but the visual evaluations still indicate a defense-oriented profile) who might steal a start from Danny Jansen here and there because of his handedness. He has a mid-March court date following an arrest during spring training for misdemeanor exposure of sexual organs, which GM Ross Atkins has said will not impact McGuire’s standing with the team.

24. Otto Lopez, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/45 20/30 60/60 40/45 50/50

Curiously, the Blue Jays narrowed Lopez’s defensive responsibilities from six different positions (all but catcher and first base) to just three (2B/SS/LF), with most of the reps coming at short, where Lopez is below average. Yes, his numbers were likely aided by Lansing to some degree, but you can’t fake a 12% strikeout rate, which is in line with Lopez’s career rates. Lacking impact power at present and the physical projection to anticipate it in the future, Lopez’s realistic future role is that of a contact-oriented, multi-positional role player. It means Lopez will have to become a playable defender at short and (hopefully) center field, because without more power, he’ll end up in the Eric Young Jr. roster fringe area.

25. Joey Murray, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from Kent State (TOR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 50/55 40/45 45/50 88-91 / 93

A high spin rate, backspinning axis and flat approach angle give Murray’s fastball big time carry in the zone, and it blows past hitters even though it only sits in the 88-91 range. It has enabled Murray to reach the upper-levels of the minors in just one year, and he finished 2019 having made eight good starts at Double-A. He can pair the fastball with both breaking balls, and he throws a lot of strikes. I’m skeptical of it working in a rotation but a Yusmeiro Petit sort of relief role has precedent.

26. Yennsy Diaz, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 40/45 93-96 / 98

The continued development of Diaz in the rotation has improved his changeup enough that it’s a viable third offering on the eve of three-batter minimums. Otherwise Diaz has the look of your standard fastball/breaking ball middle reliever. He held mid-90s heat over a 140-inning workload last year and should live there out of the ‘pen, while his upper-70s curveball has average movement, but plays well because of how Diaz hides the ball.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from San Diego (TOR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/50 30/30 40/45 55/55

At a chiseled 6-foot-4, Adams has a rare catcher’s build both in terms of sheer size and in body composition. This creates some issues for him — the lever length has led to strikeouts, and Adams can be slow out of his crouch when throwing to second — but it bolsters confidence in his durability and athletic longevity. I think it’s possible for Adams to simplify his swing in a way that looks like what Alec Bohm has done, which is a contact-oriented approach that derives power from the hitter’s strength rather than a lot of movement. I have him projected as a bat-first backup.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Creighton (TOR)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/60 30/50 40/35 40/50 50/50

You can compare Robertson’s 2018 wood bat Cape statline — .300/.380/.435 — to his mid-major, composite bat power output at Creighton — .307/.401/.560 — and get a feel for what the performance drop-off is like when smaller-school mashers face cream of the crop pitching with pro-style bats. He has corner-worthy power, but Robertson’s swing and general stiffness detract from the confidence that he’ll tap into it in pro ball. He has a 1B/LF/RF platoon projection.

29. Jackson Rees, RHP
(TOR)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 45/45 91-94 / 95

Injured several times as an amateur, Rees bounced from a California JUCO to Hawaii, where he had two vanilla seasons as a starter. Undrafted, he signed with Toronto, raised him arm slot, moved to the bullpen, and now has a deception/curveball combo that’s very difficult for hitters to parse in one-inning stints. He’s a likely relief piece.

35+ FV Prospects

30. Curtis Taylor, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from British Columbia (ARI)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/50 40/45 93-97 / 98

Taylor has now been traded twice — the Rays acquired him from Arizona for Brad Boxberger then flipped him to the Jays for Eric Sogard — amid a quick climb to Double-A (the Rays moved him quickly after they acquired him) and intermittent elbow soreness. Taylor was shut down and given a PRP injection to remedy a UCL strain without surgery and didn’t pitch the second half of last year. Before he was shelved and traded, he was typically throwing 35 to 50 pitches once every three to five days, seemingly in preparation for some kind of multi-inning role. He works in the mid-90s, generates huge extension, and bends in some above-average sliders.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/45 35/30 40/50 45/50

D’Orazio is a lean, projectable catcher with advanced feel for contact. He received a mid-season promotion from the DSL to the GCL and his production sputtered, but I’m in on the frame and bat-to-ball skills.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2013 from Hamilton HS (AZ) (TOR)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 40/45 45/45 93-97 / 99

After a totally healthy 2018 (he’s endured myriad severe injuries dating back to high school), it seemed like Murphy would finally reach the big leagues and enjoy the spoils of his perseverance last year. But in June, the Umpire’s Association ruled that his delivery was illegal (his front leg would kick up, then come all the way down and make contact with the mound and the front of the pitching runner before he’d stride toward home), and Murphy’s performance fell apart as he tried to make an adjustment that would satisfy them. And that was before he got hurt again (shoulder). Healthy Murphy pounds the zone with upper-90s fastballs and breaks off an occasionally nasty curveball. He profiles in middle relief.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 45/55 30/40 30/40 95-98 / 99

Hernandez is an arm strength-only, 22-year-old relief prospect with a shot to develop a viable, bat-missing slider.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2012 from Petal HS (MS) (TOR)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/35 60/60 40/40 70/70 50/55 40/40

The sexy, fantasy baseball-relevant tools remain (power and speed), but Alford’s strikeouts, injury history, and inability to get to his power in games continues to be a problem. He’s now 25 and the two-sport late-bloomer cuckoo clock is nearly at midnight.

35. Chavez Young, CF
Drafted: 39th Round, 2016 from Faith Baptist HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 40/45 50/50 55/55 45/50 60/60

As is typical of hitters transitioning from Lansing to Dunedin, Young’s surface-level production declined significantly in 2019, but his .247/.315/.347 line was still average for the Florida State League. A lack of pop will likely be a barrier to regular playing time, but Young has rosterable bench outfielder traits. He’s a switch-hitter (better left than right) who can pinch run and play all three outfield positions well (an instincts-driven center field, plus defense in a corner).

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Virginia (TOR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 30/40 40/40 40/45 40/40

Morris’ track record of hitting well dates back to high school and he had more walks than strikeouts in his two years at Virginia (he was a draft-eligible sophomore). He doesn’t really have a position — he played shortstop all through college but fits in left field athletically — and lacks impact power, which puts a ton of pressure on the hit tool and plate discipline to carry the freight of Morris’ offensive production. To this point, he’s performed as if they may.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
40/55 45/55 35/45 88-91 / 93

Paulino is a converted outfielder currently sitting in the low-90s with big time carry on his fastball. He’s a smaller-framed guy, but is loose, and I think there’s a chance more arm strength comes with maturity. His breaking ball has bat-missing action at times but needs to become more consistent. He’s a long-term bullpen prospect.

38. Hector Perez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/60 45/50 40/55 30/35 91-95 / 96

Toronto ran Perez out as a Double-A starter in 2019, his first option year on the 40-man, but he continues to project in relief because of control issues. Curiously, while he has several traits indicative of an effective fastball (its spin rate is above average, and it has backspin and plus-plus vertical movement), his heater only generated a 6% swinging strike rate last year. He’s lost a tick on his heater each of the last two seasons and has gone from sitting 93-97 to sitting 91-96, but again this has been as a starter rather than in the short-outing, piggyback-style usage Perez enjoyed before Houston traded him to the Jays in the Roberto Osuna deal. The velo might come back if Perez ends up in relief, but he still probably needs to throw more strikes to stick in the bullpen permanently rather than be shuttled back and forth from Triple-A.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Young Pitching
Emanuel Vizcaino, RHP
Alejandro Melean, RHP
Sem Robberse, RHP
Jiorgeny Casimiri, RHP
Winder Garcia, RHP
Michael Dominguez, RHP
Yunior Hinojosa, RHP
Luis Quinones, RHP
Jol Concepcion, RHP

Vizcaino, 20, must have gotten hurt at the end of Extended Spring Training last year because he pitched into late-June but never threw a pitch at an affiliate. He’s a lanky relief prospect with a good three-pitch mix, and his heater was in the low-90s when healthy. Melean is advanced from a body and stuff perspective, sitting 90-94 at age 19, but his strike-throwing did not progress last year. Robberse and Casimiri are both medium-framed 18-year-olds from the Netherlands. Both sit in the low-90s; Robberse’s breaking ball has better natural shape and snap. Winder Garcia is a 5-foot-10 18-year-old up to 94, and has an average slider. Michael Dominguez is a physically mature 19 and only sits in the low-90s, but his fastball has plus spin and vertical movement. Hinojosa is similar but he’s 20, sitting 89-93. Quinones, 22, has one of the highest-spinning heaters in the entire org and struck out a lot of guys in Vancouver last year. He needs a grade and a half of command improvement to be a reliever. Concepcion is 22 and has big arm strength (92-96), but little else right now.

Bench/Role Players
Ryan Noda, 1B/LF
Josh Palacios, RF
Santiago Espinal, INF
Forrest Wall, CF
Kevin Vicuña, INF

Noda has elite walk rates, his exit velos are very strong, and he’s hit for power at every level of the minors. He also strikes out a lot for someone older than is usual for his level, which I think is evidence he’ll fall on the wrong side of the Quad-A bubble. Palacios is a lefty stick tweener outfield type who runs well, takes good at-bats, and has doubles pop. Espinal is a multi-positional infielder with below-average power. He might be a 25th or 26th man, but I think the lack of offensive impact means he’s closer to replacement level than above it. Wall can really run and has some contact skills. Vicuña has contact skills and can play all over but is a few years away from a bench infielder role.

Stiff-bodied, Older Relief Types
Maximo Castillo, RHP
Jackson McClelland, RHP
Ty Tice, RHP
Brad Wilson, RHP

Castillo pitched pretty well in a rotation last year. He’s a bowling ball with an upright delivery and two above-average pitches in his heater and split. His slider/cutter is fine, too, but he has a relief-only mechanical and physical look. McClelland throws really hard (up to 100), and also has a good split, but 30 control. Tice and Wilson are both fastball/slider relief sorts. Wilson is up to 96, Tice up to 97.

System Overview

Almost every pitcher the Blue Jays have acquired via trade over the last year or so has had a high spin rate fastball, at or above 2400 rpm. It’s clearly something teams are selecting for more often in general, but not with the same amplitude as Toronto. Hatch, Kay, Juan De Paula (not on the list), Perez, and even some of their waiver tries, like David Garner, have been up there. This proclivity has not been true of the amateur department, which has drafted and signed athletes with good frames, and college hitters with measurable power.

A lot of the relievers in their mid-20s actually need to see big league time this year. From among that unusually large group should emerge the short-term core of Jays bullpen and probably a trade chip or two, especially if Merryweather pitches like I expect he will.

There are lots of changeups and splits in this org, though it hasn’t been one that’s had success developing breaking balls. The org has also had trouble finding complementary pieces to fit around the young core of Bichette, Guerrero, and Biggio (who, as an aside, I was light on — his approach is elite, and he should’ve been on my Top 100 when he was eligible), though the team’s strategy has been clear. The Jays are everyone’s place to ship toolsy, frustrating upper-level players who are squeezed off better rosters, with Socrates Brito and Derek Fisher the new models.


FanGraphs Audio: Eric Longenhagen and Jay Jaffe Pinch Hit

Episode 881

FanGraphs’ lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen and senior writer Jay Jaffe pinch hit for regular host Meg Rowley, and discuss Curt Flood’s Hall of Fame candidacy, the role of cultural relevance in assessing a player’s case for Cooperstown, how spring training has struck them so far, and parenthood. Eric also shares a few baseball and prospect-related thoughts in a special post-interview monologue.

You can pre-order Eric and erstwhile FanGraphs writer Kiley McDaniel’s book Future Value here.

Be sure to follow the FanGraphs Prospects account on Twitter for all the latest prospect news!

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 58 min play time.)