Author Archive

Philadelphia Phillies Top 26 Prospects

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Philadelphia Phillies. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the fourth year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »


Yankee Swap! Flawed, Revamped Estevan Florial Dealt to Guardians for Oft-Injured Cody Morris

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On December 26, the New York Yankees sent 26-year-old outfielder Estevan Florial to the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for 27-year-old reliever Cody Morris.

Florial has appeared in parts of four big league seasons but has never had more than 71 plate appearances in any one of them. He’s accumulated enough playing time to lose rookie eligibility but not enough to evaluate him based on his big league performance; he’s still more or less an older prospect. I considered Florial to be one of the Yankees’ best couple of prospects in the 2018-19 window, but his strikeouts became excessive at the upper levels (usually hovering around 30%) and, especially after the pandemic season, I began to move off of him. After a rough introduction to Triple-A in 2021, Florial has had two really solid seasons, with a wRC+ in the 124-130 range each of the last two years. He experienced a substantial uptick in his power output as a 25-year-old at Triple-A Scranton in 2023, as Florial clubbed 25 homers in just 101 games, matching his combined Triple-A total from 2022 and 2021 across 180 games. Read the rest of this entry »


Relentless Dodgers Splash Cash To Add Yamamoto on $325 Million Mega-Deal

Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Late Thursday night, while Shohei Ohtani was awkwardly smiling on the jumbotron at the Rams game in Los Angeles, the Dodgers were wrapping up the details on a massive, 12-year contract for 25-year-old Japanese righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto in the amount of $325 million. The Dodgers will also pay roughly $50 million in posting fees to Yamamoto’s former NPB team, the Orix Buffaloes, making the Dodgers’ total commitment a whopping $375 million, with $50 million of the deal to be paid via signing bonus. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the contract also has two opt-outs, but we don’t yet know when in the deal they occur.

This is a huge deal in several manners of speaking. First, it is literally a huge deal, the largest-ever contract for a pitcher, eking past Gerrit Cole’s $324 million pact from 2019. Between the $700 million guaranteed to Ohtani and the $325 million heading to Yamamoto, the Dodgers have committed well over $1 billion dollars to free agents (spread out over the next decade-plus) already this offseason. For context, in 2019, the Royals sold for $1 billion. The Dodgers’ estimated payroll for 2024 now stands at $285 million, $50 million more than their 2023 mark.

Here are Dan’s ZiPS projections for Yamamoto. He passed along that the projection system would recommend a 12-year, $320 million deal for him.

ZiPS Projection – Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2024 14 7 3.52 26 26 171.3 130 67 22 35 167 118 3.8
2025 14 7 3.54 26 26 170.3 132 67 23 34 166 117 3.8
2026 14 7 3.54 26 26 173.0 135 68 23 33 168 117 3.8
2027 14 7 3.59 27 27 170.7 137 68 24 32 165 116 3.6
2028 14 7 3.69 27 27 170.7 140 70 25 32 163 113 3.4
2029 13 8 3.77 26 26 164.7 139 69 24 32 154 110 3.1
2030 12 8 3.78 24 24 157.3 134 66 23 31 145 110 3.0
2031 12 7 3.83 23 23 150.3 129 64 22 30 137 108 2.8
2032 11 7 3.88 22 22 141.3 123 61 21 29 126 107 2.5
2033 10 7 3.97 21 21 131.3 116 58 20 28 115 105 2.2
2034 9 6 4.15 19 19 121.3 109 56 19 27 104 100 1.8
2035 8 6 4.27 17 17 109.7 101 52 18 26 91 97 1.5

Projections systems like ZiPS tend to flatten and smooth the peaks and valleys of everyone’s performance, so think of this as a projected annual average for Yamamoto’s production. His peak years, which should begin immediately, are likely to be better than the front end of these projections. Read the rest of this entry »


New York Yankees Top 36 Prospects

Gary Cosby Jr./USA TODAY NETWORK

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the New York Yankees. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the fourth year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »


Giants Finally Make a Free Agent Splash with Jung Hoo Lee Signing

Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

After they were left at the altar by Aaron Judge and objected to the results of Carlos Correa’s physical last offseason, the San Francisco Giants have finally made a long-term splash in free agency with the addition of 25-year-old Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee 이정후, who is joining the team on a six-year, $113 million deal, per Jon Heyman of The New York Post. The contract has a player opt-out after four years.

Lee has been evaluated as a Top 100-quality prospect at FanGraphs since the 2020 KBO season. He was the first player in KBO history to go straight from high school to their top level of play and won Rookie of the Year as an 18-year-old in 2017. He has a career .340/.407/.491 line in the KBO, and has made elite rates of contact (roughly 5.5% strikeout rate and 11% walk rate combined the last two seasons) while playing quality center field defense.

Lee immediately becomes the best defensive center fielder in a crowded Giants outfield group that was toward the bottom of the league in production last year. He’s a plus runner with above-average range and ball skills, and a plus arm. He did suffer a fractured ankle that effectively ended his season in July (he made one pinch-hit plate appearance toward the end of the year), and the deal is still pending a physical, but as The Athletic noted, he reportedly conducted agility drills for teams recently. Read the rest of this entry »


On San Diego’s Juan Soto Trade Return and Next Steps

Michael King
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Shouldered with the needle-threading task of simultaneously cutting payroll and rebuilding a pitching staff thinned out by the departure of several key free agents, the Padres traded superstar Juan Soto and Gold Glove-caliber center fielder Trent Grisham to the Yankees on Wednesday in exchange for three big league arms — righties Michael King, Randy Vásquez, and Jhony Brito — as well as a fourth who is nearly ready for primetime in prospect Drew Thorpe and backup catcher Kyle Higashioka. Ben Clemens did a full analysis on the impact that the 25-year-old Soto, one of baseball’s best hitters, will have on the Yankees. I’m going to dive deeper into the arms headed to the Gaslamp District and talk about how the Padres might go about finishing their offseason to-do list.

Most readers are probably aware that a mandate to shed payroll was a driving factor for this trade from San Diego’s perspective. The club’s sudden shift in financial direction occurred in the wake of the death of owner Peter Seidler. The trade also addresses a large portion of the Padres on-field baseball needs, though it also creates massive new holes in their lineup and defensive alignment where Soto and Grisham used to be. The Friars will need to fill or upgrade at least two or three spots of their currently-projected lineup if they want to compete with the defending NL champion Diamondbacks and reigning division-winning Dodgers in 2024, and they probably also need another starting pitcher or two to round out their rotation. Shedding Soto’s salary likely created some space to do so, but given the Padres’ financial constraints, perhaps not enough to solve all of these problems via free agency. There may be internal candidates, especially on the position player side, who can contribute at the league minimum salary in 2024; I’ll get to those prospects later.

Let’s start with who came back to San Diego and how they fit into an overhauled pitching staff. Prior to the trade, our Padres rotation projection looked rough. Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish were fortified by 27-year-old knuckleballer Matt Waldron, and walk-prone MLB virgin Jay Groome. The free-agent departures of Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, and reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell, who pitched a combined 570 innings in 2023, left the Padres in dire need of impact and depth to have a functional and competitive pitching staff in 2024. Even if one believes (as I do) that prospect Jairo Iriarte is talented enough to make a meaningful near-term impact, the Padres still badly needed to add several pitchers to their big league staff. This trade gets them most of the way there, as all four of the pitchers acquired for Soto could reasonably be expected to pitch in the big leagues next season. Read the rest of this entry »


White Sox Stabilize Rotation With KBO MVP Erick Fedde

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday evening, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the Chicago White Sox are signing KBO kickback starting pitcher Erick Fedde to a two-year, $15 million contract. Fedde had an incredible 2023 season for the NC Dinos, posting a 2.00 ERA in 180.1 IP while striking out 209 and walking just 35. He was named the KBO’s MVP and won their equivalent to the Cy Young. Read the rest of this entry »


Brewers Reportedly Nearing Contract Extension with Jackson Chourio

Curt Hogg/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

Over the past few days, industry news-breakers (beginning with Ken Rosenthal) began to report that the Milwaukee Brewers and top prospect Jackson Chourio are nearing a contract extension. Chourio, who turns 20 in March, has been among the very best prospects in baseball for the better part of the past 18 months. He turned 19 just before the start of the 2023 season and slashed .280/.336/.467 in 122 games at Double-A Biloxi before the Brewers gave him a six-game shot of espresso at Triple-A Nashville in late-September. His power, speed and, more recently, his improvements on defense give him rare upside as a 30/30 threat and plus center field defender.

The complete details of the contract aren’t known, but Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first suggested that it would be something like an eight-year, $80 million deal. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported that Chourio and the Brewers agreed to a structure and length of eight years, with two club options that would bring the total length to 10 years if exercised. Earlier today, Jon Heyman of the New York Post tweeted that the guaranteed amount will total $82 million, accounting for a $2 million buyout of the Brewers’ club options, while McCalvy reported that the club options plus incentives could push the total value into the $140 million range. If we assume that Chourio will make the Opening Day roster, this deal will cover what would have otherwise been his six years of pre-free agency service, two of his free agent years, and potentially two more. Even if the Brewers pick up the two team options, Chourio will hit free agency again before he turns 30. It’s also worth noting that the big money, team-option portion of Chourio’s contract doesn’t kick in until after Christian Yelich’s monster contract has expired. Read the rest of this entry »


Board Update: International Professional Players

Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another cycle of prospect lists, and as I’ve become accustomed to doing for the last few seasons, I’m starting with scouting reports on pro players in foreign leagues, with a focus on players available for MLB free agency this offseason. On The Board, you can see a fresh batch of scouting reports and evaluations of relevant players from Nippon Professional Baseball, the Korea Baseball Organization, and the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, as well as reports on some young players I’ve identified as potentially impactful long-term prospects. I’ll update the amateur portion of this list prior to signing day in January, but any player from the upcoming 2024 class who I had already written up for this year’s Prospect Week remains on there. For those who need a crash course on the age- and pro experience-driven lines of demarcation that dictate how MLB teams sign international players, I’d point you to a number of MLB.com glossary entries, including those on international free agency for those in Asian pro leagues, international amateur free agency and bonus pool restrictions, the Japanese posting system, and the Korean posting system.

It can be overwhelming to sift through so many different types of players on that section of The Board — it’s a real apples and oranges situation when we’re talking about some guys who are 30 and others who are still teenagers — so I’m going to break most of them up into more digestible subgroups below. You’ll notice that some players appear across multiple categories. The Board has each player’s full scouting report and tool grades — think of this as more of a table of contents. Read the rest of this entry »


40-Man Roster Deadline Reaction and Analysis: National League

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I covered the American League half of the flurry of transactional activity that occurred as a result of the 40-man roster and non-tender deadlines. Is any one move here as impactful as signing a Yoshinobu Yamamoto or a Matt Chapman? No, but when your favorite team experiences a rash of injuries in June, whether or not they have the depth to scrap and compete is often dictated by the people and processes that surround this day. Below are my thoughts on the National League, with some quick scouting snippets on most of the added players and thoughts about roster construction where I had something to say.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks lone addition was lefty Blake Walston, a former $2.5 million high school signee who, despite being young for his class and physically projectable as an amateur, has seen his fastball velocity plateau and slightly decline since he signed. He’s had fits and starts where he’s thrown harder, but for the most part, Walston’s fastball still sits 89-92 mph and his performance peripherals took a nosedive in 2023, though part of that was likely because of the PCL hitting environment. The lanky 22-year-old is still a fair long-term prospect because of his age and what one could reasonably hope will still be late-arriving physicality, but for now, I’d consider him at the very back of Arizona’s 40-man starting pitching depth chart. Read the rest of this entry »