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Top 27 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 from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Royals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Seuly Matias 20.6 A+ RF 2022 45+
2 Brady Singer 22.7 A+ RHP 2020 45+
3 Daniel Lynch 22.4 A+ LHP 2021 45+
4 MJ Melendez 20.4 A+ C 2022 45
5 Nick Pratto 20.5 A+ 1B 2022 45
6 Khalil Lee 20.8 AA RF 2020 45
7 Nicky Lopez 24.1 AAA SS 2019 45
8 Jackson Kowar 22.5 A+ RHP 2021 45
9 Kris Bubic 21.7 A LHP 2021 40+
10 Kyle Isbel 22.1 A+ RF 2021 40+
11 Richard Lovelady 23.8 MLB LHP 2019 40+
12 Meibrys Viloria 22.2 MLB C 2019 40
13 Daniel Tillo 22.8 A+ LHP 2021 40
14 Scott Blewett 23.0 AAA RHP 2020 40
15 Yefri Del Rosario 19.6 A RHP 2021 40
16 Kelvin Gutierrez 24.6 AAA 3B 2019 40
17 Emmanuel Rivera 22.8 AA 3B 2021 40
18 Foster Griffin 23.7 AAA LHP 2019 40
19 Gerson Garabito 23.7 AA RHP 2020 40
20 Carlos Hernandez 22.1 A RHP 2022 40
21 Yohanse Morel 18.6 R RHP 2024 35+
22 Austin Cox 22.0 A LHP 2020 35+
23 Brewer Hicklen 23.2 A+ CF 2021 35+
24 Omar Florentino 17.5 R SS 2024 35+
25 D.J. Burt 23.5 AA 2B 2020 35+
26 Josh Staumont 25.3 AAA RHP 2019 35+
27 Janser Lara 22.7 A RHP 2021 35+
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45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 40/60 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 (34% career K%) 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 those exceptions, even if it’s in a streaky, inconsistent manner like Domingo Santana or Carlos Gomez. As a teen, Seuly was already posting exit velocities on par with burly, Quad-A type hitters. We hope he learns to take a walk, but “Randal Grichuk with more raw power” is a good player, so we’re cautiously optimistic that the Royals at least have a contributing big leaguer here, and a potential superstar if there’s contact/approach refinement, which is admittedly easier said than done.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (KCR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 50/60 91-94 / 95

Well-regarded in high school in part because of his very loose, athletic, albeit somewhat unusual delivery, the Blue Jays drafted Singer in the 2015 second round. Negotiations broke down 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. There’s plenty to pick apart here if you want to: Singer’s stuff still isn’t loud, he doesn’t get many whiffs from pro level hitters, his delivery turns off some scouts, and his breaking ball often lacks bite.

Even scouts who like Singer think he has limited upside, but the results he got in the SEC and his long track record of durability are compelling. He has great feel for pitching and, we think, future plus command. Singer sneers and goes right at hitters, he’s really competitive, and is likely to move up the pro ladder quickly. On talent, he’s a No. 4 or No. 4/5 type of starter, but the potential to eat tons of innings, and therefore be more valuable than that, seems higher than usual here, too.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Virginia (KCR)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+
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 this spring, so the velo uptick has held for nearly a year now. He’s a potential No. 4 if this continues, maybe more if it’s just the start of something.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westminster Christian HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 30/45 45/40 45/55 60/60

Opinions regarding Melendez’s defense have been surprisingly mixed considering he was an adolescent catching prodigy. Team framing metrics have him graded as an average receiver, and he’s added mass since high school, when he was lean and lithe, so he is no longer quite as twitchy, but he’s not really a risk to move off the position. Instead, where it once seemed like Melendez might turn into an elite defender, it now appears he’ll merely be good.

That mass has added power, though, the kind of power that would certainly profile everyday were Melendez able to get to it in games. He strikes out a lot, enough that teams are concerned about it. He was on early drafts of our Top 100 but was one of the prospects we were most often told to move down when we sourced teams for feedback. He could be an everyday catcher with power, but there’s bust risk because of the contact issues, to say nothing of the grisly recent history of teenage catching prospects going bust.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Huntington Beach HS (CA) (KCR)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/55 30/50 40/40 50/60 60/60

Pratto went from two-way duty as a high school senior, to Low-A teenager in his first full pro season, and he performed admirably. Pratto hit .280/.343/.443 with 14 homers at Lexington, largely thanks to a hot August. He also stole a surprising 22 bases, but based on how thick and muscular he looked during 2019 spring training, that seems unlikely to continue.

Some of the pre-draft notions that Pratto had elite plate discipline (part of why he generated some irresponsible Joey Votto comps at the time) seem false now that we have a larger sample of data to look at. It makes it more important that Pratto get to all his power so he can profile at first, something made even more imperative by his mediocre, early-career contact rates. We like his chances of doing that and becoming a fine everyday first baseman who adds value on defense.

6. Khalil Lee, RF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Flint Hill HS (VA) (KCR)
Age 20.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/60 35/50 55/50 45/50 60/60

Lee’s 2018 Fall League showing was so poor that it forced us to consider a serious re-evaluation, even though we often toss out bad AFL looks because of how fatigued some of the players are. The quality of his at-bats and the senselessly aggressive hacks Lee would take were not traits of physical exhaustion. Ultimately, we left Lee where we had him since he suddenly grew into power during his senior year of high school.

Once a little two-way LHP/CF prospect, he’s now a right fielder with power, who walks and is currently stealing bases. A 40 runner from home to first, Lee runs better than that under way but was too brazen a thief early in his career and made too many outs on the bases. He got better at picking his spots last year. His contact rates are concerning, but they’re offset by the walks and thump enough that we think he projects as a solid-average regular in right field.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Creighton (KCR)
Age 24.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 40/40 20/30 55/55 50/55 55/55

Lopez is a slick defensive shortstop who walked more than he struck out at Double- and Triple-A last year. Those traits make him very interesting and perhaps someone we aren’t properly enthused about. He’s small and has very little raw power, but Lopez’s feel for contact is so good that he ends up with sneaky, in-game doubles pop. His three-year ZiPS projections have him at nearly two annual WAR, which means he arguably belongs on our Top 100 list. His realistic ceiling is that of an average regular, something that may be harder to accomplish if Adalberto Mondesi‘s presence forces him to second base, where the offensive bar is higher.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (KCR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 40/50 55/60 40/50 93-96 / 98

Kowar had a seven-figure asking price coming out of high school, which was just out of reach of what clubs were willing to commit from their spending pools. He was set to head to Clemson until a late coaching change caused him to reconsider his commitment, and the Tigers ultimately lost him to Florida (and Cal Raleigh to Florida State). Kowar’s velocity ticked up before he even played in an official game for the Gators, sitting 93-95 and hitting 97 mph in preseason scrimmages before his freshman year. He kept that velocity throughout his college career and developed a plus changeup.

The two issues for Kowar are his very short stride, which causes his velocity to play down, and his breaking ball, which is not great. It’s still most often a below average pitch, with curveball velocity and three-quarters slider shape. Cogent pitch design may help the pitch, or indicate the Royals should just scrap it altogether and try something like a cutter or slider. These issues are almost identical to Luke Weaver’s coming out of Florida State; he’s appeared to have solved those at times, though not at others.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Kris Bubic, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (KCR)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 55/60 40/50 89-92 / 94

A dominant junior year would have had Bubic in the late first round mix, but his control backed up, especially late in the year. Though he only throws 87-91, his fastball plays well in the zone as his delivery (which is similar to Clayton Kershaw‘s) creates tough angle on the pitch. Bubic’s best pitch is his changeup and it’s most effective when he’s gotten ahead of hitters, which he often did not last year. When he’s throwing strikes, Bubic looks like a solid No. 4 or 5 big league starter. He began the year at Low-A Lexington, and seems a likely mid-year promotion candidate if he pitches well there.

10. Kyle Isbel, RF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from UNLV (KCR)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/50 30/50 50/50 45/55 50/50

Isbel hit .319 and .290 as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, and then grew into a new grade of power in his junior year while maintaining his contact skills and taking advantage of pitchers’ newfound hesitance to attack him in the zone. None of his tools are especially loud, but Isbel does several things fairly well and he has a slight chance to play a passable big league center field. If he moves to a corner, he might need a plus bat to profile, but that seems possible given how good his feel to hit was as an amateur. He could be a well-rounded everyday outfielder even without a plus tool.

Drafted: 10th Round, 2016 from Kennesaw State (KCR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/40 50/55 91-95 / 96

Surface-level evaluations of Lovelady’s stuff show two above-average pitches in a mid-90s fastball and long-arcing slider, but those grow into true plus offerings once you factor in some of his mechanical traits. His lower arm slot, a release point approaching Josh Hader’s unique spot, creates very odd angle on his stuff. It’s especially tough on lefties, who have a .224 OBP against Lovelady each of the last two years. Lovelady also has better command, especially breaking ball command, than most relievers. He’ll be able to get swings and misses from righties by way of back foot sliders, and he can beat them in the zone with his heater.

We put 40 FVs on two-pitch, upper-level relievers like this, but the seemingly significant impact of Lovelady’s delivery, combined with what looks like will be multi-inning usage, gives him a chance to be one of the more valuable relievers in baseball.

40 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Colombia (KCR)
Age 22.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/50 30/45 20/20 40/45 70/70

The Salvador Perez injury makes it much more likely that we get an extended look at Viloria with the big club this year after he was given a 10-game sip last September. There’s some power here, but Viloria has to sell out to get to it in games because his swing’s not naturally geared for lift. Instead, he leans into a contact-oriented approach, and generates his power through strength in his hands.

On defense, Viloria has one hell of an arm, but the rest of his catching traits are only okay. He falls a little short of what it would take to consider him a regular due to issues on both sides of the ball, but he’s still only 22 and we think he’s at least a high-probability backup.

13. Daniel Tillo, LHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Iowa Western JC (KCR)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

Tillo is a recent velo spike guy who has been up to 97 this spring, but he was often into the mid-90s last summer. Both of his secondaries are capable of missing bats, but he has to locate his slider for that pitch to be effective, and his general feel for the craft is lacking, so that may never happen consistently. Despite his long arm action, Tillo also has a diving changeup that hitters will swing over the top of, or make awkward contact with. It’s No. 4 starter stuff, but we think Tillo’s control means he’ll likely move to the bullpen eventually.

14. Scott Blewett, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Baker HS (NY) (KCR)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 40/45 45/55 91-94 / 96

Huge extension adds about 2 mph of perceived velocity to Blewett’s fastball, and he leans on it heavily. Blewett was a cold weather prep arm who needed a lot of grooming and though none of his pitches are plus, he’s developed enough to be considered a high-probability backend rotation piece. He’s going to throw a lot of strikes and locate his breaking ball in spots that hitters can’t do much with. His big, sturdy frame might eat a ton of innings while Kansas City rebuilds.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
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, but his profile includes fairly significant relief risk. He spent all of 2018 at Low-A Lexington but has dealt with a biceps issue this spring, and isn’t currently at an affiliate. He’s in that No. 4 or 5 starter/potential late-inning reliever area as far as stuff goes, and is probably several years away from the majors.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 35/40 40/40 50/55 60/60

The Royals lauded Gutierrez’s glove after acquiring him, going so far as to say that they think he could handle shortstop if they needed him to. At least in our longest stretch of in-person evaluation of Gutierrez, he has looked just okay at third base, and saw time at first.

The bat-to-ball skills are real. He’s a career .286 hitter in the minors and has reached base at a .346 clip. A lack of game power probably means Gutierrez fits better in a multi-positional reserve role than as a regular at third or first base. He appears athletic enough to handle the corner outfield spots, and it makes sense to give him time there in the near future.

Drafted: 19th Round, 2015 from Universidad Interamericana HS (PR) (KCR)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/50 30/45 45/45 45/50 55/55

We’re proponents of Rivera’s bat; his swing is compact, he has barrel control, and he is very difficult to beat on the inner half. He’s not a very good defensive infielder, however, and doesn’t have the power to profile at places further down the defensive spectrum. It’s natural to wonder if he can catch, and Rivera has a catcherly build, but we just don’t know if he can, and his arm strength isn’t a obvious fit for the position. He may end up playing a corner bench role, basically the one we have projected for Gutierrez one spot ahead of him in this system, but we’d have to see him play other positions before feeling confident in that projection. He only really does one thing, but it’s the thing we think is most important.

18. Foster Griffin, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from First Academy HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
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 during those stretches. 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), so we like his chances of playing a No. 5 starter role soon.

19. Gerson Garabito, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 45/50 45/50 90-93 / 94

He doesn’t throw all that hard, but Garabito has an impact breaking ball and, other than in 2018, a history of throwing lots of strikes. Other than his plunging 12-6 curveball, Garabito’s stuff is very average and his fastball may be vulnerable once hitters have seen it a few times. It might make him more viable in a multi-inning relief role where he can throw the curveball a ton and use the fastball as a change of pace pitch.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (KCR)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/45 50/55 40/45 93-95 / 97

Hernandez is a high-probability fifth starter/middle reliever depending on how his breaking ball develops. He throws hard, he has a good change up, and he’s an inelegant, but relatively efficient, strike thrower. We tend to think he’ll just end up blowing heat past people in relief, but Hernandez is still only 22 and it makes sense to let him work on his breaking stuff on a starter’s pitch count in the hope that something improves.

35+ FV Prospects

21. Yohanse Morel, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

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, where 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.

22. Austin Cox, LHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Mercer (KCR)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Cox is a small school lefty with low-90s heat (he’ll touch 94 but sit 88-91 later in starts) and a breaking ball with bat-missing vertical action. His high slot might make it hard for Cox to command his stuff to all quadrants of the strike zone, and his lack of present changeup is concerning, but if he can back foot his breaking ball, he’ll have a way to deal with righties. He needs a third pitch, change or not, but should otherwise end up as a good lefty reliever.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from UAB (KCR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Hicklen went to UAB planning to play both football and baseball, but the school’s football program was shut down when he got to campus, and he was drafted and signed by Kansas City before it was reborn. He practiced with the team, but never suited up for the gridiron.

2018 was his first year of full-time baseball and he hit .307/.378/.552 with 17 homers and 29 steals, albeit as a 22-year-old at Low-A. His strength/raw power and straight-line speed are what you’d probably expect from a college wide receiver, but Hicklen’s compact, in-game swing prioritizes contact. He’s predictably raw and somewhat stiff rather than graceful and coordinated but he has physical ability, he plays really hard, and there’s a chance some of the skill-based parts of the game come to him in his mid-20s.

24. Omar Florentino, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 17.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 135 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

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.

25. D.J. Burt, 2B
Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 from Fuquay-Varina HS (NC) (KCR)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Burt began playing all over the field in 2018 and is intriguing as a speedy utility guy who takes good at-bats. He has almost no playable power, so there’s a chance his offensive skills don’t hold water at the upper levels (pitchers may just attack him because of the lack of power, deadening the impact of his patience), and he’s just an org guy, but he’s a sleeper utility man who may get a shot sometime during this Royals rebuild.

26. Josh Staumont, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Azusa Pacific (KCR)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Staumont would sit 99-99 and touch 101 or 102 in college and also has a dastardly curveball, but he’s a 6 or 7 walks per nine guy, and hasn’t been able to make headway in the control/command realm as a pro. He’s 25 now, and will probably get some exposure to the big leagues just to see what happens, but he would seem to be on the 40-man fringe.

27. Janser Lara, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Lara throws really hard and his breaking ball has plus raw spin, though visual evaluations of that pitch are not as strong as the spin rates suggest. He may benefit from a release or grip adjustment because his fastball movement is wildly inconsistent. So, too, is his control, and Lara will likely end up in a bullpen. It’ll take plenty of polish to make something of him, but there’s late-inning stuff here.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Young Guys Who Might Pop
Rylan Kaufman, LHP
Wilmin Candelario, SS
Jeison Guzman, SS
Maikel Garcia, SS
Raymond Lopez, CF
Anderson Paulino, RHP
Rubendy Jaquez, 3B

Kaufman was a $722,000 JuCo 12th rounder who can really spin a curveball (2750 rpm average in pro ball). He’s still just 19, has a lanky frame, and already bumps 92, 93 on occasion. Candelario is a balletic defensive shortstop who adds little flourishes to just about everything he does. The entire offensive package is below-average right now, but we’ll see what happens with the frame. Speaking of waiting on the frame, Guzman is now 20 and has finally started to fill out in a positive way. He’s going to strike out a lot, but has a chance to rise into the main portion of the list this year. Garcia is a smooth, rangy defender and has a good frame but he’s very weak with the bat right now. Lopez looked intriguing (above average runner, gap pop, feel for center field) before he was seriously injured in 2017, and then he had a bad 2018. He’s a bounce back candidate. Paulino is a strong-bodied 20-year-old who sits 93-97. His upper-80s slider has vertical break, but it’s blunt and lacks that bat-missing bite. Realistically, he’s a developmental bullpen piece, but there are some late-inning components in place if that slider gets tighter. Jaquez is 20 and has above-average bat speed.

Potential Role-Playing Arms
Jonathan Bowlan, RHP
Zach Haake, RHP
Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP
Andres Machado, RHP

Bowlan’s stuff has been all over the place, sometimes even during the same start. He was 89-95 during his first outing and could be a sinker/slider reliever, but the Royals have done fairly well with sinkerballers lately. Haake will show plus stuff for an inning or two before his command starts to waivers. He could be a mid-90s, plus slider reliever. Hernandez is 23 and could be a changeup-centric reliever if his fastball ticks up in relief. Machado is a mid-90s/cutter reliever without a pitch that will obviously miss bats.

Bench Types
Michael Gigliotti, OF
Gabriel Cancel, 2B
Bubba Starling, CF
Blake Perkins, CF
Kort Peterson, 1B
Juan Carlos Negret, RF
Cristian Perez, SS

Gigliotti was a plus runner with feel for the zone who was a 40 runner this spring, his first back from an ACL tear. If the speed returns, he’s a likely bench outfielder. Cancel is a career .265 hitter, is at Double-A, and could be an infield utility bat. We still think Bubba Starling, who runs well and plays a fine center field but has never found a good swing foundation, plays in the big leagues. Perkins is now 23 and still lacks physicality, but he can really run and play center. Peterson is a corner guy with some contact skills. Negret has plus power but little feel for contact. Perez is an instinctive defender with some feel to hit.

System Overview

We spent a lot of effort trying to discern what the Royals were trying to do with their 2018 draft bonus pool, which was the biggest in baseball last year, because it was going to have such a profound impact on the rest of the draft. They ended up with all college value picks (and, eventually, Rylan Kaufman), which tasted disappointingly vanilla at the time, but now looks like a clear-headed approach as it yielded five of the org’s top 10 prospects and several other interesting ones, our Bowlan skepticism be damned.

This is a top-to-bottom reset, with maybe four or five players on the big league roster who are realistic parts of the next competitive Royals team, at the same that there aren’t any top 100 prospects currently in the system. The big wave of talent that represents the crest of the rebuilding wave is at Hi-A Wilmington right now, and whomever becomes the second pick in the upcoming draft (be it Adley Rutchsmann or Andrew Vaughn, the two players we think are the most likely to go first or second based on talent) should be advanced enough to join them pretty quickly, so long as the Royals don’t take a high schooler. Whoever the pick, barring a sizable leap from one of the 45 FV players on this list, the new 2019 draftee will immediately be the club’s No. 1 prospect. Perhaps, if enough of that wave actually pans out, they’ll be good again sooner than the overall quality of the farm indicates.

We also have them linked to outfielder Erick Pena, who is No. 4 among our 2019 July 2 prospects at the time of publication. So there’s some more exciting talent coming. But right now, the most important parts of the org are the amateur scouting and player dev staff who might help Kansas City create tradable big leaguers.


Top 30 Prospects: Cleveland Indians

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Cleveland Indians. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Indians Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Nolan Jones 20.9 A+ 3B 2021 50
2 Triston McKenzie 21.7 AA RHP 2020 50
3 Yu Chang 23.6 AAA SS 2019 50
4 Brayan Rocchio 18.2 R SS 2022 50
5 George Valera 18.4 R LF 2021 50
6 Bo Naylor 19.1 A C 2022 45+
7 Lenny Torres 18.5 R RHP 2023 45
8 Luis Oviedo 19.9 A RHP 2022 45
9 Tyler Freeman 19.9 A SS 2022 45
10 Sam Hentges 22.7 AA LHP 2021 45
11 Carlos Vargas 19.5 R RHP 2023 45
12 Oscar Mercado 24.3 AAA CF 2019 45
13 Junior Sanquintin 17.2 R SS 2023 40+
14 Gabriel Rodriguez 17.1 R SS 2023 40+
15 Ethan Hankins 18.9 R RHP 2023 40+
16 Aaron Bracho 18.0 R SS 2023 40
17 Will Benson 20.8 A RF 2022 40
18 Richard Palacios 21.9 A 2B 2021 40
19 Jean Carlos Mejia 22.6 A+ RHP 2019 40
20 Bobby Bradley 22.9 AAA 1B 2019 40
21 Daniel Johnson 23.7 AA CF 2020 40
22 Aaron Civale 23.8 AA RHP 2020 40
23 Nick Sandlin 22.2 AA RHP 2020 40
24 Ernie Clement 23.0 AA SS 2020 40
25 Eli Morgan 22.9 A+ RHP 2021 40
26 Alexfri Planez 17.6 R RF 2024 35+
27 Quentin Holmes 19.8 A CF 2023 35+
28 Jonathan Lopez 19.7 R 3B 2023 35+
29 Jose Tena 18.0 R SS 2024 35+
30 Johnathan Rodriguez 19.4 R CF 2023 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Holy Ghost Prep HS (PA) (CLE)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/60 55/60 30/30 40/45 60/60

Scouts’ opinions about where on the defensive spectrum Jones will end up are all over the map. He got quite big not long after he was drafted and seemed destined for first base, and while there’s still a chance he ends up there eventually, he looked leaner last year and has a better chance of staying at third for a while. Some clubs think he’ll move to right field, and the contact issues Jones has had due to his lever length are problematic if he doesn’t stay at third.

We’re intrigued by the three-true outcomes possibilities here, as Jones already has huge power and might grow into more, and he’s also had some of the higher walk rates in all of the minor leagues. Opposing pitchers are going to have to be careful with him or risk paying a 400 foot price, so we expect his on base ability to hold water at the upper levels. He could reach Double-A Akron as a 21-year-old later in the year if he performs during the spring.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Royal Palm Beach HS (FL) (CLE)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 40/45 50/60 90-93 / 95

McKenzie was a high-profile prep pitcher in south Florida before the 2015 draft, and the main question about him focused on his rail-thin 6-foot-5, 160 pound frame. If you thought he would put on a good bit of weight, then you could see him adding velocity to his 88-92 mph heater. But the question was whether he would have enough stuff and durability to start if he stayed about the same size. He’s filled out some since the Indians took him in the comp round in 2015, but it looks like he’s always going to be very thin.

His velocity has crept up a bit to 90-93, hitting 95 mph, but the life, plane, deception, extension, and command combine to make the fastball an above average pitch now. The additional arm speed has helped his breaker improve; it flashes plus at times. And he’s kept the positive attributes scouts originally noticed in his delivery and the athleticism, so the command may also end up being plus. The changeup is a 45, so his curve, pitchability, and deception are the carrying tools we think will turn him into a league average starter. McKenzie also had his first pro injury in 2018, and his strikeout rate was down in his first taste of Double-A, before he had upper back issues that have him on the shelf to start 2019. So long as his stuff in intact upon return, we think he’s a No. 4 starter with a chance to be a No. 3.

3. Yu Chang, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Taiwan (CLE)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 45/55 55/55 50/50 45/50 50/50

Teams have likely already studied this, but during our in-person looks at Chang, which date back to 2014, he seems to generate top spin on batted balls with more regularity than is typical for hitters. That’s not a good thing, as the same way a curveball does, it causes Chang’s fly balls to sink and die at a lesser distance than they should. We have no idea if the ability to hit balls with no spin (which is ideal) is a skill hitters have, but if it is, Chang probably isn’t one of them. He does have power though, and he’s a viable defensive third baseman who’d be capable of moonlighting at short or second base if Cleveland needed him to. We like him as a versatile, bat-first prospect who can play all over the place.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 18.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 20/40 40/45 60/60 45/55 50/50

After a month and a half of DSL games, Cleveland decided to push little Brayan Rocchio to the AZL for the season’s final month, and his numbers there were almost exactly the same. He was the most naturally-gifted hitter in the AZL last year, a switch-hitter with sublime bat control and more power than one would expect a 150-pound 17-year-old to possess. He’s going to stay up the middle, either at shortstop or second base, and while he’s not an obviously desirable teenage prospect like most big-framed, 6-foot-3 types with power would be, this is exactly the kind of profile we’re seeking to identify earlier in the process. This is what several of the little middle infielders in our top 50 looked like at this age; they hit and played good defense somewhere important, but were literally overlooked because they were small.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 20/60 45/55 50/45 40/50 40/45

Born and raised to the brink of adolescence in New York, Valera’s family moved to the Dominican Republic when he was 13. Injuries sustained in a car accident necessitated that metal rods be inserted in Valera’s father’s limbs, and the move was a way of providing him physical comfort in a warmer climate. It also meant Valera became an international prospect rather than an American high school draftee, and when he was eligible, he signed with Cleveland for $1.3 million.

He is polished for his age, not only in the batter’s box but in center field, where he’s very comfortable going back on balls. His frame is not especially projectable but Valera’s swing has natural lift and he has good feel for contact. He’s likely to get to whatever raw power he ends up growing into as he matures, and he may stay in center field for a while. A broken hamate limited his reps last year, but he may be ready for the New York-Penn League this season anyway.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from St. Joan of Arc HS (CAN) (CLE)
Age 19.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/60 30/50 50/40 40/50 55/55

The younger brother of Padres prospect Josh Naylor, Bo is a better athlete with similar feel to hit, but less raw power. He has the necessary twitch (some teams liked him at third base pre-draft) and just enough pure arm strength to catch as long as his throws become more consistently accurate. His defense was baptized by fire in the AZL as Naylor had to catch guys with huge stuff like Lenny Torres and Carlos Vargas, among others. If his offensive ability can withstand the developmental burdens and physical grind of catching, he could be a middle-of-the-order bat, too. Even if Naylor’s in-game power manifests itself as doubles, he profiles at catcher and Cleveland’s recent, brief experimentation with Francisco Mejia at third base provides some precedent for what may happen should Naylor prove unable to catch or if Cleveland thinks moving him will get his bat to the majors more quickly.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Beacon HS (NY) (CLE)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/60 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

Torres checked a lot of amateur scouting boxes — the body, athleticism, stuff, and makeup were all lauded — and was a model-friendly prospect due to his age, so while issues with fastball command caused some clubs to project him in relief, he was still a clear top two round talent. Perhaps Torres’ control is behind because, as a cold-weather amateur prospect, he hasn’t pitched all that much. He only threw around 40 innings during his senior spring, and bad suburban high school hitters in New York couldn’t catch his fastball. As a result, Torres had little cause to use his changeup during varsity play — some national evaluators would go whole starts without seeing it — but it flashed 55 or 60 during his showcase summer and was easy to dream on.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Torres’ post-draft performance was how regularly he located his slider down and to his glove side. He has mid-rotation components if you’re willing to dream and — based on his athleticism, age, and geographic background — we are.

8. Luis Oviedo, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 50/50 45/55 45/55 90-94 / 97

Oviedo dominated the New York-Penn League, a league full of college hitters, as an 19-year-old in 2018, striking out 61 and walking just 10 in 48 innings. He’s less projectable than his age indicates because his body is already sturdy and mature, and so too is his ability to throw strikes with any of his four quality pitches. He was shut down with a lower back injury late in 2018, but was fine this spring, and will pitch at Low-A Lake County to start the year, while still 19 for several weeks. We have him projected as an innings-eating fourth starter.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Etiwanda HS (CA) (CLE)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 30/45 55/50 40/50 45/45

A young, polished, but relatively unexplosive high schooler, Freeman was a bit of a surprise second rounder in 2017 but has quickly become much more interesting thanks to a sterling 2018 season with Mahoning Valley. As a 19-year-old, he hit .352/.405/.511 for the Scrappers, torching even the loftiest of expectations set by scouts who saw him during extended spring training and mostly considered Freeman a future utility man. Fundamentally sound at short, he lacks the explosiveness and big arm strength scouts look for at the position, and we wonder if Freeman will hit for enough power to be an impact player at any other position.

His early career strikeout rate (7.5% in about 450 PA) suggests his bat-to-ball skills are even more promising than amateur scouts anticipated, though he’s also an aggressive swinger who has been hit by nearly twice as many pitches as he has walks so far. When scouts talk about a player having “feel, polish, instincts” and the like, and the player has numbers like Freeman’s contact rates, we typically round up on that guy. In Freeman’s case, we remain cautious because the eyeball scouts are so resolute in their skepticism of the power projection.

10. Sam Hentges, LHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 from Mounds View HS (MN) (CLE)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 45/50 40/50 91-95 / 96

Some projection-friendly traits for pitchers include: a young age, size/frame, and a cold-weather background (they’re raw, but also fresh from limited reps). Hentges, a 6-foot-6 Minnesota high school prospect, who was 17 on his draft day, has all of these, and also missed a whole year of innings rehabbing from Tommy John. And yet, still just 22, Hentges is in Double-A and on the doorstep of the big leagues.

His size and arm slot create tough angle on his fastball and vertical depth on his curveball. One should feel free to project on the changeup and the still-lacking fastball control into Hentges’ mid-20s because of the aforementioned traits and the TJ. So while there’s a chance Hentges winds up in the bullpen (where he could be a good multi-inning option), he also has realistic No. 4 starter upside. He was into the mid-90s with his fastball this spring and has a chance to debut this year if Cleveland is competitive and think he’s one of the 12 best arms in the org.

11. Carlos Vargas, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/50 30/45 94-97 / 99

Line up all the teenage arms on the planet and few of them have stuff as hellacious as Vargas’, who had moments of being a dominant force of nature in last year’s AZL. At times, Vargas would sit 93-96; at others, his fastball would crest 100 and he’d break off the occasional plus-plus breaking ball. He also has long stretches where he’s wild, erratic, and visibly flustered on the mound. There’s much to be desired from a poise/mound-presence standpoint here, but that’s okay for now considering his age. He has a deep, plunging arm action similar to that of Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga, who have each had injury issues (as has Vargas), and he might end up a reliever, but we currently have him evaluated the way we would a late first round arm.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2013 from Gaither HS (FL) (STL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 35/40 55/55 50/55 50/50

One of the questions we ask ourselves as we line players up is, “Would you trade Player A for Player B?” Sometimes the answer to that question depends significantly on which team would be making the decision, and perhaps was no recent trade a better example of this than Cleveland’s acquisition of Mercado. In anticipation of a short-term need for outfielders, Cleveland traded teenage beast Jhon Torres for Mercado, a low-ceiling lock to contribute to the big league team at some point soon.

Once a prep infield prospect, Mercado moved to the outfield after a few uninspiring statistical years with St. Louis, started to hit, became a plus outfield defender, and was part of a log jammed upper-level Cardinals outfield picture. The swap made sense for both teams. Cleveland got a potential everyday center fielder (Mercado won’t hit for much power but might be a 6 glove and 55 bat, which is playable everyday in center) and St. Louis diffused some 40-man pressure in exchange for a great, long-term prospect. Cleveland’s outfield situation may change depending on performance, and Mercado may be thrust into an everyday role at some point in 2019. He’s at least a good long-term fourth outfielder, but has a chance to provide everyday value.

40+ FV Prospects

13. Junior Sanquintin, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican (CLE)
Age 17.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/55 25/50 55/50 40/50 55/60

Cleveland has done a remarkable job of finding international prospects with both advanced bat-to-ball skills and interesting physicality. The stocky, 6-foot-1 Sanquintin is the latest. Scouts don’t typically project bodies like this to stay at short but Sanquintin’s explosive first step allays some of those concerns. His hands are fine, he has a strong arm, and we think he has a good chance to stick at short.

Sanquintin had one of the more advanced bats in his international class and has some present pop due to his physicality, with room for a little more. He has much better feel to hit from the right side of the plate but there’s enticing lift and whip from both sides. He has the tools of a switch-hitting shortstop with power assuming the left-handed bat control improves with time.

14. Gabriel Rodriguez, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 17.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 20/45 50/45 40/50 50/55

He didn’t put on much of a show during MLB’s big winter showcase but as we approach extended spring, there’s palpable buzz surrounding Rodriguez, who signed for about $2 million last July. Though heavy-footed when Kiley saw him last February, Rodriguez has good infield hands and actions, and is a good bet to stay on the middle infield. He has mature feel for contact but his swing is currently pretty conservative, and Rodriguez likely won’t hit for power without an approach or mechanical adjustment. He’s a bat-first shortstop prospect and could soon be where Tyler Freeman is on this list.

15. Ethan Hankins, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Forsyth Central HS (GA) (CLE)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

Hankins was the consensus top prep arm in the class during his pre-draft summer and was a dominant part of Team USA in the fall. At that point, Hankins was commanding a lively 93-96 mph heater, a new, but already plus slider, and an at least average changeup that he didn’t need to use much. He looked a little rusty early during his senior spring, then walked off the mound with tightness in a shoulder muscle tied behind the joint. He returned over a month later and threw hard down the stretch, peaking at 97 mph in multiple open workouts for scouts after his school was eliminated from the playoffs.

He still hasn’t shown the promise from the summer, as he’s completely lost feel for his slider. He only threw the pitch in games last spring a handful of times and scouts speculated it made his arm hurt, but he threw it in some of the postseason workouts and simply had no feel for it anymore. At various points Hankins has utilized either a slider or curveball, and each looks good a few times a start but not often enough to project it as an impact pitch. He was noticeably thicker during the 2018 summer and continued having issues throwing quality breaking balls. Once a likely top 10 pick, he’s now a bounce back hopeful.

40 FV Prospects

16. Aaron Bracho, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 18.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/45 55/50 40/45 50/50

A broken arm shelved Bracho for all of 2018, save for a sliver of extended spring training, but he has been heavily scouted since age 14, when he impressed at the 2016 PG World Showcase in the states, so scouts are well acquainted with him even though he’s never played an official pro game. The totality of his defensive abilities (his hands, actions, arm strength) all likely push him to second base, and the presence of Rocchio, Sanquintin, and Rodriguez make that future even more likely.

But several promising offensive traits — a swing with natural loft, plus bat speed, precocious barrel control that is better from the left side — excite us. He’s an up-the-middle prospect with a well-rounded offensive skillset. We’re unsure how Cleveland will resolve their lower-level logjam of middle infielders but the fact that they’re poised to have two AZL teams for the second year in a row should open up sufficient at-bats for everyone including Bracho, if they feel his lost year means he should stay in Arizona for the summer.

17. Will Benson, RF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Westminster Schools HS (GA) (CLE)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 40/60 55/50 45/50 80/80

It might shock you to learn that Benson’s 2018 line of .180/.324/.370 was a hair above the average Midwest League batting line. In high school, he was your standard high risk, high reward corner power projection bat. A monstrous and athletic 6-foot-5 (there’s a rumor Coach K offered him a hoops walk-on opportunity in an effort to get him to campus), Benson drew body and swing comps to Jason Heyward.

But as he has accumulated statistics in pro ball, he looks much more unique than his profile’s bird’s eye view would indicate. He strikes out 30% of the time, which is fairly common for prospects like this. But he incredibly only slugged .370 last year while still managing to homer 22 times, and Benson’s ground ball rate is a minuscule 28%. He walked at an encouraging 16% clip last year. Still just 20, Benson remains a tooled up project with a huge red flag, but now has several underlying statistical traits of interest. He’d be higher on most other teams’ prospect lists; we just prefer the ultra-young, up-the-middle guys in this system to a profile like Benson’s, and Cleveland has lots of those.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Towson (CLE)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/40 30/40 65/65 45/50 50/50

It’s uncommon for a college hitter to have more walks than strikeouts during his career but Palacios’ ratio during his junior season at Towson was exceptional. He walked 52 times and struck out just 16 while also swiping an ultra-efficient 25 bases in 26 attempts. He’s a nearly plus-plus runner and capable middle infield defender (probably at second) with premium hand-eye coordination and bat control. There was some concern that Palacios beat up on small conference pitching his entire career and might not replicate that performance against pro pitching, but we’re buying it. Once poised to perhaps move quickly through the system, Palacios had posterior labrum surgery in late-March and will miss much of the season.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 45/50 50/55 90-94 / 95

We’re mindful of the need to identify pitchers whose fastballs play like impact pitches despite mediocre velocity, and Mejia appears to be one. He only throws in the low-90s but competes for swinging strikes in the zone, we think, due to big extension and effectual plane. He also has fantastic slider command, perhaps because his front foot lands so open, enabling Mejia to clear his front side consistently and preventing him from hanging sliders in the zone. He throws a lot of strikes and keeps the ball on the ground. We’ve warmed to the upper-level viability of his stuff and think he could be up at some point this year and become a No. 4 or 5 starter long-term.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2014 from Harrion Central HS (MS) (CLE)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 65/60 50/55 20/20 40/45 50/50

Stung by bad BABIP luck in 2018 (.226), Bradley’s repeat tour of Double-A Akron looked discouraging on paper. He still managed to pound out 27 homers, though, and he remains a strong power/lift/plate discipline prospect who could perform at the big league level soon. Players like this sometimes have seasons in excess of 2 WAR but are generally the type who bounce around the fringes of active rosters, like C.J. Cron or Matt Adams.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from New Mexico State (WAS)
Age 23.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 55/55 35/45 70/70 40/50 80/80

So prodigious is Johnson’s laser arm that some amateur scouts wanted to see him on the mound in pro ball. He has some of the louder tertiary tools in the minors but limited bat control keeps some of them, especially his sizable raw power, from actualizing in games. Tools like this typically find their way onto a big league roster in some capacity, even if offensive issues exist. He’ll tantalize with the occasional all-world highlight à la Franchy Cordero, but Johnson realistically profiles as a platoon outfielder.

22. Aaron Civale, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Northeastern (CLE)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 55/60 45/50 45/50 50/60 88-93 / 94

Civale does not miss many bats because he has limited fastball velocity, but he’s a high-volume strike thrower with excellent secondary stuff, including one of the best curveball spin rates in the minors. He draws from a spacious bag of tricks to get hitters out, and has now had success at the upper levels of the minors with limited velo, so we’re buying that he can make things work as a fifth starter.

23. Nick Sandlin, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Southern Mississippi (CLE)
Age 22.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 45/50 45/60 90-94 / 94

Sandlin’s junior stats at Southern Miss read like he was playing MVP Baseball on the rookie difficulty setting. It was his first year as a starter and he struck out 144 hitters in 102 innings while walking just 18. He’s a side-armer with a running, low-90s fastball and above-average slider. Both pitches play up because of Sandlin’s command, and at times his stuff is so well-located that it’s unhittable. He was our favorite to be the first from the 2018 draft class to reach the big leagues but a 2019 spring forearm injury might delay his arrival.

24. Ernie Clement, SS
Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Virginia (CLE)
Age 23.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 40/40 30/35 70/70 40/45 50/50

Another in the long line of University of Virginia hitters with micro strikeout rates, Clement K’d just seven times during his entire junior season. He’s carried that contact ability into pro ball, where he struck out just 8.5% of the time at Low-A in his first full season before moving on to Hi- and Double-A late in the year.

We’re skeptical of his ability to play shortstop due to below-average hands and actions, and think he probably fits best in center field due to his speed, but Cleveland played him exclusively at short last year. The lack of power likely means he maxes out as a utility man, so it makes sense to hand Clement a ton of reps at shortstop to see if he can improve, since ideally he’d be able to play there on occasion. He spent a lot of time with the big league club during 2019 spring training and made characteristically high rates of contact. The bat and his speed should carry him to some kind of lesser major league role, with his defensive development determining if it’s of the super utility variety or a limited runner/bench bat gig.

25. Eli Morgan, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from Gonzaga (CLE)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 45/45 45/50 60/70 45/55 86-91 / 92

Morgan’s velo was down a bit last year and at times his fastball sat in the mid-80s instead of the upper-80s and low-90s like it had the year before. He’s on this list because he has one of the better changeups in the minors and throws a lot of strikes, but he’ll need to exhibit a velocity bounce back this year to remain here, or else show that he has traits that make his fastball playable despite the lackluster velo.

35+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE)
Age 17.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Planez has big time pull-side lift in his swing, already has 45 raw power at age 17, and has a fairly projectable 6-foot-2 frame that portends more. He’ll reach down and barrel balls near his shoe tops and also crush mistakes. He’s too aggressive right now and probably has to move to a corner eventually, so our early assessment of the profile is that it’s very risky. But as far as teenage power projection bats go, this is a good one.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from McClancy HS (NY) (CLE)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Holmes is a high-end athlete with elite makeup and speed. He’s sushi-raw, in part because he was one of the younger hitters in his draft class and in part because he’s a bat from upstate New York, and missed reps he desperately needed in 2018 due to a hamstring injury. The bat needs to develop a lot for Holmes to be an everyday player but his speed should at least make him a bench outfielder. If you buy into the notion that athleticism and makeup drive development, then we’re low on Holmes.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of intriguing AZL prospects, Lopez is a switch-hitting third baseman with a good-looking swing and feel for the strike zone. He’s a little less physically projectable than is ideal, so it’s unclear how much power he’ll have at peak, but if he stays at third and ends up with a plus bat, it won’t matter.

29. Jose Tena, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 18.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+

Tena spent 2018 in the DSL and should come stateside in 2019. Short but good-framed, he has plus hands, good infield footwork, and will probably grow into enough arm for the left side of the infield. His swing is a little long right now but he’s athletic, wings harder than is typical for a teenager this size, and has plenty of time for mechanical tweaks. He’s an interesting, long-term shortstop prospect.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Carlos Beltran Academy HS (PR) (CLE)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

All sorts of traits indicate Rodriguez will need to barbecue in the lower minors for several years. He’s already spent two in rookie ball and is poised to spend early 2019 in extended spring training. He’s a long-limbed, switch-hitting outfielder who is still just 19 even though he was drafted two years ago. His early-career walk rates are promising, and so too are his fairly reasonable strikeout numbers. He’s an athletic ball of clay for player dev to mold, a quintessential high-variance prospect.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Some More Really Young Guys
Raynel Delgado, SS
Marcos Gonzalez, SS
Korey Holland, OF

Delgado just turned 19. He’s a patient, switch-hitting infielder with some low-ball ability from the left side, though his swing can get long. Marcos Gonzalez will be 19 all year and was assigned to full-season ball. He’s a polished defender with a small but well-proportioned frame, and average bat speed, but limited bat control. Holland will also be 19 all year. He’s a plus runner with some feel to hit but came to pro ball with a poor swing foundation, so he’s a bit of a project.

Catching
Eric Haase, C
Sicnarf Loopstok, C
Logan Ice, C

Haase has power, he strikes out, and he’s not a great defender. It’s an Evan Gattis-ish profile. Eli Ben-Porat identified Loopstok as an elite receiver, something corroborated to me by an office source. He’s also performed on paper the last two years. He might factor into the 40-man catching picture soon. Ice’s numbers were bad last year but he’s still a fine defender and hits the ball in the air a ton.

Power Relief Arms
Juan Mota, RHP
James Karinchak, RHP

Mota’s fastball doesn’t have great angle, but it’s hard and moves. His slider is just average but when he locates it, it gets swings and misses. Karinchek throws in the mid-90s and has a unique, over-the-top delivery.

Upper-Level Outfielders
Oscar Gonzalez, OF
Andrew Calica, OF
Alex Call, OF
Mitch Longo, OF

Gonzalez, 21, is an old school, gloveless free-swinger who takes big hacks at everything. Calica had a great sophomore year at UCSB, then fell off as a junior. He’s fast and makes contact, and could be a fourth outfielder. Call has more power, but it’s doubles thump, and he doesn’t run quite as well as Calica. Longo seemed to be a 2018 swing changer and does a little of both.

Changeup Artists
Chih-Wei Hu, RHP
Raymond Burgos, LHP
Zach Plesac, RHP
Eli Lingos, LHP
Ben Krauth, LHP

Hu has been developed as a kitchen sink starter and is probably rotation depth for now, but ultimately, he’ll likely stick in someone’s bullpen with a more limited repertoire. Burgos has a low three-quarters slot, and sits 91-94, with the cambio. Plesac is coming off of Tommy John. He has the hardest fastball among the non-Hus in this category, but also has the worst command. Krauth throws harder than Lingos, but Lingos is a few years younger and doesn’t need to be on the 40-man for a while.

Can Spin It
Jerson Ramirez, RHP
Kyle Nelson, LHP
Kirk McCarty, LHP

Ramirez is only 20 but throws in the low-90s and averaged 2700 rpm on his curveball last year. Nelson can really pitch and carved up Low-A in 2018. He sits 88-91 but beats hitters with it anyway, and his good slider has bat-missing vertical action. McCarty’s release point clearly makes lefties uncomfortable and he has a good two-plane breaker.

System Overview

Cleveland seems to be one of the game’s more rational actors. Well aware of their competitive window, the team moved several young players in exchange for players who, while perhaps possessing less upside, are more likely to help them soon. Tahnaj Thomas for Jordan Luplow. Jhon Torres for Oscar Mercado. Gionti Turner for Chih-Wei Hu. Ignacio Feliz for Walker Lockett. These are moves designed to create depth behind the talented and competitive big league roster as other teams need to shed 40-man weight. Nash Equilibrium and all that. It’s team building on a budget, a front office making do with what ownership seems willing to spend.

We’ve talked about this here before, but Cleveland executes their draft strategy so well that it’s easy to see what it is. They almost always end up with some of the youngest high school players in the draft, and they often seem to end up with players who had strong sophomore college seasons, but down junior years, or high school players who were great during the previous summer but fell during their senior spring. It suggests they more evenly weigh multiple years of performance, perhaps consciously avoiding recency bias in places where other teams and individuals see progress.


2019 MLB Draft Signing Bonus Pool and Pick Values

We got a hold of the bonus slot values and, it follows, each team’s total pool amount for the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft. The PDF we acquired from an industry source was missing Washington’s comp pick for Bryce Harper at 138 overall, so we added that and manually recalculated each team’s pool total (which were incorrect on the PDF because of this missing pick).

(Update: After receiving additional clarification, it appears that Washington will not receive a comp pick for Harper; the pick that would have received as Harper compensation became the pick they gave up to sign Patrick Corbin.)

What follows is, first, the total draft bonus pool amounts for all thirty teams, followed by the individual slot values for each pick in the first ten rounds of the draft. Picks labeled “COMP” are compensatory selections for players lost via free agency or from last year’s unsigned draft picks. Picks labeled “CBA” or “CBB” are competitive balance picks (rounds A and B) allocated to teams in the spirit of parity. These can be traded, and several have been. In both the compensatory and traded competitive balance picks, we note the players for which the picks were received. The tables here will be updated if competitive balance picks change hands or if teams receive comp for a yet-to-sign free agent who received a qualifying offer, like Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel.

2019 Draft Bonus Pools
Team Aggregate Bonus Pool
ARI $16,093,700
BAL $13,821,300
KC $13,108,000
MIA $13,045,000
CWS $11,565,500
ATL $11,532,200
TEX $11,023,100
SD $10,758,900
DET $10,402,500
TB $10,333,800
PIT $9,944,000
MIN $9,905,800
CIN $9,528,600
SF $8,714,500
TOR $8,463,300
NYM $8,224,600
LAD $8,069,100
LAA $7,608,700
SEA $7,559,000
NYY $7,455,300
COL $7,092,300
STL $6,903,500
PHI $6,475,800
CLE $6,148,100
WSH $5,979,600
CHI $5,826,900
OAK $5,605,900
HOU $5,355,100
MIL $5,148,200
BOS $4,788,100

2019 Draft Signing Bonus Slot Values
Overall Pick Round Team Slot Amount
1 1 BAL $8,415,300
2 1 KC $7,789,900
3 1 CWS $7,221,200
4 1 MIA $6,664,000
5 1 DET $6,180,700
6 1 SD $5,742,900
7 1 CIN $5,432,400
8 1 TEX $5,176,900
9 COMP (Carter Stewart) ATL $4,949,100
10 1 SF $4,739,900
11 1 TOR $4,547,500
12 1 NYM $4,366,400
13 1 MIN $4,197,300
14 1 PHI $4,036,800
15 1 LAA $3,885,800
16 1 ARI $3,745,500
17 1 WSH $3,609,700
18 1 PIT $3,481,300
19 1 STL $3,359,000
20 1 SEA $3,242,900
21 1 ATL $3,132,300
22 1 TB $3,027,000
23 1 COL $2,926,800
24 1 CLE $2,831,300
25 1 LAD $2,740,300
26 COMP (Matt McLain) ARI $2,653,400
27 1 CHI $2,570,100
28 1 MIL $2,493,900
29 1 OAK $2,424,600
30 1 NYY $2,365,500
31 COMP (J.T. Ginn) LAD $2,312,000
32 1 HOU $2,257,300
33 COMP (Patrick Corbin) ARI $2,202,200
34 COMP (A.J. Pollock) ARI $2,148,100
35 CBA MIA $2,095,800
36 CBA TB $2,045,400
37 COMP (Gunnar Hoglund) PIT $1,999,300
38 CBA (via CIN, Sonny Gray trade) NYY $1,952,300
39 CBA MIN $1,906,800
40 CBA (via OAK, Jurikson Profar trade) TB $1,856,700
41 CBA (via MIL, Alex Claudio trade) TEX $1,813,500
42 2 BAL $1,771,100
43 1 (tax threshold penalty) BOS $1,729,800
44 2 KC $1,689,500
45 2 CWS $1,650,200
46 2 MIA $1,617,400
47 2 DET $1,580,200
48 2 SD $1,543,600
49 2 CIN $1,507,600
50 2 TEX $1,469,900
51 2 SF $1,436,900
52 2 TOR $1,403,200
53 2 NYM $1,370,400
54 2 MIN $1,338,500
55 2 LAA $1,307,000
56 2 ARI $1,276,400
57 2 PIT $1,243,600
58 2 STL $1,214,300
59 2 SEA $1,185,500
60 2 ATL $1,157,400
61 2 TB $1,129,700
62 2 COL $1,102,700
63 2 CLE $1,076,300
64 2 CHI $1,050,300
65 2 MIL $1,025,100
66 2 OAK $1,003,300
67 2 NYY $976,700
68 2 HOU $953,100
69 2 BOS $929,800
70 CBB KC $906,800
71 CBB BAL $884,200
72 CBB PIT $870,700
73 CBB SD $857,400
74 CBB ARI $844,200
75 CBB (via STL, Paul Goldschmidt trade) ARI $831,100
76 CBB (via CLE, Carlos Santana trade) SEA $818,200
77 CBB COL $805,600
78 COMP (Yasmani Grandal) LAD $793,000
79 3 BAL $780,400
80 3 KC $767,800
81 3 CWS $755,300
82 3 MIA $744,200
83 3 DET $733,100
84 3 SD $721,900
85 3 CIN $710,700
86 3 TEX $699,700
87 3 SF $689,300
88 3 TOR $678,600
89 3 NYM $667,900
90 3 MIN $657,600
91 3 PHI $647,300
92 3 LAA $637,600
93 3 ARI $627,900
94 3 WSH $618,200
95 3 PIT $610,800
96 3 STL $604,800
97 3 SEA $599,100
98 3 ATL $593,100
99 3 TB $587,400
100 3 COL $581,600
101 3 CLE $577,000
102 3 LAD $571,400
103 3 CHI $565,600
104 3 OAK $560,000
105 3 NYY $554,300
106 3 HOU $549,000
107 3 BOS $543,500
108 4 BAL $538,200
109 4 KC $533,000
110 4 CWS $527,800
111 4 MIA $522,600
112 4 DET $517,400
113 4 SD $512,400
114 4 CIN $507,400
115 4 TEX $502,300
116 4 SF $497,500
117 4 TOR $492,700
118 4 NYM $487,900
119 4 MIN $483,000
120 4 PHI $478,300
121 4 LAA $473,700
122 4 ARI $469,000
123 4 WSH $464,500
124 4 PIT $460,000
125 4 STL $455,600
126 4 SEA $451,800
127 4 ATL $447,400
128 4 TB $442,900
129 4 COL $438,700
130 4 CLE $434,300
131 4 LAD $430,800
132 4 CHI $426,600
133 4 MIL $422,300
134 4 OAK $418,200
135 4 NYY $414,000
136 4 HOU $410,100
137 4 BOS $406,000
138 5 BAL $402,000
139 5 KC $398,000
140 5 CWS $394,300
141 5 MIA $390,400
142 5 DET $386,600
143 5 SD $382,700
144 5 CIN $379,000
145 5 TEX $375,200
146 5 SF $371,600
147 5 TOR $367,900
148 5 NYM $364,400
149 5 MIN $360,800
150 5 PHI $357,100
151 5 LAA $353,700
152 5 ARI $350,300
153 5 WSH $346,800
154 5 PIT $343,400
155 5 STL $340,000
156 5 SEA $336,600
157 5 ATL $333,300
158 5 TB $330,100
159 5 COL $327,200
160 5 CLE $324,100
161 5 LAD $321,100
162 5 CHI $318,200
163 5 MIL $315,400
164 5 OAK $312,400
165 5 NYY $309,500
166 5 HOU $306,800
167 5 BOS $304,200
168 6 BAL $301,600
169 6 KC $299,000
170 6 CWS $296,400
171 6 MIA $293,800
172 6 DET $291,400
173 6 SD $289,000
174 6 CIN $286,500
175 6 TEX $284,200
176 6 SF $281,800
177 6 TOR $279,500
178 6 NYM $277,100
179 6 MIN $274,800
180 6 PHI $272,500
181 6 LAA $270,300
182 6 ARI $268,200
183 6 WSH $266,000
184 6 PIT $263,700
185 6 STL $261,600
186 6 SEA $259,400
187 6 ATL $257,400
188 6 TB $255,300
189 6 COL $253,300
190 6 CLE $251,100
191 6 LAD $249,000
192 6 CHI $247,000
193 6 MIL $244,900
194 6 OAK $243,000
195 6 NYY $241,000
196 6 HOU $239,000
197 6 BOS $237,000
198 7 BAL $235,100
199 7 KC $233,000
200 7 CWS $231,100
201 7 MIA $229,700
202 7 DET $227,700
203 7 SD $225,800
204 7 CIN $224,000
205 7 TEX $222,100
206 7 SF $220,200
207 7 TOR $218,500
208 7 NYM $216,600
209 7 MIN $214,900
210 7 PHI $213,300
211 7 LAA $211,500
212 7 ARI $209,800
213 7 WSH $208,200
214 7 PIT $206,500
215 7 STL $204,800
216 7 SEA $203,400
217 7 ATL $201,600
218 7 TB $200,100
219 7 COL $198,500
220 7 CLE $197,300
221 7 LAD $195,700
222 7 CHI $194,400
223 7 MIL $192,900
224 7 OAK $191,500
225 7 NYY $190,100
226 7 HOU $188,900
227 7 BOS $187,700
228 8 BAL $186,300
229 8 KC $184,700
230 8 CWS $183,700
231 8 MIA $182,300
232 8 DET $181,200
233 8 SD $179,800
234 8 CIN $178,600
235 8 TEX $177,400
236 8 SF $176,300
237 8 TOR $175,000
238 8 NYM $174,000
239 8 MIN $173,000
240 8 PHI $172,100
241 8 LAA $171,200
242 8 ARI $170,300
243 8 WSH $169,500
244 8 PIT $168,500
245 8 STL $167,800
246 8 SEA $167,000
247 8 ATL $166,100
248 8 TB $165,400
249 8 COL $164,700
250 8 CLE $163,900
251 8 LAD $163,400
252 8 CHI $162,700
253 8 MIL $162,000
254 8 OAK $161,400
255 8 NYY $160,800
256 8 HOU $160,300
257 8 BOS $159,700
258 9 BAL $159,200
259 9 KC $158,600
260 9 CWS $158,100
261 9 MIA $157,600
262 9 DET $157,200
263 9 SD $156,600
264 9 CIN $156,100
265 9 TEX $155,800
266 9 SF $155,300
267 9 TOR $154,900
268 9 NYM $154,600
269 9 MIN $154,100
270 9 PHI $153,600
271 9 LAA $153,300
272 9 ARI $152,900
273 9 WSH $152,600
274 9 PIT $152,300
275 9 STL $152,000
276 9 SEA $151,600
277 9 ATL $151,300
278 9 TB $150,800
279 9 COL $150,500
280 9 CLE $150,300
281 9 LAD $150,100
282 9 CHI $149,800
283 9 MIL $149,500
284 9 OAK $149,300
285 9 NYY $148,900
286 9 HOU $148,400
287 9 BOS $148,200
288 10 BAL $147,900
289 10 KC $147,700
290 10 CWS $147,400
291 10 MIA $147,200
292 10 DET $147,000
293 10 SD $146,800
294 10 CIN $146,300
295 10 TEX $146,100
296 10 SF $145,700
297 10 TOR $145,500
298 10 NYM $145,300
299 10 MIN $145,000
300 10 PHI $144,800
301 10 LAA $144,600
302 10 ARI $144,400
303 10 WSH $144,100
304 10 PIT $143,900
305 10 STL $143,600
306 10 SEA $143,500
307 10 ATL $143,200
308 10 TB $143,000
309 10 COL $142,700
310 10 CLE $142,500
311 10 LAD $142,300
312 10 CHI $142,200
313 10 MIL $142,200
314 10 OAK $142,200
315 10 NYY $142,200
316 10 HOU $142,200
317 10 BOS $142,200

Top 30 Prospects: Chicago White Sox

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Chicago White Sox. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

White Sox Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Eloy Jimenez 22.3 MLB RF 2019 60
2 Michael Kopech 22.9 MLB RHP 2019 55
3 Nick Madrigal 22.0 A+ 2B 2020 55
4 Luis Robert 21.7 A+ CF 2020 55
5 Dylan Cease 23.3 AA RHP 2019 50
6 Dane Dunning 24.3 AA RHP 2021 50
7 Micker Adolfo 22.6 A+ RF 2021 45
8 Luis Alexander Basabe 22.6 AA CF 2019 45
9 Blake Rutherford 21.9 A+ LF 2020 45
10 Luis Gonzalez 23.6 A+ RF 2020 45
11 Zack Collins 24.2 AA 1B 2019 45
12 Jake Burger 23.0 A 3B 2021 40+
13 Steele Walker 22.7 A LF 2022 40+
14 Jimmy Lambert 24.4 AA RHP 2020 40
15 Seby Zavala 25.6 AAA C 2019 40
16 Tyler Johnson 23.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
17 Gavin Sheets 22.9 A+ 1B 2020 40
18 Jordan Stephens 26.6 AAA RHP 2019 40
19 Konnor Pilkington 21.6 R LHP 2021 40
20 Alec Hansen 24.5 AA RHP 2020 40
21 Zack Burdi 24.1 AAA RHP 2019 40
22 Luis Mieses 18.8 R CF 2022 40
23 Codi Heuer 22.7 R RHP 2021 40
24 Zach Thompson 25.4 AA RHP 2020 35+
25 Bernardo Flores 23.6 AA LHP 2020 35+
26 Danny Mendick 25.5 AAA SS 2019 35+
27 Bryce Bush 19.3 R RF 2022 35+
28 Lenyn Sosa 19.2 R SS 2022 35+
29 Ryan Burr 24.8 MLB RHP 2019 35+
30 Ian Hamilton 23.8 MLB RHP 2019 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 70/80 60/70 40/40 45/50 60/60

Even before the White Sox acquired Jimenez from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade, he had dealt with a multitude of injuries. Hamstring and shoulder issues plagued him while he was still with the Cubs, and limited him to DH duty, or forced him to sit out for a few days at a time, or altogether kept rehabbing him on the Mesa backfields. He has continued to have various issues since the South Siders acquired him. In 2018 alone, Jimenez dealt with patella tendinitis during the early part of spring training, then was left back in extended due to a strained pec. He suffered a strained left adductor in July, and finally a quad strain this winter, which ended his Dominican Winter League season.

But while Eloy has missed considerable time with injuries and sometimes played through them, he has mashed like few other players in the minors. He split 2018 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, slashing .337/.384/.577, his strikeout rate plummeting to 13% at the latter stop. Despite his limited speed and at-bats, he somehow managed to net 53 extra-base hits and seemed ready for a big league cup of coffee in September. The White Sox refused to brew him one, and Eloy’s agent threatened to file a grievance against the club, an issue that was resolved during 2019 spring training with a record contract extension. He’ll likely be up all year, and while we think there’s a chance injury or a lack of mobility limit Eloy’s ceiling the way flaws have similarly limited some of Chicago’s other recent prospect graduates, we still think he’ll hit enough to be a star.

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Mt. Pleasant HS (TX) (BOS)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/60 45/55 40/45 94-98 / 101

Just as Kopech seemed to be harnessing his hellacious stuff, he blew out. In the seven minor league starts before his big league debut, Kopech walked just four batters, and he was similarly efficient in his first few big league outings. His velocity was down and the Tigers shelled him in his final start, and an MRI revealed Kopech would need Tommy John. The timing was particularly cruel, not just because things had started to click, but also because late-season TJs usually cost the pitcher all of the next year; Kopech isn’t expected to be back until 2020.

His stuff is great, headlined by a mid-90s fastball that often crests 100 mph. The command inroads Kopech made late in 2018 are especially important for his ability to deal with lefties, because his changeup feel is not very good. He’ll need to mix his two breaking balls together to deal with them, and his slider feel is way ahead of the curveball. So long as Kopech’s stuff returns, he has No. 3 starter ceiling if the command comes with it, and high-leverage relief ability if the latter does not.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (CHW)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/70 45/45 40/45 70/70 55/60 50/50

When Madrigal fractured his wrist during Oregon State’s second series of the year, he was hitting .560 (14-for-25) with two doubles, two homers, and three steals in three attempts. For two long weekends in Arizona, he did everything. He crushed balls in all parts of the strike zone, ran plus-plus times to first base, and made several highlight reel defensive plays at second base. The wrist fracture kept him out for the rest of February, all of March, and most of April. When he returned, Madrigal kept hitting, but not for power, which is consistent with what plagues hitters for several months after they’ve had a break in the hand/wrist area.

That trend continued through his first pro summer, which was interrupted by a hamstring issue, as Madrigal struggled to pull and/or lift the ball at all. He had a downward, slashing swing instead of the dynamic and athletic cut he’d had early in the year, when he could scoop and lift stuff at the bottom of the zone. But he kept making contact. It was a month before a pro pitcher was able to strike Madrigal, who only K’d in 3% of his pro plate appearances last year, out.

It’s fair to make a distinction between prospects who are small, and ones who are just short. Jose Altuve is short, but is built like a little tank. Madrigal is small, a diminutive 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, and this, combined with his total lack of post-draft power, has the pro side of scouting very concerned. He looked tired and sluggish during instructional league, though it wasn’t as if he’d played a whole year and was an obvious candidate to be run down, furthering concerns that his size will be an issue. We’re inclined to believe there’s a substantial bounce-back on the horizon. He was the best draft-eligible hitter we saw last year, a complete player with few, if any, flaws.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (CHW)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 65/65 30/55 60/60 50/55 60/60

More than a full year removed from all that intrigue and we still know relatively little about Luis Robert, largely due to a thumb ligament sprain LouBob dealt with throughout 2018. His signing with Chicago marked the end of a more lucrative era for young international players who are now subject to more tight-fisted rules capping bonus amounts. Despite a limited market due to the timing of his deal, Robert signed for $26 million thanks to his all-world physical gifts. The raw power and top-end speed were obvious in workouts, but unless teams scouted him in Series Nacional or during the Cuban National team’s annual CanAm League tour, little was known about his ability to hit big league-quality pitching, or what his instincts were like in center field.

Because his thumb cost him April, May, and July (he re-aggravated it), it was hard to get extended looks during 2018 until Robert’s six-week stint in the Arizona Fall League (which was also interrupted by a hamstring issue). LouBob’s AFL stats were fine, but his swing path left him vulnerable to velocity on the inner half, and he too often expanded the zone. There’s doubt that he’ll get to all of his raw power in games, both due to the swing path and lack of plate discipline, but it isn’t as if he’s had time to make proper adjustments yet, and the pitching he saw in Arizona was the best he’s seen in his life. The ceiling is the same as it was purported to be before he signed: power, speed, offensive performance similar to Carlos Gomez’s best years. There’s just more risk that Robert doesn’t get there.

50 FV Prospects

5. Dylan Cease, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2014 from Milton HS (GA) (CHC)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 45/50 40/45 95-98 / 101

Cease burst onto the scouting scene in 2013 when, as a junior in high school, he hit 96 mph and flashed an above average curveball at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament in Cary, NC. He mostly held serve in his senior year, occasionally touching a tick or two higher or flashing 60 with his curveball, but was still a stuff over command type. The Cubs went well overslot to get Cease in the sixth round with a $1 million bonus, below what his talent was worth, but appropriate since clubs knew he needed Tommy John surgery right after he signed.

He’s slowly made progress in terms of starter traits during his pro career, while his velocity has increased to where he sits 95-98 mph now. In 2018, he took the biggest step forward, dominating High-A and Double-A at age 22, and some scouts are now projecting him as a No. 2 or 3 starter. We still aren’t completely convinced, as Cease is still control over command, and may fit best in a multi-inning relief role, or as a starter who doesn’t face any hitters a third time.

6. Dane Dunning, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (WAS)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 50/55 50/55 90-93 / 94

Dunning was an intriguing projection arm in high school who flashed average stuff and had some athleticism. Then he took a big step forward in his freshman year at Florida. At his best, Dunning has three pitches that flash plus at times and starter command, but most often has above average stuff and good control, consistent with a No. 4 starter look. The Nationals took him in the late first round in 2016 despite him being the bullpen/midweek/spot starting utility knife on a loaded staff. He was in the Adam Eaton deal in 2018 and missed the second half of 2018 with an elbow strain, before tearing his UCL and having Tommy John during 2019 spring training. He’ll be back midway through 2020 and is likely to be pushed quickly to the big leagues if his stuff is back.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 65/65 40/55 50/45 40/40 50/50

When Micker Adolfo (often referred to by scouts as Micker Zapata while he was an amateur) was 14 years old, he moved from the Virgin Islands to the Dominican Republic to train for his future baseball career. Mostly due to his huge raw power, he signed for what was then a franchise IFA-record $1.6 million, a mark that has since been shattered by Luis Robert. Adolfo’s early career was mired in strikeouts and injury. He struck out at a 43% clip in his first season, missed most of 2015 due to a gruesome leg fracture, and then broke his hamate a month into 2016 and hit for no power after he returned.

While he continues to strike out at a somewhat troubling rate (30% combined over the last two seasons), Adolfo has performed each of the last two years despite playing through an elbow injury that required Tommy John in 2018. He’s grown into the power expected of him as an amateur and has slugged just shy of .460 as an age-appropriate regular at Low- and Hi-A. Back from Tommy John during the Spring of 2019, Adolfo looked buff, but stiff. The power is still there, but so too is the risk he ends up as a DH. One has to wonder if, through no fault of his own, the large swaths of inactivity throughout his career have led to an early tumble down the defensive spectrum. We still really like that power potential and are encouraged by the last two years of output. At this point, Adolfo’s tools probably are what they are (though perhaps some arm comes back further removed from surgery) and his statistical performance will drive his stock.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Venezuela (BOS)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 45/50 60/60 40/45 60/60

Basabe shredded the Carolina League for the first two and a half months of 2018 — hitting .266/.370/.502 — then had one of the year’s most impressive feats of strength when he turned around a 102 mph Hunter Greene fastball at the Futures Game, and deposited it 10 rows deep to right-center field. His second half with Double-A Birmingham was less successful, and just as Basabe appeared to be adjusting to the better pitching in August, he would again struggle in the Arizona Fall League. Perhaps the most notable takeaway from the AFL is that Basabe’s instincts in center field are not great, and he may be better suited for a corner despite his speed. If that’s the case (it’d be fair to assume Basabe was gassed during the AFL and to just exclude that look from consideration) then the swing and miss aspect of the profile (27% K% last year) becomes a little scary. But Basabe has a potent collection of physical tools, he’s walked at an above-average clip, his modest power plays in games because he lifts the ball, and all of that should enable him to be a second division regular.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Chaminade Prep HS (CA) (NYY)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/50 30/45 50/45 40/50 45/45

Famous since his days as a high school underclassman, Rutherford was a likely over-slot target of teams picking early in round two of the 2016 draft, but the Yankees took him 18th overall and signed him for about $800,000 over slot. He had a strong track record of performance in high school, but concerns about his power projection arose during Rutherford’s first full season, when he slugged just .348. One could point to his age (Rutherford was as old as a junior college prospect on draft day) as an indicator that should have been tempered our expectations of his power growth in the first place. But really, Rutherford’s swing, while picturesque, is just geared for all-fields doubles. He has some low-ball, home run power to his pull side, but otherwise does damage peppering the gaps and third baseline. Half of his 2018 doubles were struck to left of center field. It’s not an ideal profile for a corner outfielder, but Rutherford is a likely big leaguer. We have him projected as a low-end regular.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from New Mexico (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 30/45 50/50 45/50 50/50

The quick-batted Gonzalez had a breakout 2018, with a 140 wRC+ during half seasons at Low- and Hi-A. He stands way off the dish, which creates some quality-of-contact limitations on pitches away from him in exchange for an ability to open up and turn on inside pitches with authority. It’s an approach that’s typically shiftable, but Gonzalez is also a good bunter and runs well to combat this. Like Rutherford ahead of him, it’s tough to project corner outfielders with middling power as average or better regulars. Rutherford is younger and perhaps has a better shot to grow into more, while Gonzalez has the superior feel for contact and might end up a 6 bat who doesn’t need to hit for power to profile. The two are pretty interchangeable depending on your preference.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Miami (CHW)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 45/50 20/20 40/40 50/50

We suppose Collins could catch on occasion, but he probably shouldn’t be back there every day due to issues with receiving and mobility. Despite only fitting at 1B/DH, Collins’ combination of power and on base ability make it likely that he finds his way into regular big league at-bats somewhere, especially if the DH is instituted in the National League. His 19% walk rate was among the best in the minors last year, and just 33% of Collins’ balls in play are on the ground. He’s a pretty good three true outcomes prospect, a bat-only 1-2 WAR player à la Josh Bell or Justin Bour, who we’ll likely see in the big leagues by 2020.

40+ FV Prospects

12. Jake Burger, 3B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Missouri State (CHW)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 60/60 40/55 45/30 40/45 60/60

Thick and tightly wound, Burger was already a tenuous bet to stay at third base for very long before he twice ruptured his Achilles tendon, once during a spring training game and again while rehabbing in late May. The 12 month timetable for return from Achilles tears was reset, and puts Burger on track to come back sometime in June. While there are questions about his defense, Burger was one of the top college bats in the 2017 class. He has quick, explosive hands that generate big bat speed, and he has unusual bat control for someone who swings as hard as he does. He has sizable ceiling, especially if he can find a way to stay at third base, but we just won’t know what kind of toll the injuries have taken until Burger starts playing games again. He’s a good bet to see time in the 2019 Arizona Fall League.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Oklahoma (CHW)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 30/50 50/45 45/50 45/45

It’s rare for there to be a college hitter with this kind of scintillating, violent bat speed, let alone one who’s overshadowed by an even toolsier teammate the way Walker was by Kyler Murray. Perhaps it was concerns about strikeouts, or the vague and mysterious injury bug that bit Walker during the Big 12 tournament, that caused him to fall out of the first round despite hitting .352/.441/.606 in a large conference. He’s an athletic swinger with a natural uppercut swing that seemed likely to help him lift the ball regularly, and the little bit of batted ball data we have from after Walker signed suggests that notion is correct. We’re doubtful that he stays in center field long term, but it’s hard to say that definitively because Walker lost reps there to Murray in college, and may yet develop better feel. He’s likely a big league regular if he can either stay in center or avoid perilously high strikeout rates, a star if he does both, and a corner platoon bat if he does neither.

40 FV Prospects

14. Jimmy Lambert, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Fresno State (CHW)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 50/55 50/55 45/50 91-94 / 95

Lambert’s strikeout rate exploded from 16% in 2017 to nearly 29% in 2018. The cause? A slight uptick in velocity paired with an arm slot change that has Lambert coming straight over the top, creating more life on his heater. It also creates more vertical action on his breaking stuff. This delivery appears tough to maintain, as Lambert has to contort his body to get to that slot, but he hasn’t been wild since making the change. His well-rounded collection of stuff plays much better like this, and Lambert now projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Drafted: 12th Round, 2015 from San Diego State (CHW)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 40/45 30/30 45/45 50/50

Likely a long-time bat first, backup catcher, Zavala has some power, an average arm, and has worked hard to become a viable defensive catcher. Lauded for his makeup, Zavala got big and strong after he was drafted but appeared more lean and lithe this spring. He could get his first taste of the majors in 2019.

16. Tyler Johnson, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from South Carolina (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 45/50 93-95 / 97

Yet another South Carolina Gamecock having success in pro ball, Johnson is a physical beast with big velocity. He struck out nearly 40% of opposing hitters in 2018 by relying heavily on the heater. Both his slider and changeup are serviceable, and Johnson projects in a middle relief role.

17. Gavin Sheets, 1B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (CHW)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 70/70 40/50 30/30 40/50 50/50

Likely in need of a swing change to profile at first, Sheets’ cut too often slices down at the baseball, and he can only get to his considerable raw power in certain parts of the strike zone. He has good bat control and makes mid-flight adjustments to breaking balls, which he has the raw strength to punish even if the timing of his lower half has been compromised. He’s a good hitter, just one we’re skeptical will clear the offensive bar at first base without trading some contact for power. Sheets is also another example of why we should be skeptical of hitters’ power numbers at Wake Forest.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Rice (CHW)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/50 55/60 40/45 50/55 45/50 89-93 / 95

In a starter/reliever grey area, Stephens doesn’t have the changeup quality typically desired from a starter, but he can back foot his breaking balls and work cut in on the hands of lefties, so the lack of change may not matter. His curveball, typically in the upper-70s, has premium raw spin; that pitch should alone carry him to a role on a big league staff. He spent 2018 with Triple-A Charlotte and is a strong multi-inning relief candidate.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Mississippi State (CHW)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 228 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 45/50 45/55 87-91 / 92

Pilkington missed an SEC bat per inning during his stay at Mississippi State, and seemed like a potentially quick-moving, low-variance backend starter prospect when the White Sox made him their third round pick last year. Physically mature and wielding vanilla stuff, Pilkington’s upside is limited, and most of his draft value was in perceived certainty. His stuff was sometimes down in the mid-80s during the 2019 spring, though. Ideally, he’ll move to the upper levels pretty quickly, assuming his velocity rebounds.

20. Alec Hansen, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma (CHW)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 60/60 40/45 40/40 90-95 / 97

What a roller coaster of a career it has already been for Hansen, who looked like a possible top three pick as a college sophomore, faltered as a junior, appeared reborn once free of seemingly poor college instruction, then collapsed again in 2018 when he was hurt for a time (forearm) and had more walks than innings pitched.

At his best, Hansen will sit 94-97 early in starts and both his breaking balls will be plus. Last year his velo was down, sometimes into the upper-80s. Hansen is built like an Andean Condor, and it’s fair to anticipate mechanical consistency arriving late for an athlete built like that. But he turns 25 this year and even if his stuff bounces back, we think he’ll just end up in a relief role.

21. Zack Burdi, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Louisville (CHW)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/45 50/50 40/45 92-96 / 101

Burdi’s stuff was way down when he returned from Tommy John last year. He was 97-101 with a plus slider and changeup prior to his injury and at his ranking peak, was one of the few relief-only prospects who we considered a 50 FV prospect. During his AZL rehab outings and in the AFL, Burdi was often throwing just 92-94 and his slider’s spin rate dropped to 2200 rpm after spiraling in at 2700 rpm when he was healthy. He had to be shut down during the spring of 2019 spring and while we’re hopeful for an eventual bounce-back, Burdi’s future is murky.

22. Luis Mieses, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CHW)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 50/50 20/50 45/40 45/45 45/45

An 18-year-old leviathan, Mieses is much more physical than his listed 180 pounds, and it’s shocking to watch him use his instincts and first step to close on balls in center field, even though he likely won’t play there for very long. He has exceptional hand-eye coordination and finds all sorts of ways to put the bat head on the ball but too often, he offers at pitcher’s pitches and settles for sub-optimal contact. He has a gorgeous, low-ball left-handed swing that could produce power if Miesis learned to attack the right pitches. The near bottom-of-the-scale walk rates each of his first two years are certainly a red flag, but Mieses’ size and hitting ability make him an intriguing, high-ceiling flier.

23. Codi Heuer, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Wichita State (CHW)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 40/45 50/55 50/55 45/55 92-95 / 96

Heuer spent his first two college seasons in the Wichita State bullpen but was frequently seen by draft room decision makers as a junior because they were in to see Alec Bohm and Greyson Jenista. His arm slot and spotty college fastball command made a bullpen projection popular, but because Heuer is a big-framed, cold weather (Colorado) high schooler who threw limited innings for two years in college, we’re a little more optimistic about him improving. He had a strong fall instructional league during which his mid-90s sinker worked as an effective precursor for a good changeup. He doesn’t have great breaking ball spin but at times his fastballs cut on him, and there might be a viable third pitch here that simply isn’t a traditional breaking ball. He’s likely a two-pitch reliever but in our estimation, there’s room for growth because of the background. He could be a workhorse backend starter.

35+ FV Prospects

24. Zach Thompson, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Texas-Arlington (CHW)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

You could argue Thompson belongs up with Jordan Stephens on this list, especially because Thompson doesn’t yet need to occupy a 40-man spot the way Stephens does, but even though they’re each likely to end up in the bullpen, Thompson is the one who has already moved. He sits 92-95 and has an above-average curveball, a pretty standard two-pitch middle relief mix.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from USC (CHW)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

It seems that, after his velocity yo-yo’d throughout college (probably due to inconsistent usage) and early as a pro, Flores’ fastball has settled in 89-92 range. It just means he’ll have to pitch off of his secondaries more, the best of which is a tilting, 2-to-7 curveball that spins in at about 2750 rpm. Flores will throw the curve in the zone for strikes or bounce it in the dirt to his glove side. He can also create good angle in on righties with what looks like a cutter. He’s at least strong rotation depth, if not just a good No. 5 starter.

Drafted: 22th Round, 2015 from UMass Lowell (CHW)
Age 25.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

There’s warranted age-based skepticism of Mendick’s numbers at Hi- and Double-A each of the last two years, but it’s encouraging that he had such a strong 2018 after a bad month and a half at Birmingham the year prior. He was similarly excellent during 2019 spring training, though most of his at-bats came against late-inning reserve arms. But as a versatile infielder with terrific control of the strike zone, Mendick is a very rosterable big leaguer who should give you good at-bats off the bench. His career peripherals are strong and may be an indication that we’re sleeping on him a bit because of his age.

27. Bryce Bush, RF
Drafted: 33th Round, 2018 from De La Salle Collegiate HS (MI) (CHW)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

A late-round, cold-weather high school flier who signed for $290,000, Bush played in some of the big prep showcases during his final amateur summer, and was clearly overmatched against the better pitching. But he put on an absolute show during batting practice and has one of the best raw power projections among potential future Sox. He had a strong pro debut on paper and continued to look good with the bat during the spring of 2019. The general scouting consensus is that Bush will not stay at his current third base and will have to move to an outfield corner or first, which immediately makes Bush’s high school whiffs troublesome. He’s a high-risk, long-term developmental prospect with some of the louder offensive tools in the system.

28. Lenyn Sosa, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (CHW)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

While initial impressions of Sosa were that he had a shot to hit his way to an everyday gig at second base, continued evaluations indicate he may have sufficient instincts and footwork to remain at short despite limited straight-line speed. The bat control required for him to clear the middle infield offensive bar is there, but he’s not physically projectable, and needs to be more selective at the dish.

29. Ryan Burr, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Arizona State (ARI)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Burr is Arizona State’s all-time saves leader. He was 93-96 with an above-average slider almost every time out as a Sun Devil, but began experiencing wild fluctuations in velocity during his early time in pro ball. But in 2017, his stuff returned to its collegiate form; the Dbacks traded him for International bonus space, and Burr sped to the majors. He profiles as a standard, two-pitch reliever, but the velo fluctuation and 2016 injury dilute his FV a tad.

30. Ian Hamilton, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Washington State (CHW)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Hamilton has thrown very hard dating back to college and has maintained that kind of velo despite having one of the longer arm actions in baseball. His upper-80s slider is a gravity ball that spins at just 1600 rpm. It seems to work as long as Hamilton locates it, but his delivery is pretty hard to repeat. He profiles in middle relief as long as that weird slider plays against big league hitters.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Youth with Some Helium
Amado Nunez, 2B
Cabera Weaver, OF
Anderson Comas, OF
Lency Delgado, 3B
Josue Guerrero, OF

This is the most important group of the Others because any of them might be on the main section of the list by mid-season. Nunez can hit but will be limited to second base and his body is maxed out. He’ll need to develop a 6 bat, but he has a shot to get there. Weaver is a skinny 19-year-old with speed. He needs to get stronger. Comas has a big frame, and good hand-eye and bat control, but his swing is disconcertingly long. Delgado is built like a fullback and has some pop and a shot to stay at third base. Guerrero’s body has gone backwards since his amateur days but he’s still very young and was an interesting $1 million power projection signee not long ago.

A Carrying Tool
Laz Rivera, SS
Jameson Fisher, 1B/LF
Corey Zangari, 1B

Some teams like Rivera at shortstop and he can really swing it, but he’s too aggressive and probably maxes out as a utility guy. Fisher has great feel to hit but the college injury that contributed to his moving out from behind the plate turned out to be significant. Zangari has huge power but hasn’t played much in two years due to Tommy John.

Just a Bunch of Pitchers
Kodi Medeiros, LHP
A.J. Puckett, RHP
Luis Ledo, RHP
Jason Bilous, RHP
Lincoln Henzman, RHP

Medeiros is a low slot lefty with a good slider. That may not be enough once new pitcher usage rules are implemented next year. Puckett has backend stuff but is 24 and had TJ this spring. Ledo has been into the mid-90s and flashes a plus split. Bilous would do that in college but has been more 90-92 as a pro. Henzman could have a 55 slider at maturity and pitch in a bullpen.

System Overview

This system has dealt with an unusual number of severe injuries — with several TJs, including two to positions players, plus Burger’s Achilles and Luis Robert’s thumb injuries — but it’s hard not to note that most of the name prospects the Sox have acquired have fallen a little short of expectations. Most of them are still very young, but Moncada’s contact issues are concerning, Lucas Giolito’s stuff has been all over the place, Reynaldo Lopez has been erratic, and several of the pitchers are throwing a little less hard now than they were in prior years.

That reads like finger pointing at player dev, but Chris Getz has only been running that department since the fall of 2016 and if we don’t count the guys who have been hurt badly during his tenure, there are more stock up players during that span (Lambert for sure, plus Zavala, and we’d say Gonzalez though it seems like he was in some teams’ late first round mix and it’s possible we were just light on him as an amateur) than there are instances of frustration (Sheets would ideally have more lift, and spring looks at Pilkington indicate he may have backed up). With that in mind, the players to watch are the 2017 July 2 signees and the 2018 high schoolers (Mieses, Bush, Delgado, Cabrera, Comas), since it’s the first talent Getz and Co. will get to mold from such an age, as Chicago has been college-heavy in recent drafts.

This system is top-heavy, with potential stars leading the way and very little in the way of depth beyond those few names, though the group of recent high school selections in the 35+ FV tier and Others of Note should yield a gem or two. The third overall pick in the draft will help replace some of the clout lost when Eloy graduates, and it’s possible that some of the veterans on expiring deals (Jose Abreu, Ivan Nova, Yonder Alonso, Welington Castillo) could net something at the trade deadline.


Top 26 Prospects: Detroit Tigers

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Detroit Tigers. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Tigers Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Casey Mize 21.9 A+ RHP 2019 55
2 Matt Manning 21.2 AA RHP 2021 50
3 Daz Cameron 22.2 AAA CF 2020 50
4 Isaac Paredes 20.1 AA 3B 2021 50
5 Franklin Perez 21.3 AA RHP 2021 45+
6 Christin Stewart 25.3 MLB DH 2019 45
7 Willi Castro 21.9 AAA SS 2020 45
8 Wenceel Perez 19.4 A SS 2023 45
9 Beau Burrows 22.5 AA RHP 2019 45
10 Parker Meadows 19.4 A- CF 2022 40+
11 Kyle Funkhouser 25.0 AAA RHP 2019 40
12 Jake Rogers 23.9 AA C 2020 40
13 Elvin Rodriguez 21.0 A RHP 2021 40
14 Carlos Guzman 20.9 A+ RHP 2022 40
15 Alex Faedo 23.4 AA RHP 2020 40
16 Sergio Alcantara 22.7 AA SS 2019 40
17 Kody Clemens 22.9 A+ 2B 2021 40
18 Spencer Turnbull 26.6 MLB RHP 2019 40
19 Anthony Castro 24.0 AA RHP 2020 40
20 Bryan Garcia 23.9 AAA RHP 2020 40
21 Adinso Reyes 17.4 R 3B 2024 40
22 Derek Hill 23.2 A+ CF 2021 40
23 Reed Garrett 26.2 AAA RHP 2019 40
24 Dawel Lugo 24.2 MLB 2B 2019 35+
25 Matt Hall 25.7 MLB LHP 2019 35+
26 Gregory Soto 24.1 A+ LHP 2021 35+
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55 FV Prospects

1. Casey Mize, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Auburn (DET)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 55/60 60/65 50/55 92-96 / 97

Mize was a midrange projection arm in high school and broke out on the Cape after his freshman year at Auburn. He looked like a mid-first rounder after his sophomore year and subsequent summer with collegiate Team USA, then took a giant leap forward in his draft spring, which led to Detroit taking him first overall. His command improved and he added an 87-90 mph cutter that quickly became a plus pitch, to pair with his mid-90’s fastball, above average slider, and plus splitter. After pitching for Team USA the summer before the draft, Mize got a PRP injection in his pitching elbow. Some teams had concerns about his shoulder in high school, and he also missed time a sophomore at Auburn with forearm tightness.

Mize has some violence to his delivery and isn’t the prototypical projectable plus athlete you normally see at the top of the draft. There’s also some anecdotal evidence suggesting heavy cutter usage leads to diminished velocity. These are all things to make you wonder how Mize projects, but right now he may be able to pitch in the big leagues, with some mentioning Aaron Nola as the type of pitcher he could become. He’s already made an adjustment to his slider that has given the pitch more verticle depth, like a slurve, which adds a new movement wrinkle to his mix. He doesn’t really fit Detroit’s timeline for contention, and may not be as good in his sixth year of control as he’ll be in his second, so many have openly wondered if Mize becomes a trade chip once he succeeds in the big leagues. That’s a good problem to have for a big league club in need of top shelf talent; Mize may give them that as soon as 2019.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Sheldon HS (CA) (DET)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/50 40/45 93-97 / 98

Manning entered his senior year of high school as a talented two-sport project with a, having size and arm speed, but inconsistent command, offspeed stuff, and somewhat strange east/west elements to his delivery. His superior athleticism shone through in the spring, along with improved direction to the plate, and the Tigers popped him ninth overall in 2016 with an eye toward Manning becoming a frontline starter.

Early in pro ball, Manning had some real trouble with strike-throwing, then slowly settled in. He has two easy plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, but his changeup is almost always below average, and his command comes and goes. His fastball plays up due to his excellent extension, but he gets so much extension that he overstrides and it reduces the amount of feel he has, both in his changeup and command. If Manning can dial down the aggression in his delivery a bit, the starter traits should come to the forefront and give the Tigers a No. 2 or 3 starter.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Eagle’s Landing Christian HS (GA) (HOU)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 40/45 50/55 50/55 50/50

Cameron stood out as one of the top players in his class as early as a freshman in high school, and the fact that he’s the son of Mike Cameron didn’t hurt, either. Daz was an elite talent early on in his own right, but the rest of his draft class slowly caught up and by his draft year, he was one of the top dozen or so prep bats, rather than the clear top talent. The questions then are still largely the questions now: he’s a plus runner who can play a solid center field with average raw power, but scouts question how much offensive impact there will be. Cameron has already surpassed the expectations that pessimistic scouts had for him as an amateur, but even scouts that like him now say he’s a potential low-end regular, possibly in the Keon Broxton mold, or even a poor man’s version of his father. He just turned 22 and will likely spend 2019 in the upper levels with an eye toward sticking in the big leagues in 2020.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 50/50 45/50 40/30 40/45 55/55

It’s hard to quibble with Paredes’ stellar 2018. He hit .278/.359/.456 across two levels, and reached and performed at Double-A Erie as a 19-year-old. He’s been drawing trade interest since the moment he set foot on the Cubs complex in 2016 due to his very mature feel to hit, which belies his age. Despite this, there are concerns about Paredes. He already has a catcherly build as a teenager and though he has spent the bulk of his pro innings at shortstop, he’s not going to stay there and probably won’t end up on the middle infield at all. He may eventually have to try to catch (which would slow his development, or the grind may dilute his offensive production) or move to first base, where he saw some reps in the Mexican League this offseason. The instability on defense is concerning even though everyone loves Paredes’ bat. We think he’ll be an average everyday player for a while but aren’t sure about his longevity.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/60 45/50 55/60 40/50 93-96 / 97

Perez’s first few pro seasons were notable because of how quickly Houston pushed him through the minors. A polished strike-thrower with four good pitches, he reached Double-A as a 19-year-old back in 2017 before he became the centerpiece of the Justin Verlander deal. Advanced though he was, various injuries have robbed Perez of innings. He has yet to throw more than 86 frames in an entire season, so while he may be fairly advanced for someone his age, and definitely for someone who has pitched so little, the industry has yet to see his stuff hold up for a whole summer of starter’s innings.

In 2016, he had knee trouble; in 2018, it was a lat strain, then shoulder inflammation. An ominous trap issue popped up during the early parts of 2019 spring training but Perez was back on the mound quickly and sitting his usual 93-96 into late-March. A strong-bodied 21-year-old, the cement is likely dry on Perez’s stuff. His high three-quarters slot creates ride to his fastball as well as downward vertical action on his curveball, and those two traits typically pair well together. While Perez’s curveball is his prettiest pitch, his best secondary offering is the changeup. There are times when Perez will come across the baseball and create screwball action on the change, and it runs, sometimes unhittably, onto the glove side corner of the plate. But mostly, it’s used as a swing-and-miss pitch that bottoms out beneath the strike zone just as it reaches the plate. Perez has mid-rotation stuff and strike-throwing ability, but needs a fully healthy season to be valued at that level across the league.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Tennessee (DET)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/45 65/65 55/60 40/40 30/30 40/40

Stewart has now hit for big power and walked at an above-average clip for five consecutive years, dating back to his junior season at Tennessee. He’s averaged 25 homers annually during that span and there’s lots of other evidence — signs like a consistently low ground ball rate and the raw thump he shows in BP — supporting what seems to be a safe, pretty impactful offensive profile. Stewart will most certainly give back some value on defense as he’s not a good defensive outfielder and probably belongs at DH. The predicament in Detroit is that so too do many of their other hitters, even though Victor Martinez has retired. And so Stewart will likely slowly prowl left field early in his career, and perhaps move to DH once Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos move on. He’s already 25, so while we think Stewart will hit like a good team’s 4-, 5- or 6-hole hitter for a while, this type of profile typically doesn’t age well, which, along with the defensive limitations, had us round down our projections a little bit.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (CLE)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 45/45 20/45 55/55 50/55 55/55

Francisco Lindor’s presence in Cleveland made the fast-approaching Castro expendable in trade, and Cleveland sent him to Detroit for Leonys Martin at the 2018 deadline. A 2017 breakout that saw Castro slug .424 at Hi-A Lynchburg seemed to be a mirage when he hit just .245/.303/.350 for three months at Double-A Akron (that power output is closer to career norms), but after the trade Castro slugged .562 and his ground ball rate dropped from 44% to 33% in about a 100 balls-in-play sample, which should be fairly stable. If there’s suddenly more lift here then Castro could be a top 100 prospect by mid year. He’s going to stay at short (plus range, average hands, above-average arm) but the average big league shortstop had a 95 wRC+ last year and Castro is a very aggressive hitter likely to run below-average OBPs. If there’s been a swing change (his swing with Cleveland was not conducive of power) then extra pop might propel Castro toward regular playing time. If not, he’s a low-end everyday player or utility man.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (DET)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/45 20/40 60/60 40/50 50/55

Perez signed for $550,000 in 2016 and fits the Detroit mold of international signings: shortstops signed for middle-tier bonuses with a tool or two and feel for the game. He had a breakout in 2018 as he gained strength, and it allowed his offensive game to be more well-rounded without costing him a step of speed. He isn’t a slam dunk to stick at shortstop, but will be solid at second base if it doesn’t work out. The upside isn’t enormous as it’s a contact profile with below average power, some speed, and a middle infield position, but those types turn into a 60 PV/FV every now and then (and Jose Ramirez sometimes, too), so we sit up in our chairs when we see a young hitter with this profile. Detroit doesn’t look scared to promote Perez aggressively, so he may play at both A-Ball levels at age 19 with a strong 2019 campaign.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Weatherford HS (TX) (DET)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 50/55 45/50 91-94 / 96

Burrows was on the scouting radar early in his prep career when he was hitting the mid-90s at tournaments after his sophomore year of high school. He had an extreme spine tilt at this point, bending his upper body at an almost 45-degree angle toward first base when he released the ball, but his breaking ball was above average and his strike-throwing wasn’t bad. As he entered pro ball, the Tigers worked on fixing this posture issue as they saw their first rounder as a potential mid-rotation starter. Since then, his stuff has ranged from being flat to regressing a bit. We can’t say the lower effort is directly leading to the stuff not holding, but some pitchers have to dial things back a bit to pitch like a starter needs to and Burrows appears to be one of them.

As many power prep arms learning to become starters do, Burrows’ breaker has become closer to average while his changeup is now the superior pitch (Ian Anderson is another example) and the upside is now more of a fourth starter. The just-okay numbers in Double-A indicate that Burrows either shouldn’t be working at the top of the zone or doesn’t yet have the combination of command and sequencing to make it work.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Grayson HS (GA) (DET)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 55/60 20/50 70/65 45/55 55/55

The younger brother of Rays outfielder Austin Meadows, Parker has some similarities to his big league sibling, but his tools are actually compared more often to those of Indians center fielder Bradley Zimmer. Zimmer and the younger Meadows both have deceptively easy speed due to their long frames, each has a plus arm, plus raw power, and long limbs that create contact issues at the plate. Meadows had some track record of hitting elite prep pitching over the summer months of the scouting calendar, but some amateur departments were turned off by his lack of rhythm in the batter’s box, and he slipped to round two on draft day even though he was in the mix for some teams picking in the 20s. He’s a typical high risk/high reward high school prospect, with even more upside than his brother, now a major leaguer.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Louisville (DET)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 45/50 40/50 92-94 / 97

Funkhouser was a classic Louisville recruit who wasn’t touted much at a Midwestern high school, then stood out immediately on campus as an early-round pick. He didn’t sign as a first rounder in 2015, then had a down season and signed as a fourth rounder in 2016. At his best, Funkhouser shows a 55 or 60 fastball and curveball along with an average changeup and command, for a No. 3 or 4 starter type profile. He did that for most of 2015, which led to being a first round pick, then was less consistent from that point forward. We think he’s about as good as Spencer Turnbull, as a stuff-first righty who’s close to the majors and either a depth starter, multi-inning reliever, or high leverage piece, but more a role player piece than a core starter type.

12. Jake Rogers, C
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Tulane (HOU)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 40/50 40/40 55/60 60/60

A polished receiver and cat-like ball-blocker with a laser arm, Rogers was one of this century’s best defensive amateur backstops while at Tulane. He fell to round three of his draft because of concerns about his bat, concerns that turned out to be well-founded, as Rogers had stark contact issues last year when he was tested at Double-A and the Fall League. A pairing of patience and pull power probably provides Rogers with a shot to approach the low offensive bar at the catcher position. He might hit .220 but still yank out 15 annual homers, walk a bunch, and end up hitting well-enough to play every day for someone. His glove alone makes him a high-probability big leaguer, at least as an uber-gloved backup.

13. Elvin Rodriguez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 50/55 45/55 40/50 89-92 / 94

Acquired in the Justin Upton swap, the wispy Rodriguez has three average pitches that could continue to improve either through reps and improved feel (the changeup), or mature physicality (the fastball). His 11-7 curveball has good shape, depth, and bite, his delivery is graceful, smooth, and repeatable. Stagnant development likely leaves Rodriguez with a collection of 50-grade pitches and command, relegating him to the No. 5 starter realm. But while you can quibble about which areas he’s most likely to improve (at age 21, the body and velocity may be done growing), it seems likely that some of the stuff will due to the frame, delivery, and athleticism.

14. Carlos Guzman, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/50 50/60 35/50 91-95 / 97

Guzman spent his first two pro seasons hitting .144 before the Tigers decided to move him from the infield to the mound, a decision that now looks brilliant after Guzman’s breakout 2018. With just 25 innings of affiliate experience to his name, Guzman went to the college prospect-laden New York-Penn League as a 20-year-old and struck out a batter per inning over 12 starts, while walking just 14 hitters all summer.

He is an exceptional on-mound athlete, who quickly took to an impact, low-80s changeup, which has bat-missing tail. A narrow, smallish frame and Guzman’s tendency to baby his offspeed stuff into the zone are present issues, but the latter of these should be remedied with time and experience. Guzman has a bad breaking ball, and while breaking ball quality typically isn’t something that improves very much over time, Guzman is so new to pitching that he may not yet have the right feel/grip on his breaker. The spin rate on his low-80s slider is beneath that of his fastball. Typically the inverse is true, and it’s a sign that there’s probably a grip issue, something that can be remedied. We’ll see how the body and stuff develop, but Guzman is pretty exciting and has a shot to eventually be a No. 4 starter if you’re willing to project lots of late-arriving attributes because of his athleticism and background.

15. Alex Faedo, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Florida (DET)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/55 40/45 50/55 89-92 / 94

While his fastball has bounced back into the low-90s after sitting in the upper-80s at times last year, we still have concerns about how it’s going to play against big league hitters because Faedo is such a short strider. He only gets about five feet worth of extension on all his pitches, impacting his fastball’s perceived velocity quite significantly. There’s a chance it plays like a 40 fastball, even though its velo has rebounded some. Faedo’s funky low slot may flummox hitters enough to counterbalance his lack of extension somewhat, and it no doubt helps him create bat-missing action on his slider, which is excellent. He had several years of success against SEC hitting, and is a crafty sequencer. There are things to like, and some teams think Faedo is a high probability No. 4 or 5 starter, but we consider the velo fluctuation, lack of extension, and Faedo’s multiple knee surgeries, to be long term concerns.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 22.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 30/30 20/30 50/50 50/60 70/70

It’s easy to fall in love with Alcantara after just watching him take infield. Not only is he coordinated and acrobatic, but his throws to first sizzle through the air, even with just a flick of his wrist. He has one of the best infield arms in the minors and should be an above-average defender at maturity. At the plate, he lacks even a modicum of strength and has near bottom-of-the-scale power from both sides of the plate. He’s a competent slash and dash hitter, but that’s becoming less common, even at shortstop. Tigers fans who visit this site are likely acquainted with Jose Iglesias‘ player page. Iglesias was a better defender than Alcantara (and, well, just about everybody) and had better feel for contact with similar power, and is someone we’d ideally have as a 45 or 50 on prospect lists based on his’ WAR production. Logically, Alcantara needs to be beneath those tiers. He could be a speedy, versatile bench infielder for a long time, though.

17. Kody Clemens, 2B
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Texas (DET)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/50 30/50 45/45 40/45 50/50

Clemens got white-hot during the Longhorns 2018 postseason run and hit .419/.536/1.000 in the team’s eight NCAA tournament games, boosting his junior-year line to .351/.444/.726 with 24 homers, which ranked second in the country. The Tigers made him the top pick on Day Two of the 2018 draft and he finished the year with a strong month and a half at Low-A, often against pitching worse than what he faced in college.

He has a very pretty left-handed swing and can move the bat head around the zone, but Clemens doesn’t always track or diagnose pitches well. He may be a swing-and-miss risk against better pro pitching, but what he does may still be enough at second base, assuming Clemens can stay there. At best, teams think he’ll be an inoffensive second baseman, with some projecting Clemens to third base or an outfield corner. One source compared him to current 50 FV prospect Shed Long. That type of outcome — a compact body with power, some issues against breaking stuff, below average defense but at a premium position — would be a good outcome for a third rounder.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Alabama (DET)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 45/50 55/60 40/45 93-95 / 97

Turnbull has always thrown hard, been more stuff than command, and had a sturdy workhorse type build. Like Sean Newcomb, his delivery is easy but the command has never quite been there to project as a long-term starter. He’ll start the year in the Tigers rotation, but we think he’ll end up being better suited to a multi-inning or high leverage relief role in the end. Turnbull works in the mid-90s with sink, and his slider and cutter are both above average to plus. But the changeup and command are both average at best, along with a show-me curveball. He’s likely to return some cost-effective value in the next few seasons for the rebuilding Tigers, but we’d expect the contributions of a role player more than those of a potential building block.

19. Anthony Castro, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/65 55/60 40/45 45/55 40/45 91-95 / 98

Castro signed in 2011 but didn’t make his full-season debut until 2017, after a 2015 Tommy John surgery. He’s been a starter that whole time, but it sounds like he’ll move to relief this year, which has always seemed like the best use of his ability. In shorter stints, he sits 95-98 and hits 99 mph with a breaking ball that flashes 60. His changeup will flash 50 at times but it’s too firm and inconsistent. Castro tinkered with a splitter that flashed 55, but he isn’t confident in his feel for it yet and it’ll always be a third pitch, which he may need only occasionally in relief.

20. Bryan Garcia, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2016 from Miami (DET)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 50/55 40/45 92-95 / 98

The career saves leader at Miami, Garcia tore through the minors and pitched across four levels, all the way to Triple-A, in his first full pro season. Then he blew out during the spring of 2018 and likely won’t be back on any mound, let alone a big league one, until the middle of 2019. A three-quarters slinger with mid-90s heat, Garcia also has a plus slider, and we think the movement profile on the fastball mimics his changeup in such a way that the cambio will be serviceable, as well. He could be a late-inning, three-pitch reliever, assuming his stuff comes back after the surgery.

21. Adinso Reyes, 3B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (DET)
Age 17.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/55 20/50 50/45 40/50 50/50

Signed for just shy of $1.5 million in July of 2018, Reyes is a physical projection third base prospect. Of all the players from the 2018 July 2 class who will almost certainly end up in a corner, Reyes was our highest ranked. He has an athletic, rotational swing, plus bat speed, his bat path has some natural lift, and he has a frame that appears destined to add considerable mass and strength. Arm accuracy and mobility issues, especially as he gets bigger, could move Reyes down the defensive spectrum, but he could end up with above or plus hit and power tools.

22. Derek Hill, CF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Elk Grove HS (CA) (DET)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 50/50 20/45 70/70 50/55 50/50

Despite the small balls-in-play sample, Hill’s stark drop in groundball rate from 2016 to 2017 gave us great hope for his offensive potential and had us buying in to his short-lived power output. While he continued to lift the ball more in 2018, the game power returned to career norms, way down in the .079 ISO, .318 SLG area. Hill remains fleet of foot and is a reputable defensive center fielder. That alone should earn him a big league bench outfield role at some point (he’s not on the 40-man yet), but we got ahead of ourselves last year with regards to his bat, which is likely too light for Hill to be an everyday player.

23. Reed Garrett, RHP
Drafted: 16th Round, 2014 from Virginia Military Institute (TEX)
Age 26.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 40/45 45/45 95-97 / 98

The team’s Rule 5 pick, Garrett made the club out of spring training and has pretty traditional middle relief stuff. He sits in the mid-90s, has an above-average slider that has vertical depth despite being in the mid-80s, and he spent the last two seasons closing for Texas’ Double and Triple-A clubs. He has erratic fastball command, which might undercut stuff that would otherwise fit in a set-up role, but that stuff might improve with a change of scenery.

35+ FV Prospects

24. Dawel Lugo, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Lugo’s blend of bat speed and bat control has long made him a prospect of note, and at times he’s looked like a future high-contact, multi-positional role player. But at age 24, Lugo’s willingness to swing at most of what he sees is still a problem impacting his ability to reach base, as well as the quality of his contact. He struggles to lay off of breaking balls, he ends up topping pitches into the ground, and the bat control alone may not be sufficient to keep Lugo afloat at second or third. But you also can’t teach this kind of feel for contact, and perhaps a swing change that moves the game power is still a possibility, though the arrow is clearly pointing down.

25. Matt Hall, LHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2015 from Missouri State (DET)
Age 25.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Hall has a dandy 12-6 breaking ball that spin in at an average of 2850 rpm and while he only throws 88-91, he gets good extension and his fastball plays up enough to be viable. He’s going to pitch heavily off of that plus curveball and likely fit in a middle relief role, though breaking ball-only lefties are an endangered species.

26. Gregory Soto, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (DET)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Three-pitch lefties with mid-90s heat always have a shot, so while Soto’s walk rate remains a disconcerting 13%, the fact that he showed 96 with an occasionally good changeup and breaking ball means he’s still pretty interesting. His arm action is so long that it needs to be split into two movies and while that is probably part of why he so badly struggles to throw strikes, it also makes him really tough on left-handed hitters. The existence of three pitches (the fastball, an upper-80s change, low-80s slurve) better positions Soto for the three-batter minimum rule, but he still needs to throw more strikes or he’s just upper-level depth.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Bench Outfield Types
Kingston Liniak, CF
Dustin Peterson, LF
Brock Deatherage, CF
Jacob Robson, CF
Danny Woodrow, CF
Troy Montgomery, CF

Most of these guys can run. Liniak is the youngest and has the best chance to grow into some power. Peterson could impact the big league club this year and might hit enough to be a right-handed bench piece for a while. Deatherage was a college draftee who put up huge numbers in rookie ball, but struck out 25% of the time as a 22-year-old and is due for a huge BABIP regression, so we’re skeptical of his hot pro start. Plate discipline (Robson), speed (Woodrow), and sneaky pop (Montgomery) could propel any of the others into a bench outfield role.

Recent July Twos
Alvaro Gonzalez, SS
Jose De La Cruz, RF

Gonzalez signed in 2017 and is a natural shortstop who likely needs to grow into some offensive ability to profile. De La Cruz is a corner outfield projection bat who makes up for limited athleticism with advanced feel to hit.

Starters
Wilkel Hernandez, RHP
Logan Shore, RHP
Tyler Alexander, LHP
Adam Wolf, LHP

Wilkel came over from the Angels in the Ian Kinsler deal. He’s a somewhat projectable 20-year old with a chance for fifth starter stuff. His curveball has good shape but needs more power. Shore is a changeup artist with a 4 fastball. Alexander throws strikes and eats innings and is a good bet to at least be a sixth starter type of depth arm. A similar role likely awaits Wolf, whose best pitch is a cutter.

Relievers
Jason Foley, RHP
Nolan Blackwood, RHP
Eduardo Jimenez, RHP
Zac Houston, RHP
Sandy Baez, RHP
Gerson Moreno, RHP
Wladimir Pinto, RHP
Tarik Skubal, LHP

Foley is coming back from TJ, and would flash upper-90s heat and a good changeup before his injury. He’s still just 23. Blackwood is a sinkerballing submariner. Jimenez, Houston, and Baez are all possible 55 fastball, 55 slider middle relief fits. Moreno, too, but he’s coming off TJ. Pinto throws really hard — in the mid-90s — but that’s about it right now. Skubal was hurt for his junior year at Seattle University and looked good in bullpens before the draft but nobody would meet his ask. He went back to school and was very wild, then dominated in pro ball after signing by throwing about 80% fastballs. He’s a ground-up rebuild who had third round stuff at his best in college.

System Overview

The Tigers have shifted in recent years from a win-now, trade prospects and spend money approach, to an asset collection, hold prospects, and save money approach. The shift from trading many of their top homegrown talents to keeping them could change the fortunes of the farm eventually, but it hasn’t quite done that yet. Casey Mize will likely get to the big leagues soon, so he’s likely be on this list one more time at most. Matt Manning hasn’t had his breakthrough yet, most industry opinions have Daz Cameron as a low-end regular, and there are still plenty of questions about the ultimate upside of Isaac Paredes and the health of Franklin Perez. For the top of the system of a rebuilding club, that isn’t a particularly strong top of the list. The depth is fine, but depth doesn’t really matter when the first priority is creating the core of your future playoff team.

The fifth and 47th picks in this year’s draft will be nice assets to add, but the big league club isn’t overflowing with core talent, either. Michael Fulmer looked like he could be one, but he’s down for the year with elbow surgery. Nick Castellanos is likely to be traded if and when he performs well. There are some solid complementary pieces in Jeimer Candelario, Matt Boyd, Joe Jimenez and Shane Greene, but the focus here needs to be both adding to the talent base and developing the existing talent better. Clubs like the Dodgers, Brewers, and Yankees seem to be creating contributors out of thin air and those are increasingly the table stakes in player development, with many other teams spending resources to join those leaders. The Tigers appear to be more on the traditional end of things in most departments — not wrong, just more traditional — and the rebuild will need player procurement and development to both take a step forward.


Top 38 Prospects: Texas Rangers

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Texas Rangers. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Rangers Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Cole Winn 19.3 R RHP 2021 50
2 Leody Taveras 20.5 A+ CF 2020 50
3 Bubba Thompson 20.8 A CF 2022 50
4 Anderson Tejeda 20.9 A+ SS 2021 45+
5 Hans Crouse 20.5 A RHP 2021 45
6 Joe Palumbo 24.4 AA LHP 2020 45
7 Cole Ragans 21.3 A- LHP 2021 45
8 Owen White 19.6 R RHP 2022 45
9 Taylor Hearn 24.6 AA LHP 2019 45
10 Julio Pablo Martinez 23.0 A- CF 2021 45
11 Jonathan Ornelas 18.8 R SS 2022 40+
12 Chris Seise 20.2 A- SS 2022 40+
13 Sherten Apostel 20.0 A- 3B 2022 40+
14 Yerry Rodriguez 21.4 A- RHP 2022 40+
15 Keithron Moss 17.6 R SS 2023 40+
16 Brock Burke 22.6 AA LHP 2020 40+
17 Tyler Phillips 21.4 A+ RHP 2021 40+
18 Pedro Gonzalez 21.4 A CF 2022 40
19 Jonathan Hernandez 22.7 AA RHP 2020 40
20 Ronny Henriquez 18.8 R RHP 2023 40
21 Emmanuel Clase 21.0 A- RHP 2020 40
22 C.D. Pelham 24.1 MLB LHP 2019 40
23 A.J. Alexy 20.9 A RHP 2022 40
24 Eli White 24.7 AA UTIL 2020 40
25 Brett Martin 23.9 AA LHP 2019 40
26 Brendon Davis 21.7 A+ 3B 2021 40
27 David Garcia 19.1 R C 2022 40
28 Demarcus Evans 22.4 A RHP 2020 40
29 Jeffrey Springs 26.5 MLB LHP 2019 40
30 Alex Speas 21.1 A RHP 2022 40
31 Kyle Cody 24.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
32 Diosbel Arias 22.7 A- UTIL 2021 35+
33 Michael Matuella 24.8 A+ RHP 2019 35+
34 Jayce Easley 19.6 R SS 2023 35+
35 Frainyer Chavez 19.8 R SS 2021 35+
36 Yohander Mendez 24.2 MLB LHP 2019 35+
37 Yohel Pozo 21.8 A C 2021 35+
38 Jose Rodriguez 17.5 R C 2024 35+
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50 FV Prospects

1. Cole Winn, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Orange Lutheran HS (CA) (TEX)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 45/50 50/60 45/50 45/55 92-95 / 97

Before his senior year in high school, Winn moved from Colorado to Orange Lutheran, a powerhouse program in southern California. He steadily crept up boards in the spring as his stuff and command kept impressing, overriding concerns that he didn’t have much projection or plus athleticism.

Winn works 92-95, and hits 97 mph, with a flat-planed, rising fastball that fits well up in the strike zone and he mixes in a plus-flashing curveball that pairs well with it down in the strike zone. He also has an average slider and changeup, though there’s a chance the change grows into a plus offering at some point. His command projects to be above average, as he already uses his smooth delivery to deliver pitches to fine locations rather than just over the plate. He was largely seen as the safest pick amongst the 2018 prep pitchers, a notoriously risky demographic. Texas has a deliberate approach to developing prep pitching with an onboarding process that includes a pro debut in instructional league, so Winn’s actual regular season pro debut will come in 2019. He was throwing hard in the fall and could move quickly through the minors.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/55 30/40 60/60 45/55 55/55

It’s growing more difficult to reconcile Taveras’ obvious physical tool with his complete lack of performance, even though he has been young for his level since his pro debut. He put on a show during Futures Game BP (though, somewhat suspiciously, everyone did), he has visually evident feel for contact supported by his lower strikeout rates, he runs well-enough to stay in center field. But in three pro seasons now he’s hitting a collective .253/.315/.351 and it’s starting to make teams antsy. When we passed around initial drafts of our Top 100, all but one source providing feedback on Taveras’ ranking told us to move him down, some indicating he should be off, entirely. We still think he’d go somewhere in the first round were he draft eligible and that he has everyday tools, but so far as his stock throughout the industry is concerned, the clock is certainly ticking.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from McGill-Toolen HS (AL) (TEX)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 30/50 70/70 45/55 50/50

Thompson played through some nagging lower body issues during his pro debut, which somewhat masked the physical tools that had so enamored amateur scouts during the spring. He got to camp early the following spring. It was assumed that Thompson, who was a pretty raw baseball player due to his two-sport high school background, would stay in Arizona during extended spring training, then head to an advanced rookie affiliate in the Northwest League. Instead, Texas sent him to Low-A and he had a surprisingly strong statistical year (.289/.344/.446) with an unsurprisingly high strikeout rate (29%).

Like many of the power/speed center fielders on this list, Thompson is a high-risk prospect with big upside if he hits enough. Unlike several of them, he has a good statistical season on his resume.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 20.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 40/55 55/55 45/50 60/60

It’s helpful to use the draft as a way of gauging where pro prospects fall on the FV continuum, and it’s easier to do that when the player in question is of the appropriate age. On the brink of 21, Tejeda is the age of draftable college players. Coincidentally, this year’s draft has a similar type of talent who is similarly aged in UNC-Wilmington shortstop, Greg Jones. Both Tejeda and Jones are speedy shortstops with rare power for the position who also have issues making contact. Tejeda is rangy and athletic, and has good defensive footwork and plenty of arm for the infield’s left side. His hands are just okay, so evaluations of his defense can vary depending on what individual scouts think is important to play the position, and some teams want to see him tried in center field.

Tejeda has plus-plus bat speed and his hands work in a tight, lift-friendly circle, but he’s so explosive that at times he’s out of control (this is where the strikeouts come from). He managed to get to the power at Hi-A in 2018, when he homered 19 times, and if he can stay at shortstop and continue to mash like that in games, he’ll be a good everyday player. We have Greg Jones in the 45 FV tier of the 2019 draft, which puts him in the mid-to-late first round; we like Tejeda a bit more than that and think he’d be in the 10-15 range on a draft board. He’ll move into the top 100 with continued statistical success at Double-A.

45 FV Prospects

5. Hans Crouse, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Dana Hills HS (CA) (TEX)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 45/55 40/45 94-97 / 102

Slowed by biceps tendinitis in the spring, Crouse’s stuff was fine when he returned. He was touching 99 while throwing live BP, and sitting 92-96 during his starts in extended spring training. His 13-start Northwest/Sally League tour, during which he walked just 19 in 54 innings, was the first step toward quelling concerns about his viability as a starter, though we’re still somewhat apprehensive here at FanGraphs.

Crouse’s repertoire depth is not the issue. Based on his pitch usage during instructional league, his changeup seemed to be a developmental priority, and he has indeed made progress with it. It now comfortably projects to average, while Crouse’s fastball/breaking ball combination has been excellent since he was a high school underclassman. He incorporates all kinds of crafty veteran wrinkles into his delivery’s cadence on occasion. An extra shoulder wiggle, a Travoltaian gyration of the hips, the occasional quick-pitch — all sorts of things designed to take hitters by surprise. Scouts often sentence quirky, visibly fiery and emotional hurlers to late-inning duty, and we do think Crouse would thrive in such a role, but view these traits as positives. Crouse has a unique build and delivery, and is a very short strider whose 5-foot-4 extension sucks some of the perceived velo out of his fastball. This, plus the lower slot, might make him unusually vulnerable to lefties despite his velocity. This, his brief injury history, and still fringy command all contribute to a bundle of relief risk in our opinion.

6. Joe Palumbo, LHP
Drafted: 30th Round, 2014 from St. John The Baptist HS (NY) (TEX)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 50/55 40/45 92-95 / 97

The start of Palumbo’s 2017 season sounded the alarm of re-evaluation as he struck out 22 hitters and walked four in his first 13.2 innings. Then he blew out his elbow and was on the shelf until the summer of 2018 to rehab from Tommy John.

When he returned, his stuff was back. His fastball sat 92-95 for most of his outings, dipping into the low end of that range later during his starts. It has some wiggle, as does a solid changeup that could be above-average with increased reps. But Palumbo’s curveball is his best pitch. It’s a timeless, rainbow curveball that arcs in at about 80 mph. It freezes hitters and garners swings and misses in the dirt to Palumbo’s glove side. He has No. 3 or 4 starter stuff, we just haven’t seen him hold it for a full season yet, and Palumbo is a 24-year-old with a surgery on his resume. There’s a chance he’s up at some point this year, but an innings limit might push his debut to 2020.

7. Cole Ragans, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from North Florida Christian HS (FL) (TEX)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 40/50 60/65 40/50 91-94 / 96

After an uncharacteristically wild 2017, Ragans tore his UCL during the spring of 2018 and, though he’s thrown off a mound as this list goes to press, he likely won’t be back in game action until the middle of 2019.

Assuming his stuff returns, Ragans projects as a changeup/command lefty in the mold of young Cole Hamels. His low-90s fastball has bat-missing angle in the zone and he perfectly mimics his fastball’s arm speed when he throws the changeup, which was already consistently plus before he got hurt. Ragans’ curveball is not good, but there are several instances of pitchers having success with a playable fastball, elite changeup, and command of both, with Chris Paddack ascending for those reasons as we speak. Ragans projected as a No. 4 starter prior to the injury and is now just a little bit behind the developmental curve because of it.

8. Owen White, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Carson HS (NC) (TEX)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 45/50 40/55 92-95 / 96

Texas’ new approach to pitching development shelves their recent draftees for the summer, which is why White still hasn’t played an affiliated game yet. He did throw during instructional league in the fall and looked fantastic, sitting 93-95 with his fastball, locating a consistently above-average curveball, and displaying nascent feel for a mid-80s changeup. He has a big, projectable frame, is an above-average on-mound athlete, and his arm action is loose and mechanically efficient. There are several significant components already in place (velocity, fastball movement, breaking ball quality) and White’s other traits (changeup proclivity, athleticism, and feel for location) indicate he’s poised to grow and develop into a well-rounded arm. He’s a mid-rotation pitching prospect who is likely several years from the majors.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Oklahoma Baptist (WAS)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 50/55 40/45 93-96 / 98

Hearn has been part of two very strong prospect return packages for relievers. First, he and Felipe Vasquez were sent from Washington to Pittsburgh for Mark Melancon. Then he and Sherten Apostel were traded to Texas for Keone Kela last year.

After dealing with severe injury issues as an amateur — he suffered from a strained UCL in high school and had a screw put in his elbow as a college freshman after suffering two humeral fractures — as well as more minor maladies as a pro, Hearn was healthy for all of 2018 and threw more innings in a single season than at any point in his career. He struck out 140 hitters in 129 innings at Double-A. He remains a fairly spotty strike-thrower, but his three-pitch mix should enable him to continue to start, though probably as a 120 or 130-inning type rather than a true workhorse, which also makes sense considering Hearn’s health history. He has rare lefty starter velocity and generally sits 93-96. A 95 mph average fastball would rank third among southpaw starters in baseball, just behind James Paxton and Blake Snell. Hearn can dump in his average curveball for strikes and his changeup has slowly turned into an average pitch, too. The cambio may yet have some developing to do as Hearn worked more heavily off his breaking ball early in his career and has lost a lot of reps due to injury. He profiles as a fastball-centric No. 4 or 5 starter for us, though there’s a large subset of teams who think he ends up in the bullpen.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (TEX)
Age 23.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/50 35/40 60/60 45/50 50/50

The timing of Martinez’s exit from Cuba led to a fairly limited market for his services since most teams had already spent their international bonus space on other players. He became the fallback option for clubs who were in pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, one of which was Texas, and he signed for $2.8 million in early-March of 2018. The timing of the deal, Martinez’s age relative to other first-year prospects, and the lack of game action he had seen since defecting made his early-2018 developmental path tough to anticipate. The Rangers ended up starting him in the DSL (government processes and paperwork probably had something to do with that) and then skipped him over the AZL and sent him to the Northwest League for the final two months of the summer.

His Fall League stint, though, was more telling. At that point, he had played enough to be sharp again, but not so much as to be gassed, and the opposing pitching in Arizona was an age-appropriate challenge while the NWL was arguably not. And Martinez’s showing in the AFL was fine. He has all sorts of tricks for trying to reach base; he’ll bunt for hits, he’ll show bunt and then try to poke liners over the heads of approaching infielders, he’ll occasionally walk toward the front of the batter’s box during the pitcher’s delivery and try to slash awkward contact somewhere while giving himself a head start down the line. Martinez’s bat head drags into the zone a little bit and while he can adjust his lower half to alter the vertical placement of his barrel, he can also get tied up by velo inside. He projects as a middling offensive player with plus speed, and a capable defender in center. He may be a second division regular but is probably a platoon or fourth outfielder on a contending team. He’ll get his first taste of full-season ball in 2019.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Kellis HS (AZ) (TEX)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/50 30/50 55/50 45/50 55/55

Ornelas’ age on draft day likely buoyed his stock among teams that rely heavily on models to build their draft board, as models tend to move younger players up the pref list. Not only was Johnny O younger than most of his high school prospect peers, but potential shortstops with plus bat speed aren’t often available past the draft’s first few picks. Though his swing — both the bat path and his footwork — may need tweaks in pro ball, Ornelas is capable of clearing his hips and unloading on pitches on the inner half. He struggles to make impact contact on pitches in other parts of the strike zone, but his hands have promising explosion and could yield all-fields doubles power with refinement. On defense, Ornelas has plus infield actions, he’s a 55 runner with sufficient middle infield range, and he has a chance to be a 50 glove at shortstop. His bat would play everyday at second and short if the Rangers get the swing dialed in. If they don’t, he profiles as a good utility infielder.

12. Chris Seise, SS
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from West Orange HS (FL) (TEX)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/60 30/55 50/45 40/50 55/60

The Rangers backfields are full of big, projectable frames. Seise is a 6-foot-2 scale model of Carlos Correa’s build, with square shoulders wide enough to use as a field goal crossbar. He missed all of 2018 due to rotator cuff surgery but was taking healthy hacks during 2019 spring training. Seise has power and he’ll occasionally show it to the opposite field in games, though his feel to hit is generally a little raw.

He’s a plus runner underway, but it takes him a few strides to really get going, and that lack of first-step quickness is also why some teams think he’ll move off short, though players like this are more frequently staying there. Assuming it’s fine returning from the surgery, Seise has the arm for anywhere on the infield. Staying at short takes some pressure off of what might be a suspect contact profile, as the power gives Seise a great chance of playing there everyday even if he whiffs a lot. Of course, if all of his issues are remedied then the ceiling is enormous, but until there’s evidence of that, Seise is a risky tools/frame bet coming off a serious injury.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Curacao (PIT)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 213 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 40/60 35/60 40/30 40/45 70/70

Apostel was pilfered from Pittsburgh as the PTBNL in the 2018 Keone Kela trade. Though he is a big-framed guy who has already begun to see time at first base, he’s athletic for his size and should remain at third — for a while, at least. The likelihood of this is bolstered by the polished nature of Apostel’s bat. His feel for the strike zone and his timing are both impressive for his age, and he is adept at attacking early-count pitches he can drive, while taking tough strikes. It helps him run deep counts and walk as well as hit for power. These traits are conducive to quick development, which means Apostel has a better chance of reaching the majors while he’s still limber enough to play third for much of his first six big league seasons.

He could end up with a 50 bat, 60 power, high OBPs, and fine third base defense, which would make him a solid-average regular.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/55 55/60 45/60 91-95 / 96

Rodriguez has a swing-and-miss heater that plays in the strike zone because of its spin and weird plane, plane caused by Rodriguez’s lowish arm slot. His breaking ball is blunt, but it has good pure spin, he commands it, and it plays up against righties because of his slot. The changeup is Rodriguez’s best secondary, and projects to plus, as does Rodriguez’s command, which is already advanced. The fastball/changeup/command concoction was poisonous to rookie-level hitters in 2018; Rodriguez struck out 82 and walked just eight in 63 innings of AZL and Northwest League ball.

The lack of a visibly excellent breaking ball causes some apprehension, but if everything else is a 60 or better at maturity, Rodriguez could be a good mid-rotation starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (TEX)
Age 17.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 40/50 20/45 60/60 40/50 50/50

Moss was 16 years old for all but the final few weeks of the 2018 DSL season and he likely stayed down there due to some combination of immature physicality and the presence of Jayce Easley and Frainyer Chavez on the AZL roster. Moss is the most impressive athlete of the three, a compact little bundle of lightning with surprising power from both sides of the plate, and a good chance of playing defense up the middle somewhere, largely due to his speed.

Though both of Moss’ swings are fairly inconsistent (which should be expected for a switch-hitter this age), he’ll show you feel for both lift and contact at times, and he gets the most out of his little body without losing control of it. While there’s a large developmental gap between where Moss is as a defender right now and where he’ll need to be in order to stay on the infield, he’s a very athletic, very young player with tons of time to improve those things, and his physical gifts are so prominent that we anticipate he will. Up the middle switch-hitters with some pop, even if it’s just doubles power, are very valuable big leaguers, and not many prospects have a chance to become that kind of player. So while we acknowledge that Moss is very risky (he struck out 30% of the time in the DSL and any number of issues might befall him during his half-decade long trudge to the big leagues) there just aren’t many players in this system with that kind of ceiling.

16. Brock Burke, LHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2014 from Evergreen HS (CO) (TBR)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 45/50 45/50 40/45 92-95 / 96

Burke got on a weighted ball program before the 2017 season and, perhaps more as a result of the physical conditioning aspect of the program, began improving. His ascent continued, and accelerated, during a 2018 that ended with a dynamite month and a half at Double-A Montgomery, during which he struck out 71 hitters in 55 innings.

Burke’s fastball plays up because he gets way down the mound and generates a lot of backspin on the ball, creating perceived rise. Changeup development seemed to occur in 2018, as the pitch was much different last year (82-85 mph, at times with cut) than it was in 2017 (78-80 mph), and it’s fair to speculate that something like a grip change took place here. Burke has two breaking balls that are both about average, though he uses the curveball pretty sparingly. Glove-side command of his cutter/slider makes him tough on righties. One source considers Burke’s delivery fairly easy to time because of its pacing, so maybe we need to see more curveballs as a way of disrupting timing. He projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Drafted: 16th Round, 2015 from Bishop Eustace HS (NJ) (TEX)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 55/60 45/55 90-93 / 96

Phillips walked a minuscule 2.7% of opposing Low-A hitters in 2018, and did so as a 20-year-old just a few years removed from New Jersey high school ball. His fastball approaches the plate at an awkward angle, enabling it to play in the strike zone despite fringe velocity. He throws a lot of right-on-right changeups — it’s his best put away offering, and also helps induce grounders due to its sink. While Phillips’ slurvy breaking ball is generic, he typically locates it off the plate where it can’t get hammered. On stuff, Phillips looks like a backend starter, but the ultra-efficient strike throwing could mean he has sneaky ceiling, even if the value comes from innings volume.

40 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (COL)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 30/55 50/45 40/45 55/55

Signed as a shortstop by Colorado, Gonzalez kept growing and growing and eventually became a lean, long-striding 6-foot-5, and was moved to the outfield. He’s grown into much more power than he had as an amateur and there’s still room on his frame for another 20 pounds or so, and with it might come monstrous power. That growth potential also creates risk that Gonzalez will eventually move to an outfield corner, which would make it imperative that his current strikeout issues, which stem from lever length, be remedied.

Even as a below-average runner from home to first, Gonzalez’s long, bounding strides enable him to cover lots of ground in the outfield, and there’s a chance his instincts still improve out there since he hasn’t played those positions for all that long. After it appeared things were starting to click for PGon during 2017 instructs, his 2018 season was discouraging. He’s only 21, so we’re hopeful that the bat improves enough for him to be quite good, though those chances seem smaller than they did last year.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/50 40/45 40/40 93-97 / 99

Hernandez has not, as of yet, corralled the velocity he suddenly found a few years ago. When he first arrived in the U.S., he was an interesting pitchability sleeper, but he later found a lot more heat and will now touch 99. His delivery is violent and tough to repeat and his changeup is still a bit behind the rest of the repertoire, so there’s sizable risk Hernandez ends up in the bullpen, but sizable ceiling if he can refurbish his early-career command. The changeup doesn’t even really need to improve so long as Hernandez is locating his breaking balls to lefties. 2019 is his second option year.

20. Ronny Henriquez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 18.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
50/60 45/55 45/55 40/50 90-95 / 97

There are always a few little toy cannon hurlers with light speed arm actions floating around, and Henriquez, who spent 2018 in the DSL, is the latest. Despite measuring in at maybe, maybe 5-foot-10 (maybe), his arm generates mid-90s velocity that he has relatively advanced command of. He’s not a touch and feel strike-thrower, but he comes right after hitters at the letters, and instructional league opponents couldn’t help themselves but swing at his fastball up there. He also has great feel for spin, his split/change has natural tumble, and he’s so athletic and well-balanced throughout his delivery that you can kind of go nuts projecting on everything. You could argue that Henriquez is a right-handed Tim Collins, and that we’re too aggressive with his placement in this system, but he has a special arm and body control, and a better chance to start than lots of the more established pitching prospects in this org.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (SDP)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops
65/65 50/55 55/55 40/40 96-99 / 100

Acquired from San Diego for catcher Brett Nicholas, Clase was throwing very hard late in the year, sitting 96-99 during fall instructional league. His fastball has nasty natural cut action, especially when he’s working to his glove side, and at times his upper-80s slider has bat-missing vertical action. It often does not, and he throws a lot of 40-grade sliders. Kenley Jansen dominated for years with a naturally cutting fastball. It’s overzealous to assume that future for Clase, but cutters this hard don’t exist often. If he develops a more consistent slider, he could be a set-up type of reliever, a least. He’s Rule 5 eligible after this year.

22. C.D. Pelham, LHP
Drafted: 33th Round, 2015 from Spartanburg Methodist JC (SC) (TEX)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 40/40 94-98 / 99

There’s still hope that Pelham develops an extra grade of command in his mid-20s because he only began pitching as a senior in high school and was pragmatically moved to the bullpen in just his second full pro season, limiting his reps.

If he does develop an improved ability to locate, he could be one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball because he has such a dominant fastball. Not only does Pelham throw really hard, at times sitting 97-99, but his size, arm slot, and cross-bodied delivery create unique angle on his fastball, and hitters struggle to square it up. In a small big league sample last year, 77% of Pelham’s pitches were fastballs, which would rank 13th among qualified relievers. His upper-80s cutter/slider doesn’t have significant length to it, and it also needs improved location if it’s going to miss bats. Once in a while, elite relievers with a single, tyrannical pitch emerge. It’s possible Pelham is one of those, but it’s more likely his issues limit him to single, middle-inning bullpen work.

23. A.J. Alexy, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Twin Valley HS (PA) (LAD)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 40/45 40/45 93-97 / 99

One of the prospects acquired from Los Angeles in the 2017 Yu Darvish deal, Alexy has had two consecutive years of velo increase and now has a three-pitch mix, led by a mid-90s fastball and a good curveball. He has a grip-and-rip style of pitching that somewhat detracts from his command and creates a good amount of relief risk, but Alexy is working in the mid-90s as a starter and could have a monster fastball if he’s ever moved to the bullpen. He likely profiles as a three-pitch reliever, but he’s barely 21 and sometimes Northeast prep arms develop later, and there’s still changeup/command refinement to come here.

24. Eli White, UTIL
Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from Clemson (TEX)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 30/35 60/60 50/50 50/50

White hit .270 with a .340 OBP during each of his first two seasons, but hit for no power. Then he had a breakout 2018 (albeit at age 24), and hit .306/.388/.450 at Double-A Midland. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and hit well there while the industry properly evaluated his power. It’s below average, but White’s blend of bat control, hand-eye, feel to hit, and speed all make for a very favorable contact profile.

White had really only played shortstop until last year, when he began seeing time at second and third base. He fits best at second, but is fine at all three spots, and his plus speed might enable him to one day run down balls in the outfield as well. He’s a near-ready, multi-positional utility man who should provide the kind of defensive flexibility teams are starting to prioritize.

25. Brett Martin, LHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 from Walters State JC (TN) (TEX)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 45/50 45/45 45/50 90-93 / 95

Martin’s 2018 was his first injury-free full season as a pro, but he was used out of the bullpen in health-friendly two and three-inning stints separated by several days of rest. He was also crushed underneath a landslide .443 BABIP and had a 7.28 ERA at Double-A.

He has back-end starter stuff but was part of the Rangers lefty bullpen competition during the spring. During that time, Martin worked in the 91-94 range; he can spot cutting and breaking stuff to his glove side, and his changeup is suitable for light usage versus righties. We still like him as a No. 4 or 5 starter type, though we could see justifying a bullpen move if the Rangers thought it was why Martin stayed healthy all last year. He seems likely to be a competent part of a pitching staff in some form, and had a good showing with the 2019 big club during spring training before being sent back to Double-A in late-March.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from Lakewood HS (CA) (LAD)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/55 30/50 50/40 45/50 55/60

Davis had a mediocre statistical 2018, his first full year with Texas after being part of the prospect package Los Angeles sent in the Yu Darvish trade. But Davis and the Rangers seemed to be tinkering with his swing since his acquisition and by 2018 instructional league, his stance had closed significantly and Davis had changed the way his hands set up. The drop in his ground ball rate since coming over from LA — 38% with Texas, after close to 50% with the Dodgers — seems to corroborate the visual evidence of tweaks, so there’s a chance Davis’ 2018 was just the product of developmental growing pains.

Even at 21, Davis remains physically projectable and is likely to add more and more mass and strength to his giant frame as he enters his mid-20s. The lift and rotation in his swing appear suited for power production that might arrive in games when new muscle arrives on the body. Davis doesn’t track pitches well and he often appears imbalanced at the plate. We have him projected as a strikeout-prone third baseman who sells out for big power. He’ll need to improve a bit on defense to stay on the infield, but it’s unreasonable to expect most athletes this size to have total control of their bodies at this age anyway, so there’s cause for optimism on that end.

We’re still on Davis despite a bad 2018, and think he has some dormant thump that will make him relevant eventually.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TEX)
Age 19.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/45 20/40 40/30 40/50 50/55

Signed for $800,000, Garcia was a good catch-and-throw prospect with some feel to hit from both sides of the plate, but he was so physically immature early in his career that he struggled to catch pro-quality stuff. As such, he was handled pretty conservatively throughout his first two pro seasons despite his many polished attributes. He has thickened up a bit and made solid line drive contact from both sides of the plate last year, while appearing more able to deal with the physical grind of catching. He appears to be a promising backup catching prospect for now, though as he grows into his early 20s he may end up with some power, or such a strong hit tool that he profiles as an everyday player without it.

Drafted: 25th Round, 2015 from Petal HS (MS) (TEX)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 275 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 35/40 92-96 / 98

Evans has 40+ FV tier stuff and 35 FV tier control. He pumps easy mid-90s gas, his fastball has tough-to-hit, downward angle, and his breaking ball has vertical action, depth, and is consistently plus. When dialed in, Evans looks like an unhittable, high-leverage relief prospect, and he struck out a ludicrous 46% of his 2018 foes — nearly two batters per inning — last year. He’s a short strider who sometimes fails to clear his front side, causing his pitches to sail. His 2018 was much better from a strike-throwing perspective than 2017, but he still walked 12% of hitters faced, and he’s very fly ball prone due to where his fastball lives in the hitting zone. There’s some headwind, but also, utterly dominant stuff. Evans is a good bet to be a 40-man add after the 2019 season, so there’s about an 18-month window for player dev to impact him before he debuts.

29. Jeffrey Springs, LHP
Drafted: 30th Round, 2015 from Appalachian State (TEX)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 55/60 45/50 90-92 / 94

Springs is a changeup-heavy lefty reliever with a very average fastball/slider combo that plays against lefties due to his lower arm slot. Springs’ changeup’s spin rate is way down in the 1400 rpm range, creating bat-missing sink that enabled his change to have a 45% whiff rate last year. He was developed as a starter for a long time and only moved to the bullpen last season, when he broke out. He may be a candidate to be stretched out as a starter or multi-inning reliever during Texas’ rebuild.

30. Alex Speas, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from McEachern HS (GA) (TEX)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 55/60 40/45 30/40 94-97 / 99

In high school, Speas was getting body and arm speed comp’d to Dwight Gooden. He would routinely work 93-97 and break off several plus breaking balls, so while most of the amateur side of the industry acknowledged that Speas’ wildness meant there was a strong chance he’d be a pro reliever, his perceived ceiling, were things suddenly to click, was enormous. The Rangers quickly moved Speas to the bullpen and he dealt with fastball inaccuracy for two years before succumbing to a torn UCL. He may be back for 2019 instructional league and is a long-term, high-leverage bullpen prospect.

31. Kyle Cody, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2016 from Kentucky (TEX)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 55/60 40/45 93-96 / 98

Cody had a rocky career at Kentucky, always tantalizing scouts with stuff but struggling with health and control. The Twins made Cody their 2015 second rounder, but he didn’t sign and fell to the sixth round as a 2016 senior. Texas simplified his delivery in 2017, which probably contributed to a breakout year. He seemed likely to spend most of 2018 at Double-A and perhaps reach the majors in 2019, but he had elbow issues during the spring and didn’t break camp with an affiliate. His Arizona rehab was successful enough for Cody to get on a mound in games for a bit, but he felt continued discomfort and needed Tommy John. The mid-summer timing of the surgery means he’ll likely miss all of 2019, which means he’ll be back when he’s a few months shy of 26. The time crunch alone makes it likely that he ends up in relief, though Cody could move quickly and be a strong, late-inning piece when he returns.

35+ FV Prospects

32. Diosbel Arias, UTIL
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (TEX)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Arias signed as an under-the-radar, 21-year-old Cuban defector in July of 2017. The 2018 season was Arias’ first full year of baseball since the 2014-15 Cuban Series Nacional because his defection, international signing rules, and the 2017 offseason led to an eon between actual games for him. He was a college-aged player in the Northwest League in 2018 and had a mandatorily strong statistical season, hitting .366/.451/.548 with Spokane. He continued a strong bat-to-ball showing during instructional league, looked good at several different defensive positions, and was then firmly on the pro scouting radar. He got some reps with the big league team during ’19 spring training.

For now, he looks like a possible infield utility piece with some contact skills, but it might behoove Texas to hit the gas on his development and promotion to see if there could be more here.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Duke (TEX)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Injuries have plagued Matuella since college. His back, his elbow, a Tommy John, more back, the shoulder, more elbow. The Rangers pared down his repertoire and transitioned him into a multi-inning relief role fairly early in 2018. He was shut down with injury in July. In the fall, his velocity was back in the mid-90s but his secondary stuff wasn’t as crisp. Betwixt injured list stints early in his career, Matuella would flash No. 3 starter stuff. There’s a chance that comes back, but the injury history is suppressing how he’s viewed compared to other prospects and will likely impact the way Texas develops him, as evidenced by the 2018 bullpen move.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from O’Connor HS (AZ) (TEX)
Age 19.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

The middle infield exodus at Oregon State (Nick Madrigal and Cadyn Grenier were both going to be drafted high) made it seem logical that were Easley to matriculate to Corvallis, he’d start as a freshman. Because he lacks prototypical size, he’s exactly the type of prospect who teams would prefer goes to school and performs, to increase their collective confidence that he’s actually good. That Easley seemed likely to have the opportunity to do just that, and perhaps raise his draft profile considerably while in college, made it seem more likely that he would go. But, perhaps because he was seen so much by high-profile, draft-influencing executives due to high school teammate Nolan Gorman, teams felt strongly enough to pursue him now, and Easley signed as a fifth rounder. He’s a plus runner with a plus arm, he’s going to stay on the middle infield, he has fair feel to hit from both sides of the plate, and a little room for muscle on his frame. We have him just ahead of Chavez because Jayce has a little more room for physical growth, but they’re very similar.

Drafted: 22th Round, 2018 from Midland JC (TX) (TEX)
Age 19.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

Chavez’s family fled Venezuela when he was an adolescent and ended up in Texas, where Chavez went to high school and junior college. He was a late-round pick in 2018 and immediately became of interest to pro scouts covering Texas’ AZL club thanks to his advanced switch-hitting prowess and fundamentally sound infield actions. A shortstop as an amateur, Chavez saw time all over the infield last summer and looked comfortable at each spot. His frame limits his power projection and makes it less likely that he does sufficient offensive damage to profile as a regular, but he looks like a potentially valuable, switch-hitting bench piece, which would be a great outcome for a 22nd round junior college draftee.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela (TEX)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

At his peak, Mendez had mid-rotation stuff. He was sitting 94-97 at times during the spring of 2015, his changeup was plus, and his slurvy breaking ball was at least average. Since then his health and stuff have waxed and waned. In 2018, his stuff looked more like that of a fifth starter. Then he suffered a UCL strain during 2019 spring training. He’s now an oft-injured 24-year-old backend starter prospect who may benefit from a change of scenery.

37. Yohel Pozo, C
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (TEX)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

There’s a whiff of Willians Astudillo to Pozo, who is also a big-bodied catcher who rarely walks or strikes out. While his peripherals aren’t quite as extreme as Astudillo’s (6% career walk rate, 8% strikeouts), Pozo has a better chance at actually catching. There’s also some off-field stink surrounding him, as Pozo was involved in the Rangers grotesque 2016 sexual assault/hazing scandal, which you should not search for if you’re reading this list at work or school. Dominican authorities and MLB investigated the incident, and Pozo was one of several players who were suspended for it. He may understandably be considered unacquirable by some teams for this reason, but this is where he falls in the system based solely on talent.

38. Jose Rodriguez, C
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (TEX)
Age 17.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+

Rodriguez signed for $2 million during the 2018 IFA signing period. He’s a loose, rotational, left-hitting catcher with the agility and hands to catch, though he needs some technical refinement to shave a few tenth off his pop time. The attrition rate for teenage catching is very high, but Rodriguez is a strong, long term developmental project.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Catching Depth
Jose Trevino, C
Matt Whatley, C
Josh Morgan, C/INF

Trevino and Whatley have big league gloves and leadership qualities but their bats might relegate them to third catcher duty. Whatley also has a hose. Morgan is a multi-positional player with some feel for contact and might be a bench contributor.

First Base Mashers
Sam Huff, 1B/C
Tyreque Reed, 1B
Curtis Terry, 1B
Andretty Cordero, 1B
Stanley Martinez, 1B

Huff has 70 raw power and blasts balls out to all fields. We doubt he catches, but the Rangers should keep trying. The rest of these guys are R/R profiles and need to mash. Reed and Terry are both about 260 pounds and have big power, but strike out. Reed leapt over Terry last year and had a good year at Low-A. Cordero and Martinez are more balanced, average hit/power types who have a better chance than the other two at playing some other positions. Cordero has seen time in the outfield corners, Martinez at third base. They could be bench contributors.

Bench Outfield Types
Zack Granite, CF
Miguel Aparicio, OF

Granite was DFA’d by the Twins and acquired via trade. He’s an 80 runner with contact skills, his instincts in center field are not great, and he has to compensate for lack of strength in the batter’s box by using a very conservative swing. Aparicio has feel to hit and is fine in center field. His size and lack of power projection make a fourth outfielder ceiling a reasonable outcome, but probably not for a few years yet.

Younger Bats
Osleivis Basabe, SS
Yenci Pena, 3B
Keyber Rodriguez, SS
Randy Florentino, C/1B

Basabe was a 70 runner in the fall and he might grow into some pop, but he is concerningly raw with the bat. Pena might turn into a utility infielder with some pop if he can become a 45 middle infield defender. He fits best at third. Rodriguez is a switch-hitting middle infielder with fringe bat speed. Florentino is a pretty projectable catcher and first baseman who has a nice swing and who walked a lot in the DSL last year.

Close Relief Types
Kyle Bird, LHP
Reid Anderson, RHP
Yoel Espinal. RHP
Jairo Beras, RHP

Bird sits 90-92, has two good breaking balls, and 40 control. He could be a middle relief piece. Anderson was a shrewd pick out of Millersville University in PA. He was 95-97 during instructs and has an average breaking ball. Espinal sits 94-95 and has a power sinking changeup in the upper-80s. Beras is a conversion arm with plus-plus velo and little else, but it’s still fairly early in his on-mound dev.

Deep Sleeper Arms
Mason Englert, RHP
Destin Dotson, LHP
Leury Tejada, RHP
John King, LHP
Hever Bueno, RHP
Tyree Thompson, RHP

Englert is a kind of funky 3/4s righty whose low-90s fastball has some tail. He has a fringe four-pitch mix. Dotson is a big, projectable lefty with an arm slot conducive to vertical movement. Tejeda was a 10th rounder from the Bronx. He has big arm speed but is very wild. Those three are all teenagers. King is 24, his delivery is weird, he throws 93-95 with tough angle, and has a good curveball. Hever Bueno has an 80-grade pitcher’s name. While he was at ASU, he was 93-96 with a plus slider at times and hurt at others. He’s had a TJ and is perhaps a bounce-back sleeper. Thompson is purely a physical projection bet with fringe everything at present.

System Overview

How long might this Ranger rebuild take? There’s a fairly young contingent of quality role players who will either arrive shortly or be around for a while. Rougie Odor is under contract through 2022 or 2023 depending on whether the team picks up his option, Nomar Mazara’s arbitration years run through 2021, and Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ronald Guzman won’t reach free agency for four or five years. Most of the 22 through 24-year-olds on this list are likely role players who will be up during that window.

But is there a tent pole star or two among them? Perhaps Gallo’s peak years will be of the four-plus WAR variety, but even the oldest among the potential homegrown stars — Taveras, Thompson, Tejeda, Seise — are probably a few years away, and not all of them are going to turn into that kind of player. The big league overlap of the short-term contributors and potential long-term stars may be fleeting.

Should Texas be proactive about choosing a competitive timeline and if so, how proactive? They could use the younger layers of talent to trade for big names who fit into the current 24ish-years-old core, especially if the front office feels pressure to win sooner than later. That means holding on to most of the players on the big league roster who have real trade value, and also that any influx of minor league talent (aside from what veteran reclamation projects like Drew Smyly can fetch in trade if they play well) may need to come from the amateur scouting arm of the org.

It also puts pressure on the new player dev group — Matt Blood, once the head of the 18U Team USA program, is the new Director of Player Development — to make what it can of the deep but somewhat homogeneous group above.


Top 39 Prospects: Houston Astros

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Houston Astros. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Astros Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Forrest Whitley 21.5 AA RHP 2019 65
2 Kyle Tucker 22.2 MLB RF 2019 60
3 Corbin Martin 23.2 AA RHP 2019 50
4 J.B. Bukauskas 22.4 AA RHP 2019 50
5 Joshua James 26.0 MLB RHP 2019 50
6 Cionel Perez 22.9 MLB LHP 2019 50
7 Yordan Alvarez 21.7 AAA DH 2020 50
8 Freudis Nova 19.2 R SS 2022 45
9 Bryan Abreu 21.9 A RHP 2020 45
10 Brandon Bielak 22.9 AA RHP 2020 45
11 Luis Santana 19.6 R 2B 2022 40+
12 Rogelio Armenteros 24.7 AAA RHP 2019 40+
13 Jairo Solis 19.2 A RHP 2022 40+
14 Tyler Ivey 22.8 A+ RHP 2020 40+
15 Ronnie Dawson 23.8 AA CF 2020 40+
16 Manny Ramirez 19.3 A- RHP 2023 40
17 Myles Straw 24.4 MLB CF 2019 40
18 Seth Beer 22.5 A+ DH 2021 40
19 Abraham Toro-Hernandez 22.2 AA 3B 2021 40
20 Peter Solomon 22.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
21 Brandon Bailey 24.4 AA RHP 2019 40
22 Framber Valdez 25.3 MLB LHP 2019 40
23 Alex McKenna 21.5 A CF 2022 40
24 Jonathan Arauz 20.6 A+ 2B 2021 40
25 Garrett Stubbs 25.8 AAA C 2019 40
26 Cristian Javier 22.0 A+ RHP 2020 40
27 Jayson Schroeder 19.3 R RHP 2023 40
28 Enoli Paredes 23.5 A+ RHP 2020 40
29 Joe Perez 19.6 R 3B 2022 35+
30 J.J. Matijevic 23.3 A+ 1B 2021 35+
31 Carlos Sanabria 22.1 A+ RHP 2020 35+
32 Ross Adolph 22.2 A- CF 2022 35+
33 Deury Carrasco 19.5 A- SS 2023 35+
34 Jeremy Pena 21.5 A- SS 2022 35+
35 Osvaldo Duarte 23.2 A+ SS 2020 35+
36 Reymin Guduan 27.0 MLB LHP 2019 35+
37 Dean Deetz 25.3 MLB RHP 2019 35+
38 Angel Macuare 19.0 R RHP 2022 35+
39 Kit Scheetz 24.8 AA LHP 2019 35+
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65 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Alamo Heights HS (TX) (HOU)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 65
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/65 60/60 60/70 50/55 40/50 93-99 / 100

Whitley was listed at 235 pounds on the 2015 Area Code Games roster but was tipping the scales at 260 not long before that. At that event, he was sitting in the 90-92 range with feel for locating a solid-average curveball. He looked like a mature-bodied pitchability prospect whose stuff might be done improving. During that fall and winter, though, Whitley began to reshape his physique. He dropped about 50 pounds and came out the following spring with much better stuff, his fastball creeping into the 93-95 range and touching 97.

Whitley and his stuff have continued to improve, though he had a somewhat chaotic 2018. He missed the season’s first 50 games due to a suspension for the use of an unknown stimulant, then had his season debut pushed back due to a lat strain. He finally toed the rubber at Double-A Corpus Christi in June and made five four-inning starts before he was removed in the first inning of his sixth outing and placed on the IL with an oblique strain. He missed a little over a month, then made two more starts in August before feeling lat discomfort warming up for what would have been a third. He was shut down as a precaution and sent to the Arizona Fall League to pick up innings.

His stuff was wholly intact in Arizona, as Whitley sat 93-97 and touched 99. His apparitional changeup haunts both left and right-handed hitters, disappearing beneath barrels as it approaches the plate. Whitley’s array of breaking stuff is well-designed. His power 12-6 curveball honors his Texas heritage but has been de-emphasized as an out pitch in deference to his tilting, mid-80s slider. He has the best collection of stuff in the minor leagues, and might have been in the big leagues last year if not for various setbacks. He may be on somewhat of an innings limit this year because he didn’t pitch all that much in 2018, but barring that, we expect he’ll help the Astros cause at some point in 2019.

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Plant HS (FL) (HOU)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 60/60 50/60 40/40 40/50 55/55

A very divisive amateur prospect, some scouts were put off by Tucker’s unique swing, while it reminded others of Ted Williams’. The Astros have parlayed his natural bat control into more power. Tucker has gotten stronger and more physically mature, his lower half is better incorporated into his swing than it was in high school, and in 2017, he began lifting the ball more as his ground ball rate dropped from 42% to 34%. With that additional lift has come in-game power and Tucker has slugged well over .500 during each of the last two seasons, and hit about 25 homers during each campaign. He had a horrendous 28-game big league debut but his long track record of hitting suggests that should be heavily discounted.

Though Tucker spent much of his minor league career in center field, he’s a below average runner who is ticketed for an outfield corner, probably in right. He’s an opportunistic base stealer but almost all of his value is tied to his bat, and we think he eventually ends up as a middle of the order bat with a dynamic hit/power combination.

There are still detractors who don’t like Tucker’s motor, or his swing, but on the low end he projects somewhere in the Max Kepler/Nomar Mazara area, and that still plays everyday.

50 FV Prospects

3. Corbin Martin, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Texas A&M (HOU)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/55 40/50 93-95 / 96

Martin was a solid two-way performer in high school who hadn’t quite grown into his frame yet when he got to Texas A&M. By the summer after his sophomore year, Martin was flashing three TrackMan-friendly plus pitches and starter traits in the Cape Cod League, but he only started 16 games in College Station due to a deep veteran staff and his own inconsistency. The Astros popped him in the second round in 2017, hoping to tease out the guy they saw on the Cape and in the last 18 months, they’ve done just that.

Martin sits in the mid-90s, mixes in a plus slider, with an above average changeup and average command. He still doesn’t post the strikeout rates that you’d assume from a possible No. 2 or 3 starter in the Astros farm system, which annually leads the minors in strikeouts in part because they know how to coach pitchers to make the most of their stuff. Sources with knowledge in this area indicate that Martin should see more K’s in 2019 if he can make a couple subtle adjustments to how he uses his pitches and fully unlock his potential, which could lead to a big league look at the end of 2019 if the vaunted Astros pitching staff has an open spot.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Carolina (HOU)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 55/60 55/55 45/50 92-97 / 98

Bukauskas took time off from pitching and got in the weight room as a high school underclassman, and emerged the following spring with four or five more ticks on his fastball. He then reclassified and was suddenly on track to graduate and be draft eligible a year early, meaning every decision-making amateur evaluator in the country had to get in quickly to see a pitcher who had all this new velocity but with whom scouts had very little history. Then Bukauskas asked not to be drafted (he was, late, and didn’t sign) so he could go to North Carolina. After a middling freshman year, he was dominant as a sophomore and in the early part of his junior year before his stuff was depressed during North Carolina’s postseason games. It inflamed perviously held concerns that durability issues resulting from his size and a violent delivery might push Bukauskas to the bullpen.

After parts of two pro seasons, we still don’t have great feel for how Bukauskas will hold up under a pro workload. He hasn’t had any arm issues, but missed two months due to a slipped disk in his thoracic spine, an injury he suffered in a car accident. Bukauskas was electric when he returned and became increasingly dominant towards the end of the summer before his stuff was seen by the entire industry in the Arizona Fall League.

He’ll flash 70-grade changeups and sliders on occasion, bump 98, and has added a cutter. His stuff would lose some zip late in Fall League outings, and he may be more of a 120-inning starter than true workhorse, which would cap his value at around 2.5 annual WAR.

5. Joshua James, RHP
Drafted: 34th Round, 2014 from Western Oklahoma JC (HOU)
Age 26.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/55 55/55 40/45 94-99 / 102

James’ fastball velocity has climbed each of the last three years and is now in the upper-90s. He struck out 171 hitters in 114 innings at Triple-A Fresno in 2018 before the Astros brought him to the big leagues for six appearances (some out of the bullpen, some as a starter), and he struck out more than a batter per inning there, as well. He was slated to compete for a spot in Houston’s rotation during the spring but was sidelined with a quad strain, and may begin the regular season rehabbing or in a lesser role due to the late start.

James’ secondaries can sometimes be easy to identify out of his hand, but purely based on movement, they’re both plus. His command may limit him to a relief role, or at least a starting role that carries fewer innings than is typical, but he has high-leverage big league stuff, and was perhaps 2018’s biggest prospect surprise.

6. Cionel Perez, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 55/60 40/45 40/45 92-96 / 98

The Astros initially agreed to sign Perez for $5 million but found something they didn’t like during a physical, voided his deal, then renegotiated his bonus down to $2 million. Perez has traversed the minors injury-free and reached Houston last year in just his second pro season in the U.S. All of Perez’s pitches have great action on them, including the changeup, which Perez just doesn’t have feel for locating yet. For now, he relies heavily on mid-90s heat and two good breaking balls, the best of which is a hard, upper-80s slider.

He had weird usage patterns last year and it’s not clear if Houston is developing him as a true starter or not, though lots of scouts see his skinny build and project him to the bullpen. He has multi-inning stuff if that move occurs.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Cuba (LAD)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 65/65 30/55 45/40 30/40 45/45

The Dodgers signed Alvarez for $2 million just before the clock struck midnight on the 2015-2016 International Free Agent signing period, then traded him to Houston for Josh Fields a few weeks later, before Alvarez had even played a pro game. Houston took things slow for the first year 10 months, and left Alvarez in the DSL in 2016 and in Extended Spring Training to start 2017, but he has moved very quickly since then, climbing to a new minor league level every half season. And he has performed. Alvarez is a career .301/.381/.507 hitter in the minors, has always been young relative to his level, and reached Triple-A last year shortly after he turned 21. He has big, all-fields raw power, and balls he mis-hits will often still find their way to the warning track. While Alvarez has good natural timing in the box and isn’t often fooled by breaking stuff, he does have limited bat control and we anticipate his batting averages will be lower in majors than they have been thus far.

Athletic for his size, Alvarez has mostly played left field as a pro and he’s a 40 runner underway, but he appeared to stiffen last year and most teams have him projected to first base or DH. That will limit his overall value and makes his lack of bat control a little scary, but we still think Alvarez will become an average regular, and possibly get an opportunity quite soon.

45 FV Prospects

8. Freudis Nova, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 50/60 35/55 60/50 40/45 55/55

The Marlins backed out of a $2.5 million agreement with Nova after he tested positive for PEDs as an amateur. He eventually came to a $1.5 million deal with Houston, which was reduced to $1.2 million after his physical. While there’s creeping doubt about his ability to stay at shortstop — some scouts have gone so far as to say he appears wholly disinterested in defense — there’s confidence in Nova doing well-rounded damage on offense. He’s an athletic swinger with plus bat speed and bat control, and is especially adept at impacting pitches in the bottom of the strike zone.

For now, Nova’s approach is rather hedonistic, and he’s talented enough to make that work, at least for a while. Though this feature adds some approach-related risk to his profile, there’s huge ceiling if Nova remedies his defensive shortcomings and becomes more selective, and it’s probably a strong everyday role if just one of those things happens.

9. Bryan Abreu, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 60/60 40/45 40/45 93-96 / 97

The origin of Abreu’s superficially surprising 40-man add was the glacial pace at which the Astros moved him through the system during his first several seasons. He spent four years at various levels of rookie ball and barely pitched, only throwing about 40 affiliated innings per year on average. The 38 innings he threw at Low-A to round out 2018 were dominant, as Abreu recorded 68 strikeouts, most of which were accrued with either of his two excellent breaking balls, which he has better feel for locating than he does his mid-90s fastball.

There’s considerable industry doubt regarding Abreu’s ability to start, the result of several factors. The lack of total innings creates reasonable doubt about him handling a 140-plus inning workload, and the lack of fastball command, along with Abreu’s mediocre changeup, are also cited as pitfalls. As long as Abreu’s breaking ball command refines though, he may have the tools to attack lefties and get ahead of hitters even if these other components are sub-optimal. His 40-man addition makes it more likely that he spends the early part of his big league career in the bullpen, but he may be a dominant multi-inning piece and could evetually transition into the rotation. Despite some clear present issues, we’re betting heavily on the stuff here.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2017 from Notre Dame (HOU)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 55/60 45/50 45/55 91-94 / 96

Bielak was one of several talented Notre Dame pitchers who had an uneven college career during ’15-’17. Bielak’s control issues were quickly remedied in pro ball, and his pitch utility improved. He can pitch backwards and consistently locates both of his breaking balls to his glove side; Bielak often sets up one with the other. He checks an awful lot of boxes; there’s a starter’s repertoire depth and pitch quality, starter’s command, good raw spin, and he performed and reached Double-A in his first full year. We think he’s a No. 4 or 5 starter and could be ready in 2020.

40+ FV Prospects

11. Luis Santana, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYM)
Age 19.6 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 40/45 20/40 50/50 40/50 50/50

The Astros acquired Santana from the Mets for J.D. Davis when Santana was coming off a domestic debut at advanced rookie-level Kingsport, where he hit .348/.446/.471 with more walks than strikeouts.

A curvaceous 5-foot-8, Santana crowds the plate so much that he’s practically straddling it, and his idiosyncratic, low-ball swing enables him to impact pitches that cross the plate beneath his chest as he leans over it. It’s weird, but it works, and Santana looks like he’s going to be a plus hitter who also has a discerning eye for the strike zone, and whose plate crowding gets him hit by pitches so often that it actually matters. He has been hit in 4% of his 611 career plate appearances, which is nearly twice the career rate of active big league HBP leader Shin-Soo Choo (132 HBP, 1.9%) who became the active leader when Chase Utley (204 HBP, 2.5%) retired.

Athletically, Santana fits at second and third base. His body is pretty maxed out and he’s not likely to grow into sizable raw power, but he runs well, has infield-worthy hands, and an average arm. The combination of his defensive profile and promising feel to hit make him a potential regular. The bat control may be obscuring poor pitch selection.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 60/60 50/55 87-90 / 92

Though it seems like Arementeros was more inclined to nibble with his fringy fastball in the hitter’s paradise of the PCL, he was still pretty successful and of interest to teams ahead of the trade deadline. His fastball plays because he hides the ball well, it has some life at the top of the zone, and he works it up around the hands of righties, causing significant discomfort. His command enables his milquetoast breaking ball to play, but his dastardly changeup, which Armenteros uses against hitters of both handedness, is clearly his best pitch. The deception may not play multiple times through a batting order if Armenteros ends up in a traditional starting role. Instead we think he fits best in a role like Chris Devenski, who has similar stuff.

13. Jairo Solis, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/65 45/55 35/45 92-95 / 97

If not for a very unfortunately timed Tommy John — which will keep him out until 2020 — Solis would have been several spots higher on this list. Among the non-Top 100 types of arms in this system, he not only has one of the better chances of remaining a starter but also has the best stuff among those who do, led by a plus-flashing curveball that he has great feel for locating. Solis also has a great arm for a 19-year-old and may still throw harder as he matures, with his fastball already sitting in the viable low-to-mid 90s. There’s some changeup feel here, too, and teams think Solis has mid-rotation ceiling so long as his command continues to progress.

The Astros will need to make a Rule 5 protection 40-man decision on him after the 2020 season, a decision that will be made easier if Solis hits the ground running after rehab.

14. Tyler Ivey, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Grayson County JC (TX) (HOU)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 60/60 45/50 40/45 45/50 90-94 / 96

The way Ivey’s jersey billows down from his long, skinny limbs throughout an eccentric, slowly-paced windup makes him look like a backup dancer in some kind of vampire musical. Despite the head whack that comes at the end, he’s able to throw strikes with his fastball and has a sufficiently deep repertoire for starting. He is the Astros’ type, possessing a fastball/curveball combination that plays well in sequence at the top and bottom of the strike zone. The rest of his stuff is just okay but enables Ivey to attack hitters in various ways, either by working his cutter in on the hands of lefties or by dipping his slider beneath the zone. He has a No. 4 or 5 starter’s mix or could end up a dynamic multi-inning reliever.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Ohio State (HOU)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 45/50 55/55 45/50 55/55

A multi-sport high schooler, Dawson drew some Division I football interest from MAC teams like Bowling Green but transitioned to baseball full time after suffering a torn ACL late in his high school career. In every regard he became a contextually toolsy outfielder at Ohio State, possessing a power/speed blend that’s rare for prospects in college baseball, let alone the Big Ten.

While Dawson ran well for a hefty, 230 pound former linebacker/fullback, it was assumed that his size would prohibit long term play in center field and that his arm strength would limit him to left. He has worked doggedly to improve both those issues. Weighted ball work has helped improve his arm, and he’s now considerably leaner than he was in college. He’s also faster, and shags batting practice fly balls with intense focus. He’s willed himself to become viable in center field, which gives him a real shot at becoming an everyday player because Dawson has more raw juice than is typical for center fielders. More likely he’s the larger half of an outfield platoon or a strong fourth outfielder, but he has already surpassed developmental expectations and may continue to do so.

40 FV Prospects

16. Manny Ramirez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 19.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/60 40/50 35/50 92-95 / 97

Ramirez wasn’t a hyped international prospect and it’s easy to see why. As a 5-foot-11, 170 pound righty, he would need to have electric stuff to be a real prospect, stuff he didn’t have when he signed for $50,000 in the 2017 class. This year, that stuff materialized with a mid-90s fastball and plus-flashing curveball, along with a changeup that shows average at times. The future scouting grades add up to a potential mid-rotation starter, but Ramirez is still just 19, with no full-season minor league experience, a frame that likely isn’t conducive to starter bulk innings, and a ways to go to even reach those projected future grades. With a realistic outcome of multi-inning power reliever, Ramirez joins a number of power arms the Astros have been developing at a greater than usual rate.

17. Myles Straw, CF
Drafted: 12th Round, 2015 from St. John’s River JC (FL) (HOU)
Age 24.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 30/30 20/20 70/70 60/60 55/55

One of the more unusual players in the minors, Straw has long been considered a likely bench outfielder due to his complete lack of power, but his other tools may prove to be so strong that he finds his way into an everyday role for someone.

Straw has one of the lowest Pull% in pro baseball, as only 27% of balls he puts in play are to his pull side. His 70-grade speed plays like an 80 from home to first, as his swing has a natural jailbreak that gets him out of the box very quickly. He lead the minors with 70 stolen bases last year, his closing speed is very valuable in center field, and Straw is a tough out thanks to his feel for the strike zone and bat control. Players like this occasionally turn into Michael Bourn or Ender Inciarte and provide sizable everyday value. Straw’s skillset indicates this sort of future is a possibility, but not a likelihood, and chances are he’s either a low-end regular in center or good fourth outfielder.

18. Seth Beer, DH
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Clemson (HOU)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 70/70 40/55 20/20 30/40 45/45

Beer was on the scouting radar very early as a prep underclassman who was old for his year but had tools, performed, and was a decorated swimmer. Instead of reclassifying and enter the 2015 draft as an 18-year-old, Beer skipped his high school senior year completely and early-enrolled in January at Clemson. He wasn’t on the radar for the top couple rounds, so scouts weren’t sure he’d perform well, but Beer went on to have one of the best freshman years in college baseball history: .369/.535/.700 with 18 homers, 62 walks, and 27 strikeouts.

The pessimistic view is that Beer is a player with old skills that peaked that season, as his stats regressed a bit from historic to merely among the best. The optimistic view is that Beer has impact plus-plus raw power, a long track record of production and will fit as an everyday 1B/DH type. We’re a bit on the pessimistic side, as Beer is a 20 runner whose athleticism has backed up. He may only fit at DH now and we worried his swing was grooved enough that the hit tool may only be a 40, but with plenty of walks and power. The slippery slope to platoon DH is in sight, so we’d like to see some higher minors performance before we adjust our projections.

His pro debut was strong and he’ll likely spend this year at Hi- and/or Double-A at age 22, age-appropriate for prospects, which will show us where he is on the spectrum of expected performance from Dan Vogelbach to Nate Lowe, or maybe Rhys Hoskins at the very high end.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Seminole State JC (OK) (HOU)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 40/50 50/50 45/50 70/70

Perhaps the most divisive prospect in this system, some clubs believe Toro has a chance to play third base everyday while others see a bench bat ceiling on a player who has yet to prove he can handle other positions. He’s a switch-hitter with feel for lifting the baseball from both sides of the plate, makes hard contact, and has plus-plus arm strength when he’s able to step into his throws. But Toro struggles to make throws from athletically challenging platforms, which leads some onlookers to question whether he’s actually a good fit there, and his one-note, pull-heavy approach to contact may be less successful in the big leagues than it has in the lower levels of the minors.

The median opinion has Toro pegged as a switch-hitting bench piece, but he’ll need to learn to play other positions before that can become a reality. Houston briefly tried him at catcher but that experiment ended quickly. The outfield corners are logical avenues to explore.

20. Peter Solomon, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Notre Dame (HOU)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 55/55 40/45 40/45 40/45 92-94 / 96

Solomon’s stuff garnered sizable hype when he was in college but he was not a competent strike-thrower and ended up walking 77 hitters in 110 career innings. He has become more mechanically consistent as a pro and now has an improved chance of starting.

He has plus fastball rise, two good breaking balls, and a changeup and cutter in their nascent stages of development. Houston has had success turning college arms like this into good starting pitching prospects, and Solomon’s 2018 was a step in that direction. He has No. 4 or 5 starter stuff if the metamorphosis continues, and either his changeup or breaking ball command sharpen.

21. Brandon Bailey, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2016 from Gonzaga (HOU)
Age 24.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 55/55 55/60 50/50 40/45 89-93 / 94

In a prospect pool increasingly full of TrackMan darlings, Bailey might be Grace Kelly. His fastball has premium life, his once-stigmatized stature helps create a flat approach angle that enables his fastball to play at the top of the strike zone, and it helps set up his knee-buckling, 12-6 curveball. His changeup will flash plus and he can vary his breaking ball shape with a slider and relatively new cutter to give hitters different looks. All of these components allow Bailey to strike out lots of batters without big velocity, but his approach to pitching is not conducive to efficient strike-throwing. This, combined with his size, has teams projecting him to the bullpen. He threw 122 strong, albeit walk-heavy, innings last year as an old-for-the-level Carolina Leaguer, often with extended rest. We tend to think he’ll end up in a multi-inning relief role, especially since the tricks that enable his fastball to play may have diminishing returns the second and third time through the order.

22. Framber Valdez, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 25.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 40/45 89-94 / 97

Though he may be used as a short term rotation patch, Valdez’s future is likely in the bullpen due to his repertoire depth. Both his two-seamer and curveball induce lots of groundballs (Valdez has a 58% career GB%) and the curve can miss bats when it’s properly set up by the four-seamer. But that’s the whole show and while Valdez has plus velo and nearly elite curveball spin, that may not play for four or five innings at a time. Instead he profiles as a good middle reliever. There are very few lefties on the Houston 40-man, so Valdez will likely play a sizable role on the big league club in 2019.

23. Alex McKenna, CF
Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Cal Poly (HOU)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 55/55 30/50 55/55 45/50 50/50

McKenna had a solid Cape Cod League, putting him on the radar for the top couple rounds, but some scouts thought his lack of patience could be his undoing going forward. McKenna is somewhere around the somewhat classic profile of a power-over-hit center fielder with more tools than skills, but that archetype is in demand now more than ever. McKenna has above average raw power and speed and enough hitting skills to get to around average offensively, and around average defensively in center field.

At times, he’s shown a flat-planed swing that doesn’t tap into his power and other times he’s over-aggressive, but Houston thinks they can tap into this skillset and thought he was a nice value with performance and low-end regular upside in the fourth round.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Panama (PHI)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 35/40 20/30 45/45 50/55 55/55

Long in possession of one of the prettier swings in the minors, Arauz had a strong, BABIP-aided first two months (.299/.392/.471) at Low-A and was promoted to Hi-A as a 19-year-old, where he struggled. He’s a switch-hitting middle infielder with above-average bat control, so there are all sorts of exciting hit/power/defensive profile mixes in play, depending on how Arauz develops physically. He has filled out a bit since he first signed (he was acquired from Philly in the Ken Giles deal) but scouts had mixed feelings about his body composition last year, and largely have him projected to second base. If that’s the case, ideally there will be more power than there is right now, and it’s fair to project some based on Arauz’s age.

For now, though, he has very little strength and at times appears to struggle to rip the barrel through the top of the zone and instead is adept at letting the bat do most of the work on pitches near his knees. The lift this creates is intriguing, but there needs to be more raw power if it’s going to matter. He has an outside shot to be a regular at second base but may just end up as a switch-hitting bench infielder.

Drafted: 8th Round, 2015 from USC (HOU)
Age 25.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 30/40 50/50 55/55 55/55

After a dour, injured 2017 season, Stubbs had a bounce back 2018 and hit .310/.382/.455 at Triple-A. He spent the offseason adding mass to his little frame, a body scouts have long been skeptical about being able to weather the full-season storm of catching. These doubts have been reinforced by Stubbs’ semi-frequent injury issues, which led him to focus on weight gain during the offseason.

His athletic capabilities are clear though, and Stubbs is a good ball blocker, an excellent catch-and-throw guy, and his passable framing may benefit from altering the depth at which he sets up. From a skills standpoint, totally ignoring the issue of durability, he looks like a potential everyday catcher. There has been some industry sentiment that Stubbs would be best deployed as a multi-positional bat, perhaps playing third base and the outfield corners as well as catcher. He hasn’t played other positions in games but has worked with Matt Chapman at third during the offseason, so perhaps he will be allowed to try new things once the season starts.

We have him projected as a contact-oriented, multi-positional bench piece.

26. Cristian Javier, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/50 55/60 45/50 40/45 40/45 89-94 / 95

Javier’s fuzzy shock of hair is the best in the system, and he’s one of the more creative sequencers among Houston farmhands as well. His front side flies way open during disconnection, and the dramatic manner in which his limbs bandy about during his delivery limit his fastball command, but also help create a weird angle on his stuff, which is quite good. He’ll sit in the low-90s, his curveball has premium spin, and Javier can manipulate the shape of his fastball and multiple breaking balls. There’s a chance he ends up in a rotation so long as the command progresses a little bit, and Javier’s feel for pitching is promising in this regard. If it doesn’t, he could be an excellent multi-inning reliever.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Juanita HS (WA) (HOU)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/50 35/50 89-93 / 94

Schroeder was a pocket follow for most scouts, then his velo spiked in the spring at a Washington state high school, sitting 92-95, and hitting 97 mph, and flashing an above average breaking ball at his best. That often came with some head violence at release, so the Astros tried to calm down his delivery a bit, which led to more average stuff in instructional league, so pro scouts getting first looks weren’t encouraged by what they saw from the second rounder. Being a cold weather velo spike arm, we think there’s a happy medium with back-end starter potential, but prep arms are often a rollercoaster and there was a bit of a dip after the draft.

28. Enoli Paredes, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/45 60/70 45/55 45/50 35/40 92-96 / 97

Little Enoli’s arm is so fast that it threatens to break the sound barrier and generates a lively mid-90s fastball. Everything about Paredes’ delivery involves max effort, which limits his command but also makes his stuff hellacious and unpredictable in a way that makes him a very uncomfortable at-bat. Not only does he throw hard, but his power curveball has big, bat-missing depth and competes for swings and misses in the zone. His arm speed enables very favorable changeup projection and Paredes already flashes some plus cambios on occasion. He can shorten the curveball into a slider or add cut action to his fastball, but the other three pitches should be sufficient for him to play a strikeout-heavy relief role.

We don’t stick many 23-year-old A-ball relievers on the 40 FV tier of lists, but Paredes only signed at age 19 and hasn’t had as much pro development as other same-aged Latin American players, and he’s not yet occupying a 40-man spot. He has considerable appeal as a trade target and a chance to be a rare 45 FV reliever on this list next year.

35+ FV Prospects

29. Joe Perez, 3B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) (HOU)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Perez was on the scouting radar for his upper-90s fastball, occasionally plus slider, and easy plus raw power at the plate. He was seen primarily as a pitcher who, while raw, also could show you BP power until he broke out with the bat in the spring. He blew up Twitter with a number of tape measure shots and looked like he had a chance to play third base, as well, though there’s questions about his lateral quickness.

After going in the second round in 2017, Perez required Tommy John surgery but the Astros drafted him as a hitter, believing they could tap into the raw power in games more often and that the bat offered more upside than the likely reliever profile. Perez got into games late in 2018 and scouts who saw him in the instructional league weren’t enthusiastic, but it’s still early.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Arizona (HOU)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+

Announced as a second baseman when the Astros drafted him, and deployed primarily in left field as a pro, Matijevic’s stiffness and immobility will likely limit him to first base, where he played in college. He has sufficient power to profile there but there have been questions about the contact since high school. He clubbed 22 homers in 2018, mostly at Hi-A, and will force some re-evaluation if he has a big year at Double-A. For now, he projects as a bench bat with limited defensive flexibility.

31. Carlos Sanabria, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Sanabria was moved to the bullpen in 2018 but a lot of teams think he has the repertoire depth and command to start, assuming he retains the same quality stuff for multiple innings. The sizable strikeout totals Sanabria has posted come from his ability to locate his slider and changeup rather than from high-quality stuff, and he’d likely max out as a fifth starter if re-introduced to the rotation.

32. Ross Adolph, CF
Drafted: 12th Round, 2018 from Toledo (NYM)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+

Adolph is an interesting small-school sleeper who hit .322/.445/.654 as a junior at Toledo, then signed for $125,000 as the Mets’ 2018 12th rounder. He continued to rake at short-season Brooklyn after signing, hitting .276/.348/.509 and swiping 14 bases (on 17 attempts) in 60 games. He’s an above-average runner with good instincts in center field, and there’s a chance he can stay there. He could be a 50 bat with gap power who is playable in center, which would make him at least a viable big league fourth outfielder. We whiffed on him pre-draft, but our sources who saw him in pro ball raved, and the industry’s error bars on small school bats are pretty large due to the quality of pitching they face.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 19.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+

Carrasco is a common type among middle bonus international signees: the skinny, speedy shortstop with some present skills. He signed for $480,000 and performed well as an 18-year-old in the GCL in 2019, with a short taste of short-season ball. He has very little present strength and only has gap power in games, but he has above average contact skills, plus speed, arm strength, and defensive ability, so there’s a chance for some real ceiling if and when the physicality comes along, though it’s more likely he becomes an athletic utility infielder.

34. Jeremy Pena, SS
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Maine (HOU)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Pena was widely considered to be the best collegiate defensive shortstop in the 2018 draft but despite his picturesque swing, he made very little offensive impact against out-of-conference pitching and with woods bats during the summer. The lack of offense likely caps Pena’s ceiling in the bench infielder area, but he has added about 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason and is also a sleeper breakout candidate if it makes a meaningful impact on his contact quality.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.2 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Duarte is an energetic, multi-positional speedster with an infectious style of play. He’s an aggressive hitter who strikes out a ton, but he played everywhere but first base and catcher last year and could find a big league role as a versatile bench piece.

36. Reymin Guduan, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2009 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 27.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

There are moments when Guduan looks like one of the more dominant lefty relievers in baseball. He’ll touch 100, his fastball spins and has life, his slider is consistently plus, and he hides the ball well. At other times he’s unplayably wild. The early parts of Guduan’s 2019 spring were encouraging but, at age 27, it’s unlikely the issues that have plagued him for years have suddenly been remedied. He’ll likely be a scintillating and terrifying low-leverage relief piece.

37. Dean Deetz, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2014 from NE Oklahoma A&M JC (HOU)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Deetz is a pretty standard two-pitch, lowish slot middle relief prospect. He has a good curveball and is a dead ringer for Jason Ritter. We typically 40 FV this role, but Deetz is already 25 and has had a PED suspension, so we rounded down a tad.

38. Angel Macuare, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Signed for just south of $700,000 out of Venezuela, Macuare was a polished amateur arm who has been as advertised in two years of pro ball. He has good command of mostly average stuff as a 19-year-old, so there’s a chance he either grows into better stuff through physical maturation, or develops such special command that he doesn’t have to. In either case, he’s got a shot to be a No. 4 or 5.

39. Kit Scheetz, LHP
(HOU)
Age 24.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech, Scheetz has reached Double-A and performed at each stop, accumulating a 140:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 115 pro innings. He’s a low slot lefty with below-average velocity, on the surface appearing to be of the LOOGY endangered species. But Scheetz can really spin a breaking ball, and has a four-pitch mix that you could argue plays like a six-pitch mix because he likes to vary his arm slot. He could be a non-traditional bullpen mainstay.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Pitching Staff Caboose Types
Jose Luis Hernandez, RHP
R.J. Freure, RHP
Cody Deason, RHP

Hernandez has a plus changeup and plus command. He’s 23 and is a classic spot starter who’ll be in pro ball forever, like a righty Tommy Milone. Freure and Deason are vertical arm slot righties with vertical breaking balls. They were both mid-round 2018 draftees and are likely future relievers.

The Carrying Tool Group
Enmanuel Valdez, INF
Carlos Machado, OF
Chuckie Robinson, C
Scott Manea, C

Valdez, 20, has some pop and feel for contact, as well as good infield hands and actions. He has limited lateral quickness and his frame is pretty maxed out, so it’s hard to say where exactly he’ll fit defensively. Machado has hit a pretty quiet .312 with a .362 OBP over four pro seasons and he does have feel for the barrel. He may not have the power to profile in a corner but the contact feel is promising and he is only 20. If it turns out that he’s an elite contact guy, the power won’t necessarily need to come, but he’s a good-framed 20-year-old, so it might. Robinson and Manea are big-bodied catchers with power who most of the industry thinks can’t catch. Manea, 23, was an undrafted free agent who the Mets sent to Houston in the J.D. Davis trade. Robinson, 24, was a small school guy who hit for big power in 2017, then scuffled at Hi-A last year.

System Overview

This will be Houston’s first full calendar year with a scouting staff comprised largely of in-office analysts who break down high-quality video and integrate their assessments with a slew of data from TrackMan and other cutting edge evaluation technologies. Houston let go of most of their scouts in two waves over two years, and now sends individuals with Edgertronic cameras to amateur games in lieu of traditional area scouts. While this style of scouting has yielded stylistic uniformity across Houston’s prospect population — they almost invariably acquire high-spin, four-seam/curveball pitchers with a 12:30 spin axis, most of whom are adding cutters early in pro ball, while targeting college bats who have performed on paper and have big exit velos — it has also yielded a bunch of talented players, and further use of the tech on the player development side has made those players better.

This is a good farm system even though there are some clear potential long-term pitfalls from having narrow criteria for the players the org targets. For one, the types of pitchers Houston seems to like are becoming more sought after by other teams as a better understanding of how pitching works permeates baseball. Fewer pitchers of this type will be available to Houston as a result, but of course, Houston is likely also identifying players who can be altered to become this type of pitcher, even if they aren’t one yet. One day, there might be repercussions for having a staff full of very similar pitchers, but there’s no way of knowing that.

The Astros are clearly ahead of other teams around the league in some other areas, too. In some ways, it’s becoming easier for those lagging behind to catch up because they can also look to Baltimore and Atlanta, both of which have former Houston employees in prominent roles, to spot trends. In other ways, it’s getting harder to learn about Houston from the outside, as paranoia and acrimony have begun to impact industry discourse about the Astros in a way that makes it difficult to know which rumors about them are true and which are BS. Some of the things that have been mentioned consistently, and which seem plausible and interesting, include experimentation with visual machine learning and work with topical substances to improve pitch spin/movement. Of course, all the Rapsodo and Motus sleeve stuff is already widely known or knowable with quick use of Google.

Expect the 40-man crunch to continue apace here as teams gobble up the overflow of Astros pitching that can’t quite crack their roster.


Top 25 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 from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Mariners Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Justus Sheffield 22.8 MLB LHP 2019 50
2 Yusei Kikuchi 27.7 MLB LHP 2019 50
3 Jarred Kelenic 19.6 R CF 2021 50
4 Justin Dunn 23.5 AA RHP 2019 50
5 Evan White 22.9 AAA 1B 2020 50
6 Shed Long 23.5 AA 2B 2019 50
7 Julio Rodriguez 18.2 R RF 2022 45+
8 Logan Gilbert 21.8 None RHP 2020 45+
9 Kyle Lewis 23.6 AA RF 2020 45
10 Noelvi Marte 17.4 None SS 2023 40+
11 Cal Raleigh 22.3 A- C 2021 40+
12 Erik Swanson 25.5 AAA RHP 2019 40+
13 Sam Carlson 20.3 R RHP 2022 40+
14 Braden Bishop 25.5 AA CF 2019 40
15 Wyatt Mills 24.1 AA RHP 2020 40
16 Jake Fraley 23.8 A+ LF 2020 40
17 Dom Thompson-Williams 23.9 A+ LF 2021 40
18 Juan Querecuto 18.5 R SS 2022 40
19 Gerson Bautista 23.8 MLB RHP 2019 40
20 Matthew Festa 26.0 MLB RHP 2019 40
21 Joey Gerber 21.8 A RHP 2021 40
22 Anthony Misiewicz 24.3 AA LHP 2019 40
23 Jorge Benitez 19.8 A- LHP 2022 35+
24 Luis Liberato 23.2 AA CF 2020 35+
25 Ricardo Sanchez 21.9 AA LHP 2019 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Tullahoma HS (TN) (CLE)
Age 22.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/55 45/50 91-96 / 97

Sheffield has now been traded twice: once from Cleveland to New York for Andrew Miller, and then from New York to Seattle for James Paxton. Except for his 2017 Fall League excursion, during which Sheffield had the best stretch of command he’s ever had, he’s had issues throwing strikes. This, combined with some injuries (an oblique strain in 2017, shoulder stiffness in 2018) and the way Sheffield’s body has thickened, has led some scouts to conclude that Sheffield will eventually be a reliever, albeit a very good one due to the quality of his stuff. We don’t think his fastball is going to miss as many bats as you might expect given its velocity. It’s a mid-90s bowling ball sinker with well-below average spin rate. This should pair well with Sheffield’s changeup, but it may not effectively set up his slider, which on its own is excellent. He’s more likely to end up a league-average starter than a middle or top of the rotation type, and he might be a dynamic, multi-inning reliever.

(SEA)
Age 27.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 194 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 55/55 55/55 45/45 91-95 / 96

One could argue the 27-year-old Kickuchi doesn’t belong on a prospects list, but he’s not even the oldest player on The Board, and you’d probably like to know more about him, so here we go. MLB teams had interest in Kikuchi when he was a teenager and several of them courted him before he was drafted into NPB. Though minor ailments limited his early-career workload, he’s been one of the better starters in Japan for the last six years and has been especially good for the last two, before Saitama posted him. He started getting into pitch design after his parent club installed a TrackMan unit in 2016.

Like a lot of Japanese pitchers, Kikuchi has a kitchen sink repertoire that features a splitter and various breaking balls. Everything is above-average, except for Kikuchi’s fastball. Mechanically, Kikuchi is similar to MacKenzie Gore, although his stride direction is more direct to the plate and his delivery has a brief intermission as his landing leg descends (pause) then everything comes home. His arm action is efficient and Kikuchi’s slot is vertical, something it seems that more analytically inclined teams prefer. He sounds like a mid-rotation starter who, for our purposes, will enter his decline phase earlier than everyone else on this list because of his age.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Waukesha West HS (WI) (NYM)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 55/55 20/50 55/50 45/50 60/60

Kelenic was one of four prep hitters in the 2018 class — along with Brice Turang, Alek Thomas, and Mike Siani — who played together in the Team USA pipeline for years; all got top-two round money in the draft. Kelenic is the best of the group because he offers the best contact skills while also being tied for having the most raw power, speed, and defensive value. His well-rounded skillset enticed the Mets to take him sixth overall, but he was then traded by new GM Brodie Van Wagnen as the headliner to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Kelenic is an intense competitor who works tirelessly, to the point that some teammates and scouts think he should reel it back in a bit at times, though they point out they’d rather have a guy who’s too dedicated than one who’s not enough. He’s a plus straight-line runner but more of a 55 on the field, and thus isn’t a slam dunk to stick in center. But he has 55 raw power, so there’s enough thump to profile if he ends up sliding over to right field, where his plus arm would also fit.

4. Justin Dunn, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Boston College (NYM)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/50 50/55 45/50 92-95 / 97

A college reliever until midway through his junior year at Boston College, Dunn’s repertoire has developed quickly and he now has four above-average pitches. Both of his breaking balls (a slider in the mid-80s and an upper-70s curve) work because he has terrific command of both, almost always locating them down and to his glove side in places that are enticing but unhittable. This wanes when he’s pitching from the stretch. His fastball command is below average but he throws hard enough to get away with mistakes, sitting 92-95 and touching 97. His changeup came on late in the year and will flash plus. It’s firm, 85-88mph, but some of them have a lot of arm side movement and will still miss bats. Dunn finished 2018 at Double-A and has a shot to debut next year, but more likely sees Safeco in 2020.

5. Evan White, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Kentucky (SEA)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 40/50 60/55 60/70 55/55

We now have a full season of data to help us figure out whether Evan White’s weird profile is going to play. A plus-running, backwards guy (he bats right and throws left, a generally unfavorable combination due to the defensive limitations and platoon issues caused by both) who plays plus defense at first base, White was slugging .391 at the start of August, which is rather uninspiring for a college hitter in the Cal League. By the end of the month, however, White had 30 hits in 90 plate appearances and was slugging .763.

He has 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, 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. White looked good during the Arizona Fall League, too, squelching some concern that he was just a polished college hitter beating up on Cal League pitching. He’s one of the more bizarre players in the minors.

6. Shed Long, 2B
Drafted: 12th Round, 2013 from Jacksonville HS (AL) (CIN)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 55/55 40/50 55/55 40/45 50/50

After a bad 42-game initial foray into Double-A in 2017, Long’s BABIP and overall statline rebounded in his 2018 full season campaign at Pensacola, where he hit .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and 19 steals. A converted catcher, with rare straight-line speed for a backstop but the stereotypically excellent catcher makeup, Long is still not a very good second baseman and has below average hands and clunky footwork. He has now been playing there regularly for three and a half seasons, and his development has plateaued. We still have him projected as a 45 defender at second base but also think there’s an increased chance that he eventually moves to the outfield. It would be much easier for Long to profile were he to stay at second base, where big leaguers slashed a collective .254/.317/.395 (good for a 93 wRC+) in 2018. The outfield corners are not so kind. Ultimately, Long has some power and his thunderous uppercut swing is going to enable him to get to it in games, even if his contact profile is fringy. That will play everyday at second base so long as he can. Since acquiring him, the Mariners have used Shed at second, third, and in left field. He’s looked pretty good at third for not having played there and he’s hit well in big league spring training games.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/65 30/60 45/40 40/50 55/60

It isn’t often that people in baseball begin recounting their thoughts on a player as talented as Rodriguez with fawning anecdotes about the player’s maturity, but that is almost always what happens when scouts talk about Julio. He is an old, reflective soul with an adolescent’s enthusiasm for baseball in the body of a Division I tight end. Because Rodriguez spent his 2018 summer in the DSL (which isn’t heavily scouted) and Seattle eschews game action during instructional league, if people in baseball wanted a look at Rodriguez they sought out the highlight clips he would upload to his Instagram account. He hit .315/.404/.525 in the DSL, so there were plenty of those. His feed is also full of group photos with other young prospects and several big leaguers, all of whom Rodriguez is taller than.

The convergence of his physical, technical, and seeming emotional maturity have caused Seattle to publicly consider skipping Rodriguez over the AZL and Northwest League in favor of sending him right to their new Low-A affiliate in Charleston, West Virginia as a young 18-year-old. The cultural assimilation curve may be steep, but Rodriguez is talented enough to have on-field success there. His approach is quiet and would appear contact-oriented if not for his prodigious natural strength, which turns would-be flare singles into gap doubles, and causes mis-hit flyouts to threaten the warning track. He could end up with a plus bat and plus power, plenty to profile in an outfield corner, hit in the middle of a good order, and perhaps be a perennial All-Star. The Kelenic/Rodriguez duo is refined enough that they each might be promoted at a pace that more closely mimics college players than recently-acquired teenagers, which would enable them to have more big league overlap with the crop of twenty-somethings the org acquired in the Paxton/Diaz deals.

8. Logan Gilbert, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stetson (SEA)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 45/50 50/55 45/50 45/55 87-92 / 96

We don’t typically project such a strong post-draft uptick in velocity for a college starter, but Gilbert was worked so hard during his junior year at Stetson that we believe the velo he showed last year was beneath what we’ll see with a more regimented workload as a pro. He was sitting 92-96 as a rising sophomore on Cape Cod, but often sat 90-94, and sometimes 88-91, throughout his starts the following spring. While we anticipate a rebound — and Gilbert has been 94-97 in bullpens and simulated environments this spring — college starters often experience a slight downturn in velo because they’re being asked to go every fifth day for five months instead of once a week for three and a half. While there’s a wide array of potential outcomes for Gilbert’s fastball, his command, breaking ball quality, prototypical frame, and mechanical consistency have been stable. He at least profiles as a quick-moving backend starter, but could be a mid-rotation arm if the velo comes back, and he’s a good bet to be on our mid-year top 100 update.

45 FV Prospects

9. Kyle Lewis, RF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Mercer (SEA)
Age 23.6 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 60/65 45/55 50/45 45/50 60/60

We still know less about Lewis than is typical of a 23-year-old prospect, largely due to the significant time he missed because of a 2016 ACL tear suffered just a month after his pro debut. The injury washed away the rest of 2016 and essentially all of 2017, as a visibly hobbled Lewis stopped and started baseball activity several times due to ongoing issues with the knee. He even began 2018 with a month-long stay on the injured list because he wasn’t a full go when spring training began. He was healthy for the rest of 2018 but his performance was mixed, and his tools beneath where they were in college. He was clearly less explosive than most of his peers at the Futures Game were, but of course at that point he had only been playing healthy, regular baseball for about two months.

This spring, the physical ability that had scouts calling Lewis the most talented prospect on Cape Cod — and that drove him to near the top of 2016 draft boards — has returned. That injured right knee looks healthy as it twists and bends through contact. It’s shouldering more of a mechanical burden now than it was in 2017, certainly, and Lewis is taking healthy but comfortable hacks with the same natural flyball loft he exhibited in college. He’s hit a few impressive spring training homers but has also swung through quite a few fastballs in the zone, some in the 90-92 mph range. Teams were concerned about potential strikeout issues in college, concerns that were exacerbated by the small-school competition he faced, which served to limit the confidence teams had in his performance. This year is not only important for Lewis’ development but for the industry’s understanding of his profile. He finally appears healthy and he has heart-of-the order offensive talent so long as he doesn’t have severe contact issues.

40+ FV Prospects

10. Noelvi Marte, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 17.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 20/55 45/40 40/50 45/50

Marte, who signed for $1.5 million last July, was one of the more exciting power hitters in the class. For the second straight year, the Mariners’ top international signee was a strong-bodied prospect more physically mature than the typical teenager. With broad, tapered shoulders and a sizable lower half, he body comps to Jonathan Schoop and like Schoop, he projects to move off of shortstop at some point. His size prohibits projection at the position on its own, and Marte’s hands were also inconsistent as an amateur; some international scouts thought he might move to the outfield.

But Marte has the thunderous, pull-side power to profile just about anywhere, especially if he can stay on the dirt. He should end up with plus raw power at peak, perhaps more. He has a long, slow leg kick that doesn’t add much to his swing efficacy right now, as most of Marte’s power comes from pure hand speed and strength, but that will likely improve with reps. He’s a volatile, exciting young prospect who may be on the Julio Rodriguez development track, which would mean we likely won’t see him play much in the U.S. until 2020.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Florida State (SEA)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 55/55 40/55 45/40 40/50 55/55

Raleigh switched his college commitment from Clemson to Florida State late when the Clemson head coach was fired after the season, freeing up signees to move. One other Clemson signee, current Royals right-handed pitcher Jackson Kowar, switched to Florida and cost the Tigers two solid three-year contributors. Raleigh had a big bonus number out of high school and was well-rounded, but had enough questions that clubs didn’t feel comfortable going well past the $1 million mark.

At Florida State, he developed skills that work best in today’s game: he’s not seen as a lock to stick at a catcher but has above average arm strength to work with and is a plus framer according to some clubs’ metrics. He’s seen as a below average hit, above average power type at the plate and with the sorry state of big league catching, that adds up to a regular if things continue developing in this way. We’ve heard of at least two other clubs that attempted to get Raleigh to their pick in the draft for an overslot bonus when Seattle stepped in and ruined those plans — the best way to confirm that a player has industry trade value — so we’ve moved him up just a bit since our draft day 40 FV grade.

12. Erik Swanson, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2014 from Iowa Western JC (IA) (TEX)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 45/50 50/55 91-95 / 96

Swanson’s fastball exhibits several of the nuanced traits that aid velocity in missing bats. For one, his heater has a 12:30 spin axis, which means it has nearly perfect backspin, better enabling fastball rise. It also has an approach angle that plays well at the top of the strike zone, which, in combination with the rise and velocity, makes it the archetypal modern fastball. His secondary stuff is quite average but as long as he is locating his mid-80s slider and changeup — something he has struggled with in his big league appearances this spring — he should at least be a good backend starter or multi-inning reliever, and it’s possible the secondary fastball characteristics are so strong that we’re underselling him a little bit.

13. Sam Carlson, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Burnsville HS (MN) (SEA)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 50/60 40/55 89-93 / 94

Carlson has thrown just three pro innings since signing, as the minor flexor strain that shelved him after his draft turned out to be a prelude to surgery. He was given a PRP injection in an attempt to avoid Tommy John, but it was unsuccessful and he went under the knife in early July of 2018. The timing of the surgery may keep Carlson out for all of 2019. When he finally returns, he’ll be a 21-year-old with less developmental polish than a lot of teenage prospects from year-round baseball areas like Florida and Texas, as a former a two-way, cold-weather high schooler who will have missed about 30 consecutive months of reps.

The summer before his senior year, Carlson was 88-92 with better command and changeup feel than is typical for a northern prep arm. His velocity ticked up the following spring and he was touching 96, then sat 92-95 in his few pro innings before his injury. If his stuff comes back, he has No. 4 starter upside.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Washington (SEA)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 50/50 40/40 70/70 70/70 55/55

Bishop’s 2018 season ended in July when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a fractured forearm. Though he has made swing tweaks that have dropped his groundball rate from a whopping 60% to 48% (which is still greater than league average), he is unlikely to do much offensive damage, and probably not enough to profile as an average everyday player. But he can really go get it in center field, and could turn into a Kevin Pillar type of regular who ends up playing every day simply because of how good he is in the field. A plus-plus runner with expansive range at the position, Bishop is capable of turning would-be extra-base hits into outs, and his speed and instincts on the basepaths will make him a dynamic pinch running option if he ends up in a bench outfield role, which most teams believe to be his median outcome. He’ll likely spend most of 2019 in Tacoma but could be up in September.

15. Wyatt Mills, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Gonzaga (SEA)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 45/55 50/55 92-94 / 95

Mills has several traits that are atypical not only of side-arm relievers, but of relievers in general. For one, he throws harder than most side-armers and will have outings where he sits comfortably in the 93-95 range with his fastball, while dropping down into the 91-94 range in others. He also throws an unusually high ratio of strikes for a bullpen arm; 70% of his 2018 fastballs went for strikes. In addition to his dastardly slider, Mills also has a pretty good changeup, which helps to mitigate platoon issues that might otherwise be worse given his arm slot. In our estimation, the strike-throwing and changeup give Mills a better chance of playing a high-leverage or multi-inning role than the other relief-only prospects in this system. A caveat here is that Mills did not throw on back-to-back days in 2018 and often had several days of rest between appearances, so we’re not sure how his stuff might respond to the more varied usage necessitated by the big league environment.

16. Jake Fraley, LF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from LSU (TBR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 35/45 55/55 50/55 40/40

Fraley went 77th overall in 2016, in the comp round after the second round. That’s right around the range in the draft where the college hitters come with some warts and project more as role players than potential regulars. Fraley was a plus runner who projected in center field as an amateur but he has lost a step in pro ball and profiles as more of a tweener now, with offensive skills that don’t overwhelm, so the outcome is most likely bench outfielder of some stripe. There’s a shot he can stay healthy, add some loft to his swing, maintain some contact skills, and end up as a Ben Gamel-esque soft 50 FV for a couple seasons, but he’s more likely to fall in the Jake Cave or Billy McKinney region where a swing change ensures a big league role.

Seattle acquired Fraley from the Rays, their best friend from trade camp, in the Mike Zunino/Mallex Smith swap this winter. Needs lined up, as Seattle was looking for cheap potential MLB contributors in the next season or two, and Tampa has a never-ending 40-man crunch to manage.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from South Carolina (NYY)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 35/50 55/55 50/55 50/50

In addition to his high school baseball stardom, Thompson-Williams was a good wide receiver and safety in Sioux City, Iowa. It’s rare that an athlete like this gets to college at all, let alone a junior college, but DTW spent the first two years of his college career at Iowa Western JC, then transferred to South Carolina, where he answered any lingering questions about whether he could translate his raw athleticism into on-field performance against pro-level competition.

He had a breakout 20/20 season at Hi-A last year, albeit as a 23-year-old. He has big raw power but there are questions about how readily he’ll be able to get to it in games, and teams have varying opinions about whether or not he can stay in center field. There’s low-end everyday upside if things continue to come together at the plate the way they did in 2018. More likely, Thompson-Williams is a useful platoon at multiple outfield spots, or as a player who can provide some thump and speed off the bench. Given his shorter track record and age, that’s a 40 FV for now with a chance to turn into a 45 FV with upper-level performance, which would reinforce notions that his 2018 on-paper production was real.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (SEA)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/55 40/45 20/40 45/50 45/50 55/60

Querecuto suffered a torn meniscus in February, but his physical immaturity almost certainly had him ticketed for the AZL, so while he may be brought along slowly as minor league spring training gets underway, he should be fine for game action during extended spring training, and when rookie ball starts in June. He’s a graceful but unexplosive shortstop, with a limber, projectable frame. His arm and body control are clean fits at short, though his first step leaves a bit to be desired. He may grow into some power as his body matures, which may enable him to play every day, but it’s more likely that he becomes a utility type.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (BOS)
Age 23.8 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 40/40 92-97 / 99

Bautista was part of Seattle’s return in the Diaz/Cano trade (the Mets acquired him from Boston for Addison Reed at the 2017 trade deadline). He’s an arm strength-dependent reliever who’ll likely lose list eligibility sometime this season. He throws really hard and has been in the 96-97 mph range in his big league outings this spring while showing a slightly improved slider. It doesn’t move much, but it moves quite a bit considering how hard it is, sitting in the 86-87 mph range this spring. It has mostly horizontal action when Bautista is locating it to his glove side but has more vertical action to it when it’s closer to the middle of the plate. The secondary stuff for high-leverage duty probably isn’t here, and we have Bautista projected as a middle reliever.

20. Matthew Festa, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from East Stroudsburg (SEA)
Age 26.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 50/50 45/50 92-94 / 96

The movement profiles on Festa’s four and two-seam fastballs are sufficiently different that he’s one of the few prospects for whom we wish we had separate columns on The Board for each fastball classification. It’s imperative that Festa not only vary the shape of his fastball but that he work with his slider often because for a reliever, he doesn’t throw especially hard. His repertoire depth is a significant part of why he’s likely to be successful in the big leagues. Both his heavily-used slider and curveball are of big league quality and can miss bats when located, and Festa has a serviceable changeup. He’ll probably be the first East Stroudsburg University alum to log significant big league time in over a century and will likely graduate off this list in 2019.

21. Joey Gerber, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from Illinois (SEA)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/55 40/50 40/45 92-95 / 96

Gerber was 104th in our pre-draft rankings, and Seattle ended up popping him in the eighth round, 238th overall, in what looked immediately like a great value for a slipped-through-the-cracks prospect. Gerber was widely scouted, but clubs often start saving money by taking seniors around the fifth round, lining up 11th round picks to spend their savings on and scooping up the last signable prep prospects, or generally looking for upside and/or low cost players. In those situations, potential middle relievers who sign for about slot can sometimes be overlooked, although the 2017 version was Pirates seventh rounder Jared Oliva, a tools-over-performance corner outfielder, another demographic clubs are hesitant to take in the 5th-8th rounds. Gerber sits 92-95 and hits 96 mph with above average life, and mixes in an above average slider, a changeup that flashes average, and a combination of tempo and deception that keeps hitters off balance. He’s probably not a setup man or a closer but he’s not that different than Giants third rounder Jake Wong, who signed for $850,000, while Gerber went five rounds later and signed for $167,400, and may move even faster through the system. These are the kind of small edges a rebuilding system needs to grab when they’re available.

Drafted: 18th Round, 2015 from Michigan State (SEA)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/55 55/60 45/45 45/50 91-94 / 95

Part of the growing support group of players who have been traded and then reacquired by Jerry Dipoto, Misiewicz made just five starts for the Rays before they shipped him back to Seattle after the 2017 season. He’s an athletic lefty with a bevy of average or better pitches that should enable him to operate as a fifth starter or multi-inning reliever. Though his fastball plays up a little bit due to extension and occasionally has bat-missing movement, it’s fairly hittable when left in the strike zone and Misiewicz will likely have to make frequent use of his changeup and breaking ball. It’s unclear if he has two separate breaking balls or if Misiewicz is simply adept at subtle speed/shape manipulation of the same pitch, but the utility of each version is different enough that we have it graded as two different pitches. Regardless, there’s sufficient fifth starter stuff here, especially if there’s a way to alter his fastball shape and usage in a way that makes it less vulnerable in the strike zone.

35+ FV Prospects

23. Jorge Benitez, LHP
Drafted: 9th Round, 2017 from Leadership Christian HS (PR) (SEA)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

A good get for $150,000 in the ninth round of his draft, Benitez is a slightly atypical teenage projection arm with feel for spin. Similar to the way Triston McKenzie was viewed by a minority of teams, some clubs thought Benitez’s measurables were misleading as to his projectability and that his frame was so slight that there was nowhere to put extra mass. So far Benitez’s fastball is up a little bit from high school but still south of the average big league heater, and we now have quantifiable verification that he can spin his breaking ball well (about 2500 rpm on average). If the velocity suddenly pops, he’ll shoot up past the relief-only types on this list as Benitez will have a better chance of starting.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Though he posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career in 2018 amid a minor swing change, Liberato still did not perform in a semi-repeat of Hi-A. His stance has closed off but there’s still a lot of noise in his hands and he only does damage on balls down and in; there’s a lot of work to be done if Liberato is going to hit enough to play everyday, despite his physical talent. He still has bench outfielder tools. There’s some pull-side power here, a plus arm, and the speed to play center when Liberato is healthy, which he really wasn’t last year. He was left back in extended spring training until late May with hamstring soreness and saw more time in left field than in center for the first time in his career. Never an efficient base stealer, Liberato was successful in just two of his seven attempts and didn’t even try to swipe a bag after June. He was running better in the Dominican Winter League and we still like his chances of bouncing back and finding his way onto a big league bench, though there are now several other left-handed hitting outfielders ahead of him in this system.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

21-year-old lefties who can spin a breaking ball don’t often end up in DFA limbo, but the Braves glut of talented young pitchers forced the developmentally stagnant Sanchez off the 40-man this past winter. He has been pretty much the same pitcher since he was 19-years-old, possessing enviable stuff but never the mechanical consistency to harness it. Sanchez has had a low-90s fastball (that will touch as high as 95 early in outings) and good lefty curveball since before Anaheim sent him to Atlanta for Kyle Kubitza back in 2015, and that combination drives a perfectly fine lefty relief profile, especially if Sanchez can air it out for an inning at a time and adds a few ticks to his fastball as a result. He’s only 22 and will have ample opportunity to make relevant tweaks and adjustments against big league hitters on a quickly rebuilding Seattle club.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Corner Hitters With Fringy Offensive Profiles
Joe Rizzo, 3B
Dan Vogelbach, DH
Joey Curletta, 1B
Eric Filia, 1B/RF
Keegan McGovern, 1B
Ariel Sandoval, RF

We’ve never been huge on Rizzo despite his obvious feel for contact because his frame has been maxed out since high school and we weren’t sure where sufficient power was going to come from, especially if he were to ever move off of third base. He’s still just 20 and had respectable peripherals at Hi-A last year, so we’ll continue to keep tabs on him despite our skepticism. Vogelbach and Curletta might each see big league time this year. Vogelbach’s approach prioritizes contact over the type of selectivity he’d need to have to get to all his power. His bat control makes this approach viable, but it may not generate offense that clears the bar at 1B/DH. He may be a good buy low target for an NL team trying to get ahead of the universal DH implementation. Like a lot of Dodgers and ex-Dodgers, Curletta’s batted ball profile has shifted and become flyball heavy over the course of several years. He did have 23 dingers last year, though he was a 24-year-old in Double-A and struck out quite a bit. Those two are both younger than Filia, who has raked for his entire college and pro career amid several off-field issues and a trade that fell through due to a medical red flag. He may fall into a late-career Lenny Harris type role if a team has enough defensive flexibility elsewhere on its roster. McGovern was a high-priority senior sign who remade his physique and had a tool uptick. He’s 23 and will need to move quickly. Sandoval has big power and runs well, but the 33% strikeout rate is ominous.

Sleeper Arms
Sam Delaplane, RHP
Deivy Florido, RHP
David McKay, RHP
Brayan Perez, LHP

Delaplane has a 2700 rpm curveball and low-90s sinker, and he hides the ball pretty well and K’d 100 hitters in 60 innings at Low-A last year. Because he’s a cold-weather college arm, it’s a little more acceptable that he performed that way at 23, and we think he’s an interesting sleeper who might get pushed quickly this year. Florido will be 18 all year. He sits 87-89, has modest physical projection, advanced fastball control, and feel for spin. McKay was part of a group of minor league players the Mariners acquired from the Royals for cash early in 2018, presumably for minor league depth reasons. Seattle ‘penned him, and it turns out McKay is actually a decent fastball/slider middle relief prospect. Perez is an 18-year-old pitchability lefty who threw well in the DSL; his stuff is currently a bunch of 45s and 50s and his arm action is good, but the frame limits projection.

Older Relievers
Nick Rumbelow, RHP
Art Warren, RHP
Brandon Brennan, RHP

These are all relief or depth types in the age 25-27 range. Seattle gave up Juan Then to acquire Rumbelow from the Yankees and he barely pitched last year due to a nerve issue in his neck. When healthy, he’s 92-95, and touches 97, with an above-average changeup and slider. Warren pared his repertoire down and is now a fastball/slider middle relief prospect of somewhat advanced age. Brennan was the team’s Rule 5 pickup; his report is available here.

System Overview

This list, of course, looks much different than last year’s iteration, which was arguably the saddest list we’ve ever done, the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of prospect lists. Of course, stocking this system with several of the high-profile names now present cost Seattle 2018’s best reliever, a shortstop with a 70 bat, a Dominican icon, an emerging if perhaps unassuming face of the franchise, and Mike Zunino.

Most of the prospects Seattle acquired in return are relatively close to the majors, supporting the front office’s public assertions that this will be a short-term rebuild. Additionally, the two teenagers in the system most likely to be stars (Rodriguez and Kelenic) are quite advanced for their age, and could be on an accelerated developmental path that enables them to overlap for a while in the big leagues with the other 50 FV prospects in the system, even though they are about four or five years older than Kelenic and Rodriguez on average.

There will be prospect entropy — J.P. Crawford, who doesn’t look so great thus far in the spring, is a great example of this. Not all of these guys will end up as good as we and the Mariners currently project them to be, and this system is still pretty thin beyond the names who were brought on this offseason. The structure of the rebuild indicates intelligent design, but chaos and entropy will play their role. Mitch Haniger (who looks like a star), Domingo Santana (who has the talent to be one), and the charismatic Mallex Smith (who may sneakily already be one) will be fun to watch while the kids grow up.

We still don’t know a lot about this org’s player development. The swollen physiques of the Jack Zduriencik era seem to be a thing of the past as the strength and conditioning program has improved, but this group really hasn’t had much talent to mold, let alone enough to draw results-based conclusions about the player dev approach, and the cement is pretty dry on the 50 FV prospects listed above.

How much better is this system now than at the end of the year? It was last by a good bit in Craig’s end-of-season analysis and, while we consider re-working our math, it has currently moved up into the 14-19 range in all of baseball.


Top 30 Prospects: Oakland Athletics

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Oakland Athletics. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Athletics Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Jesus Luzardo 21.4 AAA LHP 2019 55
2 Sean Murphy 24.4 AAA C 2019 55
3 A.J. Puk 23.9 AA LHP 2019 55
4 Austin Beck 20.3 A CF 2021 45
5 Jorge Mateo 23.7 AAA SS 2019 45
6 Jameson Hannah 21.6 A- CF 2021 45
7 Lazaro Armenteros 19.8 A LF 2021 40+
8 Sheldon Neuse 24.2 AAA 3B 2019 40+
9 Jeremy Eierman 22.5 A- SS 2021 40+
10 Nick Allen 20.4 A SS 2022 40
11 James Kaprielian 25.0 A+ RHP 2019 40
12 Daulton Jefferies 23.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
13 Grant Holmes 22.9 AA RHP 2019 40
14 Marcos Brito 19.0 A- 2B 2022 40
15 Parker Dunshee 24.1 AA RHP 2019 40
16 Luis Barrera 23.3 AA CF 2019 40
17 Skye Bolt 25.1 AA CF 2019 40
18 Jordan Diaz 18.6 R 3B 2022 40
19 Greg Deichmann 23.8 A+ RF 2020 40
20 Kevin Merrell 23.2 A+ 2B 2021 40
21 Brian Howard 23.9 AA RHP 2019 40
22 Miguel Romero 24.9 AA RHP 2019 40
23 Gus Varland 22.3 A RHP 2021 40
24 Alfonso Rivas 22.5 A- 1B 2021 35+
25 Dalton Sawyer 25.3 AAA LHP 2019 35+
26 Hogan Harris 22.2 R LHP 2020 35+
27 Jhoan Paulino 17.7 R SS 2024 35+
28 Alexander Campos 19.0 R 2B 2023 35+
29 Lawrence Butler 18.6 R RF 2023 35+
30 Jose Mora 21.4 A- RHP 2021 35+
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55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (WAS)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/60 45/55 92-95 / 98

The summer before his senior year of high school, Luzardo looked like a relatively unprojectable pitchability lefty, albeit an advanced one. His fastball was only in the 88-92 range at Area Codes, though his changeup and curveball were each above-average. He did not throw during the fall and instead devoted more time to working out. The following spring, with a new physique, Luzardo’s stuff was way up across the board, his fastball now sitting comfortably in the mid-90s, touching 97. Four starts into his senior season, Luzardo tore his UCL and need Tommy John.

After most of the first three rounds of the 2016 draft had come and gone it seemed as though Luzardo might end up at the University of Miami. Four outings (including the one during which he broke) was not enough time for many teams to have high-level decision makers in to see him and take him early, but the Nationals (who have a history of drafting pitchers who have fallen due to injury) called his name and signed him for $1.4 million, a bonus equivalent to an early second rounder. Luzardo rehabbed as a National and continued to strengthen his body. When he returned the following summer, his stuff had completely returned. He made just three starts for the GCL Nats before he was traded to Oakland as part of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson deal.

He has quickly climbed Oakland’s minor league ladder and reached Triple-A at age 20 in 2018. Those crafty pitchability traits from high school are still extant. Luzardo will vary the shape of his breaking ball — he can throw it for strikes to get ahead of hitters, he back foot it to righties — and he uses his changeup against lefties and righties. His delivery is a bit violent but it doesn’t inhibit his command, and Luzardo’s musculature seems better able to deal with the effort than it was when he was in high school. His fastball, which has been up to 97 in his big league appearances this spring, may not play like a mid-90s heater because he is undersized and a short-strider, but he locates it well enough to avoid getting hurt.

He has mid-rotation upside and is abnormally polished. We may see him in Oakland this year.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Wright State (OAK)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 55/55 40/50 20/20 50/55 70/70

Once a walk-on at Wright State, Murphy has become one of the more well-rounded catching prospects in the minors. He has always had near elite arm strength but because he didn’t catch much pro-quality stuff in college, his receiving and ball-blocking were undercooked for a college prospect when he first entered pro ball. Those aspects of his defense have vastly improved, and he’s now an average defender with a chance to be above, and his arm douses opposing baserunners.

Murphy also has plus raw power, though he hasn’t typically hit for it in games for various reasons. In college, a broken hamate likely masked his power and was part of the reason he fell to the 2016 draft’s third round. In pro ball, his swing has been very compact, relying on Murphy’s raw strength rather than efficient biomechanical movement to deliver extra-bases. He broke his other hamate last year. Murphy’s nearly .500 SLG at Double-A Midland is above what we expect moving forward, and instead think Murphy will be a high-contact bat with doubles power, which would be an above-average regular behind the plate.

3. A.J. Puk, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (OAK)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 93-96 / 97

It’s counterintuitive to call a lefty with a plus slider and mid-90s velocity a ‘breakout’ candidate, but that’s exactly what Puk looked like during 2018 Spring Training before he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John. Puk was soft-bodied and relatively unathletic as an amateur, but he arrived to Mesa in good shape and his landing leg was more stable throughout his delivery, leading to superior command than he had had at Florida. Additionally, Puk dusted off his high school curveball and reintroduced it to his repertoire. His feel for it returned very quickly, and it was comfortably average near the end of spring and gave him a fresh way of starting off at-bats the second and third time through a lineup. His changeup was also better than it had been in college, and looked like a potential plus pitch.

Scouts thought he had a chance to reach Oakland by year’s end, and a surprisingly competitive Oakland club would have been motivated to move him quickly. Puk has recently begun throwing bullpens and should be going full-tilt later in the spring. He appeared to have No. 2 or 3 starter upside before his injury.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Davidson HS (NC) (OAK)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 60/65 30/55 60/55 40/50 60/60

Beck was a name in the back pocket of area scouts in the Carolinas entering the winter of his draft year. Then word started to trickle out that the kid who had missed the summer and fall showcases with an ACL tear had turned into a completely different player, one who now had 70 bat speed. Early in the spring, videos of his first few majestic homers led to a rush of national crosscheckers and scouting directors getting in to see Beck, as most of them never had before. It’s rare for a prep hitter to land in the first 10 picks with only one spring of looks and data, none of it on TrackMan, and almost none of it against pro-quality pitching, but Beck’s tools were just that loud: 70 bat speed, easy plus raw power, plus speed, and a plus arm.

It’s similar to how Clint Frazier looked at the same stage, though Frazier had a long summer of production, faced strong prep competition, and still only went fifth overall. Beck’s pro debut revealed some weaknesses that aren’t evident against mediocre prep pitching and he was clearly overmatched in the AZL during his first pro summer and often visibly frustrated. He was 19 in Low-A last year and was able to hit for average, but very little power. Like Frazier, Beck has a good chance to lose a step as his body matures, and move to right field as a result, so pressure is on the bat. Pro scouts don’t see the impact power that amateur scouts saw. We’re cautiously optimistic that improved strength and swing work will tease out more game power during his age-20 season in the hitter-friendly Cal League.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 40/45 80/80 45/50 55/55

Not only was Mateo unable to carry his torrid 60-game offensive stretch at Double-A into 2018 (half with New York before the 2017 Sonny Gray trade, half with Oakland after it), but he had his worst statistical season to date, as he reached base just 28% of the time.

He remains one of the more physically gifted players not only in this system, but in all of the minor leagues. He is a no-doubt 80 runner who circled the bases during an inside-the-park home run in the Dominican this winter in just 14.40 seconds. That’s approaching Byron Buxton territory even though Mateo paused on his way to first and slowed up as he approached and needlessly slid in to home. He also has above-average raw power that he has never manifested in games due to a variety of issues that make it unlikely he ever will. His lower half usage in the box is sub-optimal, he too often expands the zone, and he frequently settles for middling, opposite-field contact.

These have been Mateo’s issues for over seven years now, and with each passing season, they’re less and less likely to improve. But because Mateo has such prodigious athletic gifts and is going to play somewhere up the middle (he has the physical tools for shortstop and has looked fine there in big league trials this spring, but remains procedurally immature), he’s likely to force his way on the field somehow, and he has a better chance of making a big league impact than everyone below him on this list. That’s probably as a low-end regular or utility type, with a dwindling chance for stardom if the tools suddenly actualize.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Dallas Baptist (OAK)
Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 45/45 30/45 60/60 45/50 40/40

Hannah had three remarkably consistent years at Dallas Baptist and ended his college career with a .340 average. He has excellent hitter’s timing and bat control, and his swing is athletic but compact, enabling not only high rates of contact, but also promising contact quality. That’s not to say Hannah will have in-game power. He’s a line drive hitter, an old school, two-hole type of hitter, the kind who’s sort of an endangered species in the current big league hitting environment. Some teams considered Hannah’s lack of power to be a bit of an issue in their pre-draft evals and thought he was more of a tweener fourth outfield type, a projection echoed by pro scouts who saw Hannah in the summer and fall.

He has plus speed, speed that Hannah exhibited during instructional league even after he had been shut down for the summer with a foot injury. His frame is maxed out and he can’t afford to slow down much and still be viable in center field every day, but while this creates some long term risk for his profile, he’s fine out there right now. His most likely path to a sizable everyday role involves Hannah out-hitting what we currently have projected for his bat.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (OAK)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 182 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 55/60 30/50 60/55 40/50 40/40

One of the last teenage Cuban prospects to leave the island before a new CBA implemented a hard-slotted international bonus system, Lazarito remains a polarizing and volatile prospect. Teams left his amateur workouts with widely varying opinions about his talent, especially his defensive future, and the situation became more unsettled when his American agent had to cut ties with him after receiving death threats from Lazarito’s Latin American trainer/investor. Once that situation resolved, Armenteros signed for $3 million, then came stateside and looked concerningly raw, but clearly talented. His timing and breaking ball recognition were especially poor, but he hadn’t seen live pitching for a long time, meaning it could have been due to rust. As the spring and summer of 2017 wore on, he started to develop a much better feel at the plate and by the fall of 2017, was hitting lasers to all fields off of curated instructional-league pitching.

The Athletics pushed him to Low-A as a 19-year-old in 2018 and Armenteros posted a serviceable .277/.374/.401 line while striking out at a disquieting 34% clip. The K% is less worrisome because of his age, but he does have a bat path that limits the scope of his contact and some kinetic connectivity issues that cause him to rely solely on his dynamic hand speed to generate power. His arm limits him to left field, and he needs to rake to hit enough for that. He has the physical talent to do so, but there are some mechanical and statistical indications that he may not.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma (WAS)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 35/50 40/40 45/50 60/60

A college shortstop and closer, Neuse was viewed by the amateur arm of the scouting body as a third base prospect with big power. He was Washington’s 2016 second rounder, then was traded the following summer as part of the Luzardo/Doolittle/Madson deal. He wrapped his 2017 season with short, statistically insignificant stints in Hi-A, Double-A, and the Arizona Fall League, but he performed at each stop, so combined there was confidence that Neuse’s early-season showing was for real despite his relatively advanced age.

He was sent right to Triple-A to start 2018 and flopped, hitting just .263/.304/.357 and striking out a concerning 32% of the time. Neuse has also thickened a bit, so while he’s still an arm-reliant fit at third, he’s trending more toward 3B/1B, and maybe right, than the SS/3B looks Washington gave him early in his career. The combination of the 2018 struggles and somewhat shaky standing on the defensive spectrum makes it imperative that Neuse have a bounce back 2019 performance. He’s a baseball rat and younger than similarly-skilled players we’ve written up so far (like Mets third baseman J.D. Davis), so we’re a little more bullish on a rebound here than we are elsewhere. If he struggles again it’s perhaps worth considering two-way duty. Neuse was up to 96 in our looks at him in college.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Missouri State (OAK)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 60/60 35/50 50/45 40/45 60/60

Eierman’s older brother Johnny was a third round pick of Tampa Bay in 2011 and his father, John, played A-ball for the Red Sox in the mid-90s. Jeremy was a solid prep prospect, but not the type who gets a big bonus and signs out of high school, so he ended up at Missouri State and had a breakout sophomore year. He was often seen by high-level decision makers during that breakout because he was playing alongside first round third baseman Jake Burger, and he had 2018 first round buzz by the end of the college postseason because scouts thought he could be a passable shortstop with all-fields power, and analytics folks liked his huge sophomore season and higher-than-you’d-expect exit velos.

Then Eierman had an inconsistent summer with Team USA and his draft spring was a bit of a letdown. He plateaued, arguably had a worse statistical season, and suddenly there were doubts about his approach and ultimate defensive home. He fell to Oakland at 70th overall last summer. Oakland has been a bit more open to non-traditional fits at shortstop recently and they clearly think that with more reps there, Eierman can stick. He may be a 45 hitter who gets to his raw power in games and passes at short, along the lines of currently projected mid-first-round 2019 draft prospect Logan Davidson at Clemson. Pro scouts think he moves to third base, at least, which makes the hit tool look a little flimsy on paper.

40 FV Prospects

10. Nick Allen, SS
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Francis Parker HS (CA) (OAK)
Age 20.4 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 30/30 20/30 50/50 55/70 60/60

Even among a historically talented group of SoCal shortstops (Hunter Greene, Royce Lewis, Brice Turang), Allen was clearly the most gifted defender of the group and the best defensive high school infielder a lot of scouts have ever seen. He has 80 hands, above-average range, a plus arm, and an intoxicating flare and confidence not typical of humans of this stature. Allen’s size, or lack there of, is why he fell to the draft’s third round, as there was concern he would not have the requisite physicality to hit big league pitching. After a few years of pro ball, scouts think his wrists and forearms are strong enough to put viable contact in play, but probably not with enough force to truly profile as an everyday shortstop.

Sources who have seen Allen and other punchless leatherwizards think the likes of Jose Iglesias and Freddy Galvis had more thump than Allen does at the same age. That’s not to say that they don’t think Allen is a big leaguer, as everyone thinks he’s going to have a very long big league career as an elite defensive shortstop and infield utility man a la Jack Wilson or Adam Everett. That type of player is going away, but we think Allen is exceptional.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from UCLA (NYY)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/60 55/60 45/50 55/60 45/50 89-93 / 98

Kaprielian had a velo spike in pro ball (he was 89-94 at UCLA, and 94-97 after he had been with NYY for a while), then started getting hurt. Acquired by Oakland in the 2017 Sonny Gray deal, he still hasn’t thrown a single inning for an A’s affiliate. Let’s go over the injury history: Kap missed nearly all of 2016 due to a flexor-tendon strain, but his stuff was great when he returned for the 2016 Fall League. He blew out his UCL during 2017 spring training and needed Tommy John. In Eric’s looks at Kaprielian as he rehabbed back from TJ during extended spring of 2018, he was 91-94 instead of 94-97, then was shut back down with shoulder soreness. Up again during 2018 instructional league, his fastball was 88-91. He is again day-to-day with shoulder soreness as this list goes to press.

Healthy Kaprielian will touch 99 and show four impact pitches, including a plus slider and changeup. His pitch grades are nearly identical to A.J. Puk’s. Even if his stuff comes back this spring, we’ll be hesitant to move him up beyond the 45 FV tier due to the threat of injury recurrence, a specter that could cause Oakland to push him quickly if his stuff bounces back, which means he could feasibly make a big league impact this year if he could just get healthy.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Cal (OAK)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 55/60 50/55 50/60 91-94 / 96

Another exciting arm talent who cannot stay healthy, Jefferies has thrown just 20 innings in parts of three pro seasons. His injury issues date back to his college days at Cal when he had shoulder trouble that the coaching staff initially said was hamstring tightness. An excellent on-mound athlete with advanced command, Jefferies was 91-93 the summer after he signed, then 92-95 with a reshaped array of secondary offerings the following spring. He looked likely to be a quick-mover, someone who might reach Double-A in his first full season. Alas, his UCL did not cooperate and Jefferies had Tommy John a week after James Kaprielian did. Jefferies returned during 2018 extended spring training and his velocity had totally returned. He was 92-93 early in rehab outings, then 91-95 in his first official AZL game back from surgery, but it would be his last in-game outing of the summer as he was shelved for the remainder of the regular season by a setback.

Healthy Jefferies has surgical command of a low-90s heater and plus power changeup. So firm is Jefferies’ cambio that TrackMan units often mistakenly classify it as a sinker as it resides in the mid-to-upper 80s. It bottoms out late and hard, and is Jefferies’ best secondary pitch. His breaking stuff has evolved since college and at last look, he was throwing a fringy curveball that is effective because of his ability to locate it, and an average upper-80s cutter. He’s a potential fourth starter with a value-altering injury history.

13. Grant Holmes, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Conway HS (SC) (LAD)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 40/45 40/45 92-94 / 97

Wire-to-wire shoulder issues kept Holmes off the field for nearly all of the 2018 regular season. He was limited to fastball/changeup-only bullpens in the spring but didn’t really got going until late in the summer, when he made two starts in August and showed stuff that was slightly beneath where he was earlier in his career, with his fastball residing in the 92-94 range. Poised to pick up innings in the Arizona Fall League, Holmes once again had shoulder discomfort and was shut down for the year. The A’s still felt compelled to add him to the 40-man this offseason rather than let another team take a $100,000 flier on him in the Rule 5 and hope his fastball/slider combination stuck in their bullpen.

At his absolute best, Holmes will sit 93-96 with a plus slider and average-flashing changeup, a No. 4 or 5 starter if his change and command improve. Of this triumvirate of injured arms, Holmes is the most likely to be a reliever, but his injury history is the least lengthy. He was on the same bullpen schedule as Jesus Luzardo early in camp but still hasn’t pitched in a spring training game.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (OAK)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 30/40 20/35 55/50 45/55 55/55

A skills-over-tools prospect, Brito is the most well-rounded, technically advanced player of Oakland’s splashy 2016 international signees, and the org saw fit to send him to the New York-Penn League as an 18-year-old last summer, where Brito was three years younger than the average regular.

Brito has enough range for the middle infield and magician’s hands around the bag at second base, and while he lacks the max-effort arm strength for shortstop, he throws darts from second to first with a flick of the wrist. His ball/strike recognition is mature for his age and Brito has above-average bat control and hand-eye coordination, but the way his body develops is going to dictate much of what he’s capable of doing offensively. He needs to get stronger to be more than a utility option at best. He’s a switch-hitting middle infield fit with feel for contact, and that alone makes him one of the more interesting prospects in this system, but there’s a sizable gap between where his physicality is now and where it reasonably needs to be for him to punish big league pitching in a meaningful way.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (OAK)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/45 50/50 50/55 50/60 89-92 / 94

Dunshee flew under the radar at Wake Forest, opting not to sign his junior year as a 14th rounder, then going in the seventh round as a priority senior sign to Oakland in 2017. He didn’t have huge stuff then and still doesn’t, with everything consistently grading a 50 and flashing 55s at times. But the 55s are showing up with a little more regularity, the command has gone from average to plus, and he knows exactly how to use the many pitches he has. Scouts think he’s now a high probability back-end starter who outperforms his raw stuff in the minors and may continue to do so in the majors.

He should start 2019 in Triple-A and will likely have a few chances to fill in on the big league roster in 2019.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (OAK)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 40/45 70/70 55/60 70/70

A likely bench outfielder, Barrera projects to be an uncommonly toolsy one. He’s a high-end speedster with a cannon for an arm, and while he’s got a long minor league track-record of hitting, his aggressive approach might create issues against big league pitching. He often settles for sub-optimal contact, typically resulting in groundballs, and even though he takes some occasional max-effort hacks that tease the raw power, he’s not likely to hit for much of it in games. His speed enables viability in center, but he’s just okay out there, and it’s not enough to override the offensive issues and enable an everyday role. He projects as a high-end pinch runner and corner outfield defensive replacement, but there’s a chance he ends up as the larger half of a center field platoon.

17. Skye Bolt, CF
Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from North Carolina (OAK)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 40/50 60/60 45/50 55/55

Bolt was notable early in his prep career not only for his meteorological name, but also for his talent. He developed tools early — average raw power, plus speed, a good swing from both sides — and had a projectable body that enabled a favorable extended forecast for those tools. But scouts didn’t always see the performance they wanted from him during his developmental stage in high school or his maturation phase early in his college career at North Carolina, even though the tools were consistently there. His BB/K ratio was fine in college, but his BABIP was very low, due in part to weaker contact and a slow first step out of the box, but also some bad luck. He’s progressed offensively in pro ball and his power has finally begun to show up in the stat line.

He’s fringy in center field and now has a textbook fourth outfielder profile. Some teams prefer his switch-hitting bat and power to Barrera’s; others would rather have Barrera’s wheels and superior feel for contact, but they have similar likely future roles.

18. Jordan Diaz, 3B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (OAK)
Age 18.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 50/55 25/45 45/40 40/45 50/50

Diaz signed for $275,000 in the 2016 signing period and has steadily progressed to be among the best homegrown Latin prospects Oakland has, arguably with Armenteros and Brito for some observers. There’s a shot for average all-around offense, and most see Diaz as a hit-over-power prospect, evident through the high-contact numbers he showed 2018 in the AZL, while some see potential above-average power and that Diaz will prioritize over contact down the road. He’s also a good enough athlete to stick at third base at the moment, though that may change depending on how his body matures. Diaz was already pretty filled out at 16 and may outgrow third. The offense will dictate his future and there are some exciting elements already present, especially for a lower-bonus prospect who signed just two years ago.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from LSU (OAK)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 65/65 40/50 50/45 40/45 55/55

Deichmann has long been on the national scouting radar, standing out as a prep underclass third baseman in Louisiana, but his age and contact issues pushed him to LSU. He barely played as a freshman, was solid as a sophomore, then broke out as a 22-year-old junior, hitting 19 homers en route to a .996 OPS while also posting top-of-the-scale amateur exit velocities as he grew into easy plus raw power.

Since he signed as a 22-year-old and is a corner-based, power-over-hit bat, Deichmann needed to perform quickly but a broken hamate limited his 2018 and may keep him from getting to that power in games until later in 2019. He is a fine right fielder and good athlete, but is just fringy defensively, so the pressure is on for his age-24 season, with only 47 career games at full-season levels.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from South Florida (OAK)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/40 20/30 80/80 40/45 55/55

Merrell was a sleeper prep prospect as a 70 runner without much else in terms of present tools to offer, so he headed to South Florida, where he blossomed in his draft year. He’s now an 80 runner but still doesn’t quite have the hands or actions for the infield; he could work his way into being a passable second baseman, but we would guess center field is where he lands. His approach is solid but not great, in part because he has above average bat control and, obviously, the speed to outrun softly-hit balls. There’s enough power to hit homers to the pull side when he gets ahold of a fastball in, but not much in way of home run potential. He’s gotten a little too pull-heavy in pro ball and should use more of an all-fields approach to have a shot to develop the contact skills he needs to turn into a low-end regular.

21. Brian Howard, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from TCU (OAK)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 9″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 45/50 50/55 50/55 89-91 / 93

Howard was a $40,000 senior sign in the eighth round of the 2017 draft and spent half of 2018 pitching well at Double-A. His stuff is pretty generic — 89-93 with an average cutter and curveball — but Howard’s size (he’s 6-foot-9) creates a unique angle on his pitches that hitters clearly aren’t comfortable with. He also has remarkable control for a pitcher of this size. It’s fifth or sixth starter stuff, which would already be a great outcome for a high-priority senior sign, and we’re inclined to round to the top of that range based on the weirdness created by Howard’s height.

22. Miguel Romero, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (OAK)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/50 45/50 94-97 / 98

Romero experienced an unexpected velocity spike as a 24-year-old, his heater creeping into the 93-97 range after it was 92-94 the year before. He also drastically improved his slider, which he lacked feel for just after signing, and he now looks like a standard fastball/slider middle relief prospect in most outings, though remember that Romero also throws a knuckle changeup — coined ‘The Critter’ by Mat Latos, the only other guy we know who throws it — which he has de-emphasized as the slider has emerged.

23. Gus Varland, RHP
Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Concordia (OAK)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 45/50 40/50 92-94 / 95

We knew nothing of Varland until he threw after the draft, and now we think he’s at least a good relief prospect with a chance to be more. Thick and physical throughout the torso and thighs, Varland has a lightning-quick arm that generates mid-90s velocity at peak. His fastball has bat-missing life, and both his breaking balls have sufficient bite to avoid barrels as well, especially when they’re well-located. He was pushed to the Midwest League fairly quickly after signing and carved up the Penn League in three and four-inning stints. It may be worth trying to start him but he could move pretty quickly as a reliever.

35+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Arizona (OAK)
Age 22.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

At 6-foot-1, 180, Rivas would look out of place in a team photo of big league first basemen, full of big-bodied mashers and explosive rotational athletes. He lacks prototypical first base pop but there’s a non-zero chance he makes enough contact to balance the offensive scales sufficiently to profile as a platoon 1B/LF or low-end regular. His 2018 post-draft showing in the NYPL was impressive from a bat-to-ball standpoint and he took great at-bats and made hard contact during instructional league, though that was all against pitching comparable to what he saw in college. He’s a sleeper bat we like but it’s a tough profile, one he’ll have to hit his way to.

25. Dalton Sawyer, LHP
Drafted: 9th Round, 2016 from Minnesota (OAK)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Tommy John surgery sank Sawyer’s 2018 season and he’s now a 25-year-old who has yet to pitch a meaningful slate of innings above A-ball. He also only throws in the low-90s/upper-80s, but he locates it in spots that make it difficult for hitters to punish, and his funky, low-3/4s arm slot disorients them, especially lefties. His delivery, fastball command, and ability to dump his curveball in for strikes should be enough for him to deal with lefties and Swayer’s best pitch, a late-sinking, bat-missing changeup, could be enough to keep righties at bay. The report reads like a that of fifth starter, a 40 FV. But Sawyer’s age and what might be an innings limit coming off of surgery are at odds with one another, and ideally we’d like a pitcher firmly in his mid-20s to be a big league lock for 2019, so we’ve shaded down his FV beneath his true evaluation.

26. Hogan Harris, LHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Louisiana Lafayette (OAK)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+

Harris broke onto the national scene in the summer of 2015, working 90-94 with an above average slurve but well below average command due in part to an extreme crossfire delivery. He was a version of this for a few years, then made some adjustments in college to develop more starter traits and throw strikes with the sort of stuff he showed before his senior year in high school. He’ll run it into the mid 90s at times and flashes three above average pitches, but had an oblique injury kept him from playing after signing and the stuff still waxes and wanes.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (OAK)
Age 17.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Paulino had an impressive fall instructional league during which he showed uncommon power for a teenage infield prospect. He’s somewhat physically mature and soft-bodied, but is likely to grow into at least a little more raw power as he matures and though he may not be a long-term fit at shortstop, he does have infield actions and arm strength. He won’t turn 18 until June, and will be one of the more interesting prospects on Oakland’s AZL team. For now, he simply has an intriguing combination of power and defensive profile, very little is actually in focus.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (SEA)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 178 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Campos was acquired from Seattle in the Ryon Healy deal before he had even set foot on American soil for an affiliated game. He posted a statistically impressive season in the DSL, but struggled in his first attempt at rookie ball in the States. Campos is very physically mature for his age, his build that of a high school fullback. He’s not a long term shortstop due to arm strength and needs to keep his frame in check to retain sufficient range for second, but the bat speed alone is worth a mention here, as is his early-career feel for the strike zone.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Westlake HS (GA) (OAK)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+

Butler emerged late in the 2018 draft, first getting national scouting attention in the spring at a high school in the Atlanta suburbs. He’s a prototypical projection prospect, with a great frame, solid average present power, and athletic actions. Scouts who are optimistic see the components of a 45 or 50 hit tool and 60 or more future raw power in an everyday right field profile. Since Butler is somewhat raw and hasn’t faced a lot of high level pitching, there are concerns that the hit tool never materializes enough to get to the rest of his tools.

30. Jose Mora, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (OAK)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Mora often struggled to throw strikes after he was sent from extended spring training to Vermont, and he likely fits in relief, long-term due to command. Mora has a well-balanced lower half through release, but he lacks tactile feel for release. His upper body rotates in unison like a tilt-a-whirl, and his low 3/4s arm slot generates mediocre angle on his fastball, but he throws pretty hard, in the 90-94 range, and will flash an above-average slider. He’s only ever thrown from the stretch in Eric’s looks, reinforcing our relief projection, but he may end up as a good three-pitch one.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray, CF

Murray is a supreme athlete who was a top-10 draft talent after having not played baseball full-time for several years. He has 70 speed, 55 raw power, and plus bat speed that played surprisingly well in games given the layoff. Last fall, the whole sport-watching world got to see how good of an athlete he is on the football field, and it now looks unlikely that Murray will have a baseball career of any consequence due to his preference for football. We had a 45 FV on Murray before the draft, and he’d be fourth or fifth on this list if he’d have stuck with baseball. But part of what we think about when we FV someone is their trade value, and because it doesn’t seem likely that he returns to baseball (and if he does his chances of success are low due, again, to the layoff), that trade value is akin to other 35 FVs at this point. Murray had a good chance to turn into a 50 FV by midseason if he had shown some progress with pitch selection in a hypothetical 2019 Hi-A campaign.

Exciting Longshot Arms
Eric Marinez, RHP
Wandisson Charles, RHP
Ismael Aquino, RHP

Marinez is a converted third baseman who threw just two innings last year but was pumping mid-90s gas with ease in those two innings (and during instructs), and he has nascent breaking ball feel. He’s a sleeper to develop into a good two-pitch reliever. Charles is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound beast with elite arm strength (95-98, touching at least 99) but zero feel for pitching. He’ll snap off the occasional plus slider in the 86-90 mph range, but he’s relatively undercooked for 22. Aquino is 20 and sits 93-96, but it’s a relief-only delivery.

Possible Role Players
Cobie Vance, UTIL
Tyler Ramirez, LF
Dairon Blanco, CF
Luke Persico, 1B/OF

Vance is an athletic multi-positional player with max-effort 55 bat speed. He made several highlight reel defensive plays in the fall. Ramirez has performed at Double-A for multiple years but we think he’s limited to left field and lacks the bat to profile there. He might hit enough to prove us wrong but we think it’s more likely he becomes a star in NPB or the KBO one day. Blanco is an 80 runner and potential fifth outfielder. Persico has good feel for the zone and some contact skills. He’s not a great fit at third base but has played there and might be a righty bench bat who can play the corner positions.

Young Latin American Talent
Danny Bautista, Jr., OF
Yerdel Vargas, SS
Kevin Richards, CF
George Bell, Jr., OF

Bautista is the most well-rounded of this group but doesn’t have any plus tools and might max out as a bench outfielder. Vargas was once a strong 40 FV on here but hasn’t developed as hoped, in part due to injury. Richards is carpaccio raw but is a 70 runner with a good frame. He might fill out and suddenly have some pop. Bell is similar to Richards but has less speed.

Pitching Inventory
Brady Feigl, RHP
Kyle Finnegan, RHP
James Naile, RHP
Norge Ruiz, RHP
Clark Cota, RHP

Feigl has solid average stuff and some feel, and is likely a long relief type but has some chance to be a backend starter. Finnegan throws in the mid-90s and has an above-average split and could be a middle reliever. Fastball and curveball spin rates are usually correlated with one another but Naile has a low-spinning, sinking heater and a 2800 rpm curveball, so who knows what going on there. He could be a middle reliever. Ruiz is a kitchen sink righty with average stuff, sometimes cruises in the high-80s, works backwards, and is generally a bit of an enigma but could be an inventory multi-inning piece. Cota has a Mark Melancon looking delivery, a fastball/curveball/changeup pupu platter repertoire, and surprising feel that could lead to him being a solid middle reliever.

System Overview

In the Moneyball days, Oakland pressed a market inefficiency in the draft, generally scooping up under-tooled college prospects with higher probabilities of success and lower upside. Over time, they’ve slowly shifted to favoring upside with their biggest amateur expenditures. They took prep righty Trevor Cahill in the second round in 2006 and signed Michael Ynoa, a 16-year-old righty, for a then-record $4.25 million bonus in 2008. One could argue that they should value upside as much as any club, as their small payroll means that a couple of stars emerging at once could open a window that causes them to push their chips in for a multi-year run, whereas one or two stars doesn’t change the Yankees’ team-building calculus as dramatically.

Their 2017 first rounder, sixth overall pick Austin Beck, was arguably the highest risk/upside proposition yet, a prep hitter with the shortest track record of any of his peers, taken at a pick where anything short of a multi-year regular is a failure. Oakland is also tied to top players in the 2019 and 2020 July 2nd classes, in Dominican shortstop Robert Puason and Dominican center fielder Pedro Pineda, respectively. Even in the universe of 15- and 16-year-olds, these two are seen as top-of-the-market talents because of their upside, with more risk and upside than other elite peers according to most scouts. Lefties A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo are elite prospects who are close to the big leagues right now, but also came with their own risk factors, as Puk, the sixth overall pick in 2016, was maddeningly inconsistent and appeared headed in the wrong direction as the draft approached before needing Tommy John early last season, while Luzardo is a shorter lefty with a Tommy John surgery as a high schooler. Two of the three pieces in the Sonny Gray haul — Jorge Mateo (consistency, makeup) and James Kaprielian (injuries) — were also seen as upside/risk types and haven’t returned value yet, but 2019 will go a long way to defining that trade. It has been a slow but interesting shift for the club most closely associated with one extreme of the acquisition spectrum to have moved almost as far to the other end.


Top 31 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Los Angeles Angels. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) 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 new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Angels Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Jo Adell 19.9 AA RF 2021 60
2 Jose Suarez 21.1 AAA LHP 2019 50
3 Brandon Marsh 21.2 A+ CF 2020 50
4 Griffin Canning 22.8 AAA RHP 2019 50
5 Jahmai Jones 21.6 AA 2B 2021 50
6 Jordyn Adams 19.4 R CF 2023 45+
7 Luis Rengifo 22.0 AAA 2B 2019 45
8 Jeremiah Jackson 18.9 R 3B 2022 45
9 Matt Thaiss 23.8 AAA 1B 2019 45
10 Jose Soriano 20.3 A RHP 2022 45
11 Chris Rodriguez 20.6 A RHP 2021 45
12 D’Shawn Knowles 18.1 R CF 2023 40+
13 Trent Deveaux 18.8 R CF 2023 40+
14 Ty Buttrey 25.9 MLB RHP 2019 40+
15 Kevin Maitan 19.0 R 3B 2022 40+
16 Patrick Sandoval 22.4 AA LHP 2021 40
17 Leonardo Rivas 21.4 A 2B 2020 40
18 Michael Hermosillo 24.1 MLB RF 2019 40
19 Livan Soto 18.7 R SS 2022 40
20 Luis Madero 21.9 A+ RHP 2020 40
21 Stiward Aquino 19.7 R RHP 2022 40
22 Aaron Hernandez 22.2 R RHP 2021 40
23 William English 18.2 R RHP/DH 2023 40
24 Jack Kruger 24.3 AA C 2020 40
25 Jake Jewell 25.8 MLB RHP 2019 40
26 Kyle Bradish 22.5 R RHP 2020 35+
27 Alexander Ramirez 16.5 R RF 2023 35+
28 Travis Herrin 23.8 A+ RHP 2021 35+
29 Jared Walsh 25.6 AAA 1B/OF/LHP 2019 35+
30 Luis Pena 23.5 AAA RHP 2019 35+
31 Daniel Procopio 23.4 AA RHP 2020 35+
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60 FV Prospects

1. Jo Adell, RF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Ballard HS (KY) (LAA)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 70/70 50/70 60/55 50/55 50/50

Adell played across three levels last year and reached Double-A at age 19. The swing and miss issues he exhibited in high school led many to assume his development might be slow, but after a month of vaporizing Low-A pitching at Burlington, he was quickly sent to the Cal League, where he’d spend most of the year. At Inland Empire, Adell continued to perform, and the Angels pushed him to Double-A Mobile in August, where he was finally forced to deal with some adversity, and struck out 31% of the time.

Several prospects of recent memory (Byron Buxton, Domonic Brown, and Brandon Wood to name a few) have possessed such titanic physical gifts that they essentially weren’t challenged until they reached the big leagues, and some people in baseball posit that it can be psychologically taxing to deal with growing pains in that bright of a spotlight, with the hopes of a franchise and its fans on one’s shoulders. Adell is that kind of physical talent. He has a rare blend of power and speed, speed that he has retained since high school even though he has added about 20 pounds. He’s now a better bet to stay in center field during his prime than he was in high school, when scouts assumed he’d slow down as he added weight. His feel for going back on balls in center is pretty good and some of the arm strength that Adell (who was once into the mid-90s on the mound) suddenly lost in high school has returned.

His breaking ball recognition and bat control will continue to be tested by upper-level pitching, and if they start to show improvement, it’s not only a sign that Adell is adjusting but that he has the capacity to do so in the future. At that point, we’re talking prime Andrew McCutchen and Grady Sizemore-type tools.

50 FV Prospects

2. Jose Suarez, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 21.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 50/60 45/55 92-94 / 95

Squat little pitching prospects aren’t supposed to suddenly throw three ticks harder than they did the year before, but Suarez went from sitting 89-92 to sitting 92-94, and rose three levels last year. The feel Suarez developed for his changeup and curveball while he had a 40 fastball was necessary for his survival at that time. Now, they’re out pitches after he gets ahead of hitters with this new heat. There’s some risk that this fastball backs up, as upticks in velocity are sometimes fleeting and pitchers soon return to what they’ve been for most of their careers. So long as that doesn’t happen, Suarez projects as a good fourth starter and should help the big league club this year.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA) (LAA)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/60 40/50 60/55 40/50 60/60

A two-sport star in high school, Marsh’s pro baseball career was in doubt for a moment when the Angels discovered a stress fracture in his back during his physical after the draft. After the issue was resolved, Marsh took things slow for a while at the Angels complex in Tempe, limited to activities like BP while others played in actual games. The sound of the ball off his bat during those BP side sessions was very distracting. Marsh stayed in Arizona during the spring of 2017 and was much more physical than most of his rookie-level peers. Marsh had statistical success in the Pioneer League and in the Midwest League the following spring, before finally scuffling at Hi-A.

Though he has above-average raw power, Marsh’s in-game cut is more contact-oriented, geared for contact to the opposite field and back up the middle. During instructional league, Marsh was awkwardly swinging without a stride, likely not a swing change, but perhaps an exercise that forces him to clear his hips and improve his ability to pull the ball with power. There’s a non-zero chance Marsh stays in center field but it’s more likely that he moves to a corner. He has the physical ability to profile as a regular there.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from UCLA (LAA)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/50 45/55 45/55 92-96 / 97

Canning was used very heavily at UCLA and would sometimes throw in excess of 120 pitches during his starts, even as an underclassman. The Angels shelved him for the rest of the summer after they drafted him, and it paid off. Canning came out the following spring throwing harder than he had in college, his fastball sitting 94-97 for most of his starts. He held that velo throughout 2018 and reached Triple-A in his first pro season. He’s a No. 4 starter on the cusp of debut.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Wesleyan HS (GA) (LAA)
Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 50/50 40/45 60/60 40/45 45/45

The Angels invited Jones to big league camp last spring, but he looked overmatched and a bit lost in center field, so he was sent back to minor league camp to begin a transition to second base. His footwork and actions around the bag can be clumsy (part of why Jones, who played some infield in high school, was initially put in the outfield as a pro), but he has plenty of lateral quickness and range, his hands are fine, and he has high-end makeup, which leads clubs to believe he’ll do the work necessary to be viable there. Mostly though, Jones is good because he makes lots of hard, line drive contact and is a plus runner. After struggling to lay off of breaking balls early in 2017, he has become more patient, and his walk rate was much higher last year. Even though he didn’t hit for much power in the Cal League, the Angels promoted him to Double-A for the last two months of the season, then gave him some run in the Arizona Fall League.

Jones’ general lack of performance last year should not yet concern readers, as he went through several swing changes, with the Angels constantly tweaking how and where his hands set up. He projects as a high-contact second baseman with doubles power unless one of these tweaks unlocks more in-game pop.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Green Hope HS (NC) (LAA)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 20/50 80/80 45/60 45/50

Adams was seen as a football-first prospect until late March 2018. He’d played at a couple of showcase events in the summer of 2017 and had some raw tools, but he wasn’t yet under consideration for the top few rounds of the baseball draft. He was, however, a top 100 football recruit, set to head to North Carolina to play wide receiver, where his father was on the coaching staff. Then in March, Adams had a coming out party at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament near his high school, fulfilling the rosiest hopes some had of him eventually putting it together on the baseball field, as multiple scouts from all 30 teams watched him against strong competition for a few days. Scouts were hesitant at first, worried they might be overreacting, but eventually came to think that Adams’ only athletic peer in recent draft history was Byron Buxton.

Adams is a true 80 runner with raw power who projects to be a 60, and who flashed body and bat control that reminded scouts of Royce Lewis. All of this excitement came with almost zero track record, and Adams didn’t face much strong competition after NHSI, meaning drafting him would be based purely on old-school scouting, as there weren’t years of video of and performance from this flourishing incarnation of Adams. Once teams became enthused enough that multiple millions of dollars were in play, it appeared clear that baseball could overtake football. Several GMs, including the Angels’ GM Billy Eppler, were in after NHSI to see Adams for themselves, and after Adell and Adams were their top pick in consecutive years, rival executives now view this risk/upside kind of prospect as Los Angeles’ type. That trend appears to be more the result of opportunistic good fortune than a deliberate strategy, since there’s an argument to be made that Austin Beck (who went to Oakland sixth overall in 2017) had less upside and a similar performance record to Adams; if the industry had simply seen Adams play in an NHSI-style setting for a couple more weeks, he could have been a top five pick candidate, just like Royce Lewis or Byron Buxton were after a strong summer of performance. This is all to say that the sky is the limit for Adams, and if he performs well in Low-A in 2019, he’ll shoot up this list.

45 FV Prospects

7. Luis Rengifo, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (SEA)
Age 22.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 40/45 55/55 45/50 50/50

The Mariners traded Rengifo to Tampa Bay in an August 2017 waiver deal, and he only played in 23 games as a Rays farmhand before he was sent to Anaheim as the PTBNL in the C.J. Cron swap. He had a breakout 2018, traversing three levels to the tune of a .299/.399/.451 line, while tallying as many walks as strikeouts, 50 extra-base hits, and 41 steals. So judicious is Rengifo’s eye for the plate that if he were cloned 15 times and each clone forced to be an umpire, there might be a lot less talk of electronic strike zones. He identifies balls and strikes early in flight, and often relaxes before balls have even entered the catcher’s mitt. There’s a chance that Rengifo’s lack of power (he has more from the right side) limits the way his eye for the zone plays in the big leagues, since pitchers will be more likely to attack him without fear of him doing damage on his own. Most of his doubles come by slashing balls down either baseline, or when he turns gappers into extra bases because of his speed. We think there’s enough bat to retain most of the on-base ability Rengifo has shown so far and that, combined with his multi-positional versatility, could yield super-utility value.

Though he spent all of last year playing either second base or shortstop, Rengifo also has experience in both outfield corners and at third base. The Angels added Rengifo to the 40-man this offseason and while they’re well-stocked on the infield (Simmons, La Stella, Fletcher, Cozart), they’re rather thin in the outfield, and very right-handed. As such, Rengifo’s first opportunity could come as an injury replacement out there, or he may fall into a Chone Figginsy utility role. Eventually though, he may end up as the regular second baseman.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from St. Luke’s Episcopal HS (AL) (LAA)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 50/55 20/50 55/55 40/50 55/55

Progressive clubs want to draft toolsy prep players, as that is the most common demographic among current All-Stars, but they like to have data to back up their scouting reports. Collecting detailed stats from summer showcase events, or even spring games when prep hitters face pro-quality pitching, is one way to pinpoint how advanced a prospect is beyond a pure scouting report, and is something almost no clubs did systematically until the last half dozen years or so. Jackson is a perfect example of the limitations of this practice.

He stood out on the showcase circuit with an infielder’s footwork and actions (though his hands were inconsistent) and potentially above-average offense. But Jackson’s performance was generally below average in this setting and he struck out a lot, so he was shifted into the fourth to fifth round area that often sends this sort of player to college. In the spring, Jackson was going off against poor competition in South Alabama and we were hesitant to shift his grade on that basis until we were told that he got glasses to correct some vision issues that had contributed to his summer disappointment. Now, his spring performance could still end up meaning little, but there was a shot he was a new prospect, and we never got a pre-draft opportunity to see him against good pitching. With that optimism in mind, we ranked him 31st in the 2018 draft class but the Angels were able to get him at 57th overall, as many clubs now run their draft off of models that lean heavily on summer performance when there’s bulk and Jackson was at almost every event.

Jackson hit seven homers with above average production across the board in 43 pro games after signing, and it’s looking like he may have been underrated by a purely numbers-based approach to the draft. We see a potential 50 or 55 on every tool and at least a third base fit in pro ball, if not a chance to play middle infield, which translates to a strong regular.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Virginia (LAA)
Age 23.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 45/50 30/30 45/50 50/50

Thaiss is one for whom a 2018 swing change is more relevant because a lack of in-game power was the primary barrier between him and the offensive output approaching that which typically profiles at first base. A college catcher, Thaiss walked more than twice as much as he struck out as a junior at Virginia. Though almost nobody thought he’d be able to catch in pro ball, he was viewed as a safe, fast-moving draft prospect, albeit one with a limited ceiling due to defensive limitations. Thaiss was exactly as advertised for the first two years of his pro career, and reached Double-A during his first full pro season though, as predicted, he hit for very little power, including a paltry .399 SLG% in the offensive paradise that is the Cal League.

In 2018, Thaiss added a more exaggerated leg kick and began lifting the ball more. A 45% ground ball rate at Double-A in 2017 turned into a 31% rate at Mobile the following year. He was eventually promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake and ended up with more 2018 homers (16) than he had had in his previous two years combined. Will the change be enough? It’s going to be close. Thaiss posted a 102 wRC+ in 85 games as a 23-year-old at Triple-A; the big league average at first base last year was 105. We have him projected as a low-end regular there, which might make him a viable alternative to Justin Bour and Albert Pujols fairly soon.

10. Jose Soriano, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 30/50 40/50 92-96 / 98

Soriano struggled to harness his newfound velocity in 2018. The year before, he was a skinny 18-year-old sitting just 87-92. When he arrived in the spring of 2018, he had added sculpted muscle mass to a prototypical frame, and his fastball was humming in at 94-97 early during spring outings. After some time in extended spring training, Soriano spent the end of last summer in Low-A as a 19-year-old, and had issues with walks. Though his delivery is devoid of violence, he struggles with release consistency and has scattershot fastball control as a result. Soriano’s feel for locating his terrific curveball is often superior to his fastball command, and while this approach is becoming more acceptable in the majors, ideally he’d refine the latter.

It’s odd to look at Soriano’s numbers and argue that he took a step forward last year, but he accomplished a third of the things we hoped he’d develop — more velocity, better command, and a better changeup or some other third offering — before turning 20. If either of the last two components fails to progress, Soriano will end up in the bullpen. If they both do, he’ll be a mid-rotation starter.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Monsignor Pace HS (FL) (LAA)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 55/55 40/50 50/55 40/50 93-96 / 97

A stress reaction in his back cost Rodriguez all of 2018 and his return to action has been slow; last we were updated before publication, he was still limited to fastball-only bullpens and flat ground sessions. Prior to Rodriguez’s shutdown, he had experienced a velo spike (93-97, up from 91-94 the year before) and lowered his arm slot. Both of his breaking balls were excellent, but his changeup had regressed a bit compared to his first year (or at least, he lacked feel for it the last time Eric saw him). The injury adds fuel to the speculative fire that Rodriguez’s violent delivery will eventually limit him to the bullpen. It didn’t prohibit him from having starter control, but scouts were concerned about injury. Now, there has been one. If health eventually moves Rodriguez to the bullpen, he has high-leverage stuff. If not, and his changeup returns, he could be a No. 3 or 4 starter.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (LAA)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/50 20/45 70/70 45/55 45/50

Knowles was still just 16 when he came stateside for his first pro instructional league. He was 17 for the entirety of his first pro season, and one of the few bright spots on an underperforming AZL Angels team. A sizable chunk of Knowles’ AZL power output was BABIP-driven (his speed is especially meaningful against rookie-level defenses), but despite his measureables, he does have some pop thanks to his explosiveness and ability to rotate, enough that there’s little concern about him lacking big league physicality. His footspeed enables projection in center field and while he’s had early-career issues with strikeouts, he’s not one to expand the zone and instead has the bat-control issues that are typical of early-career switch hitters. Though his bat-to-ball future is cloudy, Knowles’ slashing, doubles power as a teen combined with the likelihood he can play center field give him a shot to be an everyday player if he develops as a hitter. If not, he’d be a pretty toolsy fourth outfielder.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (LAA)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/55 30/50 70/70 40/55 50/55

After an exciting showing during minor league spring training, Deveaux struggled throughout the summer as he made swing change after swing change after swing change. It makes much more sense to tinker and find the right swing sooner rather than later, but Deveaux hit just .199 as he was asked to bring his side work onto the field during the summer. He had no fewer than four different cuts during 2018, and at times seemed so out of whack that pro scouts in Arizona began to actively steer clear of Tempe Diablo to avoid falling out of love with a player they were so enamored with during the spring. That player took your breath away when he’d hit his stride going from first to third, looked like he might be a black hole defender in center field because of his range, and was going to have power once the swing was refined.

If evaluating purely on physical ability, Deveaux belongs up near Jordyn Adams and Jeremiah Jackson in this system, but his 2018 was a bit of a red flag and he’s probably going to be a long-term developmental project.

14. Ty Buttrey, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2012 from Providence HS (NC) (BOS)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/55 60/60 45/45 94-98 / 101

Somewhat surprisingly, our pitch classifications indicate Buttrey threw his low-spin breaking ball more often than his obviously nasty changeup in a sizable big league sample last year. Buttrey’s weirdo breaking ball, which can be hard to distinguish visually from his changeup, is also effective and may give him a pitch mix sufficient to enable him to close. His stuff exploded after the Red Sox moved him to the bullpen in 2016; they eventually traded him in the 2018 Ian Kinsler deal. He’ll likely be a significant part of the Angels’ bullpen this season and may have too tight a grip on late-inning duties to relinquish them to Keynan Middleton once the latter returns from Tommy John.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/45 55/60 30/45 40/40 40/50 60/65

Maitan was one of the most celebrated international amateur prospects in a decade and was even written up as a 14-year-old on this site when, upon asking international scouts in the fall of 2014 for the best players in the 2015 international class, we were told that Maitan, a 2016-eligible player, was better than all of them. In retrospect that looks a little silly, as the 2015 class included Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis, Jr., Cristian Pache, and Andres Gimenez, but that opinion was the consensus amongst many top evaluators; those five superior prospects all received lower bonuses than Maitan for a reason.

Maitan signed with Atlanta as the clear top prospect in his class, and the clear top prospect to emerge in many years. Then things took a turn for him as a pro. Maitan added some natural strength and bulk soon after signing (which many scouts anticipated, projecting him to a corner), then started adding some bad weight, lost his swing mechanics, and started tinkering. Things snowballed from there, ending in a disappointing debut season with Atlanta. After that season, the Braves international scandal hit, and Maitan became a free agent. He kept his original $4.25 million bonus (widely reported to have been topped by multiple clubs late in the process, though he and his family chose to honor their word to Atlanta) and hit the open market, where he received $2.2 million amid some scouts’ suggestions that he wasn’t even the best of the Braves’ prospects to be cut loose.

The same issues continued with Los Angeles in 2018, and Maitan had another disappointing season, with a worrisome physique and an evolving swing. The raw tools that originally got scouts interested — raw power you can project to a 70, a 65-grade arm, infield hands, feel to hit — still appear to be in there and Angels sources indicate Maitan spent the offseason getting in better shape, a process they anticipated would be slow from the onset, hopefully foreshadowing a breakout year. The organization is excited about what could happen in 2019, with Maitan as part of an exciting Low-A Burlington club that should include him, Jeremiah Jackson, and Livan Soto in the infield and Jordyn Adams, D’Shawn Knowles, and Trent Deveaux in the outfield. We have Maitan here on pedigree, as pro socuts outside the org who had no context for their eval barely considered him a prospect last year.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 11th Round, 2015 from Mission Viejo HS (CA) (HOU)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 55/60 40/50 40/45 88-92 / 94

An 11th rounder in 2015, Houston signed Sandoval away from a USC commitment with a $900,000 bonus. Before the Angels acquired him from the Astros for Martin Maldonado, Sandoval struck out 97 hitters in 88 innings split between Low- and Hi-A while also reducing his walk rate (4.3%) to half of what it had been the previous year (8.5%). After the trade, his walk rate regressed to his career norm, but he continued missing bats and struck out 35% of opposing hitters.

Sandoval’s fastball sits 88-92 and will top out around 94. He can really spin a 12-6 curveball, one that’s above average when he is getting on top of it. Effectively, Sandoval has an almost perfectly vertical arm slot, but the way he gets there is somewhat odd, and there’s some skepticism among scouts as to the sustainability of last year’s uptick in strike-throwing. But his current delivery enables him to effectively work up and down with his fastball and curveball in sequence, so nobody suggests he change it. There’s enough of a changeup here for continued development in a rotation and if everything clicks, Sandoval will be a No. 4 or 5 starter. If not, he’s a lefty with a good breaking ball and is a fine bullpen candidate, which is a pretty good return for a backup catching rental.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 35/40 20/30 70/70 45/50 50/50

It’s very possible that Rivas’s elite feel for the strike zone won’t translate to upper-level play. He owns a 16% career walk rate, but Rivas and his childlike, Lilliputian frame lacks even a modicum of over-the-fence power, and advanced pitching may choose to attack him rather than nibble and let the speedy Rivas reach without putting the ball in play. Even if his walk rate comes down, Rivas does enough other stuff to contribute to a big league roster. He won’t hit homers, but he stings high-quality line drive contact to all-fields and can slash doubles down the third base line. He has sufficient speed and range for the middle infield, and has experience at every position but first base and catcher, though he hasn’t played the outfield since 2015. Rivas’ most realistic path to everyday production involves him retaining something close to his current walk rate, but he’s more likely to become a valuable utility man who can play all over the field, and is a fairly high-probability prospect in that regard.

Drafted: 28th Round, 2013 from Ottawa HS (IL) (LAA)
Age 24.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 40/45 65/65 50/55 50/50

It took a $100,000 bonus to sign Hermosillo away from a football scholarship to Illinois. Understandably raw when he entered pro ball (what with two-sports and a cold-weather background), it took Hermosillo three years of adjustments before he finally experienced a statistical breakout in 2016. Since then, he has continued to make mechanical tweaks to reshape his skillset, and was rewarded with a brief major league debut in 2018.

Once in possession of ugly bat control that enabled him to put lots of balls in play but not with any real impact, Hermosillo’s most recent swing adjustment has him trading some of that contact for power. As Hermosillo’s leg kick grew bigger and slower, his ground ball rate shrunk. A 45% roller ratio in 2017 became 31% in 2018, and Hermosillo set a career-high in homers (12) in the friendly confines of the PCL. Though he didn’t perform during a 30-game big league look, Hermosillo’s athleticism and ability to make adjustments bode well for his future. His baseball instincts aren’t great, but he has some pop that he’s started to get to, he can fly, and he may get lots of playing time due to the Angels’ fairly thin outfield situation. Realistically, he projects as a good bench outfielder, but he has several late-bloomer traits and may continue to develop into a low-end regular if he falls into regular big league reps and gets sufficient at-bats.

19. Livan Soto, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 35/40 20/30 55/55 50/55 50/50

Soto was part of the Braves’ 2016 pool-busting haul of players who later became free agents due to the sanctions levied against Atlanta. Soto got a $1 million bonus the first time around, then another $850,000 from Los Angeles, signing along with fellow former-Brave and Venezuelan Kevin Maitan. It’s a cliche in scouting to call a player a ‘Venezuelan-style shortstop,’ but Soto fits that to a T: smaller, without big tools, but with an advanced feel to play, and a gritty, high-effort style. He had about 30-grade raw power when he signed, and his exit velos were topping out in the mid-90s in the GCL for Atlanta, but he’s now hitting a quarter of his balls in play in the 90s and looks like he’ll be able to avoid being so weak that pitchers can knock the bat out of his hands. Soto is a roughly average runner with a roughly average arm, but both tools play up due to his instincts and strong internal clock, so he’s a potential above average shortstop. He also has advanced feel to hit, with above average bat control and a self-aware approach at the plate. There’s a road to a Jose Iglesias-type regular here, but it’s more likely Soto lands in the utility range, with maybe a season or two where he’s starting quality.

20. Luis Madero, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (ARI)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/50 55/60 45/50 50/55 50/55 89-94 / 96

In possession of one of the looser, more aqueous deliveries in the minors, Madero experienced a velocity spike in 2018 and ended up on the Angels 40-man in November. Instead of 87-92, Madero’s fastball resided in the 90-94 range throughout 2018, and he retained his trademark advanced command of four pitches. The best of those pitches is his curveball, which flashes big depth and snap, and which he sometimes decelerates his arm to baby into the strike zone, something big league hitters will pick up on. Further changeup develop will be important for Madero as his low arm slot enables lefty hitters to see the ball out of his hand quite early. A better change will help keep them honest against his heater. Still lithe and skinny for his age, there’s a chance Madero grows into some velo as he continues to fill out. He profiles as a fifth starter and may be up at some point this year, though the Angels’ many veteran pitching additions make it less likely.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/55 50/60 40/50 87-93 / 96

Aquino missed all of 2018 due to a February Tommy John from which he’ll likely return sometime during extended spring training. Tall and projectable, Aquino was already touching 96 as an 18-year-old before he blew out his UCL. He’s athletic for his size but perhaps not exceptionally athletic in a vacuum, his forearms appear shorter than is typical for someone his size, and his stride home is very abbreviated. His velocity and changeup quality were both well ahead of what is typical for a pitcher this age before Aquino got hurt, and he has one of the more intriguing ceilings in the system if those things return after surgery.

22. Aaron Hernandez, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Texas A&M Corpus Christi (LAA)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 45/55 40/50 35/45 91-95 / 97

One of the least experienced and more polarizing college pitchers available in the 2018 draft, Hernandez has an electric, four-pitch mix and several developmental hurdles ahead of him. At a skinny 6-foot-1, there are scouts who doubt he can start based solely on his frame, though Hernandez held mid-90s velocity deep into games as a junior at Corpus Christi. If amateur scouts are to be believed, any of the following aspects of Hernandez’s current profile could change: his stride direction, his arm slot, his breaking ball usage (he has two that bleed together), and the movement profile of his fastball.

Hernandez was academically ineligible as a sophomore and only started 19 games in three years of college, so there’s at least a reason he’s behind his peers from a developmental standpoint. He has unteachable arm speed and feel for spin and even if he just ends up as a big league reliever, something that seems pretty reasonable given his talent, it would be a strong outcome for a third round pick. Like Aquino, Hernandez may move up this list quickly with refinement, but we’d like to see it fairly soon given his age.

23. William English, RHP/DH
Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Detroit Western Int’l HS (MI) (LAA)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 45/55 20/50 55/50 40/50 70/70
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 40/50 45/55 30/50 87-91 / 93

Many teams considered English to be one of, if not the best on-mound athletes among high schoolers in the 2018 draft, but many of them also thought he was sushi raw as both a hurler and an outfielder, and that he would end up at the University of Tennessee. A $700,000 bonus brought him to Tempe for a summer free of pitching in games, an approach the Angels have taken with several recent draftees. English did hit, though. While he struggled to perform on paper, he has a pro-quality power and speed combination that enabled him to play center field in high school. He was drafted and will be developed as a two-way player, likely pitching once a week while playing in the outfield once or twice a week and DH’ing the rest of the time as a way to manage fatigue. He arrived for camp having added about 25 pounds of muscle and is one of the more interesting prospects in baseball, let alone in this system, because he’s just a very athletic, untouched mass of clay for Angels player development to sculpt.

24. Jack Kruger, C
Drafted: 20th Round, 2016 from Mississippi State (LAA)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 50/50 30/35 45/40 50/55 50/50

Kruger is a high-probability backup catching prospect with more speed and athleticism than is typical for the position. Though he has a power-hitter’s leg kick, his bat head drags into the zone, causing him to push a lot of contact the other way, and this, combined with his fringy bat speed, limits his power output. He has good barrel control, though, and is a solid-average receiver and ball-blocker with an average arm. He’s going to stay back there, and he’s uncommonly nimble and lean for a catcher, so he should retain those skills deep into his career. He reached Double-A last year and is on pace to debut in 2020.

25. Jake Jewell, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Northeast Oklahoma JC (OK) (LAA)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 40/40 40/45 94-97 / 98

After yo-yoing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation since college, Jewell was finally ‘penned in 2018 and had a two-inning sip of coffee with the Halos last June before he fractured his right fibula during a play at the plate. He would need season-ending surgery. Jewell’s command has long foreshadowed an eventual permanent move to the bullpen, but he has the stuff to accrue big league outs. He can alter the shape of his mid-90s fastball to sink or cut, has a fine mid-80s curveball, and a power changeup that averages 90mph. He didn’t throw his hard cutter/slider during his short appearances with the Angels last year, but we’re unsure if the pitch has actually be scrapped. It’s an unusually deep repertoire for a reliever, probably one better suited for inducing ground balls than strikeouts, but is possibly enough for Jewell to go for four or more outs at a time.

35+ FV Prospects

26. Kyle Bradish, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from New Mexico State (LAA)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 50/55 55/60 40/50 40/45 90-94 / 96

It’s exciting to consider how Bradish’s stuff might play in the bullpen, as his max-effort delivery and the way it detracts from his command will likely prevent him from starting for long in pro ball. His arm action has gorgeous efficiency and it, plus Bradish’s full-body thrust towards the plate, helped him generate the occasional mid-90s fastball early in his college starts, before he’d settle in the low-90s and upper-80s in the later innings. His breaking ball has bat-missing vertical action and is hard for hitters to differentiate out of Bradish’s hand, in part because his delivery causes the ball to suddenly appear out from behind his head, which some hitters struggle to adjust to. Most of these traits would seem to play best in short stints, and we have Bradish projected as a good middle reliever, though if his fastball ticks up in single-inning outings he could be a high-leverage option.

27. Alexander Ramirez, RF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 16.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

So young is Ramirez that he had to wait almost two months after the July 2 signing day to turn 16 and become eligible to put pen to paper on his pro contract, which included a $1 million bonus. He’s a typical, frame-based projection outfield prospect at a lean, high-waisted, broad-shouldered 6-foot-2. His upright swing is currently suited for high-ball contact but, based on the Angels propensity for enacting swing changes, that will likely change pretty quickly. As he grows into his body and better incorporates his lower half into his swing, he could have serious in-game power at maturity. Likely a long-term developmental project, Ramirez may not be stateside for actual games until the 2020 AZL.

28. Travis Herrin, RHP
Drafted: 18th Round, 2015 from Wabash Valley JC (IL) (LAA)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 50/50 40/50 40/50 90-93 / 96

Herrin made a few late-season Tommy John rehab appearances last August and September, and his stuff had not only returned, but improved. He has a starter’s mix led by two quality breaking balls, his fastball will creep into the mid-90s, and his changeup has some armside fade. It’s No. 4 or 5 starter stuff, a pitch mix that belongs ahead of Luis Madero on this list. But Herrin turns 24 in April, has yet to pitch above A-ball, and only showed this quality stuff in short, 20 or 30-pitch outings. He’s a candidate to be pushed quickly if he continues to throw like this, though he may be on an innings limit this year, his first full slate back from injury. We like him as a sleeper breakout prospect in this system.

29. Jared Walsh, 1B/OF/LHP
Drafted: 39th Round, 2015 from Georgia (LAA)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 55/55 45/50 45/45 55/60 60/60
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 45/50 89-92 / 93

Walsh’s primary responsibilities vacillated between the mound and the batter’s box while he was in college. He did more pitching as a freshman and junior, more hitting as a sophomore and senior. Now it appears he may do a little bit of both in the big leagues, as last year he stepped on a pro mound for the first time, touching 93 with his fastball, and showing an average curveball on occasion. He also had a breakout offensive season, though 13 of his 29 home runs came in the Cal League, which, especially at age 24, should cause some skepticism as to how much it reflects true talent. Walsh does have some power and he lifts the baseball consistently, so while he doesn’t have a hit/power combination fit for profiling at any of the defensive spots he’s capable of playing, he could run into some bombs in a pinch-hitting role. He’s also a better runner and first base defender than is typical for his position and may contribute in those areas, as well. Walsh has an interesting, multi-faceted skillset and could be used as a Swiss Army Knife bench piece, if a bit of a blunt one, who allows flexibility on other parts of the roster.

30. Luis Pena, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 55/60 50/55 40/40 88-93 / 94

The Angels continued Peña’s development as a starter last year even though his wildness will likely relegate him to the bullpen eventually. His low-90s fastball plays up because his gargantuan stride creates big extension and two extra ticks of perceived velo. So extreme is Peña’s leap off the mound that it appears to detract from his command because it’s so hard to harness. His slider and changeup both flash plus, and he arbuably has better feel for locating either of those than his fastball. He has No. 4 or 5 starter stuff, but issues with fastball location make him too inefficient to start. He reached Triple-A last year but struggled, and was passed over in the Rule 5; he’s a candidate to bounce back.

31. Daniel Procopio, RHP
Drafted: 10th Round, 2017 from Niagara (LAA)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Procopio was a solid senior sign in the 10th round in 2017 as a Friday starter for Niagara. In that role, he had a TrackMan-friendly rising fastball that sat 90-93 and hit 95 mph occasionally, and he relied heavily on an above average-flashing breaking ball, fringy command, and average control to post numbers against weaker competition. After signing, the Angels put him in the bullpen and his velocity immediately ticked up in shorter stints, working 94-96 and hitting 99 mph. His control and command got a bit worse, and he hasn’t quite struck the balance in his delivery and approach between newfound power stuff and control, but he could find himself on the shortlist for big league bullpen contention if and when he does.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Current Pitching Depth
Jeremy Beasley, RHP
Miguel Almonte, RHP
Brett Hanewich, RHP
Williams Jerez, LHP

All of these guys are between 23 and 26 years old, and could contribute to the big club in some capacity this year or next. Beasley has the best long-term prognosis as a potential fifth starter. His splitter is plus, the rest of his stuff average. Almonte debuted way back in 2015 but injuries have kept him list-eligible. He has a plus curveball and fastball velo but the injuries and command issues are worrisome, and he was unclaimed after being DFA’d fairly recently. Hanewich is a one-pitch guy but it’s a great pitch. His fastball is 97-99 with plus-plus extension but his delivery is erratic and his secondaries are inconsistent, though his change plays well off the heater when he locates it competitively. Jerez is a mid-90s lefty with a good splitter and 40 control, and might be a reliever if the command improves.

Some Younger Sleepers
Robinson Pina, RHP
Hector Yan, LHP
Julio De La Cruz, INF
Sadrac Franco, RHP

All of these prospects are about 19 years old and currently in the lower levels of the minors. Pina sits 91-94 with 7-foot-2 of extension, and has an above-average slider. He may end up as a late-inning arm but looks more like a reliever who’ll take a few years. Yan is a lefty with presently average velo and an arm action that promises more. He has feel for a curveball that could be plus at peak but he’s probably also reliever due to a lack of changeup feel. De La Cruz isn’t a good defensive infielder but he has 55 bat speed and pull-side power; he’s a 50 runner with a 55 arm. He may end up in right field, but if the glove improves, he’ll be quite interesting. Franco will flash a plus curveball and he also sits about 90-94, but he’s less projectable than the typical 19-year-old due to a smaller frame.

Old Friends and Long Shots
Michael Santos, RHP
Mayky Perez, RHP
Adrian Almeida, LHP
Oliver Ortega, LHP
Adrian De Horta, RHP

Santos was a favorite of ours when he was a Giants AZL arm. He was part of Tampa’s return for Matt Moore but had a shoulder injury and was released. When healthy, he was 91-94 with a bevy of average secondaries and a chance one of the breaking balls would be above at peak. Perez was a hard-throwing, big-bodied relief type who was released by prospect-laden San Diego. Almeida was a minor league Rule 5 pick a few years ago. He sits 93-96 and has a plus curveball but 30 control. Ortega and De Horta both throw hard, peaking in the 95-96 range. All of these arms are age 22 to 24.

System Overview

Once clearly the worst system in baseball, this group is now pretty exciting, if somewhat monochromatic. There are some clear trends at play, the first being that the club’s draft strategy has taken on a toolsier, more athletic vibe in recent years, with several high picks spent on splashy high schoolers like Adell, Adams, and English. The club has also targeted versatile defenders with good plate discipline on the pro side, yielding Rengio and Soto, while doing everything it can to hoard pitching depth behind what has been a snake-bitten big league staff, even at the expense of some interesting young arms like Elvin Rodriguez, who would have fairly prominent placement in the 40 FV tier on this list had he not be dealt for Ian Kinsler (though Buttrey would rank higher). The Angels clearly have a type or two now, but they’re types we like.

The player development arm of the org is one of the more aggressive groups in the league, and is unabashed about mechanical tinkering. Trent Deveaux’s multitude of swings look bad because he has struggled so mightily, but there have been more prospects improved by the changes than there have been players who have gone backwards. Taylor Ward graduated off the list, but he made positive alterations before his call-up, and the changes made by Walsh, Thaiss, and Hermosillo have all been clear improvements, while the jury is still out on Jahmai Jones’ tweaks. Brandon Marsh may show a dramatic shift this year as the gap between his BP raw power and in-game approach to contact is quite, quite vast.

Another trend on this list: lots of pitchers throwing harder. Canning throws harder now than he did in college, Suarez and Madero had velo spikes last year, and Soriano’s uptick, while predictable because of his build, came sooner than expected. The scouting staff has given what appears to be a good player dev group lots of malleable athletes to work with and, so far, results have been positive even though most of the guys we’re excited about haven’t done anything in the big leagues yet.