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Our Week 1 College Scouting Notes

The first weekend of the 2019 NCAA baseball season is in the books, and the two of us were out in Georgia and an uncharacteristically chilly Arizona to see players. Presented here is the first of what will be a periodic collection of notes from games we’ve seen, as well as some things we’ve learned over the phone. We plan on updating our draft rankings in a week, after we have two weeks of college games under our belts; many of the players whose stock has changed are noted below.

An Update on College Pitching
In last week’s pre-season draft ranking update, we maligned the depth of the college pitching in this year’s draft. While the first weekend wasn’t universally sunny for college hurlers (more on that below), there were some strong performances. The game most heavily-attended by scouts in Arizona was Stanford left-hander Erik Miller’s start on Sunday (5IP, 4H, 2BB, 9K). Miller was consistently in the mid-90s last summer on Cape Cod, but was walk-prone. Sunday, his fastball was 89-92 for the meat of his start, but he threw strikes and was reaching back for 93-95 when he wanted it, even in his final few innings. His vertical arm slot (if you were to imagine a clock face, Miller’s arm swings through the 1 o’clock position) generates efficient backspin direction on the baseball and also creates tough plane for hitters both at the top and bottom of the strike zone, and he can get outs simply by varying the vertical location of his heater.

Miller’s changeup is his best secondary. When trying to fade it away from right-handed hitters, it was fairly easy to identify out of his hand, but beneath the strike zone it was often plus. At 82-86 mph, it was just bottoming out beneath hitters’ barrels and into the dirt, garnering several ugly swings. The better of his two breaking balls is a firm, mid-80s cut-action slider. It doesn’t have the vertical depth typical of a bat-missing slider (again, if you imagine a clock face, his slider moves from the 2 to the 8), but Miller uses it in a variety of creative ways (for early-count strikes, back door vs. righties, away from lefties) and it’s consistently average, flashing above. His loopy, 80 mph curveball gives hitters a different look, and is best deployed as a first-pitch surprise to get ahead of hitters looking to cheat on his fastball.

As a quick comparison, Stanford lefty Kris Bubic was drafted 40th overall last year as a changeup-heavy lefty, and Miller is much better than Bubic was when Eric saw him last year. With a future plus change, above-average slider, and average everything else, Miller is off to a start befitting a first rounder.

Scouts indicated to us that Texas Christian LHP Nick Lodolo was throwing harder in the fall, and he was mostly 92-94 on Friday after sitting 88-92 in each of Eric’s looks last year. The fastball didn’t miss many bats, though, and while Lodolo held Cal State Fullerton in check for five innings, he only struck out two. His slurvy, upper-70s breaking ball was often plus and he has great feel for dotting it on the edge of the plate; otherwise his usage was fairly limited. He threw just two, maybe three changeups and all were below-average. Lodolo has a well-made frame similar to Tyler Glasnow’s. His delivery is very smooth, there’s a lot to like, and the lefty velo and spin combo is enticing, but there is more pitch development necessary here than is typical for a college arm.

Meanwhile, TCU lefty Brandon Williamson seems to have made the right decision by not signing as a 36th round junior college draftee last year. He struck out seven Vanderbilt hitters in 3.2 innings on Sunday, and utilized four good pitches to do so. He was up to 93 but mostly sat 89-90, and commanded all of his secondary stuff. It took him a while to get feel for his changeup but once he did, it was great, and Williamson sometimes threw it three times in a row without diminished effectiveness. It was 84-86 mph and had surprising tail given Williamson’s vertical arm slot. He has advanced command of an average, low-80s slider, gave hitters a different look with a slower curveball a few times, and threw any pitch in any count. He executed several unpredictable sequences, and fought back with secondary stuff a few times when he had fallen behind hitters. We don’t yet know if he can retain this kind of stuff deep into games, but what he showed Sunday was better than some of last year’s third round pitchability college arms.


West Virginia righty Alek Manoah started the season ranked 44th on our latest rankings but will be higher in the re-rank next week after a loud season debut vs. Kennesaw State. The report on Manoah coming into this game was that he didn’t have the starter traits needed to comfortably see him turning a lineup over multiple times, but flashed two plus pitches in his mid-90s heater and slider. There was also some thought that he may need to watch his weight. His body composition was strong and likely contributed to improved feel to go along with the same high octane stuff: he sat 95-97 mph and located a 65-grade slider, occasionally mixing in an average changeup over the first few innings.

Manoah still had some reliever tendencies but they didn’t seem like long-term issues. Kennesaw State couldn’t hit 94-97 mph up in the zone, so Manoah just kept throwing it there and getting results. In pro ball, he’ll need to mix it up more, but you can’t blame him for taking the shortest path to 13 K’s over 6 innings. He held his stuff, sitting 93-96 just before he exited the game, and while his fastball was more of a blunt instrument, he showed good feel for locating his slider for a strike on his arm side and burying it as a chase pitch to his glove side. His control was average to slightly above and you can project the command to average if you believe he can be more precise with his fastball when he needs to be. When Manoah got in trouble a couple times, he kept his composure and worked his way out of it. Chatting with scouts and comparing this new version of Manoah to other players we just ranked, it seems like he’ll move into the 20’s along with rising, massive college arms like Jackson Rutledge and Miller.

2020s
Ball State RHP Drey Jameson didn’t allow a single hit over six innings against Stanford on opening night. He was up to 97, flashed a plus breaking ball, and threw a few good changeups in the 88-90mph range, including one that struck out possible first round outfielder Kyle Stowers. Jameson is wiry and a little undersized, but is very athletic, has feel for locating the breaking ball, and his delivery is pretty deceptive. He could go in the first round next year.

Jameson was opposed by Stanford right-hander Brendan Beck, who arguably out-pitched Jameson with lesser stuff. Beck was a two-way player in high school and his velocity was in the mid-80s as a prep senior and during his freshman year at Stanford. It’s not 88-90, but he hides the ball well and has plus command of a late-breaking curveball. Some other arms to watch for 2020 are Cal State Fullerton righty Tanner Bibee (90-92, some above-average curveballs, unleashed a diving split change late in his start, threw a ton of strikes) Vanderbilt lefty Hugh Fisher (94-97 with cut action, some plus sliders), and Virginia righty Griff McGarry (was wild but 92-93, good arm action, flashed plus curveball, change, average slider).

2021s
We had first round grades on right-handers Kumar Rocker and Mike Vasil when they were draft-eligible high schoolers last year. Vasil ended up at Virginia, Rocker at Vanderbilt. They each had rocky first collegiate starts. Vasil pitched pretty well but his velocity is down. He was 88-92 with feel for locating several fringe secondaries. Rocker’s first bolt was 97, then he settled into the 93-95 range for the rest of the first inning, but got hit around. His breaking ball was also well-struck several times and his upper-80s changeup was well-below average. It’s too early to be down on either of them; this is just a snapshot of where each of their stuff is right now.

On the Phone
Arizona St. righty Alec Marsh was up to 94 and threw four pitches for strikes on Friday. Gonzaga righty Casey Legumina has had a velocity spike. He used to sit 88-90 but was up to 97 over the weekend. Baylor catcher Shea Langliers is 11th on THE BOARD, but will be out for weeks with an injury that usually impacts power for a season or more, which is a hole in Langliers’ profile currently. Our 10th 2019 draft prospect, Duke lefty Graeme Stinson, was 89-93 in his season debut, down a good bit from his best relief outings when he’s be into the upper-90s. Stinson is moving to the rotation this year and maintaining his stuff over longer outings and showing more starter traits is key, so this is a down first note on the season.

On the other hand, our 58th-ranked prospect, Elon righty George Kirby, had lots of preseason late first round buzz and will now move into that range when we update our rankings next week. This week, he was up to 96, showing three above average-to-plus pitches and starter traits. Fresno State righty Ryan Jensen (who just missed the Top 100) threw a solid five innings on Saturday and is on scouts’ radar after hitting 99 mph in the fall with plus sink; the velo was still there, with him sitting 96-98 mph in his first inning. 2020 draft-eligible LSU freshman righty Cole Henry was 94-97 mph in his college debut.

On the prep side, there’s been a lot of velo in Florida lately. Our 27th prospect, righty Matthew Allan, was 93-97 and flashed a plus breaking ball Monday night; one scout said he was in the top half of the first round for him now. Our 49th-ranked prospect, lefty Hunter Barco, was 90-95 with an above average breaker and changeup, throwing from a higher arm slot (a concern scouts had over the summer) that delivered a tighter slider. Further down the list, our 93rd-ranked prospect, righty Joseph Charles, was 92-95 mph with a plus-flashing curveball in his first start last week, which helps his profile as a prep righty who’s 19.2 years old on draft day. Lastly, prep righties with velo in Texas are like death and taxes, and Houston-area righty J.J. Goss (57th in the 2019 rankings) has been 93-95 mph with a plus slider in his early starts, including on Saturday against our 36th-ranked 2020 draft prospect, catcher Drew Romo.


FanGraphs Audio Presents: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project: The Making of the Top 100

UMP: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Episode 9
This is the ninth episode — and the season two premiere! — of a mostly weekly program co-hosted by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel about player evaluation in all its forms. The show, which is available through the normal FanGraphs Audio feed, has a working name but barely. The show is not all prospect stuff, but there is plenty of that, as the hosts are Prospect Men.

We used to include timestamps so you could skip around by topic, but this episode has just one topic: Prospects Week. If you’re not into that, we bet you’ll like the new into/outro music.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @kileymcd or @longenhagen on Twitter or at prospects@fangraphs.com.

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

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 42 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »


A Dispatch from the Driveline Pro-Day

In January, the two of us (along with Managing Editor Meg Rowley) had the opportunity to attend Driveline Baseball’s Pro Day in Kent, Washington. We were itching to get out of the house and watch baseball in some form, even if it was just to see dudes in shorts throw live batting practice. But because Driveline is as much a laboratory as it is a training facility, it was unlike any player workout or showcase we’ve been to, and we want to share our experience with readers.

We realize, though, that readers may require some context for the day, as they may not have a great idea of what a “normal” scouting showcase entails. So we’re going to talk about that and then about how Driveline’s pro day was different, touching on the pros and cons of each format along the way.

Finally, we’re going to talk about some of the players we saw, but with a little twist. Dozens of scouts were in attendance for the pro day, and one of Driveline’s stated goals for the event was to make things as easy for them as possible. They circulated a ton of information to aid with player evaluation (more on that shortly), and included us on the distribution list. Kiley, who spent a lot of time during the event schmoozing with baseball folks, was handed the data and asked to provide a preference list of pitchers from the pro day based solely on these numbers. Conversely, Eric sat fidgeting in a chair behind home plate while everyone threw, and took notes by hand. He was not allowed to look at the data, and was required to compile his pref list like our forefathers did, based only on his eyeball evaluations.

A bit of background on player workouts. Most in-person scouting is done during some kind of live baseball game, be it your run-of-the-mill minor league game somewhere in middle America, or a college game on a Friday night. But there are several scenarios where scouting occurs outside of this context. A player might throw a bullpen session for scouts while attempting some kind of comeback, or pro players might participate in a backfield simulated game, where there are no stakes and coaches create artificial scenarios to simulate and instruct players on procedure during certain game situations. Sometimes sim games don’t even utilize an actual pitcher. Scouts are often at these sorts of events, too, trying to learn whatever they can about an individual player’s talent, or get injury updates or pitching probables for the week.

The most common type of workout though, is the kind of showcase one would see for high schoolers or international amateurs. International amateur showcases typically include traditional batting practice for the hitters, outfielders throwing to the various bases, infielders fielding a standard directional sequence of ground balls and throwing to first base, catchers showcasing half a dozen pop times, and everyone running the 60-yard dash. At big events, there are usually a few games after this. At workouts at an individual trainer’s academy, or for free agent hitters, there generally aren’t enough players for that.

At Driveline, some pitchers threw bullpens, but the entire session was being recorded by a TrackMan unit and a Rapsodo camera and radar monitor. In addition to measuring velocity like a handheld radar gun would, TrackMan and Rapsodo measure all sorts of other stuff that teams have found to correlate with pitching success, or that can be used as a player development tool to provide immediate feedback to the player or a coach, which means players can make adjustments in real-time.

After a few pitchers threw unopposed bullpens, the hitters training at Driveline took their version of batting practice against a high-speed pitching machine that was spitting out balls at about 88 mph, at times with cutting action. This is much different than a middle-aged man in a form-fitting baseball uniform chucking balls at hitters from behind a screen at the base of a mound. The logic behind this alteration is that hitters don’t see pitches as slow as traditional BP lobs are in games, and training in a way that replicates in-game conditions more closely will better prepare them. This makes sense, but scouts we spoke with after the event indicated they left with almost no feel for the hitters.

Driveline is limited because their facility is indoors, and while a HitTrax machine helped depict the flight path of batted balls when the hitters faced live pitching later in the day, the number of opportunities they had to really square balls up and show scouts raw power in the way scouts are used to were limited. Onlookers left Kent with more considered opinions on the size of Daniel Comstock’s butt than they did anything else about the hitters, who they also didn’t see run or field.

After hitters got loose against the pitching machine, the rest of the pitchers took turns warming up and facing live hitting, with every piece of technology in the room switched on. Usually a rowdy environment, several of the players and staff commented on the quiet in the building that day, at least before Eric Sim arrived. That’s not to say that it was boring. The event had good pace and energy despite the early silence and the stakes — a potential pro contract if you impressed the right person — were high.

Having set the scene, we’ll turn to our individual pref lists. We’d first like to acknowledge all the athletes who participated in the event, and the work they did to get there. We were made to understand that those who were chosen to throw and hit had to clear a certain talent and work bar, and we believe everyone there has the talent to play highly competitive baseball at some level, professionally or otherwise.

We’ve omitted Albertus Barber and Seth Baugh from these rankings because both players are draft eligible, rather than allowed to sign a pro contract. They’ll be on the 2019 Draft section of The Board before June. We’ve also omitted left-handed pitcher Luke Heimlich, who has been training at Driveline since high school and who, according to Driveline, threw during the event at the request of “a few teams.” Prior to the event, Driveline sent out a roster of scouts and media members expected to be in attendance, and the highest ranking individual on the list was Royals Pro Scouting Director Gene Watson, though none of us saw Watson at the facility and we’re unsure whether he was there. The Royals are the lone team to have an employee (General Manager Dayton Moore) express interest in Heimlich, who pleaded guilty to child molestation as a minor.

Eric’s Eyeball-Based Pref List
1. Tyler Matzek, LHP (28)
2. Robert Robbins, RHP (24)
3. Kevin Kelleher, RHP (25)
4. Luke Hagerty, LHP (37)
5. Lance Simpson, RHP (22)
6. Arturo Reyes, RHP (26)
7. Karsen Lindell, RHP (22)
8. Joe Beimel, LHP (42)
9. Daniel Moskos, LHP (32)

I thought Matzek threw some plus-plus sliders and had enough feel for locating his two breaking balls (I put a 50 on his curveball) that I was less worried about his fastball command. He was a scattershot 89-92 and has had issues locating his heater near the zone in the past, but he’ll be allowed to work more heavily off his breaking stuff now than he was as a prospect because that style of pitching is more widely accepted. He could help a team in a relief role.

Robbins was 92-95 and threw several plus changeups in the mid-80s. They had bat-missing action down-and-in on righties. Hitters were taking big, confident hacks throughout the day but looked most uncomfortable and tentative against Robbins, especially against his slider, which I thought was average in a vacuum.

Hagerty had been out of baseball longer than I’ve been in it and it’s amazing that he’s throwing this hard. He was up to 98 for me and threw a few plus breaking balls, but also sent some pitches into the screen. There’s risk he’s wild like he was when he was in pro ball a decade ago, but I’ll take that fastball. I thought Simpson had a solid four-pitch mix. He was up to 93, his fastball had some tail, I liked the depth of the repertoire, which I thought was mostly average, and he’s one of the younger arm who threw. Kelleher had arguably the best two-pitch mix there as he was up to 96 and had a tight slider with bat-missing, vertical depth. I was put off by how violent his delivery is and didn’t think he had feel for locating the slider in places that were enticing to a hitter. Reyes was also 91-93 with a bunch of 50s, but I thought his fastball’s angle was more hittable, and his age rounded up (he’ll be 27 in April) put him beneath Simpson.

When I saw Karsen Lindell in high school, he was throwing 86-88; now he’s 92-95. He threw some 50 breakers but they were less consistent than Reyes’ or Simpson’s. Beimel was up to 93 and lived right on the edge of the plate to his glove side for almost his entire session. His secondary stuff is fringy but there were some 50 sliders in there, which are fine if you’re locating them, and Beimel was. He is in incredible shape for 42. Moskos had similarly consistent command but he worked down, at or below the knees, with a two seamer. I put 45s on his two-seamer, cutter, and curveball.

Kiley’s Data-Driven Pref List
1. Kevin Kelleher, RHP (25)
2. Tyler Matzek, LHP (28)
3. Karsen Lindell, RHP (22)
4. Arturo Reyes, RHP (26)
5. Luke Hagerty, LHP (37)
6. Robert Robbins, RHP (24)
7. Lance Simpson, RHP (22)
8. Jackson Sigman, RHP (23)
9. Tyler Gillies, RHP (23)

For this pref list, I considered only the TrackMan data from the event, the pitchers’ ages, and their previous stat lines. I’ve disregarded anything I know about them from watching them in a scouting context, which was easy to do when it came to this event because I was at a terrible angle to grade pitches.

Kelleher’s fastball has plus velocity (95.7 average, 96.8 peak), plus-plus rise, and good plane, and he threw 18 of 22 of them for strikes, while operating up in the zone where his heater plays best. His slider averages 3070 rpms, which is about as high as that measure goes (Blue Jays righty Trent Thornton has the highest average breaking ball spin rate among prospects we’ve covered this offseason), and threw 5 of his 7 sliders for strikes. Both pitches grade out as a 60 by use of the rough metric I’ve created using TrackMan, and while it wasn’t a long look, Kelleher’s control would also be plus (I won’t try to grade command on just a couple dozen pitches). Kelleher has essentially no affiliated pro experience, and he’s 25, but there’s a lot of stuff to work with here.

Matzek graded out with a solid-average fastball, slider, curveball, and strike-throwing rate. Given his past struggles with strikes and his major league experience, he seems like a nice gamble to be an upper minors contributor at least. From this very limiting view of this limited event, he and Kelleher both seem to have big league potential.

Lindell had a plus fastball, average slider, below changeup, and threw strikes, so there’s a nice fit as a reliever at the lower levels given his age. Reyes is older but has Triple-A experience and his fastball/curveball combo is fringe-to-average, but his slider graded as plus.

Hagerty’s heater topped at 98.5 and his curveball was about average, but he’s 37, had below strike-throwing at the event, and his career initially fell apart due to the yips, so I’m not optimistic he gets a long big league look. Robbins performed well, threw strikes, and has an above average fastball, but the off-speed stuff didn’t grade out as well. Simpson flashed an average fastball/slider/changeup combo, but the control was lacking. Sigman throws from a low slot, had an average slider, and a good strike-throwing rate, so I rounded up on the fastball grade since the slot excuses the lesser velo (89.7 mph average). Gillies has an average fastball/slider combo and threw strikes with the heater.

Of the pitchers on our preference lists, Hagerty, Kelleher, Matzek, Reyes, and Robbins signed minor league deals following the event, while Simpson was invited to try out for a club. David Carpenter and Sam Selman, who also threw that day, signed MiLB deals as well.


Picks to Click: Who We Expect to Make the 2020 Top 100

When publishing our lists — in particular, the top 100 — we’re frequently asked who, among the players excluded from this year’s version, might have the best chance of appearing on next year’s version. Whose stock are we buying? This post represents our best attempt to answer all of those questions at once.

This is the second year that we’re doing this, and we have some new rules. First, none of the players you see below will have ever been a 50 FV or better in any of our write-ups or rankings. So while we think Austin Hays might have a bounce back year and be a 50 FV again, we’re not allowed to include him here; you already know about him. We also forbid ourselves from using players who were on last year’s inaugural list. (We were right about 18 of the 63 players last year, a 29% hit rate, though we have no idea if that’s good or not, as it was our first time engaging in the exercise.) At the end of the piece, we have a list of potential high-leverage relievers who might debut this year. They’re unlikely to ever be a 50 FV or better because of their role, but they often have a sizable impact on competitive clubs, and readers seemed to like that we had that category last year.

We’ve separated this year’s players into groups or “types” to make it a little more digestible, and to give you some idea of the demographics we think pop-up guys come from, which could help you identify some of your own with THE BOARD. For players who we’ve already covered this offseason, we included a link to the team lists, where you can find a full scouting report. We touch briefly on the rest of the names in this post. Here are our picks to click:

Teenage Pitchers
Torres was young for his draft class, is a plus athlete, throws really hard, and had surprisingly sharp slider command all last summer. White looked excellent in the fall when the Rangers finally allowed their high school draftees to throw. He sat 92-94, and his changeup and breaking ball were both above-average. Pardinho and Woods Richardson are the two advanced guys in this group. Thomas is the most raw but, for a someone who hasn’t been pitching for very long, he’s already come a long way very quickly.

Eric Pardinho, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (full report)
Lenny Torres, Jr., RHP, Cleveland Indians
Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, New York Mets (full report)
Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (full report)
Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (full report)
Owen White, RHP, Texas Rangers
Mason Denaburg, RHP, Washington Nationals (full report)
Tahnaj Thomas, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (full report)

The “This is What They Look Like” Group
If you like big, well-made athletes, this list is for you. Rodriguez was physically mature compared to his DSL peers and also seems like a mature person. The Mariners have indicated they’re going to send him right to Low-A this year. He could be a middle-of-the-order, corner outfield power bat. Luciano was the Giants’ big 2018 July 2 signee. He already has huge raw power and looks better at short than he did as an amateur. Canario has elite bat speed. Adams was signed away from college football but is more instinctive than most two-sport athletes. Most of the stuff he needs to work on is related to getting to his power.

Julio Rodriguez, RF, Seattle Mariners
Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants
Alexander Canario, RF, San Francisco Giants
Jordyn Adams, CF, Los Angeles Angels
Jordan Groshans, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (full report)
Jhon Torres, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (full report)
Shervyen Newton, SS, New York Mets (full report)
Kevin Alcantara, CF, New York Yankees (full report)
Freudis Nova, SS, Houston Astros
Brice Turang, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (full report)
Connor Scott, CF, Miami Marlins (full report)

Advanced Young Bats with Defensive Value
This is the group that produces the likes of Vidal Brujan and Luis Urias. Edwards is a high-effort gamer with 70 speed and feel for line drive contact. Marcano isn’t as stocky and strong as X, but he too has innate feel for contact, and could be a plus middle infield defender. Perez has great all-fields contact ability and might be on an Andres Gimenez-style fast track, where he reaches Double-A at age 19 or 20. Ruiz is the worst defender on this list, but he has all-fields raw power and feel for contact. He draws Alfonso Soriano comps. Palacios is the only college prospect listed here. He had three times as many walks as strikeouts at Towson last year. Rosario controls the zone well, is fast, and is a plus defender in center field.

Xavier Edwards, SS, San Diego Padres
Antoni Flores, SS, Boston Red Sox (full report)
Jose Devers, SS, Miami Marlins (full report)
Tucupita Marcano, SS, San Diego Padres
Wenceel Perez, SS, Detroit Tigers
Esteury Ruiz, 2B, San Diego Padres
Richard Palacios, SS, Cleveland Indians
Antonio Cabello, CF, New York Yankees (full report)
Cole Roederer, LF, Chicago Cubs (full report)
Jeisson Rosario, CF, San Diego Padres
Luis Garcia, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (full report)
Simon Muzziotti, CF, Philadelphia Phillies (full report)

Corner Power Bats
Nevin will probably end up as a contact-over-power first baseman, but he might also end up with a 70 bat. He looked great against Fall League pitching despite having played very little as a pro due to injury. Lavigne had a lot of pre-draft helium and kept hitting after he signed. He has all-fields power. Apostel saw reps at first during instructs but has a good shot to stay at third. He has excellent timing and explosive hands.

Grant Lavigne, 1B, Colorado Rockies
Sherten Apostel, 3B, Texas Rangers
Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox (full report)
Dylan Carlson, RF, St. Louis Cardinals (full report)
Moises Gomez, RF, Tampa Bay Rays (full report)
Elehuris Montero, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (full report)
Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (full report)
Tyler Nevin, 1B, Colorado Rockies

College-aged Pitchers
It’s hard to imagine any of these guys rocketing into the top 50 overall. Rather, we would anticipate that they end up in the 60-100 range on next year’s list. Gilbert was a workhorse at Stetson and his velo may spike with reshaped usage. Singer should move quickly because of how advanced his command is. Lynch’s pre-draft velocity bump held throughout the summer, and he has command of several solid secondaries. Abreu spent several years in rookie ball and then had a breakout 2018, forcing Houston to 40-man him to protect him from the Rule 5. He’ll tie Dustin May for the second-highest breaking ball spin rate on THE BOARD when the Houston list goes up. We’re intrigued by what Dodgers player dev will do with an athlete like Gray. Phillips throws a ton of strikes and has a good four-pitch mix.

Logan Gilbert, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Zac Lowther, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (full report)
Brady Singer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Bryan Abreu, RHP, Houston Astros
Daniel Lynch, LHP, Kansas City Royals
Wil Crowe, RHP, Washington Nationals (full report)
Josiah Gray, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jordan Holloway, RHP, Miami Marlins (full report)
Tyler Phillips, RHP, Texas Rangers

Bounce Back Candidates
The Dodgers have a strong track record of taking severely injured college arms who return with better stuff after a long period of inactivity. That could be Grove, their 2018 second rounder, who missed most of his sophomore and junior seasons at West Virginia. McCarthy was also hurt during his junior season and it may have obscured his true abilities. Burger is coming back from multiple Achilles ruptures, but was a strong college performer with power before his tire blew.

Michael Grove, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jake McCarthy, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jake Burger, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Thomas Szapucki, LHP, New York Mets (full report)

Catchers
We’re very excited about the current crop of minor league catchers. Naylor is athletic enough that he’s likely to improve as a defender and he has rare power for the position.

Ivan Herrera, C, St. Louis Cardinals (full report)
Bo Naylor, C, Cleveland Indians
Payton Henry, C, Milwaukee Brewers (full report)

Potentially Dominant Relievers
These names lean “multi-inning” rather than “closer.” Gonsolin was a two-way player in college who has been the beneficiary of sound pitch design. He started last year but was up to 100 mph out of the bullpen the year before. He now throws a four seamer rather than a sinker and he developed a nasty splitter in 2017. He also has two good breaking balls. He has starter stuff but may break in as a reliever this year.

Trent Thornton, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (full report)
Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP, Boston Red Sox (full report)
Dakota Hudson, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (full report)
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (full report)
Colin Poche, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (full report)
Trevor Stephan, RHP, New York Yankees (full report)
Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (full report)
Dakota Mekkes, RHP, Chicago Cubs (full report)
Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mauricio Llovera, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (full report)


2019 Top 100 Prospects Chat

12:02

Eric A Longenhagen: Hi there, everyone. By now you probably know where the top 130 list is, so let’s get right to this. Kiley will be along shortly.

12:02

Jared: Who are some potential high leverage RP’s in the upper minors, with big stuff? Eric (not sure who’s doing the chat) gave me a good list last year at this time that included Jose Alvarado.

12:03

Eric A Longenhagen: That list you’re referring to was last year’s Picks to Click article, and this year’s version of it drops tomorrow.

12:03

Jackson: Swaggerty: is it his defense that puts him so high? Highest ranking I’ve seen from a publication.

12:04

Eric A Longenhagen: CF with speed and power, his tools belong there. You could argue the swing issues should force him down toward the other power/speed CFs with contact issues, but whose bat are you betting on improving, the new guy or someone like Monte Harrison who hasn’t made much progress over several years?

12:04

Jim Bob Cooter: Why you guys so down on Franklin Perez? Is a lat injury now considered serious or something?

Read the rest of this entry »


2019 Top 100 Prospects

Below is our list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. The scouting summaries were compiled with information provided by available data, industry sources, as well as from our own observations.

Note that prospects are ranked by number but also lie within tiers demarcated by their Future Value grades. The FV grade is more important than the ordinal rankings. For example, the gap between prospect No. 5 on this list, Victor Robles, and prospect No. 35, Sean Murphy, is 30 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent there. The gap between Travis Swaggerty (No. 56) and Adrian Morejon (No. 86), meanwhile, is also 30 numerical places, but the difference in talent is relatively small. You may have noticed that there are more than 100 prospects in the table below, and more than 100 scouting summaries. That’s because we have also included 50 FV prospects who didn’t make the 100; their reports appear below, under the “Other 50 FV Prospects” header. The same comparative principle applies to them.

As a quick explanation, variance means the range of possible outcomes in the big leagues, in terms of peak season. If we feel a prospect could reasonably have a best big league season of anywhere from one to five WAR, that would be “high” variance, whereas someone like Colin Moran, whose range is something like two to three WAR, would be “low” variance. High variance can be read as a good thing, since it allows for lots of ceiling, or a bad thing, since it allows for a lower floor. Your risk tolerance could lead you to sort by variance within a given FV tier if you feel strongly about it. Here is a primer explaining the connection between FV and WAR. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

You’ll also notice that this year, we’ve added probable FV outcome distribution graphs for each prospect on our list. This is our attempt to graphically represent how likely each FV outcome is for each prospect. Using the work of Craig Edwards, we found the base rates for each FV tier of prospect (separately for hitters and pitchers), and the likelihood of each FV of outcome. For example, based on Craig’s research, the average 60 FV hitter on a list becomes a perennial 5+ WAR player over his six controlled years 26% of the time, and a 27% chance of accumulating, at most, a couple WAR during his six controlled years. We started with these base rates for every player, then manually tweaked them to reflect how we think the player differs from the average player in that FV tier, since a player in rookie ball and a player in Triple-A with the same FV grade obviously don’t have exactly the same odds of success. So, these graphs are based on empirical findings, but with the subjectivity of our opinions included to more specifically reflect what we think the odds are of various outcomes. This is just a concept we’ve been kicking around for a while, one we hope to continue to refine to try to better communicate things about prospects.

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Updated July 2 Prospect Rankings

People in and around baseball used to call international amateur free agency “the Wild West” because in an effort to acquire as much talent as possible, teams bent or broke any number of rules as part of their search for loopholes in the signing rules. MLB has changed its approach in recent years, seemingly tackling issues as soon as they can after those issues arise, rather than trying to anticipate them. Some are actual issues, and some are “issues” — few in baseball thought hard-capping international bonus pools would curb abuses in the market, and instead viewed it as another way of limiting team expenditures.

Right now, the most significant issue in the international market is teams making multi-million dollar verbal agreements with players who often are as young as 14 years old. This has long been a problem; clubs work hard to extract marginal value from every avenue of talent acquisition, and this is especially true when their spending has a hard cap. A young prospect and his trainer will value the security of having a $2 million deal in hand early. Meanwhile, teams trust their scouts and cross their fingers that the player will grow into a $3 million-$5 million talent in the time between when the deal is agreed upon and when the kid actually signs. Read the rest of this entry »


Updating the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Draft Rankings

With the 2019 NCAA Baseball season set to begin on Friday, we have updated our draft prospect rankings for this year, as well as the two drafts that follow. Each class can be found via this link to THE BOARD.

So what has changed since we last updated our rankings in the fall? There were more high school showcases throughout the autumn months, and college teams held fall practices and scrimmages, during which it was clear that some players had changed since the end of the previous season. Some January high school tournaments took place in warmer locales, and the junior college season began several weeks ago. We expect all of these rankings to change as the draft approaches, though our focus will be on the 2019 class for obvious reasons. The 2021 class rankings are mostly comprised of unsigned high school players from the 2018 draft, as well as a handful of high school players who have been identified early.

Does the 2019 class have any overarching themes, and how does it compare to other recent drafts?
It’s hard not to note the lack of exciting college pitching, though it’s also worth remembering that at this time last year, soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize was nowhere near the runaway, best-in-class arm he’d eventually become. We expect to have higher opinions of several college arms come June, but the list of guys who we’d bet on rising up our board is also just shorter than usual.

That’s not to say the entire class is bad. It currently appears well-stocked with college hitters (arguably the most widely-desired demographic by major league clubs), particularly college hitters who have a chance to stay up the middle.

Just how good is Adley Rutschman?
Rutschman, the Oregon State catcher, is currently our top prospect for the 2019 draft. At this point in the process, it’s natural for readers to ask if there’s a generational talent in this class, or if this year’s top prospect is better than past top picks. He’s better right now, for us and the scouts we talk to, than 2018 Georgia Tech catcher/Giants second overall pick Joey Bart, who is obviously an easier direct comparison than Mize, despite Mize going first overall last year. We have Rutschman as the only 55 FV player in this draft class; Bart was a 50 FV on our 2018 draft rankings, with the main difference being Rutschman’s superior hit tool. The rest of the tools are about the same. As you’ll see on our overall rankings later this week, Mize is at the lower end of the 55 FV tier, and we’d have Rutschman slightly above him, but sandwiched between the top catching prospect in the minor leagues (the Dodgers’ Keibert Ruiz) and the second one (Bart), which would slot Rutschman in the 21-40 overall range of a top 100, were he eligible.

Also, because the draft order is totally set, we can officially lay to rest the #PlayBadlyForAdley hashtag.

Will we have another Kyler Murray/Jordyn Adams situation?
It may not be as dramatic as the Murray soap opera has turned out to be, but there’s a good chance that we have two two-sport athletes with signability questions. High schoolers Maurice Hampton (No. 19 overall on THE BOARD, and a 4-star LSU WR recruit) and Jerrion Ealy (No. 38 for us, and a 5-star Ole Miss RB commit) are both premium two-sport talents whose signability major league teams will need to properly gauge and feel comfortable with if they’re going to take them, the way the Angels did with Adams last year and Oakland seemingly did not do with Murray.

Ealy’s narrative has already been quite dramatic, as he was once an Ole Miss commit before de-committing to consider other schools, including Alabama and Clemson. It was thought throughout the industry that if Ealy ended up in Clemson or Tuscaloosa, baseball would have no shot at him. He re-committed to Ole Miss last week; both he and Hampton are considered signable in the first round, at least.

What about two-way players?
Two of the names we find most intriguing as two-way possibilities are SoCal high school LHP/1B Spencer Jones and Houston-area MIF/CF/RHP Sanson Faltine III, also known as Trey Faltine. They’re both plus athletes with terrific breaking balls and presently fringy velocity (lots of 88-92), but they’re different hitters. Jones is a power projection bat while Faltine is more compact and speedy.

What about the next two classes?
2020 looks solid, led by two pitchers from the Georgia Bulldogs (right-handers Cole Wilcox and Emerson Hancock), and we’ve already identified about half of the top tier of talent (50 or better FV) that’s standard for a draft class. This class is also pretty balanced, with a solid mix of hitting and pitching, and prep and college talent, though the college talent leans heavily toward players from the SEC, ACC, and this summer’s collegiate Team USA. It seemed unusual this summer that there were so many 2020, and one 2021, prep pitchers getting into the mid-90s, but perhaps 15- and 16-year-olds hitting 95 mph is just normal now. 2021 is obviously leaning toward college talent at the moment, as many of the high school prospects are 15 years old today, so just a handful have emerged as elite talents (Brady House, Luke Leto, Nick Bitsko, Roc Riggio (!), Braylon Bishop, and Blaze Jordan).

Who has risen since the last rankings?
Missouri center fielder Kameron Misner was in the 90 to 100 area for us in the early fall, as he was a known tools type with injury issues who didn’t play over the summer, then started rising with a loud fall. San Jacinto JC (TX) right-hander Jackson Rutledge transferred from Arkansas and was in the mid-90s, touching 97 in the pen for the Razorbacks, but took a step forward at San Jac. He was solidly in the top 100 for us weeks ago until his season debut, when scouts told us it was a Nate Pearson starter kit, into the high-90s once again with two plus breaking balls and some starter traits, cementing his position further. TCU lefty Nick Lodolo finally had the velo bump in the fall we’ve been waiting years for. Florida righty Tyler Dyson started showing first round stuff in the fall as his rollercoaster is headed back up. Elon righty George Kirby is showing two pluses at times with some starter traits, and Campbell righty Seth Johnson is also in that general area, at another smaller North Carolina college.

On the prep side, Jacksonville-area third baseman Tyler Callihan slimmed down in the fall and got a little more athletic while also not looking bad in a short stint as a catcher, so his power bat is now in day one contention. Pennsylvania prep player, and younger brother of Reds center fielder Mike Siani, Sammy Siani also went from a solid follow to a real prospect with a loud showing in Jupiter in October.

How about all these Diamondbacks picks?
Because the Dbacks did not sign Matt McLain last year, got picks for losing Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock, and received a pick back from St. Louis in the Paul Goldschmidt deal, they’ll pick 16th, 26th, 33rd, 34th, 57th, 75th, 78th, and 94th in the upcoming draft. Not only does this mean Arizona will likely add eight 40 or better FV prospects to their farm system, it also means they have a ton of financial flexibility because their bonus pool size will be so large. Except for perhaps Atlanta, which also picks twice (at nine because they failed to sign Carter Stewart, and 21 as their normal pick), it could prove virtually impossible for teams to try to move over-slot high schoolers back to their second round picks, because the Dbacks will just be able to take them and meet their asking price if they want.

Will the current labor climate have any impact on the draft?
Amateur players get hosed by CBA negotiations because they don’t have a seat at the bargaining table, and the MLBPA (made up of players who have already been drafted and won’t ever have to be again) has continuously traded amateur players’ rights for its members’ own benefits, albeit insufficient ones. The lack of current free agent movement may begin to impact the decisions of high school athletes choosing between entering pro baseball now or waiting through three years of D-I college baseball before they re-enter the draft. If a college player is drafted at age 21 or 22 and takes two to three years to reach the Majors, their six-year service time clock will start when they’re 23-25 and they’ll hit the open market when they’re 29-31. The current state of free agency signals that those players may never have a big payday.

Mets first baseman Peter Alonso is a great example. He has done nothing but mash since he was a teen, but is the sort of prospect who doesn’t get paid out of high school, with clubs preferring to see less athletic corner types perform in college rather than take their prep versions in the first few rounds. Alonso kept hitting and now will be a 31-year-old R/R first baseman when he becomes a free agent. If 26-year-old superstars are struggling to get a fair shake in free agency, what kind of market can Alonso expect to have? We don’t know if this will impact the decision-making process of elite high school prospects, and perhaps a new CBA will soon make this a moot point. But it’s something we think players might start to consider.

Who could move up this spring?
We both picked a few guys we think will move up. Good luck to all the teams and players this spring.
Eric: J.J. Goss, Faltine, Gunnar Henderson, Kyren Paris, Tanner Morris
Kiley: Jackson Rutledge, Hunter Barco, Jack Kochanowicz, Kirby, Seth Johnson


Top 34 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as 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.

Blue Jays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 19.9 AAA 3B 2019 70
2 Bo Bichette 20.9 AA SS 2020 60
3 Danny Jansen 23.8 MLB C 2019 50
4 Nate Pearson 22.5 A+ RHP 2020 50
5 Jordan Groshans 19.2 R 3B 2022 45+
6 Sean Reid-Foley 23.4 MLB RHP 2019 45
7 Kevin Smith 22.6 A+ SS 2020 45
8 Adam Kloffenstein 18.5 R RHP 2022 45
9 Eric Pardinho 18.1 R RHP 2021 45
10 Trent Thornton 25.4 AAA RHP 2019 45
11 Billy McKinney 24.5 MLB LF 2019 40+
12 Cavan Biggio 23.8 AA 2B 2020 40
13 T.J. Zeuch 23.5 AA RHP 2019 40
14 Hector Perez 22.7 AA RHP 2020 40
15 Leonardo Jimenez 17.7 R SS 2023 40
16 Orelvis Martinez 17.2 R SS 2023 40
17 Rowdy Tellez 23.9 MLB 1B 2019 40
18 Gabriel Moreno 19.0 R C 2023 40
19 Griffin Conine 21.6 A- RF 2020 40
20 Miguel Hiraldo 18.4 R 3B 2022 40
21 Chavez Young 21.6 A CF 2020 40
22 Reese McGuire 23.9 MLB C 2018 40
23 Anthony Alford 24.5 MLB CF 2018 40
24 Yennsy Diaz 22.2 A+ RHP 2020 40
25 Samad Taylor 20.6 A 2B 2022 40
26 Patrick Murphy 23.7 AA RHP 2019 35+
27 Alejandro Kirk 20.3 R C 2022 35+
28 Kevin Vicuna 21.1 A+ SS 2021 35+
29 Elvis Luciano 19.0 R RHP 2019 35+
30 Emanuel Vizcaino 19.5 R RHP 2023 35+
31 Hagen Danner 20.4 R C 2023 35+
32 Otto Lopez 20.4 A- SS 2022 35+
33 Cal Stevenson 22.4 R CF 2021 35+
34 Alejandro Melean 18.3 R RHP 2023 35+
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70 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 70
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
65/70 80/80 65/70 40/30 45/45 60/60

The best prospect in baseball, Guerrero hit a superhuman .381/.437/.636 across 95 games (mostly at Double and Triple-A) despite being about six years younger than the other athletes in the Eastern and International Leagues. The ball doesn’t just sound different off of his bat; when he really lays into one, you can feel a thump inside your chest, as if someone set off a firework at home plate. It’s explosive, beautiful, and paradoxically violent considering that Vladimir is so childlike in his shape and demeanor. He plays with a vivacious enthusiasm, totally unashamed of his own at times bizarre mannerisms, as if the way he feels when playing elite pro baseball is how most of us did with a wiffle ball in our hands during adolescence. (Late during Fall League, he was cranky and petulant with umpires.)

But his is not a childlike stature. His listed 6-foot-1, 200 pounds is a farce, and on the few occasions that Guerrero and Peter Alonso (who is listed at 6-foot-3, 245) were standing near one another during Fall League, Vlad was clearly the larger human being. While he reaches an almost shocking top speed on the bases given his size, Guerrero does have lateral mobility issues that impact his range at third base. He is very likely to move to first base or DH at some point in his early 20s, but leaving him at third, even if he’s not very good there, might help motivate him to keep his weight in check for as long as possible, something that could be more important than the quality of his play in the field since Vlad had knee issues during the 2018 season.

Really though, it matters very little where he ends up playing. This is the best hitter in the minors and the stick will play anywhere. For at least two years now people around baseball, including the late Mel Didier, swore that Guerrero would be ready for and competing in the majors before he turned 20. Toronto’s desire to maintain control of his talent for as long as possible scuttled that notion late last summer when they chose not to promote him, and Vlad will turn 20 in March before this season even starts. He should be up early this year, and immediately become one of the game’s most exciting, productive hitters. He is the cornerstone of the Blue Jays franchise, and perhaps a cornerstone of our sport.

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Lakewood HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 40/55 45/45 45/50 60/60

There’s some contextual disappointment surrounding Bichette’s 2018 statline because he didn’t recreate his video game numbers from the year before, but he still netted an incredible 61 extra-base hits as a 20-year-old at Double-A. We remain skeptical of his long term viability at shortstop, where he continues to see most of his reps, but his arm is plus and teams are growing increasingly willing to put players with limited lateral quickness at short if it means shoehorning a special offensive talent into the position, and Bichette is one.

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter where he ends up playing defense because his bat is likely to profile. He has scintillating bat speed, and Bichette’s hand-eye coordination and bat control are an effective foil for the garage band noisiness of his swing, which hasn’t negatively impacted his ability to make contact in pro ball. Bichette ditches his leg kick with two strikes, something we’re not certain is all that helpful based on visual evidence. Ideally, Bichette will start lifting the ball more often (he has a league-average ground ball rate right now) and turn some of these doubles into homers, but it’s hard to justify making a change when he has been wildly successful so far. Status quo Bo is still a doubles machine who probably stays on the infield, and is a likely All-Star.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 16th Round, 2013 from West HS (WI) (TOR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 55/55 40/45 30/30 45/50 40/40

A 2017 Jansen breakout coincided with good health and a pair of prescription lenses. He walked more than he struck out across three minor league levels, and rose to Triple-A and into our overall top 100. He had a similarly strong 2018, which included a Futures Game invite, a .390 OBP at Triple-A, and then a strong 30-game big league stint in August and September, all reinforcing that Jansen’s 2017 breakout was legitimate. A solid if unspectacular defender, Jansen’s pop times were depressed during his big league cameo, hovering between 2.05 and 2.10, both below average for a catcher. But he’s an average receiver and ball-blocker, and is a perfectly acceptable defensive catcher without a disqualifying shortcoming.

Where Jansen shines is in the batter’s box. His hands work in a tight loop, giving Jansen the capacity to catch velocity and still lift the baseball, and he’s strong enough to muscle out balls to his pull-side, though to this point his approach has yielded more doubles than homers. He is a pull-only plodder and he’ll likely always be a low BABIP guy, and it’s possible major league pitchers will find ways to attack him in ways that limit his power output, but he’s going to make a lot of contact and reach base, which, at catcher, could make him an All-Star.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Central Florida JC (FL) (TOR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/80 60/65 50/55 45/55 35/45 95-100 / 104

We still know very little about Pearson compared to most 22-year-old pitching prospects. He popped up seemingly out of nowhere as a sophomore at a lesser Florida junior college but quickly entered the first round discussion when JuCo ball kicked off in January of 2017. As the draft approached, Pearson was showing better secondary stuff in games and bumping 100 mph in bullpen sessions for scouts. He forced his way up draft boards even though teams had little history with him, and some were skeptical of the new velocity or concerned it would lead to injury.

Pearson made seven short but dominant appearances in the Northwest League during the summer and was poised to begin 2018 at Hi-A Dunedin (an aggressive assignment), but he suffered an intercostal strain and began the season on the DL. In his final extended spring rehab start, he was sitting 94-96 and touching 98 with the fastball. He finally toed a Florida State League rubber that week and lasted 1.2 innings before a comebacker struck his wrist and forearm and fractured his ulna. The injury ended his regular season after just five outs.

After rest and some rehab during instructs, Pearson went to Arizona for the Fall League. His stuff was electric there, his fastball always sitting 95-99 and cresting 100 mph often. He threw a 104 mph fastball and a 95 mph slider during the Fall Stars game, and he was able to dump his upper-70s curveball in for strikes throughout his six-week tenure, though he threw no changeups. Pearson was also horribly wild at times. It’s fair to conclude that rust was to blame for his occasional wildness but because the pro side of the industry has seen so little of Pearson, it’s impossible to know for sure.

There’s a strong possibility that he just ends up in the bullpen, but if he does and he breathes one-inning fire like he did during Fall Stars, he basically has Aroldis Chapman’s stuff (though perhaps not the same extension or approach angle). Provided he stays healthy, Pearson’s future is bright, albeit unclear. He’s likely to be handled with care for a while in order to keep him healthy and manage his workload after what was essentially a lost 2018, but given the wide variance and top shelf stuff, there is still frontline starter potential.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 60/65 20/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

Groshans immediately stood out to scouts on the showcase circuit, showing a Josh Donaldson starter kit with similar swing mechanics, a plus raw power projection, a plus arm, and a third base defensive fit. He essentially held serve on that first impression and went 12th overall to the Jays out of the same Texas high school as the Jays’ second round pick, Adam Kloffenstein. Groshans isn’t quite the same level athlete as Donaldson, and there are contact concerns with an active swing like that, but there are some bat-to-ball skills and plenty of mistake power he can already tap into, as shown in a loud debut in the GCL. Many of the pro scouts who saw Groshans weren’t fans and saw below average tools in their looks when he fatigued late in the pro season, but the things to watch for here are the plate discipline and contact skills, because the position and power aren’t really up for debate right now.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Sandalwood HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 55/60 50/50 45/50 45/45 91-96 / 97

Reid-Foley has been a similar pitcher from his junior year of high school all the way to his fifth year of pro ball in 2018. His arm action and delivery are a little stiff, and his command isn’t quite enough to be a traditional starter, but he’s stayed healthy and flashes two plus pitches with knowledge of the right way to sequence them, if not always execute them flawlessly. The Jays will continue to run him out there as a starter — he made 31 starts and threw 163 innings last season across three levels — but most agree this is more of a multi-inning or high-leverage reliever, as opposed to a traditional starter. The pure stuff would fit any role on a staff, but the quality of the strikes (his command) is the issue, rather than the amount of strikes (his control), which was evident from his 5.13 ERA in his major league debut in 2018.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Maryland (TOR)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/55 40/50 50/50 40/45 55/55

Smith was noticed early in his career at Maryland for showing early round tools as a defender who can stay in the middle infield with above average raw power and some feel to hit. The feel to hit came into question in his draft year, as his swing got a little too pull/power oriented, helping him slip to the fourth round. The Jays rave about Smith’s makeup and preparation, and how he spearheaded the adjustments to his swing to have a shorter path to the ball and increase his contact ability. He now has a flatter-planed swing, and one scout compared his offense to Jordy Mercer, while another thinks Smith is a 50 hitter with 50 game power. Most scouts think he’s fringy at shortstop despite a plus arm, and would shift him to second base long-term for the best fit, where he’s got a chance to be above average. An 85 to 100 wRC+ with solid average defense at second base is worth 2-something WAR, so while it isn’t sexy, there’s some performance here, real changes to explain it, and a pretty good chance to be a 50 or 55 FV big leaguer.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/55 40/50 35/50 89-94 / 96

Kloffenstein was the Blue Jays third pick in the 2018 draft from the same high school as Groshans, but it appears the Jays had the 12th and 88th overall picks evaluated much closer in talent than the picks themselves would indicate. Groshans got slightly below-slot bonus (17th highest in the draft) while Kloffenstein was well above-slot at $2.45 million (29th highest bonus). We ranked them 28th (Groshans) and 42nd (Kloffenstein) in our pre-draft rankings. Kloffenstein is a prototypical projection Texas arm, with a lanky frame, loose arm action, occasional mid-90s velo, and an above average breaking ball; some scouts saw parallels to Michael Kopech, projecting Kloffenstein to throw 100 mph in the next couple years. He didn’t pitch much in pro ball or instructs as Toronto was managing his innings and getting him used to the pro schedule. Kloffenstein’s main objectives will be to get more innings, stay healthy, and keep progressing, as he only showed mid-90s velocity and starter feel at times in the spring. Toronto’s bet is a bit speculative, based on projection more than performance.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Brazil (TOR)
Age 18.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 50/55 45/50 45/55 90-94 / 96

Pardinho was one of the more celebrated 16-year-old pitchers to sign in recent memory, drawing a $1.4 million bonus in 2017, which was behind only Shohei Ohtani among his pitching peers in the class. Pardinho grew up in Brazil, which has a large Japanese population and he has some Japanese heritage; his windup clearly points to a Japanese influence.

The issue here is that Pardinho is listed at 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds, and isn’t much bigger than that right now, though he has a sturdy build. 18-year-old pitchers need to have big velocity, or projection to add velocity, to be top prospects since they generally start losing velocity in their mid-20s; that innate velocity, or projection for it, offers some margin for error. There are exceptions to this benchmark, like Zack Greinke, cases where a pitcher has been a pitchability type with above average stuff from his teenage days all the way into a big league career, but those instances are very rare. Pardinho will sit 92-95 and hit 96 mph early in outing and settle around 90-93 later. His curveball flashed above average as an amateur and he mixed in a slider that lagged behind, but those two pitches are both average to above now. They’re different pitches but still can run together at times, common for a younger pitcher. Parindho’s changeup is his fourth pitch now and it’s around average, but he separated himself with above average command projection, which helped him post gaudy numbers in his pro debut in the Appalachian League at 17.

Pardinho is undoubtedly advanced and projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter if things go well, but he was essentially pitching like a college senior in a league where a college senior can dominate and then never get to Double-A. Pardinho is a prospect because he’s advanced enough to pitch like a 22-year-old when he’s 17 years old. We’d just like to see either his stuff improve — or hold that velocity for the whole game — or see performance against more advanced hitters before we shoot him up the list like he’s the next Greinke.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from North Carolina (HOU)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 55/60 45/50 40/45 92-95 / 97

Thornton spent 2018 at Triple-A Fresno before he was effectively showcased in the Arizona Fall League. He has bat-missing, big league stuff, sitting 92-95 and touching 96 in multi-inning Fall League appearances, and sitting comfortably in the 95-96 range when he was asked to air it out for a single inning. Thornton also has elite breaking ball spin rates. His 12-6 curveball spins in excess of 3,000 rpm and his firm, upper-80s slider/cutter often approaches that mark, which is rare for a breaking ball that hard. He also has a unique delivery that disorients hitters, during which his arm wraps behind his lower back. His arm action is ugly but, short of a 7-day DL stint this year after he was hit with a comebacker, Thornton hasn’t been hurt as a pro.

His usage has been atypical, however. His starts were often spaced out by seven or eight days in 2018, and it’s unrealistic to expect him to have that kind of recovery time between turns on a big league pitching staff. If asked to throw every fifth day, his stuff may not be as nasty as it was this year. He projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter but may also be deployed in a multi-inning relief role.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Plano West HS (TX) (NYY)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 55/55 55/55 50/45 45/50 40/40

McKinney’s batted ball profile shifted dramatically after the Yankees acquired him from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman deal. Since high school, he had been a feel-for-contact corner guy with batting practice power that didn’t manifest in games, but the Yankees got his ground ball rate down from 42% to 30% and he started to mash before they flipped him to Toronto for JA Happ. He hit for power in a prolonged big league look but struggled badly against breaking stuff, something that may be an issue moving forward. McKinney doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive wiggle room because he’s so limited on defense, but the hit/power combo suggests he is a Seth Smith-like corner platoon bat who’s ready right now.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Notre Dame (TOR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 55/55 45/50 45/40 40/45 50/50

Biggio opted to attend Notre Dame rather than sign with the Phillies out of high school, and he had two bad years there before turning in a solid junior season. He didn’t hit for power in pro ball until he reached Double-A in 2018, where Biggio exploded for 26 home runs, saw his walk rate climb all the way to 18%, and swiped 20 bags.

Nothing about Biggio’s swing is markedly different than it was in college. He’s tightened the circle made by his ritualistic, pre-swing bat swirl, and his hands load a little bit lower now than they used to, but mostly Biggio just has good feel for low-ball contact despite the upright nature of his swing, and has plus bat speed.

There’s skepticism surrounding Biggio’s ability to play second base, so the Blue Jays began expanding his defensive horizons last year with time at first and third base, as well as both outfield corners, which is where Biggio saw the most action in the Arizona Fall League. The uppercut nature of Biggio’s swing is going to lead to some strikeouts and his aggregate offensive profile looks much less promising in an outfield corner than it would at second base. If he could indeed play all of those positions, he’d be a very interesting Swiss Army knife with power, but realistically he profiles as a second-division regular or platoon outfielder.

13. T.J. Zeuch, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pittsburgh (TOR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/45 50/55 45/50 55/60 90-93 / 94

Zeuch doesn’t have dominant stuff but he’s a keen sequencer with a firm grasp on how best to deploy his pitches to efficiently tally outs. He mostly pitches to contact with a low-90s sinker that has very steep downhill plane thanks to Zeuch’s height and fairly upright delivery. It’s helped him generate ground ball rates near 60% as a pro. Both of his breaking balls survive because Zeuch locates them. He’ll get ahead of hitters with his curveball and keep his slider just off the plate away from righties. Offspeed development remains key as Zeuch enters 2019 as a non-roster invitee. He may be a candidate for a true splitter, or modified version of it, rather than a straight changeup if the Jays want to try to turn him into Doug Fister, with whom Zeuch shares several other traits. Barring something unforeseen, like a new grip giving Zeuch a dominant secondary pitch, he projects as a backend innings eater.

14. Hector Perez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/60 45/50 40/55 30/40 92-96 / 98

Perez was part of the package Houston sent to Toronto in the unscrupulous Roberto Osuna deal. His stuff was down just a tad last year, with his fastball more often 93-95 than 94-97 based on our reports from the previous year. But Perez still has nasty stuff and managed to strike out 133 hitters in 115 innings, mostly at Double-A. His stiff, long arm action significantly inhibits Perez’s ability to throw strikes and he unanimously projects into a bullpen. But because he has three plus pitches (and we have the fastball projected as a 70 out of the bullpen), he could be a dominant late or multi-inning arm. He’s one of many new faces on Toronto’s 40-man and could debut in 2019.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Panama (TOR)
Age 17.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 40/45 20/40 55/50 45/55 50/55

Jimenez signed for $825,000 in 2017 out of Panama but is often compared to Venezuelan shortstops (like Vicuna, No. 28 on this list) for his advanced, non-flashy feel for the game. Vicuna is still the best defender in the system but Jimenez isn’t far behind him, with one scout grading his hands as a 70. We’re more bullish on Jimenez than Vicuna because there’s better rhythm, swing mechanics, and strength to his offensive game, so there’s a better chance for viable performance. Jimenez also gets high marks for his intelligence and makeup; he’s already fluent in English as a 17-year-old.

16. Orelvis Martinez, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 17.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/60 20/50 45/40 30/45 50/55

Martinez was one of the most explosive talents in the 2018 July 2nd class, getting the second highest bonus at $3.5 million, behind only 22-year-old Marlins center fielder Victor Victor Mesa. Martinez is currently ranked behind a number of players in his class because we still aren’t sure how his contact skills will project. He has big bat speed and projects for at least 60 raw power, along with sticking somewhere in the infield. We aren’t sure how his body will develop, and thus the raw power and the position where he’ll land are open questions. More importantly, he takes a high-effort, torqued-up cut at the ball, and the Jays like that he has eye-hand contact, but there’s still a ways to go to turn this intriguing ball of clay into a more finished product.

Drafted: 30th Round, 2013 from Elk Grove HS (CA) (TOR)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/60 55/55 40/30 40/45 30/30

Tellez had a successful second tour of Triple-A in 2018, and reached Toronto in September just weeks after his mother, who had been fighting brain cancer for a while, passed away. His first six big league hits were doubles, a record, and then opposing pitchers began to make adjustments, and Tellez cooled, often chasing stuff out of the zone. He’s vulnerable to velocity up and was uncharacteristically tempted by soft stuff beneath the zone. He crushes mistakes and has natural low-ball ability, as well as feel for lacing hard gap liners to left field if fastballs away from him catch too much of the plate. It’s tough to hit enough to profile at 1B/DH, and we think Tellez is more of a platoon or second division regular. He should get an opportunity to be just that if something happens to Kendrys Morales and/or Justin Smoak.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 19.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 30/45 45/40 40/50 55/55

Moreno converted from shortstop to catching right around when he signed out of Venezuela, and while he’s just 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, he’s taken to the change and scouts think he can stick behind the plate. He’s twitchy and has plus bat speed with good bat control but can get over-aggressive at times and needs to tighten his zone. Moreno’s high-energy approach endears him to scouts and teammates, and there’s a reasonable chance he’s a backup, with some possibility these tools can turn into a starter down the road.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Duke (TOR)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 60/65 30/55 45/40 45/50 60/60

Conine is the son of former Marlins great Jeff Conine and Griffin looked like a sure first round pick in 2018 after a dominating summer on the Cape. Thing haven’t gone so well for him since then. Conine bulked up and got a bit stiffer, had a brutal start to the 2018 season, but closed well, finding a better approach to make more consistent contact. The Jays scooped him up as another legacy prospect in the system, but he was popped for PED’s (ritalinic acid, a stimulant) in November and will serve a 50-game suspension to start 2019. At his best, Conine has 60 or 65-grade raw power from the left side, a plus arm that helps him fit in right field, and good enough contact skills for a 45 or 50-grade bat to allow him to get to his power. He can get too uphill, aggressive, and pull-happy at times, so there’s some concern, beyond the suspension, about how much of his Cape performance will show up in pro ball.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 18.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 30/50 50/40 40/45 55/55

Dominican Summer League stats are largely meaningless, but every year there is a prospect or two whose statline is so utterly dominant that it provokes immediate re-evaluation. Hiraldo, who was hitting .366/.429/.560 when July began, was one of those DSL hitters in 2018. When prompted about Hiraldo, pro scouts with coverage in the DSL reiterated what was said about him when he was an amateur. He was physically mature for his age, stocky, and strong, far more muscular than most of his DSL peers. He has plus bat speed, average power right now, and tracks pitches well and has some barrel control, so while Hirlado’s physical maturity should cause one to discount his statistical performance, he is a good offensive prospect.

There’s not much room left on his frame for good weight, and he has fairly limited power projection left. Scouts already anticipate a move off of shortstop to either second or third base. Hiraldo’s offensive talent could be sufficient to profile every day at either spot, just probably not as a star and probably not for several years considering the passive developmental track the Jays took with him last year when he probably should have been in the GCL for more than a 10-game August jaunt.

21. Chavez Young, CF
Drafted: 39th Round, 2016 from Faith Baptist HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/50 40/45 55/55 45/50 60/60

It seems like every year a hitter or two comes out of nowhere and causes quite a ruckus in Lansing. This year it was Young, who hit .285/.363/.445 with 50 extra-base hits and 44 steals for the Lugnuts. The travel ball circuit is not kind to economically disadvantaged families, and part of the reason Young was under-scouted as an amateur, as he told our own David Laurila, was because his family could not afford to attend heavily scouted showcases.

Another reason he may have slid toward the end of the draft was because he was constantly moving around. He was under the international scouting umbrella while he was young and living in the Bahamas, then spent his early high school years in Florida before relocating to Georgia for his senior season. It’s likely that three separate scouts in each org were responsible for scouting and gauging Young’s signability.

The Blue Jays got a deal done for $200,000 and Young has been a strong early-career performer. Pro scouts see him as a bit of a tweener but think there’s a chance he might be an everyday center fielder if absolutely everything comes together. He’s not a typical center field sprinter (our sources all have either a 50 or 55 on his speed) but he’s instinctive, and fine there for now. If Young does move to a corner, his hit/power combination is on the fringe of profiling. A switch-hitter, Young has power from the right side of the plate but he’s strikeout prone due to a lack of bat control. As a lefty, he has a gap-to-gap approach and good bat control, but not typical over-the-fence thump.

It’s possible that, even with middling offensive ability, Young could be such an excellent corner defender that he plays everyday anyway, and his makeup is universally lauded, so we like his chances of reaching and staying in the majors as some kind of role player.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Kentwood HS (WA) (PIT)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 45/45 20/35 30/30 50/60 60/60

The Blue Jays have a terrific young catching tandem in Danny Jansen and McGuire, who we project to play a glove-centric second fiddle to Jansen’s bat for the next half decade. McGuire has been lauded for his defense since high school, and he remains excellent back there, and has a plus arm. He has struggled in the past to lift the ball, and while he showed some movement in that regard last year, it’s unlikely that McGuire hits enough to profile as an everyday catcher.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2012 from Petal HS (MS) (TOR)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 60/60 40/45 70/70 50/55 40/40

Alford had a tumultuous and eventful amateur athletic career. He starred as a dual threat high school quarterback in Mississippi, and continued playing football in college even after the Jays, who at the time were able to offer Alford a now defunct two-sport deal structured to incentivize him to eventually commit to baseball, drafted and signed him. His college football career and home life were both tumultuous, as Southern Miss went winless during Alford’s first year under center, and several members of his family had legal troubles. Alford eventually transferred to Ole Miss, where he was asked to play safety, but that didn’t last long and he soon committed full time to baseball.

He’s dealt with constant injury as a pro and has issues with quality of contact when healthy. Though he’s a remarkable athlete with huge raw power and speed, we’re bearish on Alford’s ability to hit breaking stuff and do enough damage to play everyday. He projects as a bench outfielder. Because Alford has only been totally devoted to baseball since 2015, there’s a chance some of what currently impairs his on-field production can be remedied, but he has to stay on the field to develop that stuff.

24. Yennsy Diaz, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 40/45 40/45 92-95 / 97

A boiler plate middle relief prospect, Diaz was added to the 40-man this offseason and may debut in 2019. Though he has been developed as a starter to this point, command and repertoire depth limitations have scouts universally projecting Diaz to the bullpen. He has a slightly cross-bodied delivery, and he muscles up and slings in mid-90s fastballs and tilting, two-planed breakers. His changeup is firm, but continued reps in a rotation should help improve his feel for it and better prepare him to deal with left-handed hitters in the big leagues.

25. Samad Taylor, 2B
Drafted: 10th Round, 2016 from Corona HS (CA) (CLE)
Age 20.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 40/45 20/40 60/60 40/55 45/45

Taylor signed with Cleveland for $125,000 in the 10th round in 2016 out of a southern California high school. The report then was an explosive, quick second baseman with some tools who could use some refinement. That’s still mostly the report, but Taylor’s 2018 full season debut was excellent, hitting above league average in the Midwest League as a 19-year-old most of the year, despite a .270 BABIP. Some players naturally have a lower BABIP, but Taylor is a player who should have a higher-than-normal BABIP given his plus speed (44 stolen bases in 2018), solid plate discipline (11% BB to 19% K), and surprising game power for his size and age (nine home runs and 32 doubles).

Taylor can still make a boneheaded play defensively, use improper footwork at the keystone, or try to do too much at the plate, but the tools are here for a low-end everyday second baseman if things continue progressing.

35+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2013 from Hamilton HS (AZ) (TOR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Murphy has persevered through multiple injuries and surgeries (Tommy John and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, just to name two) and finally had a full, healthy season in 2018, and was added to Toronto’s 40-man in November. His fastball is very hard and Murphy throws a lot of strikes, typically in the upper half of the zone. At times his heater has natural cut, he’ll flash an occasional plus curveball, and his changeup got much better throughout 2018. His injury history and violent, somewhat awkward overhand delivery are each of concern to teams, which generally have him projected in a bullpen role.

There’s sufficient strike-throwing here for Murphy to continue developing as a starter, and he could pitch at the back of a rotation, especially if his changeup keeps improving.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Mexico (TOR)
Age 20.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

The first thing anyone talks about when Kirk’s name comes up is his weight. He’s built exactly like former A’s catcher Jeremy Brown, and one source body comp’d him to Chris Farley noting that, like Farley, Kirk is deceptively agile for his size.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 140 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Vicuna (pronounced like Acuña) signed for $350,000 in 2014 out of Venezuela and fits the archetype of the Venezuelan shortstop, with excellent feel for the game and instincts to get the most out of his tools. He was considered frail-looking at signing and has put on some strength since then, but still needs to add more to have a chance to make an impact offensively.

Vicuna is a plus runner who has above average hands, range, and arm strength, so even just hitting for consistent contact with enough power to be respected would be enough to make him a solid big leaguer. The Jays are encouraged by his 60 PA in the Venezuelan Winter League, where Vicuna had eight walks to 13 strikeouts, but also had just one extra base hit. He’s the best defensive shortstop in the system and, depending on which scout you ask, his makeup grades anywhere from 60 to 80, so we think he’s worth inclusion on the list.

29. Elvis Luciano, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ARI)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Luciano was acquired by Kansas City in the trade that sent Jon Jay to Arizona, then selected by Toronto in the Rule 5 draft. He was the youngest player picked in the Rule 5 by a significant margin and if he makes the Jays’ Opening Day roster, he’ll be the first player born this century to play in the big leagues.

Though he’ll touch 96, Luciano’s fastball sits in the 90-94 range, and he has scattershot command of it, especially late in starts. His frame is less projectable than the typical teenager’s, so there may not be much more velo coming as he ages, but he has plenty of present arm strength and an above-average breaking ball, so there’s a chance he makes the Jays’ roster in a relief role. He has No. 4 starter upside if his below-average changeup and command progress, but Rule 5 selections who stick often put developmental priorities on the back burner and instead lean on what they’re already good at in order to succeed right now.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Vizcainno is a fairly standard teenage projection arm, perhaps slightly raw for his age from a strike-throwing perspective, though that’s understandable given the mantis-like length of his limbs. He’s an above-average athlete and there’s a good chance his release consistency becomes refined with more experience, though he may always have limited pinpoint command because his trebuchet-like overhand arm action makes it hard to work east and west. That’s not to say it’s a bad delivery. Vizcaino’s arm action is very efficient, and his vertical slot gives his promising curveball an awful lot of depth. It’s easy to envision Vizcaino working up and down with his fastball and curveball in concert with one another in a relief role, even if he never develops average control.

There are lots of promising components here, they’re just a little less polished than is ideal for a prospect who’ll be 20 this year.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Huntington Beach HS (CA) (TOR)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Danner burst onto the scouting scene after his sophomore year of high school, showing low-90s stuff and a three pitch mix with the look of a future high pick as a pitcher. He maintained his above average stuff throughout most of his prep career, but the more scouts saw him behind the plate, the more they liked him long-term as a catching prospect.

Eventually, the Jays took Danner in the second round of the 2017 draft as a catcher, which marks the first time Danner hasn’t been splitting his focus on the diamond. He’s only played 66 pro games due to some minor injuries, so we haven’t seen as much as we’d like with him being relatively new to this position. He has above average to plus arm strength and raw power projection, and we think he can stick behind the plate, but the hit tool may take a little time, which is the main concern going forward.

32. Otto Lopez, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 20.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

A dual Dominican/Canadian citizen, Lopez was born in the Dominican Republic but his family moved to Montreal when he was 12, and he plays on Team Canada during international competition. That’s not to be confused with the Vancouver Canadians, the Blue Jays’ Northwest League affiliate for which Lopez also played last year, and played well. He walked more than he struck out, led the team in OBP, and saw action at every defensive position but catcher and first base as the club’s youngest member. A plus runner and above-average athlete, that kind of super utility role is Lopez’s realistic future projection. He has some feel for contact but will probably max out with 40 raw power, if that, so he’s unlikely to make strong enough contact to hit for as high an average as his pure bat-to-ball skills might indicate. Even if typical big league physicality never materializes, Lopez should be a versatile bench piece.

Drafted: 10th Round, 2018 from Arizona (TOR)
Age 22.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Stevenson was a 10th round senior sign out of Arizona, an afterthought until he went to the Appy League and hit a raucous .359/.494/.518 during the last two months of the season. Rookie-ball pitching is worse than what Stevenson faced in the Pac-12 and that performance should be considered with that fact in mind, but those numbers are exceptional and four corners scouts thought Stevenson, whose 2018 numbers at Arizona were worse than the previous year, was hurt during the spring. It’s possible pre-draft reports on Stevenson — plus runner, above-average bat, no clear defensive position, great makeup — were impacted by injury, and that Stevenson’s true talent is closer to how he performed during the summer, but the physical tools are indicative of a bench outfielder. Lansing is probably not going to clarify the situation next year because it’s so hitter-friendly, and we may have to wait until Stevenson gets a taste of Hi-A to know if the Jays have really found something.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 18.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

The Blue Jays felt Melean was advanced enough for the GCL at age 17, and while he was a little more wild than is ideal, he is rather advanced for his age and has a chance to be a backend starter. Though Melean is less physically projectable than the typical teen, his fastball already resides in the 90-94 range and he has an above-average, upper-70s curveball. He has feel for locating a changeup but it lacks movement right now, so this, as well as fastball command, would seem to be logical developmental priorities moving forward.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Corner Bats
Ryan Noda, 1B
Chad Spanberger, 1B
Mc Gregory Contreras, RF
Josh Palacios, RF
Demi Orimoloye, RF

Noda is extremely selective and has walked in over 20% of his plate appearances as a pro, but he’s a stiff, below-average athlete and needs to keep performing like this for the industry to view him as more than a statistical curiosity. Spanberger has 70 raw power and went nuts at hitter-friendly Asheville against pitching worse than what he saw in college before he was traded to Toronto. He cooled in the FSL afterward. Contreras has plus bat speed and power projection, a typical, high-risk right field profile, though he’s not a good defender yet. Palacios is also a corner guy with feel to hit but needs to find a way to tap into more power. Orimoloye was born in Nigeria and moved to Canada as a toddler. He was acquired from Milwaukee for Curtis Granderson just before the waiver deadline. Demi has plus raw but lacks feel to hit.

Polished Depth Arms
Thomas Pannone, LHP
Julian Merryweather, RHP
Josh Winckowski, RHP
Sean Wymer, RHP
Justin Maese, RHP
Zach Logue, LHP
Zach Jackson, RHP
Jackson McClelland, RHP
Jon Harris, RHP

Pannone has excellent changeup command but his limited velo and curveball likely cap his ceiling in the sixth starter area. Then with Cleveland, Merryweather was striking out a batter per inning at Double- and Triple-A in 2017 before he blew out late in the year and missed all of 2018. He’ll likely be back this year and could be a four-pitch reliever who relies heavily on velo. Winckowski may end up in a middle relief role. He sits 90-94 and has an above-average slider. Wymer was the club’s 2018 fourth rounder out of TCU. His stuff plays better out of the bullpen, where he’s 92-93 with command of a 55 curveball. Maese was a popup high schooler in tough-to-scout El Paso whose stuff has plateaued in the 45/50 area. Logue has 60 control of 45 stuff. Jackson has one of the more bizarre deliveries in baseball, and both he and McLelland have the stuff to be 40 FV relievers, but both are also very wild. Harris’ spin rates are strong but his fastball velocity has backed up since college.

Bench Types
Logan Warmoth, SS
Addison Barger, 3B
Forrest Wall, LF
Riley Adams, C
Max Pentecost, C/1B

After Warmoth’s pre-draft reports were divisive in 2017, when he was Toronto’s first rounder, they were consistently down throughout 2018. He may end up with an average bat and fringe power but he’s not likely to stay at short based on pro looks. He’s clearly been passed by several shortstops in the system. Barger has a plus-plus arm and played all over the infield last year but may only end up with 40 hit and power. We were too high on Wall last year. He can still run but maybe not well enough to play center field, which means he’s a contact-only left fielder. Adams is a physical beast with a plus arm and big raw power, but he swings and misses a lot due to lever length and his ceiling is that of a toolsy backup. Pentecost, like Wall, has never been quite the same since surgery and he’s a contact-only bat at a position that demands more.

System Overview

It’s hard to talk about this system and franchise without spending a good bit of time on Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. The previous regime not only landed a generational talent but one with ties to Canada, especially notable because of MLB’s clear marketing shortcomings. Vlad Jr. developed better than anyone expected and is one of the best prospects of recent memory.

The organization has hoarded players we consider 45s and 50s who couldn’t crack quality rosters in an attempt to prime the big league club with role players for the arrival of young stars like Vlad, Bichette, and Jansen. Not all of them will work out, but the list of players like this that the Blue Jays have acquired (Brandon Drury, Teoscar Hernandez, Trent Thornton, Randall Grichuk, David Paulino, Billy McKinney) is so long that enough of them should, enabling Toronto to build a competitive club around this wave of young talent.

This is almost the inverse of how most competitive sports teams are built, as franchise players are often the first ones in place and pieces are fit in around them. There still needs to be more pitching, though. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez both had down years and this farm system isn’t exactly packed with arms. They can improve in free agency but competitive staffs almost always need a lot of depth to fight through injuries, so we still expect Toronto to be in asset collection mode for another year or two before they feel comfortable pushing their chips in.


Top 38 Prospects: New York Yankees

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the New York Yankees. 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.

Yankees Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Estevan Florial 21.2 A+ CF 2020 50
2 Jonathan Loaisiga 24.2 MLB RHP 2018 45+
3 Deivi Garcia 19.7 AA RHP 2021 45+
4 Antonio Cabello 18.3 R CF 2023 45+
5 Roansy Contreras 19.2 A RHP 2022 45
6 Albert Abreu 23.3 AA RHP 2019 45
7 Everson Pereira 17.8 R CF 2023 45
8 Anthony Seigler 19.6 R C 2022 45
9 Luis Gil 20.7 A- RHP 2021 45
10 Clarke Schmidt 22.9 A- RHP 2020 45
11 Luis Medina 19.7 R RHP 2022 45
12 Kevin Alcantara 16.6 None CF 2024 40+
13 Trevor Stephan 23.2 AA RHP 2019 40+
14 Osiel Rodriguez 17.2 None RHP 2022 40+
15 Nick Nelson 23.2 AA RHP 2020 40
16 Raimfer Salinas 18.1 R CF 2023 40
17 Anthony Garcia 18.4 R RF 2023 40
18 Alexander Vargas 17.3 None SS 2024 40
19 Josh Breaux 21.3 A- C 2021 40
20 Ryder Green 18.7 R RF 2023 40
21 Josh Stowers 21.9 A- CF 2021 40
22 Oswaldo Cabrera 19.9 A 2B 2021 40
23 Antonio Gomez 17.2 None C 2024 40
24 Ezequiel Duran 19.7 R 2B 2022 40
25 Matt Sauer 20.0 A- RHP 2021 40
26 Thairo Estrada 22.9 AAA SS 2019 40
27 Garrett Whitlock 22.6 AA RHP 2020 40
28 Pablo Olivares 21.0 A+ CF 2021 40
29 Michael King 23.7 AAA RHP 2019 40
30 Yoendrys Gomez 19.3 R RHP 2022 40
31 Juan Then 19.0 R RHP 2022 40
32 Frank German 21.4 A- RHP 2021 40
33 Freicer Perez 22.9 A+ RHP 2021 40
34 Oswald Peraza 18.6 R SS 2022 35+
35 Roberto Chirinos 18.4 R SS 2022 35+
36 Ronny Rojas 17.4 R 2B 2022 35+
37 Angel Rojas 18.2 R SS 2023 35+
38 Dermis Garcia 21.1 A 1B 2021 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Haiti (NYY)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 30/55 60/60 45/50 80/80

Even those casually exposed to public facing prospect analysis become familiar with a few key concepts and player archetypes, and an early lesson often addresses the volatility of players like Florial, who have several elite tools that will lead to star-level performance if they hit enough, but who also carry significant risk that they will strike out too much to matter at all. Of course, the reason each individual player has strikeout issues can vary. Some hitters have feckless, over-aggressive approaches, while others can’t recognize breaking balls or have a problem with lever length and get tied up inside. Florial’s issues — his strikeout rate has fallen between 27% and 32% each of the last three years — appear to stem from his bat path and limited bat control. Stiff wrists cause his bat head to drag into the zone, which can cause him to be tardy on fastballs at the letters and, more frequently, flail at soft stuff dipping down and away from him. Yoan Moncada has similar issues that have yet to be remedied.

Florial does enough other stuff that, even if the strike outs remain an issue, he could still be a valuable big leaguer. He crushes anything down and in, has sufficient plate coverage to hit fastballs middle away, and has enough power to do damage to the opposite field. He also has good ball/strike recognition so, again like Moncada, there should be power, walks, and up-the-middle defense. We think Florial is likely to be an exciting but flawed everyday player, though it’s not audacious to think his relative youth (he was a 20-year-old at Hi-A in 2018) and inexperience (he also missed a year of reps due to a suspension for bad paperwork) leave more room for growth than we anticipate.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Nicaragua (NYY)
Age 24.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/65 50/55 50/55 93-97 / 98

If evaluating purely on stuff, Loaisiga belongs in the overall Top 100 pretty easily. He holds 94-97 for six innings, his upper-80s slider with vertical break is reminiscent of early-career Brad Lidge, and he has somehow found changeup feel and command despite few career in-game reps. But while Loaisiga has mid-rotation, big league stuff, his career has been beset by constant, often severe, injury. Since entering pro ball in 2013, Loaisiga has only thrown about 200 career innings due to repeated injury and rehab, and his 68 innings pitched for the DSL Giants during his first pro campaign remain his single-season high. He missed all of 2014 with injury, then was released, and out of pro baseball for all of 2015. The Yankees unearthed him during the 2016 23U World Championships in Venezuela and after a frantic late-night call from scout Ricardo Finol, signed Loaisiga immediately. Just two innings into his first 2016 start, Loaisiga’s velocity dropped into the mid-80s and he left the mound pointing at his elbow. He rehabbed quickly enough that he was able to make 11 short starts with Staten Island the following year.

Because Loaisiga signed in 2012, he would have been Rule 5 eligible in the winter of 2017. The Yankees added him to the 40-man even though he had never completed a healthy start in full-season ball. In 2018, Loaisiga ascended quickly and showed flashes of brilliance against big league hitters, but he also made two more trips to the disabled list, including a late-season stint due to shoulder inflammation. Shoulder issues have sidelined Loaisiga pretty frequently during his career, and while he may have some years where he peaks in the 3-4 WAR range, we also think he’ll have some years where he barely pitches, or that he may just move to the bullpen.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 163 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/65 40/50 45/50 91-95 / 96

At this time last year, Garcia was a 40 FV and an interesting prospect to monitor. He was a slightly-built, shorter righty with a knockout fastball/curveball combination, who was moved very quickly as Garcia saw 2017 action in the DSL, GCL, and Appy league levels at age 18. We were eager to see if he could continue to perform like that in full-season ball as a 19-year-old and boy, did he. Garcia had an xFIP under 3.00 at each of his three stops last year: eight Low-A starts, five in Hi-A (one of which is the linked video), and one in Double-A. Garcia’s changeup and command both ended up playing better than we expected, with his changeup regularly flashing average to above — confirming he has starter’s stuff — and his command sufficient to deal with A-ball hitters. The concerns about his durability tied to his stature are still there. He’s 5-foot-10 and anywhere from 163 to 175 pounds. He threw 74.0 innings last year and even scouts who love Garcia concede he may not be a 170 to 200-inning type of arm. Instead, he may be in the Rich Hill or Lance McCullers Jr. mold, where you’ll get 125 – 135 innings and hopefully have him healthy enough to fill whatever role fits the staff best in the playoffs. Hill and McCullers are 55 or 60 FV types, so that’s likely Garcia’s upside if things break right.

Garcia is a very good athlete, which is what allows him to repeat his delivery, throw so many strikes, and have at least average command despite a delivery that has crossfire, recoil, and effort at release. We’re hesitant to knock Garcia’s delivery simply because it’s unusual, or due to his size, because his performance at this age has also been remarkable. He has a rising fastball with which he operates up in the zone, and he knows exactly how to use his high spin curveball, which has been over 3000 rpm at times. A well-located fastball up, a high-spin curveball down, and a changeup down to keep hitters honest is a good combo, and Garcia knows how to use them in sequence to set up hitters. There’s some question about his approach being too simplistic to work at the big league level, but again, we would bet on Garcia figuring out how to make it work. He’ll open 2019 in Double-A and could be good enough to crack the Bombers bullpen late in the season.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/55 30/50 65/60 45/50 55/55

Cabello was in the Others of Note section on this list last year, third amongst the 2017 July 2nd signees, none of whom had played a pro game at the time. But Cabello had the strongest 2018 of the group, and he arguably already had the loudest tools. He was one of the best performing amateur hitters from Venezuela in his signing class (just ahead of Everson Pereira, who’s further down this list), and he was also a plus runner who could’ve been converted to catcher given his quickness, arm strength, and squatty, powerful frame. But the Yankees didn’t want to slow down his bat by asking him to learn to catch. Some scouts who had a one or two game look at this summer didn’t love Cabello’s non-projectable frame, and they rounded down if he didn’t hit in those short looks. But those who saw him for more than a few games saw the advanced bat amateur scouts saw.

One enthusiastic scout described Cabello’s running as plus, though he’s not the typically graceful, long striding plus runner. That scout he said had a “grinding gait, full effort, kicking up grass as he runs like the rooster tail of a speed boat.” In addition to potential plus hit and run tools, there’s above-average arm strength and raw power, and now the start of a strong statistical performance record. And if things go askew at the plate, the notion that Cabello could catch is interesting. One Yankee source described him as an 80 makeup guy, often a prerequisite to consider sending a player behind the plate. He’s a well-rounded offensive player who looks like an up-the-middle defensive fit of some kind. He may be a top 100 prospect by mid season.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/50 35/45 92-96 / 97

Many of the teenage prospects on this list received big bonuses or were flagged after a season in the DSL as a prospect to watch; it’s unsurprising when those types move up this list. Contreras wasn’t one of those. He didn’t appear on last year’s list, which had 65 players in total — he wasn’t even in the Others of Note section. Contreras sat 90-92 mph with a curveball that flashed above average, but was still in the early stages of knowing how to use those weapons while pitching in the DSL and GCL in 2017. We first heard his name when he was wowing pro scouts who saw him in Staten Island last summer. The first scout we spoke with said Contreras had a Luis Severino starter kit, flashing two plus pitches and a starter’s delivery, though the changeup and command were understandably a bit behind. Those things progressed throughout the summer and he got a taste of Low-A at the end of the year. Yankees officials love Contreras’ makeup and competitive fire, and think he’s got a chance to be the 200-inning starter who comes out of this system, as the other pitchers on the list have one or more of the typical concerns (durability, command, arm surgery, less experience, or a standout pitch that fits best in relief). Contreras could grab a spot in next year’s Top 100 with a full healthy season of performance like his breakout 2018 campaign.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/60 55/60 55/60 40/45 95-99 / 101

A February appendectomy began Abreu’s roller coaster of a 2018, a fitting campaign for one of the more frustrating pitching prospects in baseball. Abreu, who was acquired from Houston as part of the Brian McCann deal, will regularly touch 101 with his fastball and has plus secondary stuff across the board. Career-long issues with strike-throwing, coupled with two consecutive years of multiple DL stints, continue to funnel Abreu toward a bullpen role despite the depth of his repertoire. The appendicitis set back Abreu’s spring preparation and he was DL’d for most of April while he caught up. He felt elbow discomfort at the end of June (he had elbow and shoulder issues in 2017, too), missed a month, made some nightmarish rehab starts in the GCL, then bounced back and had his usual stuff late in the year. While we believe it’s increasingly likely that Abreu eventually winds up in relief, he has the stuff to work in a multi-inning, Josh Hader-like role in that scenario, and could become one of the top 20 or 30 relievers in the game. He may see his first big league action in 2019 but we don’t expect he’ll be up for good until 2020.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 17.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/45 55/55 45/55 55/55

Pereira was probably the least exciting of the top three prospects from the Yankees 2017 July 2nd haul, behind Raimfer Salinas and Antonio Cabello. Pereira falls into the bucket of heady, up-the-middle Venezuelan players with solid tools to go along with excellent in-game amateur performance. He is an above-average runner with an above-average arm and plus center field instincts, which makes him an above-average defender there. He’ll likely grow into average raw power, but below-average game power due to a more gap-to-gap approach. Pereira has advanced feel to hit and held his own despite a higher strike out rate than expected in Pulaski as a 17-year-old, underlining the Yankees’ confidence in his ability to make adjustments. The reasonable upside is a 2-3 WAR, solid regular in center field, which may not excite Yankees fans but would be an amazing return on his $1.5 million bonus.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Cartersville HS (GA) (NYY)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / S FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/50 50/45 50/55 65/65

Entering summer showcase season, Seigler was known as something of an oddity: a switch-hitting, switch-throwing catcher who was also an ambidextrous reliever when needed. As the summer wore on, Seigler grew on scouts, was chosen as the backup catcher for Team USA, and quickly took the starting job from eventual Marlins second rounder Will Banfield. Seigler was able to do this (and eventually become a first round pick) due to his innate present feel for contact at the plate and receiving behind it. In addition to solid contact skills, Seigler also started to lift the ball in games closer to the draft and get to all of his fringy raw power. This polish helped to make teams less worried about his advanced age relative to his prep peers, and some scouts thought he was among the top 5-10 players in the entire draft.

Seigler had a solid pro debut that was in line with the expectations of any of the pro scouts we talked to who watched the Yankees’ GCL club. He’s an average runner and an above-average athlete for the position, projecting as an above-average defender with a 65-grade arm. Some clubs don’t like the recent track record of prep catchers and considered taking Seigler and then moving him to third base, but his feel for catching is too advanced to throw away. There are some similarities to another prep catcher from the prior draft: M.J. Melendez of the Royals. Melendez is a little twitchier while Seigler is a little more advanced in terms of skills. Seigler’s mother is Navajo and he would be the first Native American big leaguer to debut since Joba Chamberlain and the second ever from the Navajo Nation, joining Jacoby Ellsbury.

9. Luis Gil, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/60 45/50 40/50 40/50 93-97 / 100

The effortless grace with which Gil generates upper-90s velocity is absurd. Even more absurd is that the Yankees were able to pilfer a perfectly-built teenager with this kind of arm strength from Minnesota in exchange for a recently DFA’d Jake Cave. Perhaps it’s because, despite the comical ease of his delivery, Gil is extremely wild. Scouts often project heavily on the command of athletic pitchers, as well as pitchers with with good deliveries; those traits often go hand in hand. But the aesthetic pleasure one derives from Gil’s velvety mechanics is subverted by release inconsistency, a dichotomy also displayed by frustrating Dodgers prospect Yadier Alvarez throughout his young career. It also might simply be unreasonable to expect an inexperienced 20-year-old with this kind of velocity to have any idea where it’s going. Gil missed all of 2016 due to a shoulder surgery and has thrown just over 100 career innings. His secondary stuff is not as visually explosive as his fastball, but there’s plus-plus pure spin here, and Gil is in an org adept at altering deliveries to help enable their guys’ secondary stuff. Many players ranked below Gil in this system have a much better chance of reaching the majors than he does, but very few have the ceiling he has if his issues are resolved.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from South Carolina (NYY)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/55 50/55 45/55 40/50 91-94 / 96

In 2017, Schmidt turned a corner in his draft spring for South Carolina and looked likely to land in the middle of the first round, flashing four above average pitches and starter command for a No. 3 to 4 starter profile. His elbow blew out before the draft, and he had Tommy John surgery a month before the Yankees eventually took him in the middle of the first round, though for nearly $1.5 million below slot. Schmidt came back in 2018 from his surgery and essentially picked right up where he left off, hitting 96 mph and showing the same stuff as before, though it understandably was not quite as consistent. Schmidt was almost sent to the Arizona Fall league to rack up innings but instead will make his full season debut in 2019, likely starting in Hi-A and probably getting some time at Double-A, with a chance for a big league debut in 2020 if all goes to plan.

11. Luis Medina, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 55/65 45/55 30/40 95-97 / 101

Medina was up to 96 mph as an 15-year-old amateur, eventually going unsigned on July 2nd due in part to 20 command. Then he hit 100 mph as an amateur with improved feel, which is when the Yankee scooped him up for $300,000. He was the highest variance player on last year’s version of this list and is once again. The pure stuff hasn’t change and it’s top of the line: a 95-97 mph heater that has hit 101 mph, a power curveball that’s anywhere from 60 to 70 depending on the day, and a changeup that flashes 55 or 60 at its best. His command is now a 30 that we project to be a 40. But he’s still a teenager, so there’s a chance that things click for him and he finds 45 command and 50 control, which would be the minimum to stick as a starter with this kind of stuff. Medina’s issues aren’t physical — his delivery is fine and his arm stroke is clean. Instead, the problem appears to be mostly mental. He’ll throw well in the bullpen only to have things will snowball for him in game situations. One source described his issues as stemming from a need for greater mental maturity and to not be so hard on himself, which are exactly the kinds of traits that come with general social maturity. That said, this sort of stuff rarely comes with starter command, so Medina is probably either a high-wire act reliever with bonkers stuff or a starter with the stuff ratcheted down a bit, similar to what Touki Toussaint has done the last couple seasons.

40+ FV Prospects

12. Kevin Alcantara, CF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 16.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 20/55 60/55 45/55 55/55

We ranked Alcantara fourth among the 2018 international amateurs because he has some of the group’s more advanced in-game feel to hit, he has a really good chance of not only staying in center field but might also be great there, and he has the best physical projection in the entire class. The more recently a source has seen Alcantara, the nuttier the reports get. Now that he has access to pro-quality athletic facilities, he’s already put on some good weight and has been hitting for more power during batting practice in the Dominican Republic. At one point he hit several BP homers, not just over the outfield fence, but over the fence that encloses the complex itself.

Built like Lewis Brinson and Cody Bellinger were at the same age, Alcantara has better feel for contact than either of them did as teens. Hitters this size often struggle with strikeouts due to lever length, and while Alcantara hasn’t faced much pro quality velocity to stress test this aspect of his offense, there are no early indications that strikeouts are going to be an issue for him. It may take physical maturation and little else to enable a breakout, and the comps industry personnel are placing on Alcantara (Devon White, Dexter Fowler, and Alex Rios to name a few) are very strong. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle his 2019 assignment, as it sounds like his skillset is ready for the GCL but it may behoove the team to leave him in the less-scouted DSL as a way of hiding him from clubs who don’t scout pro ball there.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Arkansas (NYY)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/45 40/50 91-95 / 96

Stephan’s cross-bodied delivery compares closely to that of Brewers righty Freddy Peralta, as both get way down the mound (Stephan gets nearly 7 feet of extension on his fastballs) and have lower arm slots that make right-handed hitters very uncomfortable. He makes heavy use of a hard slider that at times looks like a cutter. It has enough movement to miss bats if Stephan leaves it in the zone and he’s been able to back foot it to lefties. Changeup development is paramount, and a fair number of scouts think Stephan ends up in the bullpen both because his change is quite a bit behind the typical 23-year-old’s and because he throws exclusively from the stretch. While that’s a possibility, the way Stephan’s delivery enables his stuff to play up could make him viable in a multi-inning role. He reached Double-A in 2018 and has a chance to debut in 2019.

14. Osiel Rodriguez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (NYY)
Age 17.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/55 50/60 45/55 35/50 91-95 / 97

For a 16-year-old, high bonus pitcher, Rodriguez was a rarity in a number of ways. Since he defected from Cuba, he had a pretty long track record of high-level international competition. He pitched as a 14-year-old for the 15-and-under Cuban team, and posted a 69 IP, 32 H, 2 XBH, 20 BB, 102 K line. Then, at 15 years old, he pitched for the 18-and-under team and posted a 21 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 25 K line. He also struck out five of the six batters he faced in the MLB showcase in February, which is the linked video. On top of that, Rodriguez flashes four above average to plus pitches, has hit 97 mph, and has starter-caliber feel to pitch. He’s also 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, and has some room to add muscle. If you’re looking for things to nitpick, there’s some effort to his delivery that should be ironed out, and he does vary his arm slot, though it’s by choice. The Yankees will try to limit him to two breaking balls and one slot, but recognize that Rodriguez could be one of those rare pitchers like El Duque who can be effective throwing the kitchen sink from a half dozen different arm slots. Going back to what’s rare about Rodriguez, he seems to have it all, except for maybe an ideal present delivery and, obviously, stateside pro performance. This is about as high as we can rank a teenage pitching prospect who has only been seen a handful of times and hasn’t really faced many hitters who can handle his stuff, but there’s lots of room to grow on this 40+ FV if this trajectory continues.

40 FV Prospects

15. Nick Nelson, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Gulf Coast JC (FL) (NYY)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/55 45/55 45/50 40/45 94-97 / 98

Nelson was probably a little underrated as a fourth round pick in 2016 out of a Florida panhandle junior college. He didn’t start focusing exclusively on pitching until JUCO, and was up to 95 mph with an above average curveball, so he was seen more as an upside relief type, but it’s gone better than most clubs expected in pro ball. Nelson sits 94-97 and hits 98 mph even as a starter, and mixes in the same above-average curveball, but has also added a 55-flashing splitter, and, starting in instructs, added a 88-91 mph cutter that flashed average. The overall command is still a bit below average, mostly due to below average command of his off-speed stuff. Nelson can sometimes get cute and pitch backwards rather than focusing on developing fastball command and throwing his best pitch more often. There’s still a shot that he can turn into a traditional starting pitcher, but it looks more likely that he’ll be some kind of multi-inning middle relief or setup guy. After a solid 2018 that ended with a taste of Double-A, Nelson should begin 2019 there and may be in line for a big league look at the end of the year if the team needs some bullpen help in the Bronx.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/55 20/50 60/55 45/55 60/60

For some international scouts, Salinas was ahead of Cabello and Pereira, and was the top prospect in their 2017 signing class; he got the biggest bonus of the group at $1.85 million. Nothing has fundamentally changed since then, as Salinas’ 2018 season was ruined by a broken ring finger and knee bursitis that limited him to 11 games. You can see why scouts were so excited when you run down the tools: a plus runner with a plus arm and a chance for plus defense in center field, along with above average raw power potential and a shot at a 50 or better hit tool. Salinas likely heads back to extended spring training and the complex leagues to get bulk at-bats to catch up on reps, but there’s upside to shoot up this list with a healthy 2019.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 70/80 30/60 50/40 40/45 55/55

Garcia signed for $500,000, which puts him behind the top tier of signees in the 2017 class for the Yankees. But his tools are arguably just as exciting, though riskier. He’s 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6 depending on whom you ask and is only listed at 205 pounds, but is north of that and will get bigger. If he doesn’t have 80 raw power now, he will in the next few years, and he’s actually an average runner underway, though his first step isn’t great and he’ll lose a step or two with maturity. Garcia has the arm to profile in right field, but down the road, he’ll likely be an average glove there at best. There’s obvious leverage to his swing and he hit 10 homers in 44 games in the GCL as a 17-year-old, so it’s not like he’s sushi raw at tapping into his best tool. Dermis Garcia had similar tools at this stage, so that’s one way this can go. Another would be former Tigers prospect Steven Moya, who played last year in Japan. There are also two massive corner outfielders with 80 raw power currently in the big leagues for the Yankees, so you know what Garcia looks like if everything goes perfectly, but a 42% strikeout rate in Rookie ball isn’t the best starting place from which to get there.

18. Alexander Vargas, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (NYY)
Age 17.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 35/45 20/40 60/55 45/55 50/55

All the teams we’ve spoken with about Vargas over the last year or so had multi-million dollar evaluations of him based on how he looked in workouts. He ran a 6.4 60-yard dash, had infield actions and a plus arm, and had a surprising ability to hit despite his stature, at the time weighing just 143 pounds. He was twitchy, projectable, looked fantastic at shortstop, and was old enough to sign immediately. We believe Vargas was originally slated to wait until 2019 to sign a pro contract (sources have indicated to us that it was to be with Cincinnati) but the Yankees had enough pool space to convince him to change his mind and sign a year earlier for about the same money. He’s a potential everyday shortstop, though we may not see him at a U.S. affiliate until 2020 due to his size.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from McLennan JC (TX) (NYY)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 60/65 30/50 30/30 40/45 65/65

Nick Swisher’s eyes lit up when he was told that the last name of the player he was set to announce as the Yankees’ second round pick is pronounced “bro,” a word Swish uses as linguistic filler the way most of us use ‘um’ or ‘like’ more than we want to. While some teams preferred him on the mound (Breaux would touch 98 and his sawed off arm action and the cadence of his delivery are reminiscent of Jason Motte, himself a converted catcher) or were inclined to develop Breaux as a two-way prospect, the Yankees selected him to catch. Two-way duty in college means Breaux is currently raw as a receiver and a hitter, but he has a rare opportunity to become an impact bat behind the plate if he can start recognizing pro breaking stuff. If not, the mound is a terrific fallback option.

20. Ryder Green, RF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Karns HS (TN) (NYY)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 65/70 35/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

It was widely believed that the Yankees would use their 2018 second or third round pick on an over slot high schooler with a strong college commitment, perhaps someone a bit under the radar, like Adam Hackenberg or Max Marusak. It turned out to be Green, who was signed away from a Vanderbilt commitment for just shy of $1 million. Green ended up transferring to new high schools after his family had issues with the coaching staff in his original district — issues that ultimately led to a dropped lawsuit and then a countersuit for defamation. But he was an early Vanderbilt commit, scouts knew who he was, and it didn’t affect the way he was scouted. He really broke out at the 2017 Area Code games, when he took one of the most impressive BPs there and had among the best outfield arms. He hit several balls hard during the week but was clearly raw from a bat-to-ball standpoint, and many scouts thought he’d end up going to college because apprehension over his hit tool would prevent teams from paying him enough to go pro. Green didn’t face a lot of good pitching while he was in high school and his breaking ball recognition is immature. He may be a multi-year rookie ball guy, and he’s a high-risk, high-variance prospect whose body and skillset have been compared to Steven Souza’s.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Louisville (SEA)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 25/45 55/55 45/50 45/45

Stowers performed and steadily improved throughout his sophomore and junior years at Louisville. Most scouts who saw him early in his draft spring thought he was a 55 runner who fit best in left field but didn’t think he’d have the power to profile there. Thus, they considered Stowers to be a bit of a tweener or the wrong side of a left field platoon, which is roughly where we had him pre-draft. Scouts who stayed on him (and knew they were the high scouts, so generally kept it to themselves) saw a 60 runner who could be average in center field, where a 50 or 55 bat with 45 power would be above average offense for the position. Enough people think that the second scenario is likely that we’ve notched him up to a strong 40 FV, and if Stowers performs like the believers think he can for all of 2019, he may be a 45 FV at the end of the year. He started hitting more down the stretch when he used a flatter planed swing, so it appears lifting the ball isn’t the swing that best suits him. That may limit his offensive upside a bit, but may also help him reach the big leagues faster.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/55 40/45 20/40 50/50 45/50 50/50

Cabrera spent much of 2017 in Charleston despite his lack of physicality because he was procedurally advanced for his age, especially on defense. He is athletic, fundamentally sound, and has perhaps the quickest defensive hands in the entire org. At the very least, Cabrera projects as an outstanding multi-positional defender, but he also might just be plus at shortstop at maturity and need to play there every day. He also has advanced bat-to-ball skills and even though he has been physically overmatched for about 200 Low-A games over two seasons, he has somehow managed to maintain a strikeout rate in the low teens. Cabrera has a little, 5-foot-10 frame and it’s not clear whether he’ll grow into the kind of physicality that would make him a viable offensive player. If he does, the feel for contact is already in place and he could break out. Though likely a switch-hitting utility man, Cabrera has a sneaky chance to be an everyday shortstop.

23. Antonio Gomez, C
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 17.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 20/45 30/20 40/50 80/80

Gomez stood out as a 15-year-old because of his one, truely freakish ability: he has a stone-cold 80 arm (clocked in the mid-80’s with a radar gun) and a quick release that allow him to regularly post pop times below 1.80 in games, which is generally a 70-grade time. Gomez is a mature-bodied prospect and a 30 runner presently, someone who appears “unathletic” on the surface. We often talk about football and baseball athleticism as being two different things, and Gomez is not football athletic, but definitely is baseball athletic. Instead of timed speed or visible strength, he displays quick-twich movement, first step quickness, and overall explosion through strength in the forearms, wrists, and hands. Gomez is an ideal case study in the differences, as he’s got soft hands and is mobile behind the plate, and has solid average raw power with similarly graded bat control. The Yankees may have a 5 defensive catcher with a 5 bat, 5 raw power, and an 8 arm here. That would be quite a find for $600,000, especially given the current wasteland that is big league catching.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/55 20/50 50/45 40/50 45/45

Duran was a sleeper pick to click on this list last year but things did not go well. We liked Duran’s tools and 2017 DSL performance, as well as his loud minor league spring training, complete with gaudy in-game exit velocities as high as 112 mph. His 2018 started well with that March showing, but his stateside regular season debut was a disaster, with 4% walks, 28% strikeouts, and a 48 wRC+ in 53 games at Rookie-Advanced Pulaski. The tool grades are essentially the same except for the defense at second base, as the quickly thickening Duran is not a strong athletic fit for the infield. Some of the issues Duran had in 2018 were similar to the issues a teenage Drew Waters had at the same level for the Braves in 2017, before a breakout to top 100 prospect status in 2018. After a full year of success at the plate, Duran tried to do too much, chasing pitches more than he had in the past, getting into bad counts, then facing the best pitching he’s seen and not being able to get out of the slump. His mechanics didn’t break down and he’s still a teenager with plenty of time to adjust, but now poor plate discipline is something to watch going forward, to see if those bad habits can change or end up limiting his offensive upside.

25. Matt Sauer, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Righetti HS (CA) (NYY)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/55 40/50 35/45 92-95 / 96

Sauer’s velocity was way down last year, often resting 91-93 and sometimes ranging to 89-93, after he had gone long stretches of high school starts where he’d sit 93-95. His violent head whack and arm action caused considerable consternation among amateur scouts who worried about his long term arm health, but the org attributes Sauer’s 2018 velo decline to the rigors of pro ball, something it believes Sauer will be better prepared to deal with in 2019. The most electric version of Sauer has a high-leverage fastball/curveball combination, a two-pitch duo that could close games. If Sauer’s changeup and command improve, he has mid-rotation upside. He made strike-throwing strides in 2018, but the changeup is still below-average. He should be ticketed for full-season ball and see a substantial innings increase, but the key variable to watch when camp breaks is his velocity.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 45/45 30/40 60/55 45/50 55/55

Estrada was a 45 FV on last year’s ranking, evaluated as an MLB-ready utility infielder or low-end regular at shortstop. During the offseason he was shot in the hip during a robbery in Venezuela and required surgery. The initial surgery was botched and Estrada needed a second operation during the summer, which ended his regular season. When he returned to action in the Arizona Fall League, he had clearly lost a step overall, but it was most obvious when watching Estrada play defense. There’s a chance this was just rust and that Estrada will go back to doing the things that placed him in the Yankees’ offseason infield conversation before he was shot; average range and plus actions at short, a plus arm, some speed, and feel for contact. He’ll bounce back into the 45 FV tier if those things return in the spring, but he looked like a fringe bench piece last fall.

Drafted: 18th Round, 2017 from UAB (NYY)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 45/50 50/55 90-93 / 95

When you watch Whitlock (video link above) the first things you should notice are his large stature and slightly awkward arm action and release. He has better feel than you’d guess for repeating his delivery, throwing his sinker down in the zone, and manipulating his slider, so you can see why he had good numbers across three levels in 2018 as a starter. There aren’t a ton of starters who look like this or pitch like this in the big leagues. Pitchers whose best skill is locating a good slider (like Cardinals recent first rounder Griffin Roberts, who drew Luke Gregerson comps from scouts) are often put in relief, though secondary-pitch heavy usage is now more common with guys in a rotation. The ceiling here seems like a No. 4 starter if you squint; a realistic outcome is more like a 7th inning reliever who can go multiple innings and get by with fringy velocity.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/45 20/40 60/60 50/55 55/55

He’s not especially toolsy or projectable, but Olivares is so polished in all facets (especially his reads in center field) that it was he who the Yankees called up when early-season injury dominos necessitated that the they push a low-level outfielder to Hi-A. When Olivares was sent back to developmentally appropriate Low-A Charleston, he excelled. Tough to beat with only velocity because of how short his swing is, Olivares hit .322 for Charleston and would have won the Sally League batting title had he taken enough at-bats to qualify, but his hand was struck by a pitch in early July, ending his season. The general consensus is that Olivares may ultimately have limited value due to a lack of power, and end up either as a fourth outfielder or a regular on par with what Albert Almora or Manuel Margot have been to this point, and we agree that range of outcomes is most likely. But Olivares entered 2018 with a more open, upright stance that seemed to benefit his timing and enabled him to pull the ball more, so perhaps last year’s power output isn’t a complete mirage and there are some right-tail paths to everyday production.

29. Michael King, RHP
Drafted: 12th Round, 2016 from Boston College (MIA)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/45 45/50 50/55 45/50 90-94 / 95

Considering how much of the current Marlins regime came over from New York, one would think the two orgs would not only target similar types of talent but also have similar developmental vision for that talent. This does not appear to have been the case with King, who was a prospect afterthought when he was part of a seemingly innocuous trade between the Marlins and Yankees just after the 2017 season. King had been a Marlins 12th round pick out of Boston College a year and a half prior to the deal and, like clockwork, had only struck out about six batters per nine innings every year in college, as well as in his first two pro seasons. The Marlins altered King’s position on the rubber and made other mechanical tweaks to alter the movement profile of his pitches. After the Yankees acquired him, they let him return to what he was doing in college and he vastly exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in 2018. He led the Yankees system in strikeouts and innings while traversing three levels, reaching Triple-A.

The lynchpin of King’s success is his command of a dancing two-seam fastball that runs back onto his glove-side corner of the plate. Left-handed hitters think it’s coming at their hip, righties give up on it because they think it’s off the plate, and King gets a lot of looking strikeouts with it. There are questions about the quality of his secondary stuff. He has a quality changeup, but his breaking ball is mediocre. He seems to have added a cutter late in the year, and that pitch’s movement may better complement that of his fastball. Most teams have King evaluated as a stable backend starter; some think he should be in the 45 FV tier of this list. A purported nerd and exhaustive pre-start preparer, King is a high-probability big leaguer who we believe has limited ceiling, though if he develops 7 or 8 command, all bets are off.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/50 50/55 35/45 91-94 / 96

When ‘pitchability’ is one of the first words a scout uses to describe a teenager, we don’t generally expect that teenager to also throw in the mid-90s. But such is the case with Gomez, who has a remarkable early-career ability to manipulate the shape of a fastball that touches 96. He can cut it, sink it, use variations in sequence together, and has feel for dumping in first-pitch curveballs for strikes. Gomez is still a lanky teenager who has problems repeating his delivery, so while he has obvious on-mound creativity, he doesn’t always execute, and his ability to locate needs to develop. Aside from the fastball, Gomez’s stuff is, or projects to be, close to average, and his likely long-term fit is at the back of a rotation. As soon as his command starts to improve, he’ll be capable of carving up the lower levels by mixing in all these pitches, and if it happens in 2019, he could end the year with Low-A Charleston.

31. Juan Then, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 50/55 35/50 92-94 / 95

The Yankees acquired Then from Seattle for 40-man bubble reliever Nick Rumbelow after Then had just wrapped his first pro season in the DSL. He was, and remains, advanced for his age, but with just middling stuff and physical projection. He’s much more likely to end up toward the back of a rotation than in the middle of one, but the Yankees have had success developing velocity and Then’s fastball is already a little harder now than it was when he was with Seattle, so it’s possible there’ll be more heat here than we anticipate. For now, we have Then projected as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

32. Frank German, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from North Florida (NYY)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 40/50 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

German was a solid middle-round college pitching prospect going into the 2018 draft, with most clubs treating him as a 6th-8th round talent who could possibly be a target for the 11th-12th rounds and a $125,000 bonus, as cheap senior signs fill-in the latter stages of the top 10 rounds. Then German (Dominican-born and whose name is pronounced like the European country) had one of the latest pre-draft velo spikes possible, suddenly hitting 95 mph during the Atlantic Sun conference tournament in his final college game just two weeks before the draft. Velo is a dime a dozen these days, but German had the athleticism and arm action of a starter and had put on about 15 pounds in the previous 12 months, so some thought this could be coming. Clubs who had scouts at that start shot him up the board, and the Yankees jumped to the front of the line to take him in the fourth round. The velo spike held in pro ball: German sat 92-95 and hit 97 mph in fall instructional league and put on about 10 additional pounds after signing. The upside is a bit limited, as his slider and changeup still just flash average at best, but the Yankees are changing German’s slurvy college breaking ball into more of a true slider and pushing him to throw his changeup more, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the future pitch grades move north as he continues to mature as a pitcher.

33. Freicer Perez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 50/55 35/45 93-96 / 97

The gargantuan Perez was still throwing hard during the spring of 2018, but his stuff appeared to be depressed once the regular season began and he was much more wild than he had been the year before. He was shut down with shoulder inflammation after just six starts, then rehabbed in Tampa throughout June before it was determined he’d need surgery to clean up bone spurs in that shoulder, which ended Perez’s season. When healthy, he sits in the mid-90s and has a bevy of average secondary pitches that could be 55s at peak, and he has pleasantly surprising command for his size. Perez has No. 4 or 5 starter upside, maybe a little more than that if you think his size helps the stuff play as plus, assuming it and the strikes comes back.

35+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Peraza is currently the lowest rated prospect of a quartet of Yankees that a couple of scouts grouped together as similar types: Oswaldo Cabrera, Thairo Estrada, Pablo Olivares, and Peraza. All are smaller, contact-oriented hitters with good feel for the game and up the middle defensive profiles. We’ve seen enough of this kind of prospect beat expectations and turn into steady 2-3 win players for scouts and analysts to know not dismiss them as quickly as they normally would. The hit rate is such that one of them will likely have more of a big league career than any five-game scouting look would suggest, since their abilities are often more subtle. Peraza may have the most defensive value of the group as a no-doubt shortstop, but he’s also the youngest, with the shortest track record and underwhelming performance, and a limited tools-based upside due to mostly average-ish grades. He’s seen some recent strength and power gains, although it may take longer to see those show up in his stat line.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Chirinos signed for $900,000 and made his pro debut last year, mostly playing in the GCL as a 17-year-old. The underlying numbers were just okay and the top line numbers were worse, in part due to bad luck, but the tools are still loud. In 2018, Chirinos played mostly shortstop, with a few games at second base, but behind the scenes, the Yankees have worked him out at every position on the field and think there’s a real chance he could move behind the plate and profile as an everday guy back there. He has an easy plus arm and what some club officials call 80 makeup to go with 50-grade raw power and speed. Most amateur scouts didn’t have questions on Chirinos’ bat, so they expect that to come around to 50 or better in time. There’s a chance, given this makeup and tools profile, that Chirinos could work his way into the new archetype of a multi-positional catcher utilityman (think Austin Barnes, Will Smith, Kyle Farmer, Connor Wong, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Morgan, or Garrett Stubbs) who has become fashionable as progressive clubs look to have more flexibility in lineup decision-making.

36. Ronny Rojas, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 17.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

So young was Rojas compared to his July 2 peer group that he had to wait until he had turned 16 a few months after the signing period began to finalize a $1 million agreement with the Yankees. He spent his entire first pro season as a 16-year-old in the DSL and posted a shockingly high strikeout rate (40%) considering how enthused international scouts were about his bat. It’s fair to consider the extreme whiff rate a red flag if you really want to, but we caution against putting too much stock into DSL stats, and expect volatile performance from a switch-hitter this young. Purely considering physical tools, Rojas is notable. He has plus bat speed from both sides of the plate and surprising power for his age. He also has athletic defensive footwork and actions, but his boxy, semi-mature frame likely projects to second or third base. He’s a switch-hitting infielder with power whose future is dependent on developing feel for contact.

37. Angel Rojas, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Rojas was one of the players the Braves signed in the months before their international scandal; he became a free agent before playing a game for the club. After keeping his voided $300,000 deal with the Braves, Rojas was scooped up by the Yankees months later for $350,000. When he signed with Atlanta, Rojas was under-the-radar and weighed about 130 pounds with some quick-twitch ability, plus speed, and the hands for shortstop, a prospect who the Braves thought would grow with physical maturity. Move about 18 months into the future, and Rojas is a plus-plus runner with a plus-plus arm who is up to about 160 pounds and has achieved in-game exit velos as high as 108 mph. It’s still a flatter-planed, contact-oriented swing, and Rojas often plays out of control as he’s still learning how to harness his newly-improved tools, but the DSL performance was solid and this is too much like a Jose Reyes starter kit to ignore.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Garcia was one of the top talents in his July 2 class and got the biggest bonus ($3.2 million) the Yankees handed out in their pool-busting effort. Garcia was seen then as a mature-framed corner type with massive raw power, but there were questions about his contact and athleticism for defense. Those are still the issues to worry about here. Reports are that Garcia has slimmed and will continue playing third base in 2019, where his plus arm has a chance to play, unlike at first base, which is his most likely destination long-term. There was some chatter of developing Garcia on the mound, either exclusively or as a two-way player, but nothing came of it. In his age-19 and 20 seasons at Low-A, he hit 23 homers in 488 plate appearances, so he can already get to his grade-70 or 80 raw power in games (one source mentioned a 117 mph exit velo), but he also struck out over 30% of the time during that stretch. This is starting to feel like a Quad-A power hitter who only gets a big league cup of coffee or has a short-lived platoon/bench role, but he’s also still just 21, so we’ll give the raw tools and pedigree the benefit of the doubt for one more year.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Tools Goofs
Juan De Leon, RF
Alexander Palma, RF
Isiah Gilliam, LF
Miguel Marte, SS
Stanley Rosario, LF
Isaiah Pasteur, CF

De Leon got $2 million in the 2014 July 2nd class and still has the loud tools — 70 bat speed, 60 raw, 55 speed, 60 arm — that had scouts so excited, but his conditioning and quality of play have fluctuated. Palma, 23, signed for $800,000 in the 2012 July 2nd class and was having a breakout year at Hi-A until he broke both his fibula and tibia. Much of his 2017 season was lost to injury, as well. He’s a 55 runner with above-average hit and raw power, and the power was starting to play in games. Gilliam has 65-grade raw power from both sides of the plate but is limited defensively and instinctually. Marte signed for $200,000 in 2017 and was arguably the best Yankees prospect in the DSL. He’s a legit shortstop with a plus arm, plus speed, instincts, and some contact skill. Rosario is a poor man’s version of Anthony Garcia; he takes a healthy hack but there’s not a whole lot else yet. Pasteur was a 13th rounder in 2018 out of George Washington (he transferred from Indiana) and he’ll turn 23 next season so he’ll need to perform, but he’s an 80 runner and freak athlete with a weird swing and a chance to play the infield.

Potential Reserves/Platoon Types
Hoy Jun Park, SS
Diego Castillo, SS
Ben Ruta, LF
Jason Lopez, C
Saul Torres, C

Park, recently passed over in the Rule 5 Draft, originally signed out of Korea for $1,000,000. He’s a bit passive at the plate and doesn’t have much game power, but he’s a plus runner with some contact skills and can play at least an average shortstop. He turns 23 in April. Castillo is a gritty, plus makeup shortstop with great instincts and middling raw tools. Ruta is a grinder reserve outfield type who one scout compared to Sam Fuld. Lopez is a prototypical potential backup catcher who converted from the infield, and it looks like he’s going stick back there, but probably not have much offensive impact. Torres has a 70-grade arm and is a 50 or 55 defender with 50 raw power, but has a lot of trouble making hard contact.

Power Arms with Likely Bullpen Futures
Glenn Otto, RHP
Domingo Acevedo, RHP
Chance Adams, RHP
Raynel Espinal, RHP
Alexander Vizcaino, RHP

Otto was a reliever at Rice (winces) who the Yankees wanted to develop a changeup and try to start, but he missed nearly the whole season with a blood clot issues in his shoulder. He’s up to 96 mph and flashes a 70 curveball in short stints, so relief wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but it sounds like they’ll give starting one more try. Acevedo has solid middle relief stuff and command but can’t stay healthy. He’s up to 98 mph and could be a two-pitch reliever (the changeup is the best secondary). Adams was drafted as a power reliever and was asked to start, and his stuff held up for a while, but then it slowly backed up last year. It may now make sense to put him in the bullpen and see if it bounces back. Espinal was passed over in the Rule 5 Draft but he’s got a funky three-quarters delivery, a good slider, and his velo was up last year, as was his K%. Sources we spoke with have varied opinions of Vizcaino’s secondary stuff, which could just be evidence of inconsistency. His fastball is into the upper-90s, sitting 93-97, and he’s shown an above-average slider.

Starter Types at the Lower Levels
Miguel Yajure, RHP
Denny Larrondo, RHP
Jhonatan Munoz, RHP
Rony Garcia, RHP
Nolan Martinez, RHP
Dalton Lehnen, LHP
Harold Cortijo, RHP

Yajure (pronounced yah-HOOR-ray) has command of above-average offspeed, which gives him a chance to be a backend starter. Larrondo is a 16-year-old Cuban who signed for $550,000 last summer. He sits 89-92 mph with touch and feel, is athletic, and can spin it. Munoz is a 5-foot-11 bulldog reliever with solid average stuff. He came right at hitters and had success in 50-pitch outings during extended and short-season ball last year. Garcia is another potential backend starter who’s up to 95 mph with a solid average curveball. Martinez was an overslot third rounder in 2016 but has had trouble adding weight and staying healthy, so his above average stuff has backed up. Lehnen is a finesse lefty who may benefit from a new weapon, perhaps a cutter, a pitch this system has more of than is usual. Cortijo is 5-foot-9 and has a fringy slider but he’s up to 95 mph and gets good extension, and he has an above average changeup.

System Overview

Perhaps no team’s talent cup runneth over quite like the Yankees. Since 2015, they have had 11 players selected from their org in the Rule 5 draft and made countless trades sending away viable major leaguers who couldn’t crack their 40-man roster. As they’ve enacted this 40-man churn, the Yankees have specifically targeted players far away from the big leagues, guys who don’t have to be added to their crowded 40-man for several years.

Because more and more teams have placed value on certainty and player proximity to the majors, the Yankees have been able to flip a bunch of relievers in their mid-20s for young, high-variance players who have sizable upside if things click. Our prospect asset values put big numbers on 50 FV or higher guys, and the Yankees only have one of those, so they won’t rank highly in our farm system rankings. But they definitely have the most of the high ceiling, high-variance sorts, including a few who, as we point out in the scouting reports, could be Top 100 caliber by midseason, giving the Yankees a high likelihood of moving into the top half of systems during 2019, barring trades.

When we spoke with scouts who were excited about talent from the low levels of this system, we asked why their team hadn’t traded for one of those players. The answer? The Yankees won’t discuss them. Their 40-man crunch, big payroll, and talented major league roster have driven the youth movement at the lower levels. This is interesting to contrast with the Rays, who have one of baseball’s smallest payrolls, have stocked their big league team with pre-arbitration talent, and have a farm system clogged with prospects at Double- and Triple-A.

A few other teams have begun to experience a similar 40-man crunch (San Diego and Tampa Bay come to mind) but the Yankees have been employing this methodology for a few years now, and it has had a drastic impact on the shape of their farm system. This, combined with a strong international program and a willingness to acquire additional pool space in recent years, has helped lead to a whopping 58% of the players on this prospect list being teenagers. On average, this is the youngest farm system we’ve written up so far, with players in the 35+ FV or better tiers averaging 20.2 years old, two years younger than in most other systems.

Last year’s Brandon Drury saga is a great example of why that strategy is necessary. Perfectly fine big leaguers are hard for the Yankees to roster right now. They have stars, who will need to be usurped by other players of similar caliber. 25-year-old relievers and utility infielders may be viable big leaguers, but they don’t often suddenly turn into stars. Some of these teenagers might.