These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
I turned last Thursday’s edition in too late for publication (I lost track of time at an Extended game) but certainly won’t deprive you of the notes I have from that day. Here they are:
After 21 Low-A games, X is hitting .390/.450/.455 and has walked more than he has struck out. He has just one extra-base hit and has been caught stealing a bunch, but even for one of the more advanced high school bats from last year’s class, this is a strong start. Gabriel Arias was just put on the IL at Hi-A Lake Elsinore and Edwards has out-performed Justin Lopez and Tucupita Marcano, so he might be in line for a quick move up depending on the severity of Arias’ injury.
The use of the major league baseball at Triple-A combined with the PCL hitting environment has had, um, some impact on offensive performance. It’s important to keep this in mind when considering what Alvarez has done so far, though his line through 23 games — .386/.474/.916(!) with 12 homers — is remarkable. Notably, several of those homers have come against breaking balls, which Alvarez is particularly adept at identifying and adjusting to mid-flight. He does not have a sellout, max-effort swing — this power comes easy and it plays to all fields, as seven of Alvarez’s homers this season have been opposite field shots. He was toward the back of our 50 FV group pre-season because of concerns about his body and defensive limitations, but he’s hitting like someone who belongs toward the front of that tier, up near Pete Alonso.
Kiley recently saw Cabrera and had him 94-96, flashing a plus power curveball, and featuring a sinking, low-90s changeup that sounds like more of a glorified two-seamer. His control has improved and he’s working more consistently to his arm side and at the bottom of the zone when it makes sense to. That alone has helped his stuff play better, even though he hasn’t seen an uptick in breaking ball quality or anything like that. Several Miami arms (Cabrera, Zac Gallen, Pablo Lopez, and Elieser Hernandez to name a few) are having strong starts, perhaps a sign that the new player dev group in Miami is starting to get its footing.
Leodys Taveras, CF, Texas Rangers
Level: Hi-A Age: 20 Org Rank: 2 FV: 50
Leody kept hitting through the weekend and is now riding an eight-game hit streak. He’s hitting .336/.389/.440, which perhaps will start to quiet some of the industry dissatisfaction with his lack of career performance. He’s repeating Hi-A, but is only 20.
Clifton broke out in 2016, and then his stuff backed up and his performance plateaued at the upper levels. His velo is up a tick this year, but really what has changed for him is his breaking ball usage, which is more focused on his cutter/slider than his curveball. From a stuff/velocity standpoint, he’s a bunch of 45s and 50s who can get outs when he’s locating, which, this year, he’s been able to do. He could be a competent sixth starter type.
And here are performers from Sunday’s games:
Kiley saw Bubic yesterday and had him 89-93, touching 94, with several plus changeups and a pretty average breaking ball that was occasionally above. Bubic is a deceptive lefty with a changeup who battled wildness last year at Stanford and during his pro debut, but he’s seemingly corrected that issue and has walked just seven hitters in 32 innings so far.
Rosso has a 1.03 ERA through five starts and 32 strikeouts in 26 innings. He’s a cutter/curveball guy with command, working both in on lefties effectively. He’s got a big 6-foot-4 frame, his delivery is loose and fluid, and he’s had several years of statistical success now. It’s a non-traditional repertoire and I’m not sure what kind of role it would fit best in, but Rosso is becoming a relevant upper-level arm.
A Famous Rehabber I Saw
I caught Cubs No. 4 prospect (45+ FV) Adbert Alzolay’s rehab appearance late last week. Alzolay was shut down with a lat strain last May, given a PRP injection, and didn’t throw again until the fall. The fall action was an indication that Alzolay would be ready for spring training and break camp with an affiliate, but he’s instead been in extended for a month. Last week he was 92-94 early on before touching 95 and 96 several times later in his appearances. His curveball remains plus and his changeup below average. He could be a big league contributor later this year, likely in a relief role. Desert-dwelling Cubs fan and backfield fixture, Arizona Phil, has a detailed breakdown of the pitch usage here, and I’ve got video of a large chunk of his appearance below.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.