Daily Prospect Notes: 5/24/21 by Eric Longenhagen May 24, 2021 These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here. Packy Naughton, LHP, Los Angeles Angels Level & Affiliate: Triple-A Salt Lake Age: 25 Org Rank: TBD FV: 40 Line: 7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K Notes After he was sitting in the mid-80s in the time surrounding the 2020 shutdown, Naughton’s velocity has rebounded and he’s once again living in the 90-92 range with his tailing fastball. He’s another lefty of the east/west variety, relying on some mechanical funk, working his tailing fastball to both corners, and mixing in three secondary pitches. While Naughton locates his slider to his glove side very consistently, the same way a lot of over-achieving, soft-tossing lefties do, many of them have been a little too far away from the zone to be competitive and the pitch is average on its own. The same is true of his changeup. Naughton’s changeup execution is less consistent than is typical for pitchers who throw this hard but still end up as successful back-of-the-rotation types. He’s looking more like a depth starter than a true No. 5 at this point, but it’s good to see that his velocity has bounced back and that he’s pounding the strike zone like usual. Richard Palacios, 2B/OF, Cleveland Baseball Club Level & Affiliate: Double-A Akron Age: 24 Org Rank: 31 FV: 40 Line: 2-for-5 Notes The notable thing here is not Palacios’ line but rather where he has been playing defensively. He’s split time between second base and the outfield this season (mostly center field) after previously only playing the infield in affiliated ball. Palacios can’t throw the ball to first base accurately from the left side of the infield and his arm utility may move him off the dirt entirely. His career took a multi-year detour because of injury and the pandemic but he’s always hit when healthy and continues to do so. It’s imperative for Palacios and Cleveland to find some kind of defensive home for him since he doesn’t have the kind of pop associated with 1B/DH. MJ Melendez, C, Kansas City Royals Level & Affiliate: Double-A NW Arkansas Age: 22 Org Rank: 13 FV: 40+ Line: 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 BB Notes What was going on with that 2019 Wilmington roster? That season remains the only statistical flop from several of the Royals minor leaguers who otherwise have performed above their league’s average batting line (from a wRC+ standpoint) throughout their careers. Melendez is striking out less than ever (just an 18% clip so far this year, though small sample caveats apply to that) and has walked more than he’s K’d to this point. Strikeouts are always going to suppress Melendez’s offensive output (that’s my opinion based on his statistical track record and visual evaluation) but the question is whether he can control them enough to be an everyday catcher; his start to this year is an indication that he might be. It’s a fortuitous time for it, too, since he needs to be put on the 40-man this offseason. Matt Swarmer, RHP, Chicago Cubs Level & Affiliate: Double-A Tennessee Age: 27 Org Rank: TBD FV: TBD Line: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K Notes Swarmer is a favorite sleeper of mine for reasons that will be obvious to seasoned readers (he’s from PA) and he’s got an excellent track record of statistical performance throughout the minor leagues. His slider’s movement is excellent, it’s just not very hard. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for the rest of Swarmer’s stuff. Unlike a lot of Cubs pitchers, he did not come to camp having had a big velo spike and was sent to Double-A even though he had finished 2019 at Triple-A. For now, he’s interesting upper-level depth and perhaps a target for an overseas club that needs pitching. Tucker Davidson, LHP, Atlanta Braves Level & Affiliate: Triple-A Gwinnett Age: 25 Org Rank: 13 FV: 40+ Line: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K Notes Recall from Davidson’s offseason blurb that, “Davidson’s stuff and performance have vacillated enough throughout the course of his development that it’s fair to anticipate them continuing to do so once he begins to play a big league role.” He’s absolutely carving right now, and made a fantastic spot start against the Mets last week. His stuff is not spiking — he’s sitting 92-93 — instead, Davidson’s slider command has been very consistent. It’s almost always down in the zone or beneath it and it has more utility against righty batters than I’ve previously seen, acting as a cutter in on their hands at times. I still have a long-term multi-inning relief projection here based on the broader track record of performance.