Daily Prospect Notes: 6/19

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros (Profile)
Level: Double-A   Age: 20   Org Rank:FV: 60
Line: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 R

This is the best pitching prospect in baseball, wielding ungodly stuff that spiked when he dropped about 60 pounds throughout his senior year of high school. He’s also on Driveline’s weighted-ball program. He’ll show your four plus or better pitches over the course of an outing. Whitley has yet to allow a run since returning from suspension. The suspension might be a blessing in disguise for Houston, who could now conceivably weave him into their playoff plans without fear of overworking Whitley’s innings count.

Jose Suarez, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (Profile)
Level: Triple-A   Age: 20   Org Rank: 14  FV: 40
Line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 R

Suarez’s velocity is up this year, which is a surprise given that his catcherly 5-foot-10 frame has been maxed out since he arrived in the U.S. Instead of sitting 90-92, he’s now up to 95 and has improved his usage of a now consistently average curveball to go with his long-dominant changeup. He’s had trouble throwing strikes since a promotion to Triple-A, but Suarez has been an advanced strike-thrower throughout his career and this is probably just a small blip. His stock is rising and he could see the big leagues this year. He sits 91-95 with a 6 change, 5 breaking ball, and above-average command. That could be a 2.0 to 2.5 WAR starter, which means Suarez will have a higher FV when our team lists are updated.

Notes from the Field
The Arizona League began play on Monday, and I drove to Camelback Ranch for the Dodgers opener to see rehabbing righty Yadier Alvarez. His stuff was otherworldy at times last night, as it always seems to be when I see Alvarez, sitting 94-97 and touching 98 while flashing two separate, plus breaking balls.

Alvarez’s blood runs cold when he’s on the mound. He doesn’t emote, save for a few McNabbish smiles when he’s getting squeezed or facing some other adverse randomness, nor does he work with any pace or urgency. His delivery is graceful and fluid, without much violence for this kind of velocity, and yet he has never improved his scattershot fastball command (though it was fine last night and he worked up more often than he typically does). His continued troubles with strike-throwing, plus the emergence of a groin issue, caused him to tumble down our overall prospects list, but the siren call of Alvarez’s stuff continues to grip me, and I think he’ll at least turn into something similar to what Neftali Feliz became, at peak.

Dodgers 18-year-old righty Melvin Jimenez reached full-season ball in July of last year, before he turned 18, and struck out more than a batter per inning there while sitting in the mid- to upper 90s with his fastball. Jimenez began 2018 back in the Midwest League but wasn’t missing as many bats and wasn’t pitching consistently. Last night he was 91-92.

But another young Dodger has emerged as this year’s relief prospect du l’an, 19-year-old Mexican righty Gerardo Carillo. He was 93-97 last night with a fringe breaking ball and came right at hitters with his heater.

I also saw an immaculate inning for the first time. Rangers starter Yerry Rodriguez, who K’d 8 and allowed just three baserunners over five innings, threw nine fastballs past Dodgers hitters in the second inning. Rodriguez was 91-95 for most of his outing and dipped into the upper 80s late. His changeup is average, flashing above, and his 40 breaking ball plays up against righties because his arm slot is pretty low. His fastball command and changeup will probably carve up AZL hitters.

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.

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5 years ago

Thanks for all the Dodgers notes! That write up on Alvarez is encouraging, I’d take Feliz as an outcome for him especially if he maintains some of his starter stamina in the pen.

5 years ago
Reply to  careagan

Another guy on the Dodgers’ low A squad to look out for is Enoli Paredes. Saw him last month in a game against Quad Cities, and he put up 7 Ks in 2.2 innings.