Daily Prospect Notes: 7/23/18

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

Luc Rennie, RHP, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Low-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: NR   FV: 30
Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 14 K

Rennie is four appearances deep into his first year back in affiliated ball since 2015, when he was with Baltimore. He’s spent the last several seasons with Evansville in the independent Frontier League and was injured for a portion of that time. He was dominant for the Otters this spring and signed with the Mets earlier this month. Last night he pitched the game of his life and struck out 14 hitters, a Columbia franchise record, with most of them coming on a plus upper-70s 12-6 curveball. Rennie has five pitches. His fastball has natural cut, he has a two-seamer, an average mid-80s slider, that curveball, and a below-average changeup. He’ll run the fastball up to 95 but sits 90-92 and mixes his breaking balls well. Rennie is carrying a 0.83 ERA through 21.1 innings at Low-A.

Jerar Encarnacion, OF, Miami Marlins (Profile)
Level: Short Season   Age: 20   Org Rank: HM   FV: 35
Line: 2-for-4, 2 2B

Already a Jose Martinez-esque 6-foot-4, 220 at age 20, Encarnacion (formerly Yeral Encarnacion) is slashing .343/.358/.500 in the New York-Penn League. The power is real, as Encarnacion has thunderous, plus raw pop. But stiffness in the swing, an already maxed-out frame, and Encarnacion’s early 10:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio temper enthusiasm for his first month of ball away from West Palm.

Corey Ray, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (Profile)
Level: Double-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: 4 (107 overall)   FV: 50
Line: 3-for-5, 2 2B, HR

Ray is hitting .250/.360/.510 after a putrid 2017 that ended with him swinging through mediocre Fall League fastballs in the strike zone. He has 52 extra-base hits on the year, 19 of them home runs, and has stolen 30 bases in 34 attempts. Ray’s performance draws skepticism due to his age and the hitter-friendly run environment at Biloxi, but as long as he continues to play a close-to-average center field, walks, and generates power on contact like he has throughout his career, he’ll be a solid everyday big leaguer.

Notes from the Field
Under Armour held a high-school All-Star game at Wrigley Field on Friday night after the Cardinals’ drubbing of the Cubs led Joe Maddon to use three position players on the mound. I’ve altered a few tool grades and moved a few players onto the 2019 draft board to reflect what I saw, but notes on an evening of pretty good baseball played through intermittent rain and mist are below.

Georgia HS righty Daniel Espino has the best stuff in the high-school class right now. He was 95-99 in an inning of work on Friday night and flashed an above-average curveball. His delivery looks similar to that of weirdo Giants relief prospect Camilo Doval and even a bit like that of Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, though Espino’s torso is tilted as he rotates over his lower half while Bunning’s remained perpendicular to the ground. This delivery is atypical, certainly for a starter, and I expect the industry to be split on whether it’s sustainable over the course of 35 starts annually.

Juxtaposed against Espino’s delivery was that of Texas righty Matthew Thompson, whose delivery has ease and grace while producing a powerful fastball that was up to 95. This was the best look at the event: 92-95 with lots of room on the frame, the best delivery there, strikes, and a solid-average slider.

Two home runs were hit during the game. One was a 425-foot blast from Texas SS Bobby Witt, Jr. that left the bat at 104 mph and traveled an estimated 425 feet before it took one hop off the bleachers and onto Waveland Ave. This at-bat was a microcosm of Witt’s offensive profile (plus power, nobody sure how much he’ll hit), as he crushed a hanging curveball after fouling off several other hittable pitches.

The other home run was hit by Riley Greene and also came off a hanging breaking ball. It left the bat at 101.5 mph and traveled an estimated 391 feet, falling just shy of the right-field scoreboard. Greene also let a ball travel deep into the hitting zone later in the game and poked it the opposite way. He has arguably the best hit/power combination in the prep class.

Georgia prep SS C.J. Abrams is an 80-run shortstop with gap power in games. He posted several home-to-first times just beneath 4.00 seconds and topped 30 ft/sec on Statcast’s Sprint Speed metric. Two-sport prospect Jerrion Ealy from Carthage, MS reached a similar top speed and has at least 20 pounds on Abrams. He has some idea of how to get the bat on the baseball, but the swing is pretty rough.

Seattle HS OF Corbin Carroll also ran well, had the event’s most polished feel to hit, and has sneaky power for his size. Malvern Prep (PA) OF Chris Newell came to closest to squaring up Espino. He top-spinned 97 into shallow right field. Newell has solid feel to hit and his swing’s natural loft should help ensure he gets to some power in games.

The game featured two 2020 pitchers in RHPs Victor Mederos (FL) and Jared Jones (CA). Mederos was 92-94 with an above-average curveball which he back-doored a few times. Jones was 94-95 with a 40 slider.

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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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