Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Starling Joseph, OF, Texas Rangers (Profile)
Level: Short-Season Age: 19 Org Rank: NR FV: 35+
Line: 3-for-4, HR
Joseph is a physical 6-foot-3 outfielder with plus raw power. He’s raw from a bat-to-ball standpoint due to length and a lack of bat control, but the power/frame combination here is interesting for a 19-year-old. Joseph has a 67:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in domestic pro ball and is as high-risk of a prospect as you’ll find, but he has the power to carry the profile if he ever becomes sentient in the batter’s box.
Ryan Vilade, SS, Colorado Rockies (Profile)
Level: Low-A Age: 19 Org Rank: 4 FV: 45
Line: 3-for-5, 2B
Vilade is slashing .310/.356/.460 since he hit his first homer of the season on May 24, but his season-long line is still unimpressive because his first six weeks of the year were so ugly (.210/.340/.250). In high school, he looked like a well-rounded offensive threat who had a small chance to stay at short and, if not, be an above-average defensive third baseman. Vilade’s body composition was noticeably different this spring. Pro scouts who have seen him this year have lukewarm evaluations of his offensive capabilities and think his lower half needs an overhaul despite the way he’s performed the past two months.
Andrew Knizner, C, St. Louis Cardinals (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 23 FV: 45
Line: 3-for-5, 2 HR
Knizner’s offensive abilities are such that I consider him the Cardinals’ catcher of the future moreso than Carson Kelly, who is a better defender but lacks the ability to make an offensive impact.
Nick Burdi, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 25 FV: 40
Line: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Just a note that Burdi is back and that healthy Burdi has two plus-plus pitches and the stuff to close games. Also note that because Burdi was a Rule 5 pick, his call-up is imminent.
Notes from the Field
I saw Indians Bahamian righty Tahnaj Thomas throw his first inning of the year last night, and it was very good. He pounded the zone with a 92-95-mph fastball and flashed a 55 curveball in the upper 70s which he located just off the plate, to his glove side, several times. He has a well-constructed 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame and pitches with mechanical ease. Cleveland has a collection of well-built athletes in their system and this is yet another. He faces Angels prospects Jeremiah Jackson, Jordyn Adams, Trent Deveaux, and D’Shawn Knowles in this video:
Speaking of Cleveland, I reported on Twitter this morning that OF George Valera hasn’t played in a month due to a broken hamate. He has had surgery and does not yet have a return date. He was clearly one of the most polished hitters in Arizona throughout extended spring training.
Also of note in Arizona last night was the rehab appearance of Padres lefty Adrian Morejon. Morejon threw strikes for 2.2 innings with 90-95 mph velocity while flashing a plus breaking ball and above-average changeup. His secondaries were inconsistent, but that’s fairly common for rehabbers in the first appearance back from injury. Morejon was placed on the DL with muscular soreness in his hip late in June. His two-year pro career has been checkered with various minor injuries which have caused cautionary shutdowns, but this was his first DL stint.
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.