Daily Prospect Notes: 8/17/21 by Eric Longenhagen August 17, 2021 These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments of the Daily Prospect Notes here. Antonio Jimenez, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays Level & Affiliate: Complex Level Age: 20 Org Rank: 26 FV: 40 Line: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 10 K Notes Jimenez is an electric little lefty (he stands about 5-foot-10) with big arm speed who sits 91-95 and has a plus two-plane slider that he commands. He’ll also show you the occasional average changeup. He’s loose and athletic and has viable starter’s command, though he arguably falls short of starter projection at the moment due to the combination of his present repertoire depth and size. With starter-level command already in place, I’m betting on changeup improvement due to the looseness/athleticism and care less about how small Jimenez is. He belongs in the Rays system ranked ahead of the hard-throwing relief-only arms. Kervin Castro, RHP, San Francisco Giants Level & Affiliate: Triple-A Sacramento Age: 22 Org Rank: 26 FV: 40 Line: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K Notes Castro had a huge 2020 instructs and was added to the Giants 40-man during the offseason, then had a mixed 2021 spring. For a while in the minors this year, Castro’s appearances were spread out and he was given several days off between outings while they became longer and longer, culminating in a couple of three-inning jawns toward the end of July. He’s been back in the three-to-six out range since then, still working in the mid-90s with a big, power pitcher’s 12-to-6 curveball. He’s walked as many hitters over the last three months as he did in all of May and looks like he could be effective if dropped into the big league bullpen tomorrow. Mishael Deson, LF, Baltimore Orioles Level & Affiliate: Complex Level Age: 19 Org Rank: 34 FV: 35+ Line: 3-for-6, 2 SB Notes Initially an afterthought in the 2020 Mychal Givens trade with Colorado, Deson is putting together a promising first domestic pro season by performing in a way that jives with his visual scouting report. He’s got precocious feel for contact and a great baseball skills foundation, and you can dream on the body. You have to, since Deson is already a corner outfielder without big raw juice. Much of his profile exists in abstraction but he’s definitely a prospect, and it’s interesting that a player of this sort (skills plus projection rather than overt tools) was plucked from the DSL in a trade. Osiris Johnson, CF, Miami Marlins Level & Affiliate: Complex Level Age: 20 Org Rank: 18 FV: 40+ Line: 2-for-3, HR, BB Notes Johnson flopped in his initial Low-A assignment but has hit .284/.364/.653 since being demoted back to the complex. Remember that he was the youngest player in the 2018 draft, suffered a tibial fracture that squashed his first full pro season in ’19, then lost another year of reps to the pandemic. He’s definitely behind the developmental curve but that’s largely due to circumstances beyond Johnson’s control. I think he still belongs in an impact FV tier despite his crawling dev pace. Placing Some Older Relievers on The Board When it comes to pitching, I’m more apt to care about the role a pitcher’s stuff can allow him to play at the big league level and, especially for relievers, roster flexibility (40-man timeline, option years) than something like age. As such, over the last couple of years, I’ve felt free to stuff some older bullpen prospects, often older than 26, in places of pretty significant value on our prospect lists. There are several recent debutantes who fit this description. I’ve added them to their respective team lists on The Board and have little write-ups below. First and most prominently is Yankees righty Stephen Ridings. Ridings is already on his third org since being drafted in 2018 out of tiny Haverford College in Pennsylvania. My last notes on him are from 2019, when he sat 92-95 with Kansas City’s Idaho Falls affiliate. He’s had a 4 mph spike since then and now sits 96-99 and has generated an 18% swinging strike rate in the minors, among the highest in the entire org. Ridings is a giant at 6-foot-8. His arm is also relatively fresh for a 26-year-old and the arrow is pointing way up on his stuff. He has all three option years remaining but should carve out a permanent role in the bullpen if his stuff holds at this level. I have him in the 40+ FV tier based on his current and sudden trajectory. Next is Phil Bickford, who has finally seized hold of a big league role after a very long and eventful prospectdom. Bickford had a velo spike as a high school senior but teams were late to identify and vet him. The Blue Jays took him 10th overall but failed to sign him; Bickford went to Fullerton, where he struggled as a freshman. On the Cape after his freshman year he was so electric that in order to take advantage of the spike in his stock, Bickford transferred to the College of Southern Nevada to be draft eligible as soon as possible. He was often 93-96 with a plus slider at CSN and went 18th overall to the Giants in 2015. Traded to Milwaukee, then later suspended for a few positive drug tests, Bickford languished away at High-A for several years and last appeared on a prospect list in 2018. He was only sitting about 88 during his 2020 big league debut. Now he’s parked in the 93-94 range with the Dodgers and looks like a middle relief lock again. He’s been added to the 40 FV tier on the Dodgers list. Another Fullerton arm, Cleveland’s Justin Garza, who has had a litany of injury issues including a Tommy John, has also experienced a velo spike compared to my 2019 notes. He was 90-93 and touching 95 then, but now is sitting 93-95. Garza has four viable pitches but leans on his hard, curt, upper-80s slider most often. It’s 40 FV stuff with an injury history that might cause one to value him toward the bottom of that FV tier or even round his FV down a little bit, but Garza definitely has big league quality stuff in this velocity band. Finally, lefty Kirby Snead of the Blue Jays has also had a modest velo spike of about 2 mph; his is now sitting 93. He’s a low-slot lefty whose tailing-action fastball and long-arcing slider make him tough on lefties. He shows arm deceleration on his changeup but creates enough action on the pitch for it to be effective against righties. I now have him evaluated as an up/down lefty reliever in the 35+ FV tier.