Daily notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Lewis Brinson, CF, Milwaukee (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 22 Org Rank: 1 Top 100: 16
Line: 4-for-6, 2B, HR, 2 R
Brinson has hit in five consecutive games since returning from a dislocated pinkie. Injuries and strikeouts have long been Brinson’s issues, but he’s made significant adjustments in what are now parts of six pro seasons. Once vulnerable on the inner half due to lever length, Brinson can now pull his hands in and, even though he isn’t getting extended, he’s strong enough to do things like this:
Ian Miller, CF, Seattle (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 25 Org Rank: HM Top 100: NR
Line: 3-for-5, 2 R, 2 SB
Miller was 49-for-52 on stolen-base attempts last year and is 7-for-7 to start this season. He’s a 70 runner capable of playing center field. He walked nearly as much as he struck out last year but, due to a lack of power, that isn’t likely to continue. He could be an interesting major-league bench piece just because of his speed.
Triston McKenzie, RHP (Profile)
Level: Hi-A Age: 19 Org Rank: 3 Top 100: 55
Line: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 R, 8 K
McKenzie has mature strike-throwing ability and good stuff, sitting in the low-90s with a potential plus curveball, and he’s likely to make quick work of A-ball hitters because of this combination. But before you start expecting McKenzie to reach the upper minors as a teenager, note that his work load is being babied early on. Over three starts he’s averaging just 77 pitches per appearance. McKenzie is one of the thinnest pitching prospects many scouts have ever seen, and while his physical projection is an intriguing aspect of his future, this is still a 19-year-old who hasn’t yet grown into his 6-foot-5 frame and should be handled with care.
Notes from the sun-soaked fields of Southern California
I’m in Orange County at the Boras Classic, a high-school tournament featuring some of the more prominent prospects in SoCal. Among them is Notre Dame SS/RHP Hunter Greene, the draft’s potential top pick. Greene is not expected to throw at the event (I’ve heard his next scheduled start is the 28th), but he’s playing shortstop and hitting. His footwork, hands, and athleticism at shortstop are beautiful, and he made several big-league-caliber plays on Tuesday without ever having to really show off his elite arm strength. He posted 30 grade run times to first base. He’s faster than that underway, but I think it’s fair to question whether a teenager this size (Greene is listed at 6-foot-4, 211) without great speed can play shortstop into his late 20s. He at least projects as an elite defensive third baseman, and has the power to profile there provided he hits enough to tap into that raw power. On the mound, he’s everything scouts want in a pitching prospect, save for some lukewarm evaluations of his breaking ball. Here is video of Greene, preambled by his at-bats from yesterday.
Also of note was Huntingdon Beach LHP Nick Pratto, who might go in the first round as a first baseman. He was mostly 87-88 with average curveball projection and a 30 changeup that flashed average once. The fastball plays in the zone and Pratto is a good athlete with a chance for three average pitches and starter’s command, but most scouts are on him as a bat. He struck out three times yesterday in front of several directors and at least one GM. Here is footage from his appearance.
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.