Daily notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Breiling Eusebio, LHP, Colorado (Profile)
Level: Short Season Age: 20 Org Rank: NR Top 100: NR
Line: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 7 K
It’s been a strong 2017 affiliate debut for Eusebio, who looked quite good throughout extended spring training, his fastball often sitting 90-94 with some tail. His low-70s curveball improved as we inched closer to the summer and it, too, was missing bats as June arrived and is currently average, flashing above. Eusebio has trouble timing his delivery, which can negatively impact his command, but he’s deceptive, throws hard for a lefty starting-pitching prospect, and has breaking-ball feel. Very much a prospect.
Matt Esparza, RHP, Cleveland (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: Cistulli’s Guy Top 100: NR
Line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 5 K
Esparza began the season with nine strong starts at High-A and he’s allowed just 4 walks against 25 strikeouts in 27 innings at Double-A since promotion to Akron. He works in the low 90s with downhill plane, topping out around 94 with a fringe to average slider and changeup, the shapes of which vary. Esparza works around the zone with all of his pitches, though his secondaries are more effective when kept out of it. He profiles as a back-end starter.
Ademar Rifaela, OF, Baltimore, (Profile)
Level: Hi-A Age: 22 Org Rank: NR Top 100: NR
Line: 2-for-5, 2 HR
The curvacious Curaçaoan slugger has plus raw power but is a heavy whiffer due to swing length, and scouts are skeptical about him hitting enough to profile in an outfield corner. He’s hitting .295/.341/.524 with 10 homers — four of them over the weekend — and the power is in there, so he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Ketel Marte, CF, Arizona (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 23 Org Rank: Graduated Top 100: NR
Line: 2-for-3, HR, 2B, 2 BB
Though not technically a prospect, Marte is hitting well in the minors — .358/.407/.541 with 32 extra-base hits, PCL caveats apply — and, after playing exclusively in the middle infield this season, he has spent two of the last five games in center field. A.J. Pollock has begun a rehab assignment, but the Diamondbacks are tussling atop the NL West with a combination of Gregor Blanco and Rey Fuentes in center field. Blanco is hitting but is a better defensive fit in left, so it’s possible we see Marte soon, even if it’s only to lighten Pollock’s load.
Chris Flexen, RHP, New York NL (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: HM Top 100: NR
Line: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 8 K
Flexen has a Tommy John under his belt and began the season on the DL after requiring surgery to remove a bone chip from his right knee. In six starts since his return, he has been 92-96, flashing an above-average slider and throwing all four of his pitches for strikes.
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.
I really think we’re gonna see Flexen in Queens by the end of the summer. With his stuff he could make the Gsellman/Lugo leap, but continued injuries will probably hold him back.