Daily notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Jose Siri, OF, Cincinnati (Profile)
Level: Low-A Age: 21 Org Rank: HM Top 100: NR
Line: 3-for-5, 3B, HR
Siri’s slender 6-foot-2 frame contains surprisingly big tools. He’s a plus runner with above-average raw power and arm strength. He also has good bat control, although an aggressive approach at the plate has lead to some strikeout issues throughout his career that could be further exposed at upper levels. He has big upside if he can continue to hit. Much of what scouts are saying about Siri now were being said, verbatim, about Nick Williams two years ago.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 20 Org Rank: 2 Top 100: 63
Line: 2-for-3, 2B, HR, 2 BB
Tucker is so pull-happy on the ground that he’s already being shifted by opposing infields, but his swing, which evokes another era of baseball, allows for airborne power to all fields. Tucker has been significantly more aggressive at the plate this year than he was last, but he’s generating enough power on contact that scouts don’t care. He’s hitting very well for his age at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Leody Taveras, OF, Texas (Profile)
Level: Low-A Age: 18 Org Rank: 1 Top 100: 49
Line: 2-for-4, 2 2B
Taveras’s season-long .265/.318/.379 line isn’t impressive on its face, but keep in mind that he’s an 18-year-old in full-season ball who has better strikeout and walk rates than he did last year. He’s still not very strong with the bat from the right side of the plate but gets fewer in-game reps from that side, and it might take his right-handed swing longer to mature. He projects as a leadoff-hitting contact machine who also plays a dynamite center field.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 25 Org Rank: 17 Top 100: NR
Line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 6 K
Still technically a prospect, Gonzales sits in the low 90s with a plus changeup but doesn’t have much of a breaking ball and his delivery has gone backwards. He projects as a fifth or sixth starter if he can stay healthy. He hasn’t thrown more than 80 innings in a season since 2014, but he’s just a few starts from eclipsing that mark.
The MLB Draft signing deadline is Friday, 5 p.m. ET. Let’s quickly run through who teams have left to sign among their top-10-round selections and, by my count, what kind of bonus pool money they have left to do so.
Cincinnati has the largest unspent pool amount at just over $7.2 million, all of which should go to high-school righty and second-overall selection, Hunter Greene.
The Dodgers have yet to sign any of their first three picks, Vanderbilt CF Jeren Kendall, Texas RHP Morgan Cooper, and Houston C/INF Conner Wong. Kentucky RHP Zach Pop, the team’s seventh rounder, signed but for an undisclosed amount. If we assume he signed for something close to slot, then Los Angeles has about $4.2 million to get those first three signed. Kendall’s slot is for $2.7 million, Cooper’s just over $1 million, Wong’s $537,000.
Houston has about $3.9 million left to sign first-round North Carolina righty J.B. Bukauskas ($3.5 mil slot) and 10th-round Tennessee RHP Kyle Serrano. The Mets have $3.1 million to sign Oregon lefty David Peterson.
The Cubs needed to wait for the College World Series to end before engaging in earnest, risk-free talks with LSU RHP Alex Lange and, as a result, some of the rest of the class has not signed as they wait for that first-round shoe to drop. Fifth and sixth rounders Nelson Figueroa, a thick-bodied high-school outfielder from Puerto Rico, and enigmatic SoCal RHP Jeremiah Estrada are unsigned. By my count, the Cubs have just over $3.1 million left to spend. Lange’s slot is $2.1 million. Figueroa and Estrada have $285K and $222K slots, respectively.
Washington’s lone unsigned top-10-round pick is first-rounder Seth Romero. They have just over his slot value remaining in their pool.
Tampa Bay made news by announcing they would not sign comp pick Drew Rasmussen, a hard-throwing righty from Oregon State who returned part of the way through this season after rehabbing from Tommy John. The Rays reportedly did not offer the minimum 40% of slot ($2.1 million) required to retain Rasmussen’s slot value as part of their pool.
That offer of 40% of the slot value is typically also required for the club to receive a compensation pick in the next year’s draft, but there’s a new provision within the CBA which might be allowing Tampa Bay to circumvent that. The new CBA states that the MLB Scouting Bureau invites the top-50 pitchers (evaluations theirs) in a given draft to take a voluntary MRI. If a prospect declines, teams no longer need to offer 40% of slot to receive a comp pick if the a doctor finds something wrong with the post-draft medical. I’m working to confirm that this is the case with Rasmussen, but it would explain why the buzz in the industry is that the Rays are getting a pick despite failing to offer the minimum. Some scouting sources with whom I spoke yesterday heard that some clubs moved Rasmussen down their boards due to injury concerns.
Arizona has just over $1 million in pool money left to try to sign Northeastern prep arm Matt Tabor, the club’s third-round pick. His slot value is $687K. Baltimore has a prep righty of their own, fourth-rounder Jack Conlon, for whom they have about $922K left. Joe Booker, Anaheim’s fifth rounder, a wide receiver and pitcher, could get close to $300K to sign.
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.
Are scouts saying anything about a change in approach/swing that generates more fly balls for Tucker? The batted ball data indicates Tucker is getting ball in the air about 33% more often. Since the data is new on Fangraphs, not sure if that is due to natural progression, actual change, statistical anomaly, or just stats kept differently in different leagues.