Daily notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Games of 8/9
Dakota Mekkes, RHP, Chicago NL (Profile)
Level: Hi-A Age: 22 Org Rank: HM Top 100: NR
Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 9 K
Looking at his stuff in the absence of context, Mekkes is barely a middle-relief prospect. His fastball typically sits in the low 90s and his slider is solid average, perhaps a tick above. But Mekkes is a gargantuan 6-foot-7, takes a large stride toward the plate, and releases the ball much closer to the plate than the average pitcher, creating a Doug Fister-like effect that allows his stuff to play up. He has a 1.00 career ERA in pro ball and has allowed just 32 hits in 61 innings this year while striking out 80.
Like most XXL pitchers in their early 20s, Mekkes struggles with control, but hitters’ inability to adjust to his delivery in short stints has limited their overall ability to reach base. As a result, he has a WHIP under 1.00 despite an 11% walk rate. It’s hard to say how this rare type of deception will play in a big league, assuming upper-level hitters are still flummoxed by it as Mekkes moves on. Jordan Walden was dominant for a half decade with a similar type of deception but had much better stuff. Regardless, it’s worth noting that Chris Mitchell had flagged Mekkes as a noteworthy prospect before he was drafted.
Jordan Cowan, INF, Seattle (Profile)
Level: Hi-A Age: 22 Org Rank: NR Top 100: NR
Line: 3-for-5, SB
Cowan is repeating High A and is only slugging .348 there (his bat path produces all-fields contact without any sort of extra-base distance). That said, he does have bat-to-ball skills and that, combined with his positional versatility (he sees time at second, third, and short, the former two are actually viable spots for him), might allow Cowan to max out as a hit-first bench piece. Not bad for a 37th-round pick.
Eric Haase, C, Cleveland (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 24 Org Rank: NR Top 100: NR
Line: 2-for-4, 2 HR
Haase has hit for power — he has a .326 ISO this year — while splitting catching duties with Francisco Mejia at Double-A Akron. Some scouts question his mobility and he has fringe arm strength, but Haase receives pretty well and has plus, all-fields raw power. While strikeout prone and unlikely to develop even an average hit tool, Haase’s combination of power and position make him a solid bet to play some sort of big-league role, likely as a slugging backup, though some scouts like him as a sleeper regular.
Games of 8/10
Josh Naylor, 1B, San Diego (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 26 Org Rank: 26 Top 100: NR
Line: 3-for-5, 2 2B
Naylor has plus-plus raw power and is difficult to strike out, yet he doesn’t hit for huge power in games due his ground-ball bat path and willingness to swing at pitches that aren’t really punishable. Though he has the physical skills to do so, scouts are apprehensive about Naylor’s ability to make contact worthy of everyday duty at first base without a change to his approach. He’s still just 20 and already at Double-A, so there’s time for Naylor to make adjustments and unlock his prodigious offensive potential.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: 1 Top 100: 30
Line: 3-for-4, 2 HR, BB, SB
Senzel has not only met offensive expectations, hitting .341 since a late-June promotion to Double-A, but has arguably exceeded them, as he’s hitting for big power without, according to scouts, fully incorporating his lower half into his swing. It’s led some scouts to question if this current level of production (Senzel is slugging .509 across two levels this year) will continue while others are just impressed Senzel is doing all of this damage with only his hands/wrists.
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.
Please reach a consensus on how old Josh Naylor is, thank you.