On Monday, Washington sent a three-player package of middling talents back to Kansas City in exchange for reliever Kelvin Herrera. Those prospects are 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, CF Blake Perkins and RHP Yohanse Morel.
Perkins and Gutierrez were each on our Nationals team write-up as 40 FVs. Gutierrez has a strong contact/defense profile. (He was bad at third base in my extended look at him last Fall and received some playing time at first in anticipation of Ryan Zimmerman’s continued health problems.) He lacks corner-worthy power, however. Perkins is a glove-first center-field prospect with premium strike-zone awareness (he has a 12% career walk rate) and very little power.
We have each of them evaluated as big-league role players. Gutierrez is probably a low-end regular or bench/platoon option at third base and, down the line, a couple other positions. If he alters his approach in a way that coaxes out more of his average raw power in games, he could be more than that. Perkins has a bit more variability because he hasn’t been switch-hitting for very long (he only started in 2016) and might yet grow into some competency as a left-handed hitter, but his lack of in-game power might also undercut his walk rate at upper levels of the minors — and in the big leagues, too — because pitchers are going to attack him without fear that he’ll do any real damage on his own. He also might become such a great defensive center fielder that he plays every day despite providing little offensive value.
Morel is a solid, if somewhat generic, 17-year-old pitching prospect. He was maddeningly hard to source scouting information on during the last 24 hours because he wasn’t a premium amateur prospect, he pitched in one game in the DSL and then traveled to the U.S. to play in the GCL (he arrived in Palm Beach 10 days ago), which didn’t begin play until yesterday, the day Morel was traded. After a day of scrambling, here’s what we’ve got on Morel, who, I’ll see in person soon enough in the AZL.
He signed for $100,000 on July 2, 2017 as a new-to-pitching righty whose fastball was up to 91, but he has since experienced a bit of a velocity spike and now sits in the low 90s. Morel is 6-foot-1 and is bigger and more physically mature than most of his teenaged peers, but his frame suggests that he’ll be shy of average, size-wise, at maturity. That typically puts a conservative cap on a pitching prospect’s fastball projection, but some orgs consider fastball/breaking-ball spin as another predictor of fastball growth and Morel has that in his precocious fastball and a breaking ball that was in the 75-78 range when he was an amateur and is a bit harder now. He also has feel for a changeup, which one source mentioned first when discussing Morel’s secondaries.
If you want a domestic comp to gauge Morel’s value in a sea of similar teenage pitching prospects, I’d look at recent Mets draftee Simeon Woods-Richardson. SWR is also 17 and without much physical projection, has a two-way background, throws hard (harder then Morel) and has a somewhat advanced three-pitch mix. Woods-Richardson was drafted 48th overall and ranked 100 on our draft board. You can generalize his value in second-/third-round area and then, using that as context, slot Morel in the third- to fifth-round range behind him because of the gap in velo.
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.