Keeping Up with the NL East’s Prospects

Without a true minor league season on which to fixate, I’ve been spending most of my time watching and evaluating young big leaguers who, because of the truncated season, will still be eligible for prospect lists at the end of the year. From a workflow standpoint, it makes sense for me to prioritize and complete my evaluations of these prospects before my time is divided between theoretical fall instructional ball on the pro side and college fall practices and scrimmages, which will have outsized importance this year due to the lack of both meaningful 2020 college stats and summer wood bat league looks because of COVID-19.

I’m starting with the National League East. Players who have appeared in big league games are covered below, as are a few players who have been at the offsite camps all season. The results of changes made to player rankings and evaluations can be found over on The Board, though I try to provide more specific links throughout this post in case readers only care about one team.

Atlanta Braves

In an August post, I talked about how I was moving away from hitters who swing recklessly but failed to mention that I’d slid Drew Waters from the back of the 55 FV tier — around 50th overall — down to 76th overall, near a bunch of the high ceiling/high variance hitters grouped toward the back of the top 100.

I also slid Kyle Wright (now a 40+ FV — I know he has graduated off of other publications’ lists but even after counting his time on the roster I still have him classified as rookie-eligible, though perhaps I’m miscounting?) and Bryse Wilson (45+ FV). Both of them are throwing hard (Wilson up to 96 over the weekend, Wright up to 97 yesterday) but because they’re of the sink/tail variety, their fastballs don’t have margin for error in the strike zone and both of them too often miss in hittable locations. Each has the secondary stuff to start, but neither has seized a rotation spot even though Atlanta desperately needs someone to.

Ian Anderson slides up within the 55 FV tier because he is healthy and pitching well while several of the other highly-regarded hurlers are not (I slid A.J. Puk down because he has once again been shut down with a shoulder issue).

Miami Marlins

I was glad to see that Trevor Rogerschangeup usage was up in his second start. His breaking ball is blunt and relies on left-on-left funk and deception to be effective, and I think his changeup has a much better chance to be an impact pitch. I considered shading Rogers’ FV down to a more vanilla 45 (a No. 4/5 starter) because of how mediocre and totally stagnant his slurvy breaking ball has been since high school, but I still think the long-term potential of his fastball command and changeup give him a mid-rotation ceiling. He may have to find a third pitch at the big league level, though.

Based on the same principles I mentioned regarding Waters above, I’ve slid Jesús Sánchez and Monte Harrison down into the 45+ FV tier, which is where hitters like this (and Franchy Cordero, Estevan Florial, and Kyle Lewis) will often live from now on. Starling Marte’s acquisition clouds how much Sánchez, Harrison, and Lewis Brinson will get to play this year and next.

I also slid Sixto Sánchez to the top of the 55 FV tier for the same reasons mentioned above regarding Anderson: Sixto is healthy and pitching well while other similar talents are not.

I went back and did some film work on Max Meyer and decided I was light on his changeup projections in my pre-draft evaluation, so he moves from the 45+ FV tier to the same slice of the 50 FV tier as Waters and several other risk/ceiling prospects, like Hunter Greene.

New York Mets

No FV change for Andrés Giménez, who remains a good defensive middle infielder with contact skills but doesn’t have the power to be an impact player. I did shift his variance rating from “medium” to “low,” however.

I’m moderately concerned by David Peterson’s sudden issues with walks though it’s only been a problem for about six starts, which were interrupted by shoulder soreness. I’m not ready to slide him down to the 40 FV tier yet.

Philadelphia Phillies

The evaluations for the two top 100 prospects in the system, Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm, are unlikely to change. Howard still has four viable pitches, including three that can miss bats, and he still has a relatively fresh arm because of how little he threw as a college underclassman. I shaded Bohm’s present hit tool up a half grade but still have more of a solid, everyday, 2 to 2.5 annual WAR expectation for him because his approach isn’t suited for generating star-level power. Their rankings may change but their FVs are unlikely to.

JoJo Romero’s velocity is up (89-93 last year, 93-95 this year), and his repertoire has been reconfigured to feature a slider rather than the cutter/curveball mix from my last report. During his days at Yavapai, I had Romero’s changeup projected as his best secondary offering, and I still think he has the traits — athleticism and arm action — to develop a really good one. It was easier to envision him locating it precisely when he was pitching with more of a touch and feel style rather than his current max-effort, fire-breathing persona. I’m not saying I prefer him living in the 88-92 range, but I am less sure about how to continue projecting on the changeup even though, again, I’m still letting his athleticism be my guide. He’s now a 40+ FV and has become one of Philly’s most reliable bullpen pieces rather than a low-leverage bulk innings reliever or fifth starter as previously projected.

I now have a single-inning, middle relief grade (40 FV) on Mauricio Llovera, who slides down from the 40+ FV tier. Here’s a brief, year-by-year breakdown of Llovera’s stuff:

Mauricio Llovera Stuff
Year FV Report Level
2017 35 Up to 97, flashing a plus mid-80s, two-plane breaking ball. Low-A
2018 40+ 93-96, flashing same plus breaking ball but also a plus splitter later in the season. Hi-A
2019 40+ 91-94, t96, same secondaries, dealt with injury, strike-throwing regressed. Double-A
2020 40 93-95, same secondaries. Camp/MLB

Even with some of the velocity bouncing back, that’s a pretty average bullpen fastball, and it lacks complementary traits that would help it miss bats in spite of that. I still like the depth on his breaking ball (though hitters seem to be able to pick it up out of his hand) and the sink and tail on the changeup (though sometimes it just tails) enough that I think Llovera will have a consistent role on any pitching staff, but barring a late-season uptick in arm strength, he’ll enter the offseason with that single-inning middle relief projection rather than the high-leverage hopes I’ve had for the last couple of seasons.

Phillies alternate training site activities have been broadcast on local TV, so the industry has had a better idea of what’s going on there than in other camps. The pitchers there who have been up and down, and on and off the big league roster (Connor Brogdon, Ramón Rosso, Cole Irvin) will all remain 35+ FVs on The Board (unless Irvin pitches another handful of innings and graduates), while recent call-up Garrett Cleavinger will be re-evaluated once he throws.

Barring a call-up, I’ll need to source data on 40-man youngsters Cristopher Sánchez and Adonis Medina. Medina was scratched from his Sunday “start,” during which he was supposed to throw five innings.

Of the Phillies campsite position players, so far I’ve only been compelled to move Rafael Marchan up to the 45 FV tier, commensurate with late first round college prospects. Marchan, 21, has looked great defensively at the campsite and is making lots of contact from both sides of the plate against advanced pitching. I think a comparable college catching prospect would go somewhere toward the back of a draft’s first round, and 45+ FV catcher Patrick Bailey (who has a little more pop than Marchan) is good, recent supporting evidence.

Washington Nationals

Carter Kieboom is a high-priority evaluation for the stretch run. He still doesn’t have an extra-base hit this season. He only recently returned from the offsite camp, so it’s too early to move him down again, but he has the biggest rankings delta of anyone covered in this post today.

Luis García’s performance has been in line with expectations. He’s an aggressive swinger with great feel for the barrel. His power output is limited by how apt he is to offer at pitches he can’t drive, so like Giménez above, García projects as a solid everyday player but not a star.

We hoped you liked reading Keeping Up with the NL East’s Prospects by Eric Longenhagen!

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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.

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gvanlue
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gvanlue

I share your hesitation regarding Gimenez’ offensive game, but I would personally upgrade him from a “good defensive middle infielder” to a “really good defensive middle infielder”. FV of “very good”, ceiling of “very, very good indeed”.

tomerafan
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tomerafan

Yes. Gimenez is very, very special in the field (other than his odd tendency to dive for balls with both arms extended, rather than just his glove hand, which cost him once already and almost cost him two other times). He is easy and effortless out there. “Good defensive MI” is an understatement.

But I also think the bat is a shade above Eric’s write-up. Power, maybe not, but calling him a “contact hitter” undersells the quality of his AB. He is a hitter with an approach that is far more mature than his age, and of far higher quality than a 5% BB / 20% K rate would indicate on the surface. He’s also an easy 20-to-30 SB talent. I look at a good “contact hitter” like Luis Arraez and I like Gimenez more, as a more complete player, in every way except the K rate.

mookie28
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Member
mookie28

He’s made a lot of very good plays in the field that Mets IF have not made for a long time. He’s also almost directly cost them two games (Yankees/Phillies) with crushing errors at the wrong time. I realize that’s anecdotal but it was painful to watch.

Connor Grey
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Member
Connor Grey

Giménez looks to me like he has the potential to be one of the best defensive shortstops in all of MLB. I think it’s possible I’m overvaluing his defense. Not just because I’m a Mets fan and want him to do well, but also because Mets shortstops have been so bad for so many years that I’m just not used to seeing some of the great plays that he’s made.

On days when Rosario starts at SS the day after Giménez, the defensive drop-off is startling. I expect them to commit to Rosario becoming a full time CF for 2021 and beyond.

Dooduh
Member
Dooduh

Chances are probably higher they’ll get a CFer from outside the org. There’s no reason to believe Rosie will be a + defensively in CF having never played the OF before. More likely he becomes a super UT a la Chris Taylor.