As we approach the 2019 minor league season’s September epilogue, we’re making our last few changes to THE BOARD before cementing the rankings until offseason lists start rolling out. We focused this week on curating the top 100’s midsection, which resulted in us moving around about 10% of 50 FV and above players, which we’ve found to be typical each time we’ve made a concerted effort to refine the very top of the roughly 1250 pro players on THE BOARD on whom we have thoughts. Note that most of the action is taking place on the seam between the 50 and 55 FV tier, a sort of weigh station for rising potential stars, and players with issues exposed at the upper levels.
Let’s quickly touch on the handful of players in this area who have moved down from the 55 FV tier into the 50s. Recent Marlins RF acquisition Jesus Sanchez continues to have below average discipline and trouble lifting the ball consistently. Perhaps a change of scenery will prove meaningful for one or both of these traits, but they’re relevant issues for a corner outfield prospect.
We also dropped some players who we consider higher probability, lower impact types — like New York’s Andres Gimenez, Washington’s Luis Garcia, Philly’s Adonis Medina, Baltimore’s Yusniel Diaz, and Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner — down below 50 FVs who we think have a wider range of potential outcomes, and more ceiling. Their FVs didn’t change at all, but we prefer players who have more obvious growth potential due to bigger tools, more projectable frames, and other physical traits almost always present in top big leaguers.
The players we moved up a bit are mostly the high-performing teenagers, like Padres first rounder CJ Abrams (whose position we changed to center field, as we just don’t think he can make enough tough throws to stay at short), Giants RF Heliot Ramos, Mariners RF Julio Rodriguez, D-backs CF Kristian Robinson (who moves up past Daulton Varsho and becomes the top prospect in Arizona’s system), and Indians CF George Valera (who becomes No. 1 in Cleveland’s). Also note the presence of several players from the 2018 draft in this range. Much like Abrams, we’re not certain the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner can play shortstop, but he’ll end up in the middle of the field somewhere, and we think he’ll rake. He becomes the top Cubs prospect, though our opinion of C Miguel Amaya hasn’t changed.
Outside of these dynamic lower level talents emerging, there are also middle-to-upper minors power-based prospects showing either more performance after a breakout and/or improved underlying metrics to make us buy even more than what the raw statline says. Catchers Will Smith of the Dodgers and Tyler Stephenson of the Reds are two notable backstops who we’ve always liked and have taken recent performance steps forward. Rays 1B Nate Lowe and Twins RF Trevor Larnach have also continue to rake and look like strong bets to be everyday, potential middle-of-the-order types. Mariners RHP Logan Gilbert also has continued to show his Cape/sophomore year of college velocity and performance, rather than the lower velocity that was tied to overuse in his junior year at Stetson (which is why the Mariners had a chance to get him 14th overall last summer).
The list has two new names: Brewers LF Trent Grisham and Dodgers 2B Jeter Downs. Grisham has made an inconsistent amount and quality of contact since signing, while the plate discipline aspect of the profile has been fantastic. He’s been hitting the ball really hard this year, though. Downs has performed, but his underlying numbers are more middling. If he can be passable on the middle infield, it will still make him a solid regular, and the rate at which he’s climbed through the minors means that could be soon.
Other, non-top 100 types we moved include…
Arizona SS Liover Peguero has grown into more power than we expected this soon, so he moves to the 45+ FV tier just behind the 100. Rangers 3B/1B Sherten Apostel has bigger underlying power metrics than his triple slash line indicates, so he’s nearing the 100, too, despite what might be a righty first base profile.
Cleveland righty Triston McKenzie, who hasn’t pitched all year, Rangers CF Leody Taveras, and Brewers OF Tristen Lutz, who just hasn’t hit for sufficient power, moved down and out of the 50 FV tier. Marlins recent third rounder RF Peyton Burick and his big raw power and arm strength have been added to their list while Victor Victor Mesa’s continued struggles have led to another drop for him. Other additions to THE BOARD: Red Sox CF Marcus Wilson, Yankees LF Canaan Smith, new Giants RF Jaylin Davis, and new Tigers RF Travis Demeritte.