Prospects “graduate” from prospect lists when they exceed the playing time/roster days necessary to retain rookie eligibility. But of course, that doesn’t mean they’re all in the big leagues for good. Several are up for a while but end up getting bounced back and forth from Triple-A for an extended period of time. Others get hurt at an inopportune moment and virtually disappear for years.
Nobody really covers these players in a meaningful way; they slip through the cracks, and exist in a limbo between prospectdom and any kind of relevant big-league sample. Adalberto Mondesi, Jurickson Profar, A.J. Reed, and Tyler Glasnow are recent examples of this. To address this blind spot in coverage, I’ve cherry-picked some of the more interesting players who fall under this umbrella who we didn’t see much of last year, but who we may in 2019.
|Age||24||Height||6′ 1″||Weight||190||Bat / Thr||R / R||PV||50|
|Hit||Raw Power||Game Power||Speed||Defense||Arm|
When he was healthy enough to be on the field before his symptoms returned, scouts saw tools befitting an everyday outfielder. Frazier still has electric bat speed and power, and he’s a plus runner once he reaches top speed. That speed makes him passable in center field (where I have him graded above) and above-average in a corner (where he may play this year). Reports on the hit tool vary, but that could be because Frazier’s symptoms, when resurgent, most impacted that aspect of his skillset. There’s some hit tool and, possibly, risk that these concussion symptoms are chronic, but I still have him projected as an everyday left fielder.
|Age||25||Height||6′ 2″||Weight||180||Bat / Thr||L / L||PV||50|
|Hit||Raw Power||Game Power||Speed||Defense||Arm|
|Age||26||Height||6′ 5″||Weight||225||Bat / Thr||R / R||PV||40+|
|60?||50||60||45||45||90-95 / 99|
Hoffman only threw 8.2 innings in the big leagues last year and looked like a shell of his former self when he did. His fastball velocity was down nearly two full ticks and he heavily borrowed from his curveball usage to instead work more with his slider, which was harder but had considerably less spin than it did the year before. It was No. 5 starter stuff.
This offseason, Hoffman received a mechanical consultation at Driveline and reportedly tweaked the way he used his lower half, and is now throwing harder. Much, much harder. Harder than he was in college when Kiley and I thought he was a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick before he blew out his UCL. Of everyone discussed here, Hoffman is the most volatile. There’s no way of knowing how different he looks until we see him this spring, but it appears as though it may be drastically so.
|Age||25||Height||6′ 7″||Weight||222||Bat / Thr||R / R||PV||40|
|50||50||55||50||45||90-95 / 96|
Paulino graduated off of prospect lists in 2017 and spent extended time on the Injured List twice last year, in part due to shoulder soreness. In the past, he’s also had a team-imposed suspension for a rules violation, surgery to clean up bone spurs, and a PED suspension, so he has been tough to see for various reasons over the last three years. He got a brief September look with Toronto late last season after the Jays acquired him in the Roberto Osuna deal, and his stuff was intact.
He’ll likely be a reliever moving forward, just as a way of keeping him healthy by limiting his innings, but he has a starter’s four-pitch mix led by a very pretty 12-6 curveball that doesn’t play as well as its spin would suggest (it averages over 3,000 rpm) because it’s fairly easy to identify out of his hand. Instead, we may see more changeups from him than anything else. The repertoire depth may enable him to play a multi-inning role, but I have just a 40 on Paulino at this point.
|Age||24||Height||6′ 2″||Weight||230||Bat / Thr||R / R||PV||40|
|50||50||60||50||40||90-94 / 96|
After years of posting high strikeout rates as a Braves prospect, Sims’ 2017 big league debut was kind of a mess. He went from striking out 28% of hitters at Triple-A to just 17% in the big leagues, and he was quite wild. The Braves shuttled him back and forth between Gwinnett and Atlanta a few times, then traded him to Cincinnati in the 2018 Adam Duvall deal. Though Sims’ big league numbers weren’t good last year, he did make some encouraging mechanical alterations. His stride was a little longer, his arm swing started earlier, and it wasn’t racing to catch up to the rest of his delivery, which had caused pitches to sail on him in 2017. His release point is much more consistent than it had been, too, and his cutter and curveball usage have inverted.
Here are Sims’ 2017 release points:
And here they are in 2018:
It’s unclear if these changes will make a positive impact, but they are changes. He’ll likely get a chance to play a relief role on an all-hands-on-deck Reds pitching staff.
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.