The Final Pro-Side Update to THE BOARD

Over the last several weeks, we have seen and/or sourced opinions on a handful of pro prospects whom we felt should move up our pref list, some of them into the 50 FV tier. Rather than wait until this winter’s full-scale update of each team’s farm system to reflect updated opinions on these players, we’ve moved them now to more accurately reflect our present evaluations (we have thoughts on each of them below) and also because we consider several of them perfect touchstones for discussion this offseason.

We have also shuffled a handful of players on the top 100. Most of the players we’ve moved up haven’t experienced tool change per se but have outperformed similarly evaluated talents; those who’ve moved down thanks, meanwhile, did so largely due to injuries. This isn’t a comprehensive update, just what we consider to be a more accurate snapshot, grabbing the low-hanging fruit. There’s also a handful of players whom we debated moving but decided to leave alone for the moment because Eric will be seeing them a lot in the Arizona Fall League, allowing us to provide a more well informed judgment in the near future. In his AFL preview, Eric names most of these players.

A reminder: THE BOARD is here. We’ll also be updating our 2019 MLB Draft rankings in the coming days.

Moving Up into the 50+ FV Tier

Vidal Brujan, 2B, TBR – Brujan’s speed, bat control, size, and feel for the game are all comparable to the sort exhibited by Ozzie Albies, Nick Madrigal, Luis Urias, and other pint-sized dynamos who seem to be multiplying lately. We had an aggressive 45 FV on him preseason in anticipation of a solid full-season debut, but he blew even us away, stealing 55 bases with 63 walks and 68 strikeouts.

Luis Patiño, RHP, SDP – We believe Patiño to be the best 18-year-old pitching prospect on the planet. He has a mid-90s fastball, plus breaking ball, and the kind of premium athleticism indicative of growth in other areas.

Bryse Wilson, RHP, ATL – Not only has Wilson’s fastball velocity ticked up since high school (it now sits comfortably in the mid-90s after averaging 90-92 in some of his best high-school starts), but his usage of it has changed in a way that better sets up his breaking ball. His stuff is on par with most of the upper-minors 50 FV pitchers’, but Wilson is younger than all of them. He looks like German Marquez did last year, when Marquez was a third pitch away from ascendance.

Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE – Jones has kept his sizable frame in check, and we’re more bullish about his chances of staying at third than we were last offseason. He’s also maintained his stunning walk rates for another season.

Brayan Rocchio, SS, CLE – This was the best teenage hitter Eric saw in Arizona this summer. Rocchio has barrel control and good timing from both sides of the plate. He’s a bit undersized on paper but his frame, which looks like Erick Aybar’s did at the same age, portends strength. He also rotates well through contact, so there might even be power. We’re optimistic that he stays at short, but the fall-back option is a still-valuable second base.

Bubba Thompson, CF, TEX – Thompson had a very strong first full season at Low-A Hickory, which was an aggressive assignment given his multi-sport amateur background. His overt physical ability has now been supported by a year of performance that surpassed most of the industry’s expectations.

Moving Out of 50+ FV Tier

Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK – Still an 80 runner, Mateo otherwise had a season marred by plate-discipline issues that also impacted the quality of his contact. He remains a somewhat inefficient base-stealer despite elite wheels.

Yadier Alvarez, RHP, LAD – The control has not improved for Alvarez, who had multiple injury stints this year and went AWOL late in the season.

Moving Among the 40/45 FV prospects

Wenceel Perez, SS, DET -Though not as twitchy as the aforementioned Brujan, Perez is another slick-gloved middle infielder with great bat control and advanced feel/instincts.

Carlos Vargas, RHP, CLE – At his best, Vargas will sit 95-99 with a 70 slider and throw strikes. His breaking ball and especially his control have been erratic. He’s also had a TJ already. He could be an elite bullpen arm even if he can’t start.

Tony Gonsolin, RHP, LAD – Gonsolin’s stuff ticked up over the course of 2017 and it’s continued to be effective this year. He throws hard and has a plus splitter. He’ll likely debut next year.

Cole Roederer, CF, CHC – Pre-draft, we had Roederer evaluated as a high-contact outfield tweener with mediocre game power. He showed up to pro ball with a stronger build and displayed much more power than he had several months earlier. There’s a non-zero chance he stays in center.

Josiah Gray, RHP, CIN – A converted infielder with a mid-90s fastball and strike-throwing ability, Gray has late-bloomer traits (small, cold-weather college, a position change) and feel for spin. He may just be scratching the surface.

Mauricio Llovera, RHP, PHI – Llovera may ultimately be a multi-inning bullpen piece. He sits in the mid-90s, has flashed a plus, two-plane breaker, and plus splitter at times this year, but not always in the same outing.

Kevin Smith, SS, TOR – At Maryland, Smith was a swing-and-miss power hitter who could play a solid shortstop. In pro ball, some swing and approach adjustments have unlocked more contact ability. He now looks like he may be a regular of some kind, which would be quite a find in the fourth round.

Moving Down in 40/45 FV area

Seth Romero, LHP, WSN – Romero has well-publicized makeup issues and, two weeks ago, added a Tommy John surgery to his resume. Healthy Romero has plus stuff, but he has a rather extreme risk profile.

We hoped you liked reading The Final Pro-Side Update to THE BOARD by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel!

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