Below are some changes we made to The BOARD in the past week, along with our reasons for doing so. There’s more info on all the players below on The BOARD. All hail The BOARD, prostrate yourself before it and bask in its infinite wisdom and benevolence and dynamic farm system rankings.
Note that with the trade deadline upon us, Kiley and I have been focused on seeing and making calls about players from contenders’ systems, since those are the teams most likely to move prospects in the coming days.
Remember these changes are announced as they happen by our Twitter account, @FG_Prospects.
Ryan Jeffers, C, Minnesota Twins:
After amateur scouts were skeptical about Jeffers’ ability to catch long-term, he has turned into a good receiver. He’s an offseason Top 100 candidate.
Bryan Mata, RHP, Boston Red Sox:
Once upon a time, Mata and Cubs righty Jose Albertos were almost identical prospects. Both had been teenagers who had unusually advanced stuff, including swing-and-miss changeups, but concerning control. For a stretch, each of them had stock-altering strike-throwing regressions, from which Mata has emerged and appears beyond, while Albertos’ season is grounded.
Alexander Vargas, SS, New York Yankees:
Vargas had $3 million on the table from Cincinnati but rather than wait until 2019 to sign the deal like the Reds needed him to, he got $2.5 million from the Yankees last year. It’s looking like quite the coup now. Vargas, still 17, was one of a handful of Yankees DSL prospects brought up to the GCL after very few games. He’s a projectable, athletic, switch-hitting shortstop with surprising power for someone his size and age. We moved him up just shy of the FVs of the late first round high school shortstops from this year’s draft.
Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby, LHPs, Milwaukee Brewers:
Post-draft industry discussions regarding Small indicate we were a bit low on him pre-draft. I expect to see him tonight, so he might be in next week’s post, too. Ashby’s stuff (which is good — four competitive pitches and a deceptive delivery) has held as he surpasses his junior college season workload.
Braden Shewmake, SS, Atlanta Braves:
This situation is similar to Small’s, where post-draft talks indicate Shewmake is just a better defender than what we saw pre-draft.
Jasseel De La Cruz, RHP, Atlanta Braves & Alexander Vizcaino, RHP, New York Yankees:
Both present a surface-level relief look with long, violent arm actions, but they’ve each thrown a surprising number of strikes this year and have huge stuff, including swing-and-miss fastballs.
Jeferson Espinal, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks:
A very twitchy, fast center field prospect with a cornerback build, Espinal takes big, at times out of control hacks, but he has premium tools and a projectable body. He may come stateside for instructs.
Benyamin Bailey, OF, Chicago White Sox:
Bailey is a pretty classic, if XXL, teenage corner outfield power projection bat in the DSL.
Riley O’Brien, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays:
Drafted just two years ago, O’Brien looks like a late-blooming, small school rotation piece, assuming he doesn’t force Tampa’s hand.
Tucker Davidson, LHP, Atlanta Braves:
Atlanta has taken the reigns off Davidson, who is holding his stuff deeper into games than ever before. We’ve grown more confident in his chances of starting.
Jonathan Stiever, RHP, Chicago White Sox:
Stiever’s velo is way up compared to where it was in the spring, and he was recently promoted to Hi-A, which is more age-appropriate for a college arm in his first full pro season.
Alec Bettinger, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers:
A senior sign who has combined a bit of a velo bump with sound pitch design, Bettinger is having a statistically dominant season and has backend starter stuff.
Anderson Munoz, RHP, New York Yankees – Munoz shows big arm strength from a smaller guy whose delivery has been tweaked pretty heavily this year.
Reliever Variety Pack
Twins righty Cody Stashak is a classic vertical movement reliever whose fastball plays better than its velo due to life at the top of the zone, and his breaking ball has late, downward bite. The same sort of thing is going on with Brewers righty Max Lazar, who is several years younger and not yet throwing all that hard. Speaking of Milwaukee, double TJ survivor Drew Rasmussen is throwing hard again, up to 99. Jay Jackson came back from Asia with a swing-and-miss heater and is in the big league bullpen now. Braves sinkerballer Jeremy Walker has moved to the bullpen and has a 10-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio there. Rays righty Joe Ryan has a fastball-heavy approach that probably works best in relief.
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.