Below are some changes we made to The BOARD in the past week, with our reasons for doing so. All hail the BOARD.
Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets:
We got some immediate feedback on Monday’s sweeping update, which included more industry interest in Mauricio. The average major league swinging strike rate is 11%. Mauricio has a 12% swinging strike rate, and is a switch-hitting, 6-foot-4 teenager facing full-season pitching. It’s common for lanky teenagers to struggle with contact as they grow into their frames, but Mauricio hasn’t had that issue so far.
Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates:
One of us was sent Cruz’s minor league exit velocities and they’re shockingly close to what Yordan Alvarez’s have been in the big leagues. Of course, there remains great uncertainty about where Cruz will end up on defense, and hitters this size (Cruz is listed at 6-foot-7) are swing and miss risks, but this is a freakish, elite power-hitting talent.
Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants:
This guy has No. 1 overall prospect potential as a shortstop with 70 or better raw power. He belongs up near Bobby Witt, who is older but might also be a plus shortstop while we’re still not sure if Luciano will stay there.
George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians:
Valera is torching the Penn League at 18 and a half years old, and we’re not sure any high school hitter in this year’s draft class would be able to do it. His defensive instincts give him a shot to stay in center field despite middling raw speed, and his swing should allow him to get to all of his raw power, so it becomes less important that his body is projectable. He would have been fifth on our 2019 draft board were he playing at a high school somewhere in the U.S., so he’s now slotted in the between JJ Bleday and C.J. Abrams on our overall list.
Daniel Johnson, OF, Cleveland Indians:
We’re confident now that Johnson will become at least the larger half of a platoon, and his secondary tools (plus speed and corner outfield defense due to his range, an elite arm) will make him a valuable situational player on days he doesn’t start.
Alejandro Kirk, C, Toronto Blue Jays:
Scouts are beginning to buy that Kirk can catch despite having one of pro baseball’s heavier builds. He may reach his physical decline early because of it, but if he keeps hitting like he has and Toronto keeps promoting him, his athletic prime may line up with more big league years than we thought at this season’s onset. He could catch once or twice a week and DH on other days to keep him fresh, too. There are lots of ways to ensure Kirk’s bat plays.
Jorge Barrosa, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Barrosa is a contact and instinct-oriented outfielder with a compact, relatively unprojectable frame. He hit all throughout extended spring training then was skipped over the AZL and sent to the Northwest League this summer. He’s an advanced hitter with a shot to stay in center or be plus in a corner.
James Karinchak, RHP, Cleveland Indians:
Back from a hamstring strain, Karinchak is throwing in the upper-90s with big life. He may pitch out of the Indians bullpen late this summer.
Maikol Escotto, SS, New York Yankees:
The Yankees have a glacier of talent moving through rookie ball right now and some of them got GCL promotions already. Of the 35+ FV prospects in that group, Escotto has separated himself due to his present strength and power.
Damon Jones, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies:
Jones began the year an elder statesman in the Florida State League, but he found a better slider and now has a pretty interesting four-pitch mix. He’s now starting games at Triple-A. He could probably give you four or five quality big league innings, which is more palatable when rosters expand in September.
Joey Cantillo, LHP, San Diego Padres:
I re-positioned Cantillo just based on logic. He and Ignacio Feliz are both teenagers with below-average velocity, but lots of other interesting components. Cantillo is a level ahead and getting results, so he belonged ahead of Feliz.
Other Phillies sleeper arms like Manuel Silva (20-year-old lefty up to 95, good build, curveball feel), Keylan Kilgore, and Julian Garcia (both are fastball-heavy guys; Garcia has a good curve, Kilgore a changeup) were added or moved. Relievers Dany Jimenez and Jackson McClelland were added. There’s a homegrown bullpen bubbling in the 40 and 35+ FV tier of the Jays list now. Giant, hard-throwing righty Starlin Cordero and fast-moving Steven Wilson were added to the Padres list. On the Cardinals list, OF Randy Arozarena moved past other similar players who aren’t performing as well as he is.
Wander Javier, SS, Minnesota Twins:
Now that the industry has actually seen Javier play for a stretch, there’s concern about his ability to make contact. We shaded him down from a 45+ to a 45 FV, as he now belongs behind the comparably aged/skilled shortstops who have better feel to hit (Tucupita Marcano, Geraldo Perdomo, and Tyler Freeman are some examples).
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.