Top 10 Prospects (2017): Miami Marlins: Is There Any Value In A Beleaguered System?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Marlins’ system certainly isn’t one of the more impressive in the game, especially when it comes to high upside hitters.  There are a few intriguing pitchers, but there are questions hanging over many of them as well (like Tyler Kolek, who struggled before ultimately needing Tommy John surgery).  Are there any players with enough upside that they are worth watching?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Luis Castillo – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2017
Grade – B+

The converted reliever brings strikeout potential, despite not yet showing it (7.0 K/9 over 131.2 IP between High-A and Double-A in ’16).  He throws hard and as he learns how to harness his stuff as a starter it’s easy to envision a strikeout per inning (or more).  The biggest question has always been his control, but that has been trending in the right direction: Read more

Breaking Down The Prospects Dealt In The Drew Smyly Deals: Is There Value Outside Of Gohara?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

In order to acquire Drew Smyly from the Tampa Bay Rays the Seattle Mariners pulled the trigger on a pair of trades, parting with four prospects in the process.  Let’s take a look at each of them and get to know a little bit about them and their upside:

 

Luiz Gohara – Left-Handed Pitcher
Traded to the Atlanta Braves

He is the best player that the team dealt directly (the argument could be made that Mallex Smith was the best player traded away), as he earned a B+ grade and was our second ranked prospect in the system (click here to view our Top 10).  That’s not to say that he’s a sure thing, as there are obvious questions about his workload and how quickly he will arrive (while he broke out in ’16, he threw just 69.2 innings).  He also has never really been pushed to work late into games.  Just look at this interesting tidbit, courtesy of Baseball America:

“Gohara has pitched more than six innings only once in 48 career starts.” Read more

Breakout Prospect Potential: Could The Rangers’ Eric Jenkins Erupt In 2017?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

You can easily argue that we were a bit aggressive in our ranking of the Rangers’ Eric Jenkins, who slotted in #4 on our recently released Top 10 prospect list (click here to view).  There is an obvious flaw given his strikeout rate (27.4% at Single-A), which helped to deflate his average (.221).  The other skills are loud, though, and impossible to overlook.

Jenkins not only showed off speed (51 SB), but also more power than your typical speedster (30 extra base hits, including 8 HR).  There is no questioning the speed potential of the 2015 second round pick, who has racked up 79 SB in just 705 AB since being drafted.

As MLB.com recently said about him, it’s clear that he’s not simply stepping to the plate and looking to put the ball in play though:

“Unlike many speedsters, Jenkins does more than just slap and run when he’s at the plate. He has a quick left-handed stroke, feel for manipulating the barrel and some deceptive pull power. Once he adds some strength and refines his approach, he could hit for average and reach double figures in home runs.” Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Atlanta Braves: High Upside Pitching Bolsters An Impressive System

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Braves have rebuilt their system, with the focus being put on high upside arms.  There’s clearly a wave coming, and the addition of multiple veterans will afford them ample time to develop and mature without the spotlight or unrealistic expectations.  That said, their upside is clearly there and they aren’t alone as there are several impressive hitters filling up the system as well.  The Braves could become a force in the AL East in short order, making this system an intriguing one to spotlight:

 

1) Dansby Swanson – Shortstop
Grade – A
ETA – Already Arrived

He’s moved quickly, after being traded from Arizona in the doomed Shelby Miller deal.  Swanson got 145 PA in the Majors last season, as a 22-year old, hitting .302 with 3 HR and 3 SB.  He showed a good command of the strike zone, including a 9.7% SwStr%, so with experience we’d expect him to improve upon his 23.4% strikeout rate. Read more

Prospect Sleeper: Could The Royals’ Khalil Lee Put Himself On The Map In ’17?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Looking at a players’ first taste of professional baseball and drawing definitive conclusions is often a mistake.  As it is it’s an extremely small sample size, and any player can catch fire in the short-term.  That said, the Royals’ Khalil Lee (2016 third round pick) did more than enough after being selected to draw an aggressive ranking from us.

When we did our Royals’ Top 10 prospects (click here to view) we slotted him at #8 in the system saying:

“This is an aggressive ranking, but seeing him post 6 HR, 8 SB and a 14.9% walk rate in his first taste of professional baseball (222 PA) is promising.  At 18-years old there’s a long ways to go, but the 2016 third round pick is certainly a name worth monitoring.”

The left-handed hitter is going to have a lot to prove as he progresses in the system, as he stands at 5’10” and isn’t known to have blazing speed.  Is he going to be able to hit for significant power?  Is he going to be able to steal enough bases? Read more

Now In KC, Don’t Assume Peter O’Brien Is The Next Chris Carter…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We’ve long heard the hype surrounding Peter O’Brien, though a lack of a true position and significant strikeout rates have caused his value to plummet.  In 79 PA in the Majors over the past two seasons he’s posted a gaudy 40.7% strikeout rate (though he has chipped in 6 HR).  Those numbers pale in comparison of what he’s done at Triple-A over the past two seasons:

  • 2015 – .284 with 26 HR and 107 RBI over 490 AB
  • 2016 – .254 with 24 HR and 75 RBI over 406 AB

Obviously the positional concern gets wiped away now that the Royals can utilize him as the DH.  The strikeouts, though, remain an issue as he was at 33.9% while at Triple-A in ’16.  Couple that with a minuscule 5.3% walk rate and it’s easy to imagine Major League pitchers continuing to take advantage of him. Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Texas Rangers: A Once Strong System Is No Longer Impressive…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

A system once loaded with high-upside, promising prospects, things have gone downhill in recent years.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some intriguing players with the potential to make an impact, but the high-end options just don’t seem to be there.  Let’s take a look at what’s left, and where the value could come from:

 

1) Yohander Mendez – Left-Handed Pitcher
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B/B+

Mendez pitched across three levels of the minors, and even got 3.0 innings of work coming out of the Rangers bullpen.  While he did pitch well overall, the skills appeared to regress as he moved up levels:

LevelInningsK/9BB/9
High-A33.012.33.0
Double-A46.28.92.7
Triple-A31.16.34.6
Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Seattle Mariners: Is The “Next Julio Urias” Among Their Top Prospects?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Seattle Mariners isn’t necessarily a system that you’d think of when it comes to high end prospects, though they’ve seen a few develop as such in recent years.  They’ve also made a few intelligent, somewhat under-the-radar, acquisitions (like Mitch Haniger), further bolstering the system.  That’s not to say that they are a top end group, but Seattle is certainly better off than you’d might think.  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Kyle Lewis – Outfielder
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+

The 11th overall selection in the 2016 draft quickly made his mark, hitting .299 with 3 HR and 3 SB over 117 AB.  Not impressed?  He added 8 doubles and 5 triples (.530 SLG), while also adding a good command of the strike zone (22 K vs. 16 BB).  At 6’4” and 21-years old, there’s a good chance that his power comes quickly.

The biggest question will be whether or not he can stay in centerfield, though chances are he’s ultimately shifted to a corner slot.  That obviously isn’t a major concern, and isn’t a knock against him.

 

2) Luiz Gohara – Left-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+

Is he the “next” Julio Urias?  Now 20-years old, the southpaw made his mark in his 13 starts across two levels of Single-A:

1.81 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 81 K, 23 BB, 1.68 GO/AO

That’s certainly the type of skill set we look for, the biggest question centers around his workload as he threw just 69.2 innings.  Considering that was a career high, it’s fair to wonder how long it’s going to take for him to make a significant impact at the Major League level.  That said, he’s heading in the right direction as he took a step forward with his control (the other significant concern hanging over  him).  We need to give him time to develop, but the upside is there.

 

3) Tyler O’Neill – Outfielder
ETA – 2017
Grade – B+

After hitting .293 with 24 HR, 102 RBI and 12 SB at Double-A (showing his proximity to the Majors), the hype machine is going to be in full force for O’Neill.  Considering he hit 32 HR at High-A in ’15 there’s obviously reason to believe in his power, though he has not supplemented the long balls with a significant number of additional extra base hits (21 doubles and 2 triples in ’15, 26 doubles and 4 triples in ’16).  He also has shown a propensity to swing and miss at an excessive amount:

  • High-A – 30.5%
  • Double-A – 26.1%

Obviously improving, despite the tougher competition, is an impressive sign.  That said last season’s mark still has a long way to go.  It’s something that could be exposed at Triple-A, and how he produces early in the year will help to cement our impressions.

 

4) Mitch Haniger – Outfielder
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B

It’s easy to overlook Haniger as the “other” piece in the trade that netted Seattle Jean Segura.  That said he was mighty impressive splitting time between Double and Triple-A last season, hitting .321 with 25 HR (along with 34 doubles and 5 triples) and 12 SB.  Even better was the consistent command of the strike zone he displayed (strikeout rate // walk rate):

  • Double-A – 15.7% // 12.7%
  • Triple-A – 19.9% // 12.5%

He has the potential to claim a starting role with the team immediately, as he certainly could help to add some thump to the lineup (he had an additional 5 HR in the Majors).  He also didn’t appear to be overmatched with Arizona, with a 9.5% SwStr% and 22.6% O-Swing%.  He’s an easy player to overlook, but that would be a mistake.

 

5) Mox Povse – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2017
Grade – B-

Standing at 6’8”, it’s impressive that he walked just 29 batters over 158.0 IP between High-A and Double-A last season.  Couple that with a solid groundball rate (1.24 GO/AO) and there’s a lot of reason for optimism.  That said, he doesn’t have the strikeout upside of other pitching prospects (139 K last season), and that is going to ultimately limit his overall appeal.  You would think he was a flame thrower, given his size, but that’s not the case.  It’s possible he turns out to be more Chris Young than anything (though that’s not a direct comparison).

 

The Rest:

6) Dan Vogelbach – First Baseman (Grade – C+)

7) Nick Neidhart – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)

8) Andrew Moore – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)

9) Drew Jackson – Shortstop (Grade – C)

10) Rob Whalen – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB.com

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Oakland A’s: Frankin Barreto Leads The Way For An Improving System

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When the A’s sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to Los Angeles we knew they received a bounty in return.  All three of the starters they acquired sit among the team’s Top 10 prospects, but only one is among our Top 5 for the team.  Who does sit atop the rankings?  Where does the high-profile Lazaro Armenteros fall?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Franklin Barreto – Shortstop
Grade – A-
ETA – 2017

Barreto spent the bulk of ’16 at Double-A, putting up 10 HR and 30 SB to go along with a .281 average.  A 17.8% strikeout rate shows a good command of the strike zone, though that doesn’t mean that his prospect status doesn’t carry some questions: Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Los Angeles Angels: Is There Any Upside In A Lackluster System?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There’s been a lot of speculation about the Angels potentially trading Mike Trout.  While it’s fairly far-fetched, given the state of the farm system that may be the only way to fix the problem quickly.  After seeing what the Chicago White Sox were able to accomplish by dealing Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, maybe it’s not as much of a long shot as you’d think?  It’s something to keep in mind as you look at what may be the worst farm system in baseball:

 

1) Jahmai Jones – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

He clearly has the athleticism/speed to thrive in the Majors, though how the rest of his game develops is the big question.  He’s not expected to hit for much power (as evidenced by his 6 HR over his first 479 PA across two seasons), and his plate discipline took a step back upon reaching Single-A for the first time (strikeout rate // walk rate): Read more