by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We are all looking to find the next big thing, and in the prospect world that’s not always easy. Often there’s a lot of hype on players coming into the league and we know who has the highest upside or who we should be watching. However there are times that someone emerges who we may not have been paying much attention to. The Orioles’ Cedric Mullins, who we’ve already discussed, is one example in the early going. Here are two more low-level prospects who deserve our attention, as it may not be long before people start talking:
Marcus Wilson – Outfielder – Arizona Diamondbacks
He was the 69th overall selection in the 2014 draft (a second round competitive balance selection), though he hadn’t shown much over his first few seasons in professional baseball. Last season, his first season above Rookie Ball, saw him struggle mightily with strikeouts:
- Low-A – 22.6%
- Single-A – 27.8%
Couple that with no power (.346 SLG) and would there be reason for optimism? There should’ve been as he still showed an ability to get on base (.394 OBP) and some speed (25-for-30 on SB attempts). That led to MLB.com saying this about him prior to the season:
“Wilson has really managed the frustration of the slow developmental process well, not letting expectations for advancement weigh him down. He’s made incremental progress and could be ready for a breakout season at a full-season level.”
In the early part of ’17 he’s putting his potential to full display. Repeating Single-A he’s shown improved power (5 HR, 12 total extra base hits) and an improved control of the strike zone (14 K vs. 14 BB over 69 AB). While he’s obviously not a .362 hitter, the power improvement and decline in strikeouts gives an insight into how good he could be.
He won’t turn 21 until August and is showing signs. Keep a close eye on him, as it wouldn’t be surprising to see him land among the team’s Top 10 prospects by mid-year. In fact, given the state of the farm system he could rise even higher than that.
Luis Escobar – Starting Pitcher – Pittsburgh Pirates
Signed out of Cartagena, Columbia, there was always promise in his stuff. Prior to the season MLB.com described his arsenal by saying:
“The right-hander throws what’s best described as “easy gas” that gets up to 95-96 mph consistently, coming from a very quick arm. He shows he can spin an improving breaking ball, but both his curve and his changeup are inconsistent and need to be refined. Escobar can get too amped up on the mound and needs to learn to manage his effort level, with an understanding that his stuff will still be there when he does so.”
There was the thought that he’d be a better fit out of the bullpen, but his first three starts at Single-A would seem to dispute that notion. Over 22.1 innings he’s racked up 41 K vs. 4 BB while showing enough groundballs (0.97 GO/AO). That’s an ace-like makeup, and one that could advance quickly as a 20-year old (he’ll turn 21 at the end of May).
With impressive stuff and good results, keep a close eye on him. He throws hard and has suddenly discovered control, a combination that isn’t always easy to find.
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: