by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Obviously there are always prospects whose stock is rising and falling, given their performances. While it’s impossible to pinpoint all of them, here are a few players whose early season numbers are sending then to either soar or sink (all stats are through Sunday):
Daniel Johnson – Washington Nationals – Outfielder
The fifth round selection in 2016 opened some eyes over the weekend at Single-A, combining to go 8-14 with 3 HR, 7 RBI and 4 R over the three games. It’s what he said after the game, though, that helps to catch our attention (quote courtesy of Michael Leboff of MILB.com):
“I want to hone in on the weakest parts of the game,” said Johnson, who’s been caught stealing eight times in 14 tries. “I want to get my reps in on the basepaths. I want to start getting better jumps so I can start stealing more bags and just have more success on the basepaths.”
Johnson has struggled stealing bases, going 6-for-14, but there’s speed to tap into (as MLB.com described him by saying “Johnson fits the bill of a raw-but-toolsy college player, standing out for his elite speed and arm strength, as well as explosive athleticism that could help him stick in center field long term.”) and this type of quote shows that he’s willing to work. Couple the attitude with hitting .301 with 16 HR (leading the South Atlantic League) and it’s easy to imagine the possibilities.
He needs to work on cutting down the swings and misses (13.2% SwStr% entering play on Sunday), as the strikeouts (17.8%) could rise as he moves up against more advanced pitching. That’ll be something to watch, but he appears to have the work ethic and skill set to develop. He’s at least saying the right things, and that puts him on radars.
Stock – Rising
Edwin Rios – Los Angeles Dodgers – Third Baseman
Rios is a player who is easy to overlook, especially with the emergence of Cody Bellinger this season, but the Dodgers appear to be taking a similar path with Rios this season as he’s seen time at 1B (25 games), 3B (35 games) and RF (2 games). That added versatility could ultimately help him punch his ticket to the Majors, because he continues to prove that he can handle the bat.
Over 276 AB at Double-A this season he’s hit .312 with 15 HR (as well as 18 doubles), 59 RBI and 41 R. He’s not a player who drives the ball into the ground (0.79 GO/AO), and that should allow him to continue to tap into his power, and he’s routinely shown an ability to hit the ball hard (23.4% line drive rate). While he hasn’t drawn many walks, his 20.9% strikeout rate is solid (though it could rise given his 13.9% SwStr%).
We’ll have to continue to monitor the strikeout rate and see where he fits defensively, but the owner of a career slash of .300/.343/.547 he should start garnering more and more attention.
Stock – Rising
Jorge Mateo – New York Yankees – Shortstop
After maturity issues sent his stock falling last season, his performance in 2017 has sent it spiraling. Through 275 AB he’s hitting .240, and while he has gone 27-for-30 in stolen base attempts you need to be able to get on base to tap into your speed. Just look at these numbers, entering play on Sunday, at High-A:
- Strikeout Rate – 27.1%
- Walk Rate – 4.8%
- SwStr% – 14.6%
- Groundball Rate – 44.6%
- Fly Ball Rate – 40.9%
- IFFB – 15.2%
For a player who needs to put the ball in play (or draw a walk) and utilize his speed, he swings and misses and puts the ball in the air far too much. He needs to alter his approach, but considering these numbers have come before reaching Double-A the concerns are rising quickly.
It’s interesting to note that he was recently promoted, and we’ll have to watch closely to see how he produces at Double-A. That said, don’t expect miracles.
Stock – Falling Quickly
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: