by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Who has the potential to take their prospect status to the next level in 2018? In this series we’ll try to identify some likely candidates, and they all come in different shapes and sizes. Who could emerge as an elite starting pitcher? Who could develop into the next big slugger? What about a speedster who profiles as a top of the order bat? Let’s kick things off with an Angels’ middle infielder who is completely flying under-the-radar:
Leonardo Rivas – Los Angeles Angels – Second Baseman/Shortstop
The Los Angeles Angels aren’t known for having a strong farm system, even with the addition of Kevin Maitan (who some are souring on). That doesn’t mean that you can’t find potential value, and Leonardo Rivas could take the steps towards emerging as one of the team’s best prospects by the end of 2018.
Playing the year as a 19-year old the switch-hitter split time between Rookie Ball and Single-A, in 2017 putting up relatively underwhelming numbers:
- Rookie Ball (183 PA) – .299, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 37 R, 11 SB
- Single-A (116 PA) – .267, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 24 R, 8 SB
He’s never going to be a source of power, currently listed at 5’10” and 150 lbs. He does have the potential to grow into a leadoff hitter, though, and potentially an elite one.
The speed is apparent, going 19-for-20 on stolen base attempts last season, but that wasn’t even his strongest skill. Overall he showed a tremendous approach at the plate, with more walks (59) than strikeouts (44). Regardless of the level it’s impressive, especially for a player his age, and even at Single-A the numbers were nearly even (22 K vs. 20 BB).
That alone would get your attention, and you have to hope that he can improve his line drive rate (16.2%) and increase his groundball rate (43.6%) and use his speed even more. Those shouldn’t be viewed as red flags, just a developments we’d like to see. If he gets there, when coupled with an overall 3.6% SwStr%, and it’s obvious that he has the makeup of a potential OBP.
We aren’t about to say that the sky is the limit, but with speed down and strikeouts up across the game he brings a “unique” skill set that would certainly hold value.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: