by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Prospect come and prospects go as we monitor the development of players across the league. Who has the potential to continue their ascent and maybe force their way into Top 100 consideration by year’s end? Let’s take a look at two intriguing names who are clearly on the rise:
Drew Waters – Atlanta Braves – Outfielder
2018 Statistics (Single-A) – .295 (76-258), 8 HR, 32 RBI, 43 R, 11 SB
A second-round pick in 2017, it’s easy to overlook the 19-year old switch-hitter considering the depth the Atlanta system has. That said Waters is making a strong case to crack the team’s Top 10 list, as he’s flashing both power and speed:
Power – While 8 HR isn’t going to blow anyone away, he’s added 24 doubles and 6 triples showing that there is plenty of potential. He can stand to put the ball in the air a little bit more (50.0% groundball rate entering Wednesday), but at his age there’s a good chance he improves upon his 12.1% HR/FB. Maybe he’s not a 35+ HR hitter, but the potential is there to develop into a 20-25 HR option.
Speed – He’s 11-for-14 this season and MLB.com has described him as having “plus speed, which will continue to help him on the basepaths and in center field, where he has the chance to stick.”
Approach – We’d like to see more walks (15 BB) and his 11.0% SwStr% at such a low level is going to raise some eyebrows. There are questions about his swing, though he’s working to make adjustments. Consider this scouting report from Baseball America:
“Scouts are divided on the switch-hitter’s hitting potential. There are some who don’t believe Waters’ funky swing will work consistently, but other scouts see loose hands and an ability to whip the bat head through the zone that compensates for a noisy and high-maintenance swing. He’s already toned down what was an exaggerated leg kick that messed with his timing.”
Worst case scenario we are talking about a 20/20 outfielder with a poor average, but with continued work he can be much more than that. That’s a valuable asset, and one that should continue to develop.
Calvin Mitchell – Pittsburgh Pirates – Outfielder
2018 Statistics (Single-A) – .308 (78-253), 8 HR, 39 RBI, 35 R, 4 SB
Speed isn’t a factor for Mitchell, but he’s expected to grow into his power (he’s added 17 doubles and 3 triples) and bring a strong approach. The 2017 second-round pick is still working on his approach, as you can argue that he’s swinging and missing too much (10.2% SwStr%) for a player where that’s supposed to be his strength. As noted by MLB.com:
“He has an advanced approach at the plate and drew a ton of walks, controlling the strike zone very well for his age, with the chance to be a Major League average, if not better, hitter from the left side of the plate. There is plenty of power to tap into, though trying to muscle up led to him being too pull happy in high school, one of the main reasons for his struggle. The Pirates tend to preach hit over power in the Minors, so that should be a good fit.”
He hasn’t been as pull happy thus far, with his 48.4% Pull% putting him 40th among hitters in the South Atlantic League with at least 150 PA (134 qualify). With experience we’d expect to see improvements, and ultimately he should also tap into his power. He’s worth monitoring to see if his prospect status can continue to grow as the year progresses.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, MLB.com, Baseball America