Prospect Breakout or Bust: Will Robert Stephenson Finally Emerge In 2017?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There were already significant questions hovering over the Reds’ starting rotation, and the latest setback for Homer Bailey has sent things further back.  He seems destined to open the year on the DL and considering that he’ll be at least two years removed from a Major League appearance when he finally does return, expecting much would be a mistake.  That means there’s one spot already open, with another potentially being filled by Tim Adleman.

There’s the potential that two of the team’s top prospects open the year as a part of the starting rotation.  While there are a few options (like Amir Garrett and the newly acquired Luis Castillo), most eyes will fall to Robert Stephenson.  Long hyped as a high-upside prospect, it feels like the time is now for him to step up or face a change in role (could he produce better results as a reliever/closer). Can he turn the corner?  Let’s take a look: Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Milwaukee Brewers: Could Impact Players Be Close To Debuting?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Milwaukee Brewers are a system rich in outfielders, especially at the top of the rankings, though don’t let that distract you from the other assets they’ve accumulated.  Some smart trades and draft pickss have helped to build a solid system, which should soon pay dividends as they turn the corner and rebuild.  Who are some of the names we should be watching closely?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Lewis Brinson – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

The centerpiece of the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy to Texas, Brinson thrived after the trade and a promotion to Triple-A:

  • Double-A (326 PA) – .237, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 46 R, 11 SB
  • Triple-A (93 PA) – .382, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 14 R, 4 SB

Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Cincinnati Reds: An Unimpressive System, Despite The Rebuild

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For a team that is clearly rebuilding, the Reds’ system is not as impressive as you would hope. While there are some intriguing prospects near the top of the system, their trades of Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier (among others) have not stocked their minor league rosters with high-level prospects.  Who do they have that should intrigue us?  Who could soon make an impact?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Nick Senzel – Third Baseman
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018

He may have been the second overall selection, but currently Senzel is the best prospect of the class.  Seeing a lot of time at Single-A (210 AB) he hit .329 with 7 HR and 15 SB, showing even more power potential by adding 23 doubles and 3 triples (.567 SLG).  The stolen base total is deceiving, as he’s not likely going to be a big-time contributor (though he should be able to chip in 10+ per season), and he also saw his numbers buoyed by a bit of luck (.392 BABIP).  Those two things should not take away from the performance, especially as he showed a strong command of the strike zone: Read more

Breakout To Watch: Will Yandy Diaz Follow In Jose Ramirez’ Footsteps?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Last season the Cleveland Indians watched Jose Ramirez rise from utility player to an emerging star.  Could they see a similar transition emerge, but from an even more surprising source?  Many people overlook Yandy Diaz, but it’s possible that the 25-year old forces you to take notice in 2017.

It’s clear that he’s primed to make his debut at some point in 2017, after splitting time between Double-A (110 PA) and Triple-A (416 PA) a year ago.  He didn’t offer one standout skill, but looking at the Triple-A numbers it’s easy to envision a solid player:

.325 Average
7 Home Runs
44 RBI
53 Runs
5 Stolen Bases Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Chicago Cubs: The Next Wave Of Prospects Is Coming…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Cubs’ system has been depleted in recent years, partly due to graduations and partly due to trades to bolster their historic World Series run.  That’s not something anyone is going to complain about, and the system is also not completely void of talent.  There are some high-upside names, though there are questions as to whether they will reach their ceiling.  Let’s take a look at who could be the next wave of prominent prospects for Chicago:

 

1) Eloy Jimenez – Outfielder
Grade – A-
ETA – 2019

Playing all of 2016 as a 19-year old at Single-A, Jimenez showed power potential as he pounded out 37 extra base hits: Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Washington Nationals: A System Not As Weak As You’d Think…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The trade for Adam Eaton obviously had an impact on the Washington Nationals’ farm system, as they traded away three players who would’ve been listed among the Top 10 (and all had the potential to be Top 5 options).  That said it didn’t decimate it, especially at the top, as the team was well positioned to pull off a blockbuster trade.  While they no longer have depth, there are still some intriguing names that could make an impact before long.  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Victor Robles – Outfielder
ETA – 2018
Grade – A

A popular breakout candidate heading into 2016, Robles lived up to the billing across two levels of Single-A:

  • Single-A (285 PA) – .305 with 5 HR, 19 SB and a 13.3% strikeout rate
  • High-A (198 PA) – .262 with 3 HR, 18 SB and a 16.2% strikeout rate

Read more

Breakout Looming: Will Dominic Smith Prove To Be “The Next Josh Bell”?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Mets’ Dominic Smith has widely been regarded as one of the better first base prospects since being drafted 11th overall in the 2013 draft.  Despite the hype there were legitimate concerns about his power potential, after combining to hit 10 HR from 2013-2015.  He “exploded” for 14 HR at Double-A in 2016, and while it is a step in the right direction is it enough from a first baseman?

This seems like the same questions that had been hanging over the Pirates’ Josh Bell, until recently, and makes you wonder if Smith is following a similar path.

Bell showed more power initially (13 HR at Single-A in 2013) before producing 16 total HR between 2014 and 2015.  He also arguably has a better eye at the plate, at least in terms of drawing a walk, though both players have consistently proven capable of making contact.  Just look at the Double-A numbers in their relatively full seasons at the level:

  • Bell (2015, 426 PA) – 11.7% strikeout rate, 10.3% walk rate
  • Smith (2016, 542 PA) – 13.7% strikeout rate, 9.2% walk rate

Read more

Updated Top 10 Prospects (2017): Tampa Bay Rays: Does Jose De Leon Take The Top Spot?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Dodgers finally landed their second baseman yesterday, when they traded top prospect Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Logan Forsythe.  Does De Leon immediately sit atop the Rays system?  If not, where does he fall?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Brent Honeywell – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A-
ETA – 2017

Generally known for an ability to develop young pitching, Honeywell is a name that people need to become accustomed with in short order.  Selected in the second round of the 2014 draft he’s shown an impressive ability to both generate strikeouts and control the strike zone since being selected:

  • Strikeouts – 9.2 K/9
  • Walks – 1.9 BB/9

Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2017): Philadelphia Phillies: Intriguing Names Sit Atop A Lackluster System

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For a rebuilding franchise you’d hope that they’d be stocked with high upside prospects, but that’s not currently the case in Philadelphia.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some intriguing names or players who could make an impact in the Major Leagues, but the overall upside is lacking.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Top 10 currently looks (actually it’s a Top 11):

 

1) J.P. Crawford – Shortstop
ETA – 2017
Grade – B+

There’s no question that he’s the top prospect in the system, but when will the production start to match the potential?  Last season he split time between Double and Triple-A, underwhelming at both levels:

  • Double-A (126 AB) – .265 with 3 HR, 13 RBI, 23 R and 5 SB
  • Triple-A (336 AB) – .244 with 4 HR, 30 RBI, 40 R and 7 SB

Read more

Updated Top 10 Prospects (2017): Miami Marlins: What’s Left After Trading Their Top Prospect

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Marlins surprisingly traded away Luis Castillo as part of a three-player package to acquire Dan Straily though it shouldn’t have been.  It was the second time he has been included in a trade in the past few months (Castillo was sent to the Padres as part of the Andrew Cashner trade, but returned to Miami after the injury to Colin Rea was discovered).  Where does that leave an already thin system?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Braxton Garrett – Left-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2020
Grade – B+

Selected seventh overall in 2016, he was widely regarded as having a high floor for a high school pitcher.  That’s thanks to an advanced curveball and the expectation that he develops and adds a bit more velocity to his fastball.  The latter is an assumption, but at 6’3” and 190 lbs. it’s easy to envision.  Like most young pitchers he will need to develop a third pitch to help keep opponents honest (something he’s already doing), but he has ample time for that. Read more