Updated Top 10 Prospects (2018): Atlanta Braves: They Lost Their #3, But The System Remains Strong

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We finally got some clarity on the situation in Atlanta, and the penalty was steep.  Not only did it cost some people their jobs, as well as a future in the game, there were forfeited draft picks, limitations on their future international spending and most importantly a loss of prospects.  The biggest name set free was Kevin Maitin, who had been our #3 ranked prospect for the team, but all told there were 12 players declared free agents.  Obviously it hurts the depth of the system, but lucky for Atlanta they had built up quite a stockpile of talent.

Let’s take a look at how our rankings now stand:

 

1) Ronald Acuna – Outfielder
Grade – A
ETA – 2018

It was a meteoric rise for Acuna, as he nearly forced a promotion to the Majors as a 19-year old.  Playing across three levels of the minors he thrived at each one:

  • High-A – .287 (33-115), 3 HR, 19 RBI, 21 R, 14 SB
  • Double-A – .326 (72-221), 9 HR, 30 RBI, 29 R, 19 SB
  • Triple-A – .344 (76-221), 9 HR, 33 RBI, 38 R, 11 SB

Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2018): Baltimore Orioles: Don’t Let The Past Stigma Distract You

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Baltimore Orioles have a stigma hanging over them, especially when it comes to their pitching prospects.  However there’s a new class of prospects coming, and while you may want to be nervous about the pitchers it’s the hitters who are far more intriguing.  Austin Hays made a surprisingly MLB debut late in ’17, but he’s not alone.  Who are the players that are worth monitoring?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Austin Hays – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – Already Arrived

To call 2017 a breakout campaign for Hays would be an understatement, as he hit .329 with 32 HR and 95 RBI between High-A and Double-A.  That earned him a late season callup, though to an extent those 60 AB helped to expose the one true red flag hanging over him.  While the average was highly impressive in the minor leagues, it came courtesy of a .341 BABIP and he showed a propensity to swing and miss (12.1% SwStr%).  In his cup of coffee in the Majors he posted a 25.4% strikeout rate, courtesy of poor plate discipline:

  • SwStr% – 17.9%
  • O-Swing% – 40.3%

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Quick Hit: Looking At Alexander Campos, The A’s “Prize” In The Ryon Healy Trade

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

You can argue that Oakland’s key acquisition in the trade that sent Ryon Healy to Seattle is a bit of mystery.  Alexander Campos is a 17-year old shortstop, signed out of Venezuela for $575,000 in 2016, who is a long ways away from arriving in the Majors.  As it is, at this point there are questions as to what his ultimate ceiling is.

Here are a few scouting reports to draw from:

Campos is speedy shortstop who projects to be an above-average defender with a plus arm. Offensively he could be an average hitter but with very modest, well below-average power. He is very advanced for his age and may move quicker than most teenage shortstops when he comes to the United States in 2018. Campos projects as a potential solid-average everyday shortstop down the road, but he’ll need time and there’s a lot of development ahead. – Baseball America

Campos has started to grow into his athletic frame since signing and should continue to tack on good strength. His defense-speed combination at an up-the-middle position gives him a possible floor as a big league reserve, though further progress at the plate could very well thrust him into the conversation as an everyday player. – MLB.com Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2018): St. Louis Cardinals: Questions Blur The Top Of A System With Potential

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It’s pretty obvious where the organizational strength of the St. Louis Cardinals lies, as they have a plethora of young outfielders (some of which are already in the Majors and a few more intriguing names on the way).  They may not be the elite prospects in the system, but it will allow them to capitalize and trade from the surplus to fill other needs.

There are some top prospects, but there are significant questions whether it’s health or playing time.  Let’s take a look at their outlook, as well as all the rest:

 

1) Alex Reyes – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A-
ETA – Already Arrived

It’s easy to forget about Reyes, after he missed all of ’17 due to Tommy John surgery.  Obviously that adds a few more questions, as there’s never a guarantee that he will return to 100% (as much as you want to believe that he will).  That said there’s no questioning the upside he possesses. Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2018): Pittsburgh Pirates: Questions Outweigh The Potential

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

To be fair the Pirates have graduated a few of their better prospects in recent years, but there is an obvious lack of high-end talent in the system.  They do have one borderline elite name in Mitch Keller, though he often flies under the radar, but after that?  There’s upside, but the questions could overshadow it.  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Mitch Keller – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A
ETA – 2018

Keller is among the best pitching prospects in baseball, though he doesn’t get the attention he deserves.  That’s all going to change, especially with the potential that he reaches the Majors in ’18 after making six starts at Double-A and throwing 116.0 impressive innings overall.  The 21-year old showed off all three skills we look for from any pitcher:

  • Strikeouts – 9.00 K/9
  • Control – 2.48 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.5%

Read more

Breakout Prospect To Watch: Why The Mets’ Peter Alonso Deserves Our Attention

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It may have come as a surprise to many when Peter Alonso was ranked as our #2 prospect for the New York Mets, receiving a “B+” grade.  He’s often overlooked, partly due to the presence of Dominic Smith who could run with the Mets’ starting first base job for the next 10 years.  With Alonso pigeon holed as a first base only prospect, he’s going to need a trade (either of himself or Smith) to find a role.  That will happen, eventually, because Alonso could force the issue.

Alonso was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft and since joining the New York system has shown an impressive approach at the plate.  He spent the bulk of his time at High-A in ’17, getting his feet wet at Double-A (47 PA), combining for an 18.1% strikeout rate courtesy of an 8.9% SwStr%.  Obviously there’s a risk that more advanced pitching could expose him more, but as MLB.com noted after the ’16 season:

“Alonso had shortened his swing and used the whole field more effectively during his junior season, and he carried that over last summer. There had been questions about his hit tool, but he didn’t show that in Brooklyn, striking out well below the leave average rate and making good adjustments. If he can continue sticking to his solid game plan, that will allow him to tap into his tremendous raw power — some evaluators put a 70 on it — with more consistency.” Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2018): Milwaukee Brewers: A Breakout Pitcher Emerges & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

No one is going to confuse the Brewers’ system with one of the elite in the game, though a breakout performance has helped to give the system a solid 1-2 punch at the top.  After that there are questions, though several potentially solid prospects who should be able to produce in the Majors before long.  Let’s take a look at how everything shakes out:

 

1) Lewis Brinson – Outfielder
Grade – A-
ETA – Already Arrived

The biggest question facing Brinson as he’s developed is his ability to command the strike zone and make consistent contact.  That took a step forward at Triple-A in ’17, with an 18.2% strikeout rate and 9.4% walk rate over 340 PA.  Those marks came courtesy of a respectable 10.2% SwStr%, a significant improvement over his 13.6% from ’16.  Considering the level it speaks volumes, and while he did struggle in the Majors (17.4% SwStr%, 40.2% O-Swing%) it was a short sample and we need to afford him time to adjust. Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2018): Cincinnati Reds: A Bright Future Awaits, At Least At The Top

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Cincinnati is clearly a rebuilding franchise, and they’ve done a good job assembling some impressive prospects at the top of their system.  However after the first few names there is a sizable drop-off, and that’s not something that can be overlooked.  Throw in that outside of Nick Senzel the elite prospects are still a bit away, and while the future is there we are going to have to be patient.  Let’s take a look at how things currently stand:

 

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

Selected second overall in the 2016 draft, Senzel is on the fast track (as expected).  Splitting time between High-A (246 AB) and Double-A (209 AB) he hit .321 with 14 HR and 14 SB.  While those are solid numbers, they don’t tell the entire story either: Read more

Did The Reds’ Shed Long Live Up To The Preseason Hype?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Reds’ Shed Long had a bit of hype heading into the 2017 season, and to an extent he delivered on it. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A, the numbers for the now 22-year old were reasonable:

  • High-A (279 PA) – .312, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 37 R, 6 SB
  • Double-A (160 PA) – .227, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 R, 3 SB

Obviously what jumps out at you is the drop in average. It’s easy to point towards a luck regression (his BABIP went from .368 to .271), but that may not tell the entire story. Despite advancing he actually reduced his strikeouts (22.6% to 19.4%).

Of course his 10.9% SwStr% at the level does give us reason for concern, though it was an improvement on his 11.9% at High-A. It’s not a complete over aggressiveness, as he posted walk rates of 9.7% and 11.9%. That may ultimately be the key to his development, as there is clearly enough power and speed to catch our attention. Read more

Top 10 Prospects (2018): Chicago Cubs: Is There Any Value Left In A Decimated System?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Cubs were once seen as having one of the elite farm systems in baseball, but years of graduations and trades have left the cupboard bare (and the Jose Quintana trade was the final nail).  That’s not to say that there is talent, but there are significant questions hovering over what’s left.  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Jose Albertos – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2020

He’s 18-years old and threw 43.0 innings between Rookie Ball and Low-A in ’17, so obviously he’s got an exceptionally long ways to go (and is years away from arriving).  That said he showed strikeout stuff (10.05 K/9, courtesy of a 15.5% SwStr%), solid control (3.56 BB/9) and an ability to generate groundballs (54.1%), meaning it’s possible he develops the full complement of skills we look for.  If they fully develop is just the tip of the questions he faces: Read more