Top 30 Outfield Prospects (2019 Preseason): #16-30: High Upside Overcomes Questions…

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Yesterday we looked at the first half of our Top 30 Outfield Prospects (click here to view), but who joins them? There are a slew of intriguing, high upside options working their way up through the minors but unfortunately many come with questions (most notably strikeout concerns). Who are the ones with the highest upside? Let’s take a look:

RankPlayerCurrent TeamCurrent Grade
1.Eloy JimenezChicago White SoxA
2. Victor RoblesWashington NationalsA
3.Kyle TuckerHouston AstrosA
4.Jo AdellLos Angeles AngelsA-
5.Leody TaverasTexas RangersA-
6.Taylor TrammellCincinnati RedsB+
7,Alex KiriloffMinnesota TwinsB+
8.Victor Victor MesaMiami MarlinsB+
9.Jesus SanchezTampa Bay RaysB+
10.Julio Pablo MartinezTexas RangersB+
11.Jarred KelenicSeattle MarinersB
12.Christian PacheAtlanta BravesB
13.Drew WatersAtlanta BravesB
14.Brandon MarshLos Angeles AngelsB
15.Luis RobertChicago White SoxB
16.Travis SwaggertyPittsburgh PiratesB
17.Estevan FlorialNew York YankeesB
18.Daz CameronDetroit TigersB
19.Heliot RamosSan Francisco GiantsB
20.Everson PereiraNew York YankeesB
21.Christin StewartDetroit TigersB
22.Yusniel DiazBaltimore OriolesB
23.Alex VerdugoLos Angeles DodgersB
24.Kyle LewisSeattle MarinersB
25.Randy ArozarenaSt. Louis CardinalsB
26.Corey RayMilwaukee BrewersB
27.Monte HarrisonMiami MarlinsB
28.Trevor LarnachMinnesota TwinsB
29.Julio RodriguezSeattle MarinersB
30.Lazaro ArmenterosOakland A'sB

16) Travis Swaggerty – Grade – B
The 10th overall selection in 2018, Swaggerty quickly showed his upside as he performed well at Low-A (.288 with 4 HR and 9 SB over 139 AB).  The Pirates then pushed the 21-year old to Single-A where he did stumble a bit (.129 with 1 HR over 62 AB), but it’s an extremely small sample size and we need to give him time to adjust/develop.

We will have to watch the strikeout rate, as he posted a 12.5% SwStr% and 25.3% strikeout rate, because that could ultimately handcuff him and hold him back.  That said he also could develop into a 20/10 type player with the ability to draw walks (9.6% walk rate in his professional debut).

17) Estevan Florial – Grade – B 
There are obvious questions with Florial, after he missed time due to hamate surgery and managed a meager .361 SLG over 75 games at High-A (.422 overall in ’18).  You would think that the power will return, as he heals, and it should soon start to present itself in games.  There also is speed, though he still needs development in that area after going 16-for-26 in stolen bases last season.

Throw in a 12.6% SwStr% and it’s fair to have questions over his ability to figure things out.  Now 21-years old, he needs to translate the raw talent to on-field production.  It was easy to get excited about 13 HR and 23 SB in ’17, but a .426 BABIP and 15.5% SwStr% loomed large.  There’s still potential and you don’t want to ignore him, but you also have to downgrade him at least slightly.

18) Heliot Ramos – Grade – B
Ramos played the bulk of 2018 as an 18-year old at Single-A (he turned 19 in September), so we have to take that into account when looking at the numbers.  He finished hitting .245 with 11 HR and 8 SB, as he struggled to draw walks (6.5%) and make consistent contact (25.4% strikeout rate, 13.4% SwStr%).  He did improve slightly in the second half:

  • First Half – 70 K in 230 AB
  • Second Half – 66 K in 255 AB

He has a long way to go in figuring that out, but if he can he has as high of a ceiling as anyone in the system with power and a little bit of speed.  However, if he can’t refine his approach he will never reach his upside.

19) Daz Cameron – Grade – B
Cameron played across three levels in ’18, including 57 AB at Triple-A, hitting .264 with 8 HR and 24 SB.  He showed a little bit more power potential (25 doubles and 9 triples), though he likely won’t develop into more than a low double-digit home run threat.  His speed is going to be his best asset, though we’ll have to watch his strikeout rate:

  • High-A (246 PA) – 28.0%
  • Double-A (226 PA) – 23.5%
  • Triple-A (62 PA) – 24.2%

The fact that he posted a 10.2% walk rate at High-A and 11.1% at Double-A is promising, as is his improvement at Double-A and an overall 10.3% SwStr%.  Assuming he can continue on that path, just maintaining his 23.5% strikeout rate at Double-A could lead to a .270/12/25 type season or better.  He needs to prove he can maintain the approach and develop his power, however, before we push his grade.

20) Everson Pereira – Grade – B
The Yankees have been aggressive with Pereira, so we have to take that into account when you look at the numbers for the 17-year old (he doesn’t turn 18 until April 10).  He did have significant swing and miss in his game, with a 20.2% SwStr%, but he was facing advanced competition.  As he develops there’s power and speed that could come together, and that skillset has the potential to develop into a difference making prospect.  That’s all projection, however, and he’s a long way away. 

21) Christin Stewart – Grade – B
Fantasy owners waited…  And waited…  And waited for the arrival of Stewart in 2018, and while it didn’t come until late in the season things should be vastly different in 2019 as he should open the year with a role in Detroit (either in the outfield or as the DH).  No one has ever questioned Stewart’s power (he hit 25 HR in 453 AB in ’19), and the key was his ability to make consistent contact.  Look at his SwStr% over the past few years:

  • 2016 – 12.0%
  • 2017 – 12.2%
  • 2018 – 10.4%

Considering he spent the bulk of ’19 at Triple-A (444 AB) the improvement is important, especially when paired with a 12.8% walk rate.  That could make him a .260+ hitter with power, and that could lead to an impressive breakout performance.

22) Yusniel Diaz – Grade – B
The key piece in the Manny Machado trade, Diaz combined to hit .285 with 11 HR and 12 SB for two different Double-A teams.  His 16.1% strikeout rate and 14.2% walk rate indicate a strong approach, and his 10.0% SwStr% is a solid (though unspectacular) mark.

The skillset still doesn’t get you overly excited.  His speed is nothing to brag about, especially after being caught more than he was successful last season (he went 12-for-25).  It’s possible he can become more efficient on the bases, but expecting more than 8-12 annually would be misguided.

There also doesn’t appear to be significant upside in his power, with 15 doubles and 5 triples over his 354 AB.  Playing in Camden Yards will help, but he appears to profile as a 20/10 player at best (and may ultimately be below that yearly).  If he can maintain his improved approach it would help, but it’s hard to get overly excited.

23) Alex Verdugo – Grade – B
Verdugo is generally hailed as the Dodgers’ top prospect, and while he clearly can handle the bat you have to wonder if he’s ever going to develop enough power to make a true impact.  In 343 AB at Triple-A last year he managed just 10 HR (to go along with 19 doubles), and playing in the Pacific Coast League it’s hard to get excited about the upside potential.  It’s also not like the left-handed hitter has ever shown significant potential before, with 6 HR over 433 PA at Triple-A in ’17 (he added 27 doubles and 4 triples).  Throw in groundball rates of 47.0% and 51.9% at the level over the past two seasons and it’s fair to have concerns.

Now throw in not much speed (he has 17 SB combined at Triple-A) and exactly what does he bring to the table?  It’s possible that he learns to hit for more power, as he clearly can handle the bat (6.5% SwStr%), but he also isn’t likely to maintain a .359 BABIP.  This is a case where he could prove to be a better player in real life and for his team then what the stats display.

24) Kyle Lewis – Grade – B
The question with Lewis is his health, as knee issues have plagued him since being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft.  Those concerns significantly drag his grade down, as we are left to wonder if the knee issues will ultimately rob him of his ability to generate power.  He hit just 9 HR over 328 AB between High-A and Double-A last season, while hitting .244 as he struggled to make consistent contact (13.5% SwStr%).  If healthy the approach is obviously strong and should translate well:

  • Line Drive Rate – 24.8%
  • Oppo% – 34.3%

The strikeouts are a significant concern, as is the risk of his power not fully developing.  He also was never a burner to begin with, so consistent knee problems are also going to help cost him the ability to carry an elevated BABIP.  There’s obvious upside, but right now the value may be at an all-time low.

25) Randy Arozarena – Grade – B
He split time between Double-A (91 AB) and Triple-A (267 AB), showing an intriguing blend of power (12) and speed (26 SB).  You can argue that there’s a bit too much groundball to his game, with a 53.0% groundball rate, and that could cap his power potential at 12-15 HR.  However with his speed, ability to make constant contact (9.6% SwStr%, including a 9.3% mark at Triple-A) and draw a walk (9.0% walk rate at Triple-A), he suddenly appears to have the potential to bring the total package as a top of the order bat.  The bigger question is where he fits into the Cardinals’ outfield, but it may not be long before he forces his way into the mix.

26) Corey Ray – Grade – B
The key for Ray is reducing his strikeout rate, as he posted a 29.3% based on a 17.5% SwStr% at Double-A last season.  Obviously there’s risk of further regression as he continues to move up the ladder, and eventually that’s going to cost him.  It’s a shame, given the power (27 HR) and speed (37 SB) that he’s already proven, and at 23-years old how much further development can we expect?  There’s room for growth, and that keeps him high on these rankings, but know that he also could fail to reach his ceiling.

27) Monte Harrison – Grade – B
Another piece of the Christian Yelich trade, Harrison played the year at Double-A and showed power (19 HR) and speed (28 SB).  He’s always brought that type of dual threat intrigue, including hitting 21 HR with 27 SB between Single-A and High-A in ’17, but his ability to make consistent contact has always been called into question.  Just look at these numbers over the past two seasons (Strikeout Rate // SwStr%):

  • 2017 – 27.1% // 14.6%
  • 2018 – 36.9% // 17.8%

If he’s not making contact is he going to be able to tap into any of that potential?  If he can figure that out the grade and outlook will jump significantly, but for now remain pessimistic that it’s going to happen.

28) Trevor Larnach – Grade – B
Minnesota’s 2018 first round selection (20th overall), Larnach appears capable of moving quickly as he played at Rookie Ball (61 AB) and Single-A (91 AB) and hitting .303 with 5 HR and 3 SB.  He showed a strong approach, which is viewed as his best asset, posting a combined 15.8% strikeout rate and 11.9% walk rate (a 10.8% SwStr% does show a little red flag, but it was a small sample and his first taste of professional baseball).

He does have power that should develop as he matures/develops, as he added 13 doubles and 1 triple.  He’s never going to be able to rack up a significant number of stolen bases, but that’s not going to be a deal breaker (it just ultimately limits his overall appeal).

29) Lazaro Armenteros – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2021

There is no questioning the potential upside of Armenteros, with 8 HR and 8 SB in 292 AB at Single-A last season.  It was his first season in full season baseball (he played 2017 at two levels of Rookie Ball), so it’s not a big surprise that there were some growing pains.  At the same time, there are some underlying metrics that can’t go overlooked:

  • SwStr% – 14.1%
  • Pull% – 51.7%

Obviously those types of marks, at such a low level, gives legitimate concerns over his approach and ability to post a viable average moving forward.  At the same time he’s just 19-years old (he’ll turn 20 in May) and needs to be given time to adjust after being signed out of Cuba.  It’s easy to envision him maturing and developing, but he needs to be watched closely.

30) Julio Rodriguez – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2022

Those who are looking at Rodriguez are going to take a patient approach, as he played 2018 as a 17-year old (he turns 18 in December) in Rookie Ball.  The potential is there, though, as he hit .315 with 5 HR and 10 SB.  For a player his age, having added 13 doubles and 9 triples shows that the power potential is there and should develop in time (especially as he fills out his 6’3” frame).

Regardless of the level, an 11.8% walk rate is something to work with and shows the approach.  Granted a 23.0% SwStr% is eye-popping, but again we’re talking about a 17-year old kid who is still learning and developing (and have years before he fully taps into the potential).

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

2 COMMENTS

  1. One guy who had zero name value at this time last year was Jordyn Adams. He still has basically zero track record- that alone justifies sticking him on the outside looking in for the top 50 list. However, dude has serious wheels and some pop – he could move real fast both literally and figuratively.

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