Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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It’s taking everything out of me not to dedicate every lede to White Sox Prospect Eloy Jimenez. Last night my new novio debuted in AA with a bang, going 2 for 4 with a homer. At the moment with Victor Robles struggling somewhat in AA, and Devers in the majors, it’s a battle between the Braves Ronald Acuna vs Eloy Jimenez for the number one prospect in the minors. Before you dismiss this as a silly discussion, think about what type of prospects and players you prefer. Are you the type to bet on a middle of the order bat like Rafael Devers or Eloy Jimenez? Or do you prefer the 5 category stud with Mike Trout upside like Yoan Moncada or Ronald Acuna? It’s a tough call, and as my Uncle Manny would say, “I ain’t going to kick either of them out of bed for eating cookies”. Yeah, my uncle is a strange guy when it comes to baseball, and you thought I was bad. All this to say, it’s a battle that will rage well into 2018. In the words of the street poets Black Sheep, you can get with this or you can get with that. The choice is yours. I waffle back and forth, as I typically prefer the mashers, but Acuna’s assault on AAA is hard to ignore. I’m going to hold judgement until I have to… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

On Saturday’s edition of the prospect podcast Halp and I discussed our updated first year player draft rankings. Each of us agreed that the number 1 pick in this June’s draft had slipped ahead of Hunter Greene and into the top spot on our respective ranks. Yesterday afternoon, the Twins did us a great service. They affirmed our decision with the promotion of Royce Lewis to full season Cedar Rapids of the Midwest league. So far the top pick has been an exciting take, and surprisingly polished. The numbers are more good than great, but then again, he was playing high school baseball three months ago. Still .271/.390/.414 with 3 homers and 15 steals, ain’t too shabby in 36 games. The young shortstop has the ability to be an impact fantasy player in multiple categories at peak. Meaning his ability to stick in the middle infield doesn’t dictate his value. He was in the lineup hitting leadoff last night for Cedar Rapids, and went 4 for 5 in his debut, with 2 runs scored, an RBI, and a steal. As for my updated first player draft rankings, you can hear my thoughts on this week’s podcast, but the actual updated list we’ll save for October… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

There’s no time of the year better for baseball junkies like us, than the dog days of August. The playoff races are starting to take shape, all levels and leagues in the minors are in full swing, the Cape Cod League playoffs are going, and there’s always a game, boxscore, or lineup to check. My wife calls this Ralphie-Phone-Hands season. Sorry I’m the creative one in the relationship, my wife just awkwardly creates puns from Tim Burton movie titles. Believe me, you don’t want to hear what she’s done with Big Fish. Any the who, this leads me to our lede topic for today, (lead-lede?) Brewers 2017 first rounder Keston Hiura. Coming into the draft many considered Hiura to be the most/best/pro-ready hitter in the draft. Once you’re done choosing your hyperbolic label, we’ll move along. Okay you done? Good, great, grand. There’s one issue with Hiura though, he hasn’t played the field in pretty much a year due to an elbow injury, that up to now, has not required Tommy John. Have I scared you off yet? If so, I hope we share a league and you’ve already gone back to asking Grey catcher questions. Why? Because I want Keston Hiura on all my dynasty teams. In a year where far off prep hitters, and high school arms are the crème de la crème, I’ll gladly target the advanced college bat with contact, power, and approach.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Since surviving a vicious industry wide-Cub Fan driven smear campaign, Eloy Jimenez has been a man with a mission. Since joining Winston-Salem, the Chi-Sox high A affiliate, he’s slashed .352/.418/.690 with 5 homers and 18 RBI’s in his first 20 games. The 20 year old slugger has continued to make improvements at the plate in 2017, walking at a 10% clip, while maintaining K rates at or below 20%. The combination of contact, patience, and power is a rare one. This is why I rank Eloy amongst the very elite prospects in the game, with such contemporaries as Acuna, Robles, Guerrero, and Tucker. He’s likely to spend the remainder of 2017 in Winston-Salem, before being assigned to AA next season out of camp. He has a real shot at the number one prospect in all of baseball, once Ronald Acuna heads to the majors. Despite all of his recent success and oodles of upside, it will be years before we find out just how high of a price the Cubs paid for Quintana. That’s not to say that Jimenez is can’t miss, though he’s a close as they come. The Chicago White Sox system is full of future potential stars, but none shine brighter at the moment than Eloy. A future .280/35/100 player is the ceiling, with a power hitting DH floor. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw Jimenez some time in late 2018, with the mostly likely time frame being September. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Jose Siri is locked in, not just because he’s found a way to avoid iPhone jokes for a majority of the season, but because lately Siri has the answer. What? You didn’t think I’d go there? It’s like you hardly know me. (BASEBALL FOCUS.) Not since Francisco Mejia’s 50 game hit streak have we had a streak so epic. So not since last year, and even that, meh not really true. Regardless Reds outfield prospect Jose Siri is in the midst of a 34 game hitting streak, one that’s raised his average to .299, and left him with the very healthy slashline of .299/.343/.541. Siri has never been much of a contact guy, and has fallen into the power/speed upside camp. So far in 2017 the strikeouts are way down, the walks are up, the average is up, and the homers and steals have nearly doubled! So things are going good for Siri. Here’s a look at Siri cranking a homer against South Bend earlier this season.

He is however, still only a depth prospect in most dynasty formats. Despite recent success, he’s had a history of swinging and missing, inconsistency with his approach, and some off the field concerns. Despite all that a high upside low minor player remains, and one that might be worth a speculative grab in 16+ team leagues. At 22 he’s old for A ball and he could use a promotion to high A to really put this breakout to the test. No matter the details the streak pushes on… Here’s the rest of the happenings in MiLB.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

As any person over 6 feet will tell you, being tall is overrated. Your entire life comes with bigger expectations that due to your height you have the ability to do things smaller men can’t. Everything has to be bigger, stronger, and faster. It’s in this vein I introduce you to 6’8 Cuban import Michel Baez. Yes that is spelled correctly. While researching this post, trying to look under every rock for as much information as possible about the giant righty, I came across the comment section of MLB Trade Rumors from the day he signed. Let’s just say there are some gems. For example the guy who was really put off that a 6’8 pitcher didn’t throw 100, but a reported 93-97. You know, because control, command, fastball plane, and deception don’t matter at all. Only velocity!!! BTW is 96-97 not fast? Someone else wondered why the Padres gave him $3m, when he’s 6’8 and unknown. How can you miss a 6’8 guy? You know, because talented 5’10 guys never stick out on scouting trips. Scouts and prospectors only notice big shiny things. Okay, I’m getting off track here. Regardless of the opining of MLB Trade Rumor commenters, Baez did in fact fly under the radar. Turning out to be yet another diamond in the rough unearthed by my spirit animal A.J. Preller. How under the radar was Baez? So much so, that in the fall he didn’t appear in any of the international free agent rankings on MLB.com, Baseball America, or Fangraphs. Fast forward 9 months and many are saying Baez is a slam dunk for Top 100 lists going forward. Hell, he ranked #141 for me on my Top 200. A few weeks late I think I might have sold him short, then again he’s an A ball pitching prospect. Now let’s dig into Baez, and see if he might be the Top 100 guy many are touting.

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It’s been well documented, my love for Tyler O’Neill, the muscle bound Hercules I dubbed the King In The North. So while it came as a shock that the Mariners would move such an erupting talent, it really didn’t because, Dipoto. After praising his recent drafting, the Segura-Haniger deal, and the organizational shift toward plate approach development he repays me with this? He goes ahead and trades a talent Taylor-made for the modern game. A workaholic, on base machine, with 70 grade power. It’s easy to get lost in O’Neill’s batting average, and strikeouts rates without exploring deeper. I don’t blame fans that haven’t taken the time to isolate his production since late May to the present. I say this because O’Neill is on an absolute tear. Since May 20th O’Neill has slashed .275/.362/.569 with 16 homers and 5 steals. I understand the value of a controllable starter, I’m just not completely on the level with why this starter was the target. Marco Gonzales had some prospect status a few years back, but he’s dealt with multiple injuries and a history of bouts with command. I’m just a lowly prospect writer so my opinion doesn’t matter, but I’m clueless as to what Dipoto is thinking here.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Way back in the wild west days of the international market, teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox approached the July 2nd signing period the same way Glenn Quagmire approached a night at the strip club. Cash in hand ready to make it rain on the first young talent that caught their eye. It was in one of these talent-laden spending sprees that a strapping young Dominican power hitter by the name of Starling Heredia first surfaced. In one of the more gluttonous international splurge’s since your creepy Uncle took that “trip” to Bangkok, the Dodgers dropped $45.38 million in that period on players like Yadier Alvarez, Yusinel Diaz, Omar Estevez, Ronny Brito, Oneal Cruz, and of course Heredia. The Dominican outfielder was ranked 9th in the class by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, two spots behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and ahead of such currently buzzy names as Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Leody Taveras, and Aramis Ademan. He was described in the scouting reports at that time as a “the best corner outfield prospect in the class by some scouts, in part because of his raw power and projectable body.” Tools grades rated his raw power at a 60, and his hit tool at 55, pretty aggressive grades for teenage hitter. Don’t be too frightened, but at that time he listed Yasiel Puig as his role model. Then again Puig was good then. So what’s to Heredia? Is this just another rookie season flash or are we looking at a potential star in the making from the notorious Dodger pipeline.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

I was all set to open with Triston McKenzie’s 6 no hit innings, but then Rafael Devers collected his third hit of the night in his AAA debut. In the midst of writing this post while regretting my choice to spend my Saturday afternoon, and early evening, and night watching that Marathon Red Sox and Yankees affair, I had the alert pop up on my phone that Devers was about to make his 4th at bat of the night. So I turned away from McKenzie, turned away from Ronald Acuna (2 for 4, 2R, 1Bb, 1 RBI) and Ozzie Albies (1 for 5, 1R) vs Yoan Moncada (1 for 4, 1R, 2 SO’s) in the Charlotte vs. Gwinnett game, and tuned into the PawSox vs Syracuse affair to witness Devers 4th at bat of the contest. The Chiefs (Washington’s AAA affiliate) brought in veteran Neal Cotts of 10 years MLB experience to get the lefty on lefty matchup with Devers. Ahead of Cotts in a 2-1 count Devers hit a ball middle-up to right field for his first AAA homer.

The following inning he made a bare-handed play on the run, throwing out Pedro Severino.

The rumors are swirling regarding Todd Frazier to the Red Sox, with Ken Rosenthal deducing the trade was “almost inevitable”. I for one as a life-long Red Sox fan, and avid follower and fan of prospects, team-building, and organizational depth make this plea to one David Dombrowski. Sir, please don’t trade anything for Todd Frazier and his .210 batting average. Give Lin another week or two, let Devers shine in Pawtucket, and call the kid up around the trade deadline. It costs you nothing but a 40 man spot, why delay the inevitable for a rental? Xander Bogaerts came up late in 2013, and was better for his experience down the stretch and into the post-season. Much like Ronald Acuna has in the early stages of his AAA career, Devers may force the Red Sox hand, as he just looks so much better than anything they can acquire. Simple logic really, why give up assets when you don’t have to?… Anyway, here’s what else I saw in MiLB.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   
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