Each week on the Razzball Prospect Podcast, Ralph and I often touch on prospects we expect to see within the coming weeks. Over the weekend I’m convinced every General Manager in baseball listened to our podcast and decided to rid us of all talking points for our next show. Dissapoting? Indeed. But does this mean we’re finally getting more looks at prospects on the big stage? Absolutely.
Long overdue because of injury, the Bronx gets their first look at one of the most polished bats in the minor leagues. The most encouraging sign Torres posted in the minor leagues was the reversion of his strikeout rate to 18 percent from north of 20 in prior stints. Minimal in the grand scheme of things, but signaling to me he’s back to 100 percent after his Tommy John surgery and a poor Spring Training stint in Florida.
Torres is tough to statistically project if you’re only looking at his multiple, small minor league samples on Fangraphs or Baseball Reference, which only showing you his advanced approach. His tools grade out across the board as average to above average, doing everything exceptionally well, but lacking a supreme 70-grade tool. Some like their prospects balanced, others volatile, yet he’s a consensus top-15 prospect among industry folk because of the makeup and projection given to his bat.
Aesthetically, I think of Victor Martinez when I see Torres’ swing. Martinez loads his hands lower, while Gleyber keeps his ear-level, coiling into a larger leg kick to generate power, whereas Martinez relies more on his hands. I’ve seen instances of Gleyber cutting the leg kick to a toe tap in spring – similar to Juan Soto or Bo Bichette – making this comparison better, but seeing some V-Mart in Torres’ swing is simply a testament to the rookie’s bat-to-ball ability.
I don’t anticipate north of ~23 home runs with his current swing plane, even though the GIF is a slightly modfied version of his swing on a high-and-tight fastball. Given that Freddy Galvis hit nearly 20 home runs a few years ago and Francisco Lindor completely changed his swing plane in a matter of minutes, I reserve the right to pretend I never wrote the previous sentence.
The Yankees add to their roster a bat with supreme on-base ability and a chance to earn reps at second base. I unfortunately suspect Neil Walker and Ronald Torreyes make semi-consistent starts, which leads me to my next point: I would rather have Miguel Andujar on a team in a standard redraft, roto league rest of season (independent of positional needs). Much of Gleyber’s embedded value is long term and in the prospect of what could happen developmentally as many – including myself – gauge just how much power output might exist.
Sometime, you have to give prospects some leash and I think that will be the case with Torres.
Ok, I’m cheating here. When Wainwright hit the DL, I expected the corresponding move to be a promotion of Flaherty. But instead, John Brebbia gets the nod so he can give Cardinals fans another reason to complain about Matheny’s bullpen usage when the reliever inevitably gives up a run or two (yawn). More importantly, the Cardinals currently don’t have a fifth starter on their 25-man roster, leading to my suspicion that Flaherty will pitch Saturday in PNC Park.
Given the flash we saw from Flaherty in Miller Park earlier this season, I’m excited. The command he had of his plus-slider to both sides of the plate was exceptional. His tinkered with his curveball to left-handed hitters, and while I’m not completely convinced this will be his key to left-handed hitters, I would expect he’s closer to pitching his way into the fifth starter slot than he was upon his last call-up.
There is a nice blend of upside and floor here that I think may be overlooked because of the question marks around who exactly is their fifth starter for the rest of the season. The positive? There is nothing left for Flaherty to do in Triple-A. A high strikeout option with control to stick at the major league level is ownable in a lot of formats where starters are needed.
Unfortunately this feels like a spot start on Monday for Buehler, but the first of his career nonetheless. The Vanderbilt alum has posted a 16:4 strikeout to walk rate in the minors through four starts, not exceeding five innings in any outing. His services are needed due to the DL’ing of Rich Hill, who ESPN currently has tagged for a start this weekend in Saturday’s double-header in San Francisco.
His matchup is a weak Marlins team at home, setting him up for a streaming opportunity in nearly any daily format. Buehler’s stellar strikeout rate has been a constant since his professional debut in 2016. This stems from a combination of two plus breaking balls, his curveball primarily attacking lefties and a slider-curveball splitting time against righties.
In his relief debut last season, we got a look at his ability to reach back for velocity and his vertically-inclined curve. The odd issue was his inability to generate whiffs on this curve in his short stint, which surprised some and caused others to cry “small sample.” I’m most interested to see where his fastball velocity sits in a starter’s role and how it maintains a second and third time through an order (98 mph average out of the bullpen last season). My hope is he can eventually develop his changeup into a third pitch versus left-handed hitters and fulfill the majority of his upside I implied when I ranked him 16th overall on my top 100 prospects list. While the want for a third pitch versus a pitcher’s natural split handedness of hitter – left-handed bats for a right-handed arm – is incredibly common among prospects, Buehler’s floor comes from the potential for expanded use of his slider even if the changeup never develops.
Opportunity is an issue, given the Dodgers depth, but I’ll be watching Buehler closely, as should you.
I’d consider myself slightly lukewarm on Gleyber for this season, bullish on Flaherty, and interested in Buehler with low expectations. Dahl has me perplexed. He didn’t look particularly good in his few games since being activated off of the minor league DL and the last time I would consider myself genuinely excited about him was back in 2016 after a torrid 60-game stretch.
Combine what we know he can do, with Coors Field, and the aging combination of Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra, and you start to see why he’s a must add, even if it’s just for this series in Coors against the Padres.
Dahl’s swing is fluid and compact, starting his hands loose and loading them up near his head as he deploys a small leg kick, primarily for timing purposes. I’m interested to see if there have been any minor tweaks mechanically since 2016 because of his lingering injuries, and if so, whether we can expect a subsequent change in output.
We’re looking at a high-.280s hitter at least, with some power inflation in Coors and non-zero speed (which I’ve never liked the success rate of to be a substantial asset long term). Whether the Rockies are willing to let him develop on the field with consistent playing time given their opportunity to win existing right now, is the big question. This is likely one of the disconnects between fantasy owners wanting Ryan McMahon to play consistently and Colorado’s organization being content with a part-time role and Desmond playing first base. This issue can extend to Dahl upon Parra’s return from suspension and Gonzalez from the DL, but I reserve hope that he hits early and often, forcing management’s hand to at least deploy him in a Michael Conforto-style role. If so, he’ll be ownable in nearly all formats.