Every so often, actually, this is baseball, so, all the time, we are blessed with an 80 grade name. One birthed from flames, and ready to provide Rudy Gamble with endless puns. One such name is the Phillies right-hander Adonis Medina’s. The athletic right-hander ranked 107th overall in my recent Top 500, and was the 25th overall pitcher. Don’t forget I faded pitching in this year’s ranks. The subject of trade rumors over the All-Star break, while the Phillies were still in the Manny Machado hunt, Medina has been up and down this season. Though a quick glance at his 64% LOB%, and the fact that 26 of his 39 runs allowed have come in just 4 starts, and it’s easy to see his ERA is quite deceiving. In fact, in ten of those sixteen starts Medina has gone 5 or more and allowed 2 or less runs. But it’s not the numbers that should sell you on Medina, it’s the stuff. Blessed with three above-average to plus pitches, Medina has the ability to carve-up a lineup with very little use of his mid-90s fastball, and that’s exactly what Medina did on Saturday night. Prospector in arms Jason Woodell was in the building, and tweeted some seriously tantalizing updates on Medina’s game. He was working 93-95 on the fastball, before abandoning it the third time through the order to dice up the Fire Frogs (Braves A+) lineup with his low 80s slider, and mid-high 80s changeup. Jason has given Medina 60s on all three pitches. This combination of stuff, and feel for multiple above average to plus pitches gives Medina the ability to thrive one day at the big league level. If I was to re-rank my top 500 today, I’d likely bump Medina into the top 20 starters. Here’s some of Jason’s excellent video work, that really captures how talented Medina is.
103 seconds of absolute filth from #Phillies RHP prospect Adonis Medina.
FB 93-95 – elevates and runs up and in
SL 80-81 – two plane tilt
CH 88 – plus arm action – FIRM
Worked mainly SL/CH combo 3rd time through the order
UN-?ing Touchable! pic.twitter.com/Dg5PvqTWXL
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) July 22, 2018
- There’s not many potential breakouts going more unnoticed than the Angels’ Matt Thaiss. A former catcher, Thaiss made an excellent transition to first base, both at the plate and in the field. He’s been able to add the power to his profile, that’s needed to project as an everyday big league first baseman, while less surprisingly developed his glove into an above average one. IMO it’s easy to see that Thaiss is exactly the type of player that will succeed at the MLB level. Give me a polished hitter, with the ability to make adjustments to his game every day of the week. Let’s not forget, baseball is about adjusting, constantly, and it’s an underrated skill.
- Yet another talented pitcher with three 55/60 grade pitches, is the Athletics Jesus Luzardo. Over his last 6 starts, spanning 31 innings, Luzardo has not allowed a single earned run, while striking out 35 to just 5 walks, and 13 hits. How good is Luzardo? He has as many wins (5) in those 6 starts as he has walks. Yes, we’re starting new metrics to measure Luzardo’s dominance, walks to wins. What might be even more remarkable is the fact that nearly 60% of his professional innings have come at AA. He’s 20, entered the seasons with a total of 43 innings under his belt, and has done nothing but prove himself a top 5 pitching prospect in the game. It’s at the point, with the Athletics deep in the playoff hunt, and looking to add for the stretch run, you have to ask; Would they call-up Luzardo? Perhaps they feel he needs to take some licks in the PCL, but that seems arbitrary. My approach would be a multiple inning bullpen role, with the possibility of a spot-start in the last month. Think a 2008 David Price type of role. OH BTW, he debuted a new pitch last night, an eephus pitch in the mid-60s he calls “The Turkey Sub”.
- I know I’ve now written about the Angels Luis Rengifo a dozen times in the last week, but I can’t get enough of this kid. He’s a switch-hitter, with speed, excellent pitch recognition and strike-zone awareness. Plus he can play multiple spots in the infield. He’s 21 for the entirety of the season, and his wRC+ has improved at each level. Here’s a look at Rengifo’s swing from the rightside, on his first AAA homer last Wednesday.
- The theme of today’s post might as well be adjustments. I thought about making it peanut butter, but I’m not sure I have a way to connect Bryse Wilson to George Washington’s Carver’s greatest invention. Adjustments on the other hand is an easy topic to connect with Wilson. After bossing through the lower levels of the minors, Wilson was met with his first significant struggle through his first 6 AA starts, where he compiled a 7.42 ERA over 26.2 innings, allowing 22 earned runs on 34 hits and 14 walks. A rather stark departure from his first 190 professional innings, where he boasted 1.94 ERA, .198 BAA, and a 2.93 FIP. However, the Braves looking to find the answer to his struggles, suggested he switch his fastball grip from the two-seamer he had previously lived off, to a more traditional four-seam style grip. The results since speak for themselves. His first game experience with the grip adjustment was July 3rd, and since Wilson has enjoyed one of the best runs of his career, striking out 37 batters in 27.1 innings, while only allowing two earned runs. An athletic kid who was a two sport star at his North Carolina high school, Wilson’s competitive fire, and control of his arsenal has allowed him to reach AA at 20, and might see Wilson reach the big leagues at 21. I ranked Wilson as the 31st overall pitching prospect in my Top 500, and would easily bump him into the top 25 now.
— Andy Harris (@K26dp) June 16, 2017
- Just days after I take-in a game, the Mets decided to promote 19 year old shortstop Andres Gimenez to AA Binghamton. A talented kid, with a quick and compact lefty swing, plus speed, and the defensive chops for short. Gimenez is one of my favorite teenagers in the minors, and one who’s fantasy value is often undersold. He may never be a 25 homer guy, but a .280-.290 average with 13-16 homers, and 20+ steals is a very real possibility. There were only two teenagers in the Florida State League with wRC+ of 120 or higher, Gimenez and…
- The Tigers Isaac Paredes was the other, and get this, he too was promoted to AA Erie of the Eastern league and is off to a novel start. So far through a week’s worth of games, Paredes is slashing .400/.500/.600 with a homer, 9 RBI, and 4 walks to 2 strikeouts. After a strong April, Paredes struggled in May, before flipping the switch June 1st. Since that date, Paredes is hitting .325/.388/.552 with 8 homers and an even amount of strikeouts to walks. Despite spending most of his time professionally at short, he’s likely to move off the position and slide to third, where his strong arm plays. Blessed with quick hands, good plate coverage, and a powerful swing, Paredes fits the profile of corner infield masher, without sacrificing his contact skills. Here he is knocking a homer off the Marlins Jorge Guzman.
- While the batting average is still an adventure for the Mets Peter Alonso in the PCL, the power has been on full display. Prior to last night’s game Alonso has 5 homers in his last ten contests, not including his majestic Future’s Game blast, and looks to be pushing for a late 2018 debut in Flushing. He’s striking out more than you’d like to see, but the batting average is a product of a .206 BABIP.
- Speaking of power-hitters in the PCL, you know I can’t go too long without mentioning my boy Tyler O’Neill. Prior to last night’s 1-for-2 performance with two walks, O’Neill was on the heels of 5 homers over his last two contests. He went deep three times on Sunday, before going deep twice on Tuesday. It should also not go unnoticed that O’Neill has improved his K% at AAA this year, and maintained a respectable 9% Bb%. Is O’Neill my favorite player? Yes. Do I defend him on social media, the way a white knight protects a damsel in distress? Yes. But I truly feel his plate discipline will improve and his 70 grade power will play everyday in the major leagues. Don’t @ me!
RT @milb: #STLCards No. 2 prospect Tyler O’Neill (@toneill21) had 12 career two-homer games, but he never recorded a hat trick until Sunday for @memphisredbirds. https://t.co/HFtehHreAe pic.twitter.com/Z5VR9JXdN4
— Dale M. Rapp (@dalerapp) July 23, 2018
- The Angels got a very solid piece for Martin Maldonado in lefty Patrick Sandoval. A former 11th rounder out of Mission Viejo High School, Sandoval has taken some time to find his footing, but has been remarkable this season. He actually had a 42 inning scoreless streak that spanned two levels, and nearly two months. His changeup is a legit plus pitch, getting whiffs in bunches. He pairs that with a fastball that ranges 88-94, with two above average breaking balls in his curveball and slider. He’s bounced in and out of the rotation throughout the season, but has the stuff to stick in the rotation long term.
- Perhaps I undersold the Brewers first round pick Bryce Turang’s offensive ability. Over the course of his first 9 professional games he’s walked more than he’s struckout, while slashing .364/.450/.424 with 6 steals. He committed his first error the other day, but all reports rave about how rock solid he’s been in the field. At the moment I’m waiting to see how Turang finishes the next month and a half, but his stock is rising.
- Every day my appreciation for the Rays Brandon Lowe grows. I ranked Lowe 92nd on my Top 500, after he missed the Rays ranks completely about a month prior. I was wrong, but I’m learning. Since his promotion to AAA, Lowe has hit .314/.385/.648 with 13 homers in just 40 games. Over his last eight games he’s been especially hot, hitting .355/.382/.839 with 8 extra base hits. He’s poor defensively, so he has a bit of the Willie Calhoun syndrome, but the bat should play. The Rays are always a crapshoot, but I’d love to see Lowe get some MLB reps late this summer.