Is it too early to update my first year player draft rankings? Because we have a battle to replace Alec Bohm at the top of the list. In one corner we have Cardinals wunderkind Nolan Gorman. A power-hitting prodigy, with Herculean raw power, and a bat so quick and compact he could turn on a hollow-point on the inside. At 18 he already has a big league body, and the pretty swing to match. St. Louis was aggressive with him, skipping the Gulf Coast League for the more advanced Appy league. The results have certainly backed that decision, through 33 games the third basemen is slashing .341/.437/.682. In yesterday’s game he connected for his 11th homer of the season, as part of a 4-for-6 performance. He’s in the midst of a 7 game hitting streak and has homers in three straight. Actually he has homers in four of his last five games, slugging two doubles on Tuesday in his homer-less game. So this leads us back to our original question; Is Gorman the number 1 pick in FYPD? The question is yes and no, for me it’s a two man battle between Gorman, and Jonathan India, more on him later. But it’s tough to argue against Gorman’s bat at the moment. If you were to say he was the best hitter in the draft, you might be right. He’s been great so far, and a promotion to the full season Midwest League could come shortly. For now consider Gorman a major mover in my forthcoming Top 500 update.

  • I had the pleasure (?) of taking in Detroit Tigers 2017 first rounder Alex Faedo’s start Saturday at New Hampshire. The game was scheduled for Friday night, but a nasty storm rolled through New England, leading to a postponement, that led to a double header Saturday evening, with Faedo starting for Erie in the matinee. The weather was a little rough Saturday afternoon once again, pushing the start time with a delay of about an hour. Sometime around 6 PM Faedo emerged from the clubhouse to play some long toss with Jake Rogers. Then after a little bullpen mound prep, the righty began his pre-game pen. The first thing that struck me was the mechanics. He doesn’t extend very well, landing very upright on his plant foot. His low three quarters arm slot comes with a hitch in his arm action. That tidbit leads me to wonder if upper level hitting will use that against him to pickup his timing. He’s very upper body dependent, not getting a ton of drive from his lower half.

    As for the game, I didn’t get velo readings, due to a broken stadium gun, and not being in the proximity of scouts for game one. His first inning was clean getting a groundout from the leadoff guy Bo Bichette before retiring the following batter on a liner. Next up Cavan Biggio the active home run leader in the Eastern League. He struck out Biggio on four pitches, the nail in the coffin a swinging strike three on a slider in the dirt.

    The next inning Faedo started it off with a grounder to third base, but Josh Lester the third baseman for Erie, booted the ball. The next batter Max Pentecost struck out on a foul tip, followed by a pop up off the bat of Connor Panas. The number seven hitter Gunnar Heidt stepped up and cracked a homer to deep right centerfield. Faedo quickly retired the next batter for the third out, but the damage was done. That’s until the third inning where things really came unglued. He started the inning off with a strikeout passed ball. Before he allowed this single up 0-2 on Bo Bichette.

    Nice piece of hitting by Bichette to go out and get this one. After that it was hit batsman, walked in a run, single, before getting two outs. He was pulled after 2.2 IP, throwing 59 pitches, 39 for strikes. The long and the short is Faedo’s secondaries need work. His slider can flash plus, but it’s inconsistent, he hung one on the homer to Heidt. His changeup was nowhere near the zone, and didn’t look like much of anything. That being said, it was one start after a rainout, a rain delay, and a really humid rainy opening inning. He had some bad luck with an error and a passed ball, but he still didn’t pitch particularly well. He located his fastball really well, tough on righties and lefties. His slider at times looked plus, but also looks hittable at other times. It’s a definite two pitch mix giving him at least a reliever floor. The ceiling is there, but he’s an unusual prospect.

  • In addition to Alex Faedo I caught Tigers infielder Isaac Paredes. The slugging teenager was the DH for the first game and out of the lineup for the second. But he did make contact with a couple of balls, and I at least got a look at his lightning fast hands and strong wrists. You should know my feelings on Paredes at this point, a power hitter with advanced approach and feel for the barrel. His plate coverage was evident, flashing an ability to get his bat on everything, possibly to the detriment of his average. Here’s a ball he got under late in game 1.

  • Bo Bichette was impressive as usual, getting on base a few times, including this bouncing double down the line he legged out. Check out the wheels and heads up baserunning. He should be joining Vlad Jr. in Buffalo soon.

  • In game two the Fisher Cats starter was recently acquired righthander Hector Perez. He looked good working 92-94/t95 on his four-seam fastball, showing good run, and the willingness to throw it high and low in the zone. He mixes that with a trio of secondaries, a sharp slider in the 84-86 MPH range, a splitter that acted like a changeup sitting 87-89, and an oft-used nasty curveball at 79-81. He worked a solid five innings allowing two runs, on 3 hits, 4 walks, and 7 Ks. He had a tendency to nibble, and the command isn’t great, but the stuff is really good. I was impressed by Perez, and think he could be an inconsistent back end starter with some upside for more.

  • Highly touted Cuban signing Julio Pablo Martinez has been underwhelming since coming stateside, but is in the midst of a very solid month plus at short season Spokane. Since July 4th he’s slashing .286/.396/.488, with 4 homers and three steals. Granted he was caught 4 times on those three steals, so I would hold your applause on that front. It’s certainly a start, and it does take some time for these Cuban kids to shake the rust off following the immigration process. I’d hold Martinez for now.
  • The Red Sox promoted three outcome stalwart Josh Ockimey to AAA Pawtucket Thursday, and he promptly homered in his first game at the level. It’s a first base only profile, while there is power and on base ability, I’m not sure it’s enough to save him from the strikeouts at the Major League level. Here’s the homer…kinda. What’s with the pitcher closeup?

  • The Phillies Adam Haseley is reapping the benefits of Reading so far, raising his slugging above .500 for the first stop of his career. Despite some pronounced adjustments to his swing over the last year in an effort to unlock more power, he’s been getting his hard contact more in the way of line drives than flyballs. Much of this comes down to the plane of Haseley’s bat path, which is extremely linear. The combination of tools on both sides of the ball, and an advanced understanding of hitting should push the profile.
  • The recently acquired Taylor Hearn showed well in his first start with the Rangers organization. The lefty that works mid to upper 90’s with his fastball, went 5.1 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 8 in the process. With Hearn it all comes down to developing the changeup, because his fastball-slider combo is already deadly.

  • Last Tuesday the Rays Nathaniel Lowe had a two homer game vs. Jacksonville to kick-off a string of two hit efforts over four of his last five contests. On the season the first baseman is slashing .349/.441/.602 with 23 homers and 60 walks to 63 strikeouts. The last numbers might be the most staggering, a lefthanded power bat with that sort of plate approach and 70 raw power is rare. It’s not like his High-A numbers are padding that either, he’s actually walked more than he’s struckout in 47 AA games, with a higher ISO at the higher level. Lowe, because he’s a Rays prospect, likely won’t be up until next summer, but he might be an immediate impact rookie when he gets the call.

  • Speaking of Rays prospects, Jesus Sanchez was promoted to AA Montgomery on Thursday. He went 2-for-3 in his first game with an RBI double, and two walks. He followed that up with two more walks on Saturday. This is right in line with what I’ve said all along, sometimes high contact hitters are more aggressive at lower levels, because they see more pitches to hit. This is a pretty staggering development considering he walked 15 times in 90 games at High-A Charlotte.
  • I covered the Mexican League success story of the Cardinals Ramon Urias, older brother of the Padres Luis Urias, earlier in the season. He struggled at AAA Memphis out the gate, but has been a man possessed at AA Springfield. Through 40 games he’s hitting .336/.408/.605 with 8 homers, and 26 strikeouts to 17 walks. He turned 24 in June, so he’s a little older, but there’s definitely something here with this guy. Good approach, good contact, and at least average power.
  • It didn’t take long for Dodgers shortstop prospect Gavin Lux to make his mark with AA Tulsa. In his first game at the level he slugged a homer in the 6th inning. One of the less talked about breakouts of 2018, Lux needs to overcome the Cal League aided tag, and prove that the power jump was real. So far through three games he’s held his own as a 20 year old at AA. With some speed, power, and approach it’s a very valuable profile if he can stick in the middle infield.

  • I need to know why the Diamondbacks haven’t promoted righthander Taylor Widener to AAA yet. He’s been tremendous this entire season, and that was no different Friday evening, as he went six scoreless, allowing 3 hits and a walk, striking out 7. He mixes a plus fastball-slider combo with a developing changeup with nice fade. He likes to work up in the zone with the fastball getting lots of swings and misses that way. This is an arm I’d look to add in deeper formats where he might be floating around.
  • While we’re on the topic of Diamondbacks prospects, Kevin Cron has been sliding under the radar, despite an excellent season. Through 76 ganes at AAA he’s hitting .330/.382/.595 with 19 homers and 79 RBI. The batted ball profile is nice with  23.5% LD%  47% FB%, while distributing his contact evenly to all fields. He’s a bad body, right handed hitting first baseman, so the enthusiasm around his profile, despite the success is low. I see a potential second division regular with 25+ homer pop, but little else.

  • Second rounder Greyson Jenista is already in full season ball and he’s been really impressive. He went 3-for-5 on Saturday with Class A Rome, driving in 4 runs on two doubles. Through 28 games at the level he’s hitting a robust .347/.389/.465 with a homer and four steals. You’d like to see a few more homers, but I don’t doubt they’ll come, he did have 3 in ten games with rookie level Danville. He’s hitting the ball on the ground more than you’d like to see, but so far the approach and ability to make good contact shouldn’t be undersold.
  • There are lots of draft kids to talk, so let’s hit on Travis Swaggerty. He’s been hot of late, slashing .297/.395/.486 with 2 homers and 4 steals. There’s a lot to like with Swaggerty, as he mixes power, and speed, with some dynamic top of the order upside.
  • Happy birthday to one of the greatest pitchers of all-time in Roger Clemens, you get a mashing son, congrats! The Tigers Kody Clemens has picked up where he left off at Texas hitting .272/.375/.456 across 32 games at West Michigan of the Midwest League. He’s flashed some power connecting for 4 homers, while stealing 3 bases on 4 attempts. The numbers aren’t overwhelming but they are impressive for a player fresh out of the draft.
  • My podcast partner Lance Brozdowski caught Jonathan India at Fort Wayne the other night, and got a look at him playing shortstop. He was a day too early however, as he connected for a homer on Saturday, his first in the Midwest League.

  • Why isn’t anyone hyping up the Reds Mike Siani? He’s been really impressive hitting .308/.390/.429 with 2 homers and 3 steals so far in his pro career. He’s an elite defender, and is already showing a little more with the bat than expected. He’s still raw but an exciting talent, with a ton of tools on both sides of the ball.

Follow me on @ProspectJesus and check out the first edition of my Top 500 Prospects

  1. Mex says:
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    Hay Ralph,

    I inquired about Chavis and J. Matteo a month or so ago…you were kinda meh on them at that time…has your opinion changed at all(Matteo has been hitting for average the last 3 weeks or so)? do you think they will be in the majors next year and get significant playing time(400 AB’s)?

    Thanks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Mex: I think they could each be in the majors. Mateo has a better shot than Chavis IMO. Need to see the new Chavis, I liked the juiced guy last year. Mateo has a great skill set he just has had a rough season. If he can hit, his speed will play.

  2. Sport says:
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    Great stuff as always! There’s a lot of information here and I appreciate it all!

    Jahmai Jones is still floating around in one of leagues where I might have an open spot. You haven’t said much on him all summer and it looks like he has struggled at AA. What are your thoughts on him?

    • Sport says:
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      @Sport: I do recall hearing a little on one your podcast, seems like back in June. I would be dropping Ryan McKenna for him where I have pretty good depth in OF.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Sport: I’d dump McKenna for him. He’s been up and down, but I really like him playing second with that skill set.

  3. Jake says:
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    Thx Ralph, love these updates. Do you see Hasely squeezing into the Phils OF situation at some point next year? What do you think his upside is?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jake: I think there’s a really chance he can. For me the upside, at least from an offensive perspective is Lorenzo Cain. Not a ton of homers, but he helps you everywhere.

  4. Griffin says:
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    Who would you rather have going forward Wander Franco or Gorman?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Griffin: Ohhh, I think I’m going Franco, position and maybe a little more value in other places.

  5. Another Dan says:
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    Good stufF again.

    FYPD starts tomorrow in my 30 teamer. Will update you if you think it’ll be interesting, I know it’s good to get an idea of where others are ranking players. So, to answer your question, No, it’s not too early to update your ranks.

    I have pick 24 (have acquired a couple of extra later picks too). It’s 10 rounds. So I am certain I will need some advice on late round fliers.

    Best wishes,

    Another Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan: Not a problem Dan! Happy to do so!

  6. Scott says:
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    Loving the minors coverage! Hoping you can help with some trade advice, which side would you prefer in a dynasty league:

    Side A: Taylor Trammell
    Side B: Mike Clevinger & Kelvin Herrerra

    I would be receiving side B as I’m in the hunt this year, but not sure if worth sacrificing Trammell.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Scott: That’s a lot to give up IMO. There’s not a ton of longneck term value there.

      • Scott says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: thanks Ralph! Shopped around and ended up dealing Oneil Cruz and Dylan Cease for Jameson Taillon and Kirby Yates instead. Gonna miss my beautiful 6’7 shortstop but felt value was better

  7. Regan Sayer says:
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    Who are the best stashes for steals in the minors for this year. Someone mentioned Oscar Mercado, anyone else you can recommend?

    Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Regan Sayer: Likely Mercado. If there’s any injuries and Victor Robles gets a shot he’s worth holding.

  8. Jason Collier says:
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    Absolutely enjoy these minors articles! You’ve become my go to. In a keep forever Dynasty league, I have a vacant minors spot open. It’s simply a best available scenario, and I won’t need them to contribute any time soon, so I’m considering OF Drew Waters or 3B Colton Welker? I guess my weakest minors/majors spot is 2B as I only have Garrett Hampson, Daniel Murphy, and Asdrubel Cabrera eligible at 2B but I’m not in love with any of the 2B prospects available. Maybe Cavan Biggio if you think he would be better than Waters or Welker long term? Thanks!

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