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…
- The Pirates promoted righthander Mitch Keller to AA Altoona following a strong month since returning from the disabled list. So far in 2017, Keller is 6-3 over 15 starts with a 3.14 ERA, 7.45 K/9, 2.3 Bb/9, and a .204 BAA. You’d like to see more punchouts for fantasy, but there’s still hope he can miss more bats as he develops. Never going to be a high octane ace, he should slot in amongst the best “pitchability” types in the minors.
- Jose Siri’s hitting streak came to an end at 39 games on Friday in the most gutless way possible. As Great Lakes (Dodgers A affiliate) starter Ryan Moseley threw at Siri twice before walking him to end the streak. A shouting match between Siri and Moseley ensued with the benches clearing. You can watch the exchange here.
- Welp, I guess the second go around for Lewis Brinson wasn’t as good as it looked to be in the early going. For fantasy Brinson is in a funny space between hype, and lack of MLB production. His fans remain, myself included, but I’m sure for a few of his owners the acceptable trade price has dropped. If you can still make deals in your dynasty league kick the tires on Brinson.
- The Red Sox Michael Chavis has continued to produce strong power numbers while improving his strikeout and walk rates in AA. Over the last 20 games Chavis is slashing .325/.398/.649 with 6 homers, a 15.9% K%, and a 10.1% Bb rate. For a player who’s major questions revolved around his hit tool this is great sign. With Devers likely up for good I would rank Chavis as the top prospect in the Red Sox system.
- After lots of negative reports coming out of instructs, the Tigers Matt Manning has been downright dominant in 2017. Which explains his recent promotion from the short season Connecticut Tigers to West Michigan of the Midwest League. In 9 New York-Penn League starts Manning went 33.1 IP allowing 7 ER, on 27 hits, 14 walks, to 36 strikeouts, and 6 starts without an earned run allowed. Manning has the super clean mechanics, and build of a future innings eater, while also offering all the swing and miss upside of a future ace. Not a bad combo to invest in.
- Upon going 6 shutout innings in an 8 K effort for class A Greenville, Jason Groome credited the development of his changeup. With a very strong fastball-curveball combo already, an above average change could go a long way towards Groome reaching those lofty expectations.
- Hot scoop here from Rick Hahn’s talk at SABRseminar in Boston yesterday via fellow Razzball writer Lance. See below.
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBrozdow) August 5, 2017
- I haven’t written much about Terry Fuller the Cardinals 15th round pick from this year’s draft. At 6’4 220 he’s a raw 18 year old power prospect in a man’s body, but one with massive upside. If you’re the type to become enamored with prodigious power Fuller is a your kind of guy. I see you Barry Baker.
- Big shouts to my Prospector-in-crime Michael Halpern, and one of his favorite prospects Royals catcher Chase Vallot. If you’re not familiar with Vallot he’s a true three outcome hitter, swinging and missing a lot (36% K%), walking a ton (18% Bb%), and hitting for light tower power (.206 ISO). Much of his value is tied to catching, but if he can cut his K’s to under 30%, and stick behind the plate he’s an easy top 100 guy. For now he’s a flawed, and very intriguing fantasy prospect, particularly with those on base skills.
- Since heading to the Athletics organization in the Doolittle-Madson deal, 3rd base prospect Sheldon Neuse has done nothing but rake. Hitting .390/.478/.644 with 4 homers and 2 steals in 15 games. Baseball America had an excellent post about him last week, discussing how he has the ability to play every position on the diamond outside of catcher and pitcher. If only Willie Calhoun did! As for Neuse he’s worth an add in 18 plus team leagues.
- Speaking of Sweet Willie Calhoun, the Rangers newest acquisition hit his first homer with his new organization Thursday, going 2 for 4 in the process. Then followed that up with another homer last night, his second in three games. Unfortunately, Calhoun has gone from one club with a log jam to another. Heading into the off-season my hope is Shin-Soo Choo is moved in the next 9 months. Then again he’s 35 and owed $62 million over the next three years, making him hard to move. My guess is the Rangers view Calhoun as their long term answer at DH, and maybe some left, but it might not be till next season.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson went on record saying that first baseman Dom Smith will be up soon, and will see the bulk of the playing time when there. Over his last 19 games Smith has been insane, going .351/.425/.649 with 4 homers, 17 runs, and 16 RBIs. The home run ceiling question remains, but make no mistake, Smith will hit for average, get on base, and drive in runs. Wouldn’t be a stretch to say he has the best hit tool in the minors.
- If you’re looking for a dynasty catching prospect whose value is about to blowup check out Austin Allen. The Padres backstop has 10 homers over the last month to go along with a .398/.435/.707 slashline. Before you shout out the cliche “Cal League aided” remember that the Cal league contracted both High Desert and Bakersfield leaving only Lancaster of it’s infamous hitter’s parks. In fact Lake Elsinore, Austin’s home park, had one of the lowest home run factors of any park in the minors. Which would explain why 4 of his 18 homers came at home. The power and offensive ability are real, now it’s just a matter of sticking behind the plate.
- Can’t recall if I’ve touched on him in any of my posts or podcasts, but the Padres July acquisition Esteury Ruiz looks to be a good one. He hasn’t done much in his first few games in the AZL, but he drew rave reviews from Chris Kusiolek on Twitter as seen below.
He has above avg second gear, there’s more footspeed than that. Potential .270/15-20 type. Badass little swing
— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) July 29, 2017
- July belonged to Nick Senzel, as he finished the month with a .358/.414/.575 slashline. Not too bad for his first full month in AA. A promotion to AAA Louisville should be coming in the next couple of weeks, followed by a possible late season cup of coffee in Cincy.
- I love Fernando Tatis Jr., he has to be one of my favorite prospects in the minors right now. What can I say I’m a sucker for power/speed guys in the infield. He ranked 54th on my mid-season Top 100, and might be pushing the top 40. In the month of July he hit .295/.412/.642 with 6 homers, and 12 steals. More than likely he’ll slide over to third, but Tatis for James Shields looks like an all-time boo-boo. Here’s a homer from June.
- We here at Razzball were some of the first to talk up the Dodgers D.J. Peters. In fact all credit goes to former writer, and esteemed commenter J-FOH for the find. The athletic 6’6 Peters has enjoyed an excellent season at Rancho thus far, slashing .285/.385/.530 with 22 homers. He was even better in July going .333/.419/.667 with 9 dongs.
- We discussed it on the latest episode of the prospect podcast, but Tyler Glasnow looks as good as he’s ever looked in AAA. He went 6 strong last night, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 7, while only walking 1. He’s been able to get his Bb/9 under 4 for this first time since 2015 in AA, and is striking out batters nearly 40% of the time. His numbers were silly good entering last night’s game, (1.46 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .161 BAA), I’d expect he gets another taste of the majors over the next month. Might be a little Jose Berrios syndrome.
- The Phillies spent $4.2 million to sign Jhailyn Ortiz in the 2015 July 2nd international period, and he’s been showcasing some of the 70 grade raw power that earned him the hefty payday. He ranks second in the New York Penn League in homers (7), first in slugging (.565), and first in ISO (.278). He’s been walking at a 10.7% clip, and has kept his strikeouts under 25%, all great signs from an 18 year old slugger.
- Keep an eye on the Astros switch-hitting prospect Abraham Toro-Hernandez. The 2016 5th rounder out of Seminole State spends most of his time at third, but has seen some time behind the plate the last few years, boosting his value a bit. He was excellent in the NYPL slashing .288/.413/.529, before seeing promotion to class A Quad-Cities where he’s been equally impressive.
- The breakout season continues for the Diamondbacks Jon Duplantier, as he’s continued to dominate in his 6 Cal League starts to date. He’s extra tough on lefties, holding them to a 1.16 ERA, and uses his three pitch mix as effectively as anyone in the minors. He’s a shoo-in for my Top 100 in my next re-rank.
- I’m still not sure what to make of the Dodgers 27 year old prospect Wilmer Font. His numbers are immaculate but where does he fit in the Dodgers 2017 plans? Can he manage to keep this going next year too? Or is this just a one year popup. Something is definitely different, but I can’t see how a pitcher so reliant on an average fastball will have success in the majors.
- I’m a big fan of the Cardinals Jordan Hicks, a 20 year old righty and 2015 3rd round pick. He has nice fastball-curveball combo with a developing change, and above average control. He’s been stellar in his first five Florida State League games, but to know that all you have to do is just look at the numbers; 1.23 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, .203 BAA, 9.8 K/9, and a 1.6 Bb/9.
- Few have been better over the last month than Braves lefty and 2016 first rounder Joey Wentz. He has a great three pitch mix in his fastball, curve, change combo, and he commands them all well. Wentz had a 1.03 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .146 BAA in 35 July innings with 44 K’s to 10 walks, and 2 homers. He was one of the top two-way players from last year’s draft but was smart to stick on the mound.
- The White Sox Michael Kopech continued to do his thing last night, his thing being striking out 11 batters while exhibiting the improved control that’s been his calling card since the All-Star break. In fact over 5 starts since his Future’s Game performance, Kopech has walked just 5 over 34 innings, after walking 53 over 78.1 first half frames. He credits a mechanical change suggested by manager Jose Bautista, the other one.
- I’ve already given you my Michel Baez fantasy, but he continued to make Daddy look good. On Monday, Baez struck out 14 over 6.2 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, and no walks. He’s a monster, and should be among the top 10 in first year player drafts if he’s not available to add in your league.
- This is a reminder that both Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are really good. Vlad Jr. hasn’t hit for much power in Dunedin, but his average on base ability is still there, so no need to panic, he’s still 10 years away from his power peak. Bichette on the other hand is slashing .391/.441/.500 with a homer, 6 steals, and a silly low 11.8% K rate. You’d like to see a few more homers, but those other numbers are phenomenal for a 19 year old in high A ball.
- He continues to slide under the radar, but former Florida standout, and 2016 2nd round pick Peter Alonso has mashed since coming off the DL in late May. His numbers over his last 59 games are .302/.371/.560 with 13 homers. That’s good enough for a 172 wRC+, .424 wOBA, and a .258 ISO. When Dom Smith is promoted to Flushing, I imagine Alonso will be promoted to AA. Due to Smith’s presence I think Alonso is moved some time in the next 12 months.
- One of the more under-appreciated arms in the White Sox system is Dane Dunning. Acquired in the Adam Eaton trade, he has a chance to become the best arm acquired in that deal. Over his last 14 innings he’s allowed just 1 run, while striking out 17.
**Going to a minor league game? Get in on our crowdsourced scouting video project! Use your phone to shoot at bats, pitches, etc of some of the top prospects, and email them to me at [email protected]**