Prospects are funny, when things are going well all is expected of them. The sky’s the limit, the loftiest of comparisons are strewn about, and the helium pumps. Then the player struggles. Whether it be a command bout for a live arm, or a hitter stalling a little in his development. We all quickly jump off the boat. When often times, that player bounces back the following year, or late in the season, only to leave egg on our faces. Development takes time, and it’s just that, developing skills that lead to success at the major league level. Once such case of struggle, and recent revival is Yankees outfield prospect Estevan Florial. After an unproductive and injury plagued first half, the Haitian talent has returned with a vengeance. He’s looking more comfortable at the plate, and his swing and miss issues are trending the right way. If Florial can get his hit tool to a 45-50 level, his combination of speed and power could turn him into an impact player at the major league level. For now there’s still hit tool concerns, but you scout the athlete, and there’s few more impressive than Florial. I won’t back down from Florial as a top 25-50 prospect, and he’ll be around there in my update.

  • As if things aren’t confusing enough to begin with, we have another teenage standout middle infielder named Luis Garcia. Now he’s been briefly touched on here before, but never in any great depth. Why? Because we didn’t have any quality looks. Now that we have, and he’s taking the GCL by storm, the Phillies Luis Garcia is a player to add/watch/acquire now. A switch-hitter with a compact swing from both sides of the plate, blessed with quick hands, hand eye coordination, and good bat speed. There’s a nice combination of hit tool and power.

  • Man, the Astros 2017 first rounder JB Bukauskas has been dealing. Three consecutive scoreless outings, and he’s missing more bats! It’s easy to forget how far Bukauskas’ stock dropped on prospect lists over the spring. Out of sight, out of mind, is very real. After returning from injury in late June, the former UNC Tarheel ace has been nails. In 10 appearances since June 29th the righthander is 3-0 with 48 Ks to 14 Bbs in 42.1 IP, while only allowing 6 earned runs, good enough for a 1.28 ERA/2.21 FIP, with a .187 BAA, and a 0.99 WHIP. I have 60s on the fastball and slider, with the changeup looking fringe still. I haven’t watched a ton of Bukauskus professionally outside a few innings, so it’s possible the changeup has improved. Regardless of his third pitch development, Bukauskas is an absolute add at the moment.

  • This past off-season I waxed poetic about a pair of talented teenage prospects in the Phillies lower minors. One was slugger Jhailyn Ortiz, to say he’s had a rough 2018 would be an understatement, the other was big righthander Francisco Morales. The later has been the stronger of the two in 2018, though it’s a little optimistic to say this season has been great. The peripherals tell a story his ERA does not. On Tuesday Morales showcased some of his tantalizing ability, striking out 11 over 6 one run innings. His usually spotty command was on, only walking 2 batters, while allowing just 3 hits. It begins and ends with Morales’ command. If he can consistently land his slider for strikes, and command his fastball there’s front of the rotation potential. At 6’4 and a shade under 200 lbs, Morales has the body for it, and the stuff with his combination of a 60 fastball and a 60 slider.

  • My colleague, and last night’s Fantrax Baseball Show guest John Eshleman, got a great look at Diamondbacks breakout arm Taylor Widener. He confirmed a lot of what I’ve seen on the game broadcasts this season. The righthander has strong command of his three pitch-mix, featuring a plus fastball, above-average changeup, and average slider, that later of which will flash plus at times. An excellent get this off-season from the Yankees, after a stellar season at AA in 2018, Widener should be in the mix for the big league rotation come 2019.
  • Is it me or has there been a tremendous amount of early success from the recent draft class? There’s been a plethora of strong performances but none might be as surprising as Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez’s early dominance. Through five appearances spanning 19.1 innings, the big righty has allowed just 3 runs, while impressing with his four pitch mix. Rodriguez blends a plus fastball, with a slider that flashes plus, and a pair of average secondaries in his curveball and changeup. He’s missing bats, limiting contact, and flashing at least average control for a prep starter fresh out of the draft.

  • I feel like I’ve neglected to cover the Rangers outfielder Bubba Thompson as much as I should. The 2017 first rounder has flashed five tool ability, with the potential to be a dynamic offensive force. So far on the season Thompson is slashing .295/.350/.461 with 8 homers and 28 steals. There’s still some growth that needs to occur at the plate in regards to approach, but it’s an excellent showing for a prep player in his first full season of pro-ball.

  • The Yankees are full of righthanders in the lower minors with big stuff. My favorite of the bunch is the sub-6 feet Deivi Garcia. Dating back to the beginning of 2018, Deivi has been one of the stronger performers in the system. Compiling a 3-4 record with a 35.2% K%, 5.9% Bb%, and a 2.98 ERA/2.70 FIP. His delivery is high effort, and he’s obviously short for a starter, so there is significant reliever risk with the profile. That said, I’m all in despite those concerns if only for that fastball and feel for his secondaries. Not sure if you realize, but 19 year olds with those abilities don’t grow on trees.

  • I’ve mentioned the Reds second round supplemental pick Josiah Gray before, but it needs to be said, this kid is a gangster! Not in the literal Alpo Martinez sense, but from an ability standpoint. If you don’t recall, Gray was a standout for Division 2 Le Monye College in New York, and caught the attention of scouts after getting some run on the mound in last year’s Cape Cod League. He transitioned to the position full-time, and has quickly taken to the his new found role. Mixing a mid-90’s fastball with movement, an above-average but inconsistent slider, and a decent changeup. Thus far in the professional ranks Gray has pushed, going 2-1 over 49.1 innings with rookie-level Greenville, while striking out 55 batters to just 16 free passes. While everyone else is chasing the bigger name arms in the early rounds, load up on bats, and steal Gray late.

  • Took a little bit to get his sea-legs in Baltimore but Yusniel Diaz has turned on his mash stick. Over his last nine games, dating back to August 14th, Diaz is slashing .273/.368/.576 wth three homers, and an identical K% and Bb% at 13.2%. It was only a matter of time with Diaz before he began to impress. He’s a 6 hit tool with a bag full of 5’s, but he’s an everyday MLB player with some offensive prowess. Should be a staple in Camden for years to come.

  • There’s nothing worse than being tricked into aggressiveness on catchers, it’s only magnified when we’re talking about catching prospects. That leads me to the curious case of one Joey Bart. The second overall pick in this year’s draft has been phenomenal so far in 2018, not only impressing at Georgia Tech, but also in pro-ball. The power has been above and beyond what I expected, and it’s a tempting profile, even for a catcher. The numbers are eye-popping (.307/.364/.620 10 homers), and the in-person looks back up the stats. It’s an aggressive profile, where he looks to put the ball in play. This limits my excitement a little, as I’d like to see a good on base profile to go with the power, but beggars can’t be choosers in the catching prospect world. While I feel Bart has a fantasy relevant skillset behind the dish, I’m still under the belief he will be overvalued in First Year Player Drafts this year, giving me the feel of a sucker bet.

  • It’s taken a while for him to get going, but the Rangers big off-season signing, Julio Pablo Martinez is starting to get in a groove. Over his last 15 games JPM is slashing .318/.392/.485 with 8 extra base hits, a steal, and 14 runs. Martinez is a plus athlete that runs well, plays a solid centerfield, and hits enough to have some impact. I’m interested to see if there’s true 15-20 homer power there, if there is Martinez could be a really intriguing fantasy prospect. If not, you’re looking at an up the middle Adam Haseley type.
  • Not sure how much I’ve gotten to touch on this in 2018, but I’m a big Victor Robles guy. I’ve always comped him to Starling Marte, and those of you that know me, know I’m a big Marte guy, so its lofty praise. I love players that can impact the game and your fantasy rosters in a multitude of ways, and that’s exactly what Robles provides. A future leadoff monster, with plus plus speed, plus plus hit, above average power, and an up the middle profile in the field. Robles has the ability to hit .300, hit 18-20 homers, and steal 30 bases, in 2019 if all goes well. If you can buy low on Robles do it. He had a rough initial few weeks returning from his gruesome injury earlier this season, but has come on of late collecting multiple hits in four straight, and going 10-for-20 with 6 runs scored over that time frame.
  • Things haven’t been quite as easy for 21 year old Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez in the PCL, as they had been in lower levels. The last ten games however have been a return to his performance earlier this season as he’s slashed .343/.425/.514 with a homer and a trio of doubles. I’d anticipate Alvarez sees some MLB at bats when roster expand, but my expectation is Yordan is back in Fresno to begin 2019.

Follow me on @ProspectJesus and check out the first edition of my Top 500 Prospects! BTW I’ve started a new venture, it’s a prospect only site with Jason Woodell, Lance Brozdowski, and Matt Thompson. We’ve launched the twitter handle @ProspectsLive, and you can subscribe to our YouTube here. Keep you eyes peeled for lots of prospect content. 

  1. El Famous Burrito says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard the name Tristan Lutz mentioned since the draft. What’s going on with that guy?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:

      @El Famous Burrito: Good, he’s come around a little but the hit tool wasn’t as strong as expected. Stick with him the plus power is still in that bat.

  2. Another Dan says:

    Excellent stuff,

    Like Florial, own him in a couple of places. I guess if you invest in someone that you like then you have to stick with him.

    Will add Josiah Gray to my draft board. Is he top 100 FYPD ? Later ?

    You know much about Omar Cruz. Mexican 6 foot LHP, Tri Cities (SD). 42IP, 59K , 22BB over two levels this year. Although 16BB have come since his promotion. Interested ?

    Football. Won 1-0 away on Saturday. Drew 2-2 at home on Tuesday. Disappointed since we were 2-0 up and missed bats if chances. They hit one back and then had a man sent off. So they equalised in 90+3. Would have taken 4 points from first game though.

    Thanks for everything you do.

    Hope all is good.

    Best wishes,

    Another Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:

      @Another Dan: He’s top 50 FYPD IMO.

      Don’t know much about Cruz, I’ll ask lance about him

      Not bad though, come a long way in a year brother!

  3. Trust The Process says:

    Love these Ralph! Trade deadline is Sunday… we keep ten on the farm… would you do One of these two… A) trade seuly and welker for Urias and moving hampson to my farm OR B) drop seuly and move hampson into my minors while still eligible (giving me another keeper in my MLB) .. THANKS as always.. my farm is loaded thanks to you

  4. Slick Grey the Ruler says:

    Good Stuff Ralph! Would you be so kind as to give me some good new on Eloy getting called up.

  5. Count de Monetballl says:

    Great work as always Ralph!!!

      • Count de Monetballl says:

        @Malicious Phenoms: What can I say, I’m obsessed with Slick Rick, well and Grey too!

  6. Screwballs says:

    Thanks again to you and Razzball for the great advice. I have been able to add Gleybar, Soto and Acuna’ to my team this year.

    As I prepare for the playoffs, I also have an eye on stocking talent for next year and beyond. In our keeper league, you can reserve 5 players off your active roster, including major league players once they hit a “NA” designation. You can keep them there once the return to an active roster if you don’t play them.

    Currently I am holding Alex Reyes, Buxton, Sano, Jo Adell [thanks for that tip], and Kyle Tucker. I could pick up Jesus Lazardo, Keston Huira, Taylor Trammel, Royce Lewis, and Alex Kirillof who have not been reserved.

    I would appreciate it if you could list your top 5 out of these choices.

  7. David says:

    Ralph, who are some prospects that you project to be potential closers? Thanks.

  8. MP says:

    Are there any foreign players who are likely to come over and whom you would rank as a top 50 prospect?

  9. Harley Earl says:


    You wrote about Vidal Brujan last week but never mentioned Nick Solak, who also has excellent numbers at Double-A Montgomery (18 HR, 71 RBI, .396 OBP). Is there something I’m missing? Seems like Solak should rate high as well but nobody seems to be that high on him. Any thoughts?

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