Every year a player shows up in April and makes you regret your ranking. The honor of “that guy” in 2018, at leats so far, goes to Juan Soto. Ranked 25th on my Top 100 Prospects coming into the season, if I re-ranked today, I’d move Soto up as many as 10 spots. Upon receiving an assignment to low-A Hagerstown, it was obvious from the jump his competition in the Sally was overmatched. Soto slashed .373/.486/.814 with 5 homers and 24 RBI in 15 games, and was quickly promoted to high-A Potomac of the Carolina League. So far through 5 contests he’s hitting .318/.400/.591 with a double, triple, and homer. Here’s a look at the homer he hit on Wednesday versus Wilmington. The swing is a thing of beauty, with a super quick and simple motion, strong wrists, and fast hands. It’s all evident in the video below.


Soto is already looking like he belongs in high-A, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he spent a good chunk of the summer in AA Harrisburg. He’s moving toward a near certain Top 10 rank come mid-season, and a potential Top 5 come pre-season 2019. However, we won’t see Soto at the major league level until later on in 2019. To encapsulate, Soto is a year away, but an elite talent, one that needs to be owned in every dynasty league. He pairs the ability to hit for both power, and average, and shows advanced understanding of hitting. Working counts, making adjustments with two strikes, and avoiding strikeouts. He has a real shot to be the best rightfielder in the game in his prime years.

 

  • So Far, so good for the White Sox Michael Kopech. The Young Gas God has been working with his best stuff early on in AAA. Mixing his high velocity fastball, with his slider, and changeup, racking up 27 punchouts in 21 innings. Below my homie, and excellent twitter follow @Prospectgifs condensed all of Kopech’s 8 punchouts from Wednesday into the below video. Nice mix of picking his spots, blowing it by guys, and baffling breakers. Kopech should likely be up mid-July.

  • Lance and I went on another romantic scouting date on Friday night, schlepping up to Manchester, New Hampshire to take in the Fishercats showdown with Trenton. Decent pitching matchup as well, as Dillon Tate took on Sean Reid-Foley. Lance took some great video of Foley’s slowed down mechanics, and they’re really unique. He gets great extension with his front-leg, rocking back to get more momentum. From the stretch the hitch in his lower half becomes far more pronounced and his command tends to slip as a result. That said, I liked what I saw from Foley. He sat 93-94, touching 95 a couple times with decent sink, two breaking balls, and a changeup. The slider was his best pitch that night getting a solid amount of swinging strikes from the Trenton bats. He finished the start with 5 shutout innings of 2 hit ball, walking 3, and striking out 8, on a cold and rainy night. In fact he had a great deal of trouble getting his footing, and even slipped once. I like Foley, but see him as more a number three or four starter.

  • Speaking of the New Hampshire trip, got another good look at the legacy trio of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and the emerging Cavan Biggio. Unfortunately he had a tough night at the dish, going 0-for-4, with 2 Ks. He’s been playing second just like pops, and has found another gear this season, hitting not only for a far higher average, but also a ton more power. From what I’ve seen in about a half dozen looks in person and on screen, is a player with an elite pitch recognition skill. He lays off bad breaking balls, and shows the ability to process a pitcher’s arsenal in-at-bat, and make adjustments. Of course I have a gif to show you all of this.

  • Looks like the Marlins Joe Dunand is making the jump from “A-Rod’s cousin” to legit prospect. So far he’s slashing .324/.398/.541 for Jupiter of the Florida State League with a Bb% of 11.4%, and a K% of 14.8% good enough for a wRC+ of 156. He homered on Wednesday night and has hits in 5 of his last 6. He’s played all of his games at short so far, but has the ability to play a solid third base, not too far off from his uncle. He came into his own his final year at NC State, and was a somewhat divisive prospect on draft day. Thus far, he’s looking like a steal for the Marlins at 51st overall.
  • Seven of the top eleven prospects in my Braves Top Prospects list were pitchers, and while we’ll discuss Mike Soroka, as well as my first hand looks at Luiz Gohara, later on. I want to take this time to shine the spotlight on Bryse Wilson’s performance so far. Through 4 starts he’s 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 19 strikeouts to 5 walks in 20 innings. Former guest of the podcast Jason Woodell was at Wilson’s start on Thursday and had such nuggets as, “Bryse Wilson is done after 6.2 IP. 3 H 2 BB 4 K. Ran the FB into RH, broke 4 bats. Very efficient. Effortless easy 95. Good arm speed with his offspeed. I ranked him my top 100 at end of 2017. Easily a top 50 guy rn.” He described the arsenal as fastball, slider, and the occasional changeup. Here’s some video courtesy of Jason.

  • Peter Alonso came up during the “5×5” section of the Prospect Podcast this week. Why? Because he’s been absolutely mashing Eastern League pitching. At the moment, he stands at or near the top of several leaderboards across the AA level. Ranking 5th in batting average at .388, 4th in OBP at .494, 1st in slugging at .746, and 5th in homers at 6. He’s blocked at the AAA level with Dominic Smith playing mediocre ball at the moment, and Adrian Gonzalez holding down the MLB job for whatever reason. There’s a real chance Alonso is the best of the trio with power to go along with on base ability, something Smith has struggled to pair consistently.
  • There’s a pair of catching Muphys making noise in the minors, one being old friend Tom Murphy of the Rockies AAA affiliate Albuquerque, and the other Sean Murphy of the Athletics AA affiliate Midland. Tom is slashing .312/.379/.571, with 4 homers and 13 RBI. Whether he finally gets a shot at everyday at bats at 27 is still up in the air. Much of it comes down to Tom’s catching ability. Sean on the other hand has a bright future ahead of him as a catcher in the majors. One of the better defensive backstops in the minors, Sean’s hitting has really come around. He’s hitting .351/.390/.623, with 3 homers, and 15 RBI, and looks to be picking up where he left off in the Arizona Fall League.
  • The Orioles Zac Lowther made his fourth start of the season last night. He went 6 strong, conceding 2 runs, while allowing five to reach on 4 hits, and a walk. But the real discussion with Lowther is his ability to miss bats. He’s up to 39 strikeouts in 22 innings! That’s a 15.9 K/9 on the year!!! A pretty great story, but I’m not totally buying in as of yet. He works mostly 88-91 on his fastball with an average changeup in the 81-83 range, and slurvy breaking ball. What he does exceptionally well is hide the ball from his low three quarters arm slot. He’s a deceptive lefty in the mold of Joey Lucchesi. He doesn’t have Lucchesi’s breaking ball however. In formats where 250 or so prospects are owned I would give him a flier, but I’m not rushing out to get him in most dynasty leagues. He was excellent during his time at Xavier, and it’s carried through to the professional ranks. I think there’s a big league starter here, but it might be as a fifth starter.
  • I’m still absolutely smitten with the Astros Yordan Alvarez. At just 20 years old he’s tearing up the Texas League, hitting .286/.378/.506, with 4 homers, and 19 RBI. He’s only striking out at an 18.6% clip, with a 14% Bb%, a 29.8% LD%, and a 35.6% Oppo%. That’s tons of hard contact all over the field, excellent on base skills, and the combination of power, and an under-control strikeout rate. Here’s some more great work from @Prospectgifs.

  • With Ronald Acuna in the majors it’s a two way battle between Cristian Pache and Austin Riley for the best positional prospect in the Braves system. So far Austin is winning out, though the comparison is entirely unfair and said in jest. Chill Pache truthers. Riley is slashing .310/.363/.619 with 4 homers, and 15 RBI, through 23 games with AA Mississippi. Riley just turned 21 a few weeks ago, but looks likely to see some MLB time come September. He’s the 3rd baseman of the future, and isn’t all that far away. His combination of power and hitting ability have set him apart from the pack. A 180 wRC+ from Riley ranks as 8th in the Southern League, but he’s the youngest player in the top 10 by three years. Here’s some easy power from Riley.

  • As for Pache. He hit his first homer of his professional career on Thursday night and is hitting .301/.309/.419 through 23 games. He has yet to steal a base and has been caught three times, which isn’t what you want from a speed first guy. The aforementioned Jason Woodell loves Pahce, and has talked about the different sound off his bat this year and developing power. Go to Jason’s twitter page and watch some of his Pache footage.
  • Shed Long is back to his old self in 2018. The second baseman is yet to connect for a homer, but he’s hitting .365/.434/.486 with a 10.7% Bb%, 3 steals, and 16 runs in 20 games. He was removed from Friday night’s game with an undisclosed injury, my latest update is he’s day to day, but he was held out of Saturday’s game. He’s been hitting a top the Blue Wahoos lineup and seems to be settling in nicely to the role.
  • The Padres Michel Baez returned from the disabled list to throw 5 shutout innings for high-A Lake Elsinore earlier this past week. It’s reported he wasn’t missing his typical amount of bats, only tallying two strikeouts on the night. First game back, no cause for concern.
  • Another injured starter making his return to the mound this week was the Twins Brusdar Graterol. He went 3 2/3rds allowing one earned, on 3 hits, striking out 7, and not allowing a walk. He threw 61 pitches in the outing, 40 of them for strikes.
  • Finally, I got a great look at Luiz Gohara last Sunday, in a game I bought tickets to with the intention of seeing Mike Soroka pitch. I wasn’t disappointed when the news broke Gohara would be the starter. Armed with my phone behind home plate I went live on Twitter for all four innings. His fastball has nasty run in on righthanders, sitting 93-95, mixing in his devastating slider at 81-85, and occasional fringe changeup. Check out the 4th inning of the start here, he gets some serious whiffs.

If you enjoy my content and want to say, “Hey, Thanks Ralph!” donate to my quest to buy a radar gun. If that’s not pathetic enough, follow me on twitter @ProspectJesus

66 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
npboretti34
npboretti34
4 years ago

Ralph love coming here and reading all your replys, so really hope you reply to mine haha. Just had a question about injuries. These top minor league pitchers getting Tommy John this year (Puk and Honeywell) do you think they will be able to regain their form from before the surgery or do you think that they will take steps back?

Benny
Benny
4 years ago

Awesome write up.

In what order would you assume these guys get called up to the bigs:

Juan Soto
Taylor Trammell
Jesus Luzardo
Pete Alonso
Jesus Sanchez
Yordan Alvarez

Ben
Ben
4 years ago

Hi there! Wondering who would be the better pickup in a deep prospect league. Looking for some players with high ceilings to possibly breakout.
Jose Siri, Joe Dunand, Cavan Biggio, are interesting players I’ve found.

Just called up Ronald Acuña(beast) so have an open farm slot. 16 team league with 15 minor league slots.

SP is my weak spot. Also lacking up the middle IF.

My minor league system so far.
Lewin Diaz- 1B MIN
Edwin Rios- 1B LAD
Peter Alonso- 1B NYM
Kevin Maitan- 3B/SS LAA
Victor Robles- OF WAS
Kyle Tucker- OF HOU
Taylor Trammell- OF CIN
Jahmai Jones- OF LAA
Jo Adell- OF LAA
Lolo Sanchez- OF PIT
Michael Kopech- SP CHW
Max Fried- SP ATL
Yadier Alvarez- SP LAD
Ryan Borucki- SP TOR

Looking forward to hearing from you!

K2H
K2H
4 years ago

Great Write up

NATRONEMEANSBUSINESS
NATRONEMEANSBUSINESS
4 years ago

Great information as always. I know a lot can, and will change over the next several months. I have a dynasty/keeper conundrum for 2019. Albies/Moncada, VladJr. I can fill 2nd and UTL, but one will need to go. 10 team H2H, keep up to 10 – 8×8 (R/H/HR/RBI/SB/BB/TB/AVG).

Also, I read something comparing Vlad Jr. with Edgar Martinez; seems both crazy and not for this kid.

lubey
lubey
4 years ago

Good stuff Ralph

That vid of Reid-Foley by Lance is pretty neat

Lance
4 years ago

“Romantic scouting date”

I think we found a new name for the podcast!

Dynasty leaguer
Dynasty leaguer
4 years ago

Ralph

Would you move Trout for Acuna and T.Turner in a dynasty league

S
S
4 years ago

Hey Ralph,

Who are the guys who’ve raised their stock significantly in the early going this season – either due to proving health or performance? Mainly looking for guys in the 75-150 range who’ve bumped their stock by 25+ spots in the early going, with helium potential for an overall top 25-50 ranking by end of season.

I snatched up major helium guys like Buehler, Gohara, Soto, Trammell, Whitley, Baez, Sixto, Florial, Faria, McMahon, Andujar, Jesus Sanchez. Not expecting to pull that off again, but I do have a couple of expendable roster spots.

Two available guys that stick out to me are Matias and Jeisson Rosario – not sure where an updated ranking would slot them. Shed Long too, though the power hasn’t shown up yet.

Chud
Chud
4 years ago

Ralph,

Nice MiLB updates!

Odor or Mancini in a dynasty?

Thanks

Cyler8
Cyler8
4 years ago

Nice write up. Couple questions.

Meadows or Maitan?

Also in a dynasty league OPS would you trade Rizzo for Vlad JR?

David
David
4 years ago

Who has the better dynasty career, Soto or Robles?

Thanks for all you do Ralph.

Espn writer looking for advice
Espn writer looking for advice
4 years ago

Yo King

Thanks for the round up. Top notice

LenFuego
LenFuego
4 years ago

That is as comprehensive a minor league roundup as you can find anywhere. Very nice, Ralph.

What is your take on Francisco Mejia’s poor start?

msh2404
msh2404
4 years ago

Best stash to have an impact this season in a redraft?

Robles, Vlad Jr, jiminez, Meija, Hays?

Thanks

Dude
Dude
4 years ago

I’m not sure why, but I’m sitting on Tom Murphy, Keibert Ruiz, and Dalton Varsho. Shed Long is available, and I assume I should cut Varsho…but goodness does he look like a great dynasty stash or what?

Launch Angle
Launch Angle
4 years ago

Dozier or Schoop ROS in a standard, 5X5 season-long roto using R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG?

Miketron
Miketron
4 years ago

SRF is a tough one, sometimes he looks like a world beater other times a no control bum. I feel like he ends up a pen arm like Archie Bradley or the current Glasnow. Any thoughts on Elehuris Montero, Cardinals? Killed the GCL last year and started off hot in A ball.

Jake
Jake
4 years ago

Would you take Jession over Lutz or Gabriel Arias ?

Jake
Jake
Reply to  Geoff
4 years ago

@Ralph Lifshitz: Next few months should give us a hint at least. Lutz starting to get hits, Arias pretty bleh so far

Kevin Monte
Kevin Monte
4 years ago

Is Willy Adames worth a stash. I am hurting at SS.

Frodo’s a failure
Frodo’s a failure
4 years ago

Noda or Dunand in an OBP lge?

Uno Mas Cerveza
Uno Mas Cerveza
4 years ago

Ralph-
What is your take on Willie Calhoun? The power outage continues in Round Rock while his window of opportunity to plug in during all the Rangers injuries is closing. Looking like 2019 before we see him.

Captain Kirk
Captain Kirk
Reply to  Geoff
4 years ago

@Ralph Lifshitz:

Not worried at all about Calhoun. The first week or two he admitted to being disappointed to not making the team and it effecting his game. His comments probably did not sit well with people within the organization, but by all accounts he is a great kid and well liked/respected. Just let his emotions get the better of him.

Since then, his plate discipline is back to normal. I think he is still letting it get to him, and I can see him playing with a chip on shoulder once he gets the call…..which should be soon after 5/4!

Another Dan
Another Dan
4 years ago

Excellent stuff Ralph,

I like the round ups.

Acuna arriving in the bigs, leaves me with a minors spot to fill on a couple of my teams. Antuna over Jeisson Rosario ?

Football update : final league game of the season yesterday. Won 2-0 in front of a sell out crowd. Finished 2nd. Big celebrations last night.

Best wishes,

Another Dan

Another Dan
Another Dan
Reply to  Geoff
4 years ago

@Ralph Lifshitz:

I can tell. Thanks.

Traded Soto away in one league during the offseason. Got Trammell and a draft pick. Not a bad trade but I reckon I could have got more if I still owned him now. His stock is definitely high.

Best wishes,

Dan

Brett
Brett
4 years ago

With Buehler going to rancho instead of okc do you think he’s back up really soon? What’s your take? Thanks

Brett
Brett
Reply to  Geoff
4 years ago

Ralph,

If you think Buehler is being stashed do you see him up as a starter soon or more likely relief?

Captain Kirk
Captain Kirk
4 years ago

Thoughts on Taylor Trammell? He’s #2 on my 2018 man crush list.

Captain Kirk
Captain Kirk
4 years ago

Sean Murphy looks like he could be a nice mlb catcher. But my 2018 man crush remains with Knizner! That kid does nothing but mash! And while Carso Kelly is the better defender, Knizner is no slouch. The Cardinals will hopefully trade Knizner this year so we get to see him in the bigs soon!!

Malicious Phenoms
Malicious Phenoms
4 years ago

Love the Sunday morning prospect roundup, complete with vids.
Very cool, well done Ralph!

Duda Want to Build a Snowman?
Duda Want to Build a Snowman?
4 years ago

Hey Ralph!

If the As trade Lowrie at ASB or something along those lines, do you think that would mean a chance for Mateo to come up and get everyday ABs? It’s early, but his K rate and general underperformance so far is a bit concerning…

Trying to determine if I should continue to hold him in my weekly 12 teamer (keep 7, 7 bench spots). I’m in pretty good shape with speed and MI (Tim Anderson, Villar, Kinsler, Deshields, Taylor, and now Acuna) + Mateo would have to really deliver to beat any of my penciled in keepers (final keeper options being a $14 Devers, $26 acuna, or $4 Jose mart right now).

Brett
Brett
4 years ago

Ralph what’s your take on gohara? How do you see him performing this year?

Brett
Brett
Reply to  Brett
4 years ago

@Brett: missed the section on him. Though him no longer dL eligible puts me in a bind. Would you keep him in my dL which locks my roster or is he replaceable and I can feel free to cut. 12 teams with qs instead of wins.

malamoney
4 years ago

Great stuff Ralph. When do you think we see Soroka in Atlanta and can he make an impact this year? Will he be able to steadily pitch five and be in the running for a decision?

On a related minor league note, if Vlad keeps hitting the way he’s hitting can they really leave him in AA all that much longer. Or the Minors for that matter…?

Nation
Nation
4 years ago

Excellent stuff as always ralph! Im in a couple dynasty leagues where these guys you mentioned as higher end specs are already owned, but some of these deeper digs are now on the watch list.

My question for you would be, guys like AJ Reed (or any AAAA type player) or bobby bradley be cuts for someone like Alonso? Seems like weighing longer ETA and ceiling vs. quicker arrival