With the rapid speed at which Ronald Acuna has ascended through the minors, I ought to take every opportunity to write about him while I still can. If you hadn’t heard, Acuna was promoted to AAA on Wednesday evening, and the Braves best position prospect since Jason Heyward is now just a call away. Exciting news for dynasty league owners all over. In my updated Mid-Season Top 100 I ranked Acuna 5th in all of baseball, and after seeing the confidence the Braves have in the precocious 19 year old, how could you not? He brings to the table hard contact with an all-fields approach, 30 steal speed, and a huge ceiling. The plate discipline could be better, but to put things in perspective, he’s 19 and playing at the highest levels of full season ball while many of his contemporaries are just beginning short season and rookie ball. So I expect plate approach to be an area where things should improve as Acuna matures as a hitter. What he does at Gwinnett will be telling, particularly if he really struggles for the first time in his career. How he deals with that, adjusts, and rebounds will be the true test of his metal. It’s tough to say if he will struggle or not, but if he hits the ground running, I could picture a world, maybe as soon as a month, where Acuna is considered the top prospect in the game. Trust me I’ve made bold proclamations about Acuna before. Here’s what I said when I ranked him #42 overall in the pre-season, “Could be this season’s Victor Robles. Five tool player, that tore up Australia this winter, poised for a big jump in the mid-season list. Trade for him now”. I was right on both fronts, but was more conservative with his ETA setting it at 2019. That’s obviously no longer the case, outside of unforeseen circumstances of course. **KNOCK ON WOOD** Anyway, Acuna has a strong chance of seeing at least a few weeks of action in September, but I wouldn’t expect a call-up in the next few weeks. Though the possibility of Acuna breaking camp in 2018 is less remote than it was a few months ago, I’d be surprised by any promotion before mid-May next year. He’s a name to know for players in all formats, as this could be a stud in the making. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…
- I know what you’re all wondering, because you’ve been asking since October. “When does Moncada get the call?” Based on some of the things I’ve seen floated out there, I’m going to say we see him in the next two weeks.
- Brendan Rodgers finally woke up and joined the party in AA late last week. Let’s all cheer! I haven’t had a chance to fill you in on some Crab Family scouting sessions that took place in Hartford a few weeks back, but I watched Rodgers first hand. It was his first few days at the level, and you could see there was a lack of comfort at the plate. Seems like he’s settled in since then, recording his first three hit game on Thursday before heading to Miami to play in the Future’s game for the good ole’ U.S of A. There’s some serious OBP and points league downside with Rodgers at the moment, as his walk rates have stayed Odor-esque. I hope that’s an area, like the aforementioned Acuna, that Rodgers can improve on.
- The Padres promoted Cal Quantrill to AA San Antonio on Monday, and I still think he’s a darkhorse candidate to see a start or two in the majors this season. Opinions vary on his upside, I’m a little cooler on him than I was, (ranked #120) others have warmed up to him, but he’s a pitcher so the range of outcomes is tremendous. Quantrill’s a safe pitching arm, with some serious pedigree. He’s the son of a former longtime major leaguer, and had a dynamic freshman season at Stanford, where he was amongst the best arms in the country. There’s a balance between tempering expectations for a player who hasn’t had a full healthy season, and expecting a polished college starter. Perhaps I lean to heavy in the latter and not enough on the former. Rankings aside.
- I can’t get enough of Michel Baez or Heliot Ramos right now. While familiar with both, I had no idea what kind of talents they were. Based on the reports from the fields of the AZL by Prospecting Nomad Chris Kusiolek we may have two stud prospects on our hands. Through 9 games in the rookie level AZL, Ramos is slashing .389/.463/.806 with two homers, and 4 steals in 9 games. The reports laud the elite bat speed, and hard, loud contact. As for Baez he’s a 6’8 monster with mid-90’s heat, that can paint the black. His feel and command is reportedly advanced, and he’s been stellar in his two A-ball starts with Fort Wayne.
- On the previously mentioned trip to Hartford, I got a chance to watch Red Sox prospect Rafael Devers with the opposing Sea Dogs. Devers is the #3 prospect in my Mid-season ranks, and his bat looked amazing. He went 2 for 5 with 4 RBIs and shot that left the stadium (seen below). The Red Sox might be forced to call Devers up to the majors if they can’t find reinforcements at the deadline, and it might be the best choice for an organization that’s unloaded a lot of assets in recent years.
- Two of the more helium-laden prospects in the minors at the moment are Blue Jays legacy-tandem Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Aside from both starring in the Future’s Game the pair had a big week earning promotion to high A Dunedin of the Florida State League. The duo tore up the Midwest league for the better part of three months, with Bichette arguably having the best first half in professional baseball. Vlad Jr. made his FSL debut last night, while Bichette went 2 for 4 in his second high-A game, connecting for his first homer.
- I’m not going to get into a lengthy breakdown of the Future’s Game for a few reasons. First, Lance did an excellent job with his piece on Sunday, and secondly how much stock should we take in a few at bats in an exhibition game? That said, it’s a fun event, and one I have more excitement for than the actual All-Star Game. I think we should do as one of my twitter followers suggested, play the game in the prime-time Sunday night slot to kick off all-star weekend. Makes too much sense MLB…(sorry Jak3)
- Mariners righty Nick Neidert isn’t getting nearly the notice he should. So far he’s been one of the better pitchers in the Cal League, ranking 3rd in ERA, 3rd in K’s, 6th in K/9, and 1st in FIP. I ranked him 80th on my top 100, and I think he offers one of the safest floors of any starter in the minors, with some projection still to boot. His command is elite, getting the most out of his lower velocity (87-91) fatsball. He mixes in a plus changeup, and an above average hook. Its the usage of the change in any count that makes all the difference.
- A’s prospect Renato Nunez took home the MVP for the PCL side in the AAA all-star game last night, smacking a 3-run job in a 6-4 PCL victory. I ranked the 23 year-old utility bat/future DH at 134th overall on my Top 200.
- One of my favorite prospects, Tyler O’Neill’s rough season continued as he sustained a hamstring injury Saturday that left him listed day to day heading into the break. After an atrocious April and May (.216/.288/.384), he’s been excellent since June 1st, slashing .268/.375/.545 with 9 homers, 4 steals, and 25 RBIs.
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