It’s Tucking K-way!!! The announcers at Fresno Grizzles games should just yell that out every time Kyle Tucker hits the batters box. Seriously, there is no one hotter on the planet right now than Kyle Tucker. Now gentlemen and three ladies, I know what you’re all thinking, “Real nice Ralphie, but where was this in the bigs kid?” BTW all of you have a Southie accent, and at least one Celtic cross tattoo. I just wanted to be clear about that. Oh, what’s that? The sound of a walkoff three run dong off the bat of Tucker? He finished up Saturday night 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, a run, a stolen base, and a walk. Tucker is hitting .478/.510/.1.087 with 9 homers, 18 runs, 20 RBI, and 6 steals over his last ten games. That’s some hero-ball type of stuff. Despite the struggles in his limited MLB looks I still foresee a future all-star, with 25-30 homer power, 15 steal speed, and a .270-.280 batting average. His setup, and swing are somewhat unique/unorthodox, whatever. With his uppercut bat-path, and upper body heavy swing, sometimes it almost looks like Tucker is throwing the bat, but he manages to get a lot of the barrel in the strike-zone, leading to a ton of good contact. All this to say, don’t sell on Tucker. 2018 might not be his year to contribute, but I’d be in on 2019 in all formats. The lingering question is playing time, but Tucker is good enough that he’ll force his way. It’s easy to forget he’s just 21, and will be 22 for the entirety of 2019. So there’s plenty of time to get things to click at the big league level. I do think there will be some swing and miss struggles early, but those should stabilize with experience. Tucker is an obvious candidate for a September promotion, and could provide some spark with the right amount of playing time.

  • I didn’t think I’d be sucked into discussing Kevin Maitan but here we are. After looking pretty pedestrian for the first half of the Pioneer League season with Orem, Maitan has come on. He has three homers over his last four games, connecting for one in Saturday’s contest. He’s still striking out a little too much, but I can deal with that from an 18 year old in short season if he can hit for some power. There’s little chance Maitan develops into the mythical creature that Wander Franco actually is, but perhaps he can become Miguel Andujar. Not literally, but a decent average, above average power guy. I hope for his sake his defense is better however. All this to say, I’ve watched a fair amount of Maitan lately and he’s started to look like a prospect.

  • I like to cluster, I’m a clustery cat. So let’s talk Maitan’s teammate D’Shawn Knowles. I’m talking about the 17 year old outfielder weekly it seems, but he’s one of the most intriguing prospects this side of the Appy League. Of course, I write about him the night after he has a rough one. It was 0-for-5 with a platinum sombrero for Knowles. BUT this is on the heels of a two homer night the game before. That will cut you some slack. It will cut you even more, when you’re a switch-hitting-minor, slashing .357/.451/.643 in the same league first round college players are in. A superior athlete with a really nice swing from the left-side of the plate. He hasn’t seen a lot of looks versus lefthanders, and the swing from what I’ve caught from the rightside is raw. All in all this is the type of player you bank on. You’ll have to play the waiting game for two-plus years, but he has bat to ball skills, power, and athleticism.

  • The Athletics Parker Dunshee had a pretty loud start on Friday night in what has been an otherwise underappreciated season. He tossed 7.1 innings of hit-less ball, striking out 7,  walking just 2. The former 7th round pick out of Wake Forrest is having a great year split between High-A Stockton, and AA Midland. The righthander is 12-6 in 21 starts with 2.44 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 157 Ks to 30 Bb in 143.2 IP. Pretty good for a guy that’s been an afterthought for the most part. He’s a pitchability type that mixes four pitches, an average fastball that sits high 80’s to low-90’s, an average slider, average changeup, and fringe curveball. He has a little deception to his delivery that no doubt helps his fastball playup. His command of his four pitches gives him a good shot at a career as a backend MLB starter.

  • No matter the sport everyone loves a small guy that can do big things. For this reason I believe the world will love Padres righthander Luis Patino. By traditional people standards Patino isn’t small, but he is by traditional pitching standards. The Colombian has dominated the Midwest League at the age of 18, not celebrating his 19th birthday until October. The numbers speak for themselves, 6-3 in 17 starts totaling 83.1 innings Patino sports a 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 98 strikeouts to 24 walks. The arsenal however is what sets Patino apart. Mixing a fastball that sits mid-to-high 90’s touching 100 on a rare occasion, with a curveball that flashes plus, a slider, and a changeup. He’s athletic, repeats well, and has room to grow. Patino is a name I’d get into my minors in every dynasty league.

  • It took about a week for him to get settled but Michael Chavis was nuts his last 32 games at AA. Coming off a PED suspension that took the first half of his season he hit .339/.426/.593 with 7 homers in that 32 game stretch. On Friday he was promoted to AAA Pawtucket and in the two games he’s played at the AAA level Chavis has gone 5-for-9 with two homers, three doubles, and five runs. There’s a very real possibility he sees some time in Boston post September callups. Chavis has power, and the approach seems to have improved in his time away. I don’t think he’ll be a star, but he should be a good source of power and RBI from a corner infield spot for a lot of years.

  • I’ve talked about how fun the Kingsport Mets are to follow. While I haven’t gotten any first hand looks I’ve lived vicariously through pal John Eshleman. We talked Kingsport on the Baseball Show last week, you can find that here. We touched on the Mets First rounder Jarred Kelenic briefly, but he deserves a few extra words here. Over his last ten games he’s hitting .405/.488/.676 with two homers and four steals. He’s yet another option at the top of First year player drafts this season with huge upside.
  • With all that the Rays Wander Franco has done up to this point he’s an easy top 20 prospect. The real question is, does Franco crack the Top 10. He’s still two years away, knowing the Rays, it might be three. As good as he is, that has to ding his value for dynasty a little? Just from a top ten sense. This is something I’m struggling with as I re-do my ranks. Do I jump Franco 70 spots? Granted he’s gone and hit .381/.459/.653 with 8 homers and 44 RBI in the 39 games since I released it. Franco is the genuine article a super prospect.

  • The Braves have a hell of a weapon come September with all their pitching. The spot start went to Bryse Wilson this week, but Touki Toussaint should get another look himself in short order. He’s certainly not taken his AAA starts lightly, in the two turns since his big league debut. Touki has gone 13 innings allowing 1 run on 8 hits and 2 walks, striking out 17 in the process. In my opinion Toussaint is an above average major league starter now, with a plus mid 90’s fastball, plus curveball, and plus splitter, he has the arsenal to get it done against the best in the game.

  • Lance and I discussed Luis Urias a little on the Podcast Saturday. He’s really managed to make the right mechanical changes (exaggerated leg kick) to engage his lower half more and tap into unforeseen power. He’s still no 25 homer bat, but he’s seen a dramatic improvement in his ISO this year and it looks to be more than just PCL aided. I’m still uncertain if the Padres will call-up Urias in September, but I’ve stumped for him as a decent stash.

  • There’s just players you have fascinations with, one of mine is Gabriel Arias. The 18 year old was hot off his stellar showing in the Australian League this winter entering camp, and then saw assignment to full season ball. I had the hype train rolling. Then it abruptly stopped, after he struggled to hit anything with Fort Wayne of the Midwest League. He started to snap out of it in June, before plummeting offensively again in July. Flip the calendar to August and Arias is finishing up one of his best months as a pro slashing .293/.376/.561 with three homers, and eleven doubles! The glove at short is superb, and his arm is cannon. If he can hit for power and a passable average Arias is going to get a ton of big league at bats one day.

  • The Rays are stacked all over their system, and their draft haul this year only adds to their embarrassment of riches. The team promoted both Matthew Liberatore and Shane McClanahan to Princeton, where they’ll join the aforementioned Wander Franco for the Appy League playoffs. McClanhan went Friday night, tossing three scoreless frames, striking out five, while allowing two hits, and a walk. The lefty from USF is yet to allow a run in his professional career, granted its 6 innings. Liberatore, the Rays top pick, has been a force. Over eight GCL appearances he’s compiled a 0.98 ERA, with 32 strikeouts to 11 walks in 27.2 innings.
  • To honor the promotion of Matt Manning to AA Erie, here’s some beautiful music from my partner Jason Woodell.

Follow me on Twitter @ProspectJesus and my new project @ProspectsLive, site coming Fall 2018