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.
Down 6-2 in the bottom of the 9th, it looked like clinching the division would have to wait until Sunday. Then we loaded the bases and scored twice to bring up Kyle Tucker, whose life is a movie. And don’t leave the game early!#Growlifornia ?? pic.twitter.com/rlHh1oGqFY
— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) August 26, 2018
- 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.
With 7 1/3 no-hit innings for @RockHounds, it’s hard to say @Athletics No. 28 prospect Parker Dunshee was under the radar Friday night. https://t.co/SSu8hQ3xfp pic.twitter.com/fdiyZxQTqy
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 25, 2018
- 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.
Luis Patiño 7th Strikeout pic.twitter.com/59KZcv7BfX
— Josh (@purpl3m) August 25, 2018
- 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.
WATCH: #RedSox number one prospect Michael Chavis goes 3-for-4 with a two run homer and two doubles, fresh off the plane from Double-A Portland.
The former first round pick excels in his Triple-A Debut, but the team falls 13-4 to Vladmir Guerrero Jr. and Buffalo.@PawSox @ABC6 pic.twitter.com/lI9wLH96hG
— Ian Steele (@IanSteeleABC6) August 25, 2018
- 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.
Wander Franco’s swing on his home run in game 1 last night. pic.twitter.com/PaGjBN455F
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) August 23, 2018
- 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.
So Touki Toussaint also throws a Splitter. pic.twitter.com/tKGhB7RGt3
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) August 13, 2018
- 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.
Luis Urias coming through in the clutch! Facing Dan Altavilla, who has pitched in 22 games for the Mariners this year, Urias gets a ball passed 3B for a go-ahead RBI double! ? #EVT pic.twitter.com/8rKlPHY3yH
— Nick Lee (@NickLee51) August 26, 2018
- 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.
Gabriel Arias Home Run pic.twitter.com/WXFg7VSPZH
— Josh (@purpl3m) August 24, 2018
- 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.
Matt Manning of House Tiger is being summoned North to Double A Erie
A Song of Fire and Hammers
Starring Matt Manninghttps://t.co/bOePVnnZW9
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) August 25, 2018
Follow me on Twitter @ProspectJesus and my new project @ProspectsLive, site coming Fall 2018
Vidal Brujan is 273 in your mid-season rankings- does he have a shot to move into the top 100 by the start of next season or is that too optimistic? Thanks!
I haven’t heard much about Jo Adell since his promotion to AA. The stat line would seem to indicate he’s struggling a bit since the call, hitting .238/.324/.429 through 17 games. Do you think this is Adell finally reaching a challenging level (at 19!)? Or do you think this might be more related to the fact that he only played 49 games last year and has played in 99 already this year?
@Hynes: We talked about him on the podcast the three of the last four weeks. He’s had some struggles with AA, but he’s in AA at 19 in his first full professional season. There are like three guys that haven’t ever done that as a prep pick. Nothing that’s happening in AA is a concern to me.
@Ralph Lifshitz: Thanks! I must have missed you talking about Adell on the podcasts. Sorry about that. Keep up the great work with Lance. It’s become one my favorite podcasts this summer.
Just a thought – would be very helpful to add some sort of “on the fly” ranking for guys mentioned in these columns. Either an updated rank (“he shoots up 50-150 spots from my midseason ranks”, “slots firmly into my top 150”, “a top 20 pitching prospect”), or some guys with comparable values (“Patino falls into the Santillan, Weathers, Mitch White, Crouse group of interesting pitching prospects just outside the marquee assets”).
It’s really difficult to turn writeups and commentary into quantifiable add/drop decisions, especially as the short season guys have so much volatility in the July-September timeframe – and until the offseason ranks drop in, it’s hard to say if a guy is a fringe top 100 guy with tools, or an exciting top 50 prospect who’s showing the polish and upside.
@SR: Not sure I have time to do that in addition to writing, researching, watching games. My suggestion to you would to use my information to make your own decisions. It’s been a month since my top 500 came out, I’m in the process of ranking, what you’re asking me to do is rank daily essentially.
Not trying to be difficult, but that’s a hard request to meet.
@Ralph Lifshitz: Have you tried speedballs?
Love these write-ups. Thoughts on Josh James? Also, I know you have a crush on Bryse Wilson. Why him over the other Atlanta arms?
@J-Dawg: Ehhh, I don’t know. He’s a wait and see guy. You grab him and see if it translates to the bigs. Sometimes it does, other times not so much.
I like the swing and miss ability, I mean I’ve written and talked about Bryse a ton, not going to re-write the article. Go read it LOL. I do think he’s likely 2-3 in the system behind Soroka or Touki, but it’s close.
Is Wander Franco worth adding in a 10-team keeper? He’s, what, 2+ years out? If I kept him this year, his price tag would be $4 next year, and then go to $6 the next season.
@Drew: The earliest you’d see him is late 2020 IMO. He’s a great get, but that seems early for a 10 team.
Ralph, in your expert opinion, is there a minor leaguer you feel may be a top notch closer? Thanks
@David: I’d like to think I can peg them, but it’s a hard gig. Two that come to mind are the Padres Andres Munoz (though I like Trey Wingenter a bit) and the Angels Ty Buttery.
Longterm who would you rather have Touki or Julio Urias?
@fletch f. fletch: Touki for me, I’m worried about Urias.
Isnt Wander Franco in the Royals farm system and not the Rays? At least that is where CBS sports has him listed at.
@E: There’s three Wander Franco’s. The good one is with the Rays. Family only had eyes for one name.
@E: Also, Wander Franco (rays) was added to CBS about a month ago.
I’m in a 16 team dynasty league where I’m defending champ and will definitely be in the playoffs again this year. Hitting categories include both OBA and BA. Owners can keep up to 13 of their 30 players each year. I’ll assuredly be keeping:
10.) Taylor Trammell (based off your midseason list — anything changed?)
Possible keepers I still have rostered are, but probably wouldn’t keep are Madea, Belt, Flores, Schoop, and Stroman.
Players available on the wire that I’m toying with because you’ve written about them are: Nathaniel Lowe, Wander Franco, Carter Kieboom, Alex Kiriloff, Christin Stewart, Kolby Allard, Casey Mize, Mike Soroka, and Kyle Wright.
As someone who is in contention, I tend to be more interested in those who could contribute in 2019, but if it’s someone special, I can wait. Like most, I tend to value hitters over pitchers, and infielders over outfielders. Looking at the lists above, are any of the players above worth an 11-13th round pick? If so, who should I be grabbing?
Thank you for all your help!
@Brian: You need to add Wander Franco, even if you care about 2019 value. He’s that special, I’d add Soroka, and Nate Lowe too. Both should give you some nice value in 2019.
Thank you so much. Done and done.
Thank you so much. Done and done.
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.
@Screwballs: If it’s mostly about next year value I’d go Luzardo, Reyes, Tucker, Hiura, and Adell. If it’s just best players I’d go Lewis, Adell, Tucker, Trammell, and Kirilloff.
@Ralph Lifshitz: Appreciate it!
Great stuff! Thanks for all you do. It’s a huge help. I can’t wait to have both Touki and Wilson on my teams full time. Hopefully next year!
And how did you know I had a Celtic cross tattoo?
@sport: We all have Celtic Crosses!!!
Kyle Tucker is gonna be a AAAA stud, mashing balls in the minors but too many holes in his swing once he gets to the majors…
Not saying you will be wrong Taco, but the kid is doing what he is doing as a 21 year old in AAA! My opinion….he is going to be a very good MLB hitter. He has done nothing yet to prove to me he is incapable of adjusting to each level. The small amount of time he has spent in the majors thus far will only help him next year….when he hopefully gets more consistent playing time.
The only thing I will say for certain is that it is far too early to be passing any judgements on a 21 year old who has been mashing AAA pitching!
@Captain James T Kirk: well said
@gc tacos: I disagree. Where are you seeing holes? Or is that something you say to sound “scoutie”?
So was the leg kick the reason for Urias’ struggles prior to August? I read that he made one more minor tweak recently…and that involed him now landing his leg toward the mound…which seems to have made a dramatic difference.
I don’t care how many homers he hits as long as he hits for a high average along with plenty of doubles and triples. If he can slash .300/.400/.450 he’ll be a stud in my league!
@Captain James T Kirk: I think it was getting the kinks worked out after adding a pretty violent mechanism to his swing. The foot plant was part of finding that consistency.
Sixto Sanchez hasn’t pitched since June 3rd and they said at the time he would only be shut down a few weeks. He was looking on track to get time in AA this year. Any worries we have another Anderson Espinoza situation brewing?
@Miketron: Yeah, I have some. Heard a report the other day that he was throwing.
Stop the nonsense of embedding one video clip after another in what is supposed to be an article. Provide ONE link to the vids for those who want to waste time; those of us who come here for information want it quick, succint and accurate. We do not need dress-up. Do better.
Don’t speak for me, I like the clips. I know when it’s time to read Ralph’s stuff I need coffee and time to take it all in. I have been reading his stuff for years and I really like the direction it has gone and content he brings. When I am in a hurry, and I understand if you are, I just skip the vids.
@sport: Thanks for reading!
I for one LOVE these Sunday write-ups and the videos. It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort go into them and it is much appreciated!
Great job Ralph!
@Captain James T Kirk: Glad you guys enjoy it.
@Chris Craft: Chris I’m sorry that you feel this way. In my opinion giving you guys live looks, so you can actually get an understanding for who these players are is important. Not sure what to tell you, because he videos and gifs will not stop. I’m sorry if that somehow impacts your experience.
@Ralph Lifshitz: The more the better! I usually don’t look at the videos, but the opportunity to do so is very rare since they’re minor leaguers. If it’s one of my prospects I will watch and appreciate that extra touch you give us readers. Keep up the great work Ralph!
@Chris Craft: most browsers have a “reader” mode if you only want the text. Though I agree seeing. The actual prospects helps understand the evaluations more clearly.