I’m just going to milk his Vlad Jr. thing as long as I can. After all, it’s only a matter of time before he’s out of my hands and off to the world of Grey A.M. writeups, and ESPN highlights. Make no mistake the heir to the Canadian baseball throne is the genuine article, and on the cusp of the majors. After destroying AA for two months, he missed the next five plus weeks with a knee injury. Only to return to the Fishercats lineup for a few weeks in July, before heading off to AAA. In his 8 games in Buffalo Vlad is slashing .455/.581/.682, smacking his first International League homer off highly touted Braves righthander Kyle Wright. In fact he abused Wright yesterday evening, going 3-for-3 with the aforementioned homer, a double, and a single. One of our loyal Crab Army members was in attendance and was nice enough to share the below video. At this point it’s just a waiting game, and unfortunately for those of us wishing on an impending callup it might not be in the cards. That’s not to say it won’t happen later in September. The problem is, after saying all this he could be called up tomorrow. Stash away if you have the room to spare, but I’d be prepared to burn that spot for most, if not all of August.

  • One of the most enjoyable parts of following minor league baseball is when a talented but oft-injured player puts it all together. One such case is the White Sox Dylan Cease. He continues to impress in his first run through AA. He’s primarily a two pitch guy, with a high 90s fastball with wicked movement, and a nasty curveball. The changeup has continued to improve, but his command of the pitch is iffy. That’s really the only knock on Cease, his command. So far with Birmingham it’s been a strength, as he’s cut down on his walk rate, into the 8% territory. Pretty easy to take when your K rate is 37%! He should touch the majors sometime next summer, and if this current trend continues, he and Eloy have a chance to make the Jose Quintana deal look bad.

  • Sunday’s lead Nolan Gorman, was promoted to the full-season Midwest League on Wednesday. It’s pretty remarkable what this kid has done fresh out of the draft. The concerns on the hit tool seem exaggerated, though I have heard some concerns about breaking ball recognition. It’s tough to find warts in his game at the moment, and he’s moving up to the number one slot in FYPD for me. Gorman is one of only seven prep draft picks to reach full-season ball over the last decade plus. The last two to achieve that feat are Royce Lewis last season, and J.P. Crawford in 2013 prior to that.

  • The Reds Tony Santillian has been pushing for a promotion in AA Pensacola. His strikeout rate has jumped with the move to a higher level, and he continues to get better and better control of his big stuff with each passing season. His fastball sits mid to high 90s, his slider grades plus, and the changeup has been better. This is an under the radar player with legit MLB rotation upside.

  • There’s certain pitchers where you might have to admit you were wrong. That seems to be the case with Marlins righty Nick Neidert. Acquired in the Dee Gordon trade, Neidert, a former Georgia prep prospect is a control and deception guy, with insane command of his fastball. His arsenal doesn’t jump out at you but he gets the most of it. He mixes a fastball that sits 90-91, it’s an average offering, but plays up due to Neidert’s pitchability, arm action, and the movement he gets on it, sinking and running inside to RHB. His secondaries consist of a plus changeup, and fringe slider with slurvy movement, both offerings sit low-mid 80s, but the changeup is the key to his success. He’s not the biggest guy, but he has a strong lower half and a good base, leading me to think a future in the rotation is likely. His delivery is unusual, with a low 3/4 arm slot, and cross body finish, the deception of his arm angle and follow through create deception. My expectation is Neidert is a back end starter with some mid-rotation upside.

  • Every week I have a new favorite Braves starter, this week it’s Ian Anderson. The 2016 3rd overall pick has pushed his way to AA Mississippi, getting the call to move up a level on Wednesday. Here’s a quick scouting report I threw out on Twitter yesterday.

  • One of the best players I caught in the New York-Penn League last year was the Rays Vidal Brujan. The diminutive Dominican is a leadoff prototype with a combination of superior strike zone discipline, pitch recognition, hand eye coordination, and speed on the bases. He saw the promotion from Bowling Green to Charlotte on Monday, after going .313/.395/.427 with 43 steals in 95 games. Following a poor April, Brujan went into hyper-drive hitting .300 each month following, flashing on-base ability and speed. While he is by no means a finished product, some of the inconsistencies, like his tendency to get overly aggressive early in counts, leave room for growth and hint to a higher ceiling than expected. One of the more under appreciated prospects in the minors.

  • The Red Sox have a handful of third base prospects in AA at the moment, in 2016 second rounder Bobby Dalbec, and 2017 breakout Michael Chavis. In his first five AA contests with Portland, Dalbec has hit, including a two homer game on Sunday. Chavis on the other hand seems to be shaking off the cobwebs as he tries to put his PED suspension in the rear-view. He’s come on of late slashing .353/.450/.500 over his last ten, while playing first since Dalbec came to town. Both players are not without their flaws, but the arrow seems to be pointing up for both. I’d still consider Chavis the better prospect, but Dalbec is in the midst of a renaissance, following an injury plagued 2017. His ability to play an above average-to-plus third base should push his profile, and land him squarely in the everyday three outcome hitter bucket. Chavis’ hit tool is superior, even if he his plus raw power is down a tick from Dalbec’s, he’s also less likely to work a count. His bat to ball is a somewhat major differentiator between the two, but conversely so is Dalbec’s defense. These two corner infielders sand neck and neck in my Red Sox team rankings.
  • This Kingsport Mets team is an exciting take at the moment. With first rounder Jarred Kelenic, as well as breakouts Luis Santana and Shrev Newton, the Appy League lineup is stacked. However the best of the bunch is 2017 first rounder, and current man crush Mark Vientos. The third baseman is on fire, going 3-for-4 last night and slashing .429/.512/.714 with 3 homers in his last ten. In my opinion we’re not talking about Vientos enough.

  • The numbers are ridiculous for the Royals lefty Marcelo Martinez, but the scouting reports on the stuff are underwhelming. So far in 45 innings in 2018, he’s accumulated 66 strikeouts to 7 walks and a 2.20 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. That’s a pretty exciting statline from a 21 year old lefty, unfortunately it’s comes from a high 80s fastball and plus off-speed pitch. This is a good example of the scouting report not matching the results. Despite the strikeout prowess, Martinez is more pitchability lefty than dominate future rotation piece. Still worth keeping an eye on, as we should never write-off such stellar results entirely.
  • Up and coming Indians right-hander Luis Oviedo was dealing in his full-season debut Monday night. Going 5 scoreless, allowing six baserunners to reach on two hits and four walks, striking out 4 in the process. The 19 year old works mid to high 90s with the heat, mixing in three distinct secondaries in a high-70s slider, low-mid-70s curveball, and a mid 80s changeup.
  • Another notable promotion over the last few days was the Rays first base prospect Nathaniel Lowe. The Rays pushed the 23 year old up to AAA Durham, his 3rd stop of the 2018 season, and he did not disappoint in his debut going 3-for-5 with 4 runs scored. The combination of plus bat to ball skills, 70 raw power, and advanced understanding of the strike zone make Lowe a future middle of the order RBI machine in the mold of a Freddie Freeman. All fields power, approach, and the ability to hit for a high average. Go grab Lowe off waivers if you’re in a keeper league and looking for a stash for next season.

  • One of the hot names in the prospect world at the moment is Indians shortstop prospect Tyler Freeman. Freeman, a second round supplemental pick in 2017, he’s presently slashing .388/.435/.564 with 2 homers and 8 steals for Mahoning Valley of the New York-Penn League. Looking at Freeman’s swing, there’s a ton of bat speed, and his hands are super-quick. The swing itself is a little long in my opinion, but my colleague Lance Brozdowski disagrees, commenting on how well he uses his lower half, and his ability to coil on his back leg and stay balanced. If Freeman is out there, go and get him, he’s easy pushed his way into the top 200, with a date with the top 100 not too far off.

  • Continuing our Indians section of the post I’d like to touch on returning 2018 9th rounder Richard Palacios, who prior to his injury was absolutely raking across two levels of rookie ball, and the Midwest League. A Brookyln, NY native, and standout at Towson, Palacios is a plus hitter, with plus plus speed, game power, and an advanced understanding of the strikezone.
  • Oh what’s that? Another Indians youngster? This time it’s 17 year old switch-hitter Brayan Rocchio. The numbers are tremendous, and those that have seen Rocchio remark about the combination of across the board tools.
  • It was only a matter of time before the Mets Peter Alonso got rolling in Las Vegas. Since the PCL All-Star Break Alonso is hitting .311/.366/.678, 8 HR, 30 RBI, not to mention his impressive showing in the futures game. There’s been noticeable improvement in his numbers against right-handers slashing .277/.395/.535 with 19 homers in 300+ plate appearances.
  • I’m yet to discuss Dodgers phenomenon Miguel Vargas. He’s jumped three levels in a matter of months and is now in full-season ball. I was put onto him by Rotowire’s James Anderson who we had on the Baseball Show last night. Vargas is another example of the Dodgers international prowess. A talented Cuban teenager and son of a legendary Cuban player, Vargas defected to the Dominican Republic, and was out of competitive baseball for nearly two seasons. He signed for $300K, and the rest is history. He ate up both the AZL and Pioneer League, and so far is holding his own in the Midwest. Vargas is a talent on the rise be sure to get shares where you can.

  • The Tigers righthander Matt Manning has been very impressive in 2018 handling the transition from the Midwest League to the Florida State League with no struggles. Through six starts in Lakeland Manning is 3-2 with 40 KS to 12 walks in 34.2 innings pitched. His ERA and WHIP sit at 2.86 and 0.95 respectively with a 3.19 mark across 17 starts between High and Low A. Manning’s athleticism and feel for pitching despite a limited track record on the mound, hint to a possible front of the rotation upside. I’ve always been one of the higher Prospectors on Manning, and that love remains. That said, the below video tells me it’s somewhat easy to pickup the curveball from the fastball, doesn’t mean it’s easy to hit either.

  • It’s the weekly update on Rays two-way talent Brendan McKay! Per usual he wasn’t having any part of walks on Tuesday night, throwing 49 of 70 pitches for strikes, while going 5 scoreless with three hits, no runs, and one walk. He’s hit better over his last 10 games at the plate too, cobbling together a .289 batting average with 3 homers in that time frame. I plan on documenting McKay’s journey to the majors every week both here and on the prospect podcast. Unlike Shohei Ohtani, McKay is following a more traditional development path throughout the minor leagues. It should be interesting to see if the Rays stick with the two way plan, and just how much of a pitch count limit he’s working with from start to start.
  • Is A.J. Reed dead? Is he Crash Davis in real life? He’s once again destroying the PCL circuit, but when will he get an opportunity at regular MLB at bats? The Astros are yet to move him, and you have to wonder why at this point.
  • Here’s what I tweeted about the Rangers Joe Palumbo yesterday. He’s in the midst of a comeback from TJ, and could be an off-the-radar name to scoop up in deeper dynasty leagues.

  • I’ve been meaning to get around to going over the Padres Luis Patino, but fortunately for me, I have the best friends a Prospector could buy, aka Lance. In case you didn’t know Lance has been working pretty closely with Fort Wayne and provided me with this detailed scouting report of his Patino looks. “FB is 93-96 (two seam, four seam variations), CH is 85-87 two-seam grip, SL is 80-83 (these could be a little off, but it’s what the media guy from FW gave me, still haven’t seen him live in a game) – Emily Waldon also says he throws a CU, which the FW media guide doesn’t have down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re just mixing up velo, cause 80-83 is probably his curve with a higher velocity slider — He’s small on the mound, only 6-foot, doesn’t play up much bigger, but separates pretty well to generate that velocity without it being too high effort for his size. He has a MacKenzie Gore style leg kick from the windup that isn’t as effective as Gore’s because he’s not as athletic (few are). I’m curious as to whether he nixes it at higher levels, or brings the height of it down because it kind of stalls as he drives towards the plate, which makes me think he doesn’t need that much height to get the velocity he is getting. Repeats delivery well from stretch, doesn’t have a high leg-kick variation like Gore does from stretch, which tells me once again, that maybe he adjusts it down. I think he’s a solid rotation piece at the moment, I wouldn’t put him ahead of guys at higher levels like Morejon or Baez obviously, but his potential is probably a little bit more of a mystery than those. I think Ks might fall off at higher levels to 8.5 K/9 area. CH seems to project to average at the moment.” Through 66 2/3rds innings he’s sporting a 2.43 ERA, a 10.4 K/9, and a 2.4 Bb/9 all while 18 years old at 18.

Follow me on @ProspectJesus and check out the first edition of my Top 500 Prospects

   
  1. Sport says:
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    Holy cow that’s a lot to take in! Incredible work.

    So Luis Patino over Michael Baez? You agree with Lance?

    I had read where Marcelo Martinez is only taking advantage of weak hitters. Needs removed up for a challenge but the Royal’s rotation at the next level is already full. Nice problem KC has that I don’t think they had last year!

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Sport: Thanks for the comments! You know, I’m not sure about better than Baez, he’s different, but shoot I’m sold! Need to get some more first hand Patino looks.

      Yeah, I asked Badler and Eshleman about him. Eshleman has some looks.

  2. Sport says:
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    If you have time to look at this one that would be great but if not Inunderatand.

    I have read these names recently from you: Vidal Brujan, Bubba Thompson, Miguel Vargas, and Tyler Freeman.

    Who do you add out of that group and the players to drop would be Anthony Santander, Josh Lowe, Nickie Lopez, and Christian Javier.

    20 team points league. Would you make some definite adds?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Sport: Vargas, Thompson, Freeman drop Santander, Lowe, and Javier

  3. Jimmy Jack James says:
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    At this point, is it even a given that Brendan Rodgers stays with the Rockies to start the 2019 season? I feel like Hampson/McMahon are ahead of him in the pecking order if/when LeMehieu leaves…thoughts? Trying to decide between trading him for help this year vs. holding as a potential keep…thanks!

    • Captain James T Kirk says:
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      @Jimmy Jack James:

      Knowing the Rockies, they will sign Asdrubel Cabrera and Tony Clark and none of their young guys will get a chance! Tonight is a perfect example, McMahon had started the precvious two games….had two hits in each game….they face a righty tonight….and McMahon (who hits left handed) is on the bench in favor of Desmond (who hits right handed) Crazy stupid!!!

      • Sport says:
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        @Captain James T Kirk: I agree. Not much sense in real world baseball, but it’s definitely hurting value in fantasy leagues. Atleast in the prospect part of it.

        • Captain James T Kirk says:
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          @Sport:

          Even in real world baseball…is Desmond better than McMahon right now?? I woukd argue no. But they are under the belief that experience outweighs potential…even when the most recent experience is pretty bad.

  4. JP says:
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    Ralph-6×6 Roto. Would you look at my current farm system and tell me if you would drop anyone from my list to add Vientos. It is a draft and sign anyone dynasty. My current farm is Wander Franco, Kevin Smith, Videl Brujan, Jo Adell, George Valera, Ronny Mauricio, Nick Solak, Bobby Witt, Elehuris Montero, Jordyn Adams, Estevan Florial, Everson Pereira. Thank you

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @JP: Solak for Vientos

  5. Saints says:
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    Hay Ralph great work.
    Im in a dynasty and in a rebuild situation. What kind of Prospects (e.g. 2 Top 20 or 1 Top 5)would it take for you to part ways with Eddie Rosario and Charlie Blackmon. Im considering to keep Rosario as well with my window (hopefully) opening in 2 years (maybe next year) having Acuna,Kopech,Kingery,Bader, O Neill, Amed Rosario and Rile. Even to keep Blackmon is a strong possibility with those ETAs of my young guys. But where is the point where you part ways with them ?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Saints: I’d hold on both but if I traded one it would be Blackmon.

      • Saints says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:
        Thanks for the answer :) at what price of prospects would you consider a trade ?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Saints: Lol, oops! I’d hold off for at least one top 20 guy

  6. Concerned says:
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    Estevan Florial? Would you drop for Ronny Mauricio, Andres Gimenez, or Seuly Matias??

  7. Concerned Citizen says:
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    Esteval Florial has struggled all season long. Still hasnt got his striekouts under control. Not getting XBH. Droppable?
    Pick 1: Florial, Seuly Matias, Ronny Mauricio

  8. Crabman says:
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    Went to lakeland to see kirilloff and lewis play yesterday and noticed casey mize and matt manning in the stands sitting a few seats behind me, clipboards in hand, taking notes. I was impressed seeing the dedication these kids put in and enjoyed getting a glimpse of the scholarly side. Needless to say I was drunk on the prospect kool-aid yesterday.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Crabman: What a game! Yeah that’s pretty common to have starters in the stands logging games. I was sitting behind Spencer Turnball and someone else the other night.

  9. M says:
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    6×6 roto would you prefer Jo Adell or Gavin Lux (for 2019)

  10. Thorbs says:
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    Great insights as always!

    Monte Harrison. Tell me more… The counting stats are so tasty but the K-rate is abysmal!

  11. Jason says:
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    A pleasure to read, per usual!

    I have both Peter Alonso and Nathaniel Lowe. Would you hold one over the other at this point? I will need to trim my roster to make room for draft picks by the end of the year and literally don’t have any other minors I’d rather drop.

    I also have Eloy Jimenez, Jo Adell, Luis Robert, Alex Kirilloff, and Jesus Sanchez as my minors outfielders. Are any worth dropping for Drew Waters considering potential only? I can’t believe he’s still available I’m a league that has over 200 minors occupying spots.

  12. Skippy says:
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    Hi Ralph, in a 12-team dynasty league. I’ve been offered J.D. Martinez, Greinke, Eovaldi, Bieber for Vlad Jr and McCullers. While tempting for a stretch run (I’m in 3rd), my eyes are more on the fallout of the deal in 2019 and beyond. See Vlad as crucial to refreshing a roster that has some aging and fallen keeps (j-up, sano, myers, strasburg among them; we keep 9, no restrictions)

    Basically, I worried about missing out on Vladmania, ver. 2.0.

  13. Skippy says:
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    Hi Ralph!

    I’m in a 12-team keeper league, and have been offered J.D. Martinez, Greinke, Eovaldi, Bieber for Vlad Jr. and McCullers. While tempting for a stretch run (I’m in 3rd), I’m more concerned about the fallout of the deal in 2019 and beyond. Right now, see Vlad jr was an important part of refreshing a roster with some aging and fallen keeps (sano, myers, j-up, strasburg among them; we keep 9, no restrictions).

    Basically I’m worried about missing out on Vladmania, version 2.0.

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