I got my 2nd Pfizer shot today (Saturday), so the goal here is to finish this piece before I pass out. Might not be able to fold in all the Saturday games. Have heard vax part deux can hit pretty quick, and I can confirm that my internal temperature is all over the place. Sorry if the drugs fail to enhance my performance. If I miss anything here that you’d like to discuss in this space, let me know and I’ll double back on Wednesday.
Early on this season, I’ll roll with a league-by-league, whip-around format.
The level looks different this year. Talent is often thickest here at the beginning of the season as teams wait to juice all the timeline turnips they can, but this year feels like an outlier. Tampa’s Durham Bulls alone have as much talent as you’d find throughout the old International League by July most years.
Tampa Bay SS Wander Franco — .385/.429/.846, 14 PA, 1 HR, 1 SB, 1 BB, 2 K
Best prospect on the planet is looking the part so far. Even his outs have been stung.
Tampa Bay OF Vidal Brujan — .438/.550/.813, 20 PA, 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 4 BB, 1 K
Has played every outfield position. Very fun start for me. I’ve always ranked Brujan aggressively here at Razzball. Like, so far outside his range at other places that I would get worried and think I should maybe nudge him down just so I’m not encouraging readers to offer utterly bonkers exchanges to get him. That range has since caught up enough that I blend in now, and we can all be excited together.
Tampa Bay IF Taylor Walls — .500/.611/.500, 18 PA, 4 R, 1 SB, 4 BB, 3 K
The fly in the ointment, in the sense that if he’s playing well when Tampa needs a short-term helper from the farm, Walls would figure to be that man. They can let him play for a while and send him back down without breaking the planet the way a Wandervision up-and-down finale might.
Tampa Bay OF Josh Lowe — .222/.222/.611, 18 PA, 2 HR, 0 BB, 7 K
Mostly here because dude hit a ball over the fence behind the berm in centerfield at Memphis on Saturday night. Harley Earl might’ve been there. If so, I wonder if he can confirm whether or not that ball has landed yet.
Seattle OF Jarred Kelenic — .400/.455/.1.000, 11 PA, 5 R, 2 HR, 1 SB, 1 BB, 2 K
I can’t wait for him to get called up for so many reasons, the most compellingly selfish being we can stop seeing the jokes in our timelines. No offense to any of the jokes or jokers. Just, I’m tired. Shizz might be kicking in a bit tbh. Mostly I’m glad he can finally force the issue through dominance. Last year was tough that way. Might’ve invited a feeling of powerlessness for young players just looking for a chance to prove themselves. It’s not like fans were going to pile on and clamor for a guy they weren’t even seeing.
Seattle RHP Logan Gilbert — 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 5 Ks
Not loud like Manoah but good enough to help him force the issue with a few more efficient turns.
Miami OF Jesus Sanchez — .647/.667/.1294, 18 PA, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
The thing about this particular dominant line is it proves very little we didn’t know already. It’s kind of silly in my opinion, but Sanchez would get more attention if his K-to-BB rate evened out than he will by mashing a home run every night.
Scratch that. If he hits one every night, that’ll do the trick.
He’s never struck out a lot along the way, until last year in just 29 plate appearances when he K’d 37.9 percent of the time. Pitch selection has always been the issue here. I think his ability to hit .647 with crazy power would demonstrate better pitch selection, but he can’t sustain that. I dunno. I want to be excited, but I’ve always been low on this guy because he swings at everything, and his early success does little to assuage that worry.
Toronto RHP Alek Manoah — 6 IP, 0 ER, 12 Ks
While the other three levels seem loaded, if any level was weakened by the current paradigm, it’s Double A. Probably a fluke of the context more than anything, but it’s interesting how barren the box scores look at a glance. I tune in to see specific arms or bats and have been watching much less AA than I would’ve expected.
Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.
San Francisco OF Heliot Ramos — .462/.500/1.000, 14 PA, 2 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI, 5 K, 1 BB
Got autocorrected to Heliot Rakos on my phone. Not a word—why does auto spell pick so many words that don’t exist?—but it’s a fitting handle for a guy who’s burning up the level, raking up anything that gets leafed over the plate. Promotion to AAA is just a few sunsets away.
Miami RHP Jake Eder — 5 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 12 Ks
A 4th round pick out of Vanderbuilt last summer, Eder made the jump from SEC to AA baseball look easy. Target Marlins pitchers in dynasty leagues is the ongoing takeaway.
Cincinnati SS Jose Garcia — .250/.368/.750, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K
I think we see some effects of his time in the majors in that BB/K rate. Patience and pitch selection are what can take him to the next level, and he knows it. Pretty sharp buy low in dynasty leagues.
Just an anecdotal observation from week one, but High A seems to be the new Double A, in the sense that many of the game’s elite young talents were assigned there.
Seattle OF Zach DeLoach — 19 PA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 2 BB, 5 K
Batting leadoff in front of Julio Rodriguez. Kind of a wild ride from the SEC to the hyper-talented high A variant we have in 2021. He’s holding his own so far. I think Austin Martin is the only hitter who got a more aggressive promotion from the draft class.
New York NL SS Ronny Mauricio — .429/.467/.929, 4 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K
The loudest stat in his line so far is probably the three errors at shortstop, but if you look past that, this is a wonderful start for a 20-year-old playing against older competition.
Pittsburgh SS Liover Peguero — .353/.421/.706, 19 PA, 6 R, 2 HR, 3 SB, 2 BB, 5 K
More a fighter than a Liover so far, Peguero hints at an exciting Pirate future like young Monkey D. Luffy in One Piece. And like Luffy, Peguero shows impressive flexibility and strength in the batter’s box, generating a smooth but powerful swing that looks big league ready already. New Captain Ben Cherington is turning this ship around.
Houston SS Freudis Nova — .400/.500/.800, 12 PA, 1 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB, 3 K
Nova was a little below league average in A ball (95 wRC+), but he was 19 at the time. Now 21 and a little stronger in his 6’1” frame, Nova could go nuclear.
Baltimore LHP Drew Rom — 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks
Rom is on my list of my favorite low-hype arms in the low minors.
Baltimore OF Kyle Stowers — 18 PA, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 4 BB, 5 K
A premium athlete with a well-rounded game, Stowers could move quickly if he’s making enough contact.
Arizona OF Leodany Perez — 4 SB, 5 AB, 2 BB, 1 K, .400/.571/.400
He’s 20 years old in High A; that alone would make him interesting. He stole four bases on Friday night.
Minnesota OF Matt Wallner — .400/.474/.1.000, 19 PA, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K
39th overall pick from 2019 draft hitting in a cold Midwest May when very few do. I should get a pretty good look at him this year. The Cedar Rapids Kernals are the closest club to me. My season tickets from last year (an outstanding Christmas gift from my Mother and Father in law) rolled over to 2021. Can’t wait!
Texas SS Luisangel Acuna — 375/.421/.750, 19 PA, 1 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, 1 CS, 2 BB, 6 K
The scouting and dynasty communities appear to be split on the big Acuna’s little brother. His frame’s not ideal, and his swing looks a little different, but he gets the bat to and through the zone in position to cover a lot of the plate. Baseball America gave him a 55/45 hit/power breakdown with a 50 Extreme (risk score) in this year’s Prospect Handbook. Erik Longenhagen has him at 50/45 and 40 FV. Not real optimistic, to put it mildly. Dynasty leaguers value him as a top 100 type already with the chance for big hype down the line. I’m with the gamers on this one. Acuna’s going to have to prove he can’t hit high-spin stuff. Until then, I’m betting he can.
San Diego OF Robbert Hassell III — .316/.381/.842, 21 PA, 8 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, 2 BB, 6 K
Kind of a wow for me. The big question on Bob Hassle, insofar as there were any, was his power potential. He’s altered his bat angle to reach for the seats, and so far the contact-for-power trade is working in his favor. Exciting stuff. Really rare talent to come out of high school with this kind of bat control.
San Francisco OF Luis Matos — .235/.263/.235, 19 PA, 1 SB, 0 XBX
I’m not worried are you worried I’m not worried.
Seriously. I’m not worried. Went 3-for-5 with a walk on Friday. Was just eager to make an impact and pressing a little.
New York (AL) 2B Trevor Hauver — .800/.824/2.100, 17 PA, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K
So this guy owns the world now. Go see if he’s available in your league.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.