I make a lot of notes to myself throughout the week in a Google doc as I build toward a full article. The word atop the document this week says “cryptocracy,” which reminds me today of something I’d gloriously forgotten: that Major League Baseball teased a big reveal this week only to announce it’s gone into partnership with a cryptocurrency company in a venture that will, almost certainly, make money for the owners.
And wow the fans were so geeked and stoked and hyped for baseball now more than they’d ever previously imagined possible because the owners were going to, get this, make more money.
Just awesome stuff.
If you’ll excuse me for a moment I’m due up fourth this inning, so I’m going to duck into the clubhouse and view my last couple of at bats against this pitcher.
Then I’m going to strap on my custom-made elbow guard, wristband and batting gloves before I select my custom-made helmet and bat so I can step into the on deck circle, where I’ll swing my weighted bat a few times before I tack up my custom bat with my favorite pine tar, tack up my batting gloves a bit on the barrel, pretend not to time the pitcher while I’m timing the pitcher, then walk into the box and tack up my batting gloves again before I adjust them, my elbow guard, and my helmet. Now I’m ready to swing the bat. Maybe.
Did that pitcher just adjust his belt!?
Skip! Blue! Wait! Stop the game!
That pitcher might have some sunscreen in his belly button!
Check him check him check him!
And let’s grab a brand new ball straight from the box otherwise I call no fair.
Sorry about that. Can’t believe that guy was trying to use a substance to help him hold something. Back to the game. Here’s what I’ve been seeing on the field this week.
AA Los Angeles (AL) OF Izzy Wilson represents what the Angels are (or used to be) looking for when they head into a prospect showcase: prodigious athletes who need some seasoning. Well so far in June, Wilson is cooking with gas. Or electric. I don’t know his kitchen. He’s probably not cooking at all. Not a lot of time for that in the MiLB lifestyle.
Anyway he’s hot this month: 73 PA, 6 HR, 7 SB, .348/.411/.667, 21.9 K%, 9.6 BB%.
Best stretch of his career by a country mile. He’s always been young for his level and turned 23 this March, so the timeline adds up that he could be a differently built human than he was in 2019. Looks strong to me, but admittedly, I’d never clapped eyes on him before this year. He’d never demanded a long look. But now, with the Angels ignoring Jo Adell and trying out your pigeon-toed cousins for outfield spots, Wilson takes on increased relevance, especially moving forward into 2022 and beyond. This farm’s drought isn’t isolated to 2021. Looking pretty barren long term out West, and Wilson could step into a favorable opportunity sooner than later if he maintains some degree of his recent improvements.
AAA Oakland OF Cody Thomas is striking out 34.8 percent of the time, but he’s turned some heads with 12 home runs in 35 games, slashing .288/.355/.680. He’s 26 years old but not quite old for the level, considering he was fine as a 24-year-old in AA for the Dodgers. Oakland’s having trouble finding live bodies to cover their grass, and Mark Canha corn just went on the IL. Thomas was a late convert to baseball and brings a football body and big man strength to the batter’s box. He’s also got Dodger instruction in the low minors and Oakland teaching in the high minors. Very interesting player here. Could cut his K rate quite a bit as he continues to learn the game.
Speaking of that Oakland outfield, AAA OF Greg Deichmann is probably ahead of Thomas on the organizational depth chart and has been earning his next opportunity for a long time. Last time you heard his name might’ve been associated with his home run binge in the 2019 Fall league. He’d been pretty meh before that point but has continued down the path he unearthed that fall, slashing .312/.456/.464 with a 20.9% / 22.22% BB/K ratio. He’s only got three home runs along with his six stolen bases, so he’s become something of a Grossman type this season thus far, but that’ll play for a long time, as we’ve seen with Robbie. I think he’s nearing his first extended opportunity.
AA Cincinnati RHP Graham Ashcraft threw a complete game shutout in his AA debut. Two hits and eight strikeouts across nine innings. Hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 25. Over those 32 shutout innings across two levels, he’s allowed 14 hits and six walks. 28.1 K-BB rate with a 0.63 WHIP. Full season K-BB% at 26.5. He’ll make a pretty big jump up my redraft rankings next time we do the stash list. Samesies for the dynasty spreadsheet. Reds (Kyle Boddy and the Driveline group) are doing work. Whenever a young pitcher pops in that organization, I’m zooming in.
AA Minnesota 2B Jose Miranda: Listed as 2B for fun because that’s where he’s playing now. Might not be a real path for him. Defense is not his strong suit, but the bat is loud enough that the club will always be seeking ways to hide him in the field. Minnesota has demonstrated an appreciation for precisely this sort of profile, and Miranda is a better all-around hitter than some of the other guys they’ve hidden the past few years (Astudillo, Sano, Rooker). He should be in AAA soon.
AA Pittsburgh SS Rodolfo Castro was available in my 15-team dynasty until I snapped him up last week. I have a hard time building a 2022 Pirates infield where Castro isn’t starting somewhere by June. He’s thriving in AA to the tune of a .310/.351/.544 slash line with nine home runs and five stolen bases, striking out just 20.2 percent of the time despite recently turning 22. I thought Liover Peguero might walk into the starting shortstop gig in Pittsburgh as early as next year, but if Castro can field the position without the error bars afforded by AA, he’ll have his chance to lock it down.
AA New York (NL) LHP Josh Walker 6’6” tossed six no-hit innings with one walk against a hapless Phillies affiliate this week. Gets depressing sometimes to follow these orgs that just struggle to get it done on the scouting and development side. Hope is a hypothetical. Walker’s results have been mercurial, but he looks tough to me. Great angle on his delivery with that low three-quarters filth we’ve seen work so well for Trevor Rogers this year. They’re not super similar outside of the visual, as Walker is command over power, but he’s interesting.
AA Los Angeles (AL) RHP Cooper Criswell threw a complete game his last time out. Say what!? That’s right. Nine genuine innings in the real. Just like Ashcraft. It stuns me everytime I see it. Ashcraft, Criswell, and Peyton Battenfield were on my study list last week, and Criswell is the least impressive of the three, but he’s still worth a twirl in deep leagues where pitching gets scarce. As discussed above, the Angels don’t have a whole lot, and pitching is a skill quest. Takes time, and it’s quite an advantage to be a young player who’s organization can give him time to learn at the big league level.
Baltimore 1B JD Mundy first popped on my screen when I saw him take Xzavion Curry deep to left center with all the difficulty of a Loki telling a lie. So casual, that Mundy. Well he got himself promoted quickly to A+, and if he’s not careful he’ll wind up in AA by the All Star break. His first week at the level (six games) was not ideal, but he had four games off between June 6 and June 9, so I think he might’ve been dinged up. Since June 13, he’s slashed .333/.396/.813 with six home runs and five doubles. Sample too small? Sure. But in 17 total games at the level, he’s slashing .277/.347/.723. Man that’s a lot of slugging. Don’t see too many .446 ISOs out in the wild. Guy looks a bit like Schwarber in the box, and something’s in the air for that body type right now, I guess. I think he’s made himself a prospect in that org and could find himself aboard the Rutschman ferry with the first wave of prospects I suspect the Orioles are eyeing for that moment, likely in June 2022. Hard to imagine they can keep Adley down that long, but hey he’s still in AA despite a .431 OBP and 11 HR in 44 games there. Good chance they leave him there through that league’s All Star break.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.