If you’ve been following along with the Prospect Podcast over the last few weeks. Then you’ll know that last week’s episode was a cheat sheet for today’s post. It’s not like discussing players like Ronald Acuna, Eloy Jimenez, or Victor Robles ever really gets old. I could talk about that trio of players all day. In fact if you check the Guinness World Records Book/Site/Twitter I’m listed as having spoke about nothing but Ronald Acuna, Eloy Jimenez, and Victor Robles for 37 hours consecutively. Needless to say it was a hell of a day(s). Quick aside, do people still call it the Guinness Book of World Records, or has that been scrapped because no one really reads actual physical books anymore? Seriously reading a book with a binding is right up there on the crazy meter just behind trench coats, which is just behind army fatigues. Sorry Stephen King but you look crazy with that book, now pay attention to the baseball game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google Stephen King Red Sox. It will just be images of him reading books from the front row at Fenway. Wow I got really off track there. Anyway you know what this post is about, outfielders, my favorite outfielders, the top 10 favorite outfielders right now. Remember these are my thoughts ladies and gentlemen, right or wrong, just what I was feeling at the time. Vibe with me,,,,(CU!)
1) Ronald Acuna, OF Braves | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .322/.371/.521, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 42 Steals
What a year it’s been for Ronald J. Acuna. He’s gone from a name mentioned as a sleeper just a year ago to the top of the prospect charts. Even in the last month and a half his stock has jumped significantly. If I re-ranked my Top 100 I’d easily rank Acuna over Moncada, Devers, and the rest. With the announcement that Acuna will join the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League, it probably ends any speculation of a 2017 September call-up. In fact I’d go as far as to say we may not see Acuna until June or July of 2018. As for the player look at the statline, you’re hoping on the next Mike Trout, but will settle for a new age Andruw Jones.
The classic Mr. Everything (Acuna) vs. the Middle of the Order Masher (Jimenez), an argument as old as Rotisserie baseball itself. So, 38 years. Would I take Jimenez over Acuna? Hell to the no, but it’s probably closer than we think. The second superstar prospect traded by the Cubs in the last year, Jimenez has been on a tear hitting 11 homers in 34 games since the trade. We more than likely won’t see Eloy in the South Side until September of next year, but much of that depends upon what he does in the first half of 2018. We’ve seen what Devers has done his first month + in the bigs, and I imagine Eloy’s debut won’t be much different.
The next two players will feature in the same outfield this season for the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL. Robles was losing some steam upon promotion to AA in late July, unfortunately a rough patch coincided with strong performances from Acuna, Devers, and Eloy. Which in turn led to some negativity on his long term development. Fantasy baseball is fickle, it’s always what have you done for me lately. Well lately Robles has delivered. He’s in the midst of a 16 game hitting streak that’s seen him slash .403/.479/.581 with 5 steals and a homer. I’ve likened him to Starling Marte, and I think it’s an apt comparison.
Another power/speed talent playing at an advanced level at a very young age. Tucker was 20 for all of 2017, and after destroying the Carolina League saw promotion at the end of May to AA. He’s had his struggles there, but through it all has hit for power, driven in runs, and displayed dynamic offensive ability. He’s wore down a bit in August but that shouldn’t come as a surprise for a player so young. There’s more questions about the hit tool now than there were coming into the draft, but the power has already exceeded my expectations. Should see promotion at some time next summer.
Lots of people stop me on the street (no one stops me on the street) and ask me “Ralph who’s coming up in September that got that boom-boom that make the girls swoon like Rhysus?” I always tell them, “Willie Calhoun, Cousin. Now get me my Miller High Life bust down!” Don’t worry I don’t drink Miller High Life unless it’s all you got. As for Willie, Michael Halpern and I have long touted his unique power and contact skillset. It would have great if Calhoun could have made it as a second baseman but his bat will play anywhere on the field.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Brinson, as he’s been great in AAA with Colorado Springs, showing power, speed, contact, and on base ability. While falling on his face twice upon promotion to Milwaukee. Following his last unsuccessful callup, Brinson struggled in AAA before going down with a hamstring injury earlier in August. He’s rehabbing in the rookie level Arizona League, and could see promotion to MLB later this month. Third time is a charm.
The 19 year old Trammell is a freak athlete who’s baseball skills have far exceeded expectations coming out of the draft in 2016. At that time he was viewed as a high end athlete with raw tools and oodles of upside. Now he’s viewed as a high end athlete, with polished tools and oodles of upside. See what I did there? In 2017 Trammell showed advanced approach, power, and difference-making speed on the base paths. If I had my pick of any player to go full Acuna in 2018 it would be Trammell.
You want to see a model of consistency? Look at Hays slashline from 64 games in High A (.328/.364/.591) then look at his slashline from 60 AA games (.328/.364/.592). That’s some weird statistical OCD! Hays is a contact over approach player with plus power in the mold of a Willie Calhoun type. He’s been the biggest offensive breakout in the minors this season and looks like a shoo-in for Baltimore at some point next summer.
It’s been a tough year for Lewis, between a catastrophic knee injury and some setbacks with rehab, Lewis is about a year behind where we hoped he’d be coming out of the draft. His production has been inconsistent this season, but the talent, and ability to be an elite fantasy bat is there. A full offseason, and normal spring should help Lewis get back on track.
Alford is by far the most divisive prospect on this list, while the hit tool has come around, the power has not. His season got a bit off track following an injury to his hamate bone following a call-up to Toronto. The hope is the power develops, and Alford blossoms into a 5 category contributor. I’m not going to sugar coat it, the power may never come, and Alford might end up an uninteresting everyday outfielder.
Next Two: In an effort to provide the next few off the list here’s the next two!
It’s been a terrible season for Meadows, a player that was universally in Top 10 lists coming into the season, isn’t even making my top 10 at his position. Injuries, poor play, and not seizing the opportunity for playing time in Pittsburgh, it’s been an awful year. I’m not writing Meadows off, but my expectations are tempered, particularly with his inability to stay healthy.
Another player who missed a huge chunk of his season with a hamate injury. Soto just returned this week with the Nationals rookie-level GCL team. Had it not been for the injury Soto would have been somewhere between 8-10, but I’m not committing to him at that spot when he’s played just 30 games, and is at least two years away. His elite power/contact/approach in the mold of an Eloy Jimenez makes him one of the higher end prospects in the lower levels. Soto needs to be owned in every dynasty format.
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