Scatter brained, unfocused, all over the place, just a few terms you might use to describe this hodge-podge of prospect analysis I bring to you here on this the lord’s day. We’re going to break this into three parts, first part will be a little analysis of the recent transactions involving Yulieski Gourriel and Anderson Espinoza, then we’ll jump into some updates on 2016 draft picks, now that they’re roughly a month into their professional careers, and we’ll close with some updates on international signings. If you’re looking for more than this I suggest you seek wisdom from those smarter than I. Yes, those people exist, roughly 79% of you reading this fall into that category in fact.
Yulieski Gourriel, 2B/3B Astros: If you didn’t hear, the older of the Gourriel/Gurriel bros. signed with the Houston Astros Friday for a reported 5 year $47.5 million dollar contract. If someone can confirm if it’s spelled Gurriel or Gourriel that would be great. I’d always seen Gourriel up until the past few days. Regardless, we’ve spoke in detail about Gourriel’s legend on the island of Cuba, and the expectation that at 32 he’s ready to provide above replacement level contributions right out the gate. It’s a good, though curious signing by Houston. Good, because it’s another major league bat, and really you can never have enough of those, particularly down the stretch. It’s curious because the Astros roster seemed to be coming together like Voltron with Luis Valbuena slashing .310/.401/.547 since June 1st, and top prospect Alex Bregman nipping on the heels of a promotion. This is a huge blow to my recently top ranked prospect, or is it? Yeah, there’s no way to spin this in a positive light, it is a major fly in the ointment that is Bregman’s rest of season value. Even if Bregman hits Houston before Gourriel, I would imagine it’s only to temporarily keep the seat warm. Once the Cuban veteran is ready for prime time Bregman should be regulated to the bench or demoted to AAA. As for what sort of production to expect from Gourriel, the comps to Hanley Ramirez, and a healthy David Wright seem to be amongst the most popular for those in the know. Prior to leaving Cuba, Yulieski was having a season for the ages in Serie Nacional where he was hitting .500 and slugging .874 in 186 at bats. He also had a 38 to 3 walk to strikeout ratio.
Anderson Espinoza, SP Padres: Whoa, typing Espinoza with Padres behind it gave me chills. What’s done is done, and Espinoza is no longer a Red Sox prospect. Dombrowski gonna Dombrowski you know? Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum with this trade, Espinoza’s value has to get a bump after being traded straight up for a 27 year old All-star with a sub 3 ERA and a 10+ K rate. On the surface it would be easy to say Espinoza was struggling at A level Greenville when you look at his 4.38 ERA, but he was getting extremely unlucky. A .343 BABIP, 64.9% LOB, and a FIP of 3.09 tell a different story. Just to refresh your memory, Espinoza is an 18 year old righty with a high 90’s fastball and two plus secondary offerings. His ceiling is best pitcher in the game type territory, though the floor would be something along the lines of a high end back of the bullpen guy. Though I think he’s more likely a starter and a good one, even if he doesn’t live up to the Pedro Martinez comps. The other component of all this is the prospect of calling the friendly confines of Petco park home. Long and the short, Espinoza owners in dynasty leagues made out well.
2016 Draftee updates:
My intention is to do a 2016 draftee and J-2 rankings for dynasty within the next month or so, but for the next several weeks I’m just going to provide you with updates. Today I’ll give you updates on my current top 10 fantasy players from the draft, and then Wednesday we’ll get into some later round guys making early noise from the jump.
Kyle Lewis, OF Mariners (Everett AquaSox; Class A SS): 26 games into his professional career, my top fantasy player from this year’s draft is slashing .291/.381/.515 with 23 runs, 3 homers, 22 RBIs and a couple of steals. He’s got very real power.
Corey Ray, OF Brewers (Brevard County Manatees; Hi-A): The Louisville product’s numbers on face value might look pedestrian, but it’s important to keep in mind he jumped a couple levels as the Brewers assigned him to hi-A Brevard County. Many experts view Ray as the top fantasy prospect in the draft. Likening his power, speed, contact skill set to that of A.J. Pollock. So far he’s slashing .235/.241/.235 with no homers and 1 steal. A rough start for sure, but keep in mind we’re talking about 9 games, and he’s playing two levels higher than most in his position. It’s waaaaayyy too early to panic.
Matt Thaiss, 1B Angels (Burlington Bees; Class A): The 16th overall pick in this year’s draft has hit pro ball like a wrecking ball, slashing .330/.384/.527 across two levels after receiving promotion to Class A Burlington on Sunday. Thaiss was a catcher in college but the Angels plan on developing him full time as a first baseman. He’s quickly nipping at Ray’s heels if the later doesn’t get it together in the second half.
Zack Collins, C White Sox (Winston-Salem Dash hi-A): After batting .091 through 3 games at rookie ball the White Sox had seen enough. Collins was swiftly jumped two levels to hi-A Winston Salem of the Carolina League. In his first game there Collins went 3/4 with a 3 run blast. So far Collins is playing behind the plate, and the quick promotion tells me he could have more of a chance of staying there than first anticipated. Regardless, the bat plays everywhere.
Nick Senzel, 3B Reds (Dayton Dragons; Class A): The number two overall pick in the draft was assigned to Class A Dayton of the Midwest league. So far he’s been excellent, slashing .313/.400/.438 while stealing 7 bases. No homers as of yet, which fuels concerns he doesn’t truly have an impact power bat at third.
Mickey Moniak, OF Phillies (GCL Phillies, RK): Through 13 games the top overall choice is batting .278/.321/.373 with a homer and a steal. When considering Moniak’s age you quickly realize he’s more than holding his own at the moment. I expect Moniak to take at least three years to marinate before being ready.
Delvin Perez, SS Cardinal (GCL Cardinals): Is it for real or is it the effects of the PEDs he got popped for wearing off. Either way Perez is slashing .352/.405/.451 with 8 steals in 18 games. Cards might have a steal on their hands.
Braxton Garrett, LHP Marlins: Signed on Friday, I personal rate Garrett the highest of any arm in the draft. He’s unbelievably safe and polished for a prep arm. Typical coach’s kid. 6’3 and a lefty, Garrett has front of the rotation upside.
Jason Groome, LHP Red Sox: What’s with the high-end lefty prep arms waiting till the last moment to sign? Another one that snuck in just before the deadline. Groome will now join a stocked Red Sox farm system, as he vies with Michael Kopech for the distinction of top pitching prospect in the system.
Will Craig, 3B Pirates (West Virginia Black Bears, Class A SS): Another college hitter struggling out the gates. Craig is a player I rated very highly as a potential impact bat from this year’s draft, but so far he’s slashing an underwhelming .159/.337/.203. Once again it’s early, but this is no way to make an entrance.
July 2 Signings Update:
The Padres were boss players in the international pool this year. Seriously they showed up to the J-2 players ball with the finest furs, ladies, and a grip full of paper. The Friars signed the top Dominican prospect in shortstop Luis Almanzar, the top Venezuelan prospect after Maitan in Gabriel Arias, Dominican outfielder Jeisson Rosario, top Cuban pitcher Adrian Morejon, and 5 other prospects in Baseball America’s top 50 July 2nd talents. They’re also front runners for top Cuban hitting prospect Jorge Ona whenever MLB clears him to sign.
Speaking of Adrian Morejon, he looks to be one to target in the upcoming first year player drafts. The Padres dropped a hefty $11 million for his signature and the scouting reports are glowing. He’s just 17 and his contract is structured so he won’t pitch professionally until 2017, but it will be worth the wait. Many think he could report to one of San Diego’s Class A affiliate right out the shoot. He mixes a plus fastball, two changeups, and a hook, with a smooth repeatable delivery and clean arm action.
Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros agreed to terms with the Oakland, announcing the deal on July 2nd. Lazarito has long been considered the best teenage prospect to recently leave Cuba. Should be interesting to see if he’s starts in the Dominican Summer League or the AZL. The A’s were also busy players in the J2 period reaching deals with 4 Dominican players including George Bell, son of the former major leaguer by the same name.
There’s quite a few internationals signings from the last few year’s July 2 periods that are making a splash in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona League. These are typical the first stops for teenage international prospects as they matriculate through the minor leagues. Here’s a few to keep an eye on.
Leodys Taveras, OF Rangers: Was featured on my pre-season Top 100 and is quickly working his way back onto it. Between the DSL and AZL Taveras is slashing .308/.366/.431 with a homer and 12 steals. Very real potential for a nice power/speed profile, the power just needs to catch up.
Anderson Tejeda, SS Rangers: While he’s not really a fit for this list, as he signed in 2014, I still wanted to update you on him. Cool? Good! Anyway, after slashing .312/.393/.522, in the DSL in 2015, Tejeda has followed that up with a .306/.365/.540 between the DSL and AZL this season. The hit tool is for real and he’s flashing the early signs of a power/speed skill set.
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