Crop Rotation: The State of Texas’ Minor Leagues Post Trade Deadline
With the trade deadline passed (RIP Travis Demeritte, Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson, Nick Green, Lewis Brinson, and Luis Ortiz) and the late season promotions impending, it’s time to take a look at the developments in the Texas Rangers’ Minor Leagues. I’ll start with the good, then the bad,and finally any leftover MLB.com top 30 prospects. So here it is; 5600 words on anyone from guys you already know and love like Joey Gallo, to guys you’ll likely never to read about again (*cough Xavier Turner*).
#1 (MLB.com Rangers prospect) 1B/3B Joey Gallo: Everything in the quantitative profile here is better than it was a year ago. Triple-A K-rate? 39.5% in 2015, 30.4 in 2016. BB rate? 11.8% in ’15, 17.7% in ’16. Slash line? .195/.289/.450 to .246/.381/.557. Looking at his charts, there’s not anything as evident for his success as the strikeout drop. He’s still pull heavy on the ground, hitting fewer line drives, trading some ground balls for fly balls (a good thing for a player of his power profile), but that was the adjustment most necessary. Lately, all those numbers are trending in the wrong direction, some of which is attributable to Gallo being ready to move on from the minors. Unfortunately a week long big league cameo didn’t go as planned, as MLB pitchers jumped right back on his hole up in the zone striking him out at a huge rate. Still, it was a small sample size, and on the whole, for 2016, he is much improved as the 22-year-old tends to be in his second year at a level.
#2 SP Yohander Mendez: For my money, give me Yohander Mendez over Luis Ortiz as the best pre-trade Rangers arm. Had Ortiz stayed, this surely would’ve been a topic for discussion over the next year or ten. Baseball Prospectus agrees with me. MLB.com and Baseball America don’t. To me, his stuff is more consistent from start to start and he’s more likely to have three and four big league pitches. His ceiling doesn’t match that of Ortiz due to the lack of two legitimate swing and miss offerings, but I’ll take his floor.
Mendez features a 91-93 mph fastball that’s ticked up as he’s put on weight and may continue to do so. His best pitch is his plus change, which is more effective against same-sided hitters than a typical changeup due to its mostly straight down shape. The slider and curveball are both works in progress, but each flashes above average potential and are improving as he becomes more comfortable throwing them. Mendez has succeeded in all three fielding independent categories; in 84.2 innings across High A, Double A, and Triple A, Mendez has 98 strikeouts and 28 walks while surrendering just four home runs. Seeing him miss bats in the upper levels is especially good to see as many changeup specialists stop doing so once they pass A ball.
#4 CF Leody Taveras: Taveras is a 17-year-old switch hitter already playing stateside affiliated ball who plays center field while showing the ability to hit a fastball. The cousin of former major leaguer Willy Taveras, it’s a win that he’s playing in the Arizona League at all this year, much less handling the stick well (.281/.333/.381). When I saw him in Spring Training, pitch recognition seemed to be an issue as he swung through a couple spinners, but at his age, that’s a common trait. I really like this one.
#5 1B Ronald Guzman: At the risk of being painfully obvious, this guy’s a hitter. It’s so impressive given his 6’5″ frame. Bust him in, even with velo, and he’s able to get those long arms around. Pitch him outside, and he’s happy to deposit it into the left-center field gap for a double. His stock had never been lower coming into this year, and now it’s never been higher. He has average raw power now, but as Guzman continues to grow into his body, that projects to become a plus tool. The hit tool projects as above average to plus as well, and his glove work is much improved. His spray chart is impressive and shows his power to all fields and willingness to use them. Hitters gonna hit.
#6 OF Ryan Cordell: Cordell still isn’t one of my favorite prospects on the farm, and I’m still not sold on him as an everyday player. But man, is he improved this year. He’s been able to adjust at the plate, laying off sliders and curves darting out of the zone while showing an ability to wait back and drive them in the zone. His glove is up a grade, and he’s hitting for power more than ever before. The strikeouts still worry me, but not to the extent they did a year ago. A year ago if you asked me about Cordell, I would’ve put a role 3 (emergency call-up) on him. Now I see him as a good major league fourth outfielder, perhaps as early as midseason 2017. Expect to see him get the bump to Triple-A soon.
#8 SP Ariel Jurado: I saw this kid’s Frisco debut on Sunday and he’s pretty swell. Sorry to get too scouty in my terminology there, but it’s how I feel. He throws a 91-93 mph sinker with enough run to miss bats and enough sink to get a huge groundball percentage (see below).
His 77-79 curveball also had some success, as he manipulated the depth on it well using it effectively against both righties and lefties. He missed glove side a few times, but on the whole his control and command were very impressive. At just 20 years old, Jurado survived High Desert to the tune of a 3.86 ERA and a 71/24 K/BB ratio allowing only three runs over his first two Double-A starts. I took a video of his third inning on Sunday in which he threw all four of his offerings notching six swinging strikes.
#12 SP Connor Sadzeck: It’s been a good year for the 6’7″ righty. Known for his triple-digit fastball coming into the season Sadzeck has laid off that some as he’s worked on throwing more strikes, using his two-seamer in an effort to stay a starter long term. The good news is his walk rate has been cut in half, from 7.78/9 in 2015 to 3.17/9 in 2016, and the slider he started throwing has been in many outings his best off-speed pitch. The bad news is I, along with most scouts I’ve talked to, still see him as a future bullpen arm.
#18 RP Jose Leclerc: Early in 2016 the Leclerc starter experiment ended, and the decision was a good one. The walks still need to come down (5.74 BB/9 in Triple-A) but they’re less prevalent than they have been in years past. The stuff is there; with a 94-96 mph fastball that misses bats and a deadly changeup, Leclerc is able to cut or run. If the control continues to improve, he should be in the Rangers bullpen for years to come.
#21 SP Pedro Payano: The 21-year-old righty is one of my favorite arms on the farm. There’s a lot of moving parts in his delivery, but to this point it hasn’t resulted in issues in control. He boasts three average or better pitches in his fastball, changeup, and curve while inducing infield pop outs on 11.58% of balls in play to go with a 26.8% K rate.
#25 C/1B Brett Nicholas: In his age 28 season, Nicholas has emerged. This year has seen his major league debut, and a successful one at that (.257/.333/.543, 127 wRC+, and positive defensive metrics in 10 games). It’s seen him homer off Dellin freakin’ Betances. It’s seen his best minor league season at the plate (.301/.374/.497) and it’s seen him really get a chance to be a catcher full-time. It’s a late breakout, but Nicholas has put himself on the scene in 2016 looking the part of a capable MLB backup.
#26 RP Tyler Ferguson: The big news here is Ferguson throwing strikes. This is a guy who was projected as a borderline first-round pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt but lost his role on the team before falling to the 6th because he stopped throwing strikes. Here’s what Baseball America had to say about him heading into the draft:
Entering the season, Ferguson was expected to play a key role on Vanderbilt’s pitching staff and he was in the rotation on opening weekend. But he seemingly lost the ability to throw strikes and has spent the rest of the spring trying to work his way back. When he’s right, Ferguson has electric stuff. He can run his fastball up to 98 mph and his power curveball flashes plus potential. He’s never pitched with much command during his college career, but this year he simply struggled to throw the ball over the plate. He had walked 34 batters and thrown 9 wild pitches in 19 innings entering the NCAA Tournament. Ferguson’s power arsenal and significant upside will likely entice some team to take on the project of getting him straightened out. But it’s tough for a team to know just what they’d be getting after such a difficult season.
Well, he’s filling the zone now, having walked only 10 batters in 29.1 innings for Spokane. He’s letting the stuff eat to the tune of 44 punchouts also. He’s old for his level, but he’s got the pitches and he’s found the zone. He could be a fast riser in Rangers prospect rankings if he keeps this up.
#27 SP Tyler Phillips: Phillips was the Rangers 16th round pick in 2015,spending this season in Spokane. He’s pitched well, but some bad luck has seen his ERA stay around 4.50. He has struck guys out (24%), limited free passes reasonably well (9%), surrendered only one home run and has a groundball rate greater than 50%. That all typically adds up to a good ERA but it hasn’t done so in this case. As far as his stuff, I don’t know much so here’s what MLB.com has to say:
Heading into his 2015 senior season at Bishop Eustace Prep (Pennsauken Township, N.J.), scouts viewed Phillips as a classic projection arm who would be best off with some development time in college. Once his fastball velocity surged from the upper 80s to the low 90s, however, the Rangers paid him $160,000 in the 16th round to buy him away from his commitment to State JC of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.
Phillips has an athletic 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame and a loose, quick arm that works extremely well. He currently operates at 91-94 mph with downhill plane plus tail and sink on his fastball, and he should continue to add velocity as he gets stronger. Both his slider and changeup are works in progress with the potential to become average or better offerings as he gains experience.
Phillips’ athleticism and easy delivery should enable him to throw plenty of strikes.
While he’s a project who will need time to develop, his ceiling is higher than most of the starters in the Texas system.
#28 SP Vic Payano: The story with the elder Payano statesman of the organization for years has been good stuff, but little control. To an extent it still is; in 19 outings this year, only four of them have featured one or fewer walks. The difference is only three appearances has he walked four or more, a year after having eight such outings. All in all his walk rate has dropped dramatically, from 6.22 to 3.96, as he’s put himself back on the fringes of the prospect radar in his age 23 season.
#29 OF Jose Almonte: Almonte was a part of the Rangers high priced 2013 J2 class, earning a $1.8 million signing bonus. Prior to 2016, things hadn’t clicked at the plate for the 19-year-old. However, despite a large 28.3% K rate, the right fielder is having something of a breakout year for Hickory. With a .278/.343/.444 slash line, good for a 126 wRC+ in the South Atlantic League, to go along with eight home runs and eight stolen bases Almonte has brought his name back into discussions about the Rangers farm system.
C Pat Cantwell: Look, the batted ball profile is similar to last year. His OPS is still an anemic .640. He has zero home runs and only seven extra-base hits in 52 games. He has a plus glove behind the plate, works well with pitchers, and I like the guy so let me dream. Also, he’s played a little corner outfield lately so keep an eye on that. He still projects as an emergency call up.
1B/RF Preston Beck: Coincidence he has a good year the same year he plays me at Backyard Baseball? I think not. Like Cantwell, he projects as an emergency call up. He has a double plus arm, a good feel for the zone, and doesn’t strike out much. He also pops out too often, which works to cancel out his positive K rate, doesn’t have as much raw pop as his strength would suggest (I have him at 45, or below average, raw), and doesn’t figure as more than an average defender at any spot. It’s nice to see him hit to the tune of .289/.358/.477 with Frisco after struggling in Double-A a season ago. He’s been promoted to Round Rock, holding his own in a small sample size there. Does he figure as an MLB regular? No. Is he likely to serve as an important bench piece? No. Is he good enough to fill a bench role for two to four weeks while someone above him recovers from an injury? Yes.
RP Joe Filomeno: Walks are a problem for the Louisville graduate, and have been going back to his college days. 6.9 walks per nine show he’s got a lot of development left to do. However, he’s left-handed (check), has sat 93-95 mph in recent outings (check), and is striking guys out (check). Anyone who meets that criteria has a shot at a major league career, and Filomeno is no exception.
C/SS/2B/3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa: Look to the left. No, not the name. Farther. Yeah, he plays all those positions average to above average. He also doesn’t suck at hitting. That’s valuable.
SS Luis Marte: Known for his plus glove at short, the 22-year-old Marte came back from an early season hand injury with some added power. Never previously having an ISO over .100 in full-season ball, that number sits at .183 40 games into his 2016 season. That’s a product of added strength (the raw power is up to 45, or below average) and better contact (line drive rate up near 26%, a 10% improvement). His slash line is up from .206/.215/.285 a year ago to .275/.288/.458 now. He still has a long ways to go in calming down at the plate and being more patient, as his 1.4% BB rate suggests. He has the tools to hit enough to let the glove play if his approach improves. He may take a while to develop, but Marte has a big league future.
1B/3B Juremi Profar: The younger brother of Jurickson Profar isn’t near as athletic, but hitting seems to run in the family. At 20 years old in High A, the younger Profar has a wRC+ (a number where 100 is league average) of 119 while posting impressive strikeout rates. He doesn’t have an obvious position and likely won’t hit enough to carry a big league first base role, but he’s caught my attention and should begin the 2017 season in Frisco.
OF Scott Heineman: Watch out for 11th rounders under the current CBA. If a team fails to sign a player in the first 10 rounds, they lose the value of however much money that pick is slotted for from their draft cap. If they fail to sign a draftee from rounds 11-40, there is no such punishment. What that creates is a draft where better talents who may be signability risks fall to the 11th round, while easy signs go in rounds eight through ten. The Rangers 2011 11th rounder? Connor Sadzeck. 2013? Ryan Cordell. 2014? Intriguing reliever Scott Williams. 2015? Scott Heineman. Now 23, the Oregon graduate is slashing .301/.387/.506 with 14 home runs and a high line drive rate while manning left and center field. 11th rounders, man.
SP Wes Benjamin: The Rangers 2014 5th round pick out of Kansas, 23-year-old Wes Benjamin is getting his first dose of full season ball after battling injuries his first two professional seasons. He’s old for his age and reports don’t have him with flashy stuff, but the southpaw has struck out 23.5% of the batters he’s faced, nearly five times his walk percentage of 5.5%. Benjamin fills the zone well, and the hope is that as he continues to log post injury innings more of his stuff comes back.
OF Eduard Pinto: I can’t claim to know much about Pinto. What I do know is he is slashing .343/.396/.479 and hitting line drives on 25% of his batted balls while both walking and striking out at a 7.9% rate at an age appropriate level. OK, Eduard, you’ve caught my eye.
OF Chad Smith: 2015’s 5th round selection is holding his own in Spokane and even caught a generous All-Star selection. Smith is a guy who impressed me when I saw him take BP in Surprise, and is impressing me more by slashing .268/.342/.366 as one of the youngest players in his league.
C Yohel Pozo: Hey, you know what’s awesome? Catchers. You know what’s awesomer (Editor’s note: Not a word but he’s rolling so I’ll allow it)? Catchers who project to grow into plus raw power, have a really cool name and slash .398/.453/.559 while walking twice as often as they strike out in their age 19 season. I’m the high guy on Pozo, and if I was running the MLB.com rankings he’s in my top 30.
SS Anderson Tejada: You know what I just said about Pozo? Well, shortstops are awesome, too. Here is an 18-year-old one who tore through the Dominican Summer League the past couple years, and is now tearing up the Arizona League. A .297/.336/.492 slash line from a shortstop at any level is gonna catch my attention, and that’s exactly what the $100k 2014 signee has done.
C Sam Huff: Catcher. Eighteen. Slashing .306/.453/.490 in the AZL. Next.
1B Curtis Terry: A 6’2″, 255 pound 19-year-old, Terry’s calling card is his power. In his second season of Arizona League ball he’s starting to supply it in game. Thus far 15 of his 94 plate appearances have turned into extra base hits and he’s slugging .523 with a .250 ISO. He’s listed as a third baseman, but in reality, he’s first base only which means he’s gonna have to hit a lot. He’s a deep sleeper, but plus raw power at his age is something to dream on. I also love seeing such a large portion of his balls reaching the outfield.
3B Xavier Turner: Why are you still reading this section? Do you know how small the chances of this guy making it to the bigs are? He’s a 22-year-old in short season ball. He’s a former 19th round draft pick. He’s a guy even the most devoted Rangers fan probably doesn’t know. But he’s hitting .340/.405/.462, walking, and not striking out, so store this name in your mind and look for how he does in his full-season debut next year.
Lower Level Relievers: These guys probably aren’t worth writing about, and there are very few lower level pen guys who have a chance, but here’s some guys who’s numbers are good: Nick Gardewine (38 K, 1.24 ERA in 36.1 High Desert IP), Scott Williams (37 K in 33.2 High Desert IP), Joe Palumbo (94 K, 2.34 ERA in 69.1 Hickory IP), Adam Choplick (51 K in 41 Hickory IP), and CD Pelham (31 K in 21.1 Spokane IP).
For me, the reliever w/ most potential is Adam Choplick. 6-9, 275. 94-95 mph, slider with good bite. Ball released about 50′ from HP.
— Mark Parker (@CrawdadsBeat) August 2, 2016
#10 SP Brett Martin: There hasn’t been anything Martin has done to regress. He still posted a pretty imposing K/BB (48/14) ratio early in the year even if his ERA (4.53) wasn’t anything spectacular. He fits into the bad category simply because he hasn’t pitched much. After nine starts, the lefty went on the DL with an oblique injury and has yet to return. He still figures as a good young arm, and at just 21 years old he’s still at an age appropriate level but I figured him for High Desert by this point in the year. It’s unfortunate that wasn’t able to happen.
#13 OF Jairo Beras: Even in the hitter-friendly California League, Beras still hasn’t managed to break out. He’s 20 years old and an impressive athlete standing at 6 feet, 6 inches, but the questions with his swing and approach at the plate have only gotten louder. A 30.4% strikeout rate doesn’t put any doubters to rest, nor does his continued inability to go the other way with baseballs (see below). To put his struggles in perspective, when I first wrote this up he was ranked number five in the system by MLB. Now he’s at 16. He’s young for his league and the natural athleticism will always provide hope and something to dream on for Beras, but there is a long way to go before he realizes his potential.
#15 SP Michael Matuella: Matuella came back from Tommy John surgery in June and almost immediately was shut down for the year with a sprained ligament in his right elbow.
#17 RP Luke Jackson: To be quite honest, I’m surprised Jackson made the top 30 list at all. He’s currently in Double-A, still walking too many, still giving up dingers, and about to turn 25. In 41.2 innings across Frisco, Round Rock, and Texas this year he has walked 28 batters. He struggles to keep the ball down where his stuff plays best and he showed unable to get big league hitters out. It just may be that time to stop hoping on LuJax.
#20 SS Yeyson Yrizarri: I’m not out on Yrizarri at all. He’s a good athlete, he has a double plus arm, and I like his swing. He’s just 19 playing in full season ball. Strikeouts aren’t a real problem, and he’s stolen 17 bases. Power hasn’t shown in his numbers yet, but as he ages he’ll grow into some. Those are all good things. Here’s why he’s in the bad: he’s still so, so raw. His approach hasn’t improved, he’s still walking in just over 2% of his plate appearances. He still struggles with the glove which may relegate him off the shortstop position when all is said and done. I’m still in on Yeyson Yrizarri, both the name and the prospect, but it’s time for him to start playing with a little more polish.
SP Chi-Chi Gonzalez: You all know this one. He hasn’t struck anyone out, and his groundball tendencies haven’t carried over to the highest level. Not exactly a recipe for success.
RP Adam Parks: Another injury here. Parks has a decent fastball but is an off-speed first pitcher who was on a track to a big league chance. He had a 1.86 ERA with 30 Ks in 19.1 innings with Frisco prior to undergoing his second Tommy John surgery.
RP David Perez: He just doesn’t have what he used to. When he first hit the scene, Perez threw an electric high 90s fastball with a hammer curve. Now he throws 92-94 with a fringy slurve. He survived High Desert but has been knocked around since seeing a promotion to Double-A.
SP Sam Wolff: Wolff started the year among the Rangers top 25 prospects according to MLB.com. Now, even after all the trades depleting the system, he doesn’t crack the top 30. Part of the reason is the stuff hasn’t fully returned following a 2015 season ended prematurely by an Achilles injury. Part of the reason is he has very little control or command of his pitches at the moment. Part of the reason is because he’s currently on the DL again and has been since early June. And part of the reason is because Wolff is 25 years old and is yet to reach Triple-A. All in all, it hasn’t been a great year for the 6’1″ righty.
SP Jake Lemoine: Texas’ fourth-round pick in 2015 still hasn’t thrown a professional inning, as he battles back from a shoulder injury that dropped him in the draft.
3B Ti’Quan Forbes: He’s still 19 and athletic, both of which buy him time, but he’s still so raw. I was hoping he’d break out this year, but it’s the same .250/.301/.320 slash line with a K-rate over 20%. Expect him to repeat Hickory in 2017.
OF LeDarious Clark: Clark is a terrific athlete with plus speed and plus raw power. Loads of potential to dream on. Unfortunately, baseball-wise he’s cratered following a red-hot start in Spokane a year ago, largely due to a massive tendency for strikeouts. In 2016, the 22-year-old is slashing .211/.253/.383.
Leftover Top 30:
#3 2B Andy Ibanez: This ranking seems aggressive to me. Ibanez is a player limited to second base where he has an average glove and arm, who tops out at average speed, has 35 raw power, and doesn’t project for a plus hit tool. He tore up a Low A league he was too old for and has struggled since seeing a Double-A promotion (.254/.293/.386). He’s fine, and you can likely squeeze a second division starter profile into that skill set if his patience improves. I don’t see a top five player in the system when I watch the 23-year-old Cuban.
#7 SP Cole Ragans: He hasn’t thrown a professional inning yet but yay pitchers! Be better than the Rangers first round pitching selections that came before you this decade. Looking at you Kasey Kiker, Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Kevin Matthews, Matt Purke, Thomas Diamond, Collin Wiles, Eric Hurley, Chad Hawkins, *sighs* Chi Chi Gonzalez, *drinks* Luke Jackson, *screams* Dillon Tate.
#9 CF Eric Jenkins: The numbers are bad and I wish they were better. I wish he wasn’t striking out so much (28.7% K-rate). I wish he was making better contact when he wasn’t striking out (11.24% line drive rate). But mostly, I wish I hadn’t gotten greedy. Jenkins impressed me this spring, and I forgot that he was going into his first professional season. This a year after being considered a raw talent in the draft, and not exactly tearing up the Arizona League. Sure, it would be nice if he were performing better. But this is probably what should have been expected. He’ll take time to develop, but the ability is certainly there and his speed (42 steals) and glove will give him the time he needs to bring his bat up to par.
#11 SP Alec Speas: Like Ragans, he hasn’t pitched yet but for what it’s worth I loved this pick. Electric stuff.
#14 INF Josh Morgan: It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for Morgan, with his offensive production lagging a bit behind what it has been in the past even in High Desert. Still, a .278/.352/.376 line with a 103 wRC+, 8.7% BB rate, and 11.9% K rate is nothing to scoff at from a 20-year-old in High A. He’s still posting a high groundball rate that I’d like to see come down, but Morgan shows good bat to ball skills and should be an above-average to plus defender at the hot corner or keystone positions. After splitting time between short and third pretty evenly last year, Morgan has seen the majority of his time at third in 2016 with the slick fielding shortstop Michael De Leon also on High Desert’s roster. The Rangers gave him a look behind the dish during Spring Training but that didn’t carry over into the season.
#16 SS Michael De Leon: You want to know just how hitter friendly the California League, and High Desert in particular, is? 160 pound Michael De Leon, who had three home runs over his two-year career prior to 2016, has six this year. He’s slashing .259/.301/.367 on the year, which is an improvement from 2015 but it’s hard to tell how much of that is real and how much is noise created by the hitter-friendly environment. He’s gonna make his living with the glove, as he can really pick it at short and nothing has changed that.
#19 RP Andrew Faulkner: It’s been an up and down season for the Rangers southpaw. He started the year in the bigs and struggled, allowing seven runs over 5.2 innings prior to seeing a demotion. Things didn’t go much better for a while as he struggled with his command, leaving too many pitches over the middle of the plate. Well:
In the last 2 months, Andrew Faulkner has faced 90 batters and given up 5ER. He wants some of that action, boss.
— Tepid Participation (@TepidP) August 1, 2016
Things may not have gone as planned this year, but the 23-year-old Faulkner has managed to turn things around and he still looks to have a future as a solid bullpen option.
#22 C Jose Trevino: Trevino hasn’t blown anyone away with the bat this year, yet hasn’t disappointed with it either. Compared to league average, his overall production is similar to 2015 with Hickory, but it’s nice to see the BB rate up to ~6% and the K rate all the way down to just over 10%. He’s also continued to develop his receiving skills and is considered to be a really good makeup guy. He’s unlikely to wow you with any one tool, but he projects as a big league backup catcher.
The son of Fernando Hernandez, who pitched in two games for the 1997 Tigers, Jonathan was born in Memphis but grew up in the Dominican Republic. Part of the Rangers’ $8.4 million international spending spree in 2013, he signed for $300,000 and has recorded a 2.45 ERA in three years of Rookie ball.
Extremely polished for his age, Hernandez easily handled the challenges of making his U.S. debut at age 18 and shows the makings of three pitches that should be at least average. He sits around 90 mph with sink on his fastball and hit 95 during instructional league. Hernandez already has added 25 pounds since turning pro and could have plus velocity once he’s physically developed.
Hernandez has good feel for his offspeed pitches, a slider that he needs to tighten and a changeup with tumble. He has a sound delivery and repeats it well, giving him good control and promising command. While Hernandez may not have more of a ceiling than No. 4 starter, he’s a safe bet to remain in the rotation and could advance quickly.
#24 C David Garcia: Signed by the Rangers on J2, Garcia was considered one of if not the top catcher in the international class. I’m unreasonably excited about him and you should be, too.
#30 3B Kole Enright: The 99th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Enright is considered to be a solid all-around player, with MLB.com giving him either a 5 or 55 on each tool. He’s struggled in his professional debut, but 20 games from an 18-year-old in the AZL aren’t much to draw on (unless they’re a good 20 games in which case you can safely drop Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw comps).
Players Traded I Already Wrote About and Don’t Plan on Deleting:
I wrote these before the trade so you’re stuck with them. Try not to cry too much over our long lost prospects.
MIL SP Luis Ortiz: In his age 20 season Ortiz has managed to both escape the pitching hellhole that is the High Desert Mavericks, and survive in a league where players four years his elder are still of prospect age. He started the year in the Cal league, where the median team ERA is 4.20, and put up a 2.60 while striking out over nine and walking under two per nine innings. In 39.2 Frisco innings since his quick promotion, Ortiz has seen his strikeout rate drop to 7.71/9, but the walk rate has decreased with it which is not a common sight as pitchers make the jump to Double A. While the changeup wasn’t quite as sharp as I’d hoped in the one Ortiz outing I have caught so far, I’ll bet on a pitcher who throws strikes with two plus pitches and youth on his side as a future 3 or 4 in an MLB rotation.
NYY SP Dillon Tate: Kill. Me.
What’s that? You want a reason he fits in the bad category? Well, he has a 5.12 ERA, is getting barreled up, struggling with mechanics and command, has lost a couple ticks of fastball velocity, and has been inconsistent with his once dominant slider. There’s still hope! He’s in his first full professional season and is still managing to miss some bats. For a #4 overall selected college pitcher, Tate is turning out to be much more of a project than anyone would have hoped for, and most scouts think he may be a reliever long term. (edit: But hey, he’s a Yankee now and we can root for him to succeed without dealing with the pain if he doesn’t.)
MIL CF Lewis Brinson: It’s much of the same for Texas’ former top outfield prospect. The walk rate is up a bit, the strikeout rate is down a bit, the glove is still plus, still a good runner, pop is still there. His numbers aren’t quite what you had hoped for coming into the season (.233/.277/.430), but much of that is caused by a deflated BABIP. The development process isn’t going at the rapid pace of a year ago, but he still projects the same. He’s still a plus defender at a premium position, with plus raw pop and improving on-base skills that project as below average but good enough to let his other tools play. Move along, nothing to see here, he’s fine.
All graphs and charts are courtesy of MLBfarm.com.