Let’s talk about what we all want. Prospects!
This is my new segment specifically to talk about prospects, a segment I’m calling 6-4-3.
I’ll update you on 6 Deep Prospects, ballplayers buried way down in rankings and lists, or not on them at all, so you can find them before your friends do.
We’ll talk about an additional 4 prospects who have shown up On The Radar for most and continue to work their way up the prospect lists, creeping towards their debut.
And finally, 3 prospects who are Knocking On The Door this season.
Let’s get to it!
Antonio Cabello, OF, NYY – So far in 2019, Cabello hasn’t flashed much of his potential in a small sample size of 9 games, batting just .211/.231/.289. He has 60 grade speed, though, and has stolen 2 bases.
Last year in the Gulf Coast League, he raked to a .321/.427/.522 slash in 162 PA, while homering 5 times and swiping 5 bags. Not to be overlooked was Cabello’s command of the zone, working 21 walks against 34 strikeouts. If he can maintain that plate discipline, there are high hopes he’ll stay on track to the Bronx.
Cabello is extremely risky at just 18 years old, but he’s held his own with decent results. If you’ve got a spot for high risk, high upside, consider the Yankees’ young speedster for a potential top of the order bat.
Hans Crouse, RHP, Tex – His name may sound a bit like the villain of Die Hard, but he’s a good guy to me.
The Rangers 66th overall pick in 2017, Crouse has compiled a 2.34 ERA over 115.1 minor league innings, striking out 10.38 per nine. Combining a 60-grade fastball that sits mid to upper 90s with a 65-grade slider, the minors have proven little resistance for the tall, lanky right-hander.
He has good control as well, sitting a tick under 2.0 walks per 9 in his professional career to date.
There’s some violence in his delivery, so the consensus is he may develop into a closer. But if he can dial in that fastball and slider to the same consistency he’s proven thus far, he could turn into a number 2 or 3 starter as early as 2021.
D.L. Hall, LHP, Bal – The Orioles have not had the greatest reputation of late in developing pitchers, but this one could be different.
Drafted in the first round of 2017 at 21st overall, the 20-year-old Hall has provided a bit of a mixed bag thus far. Some scouts give him a ceiling of a number 2 starter, but he’s walked 90 hitters in just 153.1 innings between Rookie Ball and Single A.
Now that we’ve identified the bad, how about the good? Hall keeps the ball in the ballpark, giving up only 10 homers so far, or one every 15.3 innings. He’s also racked up 185 strikeouts, better than a K per inning. Pitching for the Delmarva Shorebirds in the Sally last year, he finished with an impressive 2.10 ERA in 22 games (20 starts).
He moved up to Advanced A Frederick in 2019, where he’s turned in a 4.25 ERA and a mildly alarming 1.54 WHIP.
It’s unlikely Hall is owned in your league. Fantrax has him at 16% owned, in fact. Fangraphs rates his fastball and curveball as 60-grade pitches. If he can get his control issues under… control… a guy who can keep the ball in the ballpark and strikeout 10.8 per 9 innings is someone you might want to snatch up.
C.J. Abrams, SS, SD – Barely old enough to vote, C.J. Abrams is a sneaky deep pick if you have the patience.
Abrams was the 4th overall pick in the 2019 draft earlier in June. His calling card is his game-changing speed. He ranked in the 99th percentile in the 60-yard dash among draft eligible prep players. Perfectgame.org, a scouting site, bills Abrams with a “smooth and fluid” swing, one that could “lead some leagues in triples.”
Fangraphs has stated that Abrams has a “feel to hit.”
You’re likely not going to get much power out of C.J. Abrams, but you might just find yourself a lightning fast leadoff hitter, cut from the same stuff as Dee Gordon.
There isn’t much to report on stats yet in his professional career, but the early returns are certainly candy to the eye. In 37 at bats in Rookie Ball, Abrams owns a .486/.500/.703 slash. He’s stolen 3 bases and scored 14 runs in just 8 games. None of these stats are sustainable by any means, but you couldn’t ask for more from an 18-year-old.
Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB – If you’re looking for a catcher who’s got the potential to be top 5 at the position, check out Ronaldo Hernandez. The Stone Crab backstop owns a .297 career minor league average in over 1,000 AB. Last season at Bowling Green, he popped 21 homers in 405 AB.
He’s on a bit of a cold streak over the past ten days, batting an icy .097 with just 3 hits in 31 AB. He has performed well enough, however, in his high-A assignment, batting .259 overall with 10 doubles and 5 homers in 212 AB. He was invited to the 2019 All Star Futures game.
There’s not a very high bar on catchers these days from a fantasy perspective. If you have a chance to grab one worth reaching for, Hernandez is a good target. He’s owned in 13% of Fantrax leagues and 0% of Yahoo. Take a look, make the add.
Marco Luciano, SS, SF – Of all the names in my “6,” I wanted to save Marco for last. The scouts rave. And fantasy owners should drool.
Luciano was arguably the best overall player of any international signing in the last year. The 6’2″ shortstop from the Dominican is revered for his electric bat speed, which should translate into big time power. As he fills out, many expect him to shift to third base or the outfield. Regardless of the position, the bat will play in any fantasy format.
Similar to Abrams, the early returns are mouth-watering. In 10 games in the Arizona League, Luciano is hitting .333/.458/.744 with 4 homers. That’s an OPS of 1.202.
Did I mention he’s only 17?
Luciano is owned in 0% of Yahoo leagues, but the word seems to be out in Fantrax as he’s nearing 20% ownership. Don’t wait on Luciano. If you can wait 4 or 5 years for a superstar, stash him and wait for the dividends.
On The Radar
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Min – There are a lot of great names on this list, but Brusdar may be my favorite. Not just because it’s fun to try to pronounce, but also because this is a man whose stock is rising quickly.
The 6’1″ Venezuelan missed a lot of time from Tommy John surgery, but the results since his return in 2017 have been stellar. He owns a 2.51 career ERA in 42 games (39 starts). He’s tallied 200.2 total innings and is currently parked in AA Pensacola. Opponents are hitting just .188 against him in 2019 in 9 starts. He’s whiffed 46 hitters in 47.2 innings.
His walk rate is something to keep an eye on, though, as he has issued 19 free passes as well, translating to 3.59 per 9, a spike from his 2.82 in 2018.
He regularly touches 100 MPH and has two plus pitches (fastball, slider). The Twins have cultivated a dangerous farm system, and Brusdar is right in the middle of it.
Alec Bohm, 3b, Phi – Bohm was drafted third overall in 2018, and has had a bit of a roller coaster start to his professional career. He has a great combination of hit tool and power, and is considered by many to be the Phillies top offensive prospect.
But in 2018, he fought his way to a .252/.335/.324 overall slash line across Rookie ball and the New York Penn League short season. Mind you it was only 40 games, but a .659 OPS isn’t very inspiring.
The college standout, however, has found his groove in 2019. Despite his lackluster debut, the Phillies aggressively challenged Alec by placing him at full season A Lakewood. He raked there, slashing .367/.441/.595 in 22 games, giving both fantasy owners and the Phillies a sigh of relief.
He was thus promoted to Advanced A Clearwater on April 30, and continued his strong season, albeit slightly less dominant. In 40 games in the FSL, he batted .329 with a .902 OPS, homering 4 times and collecting 27 RBI.
Bohm was promoted to AA Reading on June 21, and has managed a .914 OPS so far across 32 AB, including 3 homers. Overall, his .331/.404/.539 slash across three levels is mighty fine. It should also be noted that he’s walked (34 BB) almost as much as he’s struck out (42 K).
Bohm can hit. And after a sluggish start to his professional career, the Phillies’ offensive weapon is becoming more dangerous by the day.
Monte Harrison, OF, Mia – Imagine the voice of a vendor at a ballgame. What’s that he’s yelling? “Polarizing prospect! Get your polarizing prospects here!”
Monte Harrison is raw, high-ceiling talent. The key word there is “raw.” But if you look a tad closer, you might see a more polished prospect coming into view.
Let’s be up front about something. Harrison is not going to win any batting titles. His career minor league average sits at a Khris Davis-ian .246. But he has 60-grade power and 65-grade speed. So far in 2019, he’s sitting on 9 homers and 20 steals at AAA New Orleans. This 50 game pace would translate to 27 homers and 60 steals in a 150-game season.
His biggest problem is his plate discipline. In 2018 in AA, he struck out 36.9% of the time. Holy holy bat Batman! But this year, at an advanced level, he’s shrunk that to 30.3%, while also improving his walk percentage from 7.5% to 11%.
If you need a safe pick, steer clear of Monte Harrison. But if you’re looking for some serious counting stats while ignoring ratios, why not buy a cheap lottery ticket?
Dustin May, RHP, LAD – May, a 6’6″ right-hander, is a model of consistency so far in his minor league career. Since 2016, he’s finished between a 3.29 and 3.88 ERA in any stop where he’s started at least 15 games.
His arsenal isn’t overwhelming, but some have rated his slider as 70-grade to go with an above average fastball that regularly sits in the mid-90s. He’s also developed a relationship with his change-up, though it’s not quite as lethal as his other two pitches.
Besides his consistency, two things really standout when it comes to May: his command and his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. In 381.1 innings to date, he’s issued just 82 walks (1.9 BB/9) and only allowed 22 homers (0.5 HR/9). And there’s not much to complain about when speaking about his strikeout numbers, either. He’s fanned 373, just under 1 per inning.
Dustin May is almost ready to make his Dodger debut. But as of yet, he’s not really getting the attention he deserves. If he’s free in your league, you can expect a good return on your investment. In all likelihood, you’re looking at a #2 or #3 type starter with great ratios.
Knocking on the Door
Isan Diaz, 2b, Mia – Diaz is the Marlins number 6 prospect, but he is hitting like he wants to be number 1. So far in 2019 at AAA New Orleans, Diaz has racked up 82 hits, including 36 for extra bases (17 homers, 17 doubles, 2 triples) in 76 games. He’s increased his walk percentage over his 36 game stint in AAA in 2018 (10.4% this season to 9.7% last season) while significantly decreasing his k’s (21.5% to 29%). His contact skills were a major red flag for him and have historically kept him subdued in prospect lists. However, the K and BB percentages we are seeing thus far this season are challenging that prognosis, suggesting Diaz is really maturing as a hitter.
We should probably temper our power expectations with Diaz, though. An absurd jump in HR/FB from 11.1% to 26.2% in 2019 will inevitably regress. His .340 BABIP also calls for some regression to his .297 average.
Starlin Castro isn’t winning any MVP’s anytime soon, so Diaz is rumored to possibly get the call later this summer.
Jo Adell, OF, LAA – Few prospects have done as much to cement their status this season than Jo Adell.
The Jury was still out on Adell before the 2019 season, as he struck out 28% of the time across three levels in 2018. Still, he managed to launch 20 homers and swipe 15 bags, impressive totals in just 396 AB. So what has he done in 2019 at AA Mobile?
In 20 games thus far (small totals due to injury), Adell is hitting .392/.458/.635 with 3 homers and 4 steals. He’s nearly halved his 2018 strikeout percentage at the AA level to 15.7% while walking 8.4% of the time.
No one believes any of these stats are sustainable in the long term, but we really could be looking at a 30-35 HR threat with 20-25 steals in his prime. The average may not climb higher than .290 in the big league level, but in my book, a .290/35/25 guy is a top -10 OF any day.
The Angels have no real reason to rush Adell, so he may not be buzzing as much as some of the more flashy prospects we’ve talked about in 2019. But this may be the last chance you get a discount on him… so act now before it’s too late!
Luis Robert, OF, CWS – How does 20 HR / 40 SB sound to you? That’s the word on potential star Robert.
The Cuban native has struggled to stay on the field because of various injuries, but his minor league career to date has been mighty impressive. So far in 148 games, he’s sporting a .319/.398/.525 slash. Many thought the power would come at the expense of batting average, but that hasn’t been the case so far.
In fact, the power is what’s lagging, as he’s homered just 18 times in 551 AB. That’s not bad by any stretch, but I think scouts expected more. He’s only 21, so there still more power to be tapped, for sure.
The speed, however, has been on point – Robert has stolen 51 bases in what could be considered one MLB season’s worth of games.
Will the average fall off? Possibly. Will the power blossom? It should. But in the end, you’ve got an all around contributor on a White Sox team that should be good soon, and be good for awhile.
See if Robert is available and make some room.
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Thank you for reading!
Jo Adell Photo courtesy of Alex Trautwig/Getty Images