Justin Dunn (NYM, #3)
This week (A+/AA): 2 starts, 14 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 19 K
I halfheartedly tried to sneak Dunn onto the SMR Top 150 in the preseason, ranking him as my personal #150 prospect, despite a rough 1st year in pro ball. I still liked the ingredients, with a mid-90’s fastball, an extremely good slider, and a curve and changeup that have receive mixed but overall promising reports. Lefties spanked him last season (.345/.464/.462), which could have been a result of a relatively firm fastball, inconsistent changeup, or some combo of the two, but those issues seemed to have been remedied, as LHH have actually been less successful than righties so far. Dunn has made his way up into AA in the middle of the week and was as dominant there as he was in High-A. His ERA on the season is down to 2.05, but AA should be quite the test.
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) June 5, 2018
Ronaldo Hernandez (TB, #19)
Last 10 days (A): 13 for 34, 2 doubles, 5 HR, 1 SB
Going on three years in a row now, Hernandez has hit at every stop. Last season in ~250 Appalachian League PA, Hernandez hit .332/.382/.507 and now, through 200+ Low-A PA, he holds a triple slash very close to that once again. A bat first catcher, Hernandez has it all offensively, with plus raw power, good bat control, and patience. Defensively, he still needs work, but he’s got a good arm, has made some strides in the receiving department, and above all else, has the athleticism to play there. The downside, however, is that he ends up a 1B, but if he can become an average catcher in due time, something he has the tools to do, there’s a decently high ceiling, bat first catcher here.
David Peterson (NYM, #2)
This week (A): 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K
Unlike Dunn, Peterson has not had the privilege of an obvious promotion out of a level he’s clearly too good for quite yet. College arms, in general, shouldn’t be in Low-A for long. Extremely advanced, 1st rounders with Peterson’s size and arsenal shouldn’t be there at all. Peterson has now made 9 starts there, and hasn’t let up more than 1 run in any of them since April. He’s been High-A for far, far too long.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 12 for 36, 4 XBH, 2 SB, 6:9 BB:K
By now, whether it’s from me and Six Man Rotation or some other outlet, you probably know how Fernando Tatis Jr.’s season has gone. Through the first month, Tatis was hitting .177/.231/.333 with a 32.7% K rate. He had strep throat in the spring, which not only sidelined him, but actually caused him to shed some weight, so it took him a bit to get his strength back up. The Padres also worked with him on some mechanical stuff (head position) that was causing the April issues, which he very quickly corrected, a testament to his work ethic and ability to adjust. Since the end of April, Tatis has hit .340/.424/.621 as a 19 year old in AA. He’s comfortably a top 5 prospect in baseball, and I know my co-analyst is strongly considering him at the #2 spot behind Vlad Jr. on our midseason top 150 prospects list.
Michel Baez (SD, #5)
This week (AA): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K
The other Six Man Rotation prospect analyst, our own Rhys White, was in attendance for Baez’ start last Tuesday as he matched up against an extremely good Inland Empire lineup that featured Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, and Jahmai Jones. He came away incredibly impressed. From Rhys: “Huge at 6’8”. Extremely low effort delivery/velocity and hid the ball well. Fastball was mid-90s, weak contact all around against it. Curveball was sharp. Changeup was a bit straight on the night, but he did a good job sequencing with it. Great job repeating his delivery and showcased really good command. Decent tempo.” There have been some reports about velocity being down this season, but Baez was our #32 prospect in baseball pre-season and could remain there on our midseason list with more outings like this.
Here’s Michel Baez punching out Brandon Marsh. Baez does a really good job of using his long frame to get downhill on hitters. Very low effort delivery with easy velocity, spun a few really good curveballs, and really spotted his change well during his 6 strong innings. pic.twitter.com/sqxClzXBy1
— Rhys (@RhysBWhite) June 6, 2018
Keston Hiura (MIL, #1)
Last 10 days (AA): 17 for 37, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 5 SB
Like Tatis, Hiura got off to a very slow start to the year, hitting just .238/.301/.333 in April while not playing the field at all. Since then, he’s been white hot, hitting .377/.439/.630 with 25 XBH and 8 SB in 38 games, all while playing a lot more second base. Hiura’s offensive tools are some of the best in the minors, and as he continues to do damage to AA pitching, he becomes more and more likely to be the first player from the 2017 draft to make the Major Leagues (Evan White, who is now at AAA, may beat him there). The Brewers have gotten some of the worst 2B production in the league so far this season, and while some will speculate about available options in the trade market, their best option may be in house with Hiura. Keep an eye out for a surprise call-up. The bat isn’t crazy far from being MLB ready.
Josh James (HOU, #30)
This week (AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K
James has had quite this progression this year. Once a guy who was consistently old for the level and still couldn’t manage an ERA below 5.00, James’ velocity spiked big this season, now up to as high as 98 mph with his fastball, and between AA and AAA, has a 2.52 ERA and 80 K in just 50 innings this year. James credits his improved performance on addressing his sleep apnea in the offseason. Now managed, James is twice the prospect he was in years prior. It will be tough to break through into the rotation in Houston, as the Astros have assembled one of the greatest rotations in the history of the game, and young stud Forrest Whitley is right behind him, but James has set himself up well to make a future impact.
Khalil Lee (KC, #1)
Last 10 days (A+): 14 for 37, 5 doubles, 8 XBH, 2 SB, 7:7 BB:K
This kid is something else, man. Drafted in the 3rd round in 2016 as an raw, extremely athletic player with some tools, Lee has developed into quite the prospect. He has dropped his K rate nearly 10% from last year while upping his walk rate by more than 5%. The drop in K rate may be a bit of a mirage, as there will always be some swing-and-miss to his game, but the patience at the plate and ability to take a walk is one rarely seen from a teenager in High-A (he’ll be 20 in about 2 weeks). The kicker to all this, of course, is that Lee has good pull side power, runs well, has been far more efficient on the basepaths, and is most likely a fit in CF. He’s looking like an absolute steal in the 3rd round, and comfortably one of the best prospects in a rapidly improving system.
Cole Irvin (PHI, #23)
This week (AAA): 2 starts, 13 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 11 K
With these 2 starts, Irvin is now 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA and 42 K in his last 7 starts. Over that stretch, he’s done it all: limited walks, limited HR, limited line drives, got his fair share of swinging strikes, and even threw 115+ pitches in 2 of those outings. Even though teammate Enyel De Los Santos has been better this year, Irvin, strictly due to his age, could be the first Iron Pig up to the bigs should the Phillies need pitching help.
Enyel De Los Santos (PHI, #12)
This week (AAA): 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K
Like I was saying, this man has been better in 2018, with a 1.63 ERA in his 11 starts. He may take a back seat to Irvin in the potential promotion department, however.
Steven Duggar (SF, #3)
Last 10 days (AAA): 16 for 39, 8 doubles, 11 XBH
There’s a lot to like with Steven Duggar. First and foremost, he’s a good runner with good center field traits (instincts/route efficiency) and an above average arm, giving him a chance to be a pretty good CF. He makes great quality of contact, as over 68% of his balls in play are in the air and he’s only popped up an elite 4 times in 141 BIP this season; his batted bat was similar last season as well. The bad is that he swings and misses a lot, as his K rate sits at almost 30% and for all that swing and miss, there isn’t much home run power, thanks to very little leg involvement in his swing. Duggar is MLB ready right now and should profile as a solid player who can man CF and get on base at a reasonable clip, an underrated prospect in the system, in my opinion.
Chris Paddack (SD, #20)
This week (A+): 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K
I’ve written about Paddack plenty before here, here, here, and here. It’s clear at this point Paddack and his mid-90s fastball and potentially 70-grade changeup are too much for High-A, as he dominates like this every outing. It’s borderline not impressive anymore, just the norm. He has a 1.93 ERA and 61 K in 37.1 IP this year. I won’t be writing about him anymore until he’s promoted.
Spencer Adams (CHW, #14)
This week (AA): 13 IP, 11 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 9 K
Coming out of high school in 2014, Adams had a mid-90’s fastball, a good slider, and could throw strikes. 4 years later, the profile looks a bit different, as Adams now sits more 91-93 than 95, the slider has backed up, the changeup still needs some work, and the command hasn’t developed. There’s enough ingredients here to profile as a back of the rotation guy, but the margin of error is now extremely small. When it comes together, it looks a little something like this. With the sheer amount of high upside arms in the White Sox farm, however, a backend guy is perfectly fine if Adams can make a few more small improvements
Jhailyn Ortiz (PHI, #5)
Last 10 days (A): 15 for 36, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 1 SB
Ortiz is a big boy out in right field, listed at 6’3”, 215 lbs, but may be closer to 6’4”, 240 lbs. Offensively, there’s a ton to dream on with the profile. An average hitting, 60+ power bat than is a mainstay in the middle of a lineup is a definite possibility. To start with the defensive limitations, we cycle back to the sheer size of Ortiz, who is a massive human being. I’m extremely bearish on his ability to move well enough to stay in the outfield, leaving him at 1B or DH long term, and the reason I’m lighter on the profile than others. If he’s a 50+ hit, 60+ power bat, it could still work at 1B, but he hasn’t shown quite enough for me to think of him higher than a young, Dan Vogelbach type right now. However, if there’s an organization that will let a 1B roam the OF, it’s Philly.
Freddy Peralta (MIL, #9)
This week (AAA): 2 starts, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 20 K
Immediately, the 20 strikeouts stand out, but realistically, Peralta has been punching out an elite amount of hitters for 2 years now. He struck out 169 hitters in just 120 IP last season between A+ and AA, and already has 79 K in 56 IP in AAA this season. Plus, I’m sure we all saw his Major League debut where he racked up 13 K in 5.2 IP. Despite what those K’s may lead you to believe, Peralta doesn’t have wildly nasty stuff. His fastball sits low-90’s (sometimes even into the 88-89 range) and he’s got a slider which is a plus pitch but nothing more. There’s changeup concerns and some command concerns. What Peralta does have a wild release point. It’s a borderline sidearm delivery with incredible extension, and it makes his pitches not only hard to pick up out of his hand, but leave less reaction time. In the words of Eric Longenhagen, “It’s Yusmeiro Petit with more velocity.” He should make the Six Man Rotation midseason top 150.
Andres Gimenez (NYM, #1)
Last 10 days (A+): 11 for 44, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 6 SB
This kid is putting up great numbers as a 19 year old in High-A, and showing more power than he did last season in a pitcher-friendly Florida State League, no less. What’s more, he figures to stick at shortstop. He’s damn good.
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) June 5, 2018
Kohl Stewart (MIN, #18)
This week (AA): 2 starts, 13 IP, 15 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 16 K
The 2 starts this week for the former 4th overall pick were far from perfect; Stewart allowed a nearly 1.40 WHIP, 4 stolen bases with a catcher who threw out over 50% of base stealers last season, and has been continuously struggling vs LHH to the tune of a .365/.425/.452 against. Still, for a former top prospect who went both unprotected and unselected in the most recent Rule 5 Draft and let up 13 runs in his 2 outings prior, these were steps in the right direction. Stewart threw 90+ pitches, got 13+ ground balls, and 12+ swinging strikes in each outing. He’s worth monitoring from name/pedigree alone, but Stewart and his overall profile have seen better days.
Jorge Alcala (HOU, #7)
This week (AA): 2 appearances, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 7 K
All year, whether it was at High-A or Double-A, Alcala has been switching from ~70 pitch, 4-6 IP starts and ~4 IP bullpen appearances. His appearance last Tuesday was a bullpen game, coming in and pitching innings 6-9 and recording the save. Sunday was a start and the more impressive of the two, going 5 and only allowing 2 baserunners. Between the frequent bullpen appearances and the seeming pitch count on his starts, it may be fair to wonder if the Astros see Alcala’s future as not a starting pitcher, but a dominant, multi-inning arm out of the “bullpen”. We’ve seen the Rays and now other teams lead games with RP, and even bullpen entire games, as traditional SP are becoming less frequent in today’s game. Perhaps, this is the Astro’s way of preparing their players for that. Corbin Martin has also seen his fair share of long relief appearances this season (but his starts have had much higher pitch counts). It could be nothing, and perhaps this is just a non-traditional way that the Astros will be developing their SP, but the development of Alcala as a multi-inning arm would make a lot of sense as well.
Pedro Gonzalez (TEX, #9)
Last 10 days (A): 12 for 36, 5 doubles, 3 HR, 1 SB
Gonzalez was the PTBNL in the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy to Colorado. At the time, it seemed like a very good return for the struggling vet catcher, especially as a PTBNL, and now, as Gonzalez makes his way through Low-A, it looks even slightly better. Gonzalez is a monsterous 6’5”, but still manages to run very well. His raw power fits the large frame and is overall, his calling card. As a raw, athletic player with some tools, there are lots of way this profile could play out, but if you squint hard, there’s a big center fielder with big power here if everything comes together.
Luis Pena (LAA, #23)
This week (AA): 2 starts, 10.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K
After getting roughed up in his first 8 starts this season (6.38 ERA), Pena now has a 0.81 ERA in his last 4 starts, lowering his season ERA to 4.27. Signed out of the Dominican in 2013 for a measly $20K, Pena has made great strides over the years. He makes his living on a low-90’s fastball with late movement and a hard slider than has shown the ability to be an out pitch. With that, however, comes so future-reliever traits. He stands at just 5’11”, the delivery is very high effort, and his changeup is inconsistent. There’s a chance he sticks as a starter with some changeup consistency – it has flashed above average in the past – but for the most part, this looks like your standard RP profile. Perhaps some of that changeup consistency has been shining through over these past 4 games.
A.J. Alexy (TEX, #16)
This week (A): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K
Drafted out of Pennsylvania by the Dodgers in the 11th round in 2016, Alexy was flipped not a year later (along with the more-well-known Willie Calhoun) for Yu Darvish after a good first year at Low-A (yes, he’s repeating the level). Alexy, who’s velocity upticked into the low-90s post draft, stands 6’4” and makes his way through hitters on the back of a plus curveball. There’s some decent upside here, as Alexy is very athletic and could feasibly add a few ticks to his FB as he fills out, which would give him 2 plus pitches, but for the most part, there’s a lot of RP signs here including a changeup in it’s beginning stages and a high-effort delivery which has severely hindered his ability to throw strikes (career 5 BB/9). Still, every once in a while, Alexy will wow with outings such as this no-hit effort on Thursday.
Bobby Dalbec (BOS, #12)
Last 10 days (A+): 10 for 38, 2 doubles, 4 HR, 1 SB
A 2-way player during his time at Arizona, Dalbec had a very rough first season with the Sox Low-A Greenville squad in 2017, striking over 37% of the time in his injury-shortened 78 games. All that swing-and-miss, which was a well known part of his game coming out of college, plus potentially the wrist injury hindered his ability to get to his potentially 70 grade power in-game, leading to just a .190 ISO. Dalbec’s K% is down 6% so far this year, perhaps due to being fully healthy, and it’s paying dividend in the power department, with an ISO of .272 and almost the same number of XBH despite playing in 22 fewer games. His walk rate is also up to 14%. Compared to last season, he’s looking a lot more like the 3 true outcomes 3B that may slug his way to the Majors, the guy they anticipated getting when they drafted him.
Huascar Ynoa (ATL, #30)
This week (A): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 H, 11 K
Ynoa – who was the first piece moved in the Jaime Garcia trade carousel last season – benefitted last season from a change in arm angle. The new, raised arm slot resulted in a tick in velocity and he was sitting around 94 with a 95-96 peak by the time Minnesota sent him to Atlanta. He’s got an above average curveball which could be plus down the road and a changeup that has flashed pretty good at times, though I’ve seen reports of arm deceleration to throw it, which will never ever work against high level hitting. There’s an extraordinarily wide range of outcomes, but the ceiling is that of a future starter if it all comes together. Ynoa has allowed no runs and struck out 20 in his last 2 starts.
Ranger Suarez (PHI, #9)
This week (AA): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K
Suarez is a small, left-handed, control/command guy who got a little velocity bump into the lower/mid 90’s last season, making his future look less like bullpen fit. He’s got a plus changeup and an average slider. He throws a lot of strikes, but that can sometimes hurt him, and the command is currently behind the control. #4 starter ceiling if the command improves a bit.
Myles Straw SB Counter: 35 for 41 in 60 games
Photo credit: Gordon Donovan / Yahoo