Alec Hansen (CHW, #10)

This week (AA): 2 starts, 5.1 IP, 8.44 ERA, 2 H, 16 BB 8 K

Uhhh… If I’m being honest, I don’t really know what’s going on here. Hansen’s BB/9 on the season skyrocketed to 10.6 on the season this week, and he has walked 6+ men in 3 straight outings. With Hansen’s history of control issues (moved to the bullpen in his junior year at OU) and sheer size, Hansen was always a candidate to regress in the control department, perhaps even struggle with it a bit for his career, but after returning from forearm soreness, Hansen has been pitching with diminished stuff and can’t seem to find the strike zone. 2 theories would be injury or the yips, but that would be pure speculation on my end. He has struggled mightily.

 

Tyler O’Neill (STL, #2)

Last 10 days (AAA): 13 for 31, 7 HR, 10:8 BB:K

O’Neill went on a tear this week, which really began last Sunday, when O’Neill blasted 3 HR in Memphis. The triple slash for O’Neill’s last 6 games is a whopping .455/.586/1.364 (1.950 OPS), raising his season line in the PCL to .311/.388/.711. The hit tool for O’Neill remains a divisive one, as some people think there’s plenty and others think O’Neill’s arm bar could hinder his future, but O’Neill’s power, arm, and surprisingly decent speed/glove in right field make him a comfortable top 100 prospect for most. The Cardinals’ OF has been a bottom 10 OF in baseball this season, so perhaps it may be time to give O’Neill an extended look in St. Louis.

 

Touki Toussaint (ATL, #7)

This week (AAA): 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 4 BB, 8 K

Touki has increased his strike% and decreased his walk rate every single year he has been a professional baseball player, up to 63% strikes and down to 3.8 BB/9 on this season between AA/AAA. Ranked purely on stuff alone in the past, Toussaint is looking like he has finally learned how to pitch and not just “throw”, making the potential that got him drafted in the middle of the 1st round in 2014 seem reachable. I’ve long been a Toussaint skeptic, thinking he ends up a dominant late inning arm, but I’m warming up to the idea of a mid rotation (or better) arm.

 

Nicky Lopez (KC, #7)

Last 10 days (AAA): 18 for 38, 4 doubles, 6 XBH, 3 SB

Lopez had 15 hit in just 5 games this week, good for a 1.400 OPS, raising his season line to .331/.404/.441 with nearly 25% more walks than he has strikeouts. Lopez might be one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. He lacks size, strength, and power, which hinders the ceiling, but there’s certainly an above average hit tool here; Lopez’ pitch recognition helps it play up a bit and he’s one of the tougher strikeouts in the minors, perhaps because he chokes up on the bat with every single swing. He’s a surefire bet to become a decent shortstop and tacks on some decent speed. If nothing else, it’s a comfortable, unspectacular, everyday shortstop.

Dylan Cease (CHW, #5)

This week (AA): 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 1 BB, 12 K

Everything said about Toussaint in the blurb above could essentially be copy/pasted here. I still think Cease has more bullpen risk than Touki, because although the delivery does look a bit cleaner than it has in the past, I still don’t like it. But Cease’s walk numbers are way down this season, so if nothing else, his control has gotten better. He’s safely Chicago’s #2 pitching prospect in my mind.

 

Brent Rooker (MIN, #7)

Last 10 days (AA): 19 for 44, 5 HR, 4 doubles, 10:8 BB:K

After a lackluster April-May in which Rooker hit just .240/.282/.411 with 60 strikeouts in 192 AB, Rooker has been much more the hitter that was exacted coming into the year, hitting .313/.398/.627 over June-July, though the K rate has remained in the high 20’s. There’s a lot of pressure on Rooker’s bat to be well above average or better at the ML level, since he’s most likely locked into 1B or a poor LF, but if the last 2 months are any indication, Rooker should be able to mash his way into an MLB lineup at some point.

 

Trevor Rogers (MIA, #10)

This week (A): 2 starts, 13.2 IP, 1.32 ERA, 4 H, 6 BB, 19 K

Last year’s 13th overall pick go toff to a very tough start in his first year of pro ball, sporting a 9.15 ERA through his first 6 starts, a potentially unlucky string of starts where Rogers BABIP was .496 despite a 46% GB%. He failed to make it into the 5th inning in any of those starts. In the 6 starts since then, Rogers has had much better results with a 2.67 ERA and 41 K in 33.2 innings, highlighted by Sunday’s outing in which he went 7.2 innings, allowed just 3 baserunners, and struck out 12. The low slot lefty has been up to 98 mph in the past but sat 92-95 in his debut in late May. The current size/delivery/velocity may be enough to get through Low-A lineups pretty easily, but one of Rogers’ secondaries will have to see serious improvement if he is going to profile as anything more than a backend starter in the future.

 

Eloy Jimenez (CHW, #1)

Last 10 days (AAA): 19 for 34, 4 HR, 5 doubles, just 3 K

Eloy keeps raking at AAA with 10 hits and 5 XBH this week, and at this point, he may be the most MLB ready bat in the minors outside of Vlad Jr. We very well could see service time manipulation roll over into 2019, but Eloy is ready to go. He’s hitting even better in AAA than he did in AA, with a .383/.422/.691 line, upping his season OPS to near 1.000. Eloy is the #4 prospect in baseball according to the SMR Midseason list.

Deivi Garcia (NYY, #12)

This week (A): 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 0 BB, 12 K

Garcia has been on my radar for some time, but I really wasn’t expecting his to come out of the gate like this. Through 8 starts, the short righty has allowed just 16 runs while striking out 14.4 hitters per 9 innings. Garcia has remarkable arm strength, which allows his 5’10” frame to churn out a 92-93 mph fastball with some sink and a curve that has registered 3000+ RPM on TrackMan. Just another cheap ($200K), interesting, upside arm in the Yankees lower minors to keep an eye on. Here’s a little bit of the stuff in between some bad baseball and a stretcher race.

Ramon Laureano (OAK, #21)

Last 10 days (AAA):

Figuring Laureano would be selected in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, the Astros offloaded Laureano to the A’s in the offseason for Brandon Bailey, who I wrote about last week here. After a down year in 2017, which caused Laureano’s stock to drop significantly, he has had somewhat of a bounce back this year, hitting well in the PCL, as most players do; Laureano’s home/away splits are dramatically different and it seems he’s doing most of his damage in hitter-friendly parks, however. Sidelined until mid May, he has hit .291/.376/.515 in 62 games. His walk rate, which took an especially hard hit last season, is back up north of 10%, which could be crucial for Laureano to profile as anything more than a 4th outfielder in the future.

 

DL Hall (BAL, #3)

This week (A): 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2 H, 1 BB, 9 K

Hall keeps rolling in Low-A and has now gone 8 straight starts allowing 1 run or fewer (0.72 ERA over that span). Hall has been especially good in his last 4, allowing only 2 runs and striking out 34 in just 22.2 IP. Despite standing at just 6’0”, Hall has been in the mid 90s all year with his fastball and has been seen reaching back for 97. The delivery is easy, he mixes in 3 pitches, and had one of the better curveballs in the 2018 draft. Hall is going to be a very tough rank for me in the offseason, but there’s mid-rotation upside here, with more floor than you might typically think for a undersized teenager.

 

Elehuris Montero (STL, #8)

Last 10 days (A): Montero’s breakout this season continues this season and after a weekend in which he homered and doubled 5 times, his triple slash is up to .323/.382/.531 in the Midwest League where he leads the league in average, slugging, and wRC+. At 19 years old, Montero is already listed as a sturdy 6’3”, 195 lbs. He’s won’t contribute anything major on the basepaths on in the field, but his arm should help him stick at 3B. Quite the exciting young player for the St. Louis farm for a $300K signing. His spray chart looks fantastic as well:

Matthew Liberatore (TB, #6)

This week (Rk): 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K

The #1 prep arm drafted and signed in the 2018 draft continues to pitch further and further into games as he warms up to pro ball. He’ll most likely see some sort of limits later in August, but so far so good. Liberatore has one of the higher ceilings of the draft and we talked about him thoroughly on 80 Grade with Ray Butler from Prospects 365.

 

Luis Patino (SD, #12)

This week (A): 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 1 BB, 7 K

Patino continued turning heads, allowing just 1 baserunner in this outing and lowering his season ERA to 2.08 ERA at just 18 years old. There’s a lot to love with the kid, including a fastball that has ticked up in the 93-98 range this season and some extremely good feel for spin both breakers. His changeup is seen as currently fringe average (of the video I’ve seen from not long ago, it’s pretty hard to differentiate from the FB, so I may even call it less), but Patino is athletic with huge arm speed, so there’s room to project there as well. The delivery is very high effort (if I were to nitpick), so there may be some RP risk, but Patino is exciting no matter which way you spin it.

Kyle Isbel (KC, #15)

This week (A): 11 for 33, 4 XBH, 5 SB, 6:3 BB:K

Isbel, the Royals’ 3rd round pick in this year’s draft, absolutely raked in his junior year at UNLV, hitting .357/.441/.643. As expected, the 5’11” outfielder hasn’t skipped a beat against lesser competition, hitting .370/.449/.601 between Rookie and Low-A ball. Isbel has a very intriguing set of tools for a 3rd rounder; no one tool is overly loud, but he could end up manning CF with an average hit and average power tool, which is a nice little everyday player. Good, low risk, moderate upside pick for the Royals.

 

Hans Crouse (TEX, #5)

This week (A-): 7 IP, 1.29 ERA, 6 H, 0 BB, 12 K

To me – and lots of others that are far more qualified to label him – Crouse is a pure RP all the way. The Rangers will understandably try him as a SP for as long as they possibly can, but with his delivery, I don’t think he holds up under a starter’s workload. That said, Crouse’s stuff is undeniably filthy, with a tailing FB that sits 96-97 and tops out at 99, a big hammer curve, and a surprisingly good change as well. Crouse has a 2.45 ERA and an 11.2 K/9 in 7 starts at Short Season Spokane.

 

Tanner Houck (BOS, #5)

This week (A+): 2 starts, 12 IP, 0.75 ERA, 7 H, 1 BB, 12 K

Houck has been spending most of this year experimenting with his pitch mix, but his return to a 2-seamer seems to have seen good results.

Jeremiah Jackson (LAA, #15)

Last 10 days (Rk): 11 for 30, 4 HR, 6 XBH, 2 SB

The Angels drafted Jackson 57th overall in June as a bat-first infielder, and the initial returns seem positive. With 9 hits this week – 5 for extra bases – Jackson is hitting .333/.391/.628 with 11 XBH and 6 SB. Scouts are split on where Jackson ultimately ends up defensively, but his athleticism and arm give him some shot to stick at the 6. Range is typically seen as the issues, so my bet is 3B long term, where his bat should play fine.

 

Genesis Cabrera (TB, #26)

This week (AA): 7.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 H, 0 BB, 9 K

Cabrera was selected as a potential breakout from the SMR Staff back in April. Here’s what was written then: “Already a guy who can throw 95+ with a wicked slider from the left side, Cabrera needs some drastic improvement on his command (which is delivery rooted) or one of his other two pitches, the curveball or the changeup. The changeup is far behind, but if he wants to be anything other than a RP, he needs to add to his usable arsenal or be able to better control his FB/SL combo.” So far, there hasn’t been any real improvement in either the control or secondary department, but Cabrera is holding his own and striking out men at a higher clip than he did in 2017, so it ain’t all bad.

 

Dylan Cozens (PHI, #16)

Last 10 days (AAA): 13 for 36, 6 doubles, 4 HR

Cozens blasted 40 HR back in 2016, and then hit another 27 in a down year in 2017, so his raw power has never been in question. His hit tool, however, has been a question mark for some time, as Cozens also racked up 190 K per year in the 2016-17 stretch. His K rate this year is somehow even worse (36.2%), so while the triple slash reads better in his second go at the International League, Cozens really hasn’t addressed any hit tool concerns. He is a fringe-average left fielder to even the most optimistic evaluator, and he has a poor arm and is a 30-grade runner, so he’ll have to make the most of his raw power.

 

Tyler Phillips (TEX, #13)

This week (A): 2 starts, 11 IP, 1.64 ERA, 8 H, 2 BB, 8 K

When Phillips was drafted in the 16th round in 2015, his Baseball America’s scouting report made a note about his high ceiling, thanks to his velocity, size, athleticism, and delivery / arm action. Since then it has been much of the same, with Phillips still sitting 93-94 with plane and control with his fastball, but with secondaries that don’t wow anyone. John Eshelman from 2080 Baseball put a 40 FV on his changeup in March, but with Phillips dominating last ~3 months at Low-A Hickory (2.56 ERA, 70 K in 77.1 IP), I’m looking forward to John’s next viewing to see if either secondary has taken a step forward.

 

Wyatt Marks (OAK, #26)

This week (A): 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 0 BB, 10 K

Last week’s Marks writeup still applies: “Marks was a reliever in his junior year, leading all of Division I in strikeout rate (100 K in 59 IP) and hit rate (4.4 H9). Oakland is now trying him as a starter, and he’s actually had decent luck, but as of now he only throws 2 pitches in his fastball and curveball, which should push him to the bullpen long term assuming a decent changeup doesn’t appear out of thin air. His FB/curve combo can be a great one though, as both are hard to swing up and the curve is a strong one that gets constant whiffs. As soon as the shift back to the bullpen occurs, Marks could move quickly, and figures to be a decent piece there.”

 

Photo credit: Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images via AP Images

 

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