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April 13, 2016

Who to Watch

Eastern League

by Jeffrey Paternostro

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With action underway (if not postponed) throughout the minor leagues, we bring you guide to the players you should be watching throughout the minor league seasons. Throughout the week the Prospect Team will bring you a league or three per day, with every team covered, and every Top 10 prospect noted. We'll also provide reports on guys who couldn't crack the Top 10s, but are well worth your time anyway. Other pieces in this series:

The Midwest League
The South Atlantic League
The California League
The Florida State League
The Carolina League

Eastern Division

Binghamton Mets- New York Mets

Top Ten Prospects:

#5 1B Dominic Smith
#9 RHP Robert Gsellman

Keep an eye on:

IF Jeff McNeil

McNeil reportedly added 35 pounds in the offseason which, when you are a 24 year old A-ball player, could be worrisome. McNeil needed the extra bulk though as he looked more like a golfer (which he was) than a baseball player (which he is). He has played mostly second and third in his pro career, but can handle short in a pinch, and while the most likely outcome here is a role 4 utility type, there is a chance he turns into Daniel Murphy or someone like that.

Hartford Yard Goats- Colorado Rockies

Top Ten Prospects:

#3 Ryan McMahon
#4 David Dahl
#6 Raimel Tapia
#8 Antonio Senzatela
#9 Kyle Freeland

Keep an eye on:

1B Corelle Prime

This is a very, very good Double-A roster, but a top heavy one. Prime does offer plus raw, and the ability to hit Eastern League fastballs a long, long way. As for everything else, well do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see him sock a few dingers?

New Hampshire Fisher Cats- Toronto Blue Jays

Top Ten Prospects:

#8 1B Rowdy Tellez

Keep an eye on:

OF Roemon Fields
Fields is an elite runner and he makes it look effortless. His play in center field, well there is a little more effort involved there, but he is enough of a burner to cover for the occasional ponderous route. At the plate he’s a slap-and-dash hitter, and will throw in a bunt now and again to try and take full advantage of his legs. He is probably just an extra outfielder in the majors, but he is fun to watch.

OF Dwight Smith, Jr.
Smith has drawn a return engagement to New Hampshire after slashing .265/.335/.376 last year in the Eastern League. Like Fields, he is a burner in the field and on the bases, but he is limited to left field and doesn’t really have the power to profile there. He is a better hitter than Fields though, which gives him a shot at least to join him as an extra outfielder in Toronto.

RHP Chris Smith
Smith is a 27-year-old Double-A pen arm, so would normally not merit a spot here. That he has an interesting backstory is nice, but plenty of Independent League guys find their way back into organized ball, especially if they have a plus fastball. Smith pairs that with a big, tilting slider that will flash solid-average. That’s not much more than a role 4 middle-reliever type, but it is a heck of a backstory.

Portland Sea Dogs- Boston Red Sox

Top Ten Prospects:

No players in the top ten

Keep an eye on:

Twitter, to find out when they promote Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, or Rafael Devers.

Reading Fightin’ Phils- Philadelphia Phillies

Top Ten Prospects:

#1 SS J.P. Crawford
#5 OF Roman Quinn
#8 C Jorge Alfaro
#10 RHP Ben Lively

Keep an eye on:

1B Rhys Hoskins
Hoskins was a boon to me when doing the offseason Minor League Update. He torched the Australian Baseball League all autumn, and while that level of competition isn’t going to send his prospect stock soaring, it was a merely a continuation of his performance in Lakewood and Clearwater. He’s first base only and already 23, but the power started to come last year. Eastern League arms will be a big test for the bat though.

Trenton Thunder- New York Yankees

Top Ten Prospects:

#5 OF Dustin Fowler
#10 RHP Brady Lail

Keep an eye on:

IF Tyler Wade
In our internal discussion on the Yankees system, Wade was described as “the perfect utility player.” Okay, not the sexiest sobriquet ever, but he can hit a bit, will gap one now and again, take a walk, and can play three infield positions (okay he can probably play first too, but that goes without saying).

OF Jake Cave
Cave spent Spring Training with the Reds after his selection in the Rule 5 draft. It is a little surprising he didn’t stick as he is pretty much ready to be a fourth outfielder right now, but there isn’t enough power in the profile to be much more than that.

LHP Dietrich Enns
Enns is a four-pitch southpaw who can sling it up to 94. The other secondaries will flash and the command profile is okay. He missed 18 months to Tommy John, so he is overage for the Eastern League, but this is the type of arm that the Yankees seem to turn into Adam Warren on a semi-regular basis.

Western Division

Akron Rubber Ducks- Cleveland Indians

Top Ten Prospects:

#1 CF Bradley Zimmer
#4 OF Clint Frazier
#6 LHP Rob Kaminsky

Keep an eye on:

RHP Adam Plutko
Plutko has already spent the better part of a season in Akron, and he was dominant last year, so if you want to catch him in Double-A, now would be a good time. He is a big right-hander, built to log innings, and fills the zone up with four pitches, including a potential above-average change-up.

3B Yandy Diaz
Diaz is back in Akron, which is unexpected. He spent almost all of 2015 there and hit .300 while walking more than he struck out. He can handle third base fine too. I guess you have to keep Giovanny Urshela warm though.

Altoona Curve- Pittsburgh Pirates

Top Ten Prospects:

#6 OF Harold Ramirez
#7 C Reese McGuire

Keep an eye on:

OF Stetson Allie
This is Allie's third season in Altoona, and year two was much worse than year one. The power is real, but so is the swing-and-miss. He could consider going back to pitching again. It worked out okay for Adam Loewen.

Bowie Baysox- Baltimore Orioles

Top Ten Prospects:

#3 C Chance Sisco
#6 1B Trey Mancini
#8 RHP David Hess

Keep an eye on:

LHP Chris Lee
The lefty saw his velocity tick up in 2015 and while he still doesn't miss that many bats due to fringy secondary offerings, teams find a place for a lefty that can sit in the mid 90s. For now, that place is the Baysox rotation.

Erie SeaWolves- Detroit Tigers

Top Ten Prospects:

#6 IF JaCoby Jones (suspended)

Keep an eye on:

LHP Kevin Ziomek
Ziomek has started the season on the DL, but should take a spot in the Erie rotation shortly. His ultimate home is likely to be in the bullpen though, as he lacks even an average breaking ball and struggles with his command. A potential above-average fastball from the left side gives him a shot to stick there, and a solid change means he may not be destined for mere LOOGYdom.

Harrisburg Senators- Washington Nationals

Top Ten Prospects:

#1 RHP Lucas Giolito
#4 RHP Reynaldo Lopez
#5 SS Wilmer Difo

Keep an eye on:

Lucas Giolito, we reiterate.

Richmond Flying Squirrels- San Francisco Giants

Top Ten Prospects:

#1 SS Christian Arroyo
#3 RHP Tyler Beede
#8 RHP Kyle Crick
#10 LHP Adalberto Mejia

Keep an eye on:

RHP Ray Black
Keep an eye on Ray Black and keep your eyes open, because blink and you might miss his fastball which routinely touches triple digits. Hitters would be wise to keep their eyes open too, as Black doesn’t always know where it is going (41 walks in 60 career innings). But hey, how often do you get to see an 80-grade fastball? Black offers a curve that will flash plus and plenty of strikeouts as well. If the control improves, he is a potential late inning reliever in the bigs.

IF/OF Austin Slater
Slater’s calling card is his versatility. He can play some corner outfield in addition to second base, and seems like the type of prospects the Giants have been randomly developing into all-stars lately. But it’s more likely he turns into a useful bench piece, as there isn’t much power or patience in the profile.

Jeffrey Paternostro is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeffrey's other articles. You can contact Jeffrey by clicking here

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