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February 14, 2017

2017 Prospects

Top 101 Prospects: Just Missed

by BP Prospect Staff


What lies below are ten prospects who were in the batch of names that came closest to our Top 101 but ultimately landed on the cutting room floor. To be very clear: The prospects below are not the next ten names in order on our list. They are ten of the next group of names, so please do not take it to mean a name not mentioned wasn't considered. The universe of relevant prospects is unfortunately larger than we can devote time and space to. That said, please enjoy! —Craig Goldstein

Josh Lowe, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Lowe is massive. Sometimes you hear about a body before you first see it and it doesn't really live up to the hype. Stand next to Lowe and he lives up to the hype. He has the ideal slugger's frame with room to become even more ideal (if that were possible). With the frame and present strength come some of the best raw power in his draft class and now in the Tampa Bay system. When he catches the barrel, it arcs to the moon. At the same time, Lowe faces the typical hit tool questions often paired with impressive power. There's some length to the swing and he sometimes relies on his bat speed to get by. There are also initial questions about his defensive future as he works to stay at third base. The arm is obviously more than enough for any position, so a move to right field is possible. Regardless, he'll need to prove he can handle pro pitching, because the power will play anywhere. Right now, it's a boom-or-bust profile, and the chances are good that he'll hang at the plate. Factors such as athleticism, bat speed and flashes of barrel awareness are on his side. The outcome could be a very solid corner slugger. —David Lee

Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Cease has been a hot topic within prospect circles over the last year-plus, and his performance with short-season Eugene in 2016 did little to dissuade folks from discussing him further. Any time you play for one of the game’s most popular franchises while also owning an electric fastball that can reach 100 mph, you are going to garner attention. Cease lacks consistency beyond the fastball, though his curveball made strides in 2016 and could give him a second plus pitch to torture hitters with. Both the command and changeup lag considerably behind which is the primary reason he missed the back of the Top 101 despite his obvious gifts. As an undersized right-hander with a history of injuries, many in the scouting community are already projecting him for a relief role, which is never a good sign this early in a career, even if that relief projection lands him as a top shelf closer. Cease is going to continue to be a high-profile prospect and one that tantalizes with a potential impact fastball-curveball combo, and as he quiets the concerns around his secondary traits and projection, he may no longer appear in “Just Missed” articles, but rather in the entrée piece as a member of the Top 101. —Mark Anderson

Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
I know what you all are thinking: a 24-year-old, pop-up arm who spent the majority of the year in High-A being a potential 101 guy? If we ignore some context and focus on the profile, the stuff is worthy of top 101 consideration. Castillo packs a pure 80 fastball that holds velocity through games, a potential plus slider, a changeup that has flashed average to better, and the results to go with it. But we do not ignore context and because of the factors mentioned above, Castillo is in the just missed portion. While the slider should get to plus with more consistency, the changeup hasn’t been there on a consistent basis, which could push him towards a relief future. Fortunately for Cincinnati, this is an arm with a chance to have a major impact on their roster, either sooner in a bullpen, or perhaps in 2018 in a starting rotation. —Steve Givarz

Lucas Erceg, 3B, Milwaukee BrewersErceg boasts one of the more impressive tool sets of anyone who missed the cut for this year’s 101, with a double-plus arm at third, along with hit and game power tools that can both creep into above-average territory. He showed fluidity and solid range at the hot corner after signing, leading to trials at the six-spot in instructional league play in the fall. It’s likely a stretch to envision him garnering game reps there going forward, but if the bat reaches its potential it won’t much matter. The approach remains pull-happy and immature at present, and there is some swing-and-miss to his game that can magnify if he doesn’t demonstrate some growth with pitch selection. Off-field issues including a forced school transfer depressed his draft stock to the second-round, but if the early pro performance carries over into his first full season in the system he’s a guy who can rocket up into the fat part of next year’s 101. —Wilson Karaman

Willie Calhoun, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
If Calhoun’s glove was a lock to be a 40 at the keystone, he would’ve slotted into our Top 101 comfortably. If he was likely to be a league-average defender, you’re probably looking at a top-50 prospect. The fact that his defense was shaky enough to keep his bat off our list altogether says it all. It isn’t just the lack of range—which can be compensated for with advanced defensive positioning. It’s the awkward throwing motion and stiff actions which give evaluators an anxious feeling every time the ball is hit in his direction. It’s too early to rule out Calhoun ever developing into a passable second baseman with the glove, but he hasn’t shown nearly as much development as hoped. He’s clearly put in the effort in the batting cages, because if we were ranking prospects solely by their offensive potential, he would be in the upper echelon. The reality is, if he can’t make major improvements in the infield, he’ll soon be relegated to left field where his range would play below average and so would his arm. Considering the Dodgers haven’t yet given him any official reps in the outfield likely means they’re either convinced his glove will come around at second, or he’s looked so bad during practice that it’s second base or bust for the diminutive slugger. There’s just so much pop in his bat that I think I speak for all of us when I say I hope his glove comes around. —Matt Pullman

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<< Previous Article
Cold Takes: Pace of Pl... (02/14)
<< Previous Column
2017 Prospects: The To... (02/13)
Next Column >>
2017 Prospects: The To... (02/23)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article The Adjuster: Outfield... (02/15)

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