Notes on Andrew Benintendi, Tyler Glasnow, and others.
Edwin Rios, 3B/1B, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
When you go to a lot of minor league baseball games, like the lot of us here on the prospect team do, you watch a lot of unremarkable baseball. You watch a good bit of bad baseball too, and through it all you build up a callous to even the more generally well-executed plays you see because you’ve seen those plays get executed generally well by numerous players along the way. But every now and again a player does something that, to cop some of KRS-One’s flow, brings your fist to your face like “Ohhhh sh*t!” Rios did that last Thursday with a towering eighth-inning home run—his second of the game—that was among the more majestic balls I’ve seen struck in person.
A sixth-rounder last summer out of Florida International, Rios is a chip-on-his-shoulder player after going undrafted out of high school. He added a bunch of bulk during his college days, which culminated in an 18-homer outburst in his draft season and a tag for likely movement across the diamond from his third-base home. The Dodgers have hedged since signing him, working him out at the hot corner in about two-thirds of his starts in the field. The frame is large and hulking, and his movements, while fluid, take some time. He showed decent reactions and mobility to the ground in my one look at him over there, with smooth hands and plenty of arm for the position as well. But the lateral agility and quickness you look for in a third baseman isn’t there, and it’ll be an uphill battle for him to stick.
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Meet the propsects who'll represent the United States in the contest at Petco Park next month.
The minors may be down, but they’re not empty. There are 11 days left until the biggest single prospect stage of the season and here’s a look at the roster the USA will trot out there in San Diego on All Star Futures Game Sunday.
Willy Adames, Eloy Jimenez, and Jorge Mateo are among the headliners on the international squad this year.
The minors may be down, but they’re not empty. There are 11 days left until the biggest single prospect stage of the season and here’s a look at the roster the World will trot out there in San Diego on All Star Futures Game Sunday.
Notes on Alex Jackson, Kyle Lewis, Rafael Devers, and more.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Devers is young for the Carolina League, and he’s taken some lumps as a 19-year-old against much older competition. His frame, raw power, and arm-strength give him the raw ingredients of a quality corner infielder, though there’s plenty of projection required to see him as one. A left-handed hitter, his lightning-quick bat-speed can’t be taught, and with the strength in his frame, he has plenty of raw power when he squares his pitch. How much he will get to his power—and whether he’ll maintain the mobility to stick at the hot corner—are the two largest questions regarding Devers’ future. He swings aggressively, but relatively speaking his total strikeout numbers aren’t particularly high. That said, scouts see more holes in his present pure hitting ability than the stat-line shows, especially against the type of quality left-handed pitching he’ll see at higher levels. Defensively, Devers has a very strong arm across the infield, though he holds a 6-foot, (generously listed) 200-pound frame with thickness in his lower half, which takes away from his lateral agility. Some evaluators have felt that he profiles more safely at first base.
Notes on Derek Hill, Isan Diaz, P.J. Conlon, and more.
P.J. Conlon, LHP, New York Mets (Low-A Columbia)
If you want to see what a true major-league-quality out pitch looks like, sit behind home plate for Conlon’s starts and wait for the cambio. Conlon’s changeup consistently hits plus with huge depth on the arm-side fade, excellent deception and feel. It eats South Atlantic League hitters alive and will probably munch on upper-level competition. The rest of his arsenal is less certain for the upper levels. His fastball sits 87-89 and touches 90 with minimal movement and life above the thighs. It shows some sink and plane when spotted around the knees, and he’s able to command it to that spot fairly well, which is something he’ll need to do consistently at higher levels. He mixes in a cutter at 86-88 with moderate cut and slight depth. He also tosses in a slider at 76-80 with fringe-average ability when spun tight with decent tilt, and a show-me curveball in the low-70s that gets telegraphed. Conlon has a severe head whack and spine tilt in his delivery, yet he repeats his quirky motion and arm slot, and it feeds the deception on his changeup. He projects for above-average command despite the delivery. He lacks arsenal punch and depth outside his changeup that could limit him to relief in the future, but that changeup is going to play. —David Lee
Notes on Miguel Diaz, Joe Musgrove, Dalton Pompey, and more.
Miguel Diaz, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 for $85,000, Diaz has steadily climbed the developmental ladder and has done nothing but impress. Throwing from a high-three-quarters slot, Diaz uses a slight twist at max leg lift to start his coil. He possesses a lightning-fast arm that gets through a small circle in the back of his motion and gets out front well. At times he will post his front leg which prevents him from finishing with authority.
Diaz’s fastball is electric, sitting 92-95 and touching 97 when needed. In this outing, he started off slowly in the 92-94 range with slightly below-average command to both sides of the plate. Once he started getting in trouble the big-time velocity made its appearance, blowing several hitters away at the top of the zone with 97 mph heaters. It comes out easy and gets on hitters quickly.
Notes on Alex Verdugo, Braden Shipley, Forrest Wall, and more.
Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa)
A left-hander with the arm to pitch his way into the draft, the speed to handle center, and enough power to slug .464 in the Texas League this season, Verdugo can claim as much talent as any other prospect. He has a unique set-up deep in the box, with an open stance that suggests his front leg might be a conscientious objector to baseball. He keeps his weight all the way up and back, makes a soft timing toe-tap to square his stance as the pitcher delivers, then takes a flat stride to initiate his swing. The process is… interesting, but the end result is fine, with enough quickness and control to meet balls in the zone. If he pays any penalty for balance and timing complications, it might be in power but not in contact. He fared well last week against Luke Weaver, who struck out nine with a quality fastball/changeup combo. In fact, Verdugo had one swing-and-miss on thirty-nine pitches observed across two days. Although his strikeout rate has steadily increased as he moves up levels (from almost nothing to merely above average), it seems to be the result of selectivity: His walk rate has climbed and he gets good marks for pitch recognition. His negligible platoon split, often a liability for lefties, is another mark in his favor.
Notes on Ryan McMahon, Franklyn Kilome, Eloy Jimenez, and more.
Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
In my first viewing of Kilome in April, he hit 94 early but tanked down into the 89-91 range in the fourth, where he was forced from the game before recording an out. The breaking ball and command weren’t there, but despite everything else he threw some decent changes. The Phillies wisely gave him a couple weeks off after that one, and in his next start, Kilome sat a consistent 91-94, topping out at 97, with much-improved command and a plus-potential curveball. Fast-forward another month to my third look this past Thursday, where Kilome was dominant for two innings, working mostly off a fastball sitting 92-97 that he was able to manipulate well—before the fastball command completely imploded in the fourth and on, just as I was noting how much he’d improved it.
Had I written Kilome—currently our 95th-ranked prospect overall—up in April, it wouldn’t have been pretty. Had he been on a low pitch or batter count in my third look—as many prized prospects now are—I’d probably be using this space to write him up as better than that 95th ranking. But only in looking at the whole picture do you get the full story on Kilome: A maddeningly inconsistent arm with command that comes and goes, flashing all of the individual pieces for number 2 upside, yet less impressive as an overall package than his opposing number on Thursday, Rangers sleeper Erik Swanson, who sat 93-96, touched 98, and showed some feel for a change and slider.