Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Jharel Cotton, Erik Gonzalez, Franklyn Kilome, and Taylor Trammell.
Prospect of the Day:
Jharel Cotton, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Triple-A Nashville): 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K
Well, this is an easy one. Cotton took a perfect game into the ninth inning, and a scout at the game told me he had hitters completely off balance with that plus change and excellent command of his fastball. There have been consistency issues and he really struggled when moved to the bullpen, so it sounds like he’s going to “have to” start to make an impact, but he was an excellent pickup for the Athletics, and he should get a chance to pitch in that rotation soon.
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Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Josh Lowe, Jose Paulino, Ali Sanchez, and A.J. Puk.
Prospect of the Day:
Josh Lowe, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (Short-Season Princeton): 4-for-6, 2 HR, BB, E
Full disclosure: It was a doubleheader. It’s still a very good day. Lowe has tapped into his raw power quickly, and he’s an outstanding athlete whose plus speed and arm will serve him well at third base. There’s some work to be done on the hit tool, but he’s a smart kid with excellent baseball acumen, so don’t be surprised if he ends up moving quickly through the Tampa Bay system.
Minor leaguers bear all the risk in American baseball's monopoly.
I have to confess, I’ve become bad at responding to comments. Part of this is laziness, but another large part is due to the classic internet truism that one should never read the comments, and I have found that not focusing on the mean things people say about me does help me keep the ol’ self esteem up and running. That said, I’ve found that the commentary at Baseball Prospectus, almost on a whole, has been thoughtful and civil: not a crying Jordan or “delete your account” as far as the eye can see, regardless of how much I might deserve it. So I thought, why not show the same kindness back and try to answer a comment, however best I can.
So, to that end. Last week, before the insanity of the trade deadline and even before the Colin Rea-Luis Castillo swap could prove my point for me, I wrote about the exchangeability of minor-leaguers, particularly the lack of protection they received from the MLBPA and the unique role they played in allowing for a surplus labor army for baseball itself.
Two comments on that piece spurred my interest. First was a correction from the charming and intelligent Jason Wojciechowski, noting that I was incorrect or, at least, unwise to say that minor leaguers were represented by the MLBPA. He’s right, too; before they are major leaguers, minor leaguers do not have standing with the union. In a perfect world they might, but this is a systemic problem with the union, and one I should have noted, despite how much I admire MLB’s incredibly strong player power (paging Jonathan Lucroy).
Another comment followed from Jason’s, however, which is somewhat less easily answered. SChandler admirably took up the mantle of free-market enterprise (admirable not because free-market enterprise is especially admirable, but because they knew that it would be an unpopular position). Playing advocate for the system, SChandler asked:
What do you all not understand about free market enterprise…you say that ownership could pay minor leaguers what they deserve. What exactly is that figure? I contend that the market has set the price. If minor leaguers think they are unfairly treated, they are not slaves and don’t have to continue.
I’m not bringing this comment up to rip it, though I do disagree with its premise and conclusions. On the contrary, I think it’s a very important point because a plurality of fans and, more importantly, team owners ostensibly agree with it. So, to flip the initial question around, let me ask again: What is it that I understand about free-market enterprise that I don’t like?
Notes on prospects who stood out this weekend, including T.J. Friedl, Nick Senzel, Francis Martes, and Justus Sheffield.
Prospect of the Weekend:T.J. Friedl, OF, Cincinnati Reds (Short-season Billings): 3-for-3, 2 R, 2 HR
The Friedl story is a fascinating one. He went undrafted out of Nevada (for reasons that aren’t totally clear) as a redshirt sophomore, and then after an invite to Team USA, he quickly established himself as one of the best outfield prospects for the 2017 draft. But… Cincinnati decided nuts to that, and signed him to the biggest NDFA bonus ever. He’s a plus-plus runner who has a chance to hit for average and a bit of power—don’t expect too many of these multi-homer games—and he’s a quality defender in center field. You haven’t heard of him unless you’re a Reds fan or follow me on Twitter (thank you), but he’s immediately one of the best outfield prospects in the Cincinnati system. Not bad for a guy who got passed over 1,203 times.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dylan Cozens, Tyler Beede, Sean Newcomb, and Eric Jenkins.
Prospect of the Day:
Dylan Cozens, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading): 3-4, BB, 3 R, 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI.
So nice, let’s do it twice. If you can explain the physiological click that happens sometimes to set hitters off on rampages like Cozens’ current run, well, you’re probably better at science than I am. After leaving the yard thrice on Wednesday, he hit two more dingers yesterday, mixing in a triple for good measure. That’ll do, yeah. Scouts remain skeptical it translates, and my one live look revealed can-see-it holes in the swing. But all I really know is that homeboy has legit power and he really, really likes hitting in Reading.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dylan Cozens, Kolby Allard, Jake Junis, and Micker Adolfo.
Prospect of the Day:
Dylan Cozens, OF, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 4-for-5, 4 R, 3B, 3 HR, SB.
What a difference a (couple of) year(s) makes. Cozens has gone from a guy who many believed was a non-prospect to—and this isn’t a universal opinion, but I’ve heard it—a legit middle-of-the-order option. Keep in mind that Cozens was a big-time football prospect, so he didn’t have the prototypical developmental path you see. There’s a ton of swing-and-miss here, but there’s also a chance for plus-plus power, and he’s made progress with the glove. At the very least, Cozens is interesting, and that’s not something we could say not all that long ago.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Francis Martes, Lewis Brinson, Ben Lively, and Luke Weaver.
Prospect of the Day: Francis Martes, RHP, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, BB, 12 K.
Martes was cruising along into the seventh before yielding a two-run shot to Josh Van Meter, his final batter of the night. Since the end of May, he’s whiffed 76, walked 20, and allowed just 48 hits across 63 2/3 innings. The fastball-curve combo is one of the best in the minors, and it’s important to remember that he’s doing all of this as the only qualifying 20-year-old starting pitcher at the Double-A level. And you were worried about him after the first six weeks of the season…
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rob Zastryzny, Taylor Clarke, Kyle Farmer, and Josh Lowe.
Prospect of the Day:
Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Chicago Cubs (Triple-A Iowa): 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.
Zastryzny was on a strict pitch count for the night, so no, no chance for the no-no (or in this case perfecto). The Cubs second-round pick in 2013 has struggled with command issues, but he’s also shown three above-average pitches (fastball, cutter, change) and will show a 45-grade curveball as well. If he’s going to start, the command is going to have to get better, but if it can, he could become a fourth starter.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Eloy Jimenez, Willi Castro, Ian Anderson, and Chance Adams.
Prospect of the Weekend: Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs (Low-A South Bend): 4-for-5, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, K.
With Gleyber Torres now a member of the New York Yankees, is Jimenez now the best prospect in Chicago? Ian Happ might have something to say about that, but Jimenez certainly has the highest ceiling of any Cubs hitter. He can hit for average, he can hit for power, and he’s gonna be a good-enough defender in an outfield corner to let you play him every day. If you’re sick of hearing about the young talent in the Chicago system, you might wanna look away, because Eloy could be the next great one.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Luiz Gohara, Luke Weaver, Aristides Aquino, and Ismael Guillon.
Prospect of the Day: Luiz Gohara,LHP, Mariners (Low-A Clinton): 6 IP, 4 H, R/ER, BB, 10 K.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was in Arizona, bouncing around from game to game on the back fields, following every rumor we heard to try to be in the right place, at the right time, to see Gohara throw in his first spring after signing with the Mariners. It was like we were chasing a ghost. Some of our crew caught him in limited action that spring, and it was easy to see the raw talent. That talent is obvious at this point, particularly when he turns in outings like this. There’s still a lot of development remaining, but the Mariners appear on track to make good on their investment in Gohara.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Jorge Alfaro, Anthony Alford, Francis Martes, and Jake Woodford.
Prospect of the Day:Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading): 4-for-5, 3 RBI
I included the RBI because it’s just weird to have the prospect of the day without any other stats, but the fact that Alfaro didn’t have any doubles or homers is kinda the point. This was once a player who was all-power, no-hit-tool, and he has hit .287 in Double-A while still showing the plus power. Is he going to hit for that high of average at the big-league level? Probably not, but he no longer has to hit for power to become a regular; the defense and hit tool have reached a level where above-average power will suffice. I’d bet on it at this point.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Ranger Suarez, Conner Greene, Ian Happ, and Scott Schebler.
Prospect of the Day: Ranger Suarez, LHP, Phillies (Short-Season Williamsport): 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 5 K
After two years in the now-defunct Venezuelan Summer League, followed by a dominating showing with a 0.65 ERA in 15 appearances in the GCL in 2015, Suarez has continued pitching well as a 20-year old in the NYPL. A quick-armed lefty with an average fastball, two secondary pitches with potential, and a strong command profile, Suarez fired this seven-inning no-hitter while flashing all of these traits. Most scouts view Suarez as a potential back-end starter or lefty reliever down the line.