Previous entries in this series
Cameron is quietly knocking on the door of the big leagues and will come bearing a nice power/speed combo. He surprisingly climbed three levels of the minors and was one of the best players in the Arizona Fall League last year. On this team, his above-average center-field defense will make him look like Andruw Jones in a room full of Pat Burrells. Cameron did not look out of place next to many of the game’s best hitting prospects in the AFL, and while he doesn’t have his dad’s peak speed, he should have the green light for the foreseeable future.
92) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Marco Luciano, OF, Giants
The Giants J2 signing splash came in the form of a strong class headlined by the power hitting Luciano. He made some stateside appearances in Winter Instructs with the Giants, and my Prospects Live teammate Jason Pennini was impressed by the raw power from the bonus baby. Should debut stateside later this summer in the AZL. Praying for a Wander Franco-type star with this pick.
93) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies
I don’t love the value of any available position prospects at this point, so I’ll grab my favorite arm remaining on the board. Medina too often gets overlooked due to the presence of Sixto Sanchez in the Phillies’ system. Medina shows a mid-90s fastball and a pair of quality secondary pitches, giving him the requisite repertoire to make it as a starter. The mediocre ERA in 2018 shouldn’t distract fantasy owners from the stuff, the 256 strikeouts in his last 231 innings, the ability to throw strikes, and his athleticism. The right-hander has a good chance of being a mid-rotation big-league starter. You’ll find some evaluators who think he can be more than that, too.
Wright isn’t a sexy pick but he’s solid. He pitched his way to the big leagues in his first full pro season, he has four quality pitches and throws strikes and he’s the type of guy who will provide plenty of fantasy value as a starter immediately.
96) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Justus Sheffield, LHP, Mariners
The Mariners dealt two years of cost-controlled James Paxton to the Yankees for three prospects. Justus Sheffield was the prize. Following his strong performance this past year in Triple-A (2.56/1.16 ERA/WHIP), he has little left to prove in the minors Sheffield possesses a big left-handed arm, sitting in the mid-90s, with a plus, mid-80s power slider and an improving, but firm, upper-80s change-up. Given his size (5’11”) and questionable control (10.8% BB), many still project him in the bullpen. However, considering the high cost to acquire Sheffield, it is a safe bet the Mariners will provide him every opportunity to prove himself in the rotation, as soon as mid-April 2019. Ultimately, he is a major league-ready arm with mid-rotation upside should his command and change-up continue to improve. Otherwise, he still has a bright future as a late-inning arm.
97) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Ramos had a pretty disappointing debut full season. It’s not just the numbers that fail to inspire; Ramos’ scouting report in our most recent Giants Top 10 list is also somewhat ominous, as it appears some of the speed we projected Ramos to have a year ago may have been overstated. That being said, Ramos still has promising hit and power tools, and he’s way too physically gifted to be written off completely just yet. This is one of those picks that’s either going to make me look like a genius or idiot a few years from now, but hey, that’s nothing new.
98) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Seth Beer, 1B, Astros
I’ve gone heavy on 2018 draft class bats, so we’ll keep that theme going here with Beer. The catch with him is that he doesn’t deliver any value defensively, so that’s something to consider in regard to his ability to hang on to a job in the majors. Still, the 22-year-old offers plenty of power and patience and he showed that off with a .304/.389/.496 batting line and 12 homers through 67 games in his pro debut last year. It’s going to be interesting to see how he fares against more advanced competition, but I’m willing to gamble on the power potential here.
Might be a little early to pop Varsho, but his fantasy skill set is intriguing as heck, to me. He controls the strike zone, he can hit for average, and he can steal bases as a catcher, which is a lot of fun. If Varsho has to move off the catching position, uh oh, but I think he’s good enough to stay there. Otherwise I wouldn’t have picked him.
100) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pirates
There are some red flags here, like the sometimes-underwhelming college performance and notably high strikeout rate in his pro ball debut last summer, but Swaggerty deserves better than this. There aren’t many potential 20/20 options at this point in the draft, and though his batting average is more likely to be .250 than .290, he can more than make up for elsewhere and become a strong OF3 piling up runs at the top of a lineup.
101) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Brandon Marsh, OF, Angels
Marsh is built like a college linebacker and he moves like one too, with quick bursts of impressive speed and unforeseen pickup. The swing can get stiff and rotational at times, but he made impressive adjustments at High A through the course of the season and unlocked a much more fluid, balanced attack as the season progressed. His natural strength and hitting intelligence are notable assets, and while he’s not geared at present to launch balls with consistent loft, the day can certainly come. He’s particularly attractive in points formats or any other league that appropriately values doubles and triples, as he should hit a boatload of ’em in due time. And there’s enough playable speed and over-the-fence pop even without any real swing adjustments for him to produce solid across-the-board counting stats in traditional leagues, too. He’s unlikely to grow into a superstar, but he’s more likely than most to grow into a very useful fantasy outfielder.
102) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ — Grant Lavigne, 1B, Rockies
Lavigne had some of the best prep power in the 2018 draft, and at 6-4, 190 already, is built for continued pop as he makes his way up the ladder. Also showed advanced plate approach in his ~200 AB initiation to pro ball, where he drew more walks than strikeouts and knocked out six HR. He’ll likely need that aspect of his game, because below-average 1B defense means there’s little hope of him moving up the positional spectrum. Translation: It’s pretty much his lefty bat from here. Still a long way to Coors, but he’s off to a good start.
103) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Austin Beck, OF, Athletics
Beck hasn’t given dynasty owners a ton of reason to be optimistic about him, but he held his own in his first taste of full season ball as a 19-year-old and still flashes the kinds of tools that translate to both real life playing time (e.g. his potential plus glove in the outfield) and fantasy production (average or better power and speed). If you’re into splits, which I am in the context of prospects playing against older competition, Beck did his best work later in the season. I’m happy to get someone with Beck’s upside here without having to draft a teenager who is still making his way through rookie ball.
104) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — MJ Melendez, C, Royals
105) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — D’Shawn Knowles, OF, Angels
It might be a touch early for the young Bahamian, but with Carsley snagging both Adell and Adams, I needed to make sure I’d secure one of my favorite toolsy outfielders in the Angels’ system. Knowles excelled at two different rookie-level leagues in 2018, his age-17 season, though it is worth noting his power outburst is likely the result of the hitter-friendly Pioneer league. He’s on the shorter side, but has a chance to develop average pop thanks this lightning in his wrists. He’s a natural in center field and has the speed to stick there, though this selection is also banking on some refinement in his base-stealing abilities. If all goes to plan, Knowles should play the part of a table-setting outfielder who can contribute in runs, batting average, and steals, while not hurting you anywhere else.
106) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Alek Thomas, OF, Diamondbacks
Thomas is another athletic outfielder whose hit and speed tools lead the way. He probably won’t contribute a ton in terms of over-the-fence power, but he makes consistent, hard contact and I anticipate him having a lot of early success in the lower minors. There’s a limited ceiling based on the skill set here, but at this point in the draft I’m not going to bat an eye at someone who could end up replicating the good Ender Inciarte seasons.
107) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Anderson Tejeda, SS, Rangers
108) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — The Other Luis Garcia, SS, Phillies
The less heralded of the two Luis Garcia teenage shortstop prospects, this version boasts a chance to rocket up prospect lists with a strong 2019 the way the Nationals’ version did last season. The video game numbers that Garcia put up in his pro debut should be taken with a grain of salt because of the unsustainable BABIP and context (he did it in the lowly Gulf Coast League), but Garcia has excellent pedigree as a former July 2nd bonus baby and well rounded tools to match the production. Even if you’re not inclined to wait on the 18-year-old, a second productive season, coupled with the aforementioned pedigree, should make him an attractive trade chip. What mortal doesn’t covet high-variance, speedy, productive middle infield prospects?
109) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ — Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Rays
If Hernandez can find a way to stay at catcher, he provides a rate plus-hit and plus-power profile for the position. Though he’s a converted infielder, he showed good catching instincts in his first full-season A-ball stop and has a strong arm. With very good contact and a power stroke (21 HR in 405 AB), the bat impresses; there’s still work to do to clean up his defense.
110) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Jhon Torres, OF, Cardinals
Continuing a run of outfield-patrolling moose-men with my down-ballot picks, I’ll happily grab the Very Large Torres at this stage of things. Big boy utilizes a big ol’ hanging leg kick, which is a quick way to my heart, especially when the utilizer demonstrates the requisite fluidity and balance to actually maybe pull off that hitting style. It’s a nice combination, this kid’s body control and sheer, brute strength. And his move to St. Louis last season in a prospect-for-prospect swap puts him in a nice organizational context to develop his hitting chops in full. This is a quintessential middle-of-the-order profile, and while it’ll take a bunch of time for the 18-year-old to get anywhere close to that, I like the building blocks quite a bit.
111) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Calvin Mitchell, OF, Pirates
I’ll stick in the Pittsburgh org for the second pick and row here and take another teenager who more than held his own in Low-A last season. Mitchell isn’t a standout in any individual category, but he combined above-average potential both in average and power and marries them with a strong approach for a player of his age. I think he’ll end up a top-50 selection in this draft next year.
Liberatore was the 16th pick of the 2019 draft, but that had more to do with the financial aspect of the draft than talent. He’s a southpaw that can miss bats with four pitches, and he already throws them for strikes. If there’s a concern it’s that none of these pitches are guaranteed to be an “out” offering, although I think the curve is awfully close to that. Liberatore has a chance to move quickly, and there’s a nice combination of floor and ceiling here.
113) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP, Yankees
Loaisiga wasn’t really on the radar as a top prospect this time last year, but he changed that in a hurry after getting off to a great start between High-A and Double-A. He even made his way to the majors for a stretch before eventually missing some time with shoulder inflammation. The sample size with the Yankees was small, but Loaisiga showed impressive velocity and spin while missing plenty of bats. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, the 24-year-old still has questions to answer in regard to his health, but he’s capable of making a big impact whether it’s in the rotation or the bullpen. I’m obviously still hoping he starts. There might not be an opening right now, but we should see more of him at some point this year.
114) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays
If you’re going to draft a pitcher, draft a pitcher with huge upside. Pearson was the talk of the dynasty town last season before missing time with an oblique injury (worrisome) and a broken ulna suffered via comebacker (just a freak thing). He looked great late in the season and in the AFL, though, and he remains one of the best pure arms in the minors. Is there a chance he moves to the bullpen and/or can’t sustain his velocity late into games? For sure. There’s also a chance that it all clicks and that Pearson is on the short list of best pitching prospects in the game a year from now. This late in the draft, I’m happy to gamble on that upside, even if it comes on a mound.
115) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Brandon Lowe, 2B/OF, Rays
I have now drafted two of the Rays’ Lowe trio. Only Josh Lowe to go for a full set! This year, Brandon Lowe enjoyed a breakout season, finding little resistance in the upper minors (.297/.391/.558) and performing well in his major league debut. Indeed, after a sluggish 0-for-19 start, he slashed .273/.357/.527 with 6 home runs. Since he came two at-bats short of exceeding rookie limits, he remains prospect-eligible. Offensively, Lowe stands out for his patient approach, tallying double-digits walk rates throughout his career (13.4% in 2016, 12.8% in 2017, and 12.3% in 2018). Further, he utilizes a sweet, leveraged swing to fully tap into his above-average raw power, creating plenty of hard, lofted contact to all fields. On the downside, he does suffer some swing-and-miss (17.6% swinging strikes in debut), and, as such, he is unlikely to hit for a high batting average. In addition, it is unclear where he will fit on a crowded Rays roster. As Lowe has nothing left to prove in the minors, however, expect the Rays to find a way to get his bat in the lineup.
117) Jim Calls, MLB Pipeline (MLB.com) — Evan White, 1B, Mariners
Let’s make it back-to-back Mariners. I won’t get fantasy value from White’s exceptional defense, which will win him Gold Gloves at first base and also could make him outfield-eligible. I will get plenty from his offense, as he projects as at least a solid hitter who’s beginning to tap into what should be average-or-better power and has the speed to steal a few bases too.
118) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Freudis Nova, SS, Astros
Although Nova is only 19 years old and has yet to dip his toes into full-season ball, he’s one of the most exciting position prospects in the lower levels. The shortstop appears to have the athleticism both to handle the position down the road and to offer double-digit stolen bases as he matures. Nova has good hand-eye coordination and projects to hit for plenty of power — if the hit tool plays. And that’s the key question. It will come down to his approach and his pitch recognition. Nova will be a slow burn for dynasty owners, but his stock could skyrocket with a good statistical season in 2019.
119) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Tyler Nevin, 1B/3B, Rockies
The triple slash king of the Arizona Fall League, Nevin the son of former big leaguer Phil showed the ability to hit for contact, power, and get on base in 2018. His hitter friendly home confines and league will lead to skepticism. But his splits away from The Hanger were actually better in some regards. A player I’m keen on catching frequently this Spring and Summer in the Eastern League.
Potts broke out in the second half of 2017 and he continued his ascent as the second-youngest hitter in the Cal League. The right-handed slugger crushed southpaws at High-A and hit a respectable .276/.354/.473 against righties, so he should avoid a platoon. Easy plus power is the selling point. That power will likely always come with plenty of strikeouts, but given his age and ability to make adjustments, the hope is that he will improve against offspeed pitches and eventually become a more well-rounded hitter.
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