Friday, July 3rd
Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 4-4, 2B, BB. Schwarber featured prominently in our top 50 list yesterday, and he would have been even higher than no. 8 if we were certain he could catch every day. He probably won’t get to that level of utility, but he is getting better and should be able to get in the lineup as a catcher a couple of times per week. Luckily, his bat is going to play anywhere he ends up.
Franklin Barreto, SS, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 3-3, R, HR, SB. Reviews have been mixed on Barreto this year, with some wondering if his struggles are indicative of future issues or the product of having skipped a level. We leaned towards the latter and included him on the back end of our top 50 anyway based on the reports of his talent. Despite his rawness at the plate, he’s holding his own in the league quite nicely.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Braves (Gwinnett, AAA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. This isn’t his game, as Peraza has close to 20-grade in-game power, though it does go down as his career-high third of the season, so perhaps he’s growing toward 30-grade. Speed is Peraza’s game, and he does it well, but the ability to keep from having the bat knocked out of his hands, and striking even the slightest amount of fear of popping one, will bode well for him at the next level.
Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 2-5, R, HR, K. Meadows hasn’t shown a ton of power thus far as a professional, but it’s not for a lack of raw ability. He’ll never be a power hitter, but he shows more in batting practice than he does in games. That’s not a matter of utility or in-game application, but rather a product of his contact-oriented approach, which yields his plus hit tool. It would be nice to see him drive the ball with more authority a little more consistently, but for now the contact approach is working well.
Saturday, July 4th
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 4-6, 4 R, 2B, K. Making consistent contact is still an issue for Frazier, but it’s no longer extreme, and that’s a major step forward. It hasn’t changed the overall production all that much, though the Carolina League isn’t exactly a hitters’ haven either. The good news is that he’s maintained his power production while making slightly more contact, a positive indicator going forward.
Alex Jackson, OF, Mariners (Everett, SS): 3-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 K. It’s amazing what being at the right level of competition can do for a player’s production. The Mariners clearly threw too much at Jackson when they sent him to full-season ball to start the year. The good news is that he seems to have survived mentally, which is always a concern after you let a high profile 19-year-old hit .157 out of the gate.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, HR, K. Renfroe didn’t get himself turned around in time to get on our Top 50 list, but he is now once again heading in the right direction. June was a very good month for him, one that finally saw his power to play in games the way we’ve seen at lower levels, and he’s carried that over into July. After struggles against Double-A pitching over the course of two seasons now (something that was beginning to become concerning), Renfroe appears to have made some of the necessary adjustments.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 6 IP, 4 H, R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K. It’s never been a matter of talent for Manaea; only health, or lack thereof, has held him back. With two potential plus pitches and a third that could be average, he could end up being a solid mid-rotation starter if he can remain healthy. If the strain of taking the ball every fifth day proves to be too much, however, his fastball/slider combination could allow him to move quite quickly into a late-inning bullpen role.
Sunday, July 5th
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 2-4, 2 R, BB, 2 K. I’d like to mention Anderson one time without harping on his ridiculously low walk rate, but the day when he actually draws one doesn’t seem like the time to do it, and that doesn’t seem like me anyway. What he has done, however, is manage to remain a good hitter in spite of it and in spite of making the jump to Double-A. The approach remains an issue, but the athleticism is not, and it will play at either second base or center field, even if he can’t stick at shortstop.
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 3-5, R, K, SB, CS. Arcia’s bat has developed quite nicely, projecting him well onto yesterday’s list, but it’s his glove that will almost certainly carry him. That’s not a knock on his bat so much as it is a testament to his plus defensive skills.
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Angels (Inland Empire, A+): 6 IP, 4 H, R, 4 BB, 5 K. There’s little doubting Newcomb’s arm, or his ability to miss bats, but the walks are an issue. He’s not the only highly touted prospect with command issues, but he does need to straighten them out if he wants to continue to progress.
Yoan Moncada, 2B, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-4, R, 2B. Small-sample-size and arbitrary-endpoints alert, but Yoan Moncada is hitting .342/.409/.474 over his past 10 games. That doesn’t mean a ton, but other than the scouting reports we have on him, it’s all we have to work with. We know what he can do, but it’s nice to see him begin to do it.
Monday, July 6th
Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Toledo, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. Moya actually has improved his patience at the plate slightly this year, but it’s still grossly out of whack, as are his strikeouts. Unless his power reaches its upper-echelon ceiling, he won’t be able to play everyday in the big leagues, and we’re seeing in Triple-A this season that pitchers with more of a plan are able to exploit the holes in his swing and limit his power utility.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Potomac, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, R (0 ER), BB, 10 K. The newly minted but long-deserving top pitching prospect in baseball is unlikely to do anything in the immediate future to diminish that status. Even more importantly to us right now than his pair of double-plus pitches, the Nationals are slowly but surely taking the handcuffs off of his workload, gradually eliminating the only question mark remaining on his résumé.
Stephen Piscotty, OF, Cardinals (Memphis, AAA): 3-4, 3 R, 2 2B, BB. There’s virtually nothing left for Piscotty to prove in the minors, and he’s ready to take over in the majors as soon as they call on him. Given their organizational depth, that may not happen in the immediate future, but that’s not a knock on his ability to square up a baseball.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-4, 2 R, HR. Devers features perhaps the best hit tool/power combination of any player on our Top 50 list besides the man residing at the top, but there’s still a decent amount of time between his current developmental point and major-league success. It’s not nearly as far away, however, as that of any other 18-year-old in Low-A ball. There’s some refinement needed at the plate, but that should come with experience. The big test will be to see if he can let pitches out of the zone go by as pitchers begin avoiding him on a consistent basis, which is bound to happen more frequently very soon.
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