Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 4-5, 3 R, 2B, HR. Nimmo has had issues transitioning from level to level along the developmental path to the majors, but he’s made the necessary adjustments to Triple-A, which have included the addition of a power component to his offensive profile. Hitting in Las Vegas certainly has something to do with that, but any environment that helps Nimmo drive the ball with more authority could help him trigger that within his own game. He has the size and strength to hit for more power than he’s shown thus far, but his balanced, up-the-middle approach limits the in-game utility of his raw pop. He’s built like a run-producer but he hits like a table-setter, in the Christian Yelich/Nick Markakis mold.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 4-6, 3 R, 2 2B, K. As lackluster as Winker’s first half was, his second half has been that good. Credit Winker and his pedigree as a good fundamental hitter for being able to hit his way out of his early-season funk, and credit his ability to consistently put the ball in play while also hitting for power with helping him get there. Hitters who consistently make contact at a rate like Winker’s, and do so without sacrificing power, typically end up hitting well, and in his case, the cream rose to the top. He’s not a prototypical corner-outfield power hitter, but he has enough to hold his own as an everyday player when coupled with his pure hit tool, on-base ability, and contact skills.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies (Modesto, A+): 2-4, 3 R, 2 2B, BB. McMahon presents a dichotomy on the prospect front. On the one hand, third base is supposed to be a big power position, yet in our current offensive environment, we’ve relaxed those standards. McMahon looks the part of a prototypical power-hitting third baseman, yet his power lends itself more toward doubles than home runs; still, in today’s power environment, that’s more than acceptable. The general consensus on McMahon is that he does everything well and nothing exceptionally. That may be selling him somewhat short, but even if it’s true, it makes for a really solid prospect.
Justus Sheffield, LHP, Indians (Lake County, A-): 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, R (0 ER), BB, 7 K. Which do you believe, your eyes or, well, your eyes? On the one hand, with Sheffield, you look at your gun and see mid-90s velocities coming from a left-hander. On the other hand, you look at the mound and see a 5-foot-10 pitcher who struggles with downward plane. An arm like that, and one that holds its own as a 19-year-old in full-season ball, is impressive from any angle. He misses bats, which will always play in some capacity, but he’ll need to find a way, likely the further development of an offspeed pitch, to help him also miss barrels.
Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 7 IP, 4 H, R (0 ER), 0 BB, 6 K. There were scouts who saw the skinny body on Weaver, one that doesn’t lend itself to adding much more weight, and saw a potential reliever. Those scouts were wrong. Weaver is going to be a big-league starter, and even though his ceiling isn’t particularly high, he was far too polished for the Florida State League for the majority of this season. Weaver generates his velocity with minimal effort, which is why his thin frame can sustain 100 pitches and 200 innings, and his changeup gives him a weapon against hitters from both sides. He’s not an ace, but his floor is higher than those of most minor-league starters and he should settle into the middle of a major-league rotation soon.
Manuel Margot, OF, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 3-5, 2 R, HR, BB, 3 SB (then hit for the cycle on Sunday). Margot is dynamic in so many different ways and can impact a game on both sides of the ball, as well as on the bases. No prospect in the game has a better balance between swing aggression and ability to make contact, as Margot looks to drive the ball every chance he gets yet doesn’t swing and miss very often. In fact, he makes contact more consistently than most contact hitters and plenty of damage along the way. The Red Sox have continued to challenge him with aggressive promotions, yet Margot has handled every challenge with similar levels of success. It may be time to let him stay at one level and dominate for a year, but it won’t be long before he’s ready for Fenway.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Athletics (Midland, AA): 5-7, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, K. Nunez has some holes in his swing, but he deserves credit for not having them exploited at the Double-A level while still maintaining relative power production along the dreaded road from Stockton to Midland that has claimed more than one A’s power-hitting prospect. There are still questions about his overall hit tool and his ultimate position, but power will play anywhere, and Nunez has it.
Jake Thompson, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. Thompson immediately became the best pitching prospect in a rejuvenated Phillies system the minute he donned a Reading Phillies uniform, and he’s backed up that projection for the past month-and-a-half. The stuff has always been electric, which is why the Phillies were interested in prying him away form the Rangers not too long after Texas pried him away from the Tigers. In order to reach his ceiling, he’ll need to continue the development of an offspeed pitch to pair with his fastball and slider, but either way, the Phillies have acquired a dynamic arm that is going to help them in their rebuilding process.
Casey Meisner, RHP, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. In many ways, Meisner is still very much projection. On the other hand, by the standards of most extremely tall pitchers who need to add weight, he’s much further along. For a player with long limbs and not much strength, Meisner actually repeats his delivery pretty well. He command isn’t as far off as you might expect for a player with his profile, and he already throws a ton of strikes. His secondary pitches need refinement, but not more so than those of most 20-year-olds, and he’s handled himself all the way through A-ball with impressive success to this point. There’s still a long way to go for Meisner, but the potential is there for a legitimate mid-rotation starter.
Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (Albuquerque, AAA): 3-5, R, HR, 2 K. Story can hit. That’s really what you need to know, and he’s a damn good athlete to boot. Whether he ends up at shortstop or not remains to be seen, and the scouting community is somewhat split on whether or not he’ll eventually slide over to second base. The Rockies’ needs could play a role in that decision, and they’ve worked Story at third base as well as both up-the-middle infield positions. His bat should play at any spot, and his ability to play all over the infield will only increase his value. Either way, despite some contact issues, he drives the ball consistently, gets on base a ton, and provides defensive value, all of which adds up to a potential impact player who will be a part of the Rockies rebuilding plans.
Matt Reynolds, SS, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 4-4, 2 2B. Reynolds is a solid prospect who should be able to help the Mets as long as his abilities are kept in the appropriate context. He’s not an impact player, and outside of a few inflated batting averages, he’s never given any indication otherwise. What he can do, however, is play some solid up-the-middle defense while consistently putting the bat on the ball and supplying moderate pop. That’s a solid role player, and one who should help the Mets down the road, so long as they don’t count on him for too much.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 7 1/3 IP, 6 H, R, 0 BB, 8 K. Immensely talented but inconsistent: The story really hasn’t changed for Glasnow despite continued success and his proximity to the majors. He’s on the doorstep, and despite the Pirates’ claims that he needs to continue working on command and other pitching nuisances (which they are correct about), they will only be able to hold him off for so long. He’s going to be in their plans for next season, but he’s not an option for this year, and that’s the right decision.
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, BB. It seems like every year we see a three-true-outcomes player take advantage of the California League’s extreme hitters’ environments and put up crazy numbers. This year’s version is Bellinger, who crossed the 30-home-run mark this season despite some significant contact issues. The players who fit Bellinger’s mold have had sporadic follow-up seasons and developmental paths, which makes it even more difficult to grade Bellinger. His power is unquestionable, but how it will play at higher levels remains to be seen.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (El Paso, AAA): 2-5, R, 2 2B, K. Renfroe is also known for his power, and it’s going to play in games because he punishes fastballs as well as any hitter in the minors. That said, he’s aggressive, and that can get him in trouble at times, especially against advanced pitching. After a slow start, Renfroe made the necessary adjustments this summer and fell back into his power-hitting mold, but he remains a flawed hitter who does his damage in between whiffs.
Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres (Fort Wayne, A-): 5-5, 3 R, 3 2B. If you already feel disappointment regarding Reyes, it’s only due to the ridiculous nature of prospect coverage (guilty as charged) rather than anything Reyes himself has done. Reyes spent most of this season, his second in the full-season Midwest League, as a 17-year-old. The Padres were ridiculously aggressive with Reyes, to the point where it might actually be detrimental to the player, but he managed to hold his own, if nothing else. Despite his age, he’s not built like a teenager, but regardless of the way the Padres have promoted him, he’ll need plenty of time to figure out how to use his size.
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 3-4, R, 3B, HR, BB, K, 2 SB. The questions surrounding Frazier haven’t been about his talent, which hasn’t been doubted since his days as an amateur. It’s about how that talent will play, thanks to his propensity to swing and miss. He wants to hit the ball hard and far, which is an approach you can’t teach every player. In Frazier’s case, it has led to a high strikeout rate, but one that he limited this year without sacrificing his power. That’s a good sign for a developing player learning how to use his skill set.
Harrison Bader, OF, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. I saw a lot of Bader in college, and his ability to punish mistakes was evident. He’s strong and swings with authority, embracing his role as a run-producer. I wasn’t sure how the swing would hold up against better breaking balls, thanks to a significant weight transfer in his load, and his impressive performance in the low minors really doesn’t answer that question. Still, he’s done exactly what was expected of him in pro ball since being drafted this past summer. He’ll get tested in the Florida State League next year, and that will tell us a lot about his future.
Erick Fedde, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. When healthy, Fedde features two plus pitches, a fastball and a slider, which gives him the potential to be a mid-rotation starter. That ceiling is far away, given his recent history as a Tommy John survivor, so the fact that he’s even on the mound every fifth day is exactly what the Nationals were hoping for this season. His performance has been secondary, though he’s thrown strikes, which is essential on the path back. We can debate his stuff next season, but for now, it’s just good to see him healthy.
Not only is this the final Minor League Update of the minor-league regular season, but this is my final piece for Baseball Prospectus. I don’t speak hyperbolically when I say that it has been a true honor to stay up late every night to write this piece, and then discuss it with you every single morning. I consider the readers of this site to be the very best and most knowledgeable baseball fans in the world, and my enjoyment writing for you in all capacities here at BP has been matched only by the standard to which you have held my work. I know you will continue to do so in my absence. You have made me a better writer and a better scout, and I thank you for it. I don’t yet know where my work will turn up next, but I assure you that I will do a better job at it, having written this article every night. And for that, I thank you.
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