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.
Others of Note
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland (Triple-A Columbus): 4-for-6, 3 R, 2 2B, K. Since being promoted to Triple-A, Zimmer has been outstanding, hitting .357/.449/.476 in his first 42 at-bats.
Chris Ellis, RHP, Los Angeles Angels (Triple-A Gwinnett): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 8 K. Ellis has really struggled to throw strikes since his promotion, but he is striking out nearly a batter an inning, and that’s good.
Andrew Suarez, LHP, San Francisco Giants (Double-A Richmond): 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Throwing strikes has not been a problem for Suarez—it never really has been—and he’s missing more bats than anyone anticipated. 65 strikeouts in 82 innings will certainly suffice considering the command profile.
Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees (High-A Tampa): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. To announce my presence with authority.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 3-for-4, 3 R, HR, 2 SB. No one should be surprised that Senzel is succeeding at this level. The only thing I’m surprised by is the 15 stolen bases; that’s a fun development.
Jonathan Arauz, IF, Houston Astros (Short-season Greeneville): 4-for-6, R, 2B, K. Acquired in the Ken Giles trade, Arauz is better with the glove, but he has a chance for an average hit tool and 45-grade pop, which will play well if he’s a shortstop.
Alec Hansen, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Short-season Great Falls): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. Okay, now this is a long shot, but imagine the rotation if Hansen and Carson Fulmer both can start. Talk about some uncomfortable at-bats.
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas): 4-for-5, 2 R, 2B. Very quietly—especially for a prospect in a big market—Cecchini has had a solid offensive season, and we’ve known for a long time what he can do with the glove.
Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis): 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. All his 4.96 ERA proves is that ERA isn’t always a great indicator of how well a pitcher has thrown. He’s not flawless, but he’s really good.
Ariel Jurado, RHP, Texas Rangers (Double-A Frisco): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Jurado has missed more bats than anticipated while still showing advanced stuff and command. That’s a decent combination.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics (Double-A Midland): 3-for-4, 3B, 2 HR. As long as you can deal with the strikeouts and the fact that he has almost zero chance to hit for average, you are going to like Chapman. There are three plus tools here, and the arm is plus-plus.
Jairo Beras, OF, Rangers (High-A High Desert): 2-for-5, 2 HR. Beras only has two plus tools, so Chapman wins. They didn’t know they were competing against each other.
Zack Littell, RHP, Seattle Mariners (High-A Bakersfield): 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. Littell has been a very pleasant surprise for Seattle, showing excellent control and two pitches that flash plus. All that’s missing is more consistency from his change.
Antonio Santillan, RHP, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 6 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. After getting ripped in his first Midwest League effort, Santillan settled down nicely. There’s a lot of work to be done, but plenty of time for said work to be done, too.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 3-for-4, 2 R, HR, CS. You say nice things about the stolen bases, and this happens. I think the Reds will allow it.
Will Benson, OF, Indians (Short-season AZL): 3-for-5, R, 2B. When all’s said and done, Benson could have four plus tools, so he really wins. It’s more likely everything but the hit tool ends up above average, but still, the upside—and Benson—is massive.
Thomas Szapucki, LHP, Mets (Short-season Brooklyn): 5.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 11 K. The ERA now stands at 0.77, so like I said, ERA is a great stat.
JaCoby Jones, OF, Detroit Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 3-for-5, K. Lots of struggles since his promotion to the International League, but Jones is still one of the more intriguing athletes in the Tigers system, and a player who offers some versatility.
Francis Martes, RHP, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. Remember when Martes was struggling to throw strikes or miss bats? I do, but it’s fading.
Chris Shaw, 1B, San Francisco Giants (Double-A Richmond): 2-for-4, HR, K. Shaw was a rumored target in many deals, but the Giants held on to him, and it was the right call.
Forrest Wall, 2B, Rockies (High-A Modesto): 2-for-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. It’s been an extremely disappointing season for Wall in the friendly confines of Modesto, but he still has a chance to hit for average and can run. Keep in mind that he’s still just 20, too.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K. Assuming you’re not Aroldis Chapman or someone of that ilk, there’s a really good chance that Kopech throws harder than you.
Luiz Gohara, LHP, Mariners (Low-A Clinton): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. What’s amazing about Gohara’s success is that not only has he proved many outside people wrong, he’s proven many people with the Mariners wrong, too. I think they’ll adjust to being wrong just fine.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 1-for-4, HR, 2 K. Is this is the first time we’ve had someone featured in all three days in the weekend MLU? I think it is. Congrats, Nick.
Ronnie Dawson, OF, Astros (Short-season Tri-City): 3-for-5, 3 R, BB, K. The Astros second-round pick this June, Dawson has a chance for plus power from the left side, and he’s shown an advanced approach at the plate with 32 walks in 44 games.
Dane Dunning, RHP, Washington Nationals (Short-season Auburn): 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Dunning mostly pitched in relief at the University of Florida, but the Nationals wisely are giving him a chance to start. His solid three-pitch mix should give him a chance to pitch in a rotation someday,