It’s that exciting time of year where the next crop of prospects we’ll fawn over and dream on reach High-A and face advanced hitting and pitching on a regular basis. Let’s get to it!
On The Shelf
A beleaguered campaign has finally ended for Tyler Stephenson, who will undergo season-ending wrist surgery. Stephenson, Cincinnati's first round selection in 2015, has suffered a concussion and three separate DL stints due to nagging sprains on his left wrist. The promising catcher has only accrued 176 at-bats this season, likely knocking his development path back a season. While it’s currently unknown whether Stephenson will be able to return for the start of the 2017 season, a quick reboot in Rookie ball upon his arrival seems in order to get the catcher back on track.
Movin’ On Up
Although it’s been nearly a week since his arrival, I’d be remiss not to mention Kyle Tucker’s promotion to High-A Lancaster. Tucker, Houston’s fifth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, struggled out of the gate at Rookie ball but bounced back strong in Low-A this season, slashing .276/.348/.402. Still just 19, Tucker has plenty of time to refine his game and coax the in-game power out of his bat. At High-A, his esteemed hit tool will be testing against wiser pitching and we may start to see his true defensive future emerge in either right or center field. Recommended reading: James Fisher’s Eyewitness Report on Tucker published just last week.
Joining Tucker in Lancaster is Albert Abreu, the right-handed pitcher from the Dominican with electric stuff. In his 90 innings at Low-A, Abreu struck out 10.4 batters per 9 innings, but walked just under 5. These intriguing rate stats could be chalked up to his rip-n-run fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a lethal curveball that can be hurled at a wide range of speeds. The biggest box for Abreu to check in High-A is obviously: walk less guys, dude. If Abreu can do so, the upside becomes tangible, but otherwise High-A might be a long stop for him. School is back in session, so more recommended reading: Mauricio Rubio’s article on weighing floor and upside, demonstrated through Abreu and Franklin Perez.
After an unsteady run through the Sally League, Boston has promoted Michael Chavis to High-A Salem. Chavis, a 2014 first-rounder, has made the transition to third base gracefully, but has been frustrating at the plate. Once billed as a premium power asset, Chavis has struggled to unleash his raw power in-game and walked in just seven percent of his plate appearances this season. The upside of a first-division third baseman still lurks in Chavis, but he’ll have to lock in these adjustments sooner rather than later to avoid a High-A rut.
Though perhaps overshadowed by the other pitching prospects in Atlanta’s system, Patrick Weigel has raised some eyebrows in the Sally league and bypassed High-A entirely. His promotion to Double-A Mississippi is an aggressive one, but he was already slightly old for the Sally League and his overwhelming success there convinced the Braves organization to give him a look at a higher level. It’s likely Weigel will find himself assigned to High-A at the start of 2017, but for now, it seems Atlanta has gotten a quality return on their seventh round investment.
Bryan Reynolds, San Francisco's second-round selection in this year’s draft, has already made it to Low-A Augusta. Reynolds, a Vanderbildt product, is expectedly to move quickly due to his advanced offensive ability and can offer a solid floor with upside to the Giants when he’s ready for the bigs. In his 40 games at the lower levels, Reynolds posted an OPS of .868, showing his readiness for more.
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