Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Minnesota Twins (Double-A Chattanooga)
Gonsalves has been putting up impressive numbers throughout his minor-league career, and that hasn’t changed in the Double-A jump this year. Does the stuff match the minor-league production? Somewhat. Most importantly, it’s enough to project a serviceable major-league starter.
Gonsalves is a lengthy left-hander with a feel for three pitches and average command projection. His fastball sat 89-92 in my look with average plane when commanded down, and slight tail. He’s capable of working both sides and shows natural cut when spotted to the glove-side. Because of an easy delivery that he sometimes cuts short, Gonsalves occasionally fails to finish his motion and leaves the pitch up. He shows the ability to work up effectively when changing eye levels, and that offering has deceptive life above the barrel, but he can also simply leave it up as a mistake without the same life. His fastball can be an above-average pitch.
The 22-year-old’s best pitch is a plus-potential changeup with split-like action. The late fade and sink have good depth, and he sells the pitch exceptionally well with solid arm action. He also shows excellent feel for it and can go to it at any time. His tighter breaking ball sits mid-80s with three-quarters tilt and flashes two-plane action and late bite. He doesn’t have the same feel for it as the fastball and changeup, but he’ll break it out of the zone against left-handed batters with two strikes, and it’s enough bite for the occasional offer. It projects as an average pitch with more feel and continued work on the tightness. Gonsalves also tosses a curveball in the mid-70s that flashes downward action and plus depth, but it shows early with hump and some looseness. It’ll likely stay below-average.
Gonsalves comes from a three-quarters slot that he repeats pretty well. It’s a long arm action and he comes at batters with long arms and legs, but it’s clean enough to work for him. It’s a very smooth and easy delivery. Combine this with a feel for three pitches, including a true plus changeup, and Gonsalves has the makings of a No. 4 starter. —David Lee
McKenzie has had a very successful year by all accounts, especially for his first season out of high school. A tall, wiry pitcher coming in at 6-foot-5, with 165 pounds on his frame, there is easy room for projection to see him gaining weight and potentially adding velocity to his fastball. His fastball currently sits in the 89-92 range, not getting any higher but occasionally dipping to 88. He has great extension as a result of his long arms and throws downhill. His curveball is his next best pitch, though it is inconsistent and will vary between a 12-6 and 11-5 shape. He shows fantastic feel for the pitch with an ability to spin it and generate swings and misses. His changeup is lacking, as he spiked most of them. His delivery is natural and he repeated well, with a high leg lift. The obvious hope with McKenzie is that he fills out, continues on his path and adds velocity while continuing to gain consistency with his secondary pitches. The ability is all there, as he showed a great feel for pitching and the consistency should come with repetitions. —Grant Jones
Cody Ponce, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (High-A Brevard County)
Ponce was shelved for half of 2016 with some forearm tightness and his results since coming back from the injury have been mixed at best. He's still flashing the promise and upside he did in 2015. Tall and broad, Ponce has a clean, repeatable delivery and stays on line to the plate which allows him to command his arsenal. He can run into trouble when he cuts himself off in his delivery, which causes him to overcompensate with his hips, which then leads to a more rotational delivery. When he's on and driving hard to the plate Ponce shows three plus pitches with a fastball that can run up to the upper 90s but sits more in the 92-94 mph range. His curve and change both have the potential to miss bats. The results haven't been there this year but look for a rebound for the talented Ponce in 2017. —Mauricio Rubio
Trey Ball, RHP, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Ball has stayed true to his billing coming out of high school, maintaining a long development path as a cold-weather player (Indiana) who had both hit and pitched in high school. He's had some strong starts for Salem, though he's not striking out hitters at the rate his raw stuff grades out to, and he's occasionally fought through bouts with wildness. He's got an athletic frame and loose finish to his delivery, but in terms of his command within the zone, some funk at his release can create inconsistencies to his extension. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and gets on hitters with late hop because of his loose, long levers. He's mixed a nice looking cutter in the high-80s that's especially tough on lefties, and favors a shapely mid-70s curveball over a changeup which he didn't use much in this outing, perhaps in favor of working on his other offerings. Ball has a good frame and a smattering of average-to-solid pitches, though there's still plenty of development needed. He might be a big-league starter if he makes adjustments, though it would be interesting to see how his stuff plays from a relief role if he has a hard time sticking as a starter. As a reliever, his fastball could re-reach the mid-90s (where he flashed his peak velocity as an amateur), while also allowing his fastball-and-cutter arsenal to register more effective results. — Adam McInturff
Nick Solak, 2B, New York Yankees (Short-Season Staten Island)
The Yankees selected Solak in the 2nd round of this year’s amateur draft, and he is another intriguing position player in a suddenly deep farm system. The 21-year-old out of Louisville has already made an impact with his bat, earning the opportunity to participate in the NY-Penn League All-Star Game. He has slashed .315/.409/.419 in his first 237 plate appearances with Staten Island and his approach stands out as one of the more advanced I have seen in the NYPL this season. Quick hands, a line-drive stroke, and an efficient swing path result in a hit tool with plus potential. At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, he does seem to have some remaining capacity for adding muscle without affecting his speed. Nonetheless, his simple hitting mechanics lend themselves more to gap power. Solid base-running instincts in addition to his above-average speed should enable him to steal 10+ bases per year as a professional. The primary question mark with Solak is his future defensive position. After mostly playing left field as a sophomore, he switched to second base this year. I think he can stay at second base long-term due to his reliable hands and quickness, but he also runs well enough to hold his own in center field if necessary. On the other hand, he lacks the arm strength to play right field or the left side of the infield. While Solak does not have the upside of either Jorge Mateo or the recently acquired Gleyber Torres, he could develop into an average major league regular. —Erich Rothmann
Michael Gettys, CF, San Diego Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore)
Gettys is one of those players who immediately catches your eye on the field, on account of elite athleticism that is apparent the moment he moves. He’s well put-together, with broad shoulders, present strength, and the ability to wear a bit more good weight without compromising his physicality as he grows into maturity. And while the initial reads were on the slower side, he showed all of the characteristics you look for in a center fielder, highlighted by some feel for trajectory, plus speed that he gets to very quickly, and a strong throwing arm that produces velocity at least in that grade range as well. There was some still-raw feel for the position at times, but he the tools are there to develop into an above-average defender up the middle.
At the plate his stance is quiet and upright, and he coils his weight onto his back leg with an inconsistent load that frequently leaves him unbalanced into a long forward stride. The hands also struggle to find a stable point of trigger, as he tips the bat at wandering angles, and he’ll frequently bar his arm to add unnecessary length into the zone. When he does trigger, the bat speed he produces is well above-average, and there’s some plane to drive pitches when he catches the ball flush. He struggled mightily to see curveballs in these looks, however, and was brutalized by advanced sequencing several times for whiffs or weak contact. The aggressiveness of the stride limits his ability to adjust when beaten, and the combination of length into the zone and inability to control the barrel creates an awful lot of swing and miss—and not the kind that is easily remedied. He turned in a plus 4.19 dig on the one clean release I got, and the hit tool will play up with some infield hits and bunt singles—one of which I saw him muster with a perfect drag. But there’s a lot of inefficiency and generally clunky mechanical stuff going on with his swing. I don’t make it a habit of betting against excellent athletes, and there’s enough fluidity in his raw actions to where I wouldn’t in this case, either. But I didn’t leave these games confident he’d be able to hit his way to regular playing time down the line in spite of big-league tools. —Wilson Karaman
Stryker Trahan, OF/DH, Arizona Diamondbacks (Low-A Kane County)
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Trahan has been a polarizing player for scouts ever since. He was a catcher coming out of high school with legitimate questions about whether he would stay there as a pro, while the bat was projected to play anywhere on the diamond. The experiment behind the plate seems to have ended with his last game caught in 2015, and he is seeing significant time in right field. While the defense wasn’t enough behind the plate, the bat also has failed to take a step forward in pro ball. His career average stands at .220 and shows little signs of improving during his second stop in the Midwest League.
Trahan’s frame is stocky and thick with no projection remaining. His feet are heavy and while he moves well enough in right field, it isn't going to get better. At the plate he starts from an open stance with his hands at his shoulder and an open front foot. The stance is reminiscent of Chipper Jones but Trahan doesn’t have the same hit tool Jones did. The swing itself is uppercut and gets long. While he still possesses the premium bat speed that got him drafted, he just doesn’t make enough contact and is susceptible to sequencing. That being said, the raw power is impressive and when he does make contact it is loud. Trahan’s future is tied to the bat and at this point the bat isn’t going to take him much further while being limited to a corner outfield spot or DH. —James Fisher
Trey McNutt, RHP, San Diego Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
Name sound familiar? Look back a handful of years ago and you will find McNutt atop the Cubs top prospect lists along side the likes of Chris Archer, it was even rumored the Rays asked for McNutt in rather than Archer in the Matt Garza trade. Now fast forward through a few surgeries, some forgettable years, released and Trey has resurfaced in Double A with the San Diego Padres. When McNutt was released in 2015 by the Cubs, he was throwing in the upper 80s, and when he showed up in 2016 Spring Training this happened.
After missing the first three quarters of the 2016 season he is back and has been reported as sitting 95-97 and hitting up to 99 MPH, with a 12-6 power breaking ball, along with a sharp mid/upper-80s slider, and a changeup. McNutt is a physical specimen, and with his high effort delivery, it’s easy to dream of him coming out of a big-league pen. —Derek Florko
Matt Manning, RHP, Detroit Tigers (Complex-level GCL)
Manning, the ninth-overall pick of the 2016 draft is a lanky 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, with plus arm speed, a clean, compact arm action, and has the look of a future top of the rotation arm. In a three-inning look, Manning sat 94-96 with explosive life, and his control of it was highly advanced for someone his age. In a grueling nine-pitch at-bat against Mickey Moniak, Manning tried to throw the gas by him, but Moniak kept fouling it off. Undeterred, Manning went inside corner at 95 and had enough movement to cross back over the black to get him looking. The pitch plays at a 65 currently, but could be an even bigger pitch with improved strength and reps down the road.
He struggled to finish off opposing hitters with his curve, but it still showed makings of a plus offering. Coming in at 81-83, the pitch has 11/5 shape and features plus depth, with sharp action and good bite. While he wasn’t able to finish guys off with it that day, he was still able to show it as a pitch to throw for a strike to get guys off the fastball.
His changeup, while clearly a third pitch, is further ahead than you would imagine. Coming it at 89-90, it outpaces most guys’ fastballs down here. He throws it with proper arm speed but it lacks movement and he wasn’t able to locate for strikes in this viewing. The pitch has promise and will only improve as he gains more feel and comfort with it. It is easy to say Manning is clearly the best arm down here, so I will. Manning clearly is the best arm down here, is the best arm in the organization, and has limitless potential. —Steve Givarz
Cristian Santana, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Complex-level AZL)
Santana has the natural size for third base to go with plus bat speed and baseball instincts. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 175 lbs, but I’d be surprised if he’s under 200. He’s big, but not in the wrong places; he has a strong lower-half, a solid core, and developed arms. He has the quick-twitch muscles to generate outstanding bat speed, quick footwork in the field, and very quick hands, particularly for someone his size. He has a noisy, deep load to his swing, with a hand-rock and leg-kick that each flare out over the plate during the pitcher’s windup. Despite all this, he consistently sets his hands in a good hitting position, though it precedes a long path to the plate. He generates huge torque and swings violently as he uncorks his body; with his all-or-nothing approach, there’s a lot of swing and miss. Calling him “aggressive” at the plate is an understatement of epic proportions; he rarely walks at all and currently struggles mightily with same-side pitching, with prodigious strikeout figures for a guy in complex-league ball. The power potential is tremendous for a 19-year-old kid, hitting a ball over the berm in the Angels’ Spring Training stadium:
He’s a talented kid and he knows it, playing with an outward arrogance/swagger to his game. He has the ability to make the spectacular play, and makes the difficult play look routine; he has skills with the glove that could reach plus at his peak, thanks to good range and a quick first step, and has the arm to play third base long-term.The glove is instinctive and responsive; on a full-out dive toward the line, the ball kicked off the infield lip back toward him. He adjusted mid-dive and got a glove on it, which was impressive in it’s own right. The very next play, a sharp groundball right at him, hit the same lip, and bounced up head-high above his right shoulder. He somehow whipped his glove backhand and snagged it, looked up calmly while taking a stride toward first base, and fired a bullet five feet up the baseline for an E5. Those consecutive plays pretty much sum up the experience seeing Santana play this summer; he does things on the baseball field which make your jaw drop, with both the bat and the glove, but his aggressiveness and bravado can get the best of him.
Santana is an interesting guy to watch going forward, which is more than one can say for most guys in complex-level ball. He’s only 19, but he’s also already 19, an age that finds a lot of guys at least in short-season if not Low-A, so he’ll have to rake to continue to stay on the radar. —Matt Pullman