Prospect of the Weekend:
Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals (Low-A, Hagerstown): 5-7, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI.
At some point, Kieboom will likely be able to sit at the dinner table as the better big leaguer in his family, likely besting the MLB production of his older brother Spencer. Three bombs pushed Kieboom past his 2016 home run total in 15 fewer games, not to mention a double and single that added to his impressive Sunday afternoon. Still just 19 years old, Kieboom is more than holding his own in the South Atlantic League; looking more and more like a player capable of being a key contributor for the Nationals down the line.
Friday, April 28th
Yoan Moncada, 2B, White Sox (Triple-A, Charlotte): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, SB.
Moncada isn’t long for Triple-A, particularly if he continues to make consistent contact, drive the ball for extra-base hits, and pick up steals. Blessed physically, Moncada should be an impact player at the big-league level, and will likely be a key player on the next White Sox contender.
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies (High-A, Lancaster): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K.
Making his 2017 debut this week—much to the chagrin of our own Wilson Karaman, who tried to catch him in action earlier this season—Rodgers quickly notched three multi-hit games in his first six games on the field. The best of the bunch was Friday’s affair where he pounded two doubles and looked the part of an impact offensive shortstop.
Corey Ray, OF, Brewers (High-A, Carolina): 3-6, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SB.
Ray got a late start to the 2017 season, and while the average is low, he’s done enough early this season to show why the Brewers popped him with the fifth pick in last summer’s draft. Ray’s power and speed are enticing, and could make him a dynamic player that offers high-end talent on both sides of the ball. His propensity to chase breaking balls out of the zone could hinder his hit tool at the MLB level, but even with a modest average, Ray should be a quality player.
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves (High-A, Florida): 3-6, 3 R, 3B, RBI, 2 K.
The 19-year-old Acuna is off to yet another electric start, this time as one of the youngest players in the High-A Florida State league. A plus runner that can stick in center field and swipe 25-plus bases annually, Acuna is an exciting young player with potential to hit for more power as he reaches physical maturity.
Daz Cameron, OF, Astros (Low-A, Quad Cities): 3-5, 3 R, 3B, HR, 7 RBI, K.
In one of the few bright spots for Cameron this season, he ended up just a double short of the cycle on Friday, picking up seven runs batted in along the way. A player highly dependent on the development of his bat, Cameron has yet to put things together as his prospect stock continues to slide.
Eliezer (Eli) Alvarez, 2B, Cardinals (Double-A Springfield): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, K.
With a jump from Low-A to Double-A following his breakout 2016 campaign, Alvarez hasn’t quite come our raking like he did in the Midwest League last year, but scouts remain intrigued by his potential as a high-average, solid-OBP, infielder with a chance to defend at several positions. Alvarez isn’t a sexy prospect, but he has a big-league pedigree, and could reach that end sometime during the 2018 season.
Grayson Greiner, C, Tigers (Double-A, Erie): 3-5, 2 2B, RBI, 2 K.
Greiner entered pro ball with some excitement as a quality defensive backstop that could hit a bit and had pop in his bat, but he has struggled as a pro, thanks in part to a hamate injury that derailed both is 2015 and 2016 seasons, Greiner will show flashes of both his offensive and defensive potential, but at this point he looks more and more like a backup backstop.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Rockies (Triple-A, Albuquerque): 7 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 8 K.
Hoffman will log plenty of big-league innings for the Rockies this summer, and starts like this will result in that happening sooner than later. An electric right-hander with front of the rotation potential, Hoffman has a chance to defy the conventional Coors Field logic and be an impact starter despite the offensive environment.
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros (Low-A, Quad Cities): 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K.
Whitley has worlds of potential, including a plus fastball that could be plus-plus once his development is complete, along with a potential plus curveball, backed by a changeup that some scouts project to average. Despite the broad arsenal, some scouts still view Whitley as a power reliever down the line, but with his potential as a starter, he should develop along those lines for as long as humanly possible.
Jacob Faria, RHP, Rays (Triple-A, Durham): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 11 K.
Early returns from Faria’s second tour through the International League have been very positive, including an ERA just over 3.00 and a strikeout rate approaching 14 per nine innings. While his 89-92 mph fastball will never blow hitters away, it looks markedly faster when paired with his plus changeup that offers movement and nearly a 10 mph velocity differential. Faria isn’t a star but should reach MLB this summer and could be a useful backend starter.
Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers (Double-A, Biloxi): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 10 K.
After some rough times in 2016, Lopez looks to have returned to form and could reach Milwaukee later this year after two starts with the big club in 2015. When he’s on top of his game Lopez will show a mid-90s heater and hammer curveball that can dominate hitters.
Saturday, April 29th
Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees (Double-A, Trenton): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB.
Anybody that reads these updates regularly is familiar with Torres’ potential and background. Back from injury and facing his initial Double-A test, Torres has held his own thus far, pounding his first 2017 home run on Saturday, to go along with a single, double, and stolen base. While the Yankees sit tied atop the American League East standings without Didi Gregorius in the lineup, it’s unlikely Torres will be pushed to the big leagues, but he should be a force for the club long term.
Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers (Double-A, Erie): 1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K.
For me, Saturday’s line represents the future for Stewart; a slugger with a low average and plenty of strikeouts. While he has walked a fair amount throughout his minor league career, I have yet to see a player with translatable pitch recognition or plate discipline that will allow his on-base percentage to translate to the big leagues. Given his defensive shortcomings—he’s a DH in the making—Stewart will need to maximize his raw power in game situations to remain a middle of the order hitter
Dylan Cozens, OF, Phillies (Triple-A, Lehigh Valley): 3-4, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI.
Cozens can hit the ball a country mile when he connects, but he’s not the player the 2016 stat sheet suggests. His inability to make consistent contact will prevent him from being a viable big league slugger, and could prevent him from a substantial big league career of any kind.
Yanio Perez, OF, Rangers (Low-A, Hickory): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB.
Perez’s stateside professional debut has been nothing short of spectacular so far, slashing well ahead of a .300/.400/.500 pace and flashing the plus speed and plus raw power that earned him a seven-figure signing bonus after defecting from Cuba. Perez is an intriguing young player with the potential to develop into a top-flight prospect, and the 21-year old’s true test will come once he moves past Low-A.
Dylan Cease, RHP, Cubs (Low-A, Peoria): 4.2 IP, 2 H, R/ER, 4 BB, 10 K.
Cease’s only trouble in his full-season debut has been his inability to throw strikes, walking 15 hitters in just 23.2 innings. Aside from his walks, Cease looks like a dominating right-hander as a 21-year-old in the Midwest League. His fastball is consistently sitting in the mid-90s and several scouts have reported seeing 98-99 mph out of him this spring, backed by an occasionally plus curveball. Cease is an enticing arm that has a lot of development ahead of him and merits all the early attention he is receiving this season.
Sunday, April 30th
Nick Williams, OF, Phillies (Triple-A, Lehigh Valley): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, RBI.
Williams is a boom or bust prospect with equal chances to flame out and barely have a big league career, or turn into a natural hitter with power and speed mixed into his offensive game. Williams continues to swing at just about everything in his zip code, hindering his natural bat-to-ball ability and preventing his power from consistently playing in game situations. As it stands now, Williams would be a streaky MLB player—at best—and given the inconsistencies throughout his entire game, even that projection could be a stretch.
Dustin Fowler, OF, Yankees (Triple-A, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre): 5-6, 2 R, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, SB.
Fowler hasn’t raced out of the gates, but his Sunday cycle (plus an extra double) improves his season line considerably. Fowler’s best attribute remains his defensive potential, but he also shows an ability to hit for average and pick up some doubles. He should be a solid contributor for the Yankees long term, and could arrive in 2017 if pressed into service.
Anderson Franco, 1B/3B, Nationals (Low-A, Hagerstown): 4-6, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB, K.
Franco’s stock has stagnated after a back injury derailed his 2016 season and he’s often a forgotten man in the Nationals system. Though he’s come out of the gates without much fanfare this season, Sunday’s performance hints at his offensive potential if he can continue to develop his offensive approach and lay off crappy breaking balls out of the strike zone. Franco has been manning the cold corner thus far in Low-A and hasn’t looked great doing it, putting a dent in his value.
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates (High-A, Bradenton): 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 9 K.
Keller continues to step forward with his command, making him a potential lethal starting pitcher that offers low- to mid-90s gas and a plus breaking ball that offers sharp movement and plenty of velocity differential. His changeup remains a work in progress, but even with a fringe-average third offering, Keller could easily become a mid-rotation starter.
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Braves (Triple-A, Gwinnett): 7 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 11 K.
Dating back to his college dates in Connecticut, Newcomb’s biggest stumbling block has been his inconsistency—not just from outing to outing, but pitch to pitch. That trait remained problematic in 2016 and while it is impossible to say its behind him in 2017, this type of start makes me want to believe in what’s possible when you have a left-hander with his arsenal.
Ricardo Sanchez, LHP, Braves (High-A, Florida): 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 ER, BB, 6 K.
It seems like only yesterday I was riding around in a rental car with Jason Parks, Mauricio Rubio, and Craig Goldstein, chasing ghosts trying to catch one of Sanchez’s early starts on the back fields in spring training. We were successful, and while he wasn’t spectacular in that outing several years ago, he flashed the potential that makes him such an exciting young prospect. Still just 20 years old, Sanchez may not be long for Low-A if he continues to pitch like this.
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Sixto Sanchez: 5 IP, 2 H, 4 SO, 0 BB, 0 ER
Alex Hanson: 6 IP, 1 H, 3 SO, 1 BB, 0 ER
Oscar De La Cruz: 4 IP, 7 H, 2 SO, 1 BB, 1 HR, 4 ER
Connor Jones: 5 IP, 1 H, 3 SO, 1 BB, 0 ER
Brett Martin: 4 IP, 2 H, 5 SO, 4 BB, 1 ER
Dennis Santana: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 8 SO, 2 BB, 0 ER
Brannon Easterling: 7 IP, 5 H, 5 SO, 2 BB, 1 ER
Wendolyn Bautista: 6 IP, 6 H, 6 SO, 2 BB, 0 ER
Kyle Dowdy: 7 IP, 3 H, 9 SO, 1 BB, 0 ER
Devin Smeltzer: 5 IP, 5 H, 8 SO, 0 BB, 2 ER
Alex Webb: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 5 SO, 0 BB, 1 ER
Adonis Rosa: 5 IP, 4 H, 9 SO, 1 BB, 1 ER
Forrest Wall: 2-3, 2 BB, 1 SO
Matt Thaiss: 2-3, 1 HR
Jake Noll: 5-7, 1 HR, 2 2B (Also part of that 22 run effort in Hagerstown. He is a guy that I probably like more than I should)
Nicky Lopez: 3-5, 1 2B
Eguy Rosario: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB
Max Murphy: 3-4, 2 HR, 1 BB
Wade Hinkle: 3-3, 2 2B, 2 BB
Cornelius Randolph: 0-4, 3 SO, 1 BB
Mikey White 0-5, 3 SO
That was really thorough. Thanks for the write-ups!