Prospect of the Weekend:
Sandy Baez, RHP, Tigers (High-A, Lakeland): 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 11 K
Baez has experienced an up and down season after being added to the Tigers 40-man roster last winter, but when he’s right, he can dominate the opposition. His fastball velocity frequently climbs throughout the game, reaching as high as 96-98 mph in the late innings. There’s some potential in the slider, enough that scouts easily project him to find success in a high leverage relief role, but the Tigers will continue to give him opportunities to start next year in Double-A.
Friday, August 18
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals (Double-A, Harrisburg): 2-3, R, 2 2B, BB, K
So, so talented, and will be a massive asset in Washington as soon as next season.
Khalil Lee, OF, Royals (Low-A, Lexington): 4-5, 3 R, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI
Lee is in the midst of a strong August showing, including a .333 average and 10 extra-base hits in just 15 games. Lee is a premium athlete with a ton of swing and miss in his game, but also an ability to work deep counts and flash above-average raw power.
Nolan Jones, 3B, Indians (Short-Season, Mahoning Valley): 3-5, 2 R, 3 2B, 3 RBI, K
A second round pick that was handed more than $2 million in 2016, Jones has a great frame and plus raw power that he brings into games with a quality approach and strong bat-to-ball ability. Jones has all the ingredients to profile as a classic physical, power hitting third baseman.
Jorge Mateo, SS/OF, Athletics (Double-A, Midland): 3-5, R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K
Mateo’s sudden resurgence as a prospect fascinates me. The pure talent is undeniable, so you have to hope that whatever triggered this breakout is something he can – and wants – to sustain in order to achieve his ceiling at the Major League level.
Aramis Ademan, SS, Cubs (Low-A, South Bend): 2-4, R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI
I know the Cubs have graduated or traded away nearly all of their high profile prospects, and its easy to say that the system is now approaching barren, but there are still talented youngsters at the lowest levels. I’d put some money on Ademan becoming one of the more highly thought of prospects in this system over the next year.
Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Phillies (Short-Season, Williamsport): 3-4, 2 2B, RBI, K
Ortiz is a huge individual with massive raw power that the Phillies saw fit to invest over $4 million in as a 16-year old. He’s developed his approach and hitting ability more rapidly than most scouts believed he could, giving him a chance to hit for significant power in game situations as he moves up the minor league ladder.
Hoy-Jun Park, SS/2B, Yankees (High-A, Tampa): 3-4, 3 R, 2 2B, BB, K
Park is a legitimate up the middle defender with the quickness, range, hands, and instincts to play either shortstop or second base at above-average levels. His bat won’t match those standards, but he could hit for a decent average with enough walks to push his OBP to acceptable levels for a glove-first middle infielder. More likely, Park is a utility infielder that isn’t a black hole at the plate.
Cole Ragans, LHP, Rangers (Short-Season, Spokane): 6 IP, 3 H, R/ER, 3 BB, 10 K, HRA
Ragans has made impressive strides in his second professional season, continuing to show a solid-average fastball with improved control, to go along with an above-average changeup and developing curveball Ragans has a chance to be an impressive three-pitch lefty with mid-rotation potential.
Saturday, August 19
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, 3B, Blue Jays (High-A, Dunedin): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, RBI, K
Guerrero continues to hit despite his promotion to High-A, and not just hit, but pile up extra-base hits. The questions about his defensive home will remain until he proves otherwise, but the bat is going to carry the profile no matter which glove he wears.
Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Orioles (Double-A, Bowie): 3-4, 2 R, 3 2B, K
Double-A has not been kind to Mountcastle over the last few weeks, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s had a breakout season and is quickly emerging as one of the best prospects in the O’s system. It’s likely Mountcastle heads back to Double-A to start the 2018 season, but once he adjusts to the level, he could be on his way through Triple-A to Baltimore in short order.
Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants (Rookie, AZL Giants): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 2 BB, K, SB
Ramos has been a massive success in his professional debut, flashing speed and huge raw power after becoming a first round pick two months ago. The word from scouts in attendance has been just as positive as the numbers, and we should see his name appearing on off-season prospect lists very quickly.
Thomas Jones, OF, Marlins (Short-Season, Batavia): 2-3, R, 2 2B, RBI, K
Jones is going to have a very long developmental path and will require considerable patience, but the payoff could be a multi-tooled athlete that impacts the game on both sides of the ball. In all likelihood, we could still be talking to Jones as a raw but intriguing prospect three years from now, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all.
Matt Whatley, C, Rangers (Short-Season, Spokane): 2-4, R, 2 2B, K
Popped in the third round out of Oral Roberts this summer, Whatley is a quality defender that earns above-average grades for his glove and arm, and giving him at least a backup floor. Offensively, he’s shown a knack for hitting in college, with a strong approach, and most scouts believe he can translate those traits and hit as a professional.
Alex Call, OF, White Sox (Low-A, Kannapolis): 3-5, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K
After hitting solidly in the South Atlantic League last summer, Call has struggled to adjust across three levels this year, with some scouts questioning whether he has the consistency in his swing to make regular contact against more advanced arms. Call can play any outfield position and has a solid group of tools that range from fringe-average to above-average.
Michel Baez, RHP, Padres (Low-A, Fort Wayne): 4 IP, 4 H, 5 R/ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 2 HRA
There’s been a ton of publicity on Baez this summer, and for good reason. Not every start is going to be a dominating one, and Baez will lose his command at times, leading to starts like this where he’s hit harder than his raw stuff might suggest he should be.
Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves (Double-A, Mississippi): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 9 K
Toussiant’s best start since his promotion to Double-A, and this is exactly what it can look like when he has everything – including his command – working for an extended stretch.
Sunday, August 20
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves (Triple-A, Gwinnett): 3-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI, K
You didn’t really think I was going to put together an entire weekend MLU without highlighting Acuna, did you?
Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers (Double-A, Erie): 4-5, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
I have my own serious reservations about Stewart based on my five-game look this year, but that doesn’t mean he is without intrigue. Stewart has raw pop and a solid approach that could make his well below-average glove tolerable.
Derek Hill, OF, Tigers (Low-A, West Michigan): 4-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, SB
Finally back on the field after Tommy John surgery, Hill is quickly making up for lost time by hitting better than he has at any point in his career. Hill’s defense projects to 70-grade thanks to double-plus speed and tremendous instincts, and if he can post a decent average with gap power, he becomes a borderline impact player.
Brett Cumberland, C, Braves (High-A, Florida): 3-3, R, 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI
Cumberland continues to need work with his glove, as scouts have been mixed about his potential to develop into an average defender. If he can’t make the necessary adjustments behind the dish, Cumberland only has first base as a fallback option, putting a ton of pressure on his bat to develop for him to have a big league future.
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Twins (Rookie, Elizabethton): 4 IP, H, 0 R/ER, BB, 5 K
Signed for $150,000 before the 2015 season, Graterol missed the 2016 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Back on the mound as an 18-year old this year, he has filled out his lanky frame and is now pumping serious gas; sitting comfortably at 96-98 mph in every outing and reaching 100 mph at times. His slider has potential and could give him a second above-average to plus pitch to help keep hitters off his fastball. There’s effort and aggression in Graterol’s delivery, which pushes his projection toward the bullpen, but he could be an electric back-end reliever.
Elniery Garcia, LHP, Phillies (Double-A, Reading): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Seeing Garcia with a solid showing on Sunday brought back memories of the first time I saw him before he even made his Stateside debut, and here are the notes from that initial observation.