Jahmai Jones, CF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (High-A Inland Empire)
Anaheim’s second-round pick in 2015 (70th overall) is an athletic specimen. The son and brother of NFL talent, Jones has the frame for that game, with a thick lower-half, big ass, and square, powerful shoulders. It’s an intense physicality, and he’s still learning how to deploy it around a baseball field. His stride is balanced and explosive in the field. His routes can drift off course, particularly going back on balls. He’s also made a couple mental errors in my looks, giving up on balls that he should be breaking on. He certainly has the athleticism and efficiency to become a solid defender, however. He’s shown above-average arm strength and solid accuracy on full-throttle throws, with less consistency when on the run.
The approach at the dish is raw at present. He can be patient to a fault at times, while showing too much aggressiveness with men on. His stance has some inefficiency including a rise up on his feet as he strides, creating a negative angle on some swings. The result is more ground-ball contact, though it is frequently well struck. There’s plus raw power, thanks to his strength and impressive bat speed. He lets the ball travel well, with an opposite-field swing that’s more advanced than his pull stroke. Most impressively, he shows the ability to adjust in-game; multiple times he’s been fooled by a pitch or sequence early, only to come back and put a barrel to a later effort to exploit him similarly. His technique on the bases is raw, with a mechanical crossover that’s going to need some development if he’s to develop anything close to full utility with his speed.
There are a lot of really fun building blocks here. And while it’s going to take a while to put everything together, he shows as a smart, driven player with an aggressive mindset—a good place to start. —Wilson Karaman
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
Though the top end of the Houston Astros’ system has been weakened by the timely promotion of their best prospects, they’ve had others step up and begin making a name for themselves through the 2017 season. Whitley is one of those, with the 19-year-old zooming through the minors at an astounding rate.
Whitley is listed at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds; and while the height appears to be accurate, the kid (and kid he still is) has a ways to go before hitting what imagines is the team’s goal weight. If he’s able to add strength, it will only go towards improving what is already an impressive profile as a pitcher. Mechanically, he’s able to repeat his delivery well, though there is a concerning amount of head-whack and much of his velocity seems to come from the shoulder. As for that velo, Whitley has a fastball he can command well in the zone in the low 90s, which will occasionally display cutting action, dipping towards a true cutter. Additionally, Whitley works with a curveball (75-77), changeup (81-84), and slider (84-85). Somewhat surprisingly for a pitcher of his age, all three secondary offerings were effective, which goes a long way towards explaining his success across all three levels. While none of the pitches were really a “strikeout pitch,” they were all developed enough to work off his fastball/cutter, with the curveball as his best secondary in this outing.
Where Whitley is most impressive, though, is in his maturity as a pitcher—at least twice in his three innings he went backwards on a batter, effectively, suggesting someone confident in his entire arsenal. He entered the game in relief of Lance McCullers, Jr. and definitely held his own in comparison to the major leaguer, though he did tire in his third inning of work. —Kate Morrison
Tito Polo, OF, Chicago White Sox (Double-A Birmingham)
Originally an international signing by the Pirates, Polo moved to the Yankee organization this past offseason in the Ivan Nova deal and then became part of the return the Sox got for Todd Frazier. Polo was recently named as a Sox representative to the Arizona Fall League as well, so this was a good time to take a look at his development.
Looking a bit like the mini-me of Yoenis Cespedes at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, Polo has a strong, compact build. At the plate, he starts from an open stance and uses a leg kick for timing. He has a slight hitch as he loads and that can cause him to be late on velocity inside. While he has good strike zone awareness, he can struggle with pitch recognition and looks bad at times on quality spin. Overall, he can get to an average hit tool and gap power with some adjustments.
Polo is a solid defender who plays a shallow center field and gets good reads off the bat. He has been working to improve his routes and there is still work to be done in that area. He has an average arm and showed good accuracy and carry on his throws. As a baserunner, Polo shows consistent energy and aggressiveness. He runs hard on every play and earned two infield hits in this series with his hustle. He can be disruptive on the bases and he gets up to speed quickly. The defense and baserunning give Polo a floor of a bench outfielder. If he can make the adjustments in his offensive approach, he could work himself into regular at bats. —Scott Delp
Franklyn Kilome, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading)
This certainly looked like a guy starting his final game of the season after throwing the most innings of his minor league career. Kilome did put together a steady 2017 across two levels, in High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. And he did come out firing a heavy, sinking fastball at 95 mph in this outing, sitting 93-95 (t96). But once his long, lanky frame wanders a bit and starts flying open, he struggles to repeat his delivery, which means disappearing fastball command.
With his fastball command wavering, Kilome turned to a 12-6 curveball to get strikes. It's a nice pitch but it didn't show much bite and only flashed average depth. He didn't throw it consistently and seemed to abandon the pitch for his slider, which can run 82-84 with average depth to it. The changeup sits around 84-88, and could be an average future offering but it needs work to become a consistent go-to pitch for him. Kilome struggled to find the strike zone with his fastball in this outing, and left the pitch up in the zone too often. With the consistency of the secondaries floating in and out throughout the game, it left Kilome with little to work with. His defense betrayed him a bit, but he indeed looked like a guy who was just about checked out for the season.
Kilome has the potential to be a back-end starter, but if he can only turn one of those secondaries into a plus offering, he'll be best suited as a set-up man. My money would be on the 12-6 curveball, in case you're asking. But for a guy who just turned 22 and has seen a pretty wild growth spurt over the last two seasons, he'll be given every opportunity to develop those other secondaries as a starter, and it will be disappointing if he doesn't end up as a rotation piece. —Victor Filoromo
Jhonleider Salinas, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (short-season Hudson Valley)
Originally signed by Cleveland, Salinas was a part of the deal that sent Brandon Guyer to the Indians from Tampa in 2016. Salinas stands at 6-foot-7, with a three-quarters arm slot. His arm action is a bit longer than normal, but it tracks well and doesn’t lag behind when he strides towards home plate. The right-hander has a three-pitch repertoire which features a fastball, changeup, and slider. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, which he often pitches inside with. His slider has more of a horizontal, sweeping break to it, which lacks some command. The changeup is a work in progress, lacking deception and speed differential from his fastball. Salinas will have to craft his CH/SL in order to profile in a future bullpen role. —Justin Coleman
Ryan Borucki, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Triple-A Buffalo)
The Blue Jays’ decision to protect Borucki from the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason has paid off thus far. He finished with a 1.94 ERA (1.41 DRA) along with 42 strikeouts and just eight walks in 46 1/3 innings for New Hampshire before a promotion to Buffalo. The 23-year-old then proceeded to pitch six scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut. The main issue for Borucki has simply been staying healthy. Since the Jays selected him in the 12th round in 2012, he has endured numerous elbow and shoulder problems, including a Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2013. Durability concerns aside, he succeeds by consistently attacking the zone with his above-average repertoire. His fastball sat 89-92 (t94) when I saw him last week, yet it looks faster to the hitter due to his deceptive delivery. His plant leg conceals his left (pitching) hand before he quickly releases the ball from a three-quarters arm slot. The offering also features some nice arm-side run, which helped generate several swings and misses and weak grounders. His plus changeup serves as an ideal complement to his fastball because he throws it with similar arm speed and commands it well. Opposing batters struggle with the impressive late fade too. A strong case can be made that it is the best changeup in the entire farm system. His final offering is a slider that flashes average. It displays decent tilt, but he possesses much better feel for his other two pitches. Overall, if Borucki continues to stay healthy, he will realistically become a back-end starter and compete for a spot in the Jays’ rotation as soon as next season. —Erich Rothmann
Aramis Ademan, SS, Chicago Cubs (Low-A South Bend)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Aramis Ademan has the combination of youth and tools that will move him towards the top of the depleted Cubs’ prospect list. Described as a glove-first shortstop when signed, the bat has made significant progress as he’s split time this year between Eugene and South Bend. He has a thin but athletic build with room for added growth as the body matures. The stance is slightly open, and he displays a mild load and moderate leg kick along with above-average bat speed that features a bit of leverage. There is some pre-pitch noise and the swing can get long, but he displays a uncommon feel for barreling up the ball for someone so young. Currently the bat speed and swing path allow for raw, pull power but it could play close to average as he grows. He’s got average speed from the left side, but he is aggressive on the bases often looking to steal or take an extra bag. In the field Ademan has the tools to stick at shortstop. He has very quick hands and showed good range in my looks with an arm that is average for the position. With his youth, a future plus hit tool, and the ability to stay up the middle defensively, Ademan is a name that will be on our top prospect list soon. —Nathan Graham
Chris DeVito, 1B, Kansas City Royals (High-A Wilmington)
An eighth-round pick from New Mexico last summer, DeVito looks older than 22, with a bigger body and a bit of a gut. While doesn’t flash much athleticism or projectability, DeVito shows a steady approach at the plate and a loose swing that plays well in the lower levels of the Royals farm system. After absolutely clobbering South Atlantic League pitching to start 2017, the jump to High-A has slowed him down a bit, but he still showed enough in the series I caught to somewhat believe in his dominant early season performance.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound first baseman really is what he is at this point. He’s a rounder body, who has enough strength in his frame to drive pitches without putting much effort behind his swing. He flashes above-average barrel control and has good plate coverage. DeVito’s hands are loose and the bat gets through the zone easily, which should yield a fringe-average hit tool vs. major-league quality pitching given some of his other deficiencies. While the contact skills are good, DeVito lacks the torque and above-average bat speed to barrel plus velo with consistency. DeVito has a contact-first approach, despite his size, as he struggles using his entire body to turn on balls, resulting in doubles power more than over-the-fence pop.
In addition to the doubt about how well his swing translates, is the fact that DeVito profiles as a subpar first baseman due to his lack of flexibility and below-average glove skills for the position. As it is, if a first baseman can’t hit for consistent power and struggles defensively, that doesn’t bode well for finding a starting spot, even on a non-contending club. I do think that he has enough natural hitting ability to stick as a major-league bench bat, but he’s more realistically going to stall in Triple-A a bit after he figures out Single and Double-A pitching. —Greg Goldstein
Matt Givin, RHP, Miami Marlins (complex-level GCL)
Givin is a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder who has some added projection beyond just the physical components due to his relatively recent switch to the mound after being an infielder in high school. He attacks hitters with a low-90s fastball that shows average cut, that he can manipulate well. He’s already comfortable working east-west and has command to both halves of the plate. His best secondary is an 11-6 curveball in the upper 70s, and it looks to be a future average offering. There’s present feel for it, and he’s comfortable dropping it into the zone for a strike as well as out of the zone for chase swings. There’s no changeup to speak of right now, though he tossed a few between innings and in the bullpen, with most looking like BP fastballs at 82-85 with fringy action. The curve’s effectiveness against lefties meant he had little need for the change in high school, but continued repetitions and his ability to replicate his arm speed portend a useable major-league offering down the line. With Givin’s ability to manipulate his fastball, he could eventually separate his cutter into a discrete option, which would give him four pitches in his arsenal.
Despite the recent transition to the mound, Givin shows impressive poise and body control. His delivery is athletic and repeatable, and he’s comfortable enough to vary his tempo. His athleticism and delivery make him a consistent strike-thrower from a three-quarters slot, and he loves to compete on the mound. Here’s a fun story about him too: Givin has always gotten the, “You look like Zack Greinke-comment.” One day, a scout asked to take a picture of him. The scout then forwarded the picture to a D-Backs staff member who showed it to Greinke. Greinke responded, “Wow, he is even as good-looking as I am.” —Javier Barragan
Vidal Brujan, INF, Tampa Bay Rays (short-season Hudson Valley)
The athletic middle infielder from Tampa is in the midst of another successful minor league campaign, slashing a .283/.379/.422. It’s hard not to be impressed by his pure speed, as he is one of the fastest minor leaguers I have seen this year. He is an aggressive base runner who likes to challenge outfield arms on throws to third. Brujan is also quite attentive, always backing up plays in the field and staying involved. Considering his athleticism, it would be fun to see him play some positions other than second base in the future. The switch-hitter is contact oriented, with more loft from the left side. Brujan’s speed and knack for getting on-base make him an interesting player to watch moving forward. —Justin Coleman
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