Prospect of the Weekend:
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves (Triple-A, Gwinnett): 6-17, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K.
Sure, Acuna has had better weekend stretches, and there were arguably players with more impressive weekends this week, but as part of my final regular season MLU this year Acuna gets the nod as not only the Prospect of the Weekend, but quite possibly the Prospect of the Year. Acuna is a star in the making, and he should enter spring training with an opportunity to earn a spot in the Braves opening day lineup.
Friday, September 1st
Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros (Double-A, Corpus Christi): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, K.
Tucker has handled both High-A and Double-A with ease this season, positioning himself as possibly the best prospect in the Astros system and the next in a series of premium prospects to arrive in Houston. Tucker has a chance to be a plus hitter with above-average power, an above-average glove, and an above-average arm as the right fielder of the future.
Michael Gerber, OF, Tigers (Triple-A, Toledo): 3-5, R, 2B, RBI, K.
Gerber’s first game in Triple-A and he didn’t miss a beat. On top of the line at the plate, Gerber chipped in a ridiculous diving catch in this game, and thanks to a strong campaign at the upper levels this year, he’s likely to be added to the Tigers 40-man roster this winter, if not sooner.
Jordy Barley, SS, Padres (Rookie, AZL Padres): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, SB.
The numbers aren’t flashy for a pro debut in the AZL, but don’t let that fool you. Barley is an exciting prospect with elite athleticism and a chance to be an absolute monster if he can transition that athleticism to in-game skills. From 70-grade speed and a loose swing at the plate, to potential above-average pop and a chance to stick at shortstop, Barley is an electric young player.
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates (Double-A, Altoona): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 11 K.
Keller has easily handled a promotion to Double-A around mid-season, even bumping his strikeout rate to over 11 per nine innings. With his continued strike throwing and ability to keep the ball in the yard, and his improved ability to miss bats, Keller is moving closer to his no. 2 starter potential.
Nick Fanti, LHP, Phillies (Low-A, Lakewood): 6 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 7 K.
Fanti was given $100,000 as a 31st-round pick out of a New York high school in 2015, and he’s handled himself extremely well as a professional thus far. Armed with an upper-80s fastball that can touch 90 and two secondary pitches (changeup and curveball) that can flash average, he mixes his arsenal well, pounds the strike zone, and has a chance to develop into a back-end starter.
Saturday, September 2nd
Juan Soto, OF, Nationals (Low-A, Hagerstown): 5-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI.
Soto is immensely talented and also quickly earning an “injury prone” tag throughout the industry. After this spectacular showing on Saturday, Soto came up lame with what looked like another leg injury before the weekend was out. If he can put together a sustained stretch of healthy play on the field, he could move quickly next season.
Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, Padres (Double-A, San Antonio): 4-5, R, 2 RBI.
Ho hum, another stellar game for a fantastic prospect. He’ll be back in Double-A to start next season with a chance to improve on his cameo with San Antonio, and with a strong showing at the upper levels, he could vault himself to among the game’s premier prospects.
Drew Ellis, 3B/1B, Diamondbacks (Short-Season, Hillsboro): 3-6, 2R, 2B.
Ellis is a power bat with plus raw to all fields, and that power should play well at his ultimate defensive home, first base. He has some swing and miss to his game, and will sell out for in-game power at times, but there’s a chance he has enough impact in his bat to make a run as a potential everyday slugger.
Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees (High-A, Tampa): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, RBI, BB, 2 K, SB.
One of the most sought after Yankees prospects at the trade deadline, the club chose to hold fast and not give up on the exciting young player. Armed with at least three double-plus tools, Florial has a chance to develop into a star-level player if he can harness the swing-and-miss in his offensive game.
Michal Gerber, OF, Tigers (Triple-A, Toledo): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI.
Yeah, Gerber likes Triple-A so far.
M.J. Melendez, C, Royals (Rookie, AZL Royals): 2-4, R, 2 2B, RBI, K.
The Royals second-round pick this summer, Melendez has a chance to evolve into an all-around catcher that contributes on both sides of the ball. His glove is quite a ways ahead of his bat, as he shows the potential to polish himself into an above-average defender with a plus arm. There’s pop in his bat and if he can refine his pitch recognition and approach at the plate, he could hit enough for his power to play to an average level, making him a very valuable catching prospect.
Starling Heredia, OF, Dodgers (Low-A, Great Lakes): 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 3B, K, SB.
After giving Heredia $2.6 million in 2015, the Dodgers have seen the young outfielder flash his impressive raw tools in fits and starts. He’s a physical player despite his age, and he has a chance to be a power-hitting corner outfielder with solid athleticism and a strong arm.
Stuart Fairchild, OF, Reds (Rookie, Billings): 3-4, RBI.
A second-round pick out of Wake Forest in June, Fairchild is a strong athlete with up the middle tools, including above-average center field defense and a plus arm that fits well at the position. He’s an instinctual defender that should stick at the position long term. Offensively, Fairchild can drive the ball out of the park, particularly to the pull side, but he lacks the pitch recognition to consistently tap into that raw power.
Jose Siri, OF, Reds (Low-A, Dayton): 3-4, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI.
The hit streak is long gone, but Siri still merits attention as an interesting prospect with the tools to develop into an everyday player at the big-league level.
Santis Sanchez, C, Athletics (Rookie, AZL Athletics): 2-4, 3 R, 2B, RBI.
The A’s fifth-round pick out of Puerto Rico, Sanchez signed for $450,000 and could become a glove-first backstop with big league potential. There are questions about how his bat will develop, but Sanchez already receives quality reviews for his glove work, and double-plus grades on his arm strength.
Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers (Low-A, West Michigan): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 9 K.
Easily the best start of Manning’s 2017 season, he threw strikes with a low-90s, sinking fastball that touched 94 mph. The stuff isn’t as electric as what he flashed coming out of college, and he still has to demonstrate some kind of mechanical consistency, but Manning flashed his potential in this start.
Zac Lowther, LHP, Orioles (Short-Season, Aberdeen): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, BB, 12 K.
Popped in the second round by the Orioles, Lowther saved the team some money by signing for just $779,500 as a college lefty without high-end raw stuff. An extreme strike thrower with deception in his low-3/4 delivery, Lowther confounds hitters with his 88-91 mph fastball, big breaking ball, and changeup, and some scouts project him as a big-league reliever.
Luis Escobar, RHP, Pirates (Low-A, West Virginia): 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 K.
Escobar’s breakout season was capped by a dominating outing in his final regular season start, and he should be on everyone’s radar as a budding high-end pitching prospect as he moves through High-A and Double-A next year.
Sunday, September 3rd
Willy Adames, SS, Rays (Triple-A, Durham): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB, K.
Adames is a legit defender at the six with a promising bat that includes at least gap power and occasional over the fence pop. With the Triple-A season behind him, there’s a chance Adames makes his major league debut this month.
Willie Calhoun, 2B/OF, Rangers (Triple-A, Round Rock): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, K.
All he does is hit, folks, and 31 PCL bombs later, he’s knocking on the door to the big leagues. If he keeps hitting like this, it won’t matter what position he ultimately ends up playing.
Stuart Fairchild, OF, Reds (Rookie, Billings): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, SB.
More of the same from the Reds second round pick….
Jermaine Palacios, SS, Twins (High-A, Fort Myers): 2-4, R, 2B, 3B, RBI.
Inked for $70,000 in 2013, Palacios tore through the Midwest League before heading to High-A at mid-season. Palacio is a grinder with good instincts for the game, a feel for contact, and the potential to have defensive versatility that could land him a utility role in the big leagues.
Carlos Rincon, OF, Dodgers (Rookie, Ogden): 4-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, K.
A physically impressive teenager with a chance to develop a premium big-league body, Rincon has plus raw power from the right side, though that comes with a massive amount of swing and miss.
Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays (Triple-A, Durham): 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 5 K.
Yet another Rays prospect with big-league potential and the chance to make his big-league debut this month.
Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox (High-A, Winston-Salem): 7 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
There’s mid-rotation potential with Dunning, but he has to refine his slider to become a more consistent pitch that rounds out his above-average fastball-changeup combination. Dunning throws plenty of strikes and should move to Double-A next year which will be a true test of his ability.
Monday, September 4th
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals (Double-A, Harrisburg): 2-4, R, 2 2B, BB, SB.
One of my favorite prospect in baseball and I have a clear vision of this kind of line in Washington by the end of the 2019 season.
Nolan Jones, 3B, Indians (Short-Season, Mahoning Valley): 6-8, 2 R, 2 2B, K.
Jones has had a nice encore season after the Indians made him a second-round pick in 2016, hitting well in the NYPL while also controlling the strike zone and showing gap power. Scouts consistently project him for plus power as he fills out his lanky, athletic frame, and his strong approach at the plate means he could tap into that power regularly as his development progresses.
Jorge Mateo, SS/OF, Athletics (Double-A, Midland): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K.
Like I said, so much fun to watch.
Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Red Sox (Low-A, Greenville): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K.
I saw a lot of Dalbec in college and in the NYPL last summer, and maintain my stance that it’s not going to work as a position player prospect. Dalbec has the intriguing raw power you’d like to see at the hot corner, but he lacks the barrel control or pitch recognition to translate that to game action once he faces premium arms on a consistent basis. If it doesn’t work in the batter’s box, Dalbec has an electric right arm that could allow him to transition back to the mound.
Oscar Gonzalez, OF, Indians (Short-Season, Mahoning Valley): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI.
At just 19 years old, Gonzalez has performed reasonably well in the NYPL this season, showing gap power that should turn into more as he matures. He is not a natural hitter, and his aggressive approach makes it difficult for him to make consistent contact, which could undermine his power at higher levels.
Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies (Low-A, Lakewood): 6 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K.
While Sixto Sanchez gets all the attention among pitching prospects in the Phillies system, Medina should garner some attention of his own going forward. While he can struggle to throw quality strikes at times, his fastball is a lively pitch in the low-90s and will touch 96-97 mph at times, pairing well with both his slider and changeup that could be above-average pitches.
Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (High-A, Rancho Cucamonga): 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, BB, 8 K.
May handled himself well in his full-season debut with Great Lakes, and he’s been dominant in his first two High-A outings of the year. Consistently firing low-90s fastballs that project higher from his lean 6-foot-6 frame, May could be a filthy starting pitching prospect as he gains consistency and his changeup catches up to his potential plus slider.