Surprise Saguaros – Royals, Twins, Cardinals, Rays, Rangers

The Guys You Know
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (#39 Midseason Top 50) (Eyewitness)
Tyler Jay, LHP, Minnesota Twins (#98 Top 101) (Eyewitness)

The Guys You Don’t
Luis La O, 3B, Texas Rangers:
La O found success in his stateside debut in High-A, keeping his K-rate below 10 percent with a bit of pop. At age 25, Such success may have been expected, and while adequate at third, La O’s bat will be pushed at the upper levels. —John Eshleman

Matt Tenuta, LHP, Kansas City Royals
Just like this bottle of Tenuta Ca’Bolani Pinot Grigio, Tenuta is likewise 85-89, but is left-handed, and in miles per hour, not in an arbitrary score that may or may not be meaningful. – Steve Givarz

Tom Hackimer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
A fourth-rounder in 2016, Hackimer is a side-arming righty with unconventional stuff from that slot. His fastball is 90-92, touching 93 with plus run/sink, which helped to carve out a 60 percent ground ball clip this past season in High-A. While the slider is a fringe-average breaker with small break, he uses it enough to take care of guys. He also authored this tweet. —Steve Givarz

Andrew Vasquez, LHP, Minnesota Twins
Vasquez has two positives going for him: 1) he is left-handed and 2) he is 6-foot-6. It is always nice to be one of those two, being both is a steal. Fortunately for this former 34th-rounder, Vasquez can attribute both to his overall success. The fastball is below-average, but was able to get swings-and-misses up in the zone with it. He throws his curve almost 50 percent of the time, and while it can be slurvy, it was effective in all counts. —SG

Dalton Moats, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
A quality lefty reliever arm who throws from a high-three-quarters slot, Moats works primarily with a 90-92 mph fastball showing 40-sinking action and a 2-7 81-83 mph breaking ball with fringe-average bite and depth. The 22-year-old competes and throws strikes from the pen, despite flying open and a head whack. He is a major-league reliever. —JB

Brett Sullivan, C, Tampa Bay Rays:
He is a solid hitter, with below-average power and an average arm. Not drafted as a catcher, he needs some work behind the dish. His athleticism can get him to reach a second-division regular role. —JB

Sean Miller, INF, Minnesota Twins
Miller can play a good shortstop, which should not be discounted to an organization, it’s important at all levels. His arm plays there, he has quality footwork, and can make the tough plays with ease. It’s just unfortunate that Miller lacks much offensive upside. He lacks much strength and is more of a punch-and-judy type of hitter. —SG

Lamonte Wade, OF, Minnesota Twins
I mentioned Wade a lot this year in the MLU, he has fourth outfielder upside, but getting on-base, being left-handed, and being able to play some CF will always be welcome here. —SG

Chris Paul, 4C , Minnesota Twins
We don’t get to use the 4C position much, mainly because most of them lack the ability to play third on a consistent enough basis. Paul can play third, and everything else competently, while offering above-average raw power. He struggles identifying pitches though, and is older and coming off an injury-laden season. —SG

David Ledbetter, RHP, Texas Rangers
Drafted in 2013 with his twin brother Ryan, Ledbetter split 2017 between Double- and Triple-A, but didn’t really find success in either. Ledbetter started the majority of the time, but his only real route to success is probably taking his sinker and slider to the bullpen. —Kate Morrison

Adam Choplick, LHP, Texas Rangers
Jacob Bodner, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Steven Bruce, RHP, Texas Rangers
Ryan Eades, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Tyler Ferguson, RHP, Texas Rangers
Zach Lovvorn, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Benton Moss, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Arturo Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (
Jared Ruxer, RHP Kansas City Royals
Nick Dini, C, Kansas City Royals
Josh Morgan, C, Texas Rangers (
John Nogowski, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
Oscar Mercado, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (
Yanio Perez, OF, Texas Rangers
Michael O’Neill, OF, Texas Rangers

The Guys You Will
Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals

The speedy infielder doesn’t have a lot of upside, solely because the stick is light, but Lopez does all the things you look for in a future utility player. 70-speed and a plus glove at short feature, with enough arm for third and athleticism to entertain the outfield. Even with the light bat, he’s a high-contact hitter that will slice and filet and punch balls to all fields. —JE

Spencer Jones, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Jones has a wiry, unusual delivery with a skinny, quick arm to a low-ish three-quarter arm, Jones uses a 91-93 (t94) sinker with moderate sink, a slider (79-82), that can sweepy and slurvey with 10-5 break, and a below-average changeup (86-87), with bottom. The 23-year-old is not a player that passes the eye-test, but Florida State League hitters struggled to square him up, posting a .170 batting average against. With underwhelming stuff, I credit that ability to hide the ball, to strike out guys, at 24.8 percent of the time, and to keep the ball on the ground every other time a ball is batted into play, having a 50 percent groundball rate. Jones is at best a right-handed middle reliever with some funk. —Javier Barragan

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Lowe can hit and lift the ball from the left field line to the right field line. I foresee Lowe to hit more doubles than homers, and to stay at second with a solid glove, better than average speed, and an average-plus arm. Lowe is a bat-first, above-average second baseman with a second-division regular floor. Note: Lowe is shorter than listed height of 6-foot, more like 5-foot-10. —JB

Burch Smith, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
If you remember Smith’s name…good memory. At 27 years old, he is a dinosaur by prospect standards, but he has achieved more than most of these AFL players have, and that is a cup of coffee back in 2013 with the Padres. You might also recognize the name as he was a prospect sent to the Rays in the Souza-Myers-player to be named later deal *cough, cough* Trea Turner *cough, cough*. Missing 2015 and 2016 due to an arm injury—initially was Tommy John Surgery in 2015 and presumably multiple set backs since—Smith made his first Rays start this June. Being his second-go in the Arizona Fall League, compounded with his innings total, he is likely making up for lost time.

Oh, as far as his repertoire from a three-quarters slot, he shows several versions of a fastball, mainly a 92-93 with tailing action, occasionally showing a cutter to provide a different look and ramping up to 96 to sit hitters down. His secondaries are a fading changeup (79-81), 11-6 curveball (75-77), and slider (84-86), with the change being the best secondary with an average grade. The control is below-average, yet there is enough quality and know-how to be a fifth-starter/long-relief option. —JB

Elier Hernandez, OF, Kansas City Royals
After missing the majority of the 2017 season due to injury, the Royals are sending Hernandez to Arizona to recoup some of that lost time. He was a very highly regarded international prospect, signing for $3.05 million in 2011. Aside from an injury shortened 2017 season, he has mostly underwhelmed since coming stateside. He is athletic and runs well, with a body that wouldn’t look out of place on a football field. The swing is very arm heavy, but he manages plus bat speed. He needs mechanical changes and added loft to a flat swing to tap into his power, but the potential is certainly there. Hernandez is toolsy and there is a lot to like, but plenty of cause for concern as well. —Keith Rader

Jordan Hicks, RHS/R, St. Louis Cardinals:
Hicks has a fit body, and features a fastball that sits 94-97 (t99) with 55 sink, and a slider with 60 10-5 bite. The slider depth is solid and effective versus both lefties and righties. He can place it glove-side and in the zone well. The third pitch, presently a changeup at 85-87, is firm. The control is average, allowing him to induce plenty of ground balls. The delivery is a quick one, showing a short arm action with a wrist wrap in the back. He works cross-body, finishing from the low-three-quarters release point into follow-through across his chest. There are make-up concerns, but he is competitor on the mound. Hicks has the floor of a set-up reliever with a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter, contingent on developing a third pitch. He began the year as a starter, and appeared in relief efforts of recent appearances before being placed on the DL. He recently turned 21 years old, and he has shown extended snapshots of a major-league closer; he is a name to look out for. —JB

Edmundo Sosa, MIF, St. Louis Cardinals
40-manned nearly a year ago, the Panamanian-born Sosa is a quality middle infielder with solid actions. He makes contact, but presently lacks the ability to drive the ball with any authority. With a future below-average hit tool, there is a floor of an infield utility and ceiling of major league regular with an improved hit tool—he is only 21 years old. He missed nearly two-months this season with a broken left hamate, Sosa is at the very least making up for lost time. —JB

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I'm curious if anyone has seen Oscar Mercado recently - the Eyewitness was from September of last year and his profile seems to have changed significantly since then, putting up very solid hitting numbers at AA. His upside last September was as a pinch runner/defensive replacement, but given that he showed respectable power and patience (which were absent previously), I wonder if thoughts have changed on him.
It's a good question. Unfortunately that band of coverage is a sore spot for us so we didn't get a look at him in Double-A. We will have a couple people in coverage at the AFL so we will absolutely update our look.