Scoop & Stretch – Highlighting First Base Prospects from the Cleveland Indians

DF_uzCRW0AMRmvdWritten by Mark Firkins  Photo by Lianna Holub

North-East, Ohio. A hot bed of Cleveland Indians baseball. Within a 2 hour drive of Cleveland you have 4 of their 6 MiLB affilliates; AAA – Columbus Clippers, AA – Akron Rubber Ducks, A – Lake County Captains, and A – Mahoning Valley Scrappers. A drive to these ballparks will find you traveling through the Rust Belt and Steel Mill towns, Amish Country, a beautiful mix of old architecture and modern design, and cities that have reinvented themselves and are once again thriving.

I have had the pleasure of taking a road trip through this part of Ohio every summer for 35 + years now from my home in Western NY. I never tire of the scenery, landmarks, ballparks, and great baseball I am treated to at any one of the stops I make. This past summer was no different as I visited Lake County and Mahoning Valley (along with Cleveland, many, many times)

Emmanuel Tapia – 1B (Cleveland Indians)

642268At 6′ 3″ – 215 lbs, Emmanuel Tapia is a powerful figure that looks more like a linebacker than baseball first baseman. The Indians signed “Manny” as an International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. He has acclimated and grown within the Indians system playing through their Dominican Summer League, Arizona Rookie League, Mahoning Valley – NY PENN League, and the 2017 season at Lake County – Midwest League.

Raw power and an extremely hard swing are the best ways to describe Manny’s approach to the plate. He led the Midwest League in home runs (29) and RBI’s (71) in 2017. Though, he unfortunately led the league in strikeouts as well with 180 (in 461 AB). As stated, Tapia is a big, strong player, who no doubt can hit the ball far. There is plenty of room for growth if he can minimize the strikeouts, add some base hits & average, and take some base on balls when offered. He is certainly capable of more average. In past seasons he has hit as high as .315 (2014) and .286 (2015). Manny is patient with himself and knows this is a process. He knows he needs to learn to put himself in a better position to hit.

Originally a Left Fielder in the Dominican Republic, Tapia was shifted to and is still learning first base. A dedicated, hard working player, he is one of the first players to the field every day. He works with the coaches and takes extra fielding practice any chance he can get. 2017 Lake County Captains manager, Larry Day, was quoted often saying “Manny is making steady progress as a first baseman, he’s eager, he’s such a hard worker.”

With the excitement of his powerful hitting and progress at fielding, it will be interesting to see where the parent club, Indians, place Tapia to start 2018. A start at Lake County again or an advance to Lynchburg of the Carolina League? We’ll soon find out as spring training approaches.

Ulysses Cantu – 1B (Cleveland Indians)

668784A 6th round pick out of Boswell, Texas High School in the 2016 draft, Ulysses Cantu is an interesting player for the Indians. Cantu was drafted as a Third Baseman.  However, little opportunity to play or develop there exists, as the Indians are well stocked with other third base prospects at all levels (see my previous post about Nolan Jones).

Cantu is a 6′ righty, first baseman, which may not be the ideal profile. The Indians no doubt looked at Cantu’s bat tools first. He has good balance at the plate, manages the strike zone, recognizes pitches and rarely gets fooled. Cantu’s swing is quick and compact. He squares the ball up on the barrel with ease. Ulysses is incredibly strong (he trains cross-fit) and above average power can be seen in his bat.

The Indians are most likely concentrating on developing Cantu as a hitter first and will worry about where he fits in defensively later. Third base is his natural position and where his size fits him best. He does have experience in high school as a catcher and the Indians could possibly explore that, but that might take a toll on his bat.

Cantu played the 2017 season for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (NY-PENN League). He played 53 games at his new position, first base, and posted admirable numbers. On defense, he posted a .987 FPCT – converting 457 out 463 chances and was on the receiving end of 39 double plays. He hit 53-209 at the plate for a .254 AVG, with 10 doubles, 4 home runs, 25 RBI, and 17 BB.

Ulysses Cantu is still a very young player. He’ll turn 20 in May 2018. There’s plenty of upside in all aspects of his game. The hits, average, and power will all increase as he continues to see more professional pitching. Patience and time will find him a defensive home or even a future as a DH.

Please follow Mark Firkins on Twitter @thefirkster and check out our eBay store at http://stores.ebay.com/realmccoybaseball. Thanks!

The Next Wave of Top Prospects: National League

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Written by Ben Wilson

I have highlighted one sleeper prospect from each NL team for deeper dynasty leagues that are on the verge of garnering more attention. This list looks at minor leaguers who were taken before the 2017 draft, but are still eligible for this season’s minor league dynasty drafts. The accompanying AL edition was published previously on this site.

Jhoan Duran, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

The 6’5” right-hander out of the Dominican Republic just turned 20 years old, and has been in the Diamondbacks system since 2015. Duran has a lively mid 90’s fastball, with the heavy sink and late movement that makes the offering play up even more. While his curveball and changeup are still works in progress, Duran has been able to limit walks by showing decent control: in his first taste of Low A, he was able to maintain a 1.19 WHIP in 51.1 IP. If Duran can develop more consistency with his changeup, he will see his K numbers rise significantly to play off his excellent fastball.

Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3B, Atlanta Braves

An exciting 20-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, Encarnacion is generating some buzz in early 2018 in deep dynasty leagues. By being attached to one of baseball’s most prominent farm systems, Encarnacion is in a great environment for his tools to develop. Encarnacion has shown signs of hitting for average as well as power, while flashing some useable, situational speed on the bases. Encarnacion has the arm and athleticism to stick at 3B. Encarnacion has some wrap to his swing and a very low walk rate; but after smoothing it out with continued development and refining his approach, he has all the makings of a very solid MLB player for the Braves.

Charcer Burks, OF, Chicago Cubs

Taken in the 9th round of the 2013 Draft out of Richmond, Texas, Burks has climbed steadily through the Cubs system and reached both AA and the Arizona Fall League in 2017. Burks has been praised for his on base approach and high character, and he found some over the fence power this season. While Burks will not become a prolific HR hitter, he does possess good strength, and a small leg kick in his right handed swing which helps generate extra base hit power. Burks may have the speed to steal 20 bases as a regular at the highest level, but needs to refine his technique since he was successful at a 57% clip at AA (16SB, 12CS).

Michael Beltre, OF, Cincinnati Reds

With Taylor Trammell (LF), Jose Siri (CF), and Michael Beltre (RF), the Dayton Dragons had one of the most toolsy outfields in the minors in 2017. A switch hitter, Beltre can both cut down his swing and slap the ball the other way, or sell out for pull side power. Watching tape of Beltre, I am reminded of Jose Reyes and Corey Patterson respectively in those situations. Beltre has the ability to take a walk, but can sometimes be overly patient, hence his higher K numbers. He has an impressive foundation of tools and is a name to watch among a bright crop of prospects in Cincinnati.

Breiling Eusebio, LHP, Colorado Rockies

If you look past the “Colorado pitcher thing,” Eusebio is a compelling pitching prospect that I am really excited about. Eusebio primarily boasts a dynamic fastball and curveball (11-7) combination, with both offerings currently above average at present. Eusebio has an athletic presence on the mound, and looks the part operating from a high-handed set position. With a groundball generating arsenal, Eusebio should not be an overlooked name in Colorado.

Caleb Ferguson, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Speaking of compelling left-handed pitching prospects, Ferguson really came on this year in the Dodger system pitching at A+ Rancho Cucamonga. In 24 starts and 122.1 IP, Ferguson compiled a 2.87 ERA, with 140K/55BB. Still just 21 years old, Ferguson fell in the draft in 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, but has been steadily developing since. Ferguson has a simple delivery and a sturdy build in his 6’3” frame. If he takes a comparable step forward this year, Ferguson will not be available for very long in most dynasty formats.

James Nelson, 3B, Miami Marlins

Nelson is a talented all-around player in the Marlins system. Initially drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 18th round, Nelson passed on signing and was taken instead by the Marlins just a year later and three rounds earlier. Nelson’s play on the field this past season was undeniably impressive, as he was selected to the All Star team in A ball. Nelson sets up at the plate from the right side with a slightly open stance and low hand position with a medium right elbow lift. While he put up 106K/26BB in 102 games in 2017, Nelson has been an excellent contributor and has the ability to develop into an exciting 3B regular in the big leagues.

Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers

The 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft from Hawaii has had some struggles in his early years, but really figured some things out this past season at High A Carolina. Consistently putting up good K numbers in the minors due to a wicked fastball-slider combination, Medeiros has been working on mechanical adjustments to his arm slot, which has contributed to his mixed results. He has a bit of a “Bumgarner sling” to his delivery, but Medeiros has the pure stuff to be a starter with a high leverage relief fallback from the left side. He certainly has the draft pedigree to take the next step in his development, and hope that the Hawaiian lefty can continue to build on his growth from his strong showing this year.

Corey Oswalt, RHP, New York Mets

Oswalt has been around for a few years in the Mets system, as he was a 7th round draft pick in 2012. Spending 2017 at AA Binghamton, Oswalt compiled a 12-5 record, with a 2.28 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 119K/40BB in 134.1 IP. Oswalt has the makings of an innings eater at the back of the rotation, as 17 of his 24 starts in 2017 were 6+ IP. Oswalt uses his 6’5” frame and strong lower half in his delivery of his four-pitch mix. Given the Mets proclivity for pitching injuries at the big league level, Oswalt should have a bag packed ready to get the call in Queens as soon as mid 2018.

Victor Arano, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

Arano was acquired from the Dodgers back in 2014, and has seen time in both the rotation and bullpen. Converted to a full time reliever in 2016, Arano’s already solid stuff played up as electric out of the pen. Arano even saw 10.2 successful big league innings in 2017, whiffing 13 and allowing on 4 free passes with a 1.69 ERA. I talked to a talent evaluator about why they like Arano for dynasty leagues, citing the “precarious Phillies closer situation” and “high digit heat” as attractive parts of Arano’s profile. If Arano can break camp with the Phillies this spring, he has the talent to work his way into high leverage opportunities in short order.

Jason Martin, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Martin moves into the Pittsburgh system in the last few days as one of four players shipped from Houston to Pittsburgh in the Gerrit Cole deal. Martin was a potential Rule 5 pick when he was left unprotected by Houston, and seems that his time ending in Houston was inevitable. Given the Astros deep farm system, the Pirates gladly pounced on the opportunity to acquire the talented Martin.  He has solid tools across the board, as he swatted 18 HR and swiped 16 bases across 125 games at the A+ and AA levels. Standing at 5’11”, Martin is a bit of a tweener in his ultimate outfield home due to his arm and offensive production, but he can contribute to the big league picture as soon as 2018 in a 4th OF role.

Jordy Barley, SS, San Diego Padres

There are multiple candidates for the San Diego sleeper highlight, but Barley stands out as a talented teenage shortstop. One of Barley’s best tools is his speed, but he has a solid hit tool already and plays the game with high energy. He has a quiet setup in the box and a small double toe tap, but uncorks an explosive, full body swing. While fellow San Diego SS Gabriel Arias may be grabbing attention from his loud play in Australia, Barley is yet another name to circle in the San Diego system flush with prospects.

Sam Wolff, RHP, San Francisco Giants

Wolff has yet to throw a pitch in the Giants system, as he was involved in a trade package in December from the Texas Rangers organization for LHP Matt Moore. Wolff sports a fastball that can touch 100 out of the bullpen, where he became a full time reliever in 2017. The 26 year old should work his way into the San Francisco bullpen picture at some point in the near future, and his control will need to set him apart from a handful of other right-handed flamethrowers in the high minors in their system.

Alvaro Seijas, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

According to pictures that Seijas posted on Twitter a couple of days ago standing next to the 5’11” Yadier Molina and the 5’9” Kolten Wong, Seijas definitely appears to be taller than his listed 5’8”, perhaps closer to Molina’s height than Wong’s. Given this conservative height listing to date, fewer people are as high on this interesting righty as they should be considering his big stuff from the mound. At 19 years old and billed as undersized to this point, Seijas is still getting every opportunity to be a starting pitcher for the Cardinals and has impressed with his body of work so far. His long arms and athletic presence on the mound are only the beginning of his pitching profile, as he has a very promising future in a system that has had high levels of developmental success with pitchers.

Taylor Gushue, C, Washington Nationals

Gushe is a switch-hitting catcher who spent a majority of this past season at High A, while earning an end of year promotion to AA. Gushue also was a member of the 2017 Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, playing behind Oakland’s Sean Murphy and Chicago Cubs’ Ian Rice. Gushue mashed 18 HR’s playing for Potomac in the Carolina League, where he was tied for second in the league in that category. Gushue also showed patience at the plate, putting together 41 BB in 91 G. The solidly-built Gushue is worth a look in deeper two catcher formats, as the 24-year-old catcher has enough to be an offensive-first backup as a floor.

Make sure to check out the AL Deep Dynasty Sleeper Edition here.

Please follow Ben Wilson on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for more MLB prospect news and updates. Thanks!

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Flashing the Leather – Highlighting SS/2B Prospects Royce Lewis and Nick Gordon

sportsSlammers_confessor_Lara_signs_with_Minnesota_Twins_t750x550Written by Mark Firkins  Photos by MiLB.com

The Minnesota Twins have one of the most dynamic 1-2 punches of middle infielders who can handle balls hit up the middle, as well as use their bats and speed.

Nick Gordon – SS/2B (Minnesota Twins)

624503Does the last name and position look familiar? That’s because this is Dee Gordon’s younger brother and oh yeah, his father Tom pitched his way to 138 Wins and 158 saves in his MLB career.

A 1st round draft pick by the Twins in the 2014 draft, Nick has progressed through the Twins farm system in perfect steps. He has advanced his way through Rookie Ball in Elizabethton (2014 – Appalachian League), Cedar Rapids (2015 – Midwest League), Ft. Myers (2016 – Florida State League), and Chattanooga (2017 – Southern League).

Through 4 MiLB seasons he carries a very consistent .281 AVG. Like his brother, he slashes the ball down the lines or into the gaps for plenty of extra bases, 81 doubles and 25 triples so far. While not known for his power, he showed a little bit of extra pop in his bat in 2017 by connecting on 9 HR. A patient and disciplined hitter as well, drawing 53 BB at AA Chattanooga last season and 126 thus far in career. Certainly capable of stealing bases, he has swiped 68 over his four seasons in the minors.

Gordon has played the majority of his games at SS but has played 2B as well (a permanent shift to second could be in his future). He is a quick and slick fielding player with excellent range and a strong arm. Errors have been a bit of a concern as he has committed 69 and carries a .960 FPCT. However he has turned an impressive 253 double plays in 373 starts.

With Jorge Palonco most likely to serve as the Twins SS in the future and veteran 2B Brian Dozier eligible for free agency after this season, it would seem that Nick Gordon’s call to the Twins would come as a second baseman.

Royce Lewis – SS (Minnesota Twins)

668904Another 1st round pick by the Twins with very high expectations, Royce Lewis was the top high school position player in the 2017 draft. He has all the tools worthy of a #1 pick, especially his bat.

He started his pro career with the Gulf Coast Twins last summer and played 36 games at Shortstop. He carried a .271 AVG, walked more times (19) than he struck out (17), of his 36 hits 9 went for extra bases, and stole 15 bases in 17 attempts. His defense in rookie ball was excellent, converting 124/128 chances.

He was promoted to the Twins Midwest League affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels on August 12th and made quite the impression in his first game. He went 4-5 at the plate with one RBI, one stolen base, and scored twice. He appeared in 18 games for Cedar Rapids, playing SS in 17. He finished the Midwest League season going 28-71 (.296 AVG), with two doubles, a triple and a home run. His defense stayed right in line with his GCL numbers, converting 77-80 chances.

He is extremely athletic on both sides of the ball. While he may not profile as a home run guy, there is plenty of extra base ability in his swing, sending line drives into the gaps, then using his speed to take extra bags, as well as steal them. There is no concern with his glove, it’s his arm and throwing accuracy that needs to be watched. Of his seven errors, six were throwing.

Royce Lewis is a young and exciting player to keep your eye on. The Twins will be patient, yet not afraid to challenge their #1 pick. The 2018 season will most likely see Royce start at Cedar Rapids. If he continues his impressive all around play a trip to Fort Myers in the Florida State League would be in order.

“It’s (shortstop) a premium position. I can show my leadership skills, take control of the game. It’s what I love about it. I want to play the position Derek Jeter played. Except I want to be Royce Lewis.” – Orange County Register

Please follow Mark Firkins on Twitter @thefirkster for more MLB prospect news and updates. Also, check out our graphing page on Instagram. Thanks!

Prospect Profile: Matt Foley – New York Mets

20479058_1571487289561964_337400875448270848_n(1)Written by Mark Firkins  Photos from Instagram

I was looking for something motivational in the new year. Inspirational quotes, books, websites, and tweets are everywhere. What I needed was a personal connection, a baseball player, and the perfect name to tie it all together for me. I found all of that in Matt Foley. Matt Foley is a player who I briefly met in 2016 in Batavia NY. He may not have known it, but our brief interaction that night has always meant something to me. His name, while maybe more famous for comical reasons, motivated me to start writing again and receive this opportunity with Real McCoy Minors, for which I am so grateful.

I admit it. I laughed when I saw Batavia’s lineup on June 22, 2016. I admit to chuckling again when the starting lineup was announced and the Batavia Muckdogs First Baseman took his place and warmed up on the field. I admit, I embarrassed my daughter, made my two sons, my wife and a couple of dozen other fans behind us laugh. I couldn’t help myself. When the PA annDRW4ImnV4AA-TqAouncer delivered the name “Matt Foley – 1st Base” I did my best impression of Saturday Night Live’s beloved Chris Farley character – Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker. I received a brief ovation from the crowd. The real Matt Foley on the field, shook his head, put his face in his glove (laughing as well) and I said to him “I’ll bet you never heard or seen that before, huh?” I believe his response was something to the tune of “not since this morning” then he tossed his warm up ball to my youngest son.

My family and I attend 15 to 20 Batavia Muckdogs games each season. We prefer to sit above the visitors’ dugout on the first base side. Each season we pick a player to be our favorite, pay a bit more attention to, and cheer a little extra loud for. This is the player we’re hoping that one day will find his way to the majors. It took us all of three seconds to decide, Matt Foley was going to be our guy that season. I was so determined to be his biggest fan that I was going to buy a checkered sports coat and show up at the games as the Foley Fanatic. Unfortunately, June 22, 2016 was the last time we saw Matt play in Batavia, as he was reassigned by the Miami Marlins to their Gulf Coast League affiliate the next day.

21372894_1742734566023818_3176788267181801472_nMatt Foley was drafted in the 40th round (1,196th overall) in 2015 by the Miami Marlins. In three minor league seasons, he has played for three organizations (Marlins, Braves, and Mets). He has spent most of his time in the Gulf Coast League for these clubs. His stat lines In 51 career games show he is batting .254 (33 for 130), with 7 doubles, 7 RBI, and 1 home run. Drafted as a Catcher, Matt has also played, First Base, Left and Right Field, and DH.

So what do I find motivating about Matt Foley? Just like the SNL character Matt Foley tried to be an inspiration (he did at least make us laugh), Matt Foley the baseball player, truly has motivation on his path and dream to the big leagues. He played his collegiate career at Rhode Island College, a Division III school.  He obviously caught the attention of pro scouts in his junior year when he won The Little East Triple Crown, batting .453 with 53 hits, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 11 home runs, and 45 RBI. He registered a .872 SLG, .515 OBP, and a .988 FPCT behind the dish. He wants to prove he was worthy of a draft pick. He wants the chance to play more and at his natural position. The Mets are giving Matt that opportunity.

QN2RacExLook beyond his overall career MiLB numbers and you’ll see that in 2017 for the GCL Mets, Matt had his breakout season. This is where you’ll find his extra base hits, a .290 AVG, .347 OBP, a perfect 1.000 FPCT behind the plate, threw out 43% of those attempting to steal a base on him, and oh yeah, MOTIVATION. His last tweet toward the end of his 2017 season reads: “Been proving them wrong ever since the day they decided to give up on me..don’t sleep on me #ComebackSZN” and from instagram “months ago you could’ve said that the dream was over for me…but now look at me..flying home knowing I still get to fight another day. Don’t sleep on a kid with motvation and a opportunity #comebackszn”. Matt will be back with the Mets and report to spring training soon. He’s optimistic about starting a new season and looking to build on the success he showed last summer. As a 40th round pick from a smaller school, he is motivated to work even harder than the other players in camp. Matt is hoping to get the reps and opportunity to play at a higher level this year.

Life in the minors is not glamorous. The bus rides are long. The hotels are not 5 stars. The food and nutrition are adequate at best. Matt Foley knows this and continues to improve his game, work hard, and keeps trying to climb the baseball ladder. Matt knows that while baseball, the minor leagues and the road to the show are hard, it’s better than “living in a van down by the river!”  Keep on motivating us Matt!

Please follow Mark Firkins on Twitter @thefirkster for more MLB prospect news and updates. Also, check out our graphing page on Instagram. Thanks!

Battery Mates: Logan Ice/Triston McKenzie

maxresdefaultWritten by Mark Firkins  Photos by MiLB.com

Welcome to my newest segments here at Real McCoy Minors. Each piece will feature players and prospects from an organization playfully categorized by their position on the field. Featured articles will be titled:

Battery Mates – Pitcher/Catcher combos

Flashing the Leather – Shortstops and Second Basemen

Hot Corner – Third Basemen

7, 8, & 9 – Outfielders

Scoop and Stretch – First Basemen

Call to the Bullpen – Relief Pitchers

Tools of Ignorance – Blue chip prospect Catchers

These quick reads will provide plenty of information and statistics about some fine up and coming players from a variety of leagues and levels. Let’s get the game started with Battery Mates!

Logan Ice – Catcher (Cleveland Indians)

668681Logan was drafted out of Oregon State, in the second round (72nd overall) of the 2016 Draft. He played for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (NY PENN League) in 2016 and the Lake County Captains (Midwest League) in 2017. He’s the textbook definition of a defensive backstop. Excellent at blocking balls in the dirt, a powerful and accurate arm throwing to second, and a hard worker, who’s perfecting his game calling skills and handling of the pitching staff.

Despite a .198 and .228 batting average, Ice is a player who knows it’s important to just get on base and score. He posted a respectable .329 and .320 OBP, featuring a stellar 15% walk rate. While not known for his power, Logan did hit 11 home runs, 10 doubles, with 42 RBI this past season for the Captains.

Logan could fit two different profiles of a catcher.  He could be an excellent backup, maybe out of the Chris Gimenez mold. Or, perhaps he’s more of a Roberto Perez and could play a larger role for the big league club.

Triston McKenzie – Pitcher (Cleveland Indians)

663474A 1st round draft pick (42nd overall – competitive balance pick) by the Tribe in the 2015 draft. A tall and lanky right hander, Triston has some of the best stuff among starting pitcher prospects in the Indians farm system. His arsenal of pitches features a fastball in the mid 90’s, a curveball with tight spin that produces plenty of strikeouts, and a deceptive changeup.

Drafted out of high school, McKenzie has matured nicely and has ascended the Indians system, going from the Arizona Rookie League in 2015, Mahoning Valley (NY PENN League) and Lake County (Midwest League) in 2016, and Lynchburg (Carolina League) in 2017.

In 238 innings pitched, he has amassed the following impressive stat lines: 19-12 record, 2.68 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 307 strikeouts, and has kept opposing batters below the Mendoza line. With such remarkable numbers like that, it was a no-brainer for him to be awarded Carolina League Pitcher of the Year for 2017.

Currently the number two prospect in the Indians system, the potential is there for McKenzie to develop into a frontline starter. The Indians will challenge him this season, probably placing him at High A Lynchburg to start, but likely promoting him to AA Akron (Eastern League) and possibly AAA Columbus (International League) should he continue to meet and exceed the organization’s expectations.

Please follow Mark Firkins on Twitter @thefirkster for more MLB prospect news and updates. Thanks!

The Next Wave of Top Prospects: American League

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Written by Ben Wilson

I have highlighted one prospect from each AL team for deeper dynasty leagues that are on the verge of garnering more attention. This list looks at minor leaguers who were taken pre-2017 draft but are still eligible for this season’s minor league dynasty drafts. The accompanying NL installment will be out soon.

Jhon Peluffo, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

The 20-year old Colombian hurler has bounced between the rotation and bullpen, but was deemed a starter after May this past summer and found success after his transition to the rotation in the Sally League. Peluffo brings strikeout intrigue as a starter and promising control given his developmental level. This makes him an interesting dynasty target. I asked a reputable source who covers the Orioles who mentioned Peluffo to me as a name to watch in the system. While the Orioles have had mixed results developing reliable SP’s of late, Peluffo could make the organization stick with him in the rotation with added patience moving forward.

Lorenzo Cedrola, OF, Boston Red Sox

In a very short time, the Dombrowski-headed club has taken some steps back in minor league organizational rankings due to some big name MLB pitching acquisitions. But Cedrola, a 19-year-old outfielder out of Venezuela, is a name to watch for Boston. A converted SS, Cedrola is a quick athlete who will contribute in all categories except HR power. It won’t be long before Cedrola is a household name across the game.

Aaron Bummer, LHP, Chicago White Sox

In such a strong farm system it is hard to find a hidden target but Bummer may be that guy. With a 70-grade fastball from the left side that hits high 90’s, Bummer has the chance to be an 8th or 9th inning option for the rebuilding White Sox. He debuted at the end of the 2017 season in the MLB for 22.1 IP, compiling 17K and only allowing 13 H, but also had 13BB. He is one to keep an eye on if your league counts holds due to his likely MLB role.

Luke Wakamatsu, SS, Cleveland Indians

A switch-hitting SS with big league pedigree in the family (son of former big leaguer and current coach Don Wakamatsu), Luke is a good name to highlight on your draft sheet if he is available. Drafted in 2015 in the 20th round, Wakamatsu is a good defender at SS for a 6’3” prospect and he hits for power. The Indians have quite a track record of developing switch hitters (Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Mejia), and Wakamatsu has the skills to be the next in that line for the Tribe.

Gregory Soto, LHP, Detroit Tigers

Soto put together a truly dominant minor league campaign with 124 IP between West Michigan (A) and Lakeland (A+), earning him the organization’s pitcher of the year award. Soto put together an impressive 12-2 record in 23 starts, with a 2.25 ERA, yielding only 97 H and 65 BB against 144 K. Soto is one of my favorite new arms on my radar. He could make a 2019 debut in the Tigers rotation.

Jorge Alcala, RHP, Houston Astros

The defending World Series Champions are flush with intriguing pitching prospects, and the 6’3” Alcala may be one of the more impressive of the bunch. An International Free Agent signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Alcala’s calling cards are his high heat fastball and above average slider. In 199.2 IP as a professional, Alcala has a 2.93 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 22.7% K rate. After his promotion to A+ in 2017, he allowed only 55 hits in 78.1 IP. He worked 5+ innings in 10 of his 16 starts after his promotion, allowing more than 2 BB in only 5 of those starts. I asked a reliable source who covers the Astros who said that his performance this past season may have transcended him above sleeper status; he’s bound to be one of the big movers industry-wide, so grab him if he’s available in your league.

Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals

For those that might not have known Lopez before he busted out this year in the AFL, we surely know him now for his .383/.433/.568 performance in 90 AB’s in Arizona. Lopez is hardly an unheralded talent, as his debut season in 2016 was impressive. Though not a power hitter, Lopez is an adept contact hitter with a disciplined approach: he put together 36BB/23K during 70 games at A+, earning a promotion to AA. Lopez has the ability to transcend his utility role prediction and become a top of the order SS for the Royals.

Trent Deveaux, OF, Los Angeles Angels

Deveaux was an international signing by the Angels this past summer out of the Bahamas. He has some serious speed, with tags of anywhere from 70-80 grade. Though he has not begun his professional career yet for the Angels, Deveaux has the chance to develop into a Victor Robles type profile in center field: an outstanding defender with blazing speed, line drive power, and solid makeup. The Angels are very high on Deveaux, and it will be exciting to see what type of talent the Angels have found in Deveaux as he plays in the US.

Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Minnesota Twins

Signing out of Venezuela in 2015, Graterol impressed with a blazing fastball for a 16 year old once he came stateside. After Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2016 campaign, Graterol returned to the mound this past summer and continued to put up very good performances in rookie ball. The Twins have no reason to rush Graterol but he has the makings of a very nice rotation arm, or at the very least, a triple-digit hurler out of the bullpen.

Luis Medina, RHP, New York Yankees

It is hard to stay a quiet name in the Yankee farm system flush with talent, but Medina is not too far off from being the next big name for the Bombers. Somewhat slight of build now, Medina can nonetheless pump electric offerings and pile up strikeouts. Many lists coming out this off-season are starting to feature Medina in the Yankees top 10, so hop on the Medina train if it hasn’t left the station in your league yet.

Will Toffey, 3B, Oakland Athletics

Toffey breaks my rule on this list for being drafted this past summer, but I wanted to highlight him because he reminds me so vividly of the Moneyball draft prototype Oakland hitter. Originally drafted by the Yankees, Toffey chose to play college baseball at Vanderbilt instead. The Orioles drafted him in 2016, only he didn’t sign there again. Finally, he landed in Oakland as a 4th round pick. Toffey is lauded for his excellent plate discipline and character, while scouts bemoan his power for a corner infield position. Toffey has a track record of success in the Cape Cod League, and perhaps can shift off of 3B defensively to calm the skeptics of his power. I will track Toffey closely since I really like his profile as a disciplined left-handed hitter and it doesn’t hurt that he was drafted previously by some of the game’s best minor league systems.

Mike Ford, 1B, Seattle Mariners

I highlighted Mike Ford as a possible Rule 5 pickup from the Yankees previously on this site and sure enough, Jerry Dipoto pounced on the on-base machine. Ford hit 20 HR and sported a .404 OBP between AA and AAA in 2017. He will likely play at least on the strong side of a platoon with Ryon Healy, and he can contribute this year to the big club. It also seems he has moved ahead of Dan Vogelbach in the Seattle system for 1B/DH, where they share a strikingly similar offensive profile.

Joe McCarthy, OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays

The strong hit-tool, high OBP lefty is similar to Toffey in that their profiles don’t quite possess the requisite power that teams demand of their 1B/LF/RF positions. However, it is impossible to ignore that McCarthy is a talented hitter, one of my favorites of late. McCarthy possesses above average speed, good enough for 57 SB in his first three professional seasons, at an 81% success rate. Further, his 90 BB in 127 games at AA this year put his OBP at a superb .409. If McCarthy can find a 10-15 HR power stroke, he can be a valuable addition to the Rays as a dynamic 2 hitter at his peak.

Kyle Cody, RHP, Texas Rangers

The tall (6’7”) righty is a solid looking arm in the Rangers system. Cody has three above average offerings and can bring the fastball into the mid 90’s. He worked 6+ innings in 12 of his 23 starts this season, which is an encouraging sign of his future durability. While being able to limit his walks, Cody is an arm that should continue to gain excitement in Texas as he continues his development.

Edward Olivares, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grabbed much of the headlines in Lansing and Dunedin this year, Olivares put together a great campaign in the Blue Jays low minors, swatting 17 HR, 27 2B, 10 3B, to go along with 20 SB (69% success rate) and 93 R. Olivares is just 21 years old and possesses an intriguing blend of power and speed. He saw a majority of his time in CF and RF defensively this year, but has all of the makings of an athletic outfielder wherever he ultimately lands on the field. 

*Addendum: Olivares was traded to the San Diego Padres on January 6, 2018, four days after the original publication date.

Please follow Ben Wilson on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for more MLB prospect news and updates. Thanks!

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Highlighting Cleveland Indians Prospect Nolan Jones

Jones-1100x789Written by Mark Firkins  Photo by Joe Simon

Jose Ramirez, Yandy Diaz, Giovanny Urshela, Erik Gonzales, Mark Mathias, Nolan Jones… The Cleveland Indians have a very good problem. They have a lot of good, young talent at 3rd base. Nolan Jones is the youngest of the bunch at only 19 years old, and he just finished his 1st season of professional baseball with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Single A – NY PENN League). Jones was drafted in the 2nd round (55th overall) out of Holy Ghost Prep School in Bensalem, PA in the 2016 draft. A Shortstop in high school, he was shifted to 3rd base upon signing with Cleveland. At 6’ 4” – 185 lbs, his size and physique make him a natural fit for the position.

Nolan’s bat speed and smooth swing allow him to make hard contact. His raw power, while impressive, should also improve as he adds even more strength to his large frame. He enjoyed a fine 1st professional season at the plate batting .317, with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 42 RBI. A disciplined hitter who earning 43 BB but also struck out 60 times. Nolan Jones played 62 games at 3rd base for Mahoning Valley last summer. He possesses excellent arm strength and makes accurate fluid throws across the field from the hot corner. This was his 1st season playing a new position and also playing professional baseball. He did commit 22 errors, however he has the potential and tools for success at 3rd base and to be an above average defender.

I had the pleasure of seeing Nolan perform at his finest this past season. Between August 2nd and September 4th he went on an offensive tear, raising his batting average from .252 to .313. In the 9 games I saw him play, I witnessed him go 22 for 39, with 9 doubles and one home run – a monster of a home run that easily traveled 400 + feet! On August 30, 2017 in a game versus the Batavia Muckdogs, Nolan smacked a pitch in his 1st at bat in the 1st inning that cleared the batter’s eye fence in deep Left Center field by at least 10 feet; a blast that traveled so far that it landed on the neighboring T-Ball field of the adjacent Little League complex next door to Dwyer Stadium.

As stated, the Cleveland Indians have a good supply of young 3rd basemen in their system. There are question marks where their breakout star Jose Ramirez will play everyday in 2018 (3rd or 2nd base). Yandy Diaz was given a taste of MLB last season and will be given a chance to compete for that position this spring. Giovanny Urshela has been in the Indians plans a few years now. He has impressive defense and has experimented as an infield utility man. Erik Gonzales is most suited as utility player (one who can also play OF). Urshela and Gonzales are out of options, adding an interesting twist to their futures with the Indians. Mark Mathias (a 3rd round 2015 Indians draft pick) just completed his 2nd season in the minor leagues and has advanced from Single A, NY PENN League to AA Akron, but still a few years away from being MLB ready.  

Nolan Jones is next in that impressive line. He currently ranks as the Indians #5 prospect. The 2018 season should see him advance to high A Lake County (Midwest League) or Lynchburg (Carolina League). Improvements in his defense are to be expected but it will be Jones’ bat and offensive output that will eventually earn his way to the big leagues.

Please follow Mark Firkins on Twitter @thefirkster for more MLB prospect news and updates. Thanks!

 

Two Up, Two, Down: Venezuelan Winter League Update

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Written by Ben Wilson  Photos by MiLB.com

Two Up

Nate Orf, 2B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Current Winter League Team: Tiburones de La Guaira

644337When setting out to construct a baseball team (particularly a minor league team), you need players who will put the team above himself and dawn different gloves when needed. Orf is proof of that, having the unique distinction of playing all 9 fielding positions in one game. Primarily playing 2B (612.2 Inn), RF (243.2 Inn), and 3B (99.1 Inn) this past season for AAA Colorado Springs, Orf really stood out on the offensive side of things, where he blasted 9 HR in the last two months of the season.

I had the distinct pleasure of being on a Twitter thread with a few talented writers (who are all a highly recommended follow: Ralph Lifshitz @ProspectJesus, John Calvagno @SALNotes, and Luke Siler @The_Luke_Siler) who dug a little deeper into Orf’s second half performance. Ralph observed that Orf slashed a robust .341/.429/.627 in the second half to go along with his 9 HR, while playing in some unfriendly-neutral HR parks. Luke recognized his 48% fly ball rate to 6.5% swinging strike rate, putting him in elite MLB company with names like Justin Turner, Matt Carpenter, and Anthony Rendon. John looked at his .187 ISO, which puts him in the above average to great range for his offensive and extra-base hit output. We were excited to look through these numbers and reach out to Orf himself. Orf was gracious in responding (really appreciate it, Nate!), and kind and humble in our praise: he credits working with swing guru Rick Strickland (@SwingRehab) on making some swing changes and seeing such positive results. (As a side note: numerous MLB hitters have worked with Strickland on revamping their swing, most notably this year, Matt Adams of the Cardinals/Braves put together a heck of a year from his work with Strickland).

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Orf played great down in Venezuela (he wrapped up his tenure just a short time ago), where he put up an impressive .337 AVG to go along with a substantial .451 OBP. With nearly as many BB (14) as K (15), Orf primarily batted out of the 2-hole in the lineup. While Orf did not get selected in the Rule 5 draft as some thought he might, he has the tools and makeup to be a versatile contributor for the Brewers, and a guy that is willing to do his part to help the team win. Plus, he has an 80-grade name. Kudos to Nate for his hard work, and here’s hoping for his continued success!

Rangel Ravelo, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Current Winter League Team: Cardenales de Lara

592660The 25-year-old Cuban-born first baseman/corner outfielder has played in the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and now St. Louis Cardinals minor league systems. Originally drafted by the White Sox as a 6th round pick in 2010, Ravelo was traded to Oakland, along with Marcus Semien, in the Jeff Samardzija deal in December 2014. Ravelo has historically been a high OBP, lower K hitter with a blush of power. While Ravelo has put together some excellent performances in the minor leagues through his professional career, he does not possess the game-changing power that many teams ask of in their first base/corner outfield profile. This is rather unfortunate, since Ravelo has done nothing but be a solid contributor, producing a cumulative .297/.365/.428 through 8 minor league seasons and 675 games. The Cardinals are golden at finding players that peak a little later on in their careers (see, Jose Martinez), and Ravelo’s .395/.455/.565 performance through 124 AB for the Cardinales (wonder if the team placement was a coincidence) is certainly worthy of more attention.  

Two Down

Omar Bencomo, RHP, Free Agent (2017: Miami Marlins)

5149232017 saw Omar begin the year pitching for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. In three relief apperances, Bencomo surrendered 9 H and 4 ER, with 4BB and 8K over 7.1 IP. After the WBC, Bencomo pitched in the Miami Jeter’s Marlins system at the AA and AAA levels, pitching primarily as a starter. While the K rate this past year took a significant jump upwards from prior years, Bencomo still surrenders quite a bit of contact. Hopeful to latch on with another organization, the Venezuelan league has been unfortunately tough for Bencomo during his 12 starts, where he has a 4.76 ERA, 1.51 WHIP while allowing 83 H in 64.1 IP. It has been a lot of innings for the soon to be 29 year old right-hander this season, and Bencomo is a name to keep an eye on as a spot starter, long relief or organizational depth candidate.

Alberth Martinez, OF, San Diego Padres

Current Winter League Team: Navegantes del Maglianes

594021Martinez shot through the Padres system as a 20 year old back in 2011. Playing primarily in rookie ball, he also appeared in a few AAA games that season. However, Martinez’s development has somewhat stalled since then, peaking at the AA level. Approaching his 27th birthday next month, Martinez has put together a reasonable output in the Venezuelan league, with 6 HR and 12 2B to go along with .282/.314/.452 through 47 games (177 AB). He has also chipped in a perfect 4-4 in SB attempts, going along nicely with his minor league career percentage of 71% (68 SB in 96 attempts). The concerning part of Martinez’s profile is his low OBP profile, where he has a K rate north of 20% with only 9 BB in Venezuela. Hence, he is hitting 9th in the Navegantes lineup these days. He did have 4 RBI (3 with 2 outs) in a recent rout of the Tiburones, and here’s hoping that he can move up in the lineup, and in the Padres system this year.

 A Bonus Notable Performer:

Freddy Garcia, RHP, Tigres de Aragua

150119The 41-year-old finesse hurler has opened my eyes for his studly Venezuelan league performance. “The Chief” has a sterling 2.06 ERA, and 31K/3BB in 39.1 IP (9 G, 7 GS). While Shoehi Ohtani has grabbed much of the international pitching attention these days, Garcia is a wonderful pitching story in his native Venezuela right now. A 2x All-Star, the 15-year MLB veteran last pitched with the Atlanta Braves in 2013. 

Please follow Ben Wilson on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for more MLB prospect news and updates. Thanks!

Highlighting Cleveland Indians Prospect Kyle Nelson

DCTB-glUAAABriyWritten by Mark Firkins  Photo by UCSB Baseball

The Cleveland Indians rely heavily on their ability to scout, draft, and develop players in their farm system. Being a small to mid sized market in MLB, it is crucial to Cleveland’s success and future to nurture, develop, and prepare their minor league talent for their eventual trip to the show.

Kyle Nelson, Lefty Relief Pitcher, is exactly the type of talent the Indians are looking for. They one day expect him to pitch out of the Progressive Field Bullpen.

Nelson pitched his collegiate career at the University of California Santa Barbara. He was definitely the top arm out of the UCSB Bullpen. In 2014-15 he led the team in appearances with 25. In 36 innings pitched, he posted a 3-1 record, 2 saves, 32 strikeouts and a miniscule 0.75 ERA. 2015-16 saw his workload increase and the results stayed impressive. He made 33 appearances, pitching in 74.1 innings of relief. His record was 7-2, 10 saves, 87 strikeouts, and a 2.18 ERA. In 2016-17 Kyle pitched in a starting role. He made 15 starts for the UCSB Gauchos. He pitched to the tune of a 6-4 record over 87.1 innings, with 69 strikeouts and a 4.53 ERA.

Kyle Nelson definitely was a player the Indians saw a lot of when they were scouting fellow UCSB Pitcher Shane Bieber (drafted by Cleveland in 2016). Nelson was drafted in 2017 in the 15th round and made his professional debut with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the NY-PENN League.

Kyle pitched exclusively out of the Scrappers bullpen and made 19 game appearances. He threw 29 innings of solid relief with a 3-2 record, 4 saves, 2.48 ERA, and impressive 40 strikeouts.

Nelson is a hard throwing fastball pitcher with an excellent slider. I had the opportunity to see Kyle pitch 7 times at three different venues this past summer; Eastwood Field, home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Dwyer Stadium (Batavia Muckdogs) and Falcon Park (Auburn Doubledays). One of the benefits of viewing games at the NY-PENN League level is being able to get up close to the field and action. You can roam the small stadiums baseline to baseline, and get a different view. You hear the chatter in the dugouts and bullpens. You can for a moment, stand behind the home plate seats, get a peek at the radar gun, pitching charts, stat sheets and perhaps, catch a glimpse at what the parent team is looking for.

Kyle steadily hit the radar gun in the mid to upper 90’s, hitting 97 mph several times with his fastball. Keeping batters guessing, he mixes in a slider that slows down to the low and mid 80’s. He was dominant against left handed hitters, striking out 18 and keeping them to a .154 batting average. Right handed hitters didn’t fare much better, striking out 22 times and hitting only .214

Kyle impressed the heck out of me during the 5 times I saw him pitch between August 18th and September 5, 2017. In those 5 appearances he pitched 7 innings, striking out 15, and gave up 0 earned runs. During the August 18th game, he faced 7 batters, striking out 6, all on only 22 pitches!

With his blazing fastball, tricky slider, and ability to get batters from both sides of the plate out, Kyle reminds me of Andrew Miller, another dominant Lefty relief pitcher the Indians currently rely heavily on.

The Cleveland Indians are the type of team that traditionally doesn’t use match up pitchers. They look for players who can be used as weapons. They look for players who get the job done, regardless of what side of the mound they throw from. If Kyle continues his current pattern of play, he will be the type of pitcher the Indians can depend on in the future.

Please follow Mark Firkins on Twitter @thefirkster for more MLB prospect news and updates. Thanks!

Two Up, Two, Down: Dominican Winter League Update

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Written by Ben Wilson  Photos by MiLB.com

Two Up, Two Down is a new feature here at Real McCoy Minors that takes a look around the minor leagues to identify prospects outside of the biggest names and highest rankings whose recent play on the field warrants our attention. We all know someone like Braves OF prospect Ronald Acuña has done other-worldly things this year in the minor leagues, so this feature instead brings other names from the edges and into the spotlight. This is not a deep dive by any means, but quick hits on guys who should see some change in their rankings industry-wide based on their performance.

Two Up

Franchy Cordero, OF, San Diego Padres

Current Winter League Team: Leones del Escogido

FranchyCan’t spell Franchise without Franchy! Ok…not quite, but Franchy is playing great in the DR these days. He’s putting up offense to the tune of .318/.389/.470, and he’s second in the league in hits (42), and total bases (62). Franchy played 30 MLB games this past season with San Diego and the K rate was a little high, but I attribute that to a small sample. Franchy does have some swing-and-miss to his game, but he also has some sneaky pop and can be a 15 HR, high doubles and triples hitter at the MLB level. He also greatly improved his SB percentage this year at AAA, and he’s trending in the right direction in many ways during a critical period of his development. While many think Franchy has 4th OF potential, I think he can be better than that: a good starting LF with game-changing athleticism, albeit with a lower AVG and serviceable OBP.

Jorge Yabiel Lopez, SP, Milwakee Brewers

Current Winter League Team: Aguilas Cibaenas

Jorge LopezThrough 9 Dominican League starts, Lopez has put together a solid 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, with 36 K and 12 BB in 50 IP. The Puerto Rican right-hander has compiled a respectable minor league career since being picked in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft. Entering 2016, he appeared on Baseball America, MLB, and Baseball Prospectus’ Top 100 prospect lists. Now entering his age 25 season, Lopez began transitioning to a bullpen role last season, where he put up 7 SV while still making 13 starts at AA. Given the new trend of multiple-inning middle relievers cropping up around baseball, Lopez could be an interesting name moving forward for the Brew Crew in a starter/reliever mold. He has demonstrated enough control and strikeout ability to be a valuable commodity, and may reward the Brewers for being patient with him like they were with Jimmy Nelson.

Two Down

Jose Leclerc, RP, Texas Rangers

Current Winter League Team: Gigantes del Cibao

Jose LeclercA pure reliever, Leclerc’s bugaboo has been the free pass throughout his professional career. With a four-seam fastball that tops out at 97mph, Leclerc generates plenty of swing-and-miss stuff, while mixing in a diverse arsenal of a splitter, changeup, sinker, curve, and cutter. Leclerc’s 2017 K rate of 11.8/9 IP at the MLB level was impressive, albeit at the expense of 40 BB in 45.2 IP. Leclerc has 11 BB in 13 IP so far for the Gigantes, while allowing only 3 hits and 3 ER. If Leclerc can figure out how to throw a higher percentage of strikes, he can be a clear part of the Rangers late inning mix. Otherwise, it is hard to envision a role beyond middle relief if he can’t wrangle in some of the erratic tendencies. He will be 24 years old on Opening Day, and will look to have a strong Spring Training with the control to break camp with the big club again this year.

Miguel Andujar, 3B, New York Yankees

Current Winter League Team: Gigantes del Cibao

Miguel AndujarAndujar currently does not have an extra base hit in 57 at bats for the Gigantes, but playing in 130 games between AA and MLB is a reasonable explanation for the lower offensive output. That being said, Andujar is coming off of a strong 2017 that has seen his stock rise considerably. A good contact, low K hitter at a premium position, Andujar looks destined for a bright future under the bright lights in the Bronx. Given the Yankees glut of talent on the infield, and with super-prospect Gleyber Torres with the clearest path to 3B time in New York, I wonder if Andujar has a future in the outfield: his plus arm would play very well there. While there are some that are currently placing Andujar in the top 25 prospects in all of baseball, I think his position uncertainty, and reliance on the hit tool given his overall offensive profile, leaves some questions about his ultimate future. I saw a “Hank Aaron wrists” comparison for Andujar on Twitter, which again, makes me stop and process the hyperbole of that statement. I most certainly like Andujar as a top 100 prospect, but wonder if the strength of the New York Yankees farm system should cause us to take pause on the quick ascent through top 100 lists across the industry.

Other Notables:

Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox

Current Winter League Team: Gigantes del Cibao

Top prospect Eloy is doing very Eloy things in the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano. He’s among the league leaders in HR despite playing in about half as many games as everyone else, and hitting at a robust .368/.443/.676 overall. Look out light towers in the South Side of Chicago circa late 2018.

Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Detroit Tigers

Current Winter League Team: Toros del Este

Jeimer has been slighted a bit in prospect circles by having many above average tools with none that project as elite, but I think that’s an unfair assessment of this talented young man. Candelario has consistently demonstrated a good ability to get on base, and play solid defense at the hot corner. As a switch hitter, I am a big fan of Candelario and project that he will be among the better 3B in all of baseball. The Tigers picked up a great guy for their rebuild.

Julio Borbon, OF, Mexican League

Current Winter League Team: Tigres del Licey

Remember Julio? The former first round pick of the Texas Rangers last played in the majors with Baltimore in 2016, and has 9 XBH in 63 AB in the DR. Borbon played very well in the Mexican League this past year, putting together .365/.426/.469 in 90 games to go along with 20/27 SB. At 31 years old, Borbon can help out a MLB team putting together that kind of production as a LF/CF backup, and I hope he signs on with a club this winter.

Please follow Ben Wilson on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for more MLB prospect news and updates.