Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Note from Eric: Hey you, this is the last one of these for the year, as the minor-league regular season comes to a close. Thanks for reading. I’ll be taking some time off next week, charging the batteries for the offseason duties that lie ahead for Kiley and me.
D.J. Peters, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: 7 FV: 45+
Line: 4-for-7, 2 HR, 2B (double header)
A comparison of DJ Peters’ 2017 season in the Cal League and his 2018 season at Double-A gives us a good idea of what happens to on-paper production when a hitter is facing better pitching and defenses in a more stable offensive environment.
D.J. Peters’ Production
Reports of Peters’ physical abilities haven’t changed, nor is his batted-ball profile different in such a way that one would expect a downtick in production. The 2018 line is, I think, a more accurate distillation of Peters’ abilities. He belongs in a talent bucket with swing-and-miss outfielders like Franchy Cordero, Randal Grichuk, Michael A. Taylor, Bradley Zimmer, etc. These are slugging center fielders whose contact skills aren’t particularly great. Players like this are historically volatile from one season to the next but dominant if/when things click. They’re often ~1.5 WAR players who have some years in the three-win range. Sometimes they also turn into George Springer.
Peters has some late-bloomer traits (small school, long levers) that have us rounding up on his profile (hence the 45+ FV instead of just a 45), and the Dodgers’ recent player-development track record helps in this regard, too. But if you don’t think Peters stays in center field (he’s 6-foot-6, 225 pounds and I have him body comp’d to young Adam Dunn), then there’s good reason for trepidation.
Cristian Santana 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Level: Hi-A Age: 21 Org Rank: 16 FV: 40
Line: 3-for-4, 2B, SB
Cristian Santana has hit in 21 of his last 22 games and collected an incredible 41 knocks during that span. His white-hot August has salvaged a vanilla full-season line (was at .245/.274/.387 a month ago, now sits at .275/.300/.452), but Santana’s underlying issues with impatience have remained. It’s encouraging that he has made alterations to what was once an even more out-of-control swing and approach, but Santana remains a volatile corner-infield prospect with premium bat speed.
Grant Holmes RHP, Oakland Athletics
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: 14 FV: 45
Line: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K
This was Holmes’ only appearance of the season after he missed all year with a rotator cuff injury. As noted below, he’ll appear on Mesa’s Arizona Fall League roster.
Arizona Fall League Thoughts
The Arizona Fall League rosters were announced today, and I’ve included a table below that features every prospect on THE BOARD who was named as part of this year’s crop of talent. It is, as always, a very exciting group of players headlined by baseball’s top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Beneath the table I’ve provided team-by-team notes on certain players — including some who aren’t included on THE BOARD. Note that I have presented 45+ and 40+ FV players on the table as 47s and 42, respectively, so that they sort properly. Everyone of the prospect rated as a 50 FV or above has an explicit ranking. Prospects in FV tiers beneath that are not hard-ranked on this table.
Arizona Fall League Prospects on THE BOARD
What I’ll be Watching in Glendale
White Sox RHP Zack Burdi was 99-102 before he had Tommy John surgery and was “only” sitting in the mid-90s when I saw him rehabbing in the AZL this summer. I’ll be monitoring his velo in the AFL. The same goes for Dodgers RHP Jordan Sheffield, whose velo was down, as well, when I caught a rehab outing last month. They’re elite relief candidates when sitting in the upper 90s and considerably less elite if they’re sitting 92-96. I’ll be re-assessing the hit tool of Yankees OF prospect Estevan Florial. I left last year’s Fall League very skeptical of his ability to hit despite being enamored of his physical ability. Perhaps the real question is, “Can he hit enough for the other tools to play?” The same can be said about White Sox OF Luis Robert, about whom we just don’t have a lot of data (scouting or statistical) right now, and Orioles OF Austin Hays, whose approach is problematic and was exposed this year. Dodgers OF Cody Thomas is not on the board but has the physical ability to be. He was a two-sport college athlete who beat up on the Cal League as a 23-year-old. This leap in quality of competition will be telling for him.
What I’ll be Watching in Peoria
Brewers RHP Bubba Derby (not on THE BOARD) is a junkballer with fringe stuff but plus athleticism and pitchability. He’s a gutsy 5-foot-11 righty who has always outpitched his stuff. Colorado Springs isn’t kind to any pitcher, and I believe his Fall League eval will carry weight throughout the industry as to whether this guy is a big leaguer or not. Rays LHP Matt Krook has elite stuff, but he’s wild and injury prone. I’ll be curious to see if he can work efficiently enough to generate multi-inning value in the big league or if he’s just another 40 FV middle reliever. We didn’t have Padres C Austin Allen on our Padres list entering the year because we don’t think he can catch. Watching him for six weeks in the AFL should be telling. Note that he’s one of the older players in the league. I’ll be continuing to monitor the arm strength of Brewers 2B prospect Keston Hiura. Hiura DH’d in 2017 due to an elbow issue and didn’t throw well at Futures Game. Viable arm strength which enables him to remain at second base is a huge part of his profile because a 3 arm means he ends up in LF.
What I’ll be Watching in Scottsdale
Can Giants RHP Melvin Adon learn to do anything more than just throw really, really hard? Is Astros 2017 first-rounder J.B. Bukauskas a starter? There are some guys with weird statistical profiles on this roster, led by Astros OF Myles Straw (who has an extreme opposite-field approach) and Arquimedes Gamboa (who has strong underlying walk/strikeout numbers and an improving batted-ball profile bat has never produced in games). I’ll also be watching to see just how bad Peter Alonso is at playing first base. This team has more star power than it does enigmas.
What I’ll be Watching in Mesa
What is Grant Holmes’ stuff like coming back from shoulder issues that shelved him all year? Can any of the Red Sox players here hit enough to profile at a corner spot? How is Jahmai Jones’ defensive transition back to second base going? Is Athletics OF Luis Barrera hitting for enough power to profile in left field?
What I’ll be Watching in Salt River
Monte Harrison. The Diamondbacks sent four of their top six prospects to Fall League, including C Daulton Varsho, who will be forced to catch a higher concentration of big-league-quality stuff. 1B Pavin Smith did not hit for power in the Cal League this year, and I’ll be looking to see if there’s untapped pop there. He’ll need it to profile at first base. Did Miami get in on the ground floor of something when they acquired Bryson Brigman from Seattle or were his numbers just inflated by the Cal League? Can Twins masher Brent Rooker identify breaking balls?
What I’ll be Watching in Surprise
Rangers Cuban signee and Shohei Ohtani consolation prize, Julio Pablo Martinez went right from the DSL to the Northwest League, which means I never saw him in Arizona. Reports from my scouting sources who have seen him up there vary depending on who you talk to. Amateur scouts who pick up pro coverage after the draft like him more than dedicated pro scouts do, probably because Northwest Area scouts don’t see toolsets like this very often. My eyes will break the tie this Fall. Blue Jays 2B Cavan Biggio is listed on the roster as an outfielder. Part of the reason we’ve been reluctant to buy heavily into Biggio is that reports on his defense at second base are bad, and this roster distinction seems to corroborate that. Cardinals INF Andy Young has had a monster year and deserves a re-evaluation.