There are plenty of big signing going down at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, but plenty of quality trades taking place as well. The latest, Nomar Mazara headed to the South Side to play for the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfield prospect Steele Walker.
In the 2018 draft Oklahoma had two highly touted outfield prospects and there was some debate on who would be the better pro. I was on the Steele Walker side of the argument as I felt he was a more polished baseball player, and there was a guarantee he would stick with baseball. That other outfielder no longer plays baseball because he is busy on Sunday’s quarterbacking the Arizona Cardinals, Kyler Murray.
The best tool for Walker is one that is tough to teach, and that is pitch recognition. He demonstrates a plus aye at the plate that has allowed for an OBP better than 70 points higher than his batting average. He has a low stride that allows him to keep his balance well and adjust to off-speed. The hands are quick allowing the bat speed to translate to at least average power.
He is a quality athlete but is no burner, however he has quality instincts that allow him to play a serviceable center field, although left is a better fit. Don’t give up on the idea of him staying in center though, as plenty within the organization are confident he will be able to stick there long term.
In the end, I see him as a fringe-average everyday outfielder or a high-quality number four that can hold his own at all three spots, although the arm is really his lone below average tool. He has the upside of a .275 hitter with 15-20 home run power that provides quality ABs near the bottom of a lineup.
The Los Angeles Angels have shipped the number 15 overall pick in the past MLB draft to the San Francisco Giants for salary relief of Zack Cozart’s contract and other cash considerations. So, what did the Giants “buy” and what did the Angels “sell”?
Will Wilson was a multi-year standout on a quality North Carolina State club and is a better player than his tools would suggest. He is far from an impressive athlete as he runs like a first baseman, but his instincts in the field allow him to be at least an average defender at short. The arm isn’t special but it is definitely enough to stick on the left side and will stick at short although second might be where he fits best.
At the plate he has sneaky pop, hitting 31 home runs over the past two seasons in college and then hit five over 46 games in the Pioneer League. He makes good contact although he will chase a bit too much. There is a rather significant leg kick that, along with his knack to chase the ball out of the zone, will result in an adjustment likely needed when he reaches the higher minors. He does have enough bat control to hit for a solid average and he manages to utilize his legs to get to balls lower in the zone and still drive the ball. I anticipate the plate discipline to get better with pro coaching and that adjustment to come quickly.
In the end I don’t think Wilson will be anything more than an average regular, but he could certainly develop into a well above average utility guy who can fill in at a handful of positions. He is also rather polished, so a cameo in the big league at the end of 2021 is not out of the question.
We have not yet reached the Winter Meetings, but the first big prospect swap has happened as Jake Cronenworth joins Tommy Pham on the way to the San Diego Padres, while Xavier Edwards is heading to the Tampa Bay Rays along with Hunter Renfroe. Edwards and Cronenworth were teammates this offseason with Team USA in the Premier 12, where they failed to qualify for the Olympics but have another shot in March.
Edwards is the best of the two prospects involved in the trade and a virtual lock to make my Rays top 10 prospect list (those will be rolled out starting the first week of the year). Edwards has seen time at both middle infield spots but best fits as a second baseman long term. He has near top scale speed that pairs very well with his well above average contact ability that has seen him hit over .300 at all four levels he has played thus far in his Minor League career. His quick twitch abilities will allow him to fill in at short in a pinch but at second he is an above-average defender and will likely be a staple at the top of the Rays lineup sometime in 2022.
Cronenworth was a two-way player in college at Michigan but played primarily at short in his pro career. He can absolutely hold down the position defensively and has a good bat when it comes to contact, but the power is limited and doesn’t have a true plus tool outside of potentially his arm. That arm led the Rays to give him some run on the mound in 2019 where he did not allow a run and struck out 9 in 7.1 innings. He has a quality fastball and has shown the makings of a quality curve that could see him making the big leagues as a reliever, although his defensive ability will make it hard to move him to a full time pitcher. He will likely debut this coming season in San Diego and provide incredible flexibility in the NL that we have not seen in quite some time.
is being called up by the St. Louis Cardinals to make his big league debut in his 10th
pro season. Ravelo spent 2010-2014 in the Chicago White Sox organization before catching on with the Oakland Athletics for two seasons and has now been with the Cardinals for the past three.
Ravelo is not your prototypical first baseman as he is not a guy who will hit for a lot of power (had a career high 13 HRs a season ago) but he is a guy that can hit for a solid average and play quality defense at first. He has a quiet swing with good hand placement that allows him to get the bat to the zone quickly despite lacking elite bat speed.
He lacks the upside he once possessed and he is blocked at his natural position by a decent first baseman by the name of Paul Goldschmidt
, but he has nothing left to prove at AAA and has long been deserving of this promotion. He started his career as a third baseman but hasn’t played there in years, although he has seen time in the corner outfield recently and has shown he is at least passable there.
A corner bat without much pop is far from an ideal player, but the gap power and ability to hit for average could easily play well enough for him to stick around for a bit and be a quality bench piece.