Tag: Milwaukee Brewers

2019 Draft Recap – NL Central

2019 Draft Recap – NL Central

I will be breaking down my take on the draft for each team just as I started with Minor League Ball a season ago. Like then, this is a six article series, going East to West for the AL and NL. I will break down four picks for each team with those being:

Best Pick: Likely a Monday selection that I love as a fit and/or upside for the organization.

Reach: A selection I just don’t like, or at least as early as the player was selected.

Sleeper: Likely a Tuesday selection that the team got lower than I would have selected them, providing good value.

Deep Sleeper: This will be a pick often after the 10th round that will likely be signed (most often a college senior) and provide value in the system and potentially become a future big league player. Some will be inside the top 10 rounds depending on how the draft unfolded for that given team.

To see the other lists, use the links below (to be added as the articles post):

NL East
NL Central
NL West
AL East
AL Central
AL West

Chicago Cubs

Best Pick: Chase Strumpf – 2B – UCLA – Round 2 – Pick 64 – When Strumpf’s name was announced at the draft, he was about to step into the on-deck circle as UCLA looked (and succeeded) in knocking off Loyola Marymount to proceed to the Super Regionals. When he stepped to the plate, he launched a three-run bomb that helped them advance. Power isn’t really a big part of his game, although he has enough to grade out pretty close to average. The real impressive pieces of Strumpf’s game are his plus hit tool and his ability to play a very strong second base.

Reach: Ryan Jensen – RHP – Fresno State – Round 1 – Pick 27 – Jensen did sign for more than a half million under slot, which makes this less of a reach as that nearly made up enough money needed to sign their sixth round pick, and my sleeper, Ethan Hearn. Jensen will likely need to move to the bullpen as he doesn’t have the body nor the delivery to hold up to a starting workload. He also struggles with command and lacks a viable third offering, although his big fastball and quality slider could make him a solid late inning reliever, just looking for more upside or more secure floor than this in the first round.

Sleeper: Ethan Hearn – C – Mobile Christian School (AL) – Round 6 – Pick 192 – Hearn was my third ranked catcher in this draft but was the 12th selected, although he was the first prep catcher selected which is always a risky selection. He has a bigger body and lacks the lateral mobility I typically like from a catcher, but the feet are good when popping up to make a throw and the strong arm makes him a guy who can post sub-2.0 pop times. He also has plus raw power with a decent left-handed stroke that should lead to enough contact to get to that power. I would not have criticized a team had they taken Hearn late in the first round, so the sixth round and paying him “second round money” is an easy “sleeper” decision for me.

Deep Sleeper: Nelson Maldonado – OF – Florida – Round 21 – Pick 642 – I gave real consideration to Adam Laskey and Hunter Bigge for this spot, but both still have a year of eligibility left and neither have signed as of the time of this writing, so I broke the tie and went with the senior. Maldonado has an elite eye at the plate and some pop in the bat, although the power has been inconsistent. He is rather limited defensively as he is likely a LF only type guy, but has the upside to hit enough to become a decent fourth outfielder.

Cincinnati Reds

Best Pick: Nick Lodolo – LHP – TCU – Round 1 – Pick 7 – There was little surprise when Lodolo was announced to the Reds with the seventh pick as he was strongly linked to them for a while ahead of the draft. He is long and lanky but has good body control and a whippy 3/4 slot creating real run on all his pitches. The slider is a wipeout pitch while he has a borderline plus change to go with a running fastball that gets into the mid-90s. There was something in his delivery that reminded me of Chris Sale, and he could be a poor man’s version of Sale, which should make the Reds incredibly happy.

Reach: Eric Yang – C – UCSB – Round 7 – Pick 204 – I don’t like Yang as a pick in the top 10 rounds as I don’t see a true path to the big leauges for him. He is a solid receiver behind the plate, but not special. His arm is average at best, he showed flashes of some pop in the bat and has a good eye at the plate, but I doubt he ever really hits enough to carry him to the highest level. I would rather have seen the Reds go with a proven senior they can get for a lower cost and use the funds for the multiple players they got who may need over slot (Rece Hinds, Quin Cotton, Tyler Callihan, Yan Contreras).

Sleeper: Tyler Callihan – 3B – Providence School of Jacksonville (FL) – Round 3 – Pick 85 – It is hard to call a guy who signed for more than double slot a sleeper, which is why I almost went with Rece Hinds or Quin Cotton, but ultimately this was a great selection by the Reds. Callihan easily could have been selected in the first round as he has an advanced hit tool and quality raw power. The arm and bat both project well for third but the glove is his big question mark. He was announced as a second baseman, which makes even less sense for me, and he has seen time behind the plate at times. Ultimately, it will be the bat that carries him, but if he can stay off first base he can be a special selection.

Deep Sleeper: Patrick Raby – RHP – Vanderbilt – Round 17 – Pick 504 – If the Reds can sign Yan Contreras, he will be a real steal in the 12th round, but Raby is a senior and all but guaranteed to sign. He doesn’t have the raw stuff of most well-regarded draft picks, but he has a track record few can match. He has been a four-year contributor at pitching powerhouse Vanderbilt and struck out more than a batter per inning this season. His fastball tops out around 90 and has an average curve and change, but he may be able to work his way into a spot starter in time, which is a quality return in round 17.

Milwaukee Brewers

Best Pick: Thomas Dillard – C/OF – Ole Miss – Round 5 – Pick 163 – I was not big on the Brewers draft, which is represented by the fact I have their fifth-round pick as their best pick. He has plus raw power and good bat speed that allows him to hit well from both sides of the plate. What makes me like this pick most is the fact he was announced as a catcher. Dillard was a catcher in HS and saw minimal time there while at Ole Miss, but he could be a special bat for the position if he is able to improve the receiving ability and feet behind the dish. The arm is more than enough to play there and could allow him to play right, although his range is quite limited and he may end up at first if catching doesn’t work out, where I would end up ranking this as just another eh selection for the Brewers this year.

Reach: Antoine Kelly – LHP – Wabash Valley College – Round 2 – Pick 65 – Kelly is a 6’6” lefty who can touch 98 with ease and triple digits are likely in his future, there, I said nice things about him. The next time he shows a quality secondary offering just may be the first time as he has a slider but it spins more than it breaks, and he throws a change but it is incredibly inconsistent and easy to read. None of his pitches are thrown with much in terms of command and the delivery needs work. He has a special fastball, but I like Tanner Scott’s FB (reliever for the Baltimore Orioles) and Scott has shown at least one average secondary offering, and his big league ERA is over 5.5. I fear Kelly is all fastball but little else.

Sleeper: Gabe Holt – OF/2B – Texas Tech – Round 7 – Pick 223 – Holt has spent most his time in Lubbock as a second baseman but his future is most likely in center. He has plus-plus speed that allows him to steal plenty of bags and cover a ton of ground defensively. He knows his role and does not worry about creating much in term of launch angle, instead going for a line drive approach to all fields and letting his legs do the work. He is most likely a future utility guy, but he has the upside of an everyday player who gets on base and makes things happen once there and I would not be shocked if he has the best career of anyone in the Brewers draft class this year.

Deep Sleeper: David Hamilton – SS – Texas – Round 8 – Pick 253 – This is one of the few day two guys who will be highlighted as a “deep sleeper” for me, but Hamilton is a guy who missed the entire season and may miss some of next season too after blowing out his Achilles. Hamilton’s calling card is his speed, which is a real question now given the injury he sustained. If he gets back to his pre-injury form, he still wasn’t a lock to go on day one of the draft, but he should be able to hold down short and slap the ball around the ballpark enough to have an impact. He can take a medical redshirt and return to Austin to improve his draft stock, but I hope he signs, finishes his rehab, and gets on the field sometime next Spring.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Best Pick: Quinn Priester – RHP – Cary-Grove HS (IL) – Round 1 – Pick 18 – My initial reaction to this pick wasn’t glowing, but the more I look at the pick the more I like it. He has a big fastball that can get into the upper 90s with life, and a high-quality curve that has plus potential. His change is far behind the other two pitches as he simply hasn’t needed it coming from a cold weather region that his fastball is usually enough to blow away hitters. He has good command and a quality delivery to go with a body that has plenty of projection left in it. Still don’t love Priester and I don’t believe he has the greatest of upside despite the big fastball, but he could turn into a low-end number two starter or high-end number three, which is an excellent return.

Reach: J.C. Flowers – RHP – Florida State – Round 4 – Pick 124 – To be honest, if Flowers had been announced as an outfielder, I would actually like this selection, but I am not too fond of it as a pitcher. He probably had as good a chance as any in this class to be a two-way player and has elite athleticism that makes him an above-average defensive center fielder and quality base runner. He strikes out too much but there is real pop in the bat. Unfortunately, at least to me, we won’t see that as he was drafted for what he did as the Seminoles closer. His fastball gets into the mid-90s when at its best, but more often sits in the low-90s. He has a cutting slider that may develop into an above average offering, and a change that could come along enough to allow him to get some run as a starter.

Sleeper: Blake Sabol – OF/C – USC – Round 7 – Pick 214 – I don’t rule out Sabol being given a chance to catch where I think he has the athleticism and enough arm to give it a real run. If that doesn’t work, he will be just fine in the outfield where he covers enough ground to fill in at center, enough arm to fill in right, but is really a left fielder long term. He has a good eye at the plate, but doesn’t take advantage of it enough, attacking bad first pitches far too often. When he does make contact, his plus raw power allows the ball to travel, although the game power is still well behind the raw. If Sabol puts it all together, he is a first-round talent, it is just a question of whether or not he manages to do that.

Deep Sleeper: Chase Murray – OF – Georgia Tech – Round 13 – Pick 394 – I had some real doubt Murray would sign when I heard his name called, but it does appear he will. If you go off his sophomore and Cape Cod numbers, Murray looks like an easy day two guy, but he really struggled this past season and fell to day three. He has shown he can play center and hit for good average but the power is quite limited. Like many of the “deep sleepers” I will name, his most likely role at the highest level is as a bench option, where I think he could be a quality fourth outfielder.

St. Louis Cardinals

Best Pick: Zack Thompson – LHP – Kentucky – Round 1 – Pick 19 – A successful summer on the Cape and with the USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team launched Thompson into consideration as the top pitcher in the draft. He wound up being the fifth arm off the board but may be as “safe” an arm as any selected in round one. His fastball gets into the mid-90s with good tilt and some rune while mixing in two breaking balls that are above average. His change is already solid and should be a quality fourth offering to go with a repeatable and clean delivery giving him an easy mid-rotation to better future.

Reach: Trejyn Fletcher – OF – Deering HS (ME) – Round 2 – Pick 58 – Athletic, cold weather prep players are always an interesting case come draft time, and this is one I am not big on. He re-classified to be eligible for the draft this year rather than next but was still already 18 come draft day and there isn’t a track record against quality competition. He has an impressive arm and can really run, but I wonder if he will ever make enough contact to be a viable big league option. There is power but even raw may not be more than average, although the chances he is an above-average if not plus defender in center are good, so there is some floor, I am just not sold on the tools at the plate.

Sleeper: Jack Ralston – RHP – UCLA – Round 7 – Pick 215 – Ralston has a deliver I can’t make up my mind on as there is good control in the lower half but the arm whips right over the top with inconsistent release points. When at his best, it has massive downhill plane thanks to the fact he is 6’6” and his high slot, but he will whip the ball in the dirt and leave it high far more than you want, and the ball can become somewhat easy to find. He does have a hammer curve that misses barrels and a change that needs significant work. I do like the combo of that fastball and curve out of the pen when it isn’t as easy to get a read on the release point, and I could see him becoming a quality late inning option.

Deep Sleeper: Tommy Jew – OF – UC Santa Barbara – Round 13 – Pick 395 – The Gauchos flirted with a top 10 ranking at times this season, but then went two and out in the Stanford regional. One of the more upsetting moments for UCSB fans was watching Jew trip at first and flip over the bag before being carted off with his left ankle stabilized. He tapped into his power stroke this season and went from a slap hitting center fielder to a more traditional bat. There are more Ks than you want, but the added pop and impressive defense make up for it. That defense is above average D in center field where he allows his plus speed to cover a ton of ground and has more than enough arm for the position. His baseball instincts help him in the field and on the bases and, assuming a return to full health, he will outperform his draft position by a long shot.

Prospect Call Up – Milwaukee Brewers – Keston Hiura – 2B

Prospect Call Up – Milwaukee Brewers – Keston Hiura – 2B

The Milwaukee Brewers have decided to call up their top prospect in second baseman Keston Hiura. Second base has been clearly a position of need this season as they have experimented with Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas both seeing time at second, but that position should now be solidified for years to come.

Hiura has the best hit tool stll in the minors (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Nick Senzel could both be argued has as good if not better hit tools, but both have already made their debuts). The one concern with Hiura was, and still is to an extent, is his defense as he has seen a lot of at DH after undergoing Tommy John surgery while still at UC Irvine and his recovery was slow.

The upside for Hiura is a perennial .300+ hitter who can run into 20+ home runs a season while playing a solid second base and regularly being the starting second baseman for the NL All-Star team in the future.

(Day job has my writing time extremely limited so there will be more frequent and in depth articles to come after next week.)

2019 Preseason Top 150

Carter Kieboom
Carter Kieboom. Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150.  15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.

 

Player Position Team Rank
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B Toronto Blue Jays 1
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS San Diego Padres 2
Eloy Jimenez OF Chicago White Sox 3
Forrest Whitley RHP Houston Astros 4
Victor Robles OF Washington Nationals 5
Jo Adell OF Los Angeles Angels 6
Royce Lewis SS Minnesota Twins 7
Wander Franco SS Tampa Bay Rays 8
Nick Senzel 2B/3B Cincinnati Reds 9
Jesus Luzardo LHP Oakland Athletics 10
MacKenzie Gore LHP San Diego Padres 11
Bo Bichette SS/2B Toronto Blue Jays 12
Kyle Tucker OF Houston Astros 13
Taylor Trammell OF Cincinnati Reds 14
Keston Hiura 2B Milwaukee Brewers 15
Brendan Rodgers SS/2B Colorado Rockies 16
Sixto Sanchez RHP Miami Marlins 17
Cristian Pache OF Atlanta Braves 18
Carter Kieboom SS Washington Nationals 19
Luis Urias 2B/SS San Diego Padres 20
Casey Mize RHP Detroit Tigers 21
Joey Bart C San Francisco Giants 22
Austin Riley 3B Atlanta Braves 23
Keibert Ruiz C Los Angeles Dodgers 24
Pete Alonso 1B New York Mets 25
Brendan McKay LHP/1B Tampa Bay Rays 26
Michael Kopech RHP Chicago White Sox 27
Hunter Greene RHP Cincinnati Reds 28
Mitch Keller RHP Pittsburgh Pirates 29
Andres Gimenez SS New York Mets 30
Brent Honeywell RHP Tampa Bay Rays 31
Nick Madrigal 2B/SS Chicago White Sox 32
Jonathan India 3B/SS Cincinnati Reds 33
Sean Murphy C Oakland Athletics 34
Alex Verdugo OF Los Angeles Dodgers 35
A.J. Puk LHP Oakland Athletics 36
Matthew Liberatore LHP Tampa Bay Rays 37
Mike Soroka RHP Atlanta Braves 38
Nolan Gorman 3B St. Louis Cardinals 39
Ian Anderson RHP Atlanta Braves 40
Francisco Mejia C/OF San Diego Padres 41
Luis Robert OF Chicago White Sox 42
Dylan Cease RHP Chicago White Sox 43
Chris Paddack RHP San Diego Padres 44
Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B Pittsburgh Pirates 45
Vidal Brujan 2B Tampa Bay Rays 46
Touki Toussaint RHP Atlanta Braves 47
Brusdar Graterol RHP Minnesota Twins 48
Justus Sheffield LHP Seattle Mariners 49
Kyle Wright RHP Atlanta Braves 50
Yordan Alvarez OF Houston Astros 51
Alex Kirilloff OF Minnesota Twins 52
Jesus Sanchez OF Tampa Bay Rays 53
Yusei Kikuchi LHP Seattle Mariners 54
Yusniel Diaz OF Baltimore Orioles 55
Khalil Lee OF Kansas City Royals 56
Jarred Kelenic OF Seattle Mariners 57
Triston McKenzie RHP Cleveland Indians 58
Danny Jansen C Toronto Blue Jays 59
Jazz Chisholm SS Arizona Diamondbacks 60
Adrian Morejon LHP San Diego Padres 61
Griffin Canning RHP Los Angeles Angels 62
Dustin May RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 63
Luis Patino RHP San Diego Padres 64
Alec Bohm 3B Philadelphia Phillies 65
Estevan Florial OF New York Yankees 66
Jon Duplantier RHP Arizona Diamondbacks 67
DL Hall LHP Baltimore Orioles 68
Nate Pearson RHP Toronto Blue Jays 69
Josh James RHP Houston Astros 70
Drew Waters OF Atlanta Braves 71
Bryse Wilson RHP Atlanta Braves 72
Nolan Jones 3B Cleveland Indians 73
Gavin Lux SS/2B Los Angeles Dodgers 74
Travis Swaggerty OF Pittsburgh Pirates 75
Matt Manning RHP Detroit Tigers 76
Oneil Cruz SS Pittsburgh Pirates 77
Luis Garcia SS/3B Washington Nationals 78
Garrett Hampson 2B/SS Colorado Rockies 79
Adonis Medina RHP Philadelphia Phillies 80
Ryan Mountcastle 3B Baltimore Orioles 81
Kristian Robinson OF Arizona Diamondbacks 82
Brady Singer RHP Kansas City Royals 83
Monte Harrison OF Miami Marlins 84
Logan Allen LHP San Diego Padres 85
Nico Hoerner SS Chicago Cubs 86
Michel Baez RHP San Diego Padres 87
Isaac Paredes SS/2B Detroit Tigers 88
Victor Victor Mesa OF Miami Marlins 89
Trevor Larnach OF Minnesota Twins 90
Brandon Marsh OF Los Angeles Angels 91
Heliot Ramos OF San Francisco Giants 92
Brandon Lowe 2B/OF Tampa Bay Rays 93
Ronny Mauricio SS New York Mets 94
Will Smith C/3B Los Angeles Dodgers 95
MJ Melendez C Kansas City Royals 96
Dane Dunning RHP Chicago White Sox 97
Ronaldo Hernandez C Tampa Bay Rays 98
Hans Crouse RHP Texas Rangers 99
Jonathan Loaisiga RHP New York Yankees 100
Corbin Martin RHP Houston Astros 101
Cole Winn RHP Texas Rangers 102
Luiz Gohara LHP Atlanta Braves 103
Leody Taveras OF Texas Rangers 104
William Contreras C Atlanta Braves 105
Seuly Matias OF Kansas City Royals 106
Lucius Fox SS Tampa Bay Rays 107
Corey Ray OF Milwaukee Brewers 108
Spencer Howard RHP Philadelphia Phillies 109
Jahmai Jones 2B Los Angeles Angels 110
Jordyn Adams OF Los Angeles Angels 111
George Valera OF Cleveland Indians 112
J.B. Bukauskas RHP Houston Astros 113
Justin Dunn RHP Seattle Mariners 114
Michael Chavis 3B Boston Red Sox 115
Mark Vientos 3B New York Mets 116
Daz Cameron OF Detroit Tigers 117
Bubba Thompson OF Texas Rangers
Josh Naylor 1B/OF San Diego Padres 119
Colton Welker 3B Colorado Rockies 120
Daulton Varsho C Arizona Diamondbacks 121
Evan White 1B Seattle Mariners 122
Peter Lambert RHP Colorado Rockies 123
Taylor Widener RHP Arizona Diamondbacks 124
Julio Pablo Martinez OF Texas Rangers 125
Kevin Smith SS/3B Toronto Blue Jays 126
Miguel Amaya C Chicago Cubs 127
Andrew Knizner C St. Louis Cardinals 128
Tyler Nevin 1B Colorado Rockies 129
Hudson Potts 3B/1B San Diego Padres 130
Sandy Alcantara RHP Miami Marlins 131
Shane Baz RHP Tampa Bay Rays 132
Tyler Stephenson C Cincinnati Reds 133
Eric Pardinho RHP Toronto Blue Jays 134
Franklin Perez RHP Detroit Tigers 135
Jordan Groshans 3B/SS Toronto Blue Jays 136
Dakota Hudson RHP St. Louis Cardinals 137
Nate Lowe 1B Tampa Bay Rays 138
Elehuris Montero 3B St. Louis Cardinals 139
Luis Oviedo RHP Cleveland Indians 140
Tony Santillan RHP Cincinnati Reds 141
Triston Casas 1B/3B Boston Red Sox 142
Adbert Alzolay RHP Chicago Cubs 143
Ethan Hankins RHP Cleveland Indians 144
Beau Burrows RHP Detroit Tigers 145
Brice Turang SS Milwaukee Brewers 146
Brent Rooker 1B/OF Minnesota Twins 147
Alex Faedo RHP Detroit Tigers 148
Deivi Garcia RHP New York Yankees 149
Ryan Weathers LHP San Diego Padres 150

 

Milwaukee Brewers 2019 Preseason Top 10

Milwaukee Brewers 2019 Preseason Top 10

1)

Player: Keston Hiura
Position(s): 2B Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: A pure second baseman is not often a number on prospect for a team, but Hiura is special. I mentioned in my post yesterday that Senzel may have the best hit tool outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., he has competition with Hiura. He was limited to DH duties in his final year at UC Irvine thanks to an elbow injury most thought would require Tommy John surgery but he is healthy now and a solid second baseman. To go along with the incredible hit tool, Hiura has plus power potential and could be an absolute superstar at the plate. In his first full pro season he made it to AA and went to the AFL where he took home MVP honors. I fully expect him to become a staple in the Brewers lineup this season.

2)

Player: Corey Ray
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’ Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: A guy who might be six-foot-tall, Ray is a rare player who is a no doubt middle of the infield defender who is all power and little contact. He has near top of the scale speed that makes up for his lack of great reads in center, but the athleticism should keep him there. The bat is powerful, but it is long to the zone and will lead to a lot of strikeouts. Overall, he is a tough one because he had a great season last year after a poor season the year before and there really wasn’t any difference in approach or mechanics. He is going to be one of those who is streaky, but when he is on a hot streak, there will be few who can impact a game as much as him.

3)

Player: Brice Turang
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 165 lbs.
Quick Report: A surprising fall in the draft last June, Turang was once a candidate to go number one overall, but he struggled at the plate his senior year in high school. The Brewers were thrilled to get him at number 21 overall, and he will likely outperform his draft position. He has a very advanced approach at the plate that allows him to work deep into counts and fight off tough pitches. He is a guy who should hit at the top of a lineup, although he will never his for much in terms of power. In the field, he is a smooth fielding shortstop that can make some really acrobatic plays and could prove to be a plus defender.

4)

Player: Tristen Lutz
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: If you are curious what a right fielder should look like, use Tristen Lutz as a perfect example as he is all power. The arm is plus and the raw power is plus-plus, although it will likely just be plus in game situations. He is actually a solid athlete in the outfield and has good reads, so he could hold down center in a pinch, but will play as an above average defender in right. The bat is quick and provides natural loft, so he just may be able to hit for a solid average, although chances are he is going to be more of a guy that puts up a .260 average and 30 or so home runs.

5)

Player: Zack Brown
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 27 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: The delivery screams reliever, and that may be his ultimate role, but the stuff and consistency just might be enough to keep him as a starter. The arm slot is very high and there is a ton of head whip that seems to lead the arm through its slot, but he fills the zone and has been quite durable thus far. His fastball can sit into the mid-90s with a plus curve and a change that has developed into an average offering. If he is sent to the bullpen, he is a guy who could handle longer stints when necessary, but also be successful in high leverage situation thanks to the fastball-curve mix, although I still hold belief he will be able to crack a rotation and become a solid number four starter.

6)

Player: Mauricio Dubon
Position(s): 2B/SS Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 160 lbs.
Quick Report: When I put together this list I was quite surprised how low I wound up placing Dubon as I really like him as a player and have had only positive interactions with him as a person. The problem with Dubon is the fact I just don’t see the ceiling of an everyday ballplayer some see. He has a strong arm and good actions in the field that will allow him to see time at three infield positions and be at least average at all three. There is almost no over the fence power in his swing, but he gets the bat to the ball well and has plenty of speed to allow him to put up plenty of doubles. Ultimately I see Dubon as an elite utilityman, which is no slight to him, but the upside of the five ahead of him on this list is just enough to out rank him despite him having the highest floor of any outside Hiura.

7)

Player: Joe Gray
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: A cannon of an arm that will wow you with its power but also wow you with its lack of accuracy, Gray could certainly fit right field well, but he just may be able to stick in center. He has good athleticism and quality reads that could allow him to stay as one of the bigger bodies in center and as much power as any at the position. The bat is lightning quick, but he gets in front of the ball too often and is susceptible to swinging over quality off-speed stuff. When he makes contact, he has plus raw power that should translate to game action as he fills out, while the body doesn’t appear it will lose much athleticism when he does.

8)

Player: Troy Stokes Jr.
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’8” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: I will confess I am probably too high on Stokes, but I like his game. He is a very small player with big power. He is quite athletic but won’t stick up the middle. Let’s start with the position issues where he has the reads and range to be a center fielder but has one of the worst arms in the minors and is really a left field only option, where he could be plus defender. At the plate he looks like a guy who should be a slap hitter thanks to his above average speed and standing just 5’8”, but his contact rates are terrible. Instead, when he does make contact, the ball travels a long way and leads to real power. In reality he will likely have to be on the short side of a platoon, but even in limited ABs, he could find a way to put up 15-18 home runs a year and steal a big bag as a pinch runner when needed.

9)

Player: Mario Feliciano
Position(s): C Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Feliciano is a guy who will be carried by the bat, although he can hold his own behind the dish. The arm strength is very good and he has quick feet to assist his pop times to be good enough to be at least average when it comes to controlling the running game. His receiving needs work as the hands can be a bit busy, but there is enough there that he can stick behind the plate and not be a liability. The bat is quick to the zone and he makes solid contact while the ball can jump. He ultimately will have an average hit and power tool, but if he can keep those while getting close to average as a defender, that could turn him into an above average catcher.

10)

Player: Lucas Erceg
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: This is a make or break season for Erceg, as he needs to step it up at the plate, but there is still plenty of power in the bat. His hands are busy and can get below the ball far too often, preventing him from getting the most out of his above average raw power and making softer contact than he should. If he can quiet the hands some and get a more direct path to the ball, the power will shine through while his absolute cannon of an arm at third base make up for not having the greatest feet at the position. If all comes together, he still has a shot to be a quality everyday third baseman, but if the bat doesn’t make great improvements this year there are rumblings a move to the mound where he was a power pitcher in college may be in order.

Others of Note:

Aaron Ashby – LHP – 20 – Low A
Eduardo Garcia – SS – 16 – Rookie
Trey Supak – RHP – 22 – AA
Payton Henry – C – 21 – Low A
Braden Webb – RHP – 23 – AA