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.
This time of year the moves are sneaky but there are a lot of names involved in this deal that prospect fans are familiar with. Tyler Austin goes from the Minnesota Twins to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Malique Ziegler, while Connor Joe has been designated for assignment to make room for Austin.
Austin was once a top 100 prospect when still with the New York Yankees making a rare three trips to the Arizona Fall League. He is primarily a first baseman but has seen a dozen games in the outfield and had a “breakout” season a year ago when he hit 17 home runs in 69 games with the Yankees and Twins.
Connor Joe has had a busy season already, being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft but traded to the Giants. Since he still carries the Rule 5 tag, he will need to be traded to or claimed by another team who will have to place him on their big league roster (something that is somewhat unlikely given he has reached base twice in his first 16 big league plate appearances) or he will be offered back to the Dodgers, the team that had him before the Rule 5 draft.
My focus on trades involving prospects is going to be on those who have yet to make their big league debut, so I am not going to dive further into Joe despite him still very much carrying rookie eligibility. I define prospects as players who have a real shot to make a Major League roster someday, while I consider fringe prospects to be guys that wouldn’t be shocking to see them get a cup of coffee but not necessarily something I expect either, while those I don’t give any real shot at ever making it to the highest level are just org guys. Ziegler just barely makes fringe prospect for me.
He is a 22 year old outfielder with just two games at High A (both this season) under his belt. He is athletic, stealing 26 bags in just 64 games two seasons ago in the Northwest League and can play a solid center field. He has hit just .245 this far in his pro career, but there is hope for the bat. He has good bat plane and quick wrists, but his pitch recognition is poor. He strikes out more than once a game throughout his pro career and takes horrible hacks at off-speed, especially breaking balls from lefties of all pitchers. The back foot is busy, which limits his balance on said off-speed offerings and it limits the amount of power he is able to tap into.
The most likely path for Ziegler to the bigs will be as a September call-up who sees time as a defensive replacement or pinch runner. That said, there is still a shot at the pitch recognition improving enough for his bat speed to come into play and potentially develop into a fourth outfielder, which is something worth taking a shot on for the Twins in exchange for a guy that was likely headed for a DFA given the depth at DH/1B the Twins currently have.
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.
Quick Report: While there were questions whether or not Bart could stick as a catcher coming out of high school, he proved at Georgia Tech he could not only play there but be very good behind the plate. He is a good receiver of the ball and has a plus arm at the position. When at the plate he has a leg kick that varies in size and stride, leading to some inconsistency in his hand placement when the hips fire. He also can drift out onto his front foot too far making him susceptible to swinging over breaking balls quite often. When he does make contact it is hard contact, as he has plus plus raw power and could be a catcher who hits 30+ home runs a season, mitigating the below average grade you could put on his hit tool.
Quick Report: I have little doubt Ramos can stick in center where good reads and above average speed combine with a determined approach to make the plays you expect to fall, although I could see him running into some future injury issues by running into a wall too hard chasing down a fly ball or two. If he eventually fills out too much to stay in center, his arm is more than enough to play in right where he would be a plus defender. He has plus power at the plate, but he is very aggressive his center of gravity is inconsistent through his swing. He can get out front on off-speed stuff, then be caught with his weight too far back to catch up to velocity at times. Ultimately, I do think he becomes a middle of the order bat who plays center, but there will need to be adjustments to his approach at the plate to reach that ceiling.
Quick Report: Lost in the bullpen of the Florida Gators watching first rounder after first rounder get the starting nods, Anderson finally moved into a rotation in pro ball and hasn’t looked back. He has a sinking fastball that regularly touches 95 with some arm-side run and an above average slider that would make him a quality reliever option. His change has developed into a pitch that is already average at times but shown signs of being above average, although there are still some inconsistencies still. He breaks off a curve now and then but it hangs too often and I expect him to scratch the pitch before too long. His mechanics are solid and lower effort suggesting he will be able to eat plenty of innings as a starter, where he could become a number three starter, although a number four is more realistic.
Player: Marco Luciano
Opening Day Age: 17
2018 Highest Level: DNP
Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: Thought by many to be the top IFA of the 2018 crop, there is some belief he may skip over the Dominican Summer League and start his pro career in the AZL this summer at just 17 years of age. There is already real pop in the bat with plenty more to come as he fills out. He has a swing that allows him to barrel up the ball well and will spray line drives all over the field. He currently has plus speed, but that could regress closer to above average as he fills out. He has all the tools to stick at short, but there is always some concern about how a teenage will fill out but, if he does have to move off short, he has plus arm strength that will make him a very good defensive third baseman with the power at the plate to fit the profile.
Quick Report: Webb bounced back well from Tommy John surgery a season ago earning a late season promotion to AA and could threaten the big leagues in September. His fastball is a heavy 96 thanks to sinking run and he has a power slider. The change may improve to average, but I have my doubts it will ever be a truly viable offering. The effort in the delivery is no insignificant, although it is not enough to write him off as a potential starter. If the change does improve beyond where I see it getting to, then he could be a number three or four starter, but I think he is more likely destined to be a high leverage reliever.
Quick Report: There is no mistaking Hjelle for another pitcher as he literally stands head and shoulders above his teammates. While he is a very long 6’11”, his delivery is quite controlled and balanced allowing him to have an almost unheard of for his size above average command. The fastball can touch 96 but the extension he gets with his landing leg often finishing less than a foot from the grass in front of the mound allows that to play up even more. His knuckle-curve is easily his best pitch and borders between above average and plus. The change is still inconsistent but has the makings of turning into an average pitch giving him three viable pitches he can spot and a body that can withstand the riggers of an innings eater work load. He does not have much of a ceiling, maybe a number three if absolutely everything breaks right, but he might have a floor of a number five starter, which is incredibly valuable.
Quick Report: Grand Canyon has only recently become a full-fledged Division 1 program, but Wong was selected in the third round a year ago and they could see Quinn Cotton go even higher this year. He has a fastball-curve-change arsenal whose ceiling relies heavy on how the secondary offerings come along. His fastball is an easy above average offering, regularly sitting 94-96 with a good downhill plane, it is the curve that is intriguing. The pitch is inconsistent and can be quite flat at times, but when he really snaps it off it simply falls off the table and will have even the best hitters swinging right over the top. The change has shows signs of being decent, but is well behind the other two offerings, although his good body control allows him to spot it rather well. He may have the upside of a quality number three starter, but there is quite a bit of risk he ever sees anything close to that ceiling.
Quick Report: Canario has the tools to be a special player and plenty of time to put them together, but he is still quite raw. The bat speed is truly plus, problem is the bat plane is about as long as you are going to find as he looks to show off his plus raw power, leading to a lot of swings and misses. If he shortens up the swing and allows his natural bat speed and the strength to come, he will be able to turn that raw power into game power, but he doesn’t make enough contact to do so yet. In the field, he has average to better tools when it comes to glove, speed, and arm, so he has the makings of a future center fielder. This is a guy who has the ceiling of an All Star, but the floor of washing out before seeing AA. I lean more towards him making the adjustments to become a quality big leaguer, but there is a lot of work to do before that becomes something Giants fans can count on.
Quick Report: Quinn is an odd evaluation as I like him more than I probably should as you could argue he will never even have an average tool, but I think he could put it all together and be a positive WAR left fielder. His best tool by far is the raw power, although he does not make enough hard contact in games to really tap into that power as much as the Giants would like to see. On the bases and in the field he is, well, slow, although his instincts in both spots prevents him from being a liability in either location. He has plenty of arm, but he takes quite a long time to release the ball, leading to it playing average or lower despite the ball coming out with well above average velocity. There is a good chance he ends up as a bench piece with pop, but I still feel he has a reasonable chance to meet his ceiling of an everyday left fielder.
Quick Report: The second arm, along with Shaun Alexander, the Giants acquired from the Red Sox in the Eduardo Nunez deal, Santos has plenty of upside. His fastball sits 94-96 with plenty of downhill action that makes it hard to barrel up. His slider is a potential plus offering although it currently lacks consistency and can sit and spin too often. The change will be the pitch that determines his future as it currently is an offering that gets hit hard, but there is some late action to it that suggest it could become an average offering. He has a stiff front leg that his body fights against too much and would need to be cleaned up for him to make it as a starter long term. His ceiling is a number two starter, although I am not sold on the delivery or change so I think there is a higher likelihood he becomes an impact reliever.