Wednesday Prospect Notes: A Pass at the Scottsdale-based Orgs
You can read previous installments of our prospect notes here.
I’m touching up prospect lists using the same complex-based clustering as usual, incorporating notes from my in-person looks, sourced data, and the opinions of pro scouts. First up is the group of teams based in Scottsdale, with a focus on the Giants due to their status as contenders, making them the team most likely to be motivated to part with prospects between now and the trade deadline. Players whose Future Value grade have changed an “Up” or “Down” arrow in the “Trend” column on The Board.
I didn’t make many changes to Arizona’s list. Small-school righty Brandon Pfaadt leapfrogs former tiermates Blake Walston and Ryne Nelson, and moves into the Top 100. He’s throwing a tick harder than last year and working with three above-average (or better) pitches at Double-A Amarillo now that his changeup has taken a step forward. While he’s a below-average 2B/3B, recent debutant Buddy Kennedy has hit enough to be considered a righty-hitting 1-WAR role-player type, à la Mike Brosseau. Jose Curpa and Christian Montes De Oca have been added to the org list; their reports can be found on The Board. I also considered adding hard-throwing youngsters Rael Santos and Diomede Sierra (each 20-21 years old and sitting 94 mph), but they’ve been too walk-prone for that.
Kristian Robinson played some during extended spring training, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll play Complex League/affiliated ball during the regular season. Extended isn’t technically within the contracted definition of his employment. This has been a pain point for minor league players in general, since they’re often participating in spring training, instructs, or similar developmental activity and not getting paid for it, but in Robinson’s circumstance it’s a loophole that enabled him to get 2022 reps .
Of the group of 45 FV pitchers in this system who have had mixed years, I only repositioned Tommy Henry (now a 40 FV), who’s sitting 91-92 mph and looks more like a fifth starter than someone with the stuff to take the ball in a playoff series, which Slade Cecconi and Bryce Jarvis feel closer to being capable of even though they haven’t been operating at their personal peaks (Jarvis’ was right before he was drafted, Cecconi’s right after).
Ezequiel Tovar moves into the Top 100 (woohoo!). There is still a somewhat scary amount of chase happening here, creating risk and volatility even though Tovar is close to the big leagues, but he’s a good enough defender to give himself some margin for error in that regard. He and Brayan Rocchio have similar skill sets, with Tovar out-hitting Rocchio at the same level, and so the two of them are now stacked on the universal list.
Conversely, Adael Amador is laying down an early-career track record of both above-average plate discipline and in-zone contact, but he’s less of a lock to stay at shortstop and might end up at second base. He jumps into the 45 FV tier. The power for him to be an every-inning second base regular may not materialize due to his lack of size, but he’s a skilled up-the-middle player and a likely role-player at the very least, and I have spoken to scouts who have an everyday grade on him.
Teenage righty Victor Juarez is only sitting 91 mph but he’s carving up the Cal League anyway. He moves into the 40+ tier on the strength of his athleticism and command more than his present stuff, which has actually slipped a little bit since the early part of spring. Sam Weatherly (shoulder) recently rehabbed in Arizona sitting 92-94 mph, which is close enough to his pre-injury velocity not to move him. Speaking of rehabbers, 2021 second rounder Jaden Hill (coming off of TJ) is throwing bullpens and could be pitching in games within the next few weeks.
Moving down into this org is Brenton Doyle and Ryan Vilade. Doyle still has huge power, athleticism, and speed, but his swing is in a rough spot right now and he’s tracking like a bench outfielder. Vilade somehow only hit nine homers in roughly 170 career games at Triple-A, with half of those played in Albuquerque and many in Reno and Vegas. He has other contact/on-base skills, but based on where Vilade falls on the defensive spectrum, there needs to be more power.
I have fresh notes on Brian Serven, Jake Bird, Luis Mendez, and PJ Poulin over on The Board.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are starting to make pitchers better at a rate that rivals that of the other best orgs in baseball. Based on my observations at Scottsdale Stadium during spring training and on their complex, they’re using Kinatrax to make real-time mechanical assessments and also (I believe) to find correctable inefficiencies they are able to tweak through player dev. This might be why the Giants seem to make it a point to cycle through upper-level minor leaguers who are squeezed off of or blocked on other rosters, and give them a shot for a few weeks to see if meaningful changes can be made and quickly manifest on the field. Often nothing materializes, but even one Anthony DeSclafani justifies holding a 40-man spot or two in reserve for this type of activity.
This dev approach is also being applied en masse to their draft classes. As a result, we’re seeing quick improvements in stuff, though not all of them have been sustained. Athletic junior college righty Mat Olsen has settled back into the low-90s after throwing harder than that during the spring. Mason Black, though his overall stuff quality merited a move up the list, was up to 100 mph during the spring but is more in the 93-95 range now. Landen Roupp, Jose Cruz, Ryan Walker, and Gerelmi Maldonado are all new names here, with reports and pitch grades over on The Board. Former Giancarlo Stanton trade piece Jorge Guzman rehabbed at 98-100 mph on the complex last week; hey, too, has been added. Eric Silva has moved from “athletic pitchability sleeper” to one of the higher-probability starters in the system, sitting 92-94 mph and commanding five pitches.
Hunter Bishop is another in-season swing-changer, and is now using at least his fourth different swing since he first arrived at Arizona State. He’s performed better since the change, which seems to have occurred during a four-day layoff in May (he’s hit .244/.349/.415 since, after previously hitting .169), but Bishop is still punching out at a 31% clip as a 24-year-old in A-ball. He still has impact power, but except for during pre-conference play in his draft year, he hasn’t hit consistently as a prospect. The Giants took a justifiable gamble on his upside in the draft, but it isn’t working out. That he’s been able to enact so many swing changes perhaps means Bishop will eventually be able to make an adjustment that helps him find viable feel for contact, and for that reason he remains on the list, but at this point he needs to slide.
Other additions here are power/speed center field prospect Grant McCray, who himself has some strikeout-related risk, David Villar, and Onil Perez, all of whom have fresh reports on the board.