Bernie on the Scene: Don’t Forget These Quality Prospects

Bernie on the Scene: Don’t Forget These Quality Prospects

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

This week, I resume my profiles of MLB prospects who could have bright futures.

Each prospect could be ranked as a top organizational player, with a chance to be wearing a big league uniform.

If there are prospects you wish me to profile, please let me know in the contact section of this article.

Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles
Bats: Left
Age: 22
2020 first-round draft pick out of University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

2021 Results:

Kjerstad did not play because of myocarditis-heart inflammation.

Now healthy, Kjerstad will be good to go for a bright future. Here is what he did at Arkansas over a three-year career: .343/.421/.590/1.011 in 691 plate appearances covering 150 games. He hit 37 homers and drove in 129.

I have watched plenty of Kjerstad video. Prior to the 2020 draft, Kjerstad was said to have the best overall swing and mechanics among all left-handed hitters. That's saying something.

There is movement in his mechanics and load, but when he settles down, his swing is really strong and powerful. He has the quick hands through the ball that allow him to take the pitch to all fields. He strikes me as a consequential line-drive hitter, capable of hitting the gaps with relative consistency.

Slow afoot, Kjerstad could become a base clogger, but we aren't going to draft him for his running ability. 

Scouting Grade: No grade until I see him in 2022. I will provide an updated scouting report after his professional debut.

I just don't want

This week, I resume my profiles of MLB prospects who could have bright futures.

Each prospect could be ranked as a top organizational player, with a chance to be wearing a big league uniform.

If there are prospects you wish me to profile, please let me know in the contact section of this article.

Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles
Bats: Left
Age: 22
2020 first-round draft pick out of University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

2021 Results:

Kjerstad did not play because of myocarditis-heart inflammation.

Now healthy, Kjerstad will be good to go for a bright future. Here is what he did at Arkansas over a three-year career: .343/.421/.590/1.011 in 691 plate appearances covering 150 games. He hit 37 homers and drove in 129.

I have watched plenty of Kjerstad video. Prior to the 2020 draft, Kjerstad was said to have the best overall swing and mechanics among all left-handed hitters. That's saying something.

There is movement in his mechanics and load, but when he settles down, his swing is really strong and powerful. He has the quick hands through the ball that allow him to take the pitch to all fields. He strikes me as a consequential line-drive hitter, capable of hitting the gaps with relative consistency.

Slow afoot, Kjerstad could become a base clogger, but we aren't going to draft him for his running ability. 

Scouting Grade: No grade until I see him in 2022. I will provide an updated scouting report after his professional debut.

I just don't want us to forget about Kjerstad. I think he will have a very bright future.

Ivan Herrera, C, Cardinals
Bats: Right
Age: 21
2016 international free agent from Panama; signed for $200,000

2021 Results:

.229/.342/.403/.746 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI in 441 plate appearances in 99 games combined at Double-A and Triple-A.

A good defensive catcher, Herrera is known more for his hitting ability. He has some pop in his bat and is able to recognize pitches well.

Basically a pull hitter, Herrera can find the barrel of the bat and pound the ball to the gaps. His exit velocities are improving, and he is beginning to hit the ball with authority. However, last season, his first half struggles were reflected in his overall batting average and stat line. He improved in the second half.

A tough guy, it appears now that the Cardinals will be counting upon Herrera to move into their catching corps as soon as some time this coming season. Yadier Molina has worked with Herrera on his mechanics, and he has shown improvement.

 Scouting Grade: 55

Corbin Carroll, OF, Diamondbacks
Bats: Left
Age: 21
2019 first-round draft pick out of Lakeside High School in Seattle, Wash.

2021 Results:

 .435/.552/.913/1.465 in 29 plate appearances in seven games at High-A.

As the 16th overall pick, Carroll received a signing bonus of $3,750,000. That kept him from going to UCLA. Carroll missed most of the 2021 season after shoulder surgery. He hurt his shoulder hitting a home run. 

Carroll is reputed to be the best overall hitter in the Diamondbacks organization. He may also be the fastest runner in the organization. So, that's an incredible combination.

There are plenty who think Carroll is already capable of playing major league quality center field. And that may be true. However, he still needs time to develop his hitting against quality minor league pitchers before Arizona can turn him loose. But make no mistake, Carroll is on the fast track to the big leagues.

Carroll is known for well above average eye-hand coordination. He has excellent hitting mechanics and is advanced for his age. His swing is really measured, and he doesn't go to the plate hunting home runs. But power is not his strength. He's a perfect fit to be a top-of-the order hitter with speed and an ability to get on base, steal and score.

While he isn't now known for hitting home runs, it would not surprise if Carroll gained more strength in weight training and surprised with more homers than projected.

We'll have to see how Carroll responds in early 2022, but his ceiling is high and he can be counted on to help lead the new era of the Diamondbacks. 

Scouting Grade: 60

Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B, Blue Jays
Bats: Right
Age: 20
2018 International free agent from Dominican Republic; signed for a whopping $3.1M. (Follow the money with Martinez.)

2021 Results:

.261/.345/.549/.895 with 28 homers and 87 RBI at Low- and High-A combined. 

The power is real.

Using his entire frame in his swing, Martinez has really quick hands through the ball. His bat speed sets the tone for great back spin on the ball, as he carries the ball to all fields.

A good contact hitter, Martinez is advanced for his age. His mechanics and approach at the plate are solid, and he is rarely fooled. But we have to remember that he still hasn't seen the best type of breaking balls that await in his future.

It would seem that Martinez could stick at shortstop, but his footwork and range aren't the best. If there is any concern about him at short, he is capable of playing third base, as he has a very strong and accurate arm.

An average runner, Martinez is not the type who can be counted upon to steal bases. But that's not what the Blue Jays want from him, either. It is his bat that plays. 

Scouting Grade: 55

Brayan Rocchio, SS/2B/3B, Guardians
Bats: Both
Age: 20
2017 international free agent from Venezuela; signed for $125,000.

2021 Results:

.277/.346/.460/.807 with 15 homers and 63 RBI at High-A and Double-A combined. He stole 21 bases in 31 attempts. 

Rocchio came to the Guardians along with a stellar class of international free agents. He stands out among them at this stage due to his solid hit tool and above average infield defense. But Rocchio finds himself among a crowded Guardians roster of infielders as he plans for 2022.

Rocchio is very quick, with great hands and quick feet. He has good baseball instincts and knows the nuances of the game very well.

Recognizing pitches well, Rocchio is a good hitter from both sides of the plate, a luxury for a middle-infield candidate. The Guardians value switch-hitters, and that quality stands out.

Aggressive at the plate, Rocchio does make good contact, but he can likely benefit by seeing more pitches and going more deeply in counts.

While he isn't known for power, Rocchio has enough pop in his bat to make things interesting on the offensive side of the ball. If he sticks at shortstop, that pop will be very welcome from that position. 

Scouting Grade: 50

HEADING HOME

I write to you just before I leave on a two-week holiday. I will be incommunicado until just before Christmas. However, I'll be thinking of you as you prepare for the holiday season. And as you spend time reading and watching everything but baseball.

I wish each of you a very healthy, happy and joyous holiday season.

Thank you so much for reading my work.

I will be back after a brief vacation with a column every week, usually about prospects.

If there is a prospect or any player you wish me to profile on these pages, please let me know in the comments below.

Again, be safe. Be happy. Stay healthy and enjoy life.
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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