Bernie on the Scene: Position Players Ready for Prime Time?

Bernie on the Scene: Position Players Ready for Prime Time?

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

Last week, I began a series on players who can possibly make the big leagues for next season.

This week, I will continue with position players.

Keep in mind that unless things change in the new basic agreement between players and owners that is currently being negotiated, teams will still try to keep a player's free agency clock from starting as long as possible.

I have no inside information on which of these players will graduate to the majors. I do know, they are likely ready for the big time.

Profiles I have done before have been updated.

Nolan Gorman, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Bats: Left
6-1, 210
Age: 21
1st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix, Ariz.

Gorman was 19th overall player drafted in 2018 and was given a $3,231,700 bonus as a top third-base prospect.

At the time of the draft, Gorman was viewed as having tremendous power from the left side of the plate. And so far, he has shown an ability to hit 20 minor league homers in parts of only three seasons.

Gorman has shown an upper-cut swing that is vulnerable to the high fastball. He has to work on letting that pitch go and gain better plate discipline. I'm not sure he'll hit for much of an average, but he could be a 30 homer guy in his 4th or 5th big league season.

Like most sluggers, Gorman has some swing-and-miss in his game, but that

Last week, I began a series on players who can possibly make the big leagues for next season.

This week, I will continue with position players.

Keep in mind that unless things change in the new basic agreement between players and owners that is currently being negotiated, teams will still try to keep a player's free agency clock from starting as long as possible.

I have no inside information on which of these players will graduate to the majors. I do know, they are likely ready for the big time.

Profiles I have done before have been updated.

Nolan Gorman, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Bats: Left
6-1, 210
Age: 21
1st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix, Ariz.

Gorman was 19th overall player drafted in 2018 and was given a $3,231,700 bonus as a top third-base prospect.

At the time of the draft, Gorman was viewed as having tremendous power from the left side of the plate. And so far, he has shown an ability to hit 20 minor league homers in parts of only three seasons.

Gorman has shown an upper-cut swing that is vulnerable to the high fastball. He has to work on letting that pitch go and gain better plate discipline. I'm not sure he'll hit for much of an average, but he could be a 30 homer guy in his 4th or 5th big league season.

Like most sluggers, Gorman has some swing-and-miss in his game, but that may temper with more experience against quality pitching.

It makes sense that the Cardinals will try him at both third and second in his development. He can add power and average defense from either position.

Without much foot speed or range, it is also possible that Gorman could be a solid DH if the National League gets that role in 2022. 

Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: A late-round flyer in 2022 and a hold until May, at least

Spencer Torkelson, 3B/1B, Detroit Tigers
Bats: Right
6-1, 220
Age: 21
1st-round draft pick in 2020 out of Arizona State

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Torkelson got a signing bonus of $8,416,000 from the Tigers. Follow the money, and you'll see Torkelson will play. And play and play.

He can play either corner, and he is being billed as the heir apparent to Miguel Cabrera. But he may arrive at 3B prior to Cabrera leaving.

Torkelson has made it to Triple-A this season, and he is knocking on the door to Detroit. He is looking at a 20-plus home run season in 2021, with a solid number of doubles and RBIs.

The Tigers are a team on the rise, and Torkelson is a huge part of their future. He can hit both for average and for power. He was a huge collegiate presence, and he should be able to hit quality pitching at the big-league level. 

A good defender with loose, quick actions in a big frame, Torkelson could win a job at either corner, wherever A.J. Hinch needs him. I like him better at first due to an average arm and slow, lumbering feet that may limit his range. But he can hit. And he can hit with power. 

Grade: 60

Fantasy Relevance: High quality power hitting prospect. Grab him and keep him

Josh Jung, 3B/OF, Texas Rangers
Bats: Right
6-2, 214
Age: 23
1st-round draft pick (No. 8 overall) in 2019 out of Texas Tech

The Rangers signed Jung for $4.4M. Even with limited professional play due to the pandemic, Jung has begun to make quite a name for himself in prospect circles. 

Hitting now at Double-A, Jung has flown through the Rangers system. In his first 186 plate appearances at Frisco, he hit 10 home runs and drove in 40 runs. He can hit. And he can hit with power.

Jung has outstanding plate discipline and pitch recognition. A solid contact hitter, he is the perfect guy to have on your future fantasy team.  I love his upside. He can play quality defense and get on base. It is believed he is the team's third baseman of the future-and that future could be soon. Don't sleep on him. 

Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: I like his bat, and I think the Rangers are so bad they will rush him to the big leagues. Yes.

Nolan Jones, 3B/Of, Cleveland Indians
Bats: Left
6-4, 195
Age: 23
2nd-round draft pick in 2016 out of Holy Ghost Prep School in Pennsylvania. He received a $2,250,000 signing bonus.

The Indians are hopeful Jones will be able to assume third base if, and when the team loses Jose Ramirez. Or, they may choose to use his power in the outfield.

I am not sold on Jones. I think there has been a lot of hype, but little in the way of consistent results at the plate. I'm afraid I see a bit of  "bust" in his future. I hope I'm wrong.

Playing at Triple-A Columbus this season, Jones has hit double-digit homers, but he has struggled to make consistent contact. His strikeout rate is a bit alarming for a player the team is counting on hitting in the middle of their lineup.

It remains to be seen if Jones will hit left-handed pitching. I have my doubts.

A slow runner, Jones isn't the most agile of athletes, and he can struggle with range and agility at third base at times. I see him eventually playing first base, just like Jim Thome. Thome started at third and moved to first when his body filled out and he added strength.

I think Cleveland put far too much stress on Jones as a slugger savior, and he read those press clippings. 

Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: I'm going to pass until I see that he can hit big league pitching.

Nick Pratto, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Bats: Left
6-1, 215
Age: 22
1st-round draft pick in 2017 out of Huntington Beach High School in California

Pratto signed for $3,450,000. He is one of those prototypical first-base prospects who is as good as gold in LB. There really aren't that many first basemen drafted. Many first basemen are converted third basemen, but Pratto may be different.

Pratto has had a good season this year, and may end the season with 25 homers and 100 RBIs at three levels. He's a good hitter with power, a great combination.

Pratto hits the ball on the nose. He is improving finding the barrel and can blast the ball to his pull side gap or over the fence.

But he has had trouble with breaking balls in his development. That's exactly how MLB pitchers will try to get him out-feed him breaking balls.

Pratto has more speed than one might imagine from a big, strong frame. I think he can steal a couple bases. 

Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: A sneaky flyer to take that perhaps few fantasy managers will target.

Jose Barrero, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Bats: Right
6-2, 175
Age: 23
Signed as international free agent from Cuba for $5M in 2017

Barrero is now playing in the big leagues for the Reds. He is among the latest players to get an opportunity to play shortstop for Cincinnati. I'm not sure he can keep the job.

An average player with a good arm, but he has only an average hit tool. He has to become more accustomed to hitting major league quality pitching, and over time, he may improved markedly.

He's a raw player. He needs a lot of time, experience and exposure to improve and become anything more than a player that will go up and down between the big leagues and Triple-A.

But make no mistake, he's such a good defender that the Reds will likely keep him around as a utility player for late inning use. Or, he may be sent in the game to use his good speed to steal bases. 

Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: I see him more as a defensive specialist than as a fantasy hitter.

HEADING HOME

I'm in the Arizona Diamondbacks press box a great deal. Wouldn't you know it, I was not in the box the night Tyler Gilbert threw a no-hitter. I wasn't in the press box the night Caleb Smith got his glove confiscated by the umpires and thrown out of the game for allegedly using a sticky substance.

I watch an average of 100 games in the fall league, spring training, major league regular season and postseason every year. Sometimes more. I've been doing it for years and years. And years. I have never seen a no-hitter in person. Really? Really.

• I think we can put the fork in the Red Sox, can't we? They needed to beat the Yankees last week. They didn't.

• It always amazes me how football takes center stage in late July, August and September — when the baseball season is in full bloom. And baseball doesn't do much to counter-punch.

• Yes, the Field of Dreams Game was fantastic. No, they have to do more of those type games late in the season. Maybe they change the Futures Game to September and really, really showcase the prospects. I mean advertise it. Celebrate the prospects. Put the game in prime time and put it in a big league stadium that draws well.

• Topps has been in business for more than 70 years. I grew up collecting Topps baseball cards. And Upper Deck. And all the rest of the brands. My favorite baseball card collection is the Topps 1954 retro. It really is fantastic.

When I was a kid I used to flip Topps cards, as most of us did when we were young. We put them in the tires of our bikes. I probably had a few Mickey Mantle's in my tires, because I hated the Yankees. Topps was a household name. My cards were my friends.

Now, the brilliant minds of MLB have awarded an exclusive licensing fee to Fanatics. Who? Well, I admit it, I don't know who they are. But why kick Topps out the door like last week's bag of rubbish? Why not allow a license to ANY company that wants to produce baseball cards and let them fight it out in the market place? Why? MLB sees only green.

Now, Topps is a knock-knock joke. "Knock-knock" Who's there? "Topps" Topps who?

Topps had planned to go public. Not anymore. Now, it is more than likely their staff will go to the unemployment line. And the company will go … out of business.

I'm a bit sickened by this latest MLB transaction. I guess the license for MLB player images expires in 2022. So the 2023 season we'll feature Fantatics baseball cards. Not for me. I won't spend one cent on them. Why not have multiple card companies selling baseball cards? More competition, more money for everyone. And more choices for the public.

Having Topps baseball cards is like … well, its like something I always took for granted. There will always be Topps cards, right? Wrong.

Thank you for following me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work. 

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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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