Bernie on the Scene: Returning to Requested Prospect Profiles

Bernie on the Scene: Returning to Requested Prospect Profiles

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

This week, and for the next several weeks, I will be returning to writing scouting profiles on players requested by you, my readers. If you have made a request, please be patient. I'll write five every week, and it will take some time to watch video or refer to my notes on all the players requested. I'm hoping my reports prepare you in identifying future players for your drafts and auctions.

Tanner Burns, RHP, Cleveland Guardians
6-0, 180
Age: 23

When they were still the Indians, Cleveland drafted Tanner Burns in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft. Burns earned a $1.6M signing bonus coming out of Auburn University. He was signed below slot value, which may be one of the reasons the Indians selected him that high. Frankly, I didn't see him as a good pick then, and I'm even more convinced now that he was drafted too high.

Burns made his professional debut this past season with Cleveland pitching for Class-A Advanced Lake County. He started 18 games, and finished with a record of 2-5. He pitched to a 3.5 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, striking out an average of 10.8 hitters per nine innings, while walking 3.4 per nine. He yielded 10 home runs in 75.2 innings pitched.

Burns throws a rising fastball at 93 to 94 MPH. He can hit 97 with no problem. His rising fastball is a good pitch to have in a game in which players are using upper cut swings. He

This week, and for the next several weeks, I will be returning to writing scouting profiles on players requested by you, my readers. If you have made a request, please be patient. I'll write five every week, and it will take some time to watch video or refer to my notes on all the players requested. I'm hoping my reports prepare you in identifying future players for your drafts and auctions.

Tanner Burns, RHP, Cleveland Guardians
6-0, 180
Age: 23

When they were still the Indians, Cleveland drafted Tanner Burns in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft. Burns earned a $1.6M signing bonus coming out of Auburn University. He was signed below slot value, which may be one of the reasons the Indians selected him that high. Frankly, I didn't see him as a good pick then, and I'm even more convinced now that he was drafted too high.

Burns made his professional debut this past season with Cleveland pitching for Class-A Advanced Lake County. He started 18 games, and finished with a record of 2-5. He pitched to a 3.5 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, striking out an average of 10.8 hitters per nine innings, while walking 3.4 per nine. He yielded 10 home runs in 75.2 innings pitched.

Burns throws a rising fastball at 93 to 94 MPH. He can hit 97 with no problem. His rising fastball is a good pitch to have in a game in which players are using upper cut swings. He also throws a curve that acts more like a slider. His third pitch is an average quality, sinking changeup. He has work to do to improve all his pitches but especially his secondary offerings. However, having a fastball that rises and a changeup that sinks is of value.

Slight of build and stature, Burns will benefit from the Guardians' pitching development program. The pitcher who entered their system will not be the pitcher who graduates to the big leagues. Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: I think the Indians drafted Burns way too early. I'm leaving him on the table in all drafts and auctions until he shows he can dispatch big league hitters. I just don't see it.

Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox
6-2, 212 
Bats: Left
Age: 25

The Boston Red Sox selected outfielder Duran in the seventh round of the 2018 draft out of Cal State, Long Beach. He was given a signing bonus of $189,800.

Duran is an interesting prospect, and one who may have greater value than his draft position. He can hit. He has shown some power. And he uses the entire field, driving the ball to the gaps. His speed makes extra base hits a value with Duran. While he has flashed power, it is his blazing speed that attracted him to scouts. The man can flat out fly. He's a grade 70 runner, and has the speed and ability to beat out ground balls and help his batting average and on-base percentage.

Duran was a second baseman in college and early as a pro, and the Red Sox believe he's fast enough and has enough athletic ability to play center field. It's possible he may play center or left this coming season, joining Jackie Bradley Jr. and Alex Verdugo in the outfield. He has a weak throwing arm, which may dictate he will end up playing left field—and perhaps in a platoon role going forward.

This past season, Duran played 33 games for the parent Red Sox. He hit a woeful .215, but he stole two bases in three attempts. Surprisingly, he hit two homers in 107 at bats. Most of Duran's season was spent in development at Triple-A. He hit .258/.357/.516/.873 with 16 homers and 36 RBIs in 283 plate appearances. He stole 16 bases in 19 attempts, and struck out only 66 times. He walked 33 times, which shows patience and a knowledge of his own skills. Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: A man with Duran's speed should have many more stolen base attempts than he has shown so far in his career — he's that fast. The Red Sox need to turn him loose, and when they do, we'll be reading about his success as a base stealer. He's a sneaky good fantasy pick and not one whom many people talk about. I like him, and if the Red Sox use him properly, he will pay fantasy dividends for us. Keep in mind, he's already 25. He isn't a raw youngster. But beware, he may be a platoon candidate from the strong side of the platoon.

Jorbit Vivas, 2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
5-10, 171 
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Age: 20

Jorbit Vivas was signed by the Dodgers as an international free-agent from Venezuela in 2017. The team signed him for $300,000. Venezuela is known for producing middle-infielders, and many highly regarded shortstops and second basemn have come out of the country. Vivas, however, profiles more as a second or third baseman, rather than a shortstop.

He has some pop in his bat, and even though he has a slight frame, he has quick hands and strong wrists. Since coming Stateside, he has added strength and depth to his frame, and he could develop enough power to be relevant at third base. Only a fairly weak arm could keep him playing more as a second baseman.

A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Vivas spent his 2021 development at Class-A and Class-A Advanced, where he compiled a combined 375 plate appearances. He hit .311 .389/.515/.905, all very good stats for a young Dodgers infielder. He hit a rather surprising 13 homers and drove in 73 runs, which is excellent production at two levels of baseball. He stole five bases in eight attempts, struck out 55 times and walked 40 times. I really like that walk rate, the patience and the pitch selection he showed this past year. Vivas has shown some struggles against left-handed pitching. Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: I like his power and his contact rate. Beware, however, of his struggles against left-handers. I think he can surprise. The Dodgers will be patient with him, as Vivas will just turn 21 in March. Watch his progress because he may be a sneaky option.

Masyn Winn, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
5-11, 180 
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: 19

The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Texas two-way player Winn in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Kingwood (Texas) High School and gave him a $2.1M signing bonus. Follow the money: Winn is in the Cardinals plans, either as a shortstop or a pitcher, or both.

For now, the Cardinals are playing Winn at shortstop. However, the right-hander can hit 98 miles per hour on his fastball, and has secondary pitches that can be developed. To date, however, the Cardinals have used him as a shortstop. He has pitched only one inning of one game in 86 games played. He projects as a good hitter with well above average speed and is a threat to steal bases, as his 2021 season proved.

Winn spent his first professional season at Class-A and Class-A Advanced, moving along nicely so far in the Cards system. He hit a combined .242/.324/.356/.660 in 438 plate appearances. He did, however, strike out 100 times. He accepted 46 walks, which is promising. Winn hit five homers, drove in 44 runs and stole an amazing 32 bases in 37 attempts. Those strikeouts are a warning signal. As a shortstop, he has good range, and his speed helps. Being a pitcher, his arm strength is a real plus at shortstop. But will the Cardinals keep him at short or move him to the mound? His fastball velocity and solid secondary pitches will make that decision difficult. He will likely help the Cardinals make that decision based upon his bat. Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: We have to see how Winn hits this year. If his bat can keep up with advanced pitching, he has enough speed and defensive ability to stick at shortstop. However, if his bat doesn't play, he can be tried on the mound. I think it would be tough to waste a guy who can throw 98 by playing him at shortstop. For now, I'm waiting to see how he develops.

David Calabrese, OF, Los Angeles Angels
5-11, 160 
Bats: Left
Age: 19

David Calabrese was given a $744,200 signing bonus by the Angels after he was selected in the third round of the 2020 draft out of St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Montreal, Canada.

Without question, Calabrese has plus-plus speed, which is his best tool. He could become a base-stealing threat, but his speed may be more valuable in the outfield. I say that, because I'm concerned about his ability to get on base with any consistency. That may or may not happen, as he has not produced much so far on offense. But he is still young, still growing and still learning the game. 

Calabrese played this past year at the age of 18, turning 19 in September. He played on the Angels Rookie League team, and hit .201/.303/.306/.609 with one homer and 17 RBIs in 165 plate appearances. He struck out 54 times, walked 20 times and stole five bases in six attempts. He keeps his swing simple and knows he won't be a power hitter, but rather, when he recognizes pitches better and gains confidence, he projects to hit the gaps. With his speed, he could get his share of doubles and even some triples.

We may be watching a player destined to be a defensive replacement or pinch-runner type in his career. It really is too soon to judge, but based upon what I've seen, he doesn't hold much promise as an everyday player. Scouting Grade: 45

Fantasy Relevance: It is way to soon to determine if Calabrese can hit big league pitching. For that reason, I wouldn't come close to drafting him for fantasy.

HEADING HOME:

While the Tampa Bay Rays continue to look for a permanent home, the Oakland Athletics have a serious issue on their hands. Do they really want to stay in Oakland? Do they want to move to Las Vegas?

The Oakland Planning Commission has voted unanimously to recommend the certification of Howard Terminal as a site for a future Oakland waterfront development costing $12B. The Oakland City Council is the last hurdle before approval, and by the time you read this, that hurdle may have been jumped.

But does Oakland ownership really want to invest in that facility, or do they want to move the team to Las Vegas? The 34,000 seat stadium in Jack London Square may become a reality. However, I won't say the deal is complete until we know that the Athletics will embrace the new site and commit to the project. For some reason, I'm very, very skeptical.

And as MLB hopefully prepares for a new season, issues of poor attendance and horrible facilities will once again greet fans of the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. And in all their usual ways, MLB has kicked the can down the road for years and years regarding the problems of both franchises.

Thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work at forbes.com.

I have lots of prospect profiles in the queue for the future and will get to them all. Have a great week. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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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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