MLB: Prospect Mailbag 6/29/22

MLB: Prospect Mailbag 6/29/22

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

A quick reminder on the schedule for updates to the top 400 prospect rankings for the rest of 2022:

  • Late July, which will include the additions from the 2022 draft class
  • Late August
  • Following the end of the regular season

As will be the case on the final Thursday of every month, I'll be posting a written version of the Wednesday mailbag episode of the podcast.

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe on your podcast app by searching "RotoWire Prospect Podcast".

PFBL Dodgers: What do you see as the reason for Nick Yorke's struggles? Still catching up after his injuries, did we have too high of expectations after last year, etc…

Chris Clegg has been on the Nick Yorke beat, covering High-A Greenville for Sox Prospects. The injuries slowed him for sure, but I'd be buying low wherever you can. Still a full believer. If you're rostering Nick Yorke in dynasty, I'd recommend checking out my podcast next week, which will be devoted to Red Sox prospects.

Ryan Windschitl: How much has Jackson Chourio moved up on your top 400?

I think he's basically worth as much as

A quick reminder on the schedule for updates to the top 400 prospect rankings for the rest of 2022:

  • Late July, which will include the additions from the 2022 draft class
  • Late August
  • Following the end of the regular season

As will be the case on the final Thursday of every month, I'll be posting a written version of the Wednesday mailbag episode of the podcast.

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe on your podcast app by searching "RotoWire Prospect Podcast".

PFBL Dodgers: What do you see as the reason for Nick Yorke's struggles? Still catching up after his injuries, did we have too high of expectations after last year, etc…

Chris Clegg has been on the Nick Yorke beat, covering High-A Greenville for Sox Prospects. The injuries slowed him for sure, but I'd be buying low wherever you can. Still a full believer. If you're rostering Nick Yorke in dynasty, I'd recommend checking out my podcast next week, which will be devoted to Red Sox prospects.

Ryan Windschitl: How much has Jackson Chourio moved up on your top 400?

I think he's basically worth as much as the No. 1 FYPD pick at this point, which will likely be Druw Jones for me. As to where that is in the top 400, I'm thinking roughly 15th overall. I still like Jordan Lawlar more, if we're talking about top performing Single-A hitters.

Dan: Jackson Chourio is getting incredible hype, but I'm concerned about the 28.7 K% and 7.4 BB% at Single-A. I know you tend to fade guys with big swing-and-miss issues, but this seems borderline. What's your threshold for acceptable K% at the lower levels?

High 20s is fine if you're the youngest hitter at the level and you've got a power/speed game and you're as productive as Chourio is. It's not something to completely ignore with him, but the contextual stuff makes it acceptable.

JayDub: What are you advising RE: Adley Rutschman in keeper leagues with limited roster spots?

Plug him into your active lineup. If you've also got Will Smith or Daulton Varsho or something in a one-catcher league, then maybe you trade somebody, but Adley is easily a top-10 catcher rest of season for me. He has a .940 OPS, three homers and nine strikeouts over his last 17 games. I recently traded Tyler Anderson for him straight up in a 14-team redraft league with seven-man benches where I lost Salvador Perez

Patrick: How are we feeling about Dustin Harris?  Heard a ton of hype on him last year and haven't heard much about him this year...

He's basically doing exactly what you'd hope. He hasn't been better than expected, he hasn't been worse than expected.

Stone: Austin Hendrick's 41.1 K% is scary. Still holding on?

"Still holding on" is a little strong for a guy I had ranked 376 on the last update. I'm close to writing Hendrick off completely, but you should have already moved off of him in the vast majority of dynasty leagues.

Stone: Nick Bitsko worth a flyer? 10.13 ERA in rookie ball after labrum surgery. Still young but curious your thoughts.

I added Bitsko as a flyer when he got cleared to return, but I dropped him after the first outing. That said, his last start was his best start (three K's in two scoreless innings), so he might be worth grabbing. He's got a ridiculously high ceiling if he can stay healthy and the stuff is all the way back to pre-draft form.

Ulysses: Long term outlook for Michael Massey?

Massey is a big lift and pull guy, and it seems to be working well. I'd always been a bigger Nick Loftin guy, but Massey has more game power, albeit less defensive versatility. It's still a little crowded, but I'd guess Massey gets a look this summer or next spring. Thin margin for error if he's not going to walk a decent amount (0.27 BB/K at Triple-A).

Beerbot: Forrest Whitley looked strong in his last outing. How many starts do you need to see before he gets a push up the rankings?

You know I can't wait to push Whitley up the rankings if he keeps this up over the next four weeks — he has been one of my favorite pitcher ceilings to dream on since 2017. I comped him to the pitching version of Royce Lewis near the beginning of the season, where we just had no idea where to rank him coming into the year, but his sky-high ceiling still existed, so he could shoot up or shoot down the rankings depending on how he returned from the injury.

Aaron: Is Dominic Fletcher from ARI someone on your radar?

He's got to be on the radar at this point, but I still think there's some significant Quad-A risk. I know people have been talking about how hitter-friendly Amarillo is with regards to Corbin Carroll (as is Reno and the PCL in general), but Fletcher is much more of a cautionary guy with those park factors. He has significant home/road splits and was more of a borderline, older prospect coming into the year, so any push into the rankings is almost solely based on this season. The Diamondbacks also have a pretty crowded outfield situation this year and next.

Joey DeClercq: Colin Barber seems to have the makings of a big riser this time next year. How do you view him? Is he someone to get excited about?

Not really much to see yet, since he's playing his home games in Asheville and has a .685 OPS on the road. He's hung around the top 400 in the past and has legit tools, so he is a prospect of note, but I'd pump the brakes on overreacting to what he's done so far this year.

Alex Halfmann: Ceddanne Rafaela (say-Dahn raff-aye-Ell-uh) what do you view for his future and how much has he moved up rankings?

The super low walk rates (4.8 BB%)/aggressiveness has me pretty conflicted. He's athletic, has bat speed, a knack for barreling the ball and could provide defensive value up the middle, so he checks a lot of boxes, but I'm not expecting high OBPs or even notably high batting averages. Maybe he's a .245 hitter who flirts with 20/20, but he'd need everyday playing time.

Mike Sheets: Still as high on Brayan Rocchio with his down season?

Yeah, I'm probably going to be pretty stubborn on this one. He'll fall out of the top 30 on the next update, but I don't see any major red flags. He's still a 21-year-old switch hitter in Double-A. For perspective, he's four months younger than Rafaela, who recently got bumped up to Double-A, while Rocchio had his breakout run at Double-A last summer.

Artur Domingues: When do you expect Eury Perez and Daniel Espino to be called up, Spring 2023? What are your long-term outlooks for both pitchers as well? Thanks!

Yup, spring 2023 if both are healthy. Espino has better pure stuff, but I also get a bit more injury-risk vibes from him. No matter what you do with either guy, you should assume they'll have Tommy John surgery sometime in the next 4-to-5 years, and then if they don't, that's found money. I'm also assuming they'll be pretty awesome, perhaps right away, but now is not the time to trade for either guy in dynasty.

M_Festtt: If I can piggy back on that, if you are rebuilding and feel bats are a safer way to go, what range of prospect bat would you move Espino for?

I'd aim high, and I'd also wait until Espino is back in game action. Jordan Walker, Jordan Lawlar, Miguel Vargas, Jackson Chourio, a No. 1 FYPD pick next year, Elly De La Cruz, something like that. Otherwise just ride it out.

Matt: Has Deyvison De Los Santos passed guys like James Wood, James Triantos, Kevin Alcantara for you?

He's passed Triantos, but not Wood or Alcantara. 

Ross Redcay: Is there something going on with Triantos' swing that is preventing him from hitting for power?  Or is this partially a park thing (heard Myrtle Beach is a tough place to hit)?

Myrtle Beach does suppress power, but it's mostly his swing/approach. He is using the whole field and only hitting 25% flyballs. That's not a recipe for game power if you're 19, but I think it could come later. I'd like him to establish a plus hit tool and then develop plus power, but there's no guarantee significant power will come. 

Toolsy: Ricky Tiedemann has looked good so far. Are you expecting his rise to continue/are you pushing him up your rankings?

Yes, I'd recommend listening to the Toolshed podcast I did with Eric Cross and Chris Welsh a couple weeks ago. I basically said Tiedemann is a top-10 pitching prospect and he's trending up. 

Toolsy: Is it time to cut Akil Baddoo in a 16-team dynasty where about 10 prospects are owned per team? He has shown flashes but Detroit seems to have soured on him.

If you dropped him in that league, and I was in it, I wouldn't pick him up.

Dan: Still feel like we're not talking enough about Esteury Ruiz and Gunnar Henderson. What's keeping them out of the top 10?

Those are probably the two most talked about prospects based on my Twitter feed, maybe with the exception of Vinnie Pasquantino, so I don't know about the premise of the question. That said, Henderson is already a top-10 guy if I were updating today. He's a blue chipper. Ruiz is borderline top 10. I compared him to Jonathan Villar on last week's pod, and I don't mean that as a diss, Villar had a season where he was a top-10 player for fantasy, and Ruiz could do that too. I feel like saying a guy who was unranked before the season is a borderline top-10 prospect is more than fair. While I'm to the point where I'm projecting Ruiz to be a big-league regular, would anyone really be surprised if this season was just a flash in the pan from an offensive performance standpoint?

Robert Mirshak: How do you look at older prospects such as David Villar or J.J. Matijevic when trying to find the next Max Muncy type without much prospect pedigree?

This is a dark art. I'd want extreme plate skills and excellent hard-hit data. That rules out Matijevic in my estimation. Villar is a bit more interesting, but that 28.2 K% is still troubling for a 25-year-old at Triple-A. Then throw in the fact he's a righty hitter with the Giants and you've gotta worry about future short-side platoon issues. I'm basically looking for Vinnie Pasquantino's Triple-A K% (12.2), BB% (12.5), Hard% (31.8), and with a slightly higher K%, I'd want a slightly higher Hard%.

John Dobos: CJ Abrams. We worried about his MLB at-bats or just adjusting to MLB?

Nope, not worried about Abrams.

John Dobos: Still high on Pedro Leon and possible ETA? 

I think I'm vindicated on the power/speed projection, but the hit tool hasn't really come along. Probably won't see him until 2023.

John Dobos: Caleb Kilian, Chase Silseth and Reid Detmers. Holding or dropping in dynasty format? 

Holding all three if I can. Definitely not giving up on Detmers. I still think he can do some tweaks with his breaking balls to get them back to being the bat-missers they were in 2021. Kilian's potential situation and how good he looked towards the end of 2021 make me want to be patient with him. Silseth's stuff grades out well, so I'd want to give him more time as well, but he'd be my first cut of the three.

Dan: Do you have a good source for monitoring injuries in MiLB? Guys miss a few games and it seems really hard to figure out what's going on unless there's a major injury. Ex. Corbin Carroll has been out since Friday, how would you figure out if he's hurt?

If they're put on the IL on 

I do Twitter searches and message people I know connected to the teams, but it can be really tough to track down the injury. We did get clarification Thursday that Carroll is on the IL for COVID-19 reasons, but that information often doesn't get reported, especially with lesser prospects.

M_Festtt: Typically you would hold on an injured player until they are healthy, but if you were already questioning the hit tool with Brennen Davis, could you give us a few reasonable examples of prospects you would try to flip him for?

That's not a scenario where I'd even be thinking about a trade. He's damaged goods at this point. Maybe a guy like Curtis Mead or Spencer Steer if you're intent on cutting ties.

Matt Cebron: Thoughts on Will Benson? Massive drop in K% and still walking with power/speed. Can things "just click" like this for prospect like him drafted out of high school.

Yeah, that can happen. His org. mate Oscar Gonzalez had been ranked for about as long as Benson, and they both fell off, and now Gonzalez is actualizing on the tools that made him appealing in the first place. Benson just turned 24, so I'm pretty intrigued.

Ross Redcay: Couple of guys kind of flying under the radar. Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs had a glowing report about Brandon Pfaadt. Sounds like stuff has ticked up. Is a bad home park hiding a rising arm? The other is Ian Lewis. Super loud tools. What is keeping the industry from moving this guy up lists?

Well I moved Lewis up a bit on the last update, I like him, he's great. That last update was right after he returned to game action after missing the start of the year. I don't know if I'd say he has "super loud tools" — he's a really good athlete with a chance to develop super loud tools. Pfaadt has been on a roll, the fielding-independent stats on him are pretty great — less of a confusing situation than with Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson at Triple-A.

Ethan Sexton: I know you were high on Royce Lewis pre-injury as he flew up both your rankings. Do you still feel pretty strongly about him going forward or did the injury do anything to dampen his ascent?

I think Lewis' skills are legit and not going anywhere, and I think he will make a full recovery. The big question is whether he will re-injure the knee once he makes it all the way back. You have to wonder about the stability of things with a knee that's been operated on twice. Guys like Yordan Alvarez have overcome significant knee concerns, and Jake Burger made it back from multiple torn Achilles, so we definitely shouldn't write Lewis off, it's just a matter of factoring in the risk when valuing him right now.

Ira Aronin: Do you think the odds are good Miguel Vargas and/or Michael Busch will be packaged in a trade before the deadline? The Dodgers have chosen not to bring Vargas up and get him experienced for late season and playoffs…

I'd be absolutely shocked if they traded Vargas. Keibert Ruiz was about as good of a prospect when he got traded, but he was the headliner for a Max Scherzer rental and a year-plus of Trea Turner. I don't think the Dodgers are going to acquire players of that caliber at the deadline. This team traded Yordan Alvarez and Oneil Cruz, but they did those deals when those players were super young, unproven and risky. Also, I wouldn't read into the fact they haven't called up Vargas yet. That could still happen in the next month or so. As for Busch, he's the caliber of prospect I could see them dealing.

PancakePending: Who are you stashing at the complex league level?

Junior Caminero and Gabriel Gonzalez are a couple guys I've been monitoring regularly. I'm still holding guys like Victor Acosta, Carlos Jorge and Samuel Zavala. Here are some guys who I'm not stashing yet, but who show up in some key statistical filters: Hector Rodriguez (NYM), Samil De La Rosa (STL), Donovan Antonia (CIN), Luis Castillo (MIL), Danyer Cueva (TEX), Thayron Liranzo (LAD)

Jason Erb: Do we anticipate any of these prospects coming off the SS position once in MLB? I've gone talent-first approach but if they all stick…trouble: Oneil Cruz, Anthony Volpe, Jordan Lawlar, Jackson Chourio, Orelvis Martinez, Khalil Watson, Adael Amador

Chourio has already moved to CF. Orelvis will slide to 3B. Amador won't unseat Ezequiel Tovar. I've always thought Lawlar would be an elite CF, but he's not playing there for Arizona. With Watson, he'll stick at SS, but I'd be more concerned about his hit tool. He's so far away from the majors that I wouldn't worry him complicating things for your team. That leaves Cruz, Volpe and Lawlar as the surefire shortstops.

Gabriel Garcia: Jordan Walker, with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt locked in, does he profile to move to RF or more of a DH. Are you optimistic that he gets to his in game power?

Robert Goldman: So I know how high you are on Jordan Walker but do you not expect him until next year and then only upon an injury, or is there any road to his coming up at other than an Arenado injury?

I'm close to 100% confident Walker will actualize his raw power in games. The only elite prospect with 70-grade raw power I can recall who never translated that power to games was Eric Hosmer (maybe I'm missing someone?). He won't be up this year. But he's got a prototypical skill set for right field in addition to third base, and he can always get starts at designated hitter.

J. Daniel: I just released Ji-hwan Bae in a roster crunch. Competitive 12-team NL-only league. Should I pick him back up and release Cal Mitchell? We have two minor league slots...

Tough call. They're both kinda blocked right now, but Bae has been on fire. He's more of a Jon Berti type where you're hoping for three-category (AVG, SB, R) help, while Mitchell could be the whole package. I'd just go with whichever position you're weaker at.

Derek McIntyre: Hey James, word is that Wilman Diaz is not progressing the way people had hoped while Rayne Doncon is gaining helium. What are your thoughts on these two Dodger complex league prospects and who would you prefer at this stage?

I'd take Doncon at this point.

Musicmiles: What do you think about the opportunity for Yosver Zulueta to be a quick riser in the Jays system? There is a need for more arms at the major league level, and Zulueta might be good enough to take on at least a multi-inning RP role.

We're going to find out a lot about him since he just got bumped to Double-A. Wouldn't be crazy if he were up this year, since he is 24, but that'd be quite the one-season climb from Single-A to the majors. Max Castillo is a guy I'm really excited about who is already filling that role and could be a rotation option soon.

Cody Martin: What is your outlook for Alejandro Osuna. Is he a potential top 100 guy if he keeps producing?

From what I understand, Osuna isn't the type of athlete you'd expect from his Single-A numbers. The 25 steals, specifically, seem to really oversell his future potential. He may debut around 250 overall.

Levi Palmer: Kristian Robinson, still a hold? 

He was never a must-hold, total wild card. He's no longer getting to play in extended, so check out the note on our site and the article linked there from Nick Piecoro. Not saying to cut him, but just know that it's a total lottery ticket to hold him.

Goods5119: Third base is absurdly shallow at the bigs and at the prospect level and I've been chasing it for years in dynasty  First, Brett Baty, Mark Vientos or Elly De La Cruz? Second, which SS prospects are likely to be moved to 3rd before getting to the bigs?

De La Cruz, Baty, Vientos. I'd try to buy low on Josh Jung or Zack Gelof with them injured. Gunnar Henderson, Brady House, Noelvi Marte, Orelvis Martinez are a few shortstops who could have third-base eligibility. I'm also a Jake Burger believer, and I'm sure he's dirt cheap.

Matt Mountin: What do you make of Caleb Killian's initial MLB appearances? In an NL only with only 7 minors spots, would you stick with him or cut for someone in the Masyn Winn/Vaughn Grissom/Brandon Williamson/Gordon Graceffo tier?

I'd definitely take Winn over Kilian, and maybe Grissom. Kilian was rushed to the majors and was thrown to the wolves in the start against the Padres (I think it was over 90 degrees with the wind blowing out that day), so I'd focus on his Triple-A performance this season. Even there, however, he hasn't been as good as he was to close last season. Just not as sharp. Development isn't linear, so I'd try to be patient with him, but not over grabbing someone of Winn's caliber. Williamson and Graceffo are still behind him as pitching prospects.

Cale Loken: Are Nick Nastrini and Jose Ramos big movers for you on your next update?

Nastrini has been pretty lights out, but the walks are still an issue. He will make another handful of starts before my next update, so he could be a riser. Ramos is pretty much just doing what I'd expect, hitting for power with plenty of strikeouts, so I don't expect him to be a huge riser.

Bobby Baseball: Cardinals prospect Moises Gomez destroyed Double-A (.321/.401/.705 in 60 games) but with a 35.0 K% and .434 BABIP. He was just move dup to Triple-A. Is he interesting for dynasty leagues or was this a mirage?

I'm going to say it was an older player with huge power getting favorable results with an all-out approach. He seems likely to be a Quad-A hitter. That said, the Cardinals have something special going on in the minors this year, with seemingly all their hitters having big years. Even Nolan Gorman has been able to have success thus far in the majors despite a troubling strikeout rate at Triple-A, although I think the bottom could still fall out there. I won't write off Gomez, but I also wouldn't expect him to be heard from anytime soon, especially given the Cardinals' organizational depth.

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James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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