2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 5-27-21

by Mike Schneider
2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 5-27-21

Welcome to the 2021 MiLB Prospect Notes for 5-27-21.

In many cases, the beginning of the minor league season on May 4th was the first time a prospect has played in a publicly available game since the end of the 2019 minor league season.

Despite there not being a 2020 minor league season, prospects continued to develop. This development may have occurred at the team’s alternate training site, an instructional league, a winter league, or individual workouts with or without private coaching. In addition, since the typical prospect is in their early twenties or younger, their bodies are still maturing and changing.

There potentially have been significant changes that makes the prospect evaluation in the first few weeks of the minor league season more significant than a typical year.  In a dynasty league, this represents an opportunity to acquire prospects that have improved since the end of the 2019 season.

In this week's article, we will look at position prospects that have been impressive in the early season. Next week we will look at pitchers that have started strong.

2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 5-27-21

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Vidal Brujan (Org-TB Position-2B / OF Age-23 Level-AAA) Has added power to his game in the early season.  Brujan has 70-grade speed and a good hit tool. He has played all over the diamond and looks like he is major league ready.

Wander Franco (TB SS 20 AAA) Has been the top-ranked prospect since early in 2019 and for some reason, most likely boredom, the prospect community seemed to lower his stock during 2020. Now that games are back, Franco is showing he is special.

Neolvi Marte (Sea SS 19 A) Marte has lived up to the considerable hype. Like Julio Rodriguez, it is great hitting skills with huge power potential. He may outgrow shortstop and need to move to third base eventually. Expect Marte to be a top ten prospect entering 2022.

Julio Rodriguez (Sea RF 20 High A) Continues to show elite hitting and power skills. Will likely be the number one prospect in baseball entering 2022 and should debut early in the season.

Looking Ready for A Chance

Seth Beer (Ari 24 1B AAA)  A pure hitter with little defensive value.  Beer would benefit from the National League adopting the designated hitter.  In fact the lefthanded hitting Beer might be in the majors now if the DH was kept in the NL in 2021.

Jarren Duran (Bos 24 CF AAA) Duran has a bit of a prospect yoyo since being select by the Red Sox in the seventh- round of the 2018 draft out of Long Beach State. He was a hot name when he flirted with .400 at beginning of the 2019 season at High A but his star faded after struggling when was promoted to AA later in the year.  During the layoff, the Red Sox made a swing change which resulted in newfound power which has been on display early in the season.

Taylor Jones (Hou 27 1B AAA) Jones needs a trade or an injury to get a chance to play.  He is getting older and does not much have much left to prove in the minors with the bat.  Jones is 6’7” and while not a great defensive player, he does offer versatility having played all four corner positions.

Josh Lowe (TB 23 CF AAA) The 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Lowe took a step forward in 2019 in AA and has continued at the beginning of 2021.  The left-handed-hitting Lowe has some power and speed and can play all three outfield positions as well. It is easy to see Lowe fit in a semi-regular role soon.

Owen Miller (Cle 24 INF AAA) Just a skilled hitter.  It remains to be seen how much the power develops. Miller can play all over the infield but is probably not an everyday shortstop.  With all the Indians infield talent behind Miller in the lower minors, he likely projects in a super-utility role. Miller was called up to the majors on May 23rd.

Edward Olivares (KC 25 OF AAA)  Olivares exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2020 due to special service time rules for the 2020 sprint season. He played sporadically at the beginning of 2020 with the Padres then was traded to the Royals where he got a chance and hold his own at the end of the year.  The Royals acquired a couple of veteran outfielders and Olivares was not given much of a chance to make the team. He is an interesting talent that has been mashing in AAA.

Jesus Sanchez (Mia 23 RF AAA) has been on the prospect radar for years, but his star had seemingly faded after Tampa traded him in 2019 and he struggled in a brief major league audition in 2020.  Sanchez has been putting up incredible numbers since the minor league season started and is putting himself in the Marlins outfield mix.

Curtis Terry (Tex 24 1B AAA) A big late-round first base only prospect from the 2015 draft that just keeps hitting.  Terry had a big year in 2018 in Northwest League. He split 2019 with the Midwest League and the Carolina League and had 63 extra-base hits in 129 games.  Terry is skipping AA in 2021 but has not slowed down in AAA.  He is in the right organization to get a shot as a DH.

Taylor Walls (TB 24 SS AAA) A defensive first shortstop that has gotten overshadowed in the Rays system by the upside of Wander Franco and Vidan Brujan.  Walls has progressed steadily since being a 2017 third-round pick out of Florida State. Walls reached base 29 times in 14 games and got called up to the majors after the Willy Adames trade. He may not be a star but has a chance to be a solid everyday player.

Progress or A Hot Streak?

Estevan Florial (NYY CF 23 AAA) Has always been among the strongest and fastest prospects in baseball but it did not translate on the field.  In 2019 Florial repeated High A and seemed to go backward. Florial made progress at the alternate training site and hit four homers in the first nine games at AA to earn a quick promotion to AAA. He may never hit for a high average, but the physical skills will entice.

Jose Siri (Hou 25  CF AAA) Averaging over 2 RBIs a game will get attention.  Siri has always had an intriguing power-speed combination but struggled with his hit tool.  The Astro may have an opportunity in centerfield if Siri continues to produce.

Taylor Trammell (Sea 23 CF AAA) Trammell got an opportunity in the majors as the Mariners played service games with Jarred Kelenic.  While he was not ready and struggled, Trammell has exploded with a huge hot streak at AAA since being sent down.

Realistic 2022 Options

Nick Allen (Oak 22 SS AA) Not the most exciting fantasy profile, but the diminutive Allen is outstanding defensively and has a solid hit tool but no power.  Allen has a clear path to the everyday shortstop role soon.

Michael Busch (LAD 23 2B AA) Despite being a seasoned college player, Busch only had 10 games of previous pro experience prior to this season.  Busch is a patient left-handed hitter with good power. He began the year with five homers in his first nine games.

Jose Garcia (Cin 23 SS AA) Garcia had started to put things together at the end of 2019 in High A and was impressive in early 2020 spring training.  The Red were not getting good shortstop play in 2020 so they called Garcia up on August 26th despite having no upper minors experience, Garcia was not ready and struggled. At a level he belongs, Garcia is showing his skills in 2021.  With a full season in the upper minors, Garcia has a clear path to the Red starting shortstop role when he is ready.

Riley Green (Det 20 CF AA) Like Bobby Witt Jr, Green was impressive enough during the layoff to be assigned to AA as a 2019 high school draft pick who had not previously played full-season ball.  The fact that Green has held his own is impressive. Green is a well-rounded player who has an advanced approach at the plate.

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Big Step Forward

Jordan Diaz (Oak 20 2B High A) High A is an aggressive assignment for his age. Diaz has hit four homers in the early going while keeping the strikeouts to a minimum.  Defense will be a question with Diaz.

Michael Harris (Atl 19 CF High A) Prior to being selected by the Braves, Harris was thought of more than a pitcher than a position player.  The Braves were aggressive with Harris in 2019 having him play the last month in full-season ball.  Harris had considerable buzz during the layoff and has gotten off to a huge start with a strong all-around game.

Ronny Mauricio (NYM 20 SS High A)  He has been a highly regarded prospect for several years primarily due to projected power as his lean body fills out.  It took Mauricio nine games to match his 2019 homer output.  Mauricio does need to improve his plate discipline.

MJ Melendez (KC 22 C AA) and Nick Pratto (KC 22 1B AA) have followed similar career pathing since being the first two selections by the Royals out of high school in 2017.  Both struggled badly in High A in 2019 with making contact.  The Royals worked extensively with both on their hitting since they last played in September 2019 and assigned them to AA in 2021 despite the issues at High A.

In the early going of the 2021 season, Melendez has reduced his strikeout percentage from 39 percent to under 20 percent while increasing his walk percentage to over 15 percent.  Pratto has decreased his strikeout percentage from 35 percent to just over 20 percent while increasing his walk percentage to almost 20 percent. Both are outstanding defensively which is especially relevant for Melendez given the importance of defense for a catcher.

Jose Miranda (Min 22 INF AA) has already started games at each of the infield positions.  Miranda has seemingly made improvements as a hitter since a mediocre year in the Florida State League in 2019.  He has always made good contact but has improved his plate discipline and already has five homers after only hitting eight in all of 2019.

Oswald Peraza (NYY 20 SS High A) Coming into the year, Peraza was known more for his defensive skills. However, he has turned heads by stealing nine bases in the first nine games and having a four-game stretch where he homered five times.

Under the Radar

Ezequiel Duran (NYY 22 2B High A) was an inexpensive international free agent signing that led the NY Penn League in homers in 2019.   Duran profiles as an offensive first second basemen who needs to improve his plate discipline, but has gotten off to a solid start in his first exposure to full-season ball.

Otto Lopez (Tor 22 2B/OF AA) the Blue Jays look like they are going to be loaded in a few years and with Lopez’ versatility he projects nicely in a super-utility role.  Like his teammate Gabriel Moreno, Lopez is making the jump from the Midwest League in 2019 to AA and has not missed a beat.

Mason Martin (Pit 21 1B AA) A late-round high school pick who is a three outcome hitter that is a first basemen only. Mason struggled in 2018 but otherwise has been an impressive hitter as a pro. He hit 35 homers in 2019 between full-season A and High A and has picked up where he left off in 2021.

Gabriel Moreno (Tor 21 C AA) Due to superior defensive skills, I believe that Moreno, not Alejandro Kirk is more likely to be the Blue Jay catcher of the future. Moreno was a $25,000 international free agent that has progressed nicely since an undistinguished pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2017. Moreno has begun 2021 with 20 hits in the first 11 games at AA despite only 82 previous games in full-season ball.

Terrin Vavra (Bal 24 UT AA) acquired in the Mychal Givens at the 2020 trade deadline, Vavra can play all over the diamond and does a bit of everything.   A 2018 third round draft pick who is making the jump from the Sally League in 2019 to AA and has an on-base percentage above .450 in the early season.  Vavra appears to be a useful player with a high floor.

Recent College Players Off to Nice Starts

Nick Gonzales (Pit 21 2B High A) hit 12 homers in 16 games with more than twice as many walks as strikeouts at New Mexico State in 2020 before the remainder of the college season was canceled.  Gonzales was the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft and this year was proving that he can really rake. Unfortunately, Gonzales broke his pinky and is out for four to six weeks.

Trevor Hauver (NYY 22 2B Low A) the Yankees appear committed to playing Hauver at second base and with Duran locked in at second base at High A, Hauver is at Low A where he appears to be too advanced offensively. Hauver had six homers in the first five games of the year.  He was a 2020 third-round pick from Arizona State which was loaded in the infield, so Hauver primarily was an outfielder.

Bryson Stott (Phi 23 SS High A) The Phillies first-round pick in 2019, Stott has a high floor.  He is solid defensively with decent speed. At the beginning of the season, Stott is showing more power than he previously displayed while walking at a greater than 25 percent rate.

Jordan Westburg (Bal 22 SS-3B Low A) Not an ambitious assignment for an accomplished SEC player, but Westburg is splitting shortstop and third base with Gunnar Henderson and both are making life unpleasant for Low A East pitchers with OPS over 1.000. Expect Westburg to be promoted to High A for a good portion of the season.

Will Wilson (SF 22 SS High A) The No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 draft by the Angels, the Giants essentially bought Wilson by taking on Zack Cozart’s 2020 contact.  Interestingly the Giants released Cozart well before the COVID shutdown so Cozart received his entire 2020 contract instead of a fraction of the contract due to the shortened season.  Wilson has gotten on base 26 times with 10 extra-base hits in the first 12 games of the year.

Recent High School Players Off to Nice Starts

Gunnar Henderson (Bal 19 SS-3B Low A) Henderson was the first pick of the second round in 2019 and the Orioles signed him to an overslot deal. He excelled against older players at the Alternate Training Site and is leading all of Low A in RBIs and has an on-base percentage above .400.

Jordan Walker (STL 18 3B Low A) The Cardinals selected the powerfully built Walker out of high school in Georgia with the No. 21 pick in the 2020 draft which was a little higher than he was expected to be picked. Walker has gotten off to an encouraging start to his pro career including a high walk rate.

Kryen Paris (LAA 19 SS Low A) As a 2019 high school draft pick, Paris has had to wait a while to get on the field other than three games in the rookie league in 2019. Paris’ standout tool is his speed, and he stole eight bases in the first six games.  As he fills out, he should start hitting the ball with more authority. Paris does have nine extra-base hits in his first sixteen games with a walk rate of 17 percent.

Robert Hassell III (SD 19 CF Low A) A good athlete with an advanced hit tool who should hit for more power as he matures.  Hassell looks like he has a high floor with a high ceiling if the power develops.

Young International Talents

Francisco Alvarez (NYM 19 C Low A) A big international free agent signing for the Mets in the 2018 class.  Alvarez has been a standout hitter who looks like he will stick at catcher.  In the early going of the 2021 season, Alvarez is walking more than twice as much as he is striking out. He was promoted to High on May 24th.

Maikol Escotto (Pit 18 SS Low A) Part of an impressive package of prospects that the Bucs received for Jamison Taillon. Escotto has advanced skills for his age and has made a smooth transition to full-season despite his only previous pro experience being in the Dominican Summer League (DSL).

Heriberto Hernandez (TB 21 LF Low A) There is little doubt that Hernandez can hit, but he likely does not have a position.  Prior to being traded to the Rays in the Nate Lowe trade, the Rangers were trying Hernandez at catcher, but now he is in the outfield.  Hernandez is walking more than twenty percent of the time.

Gilberto Jimenez (Bos 20 CF Low A) Time will tell if Jimenez hits for more power as he matures. For now, he has shown the ability to hit for a high average (.345 career) with at least 70 grade speed which also gives him the potential to cover a lot of ground on defense.

Jhonkensy Noel (Cle 19 1B Low A) The Indians have a ton of talent in the lower minors including four teenagers in Low A Lynchburg.  Noel is the most advanced hitter and potentially could be a big-time power hitter especially if he can become a bit more selective. He is splitting time between first and third base but will almost certainly be limited to first base at the major league level.

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