2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-16-21

by Mike Schneider
2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-16-21

I play in too many Fantasy Baseball leagues and have decided to scale back next year. Two leagues that I will be keeping are my two 30 team Dynasty leagues.

These dynasty leagues are designed to be as close to real-life as possible.  There are contracts, free agency, drafts, an international free agency budget, large minor league rosters and one league even has a Rule V draft.

These leagues are year-round commitments.  There are times I am busier in the off-season than I am during the baseball season.

As someone who always wanted to be an MLB general manager, this is as close as I will get.

2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-16-21

Buy Low Prospects

As we approach the offseason, this week I will look at prospects that are good buy low candidates for Dynasty Leagues.

In most cases, these prospects fall into two categories. The first category is players that did not do much in 2021.  This may be due to poor performance or injuries. The second category is prospects that I think will break out in 2022.

Depending on the size and number of prospects that are rostered in your dynasty league, these prospects may be minor league free agents to pick up, candidates to be throw-ins in bigger trades or just prospects to put on your watch list.

In general, I am looking at pedigree and upside.  The 23-year-old advanced college pitcher who was a late-round draft pick that is having success in lower minor is not typically who I will target. With Minor League pick-ups in dynasty leagues, if you miss it is not a big deal. You can move on quickly and sign another prospect.

Jordyn Adams (Age: 21 years old, Highest Level: High A, Position: CF, Organization: Angels)

He is a tremendous athlete who was a highly recruited football player who showed a lot of promise in 2019 for Burlington in the Midwest League.

In 2021, Adams hurt his leg in the third game of the year, missed about six weeks, and has never gotten going. I am a big believer in his talent and think that Adams could have an MJ Melendez-type turnaround in 2022.

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Joan Adon (23 AA RHP Nationals)

A less-heralded member of the Nationals' 2016 international free agent class with Yasel Antina and Luis García, Adon had a nice year in 2019 with Hagerstown in the Sally League.

Adon is a thickly built hard thrower that by no means is a finished product but continues to make steady progress. In 2019, Adon only struck out 7.71 batters per nine innings. In his last six starts split between High A and AA, Adan has struck out 11.38 batters per nine innings.

Miguel Amaya (22 AA C Cubs)

The ebbs and flows of prospects are always interesting.

In 2019 there were two very young highly ranked catching prospects in the Carolina League. Miguel Amaya held his own in 2019 and MJ Melendez appeared to be in over his head.

This year Melendez is in AAA leading all of the minors in home runs while Amaya struggled in the first month of the season and has not played since June 3rd due to a forearm injury.

I do not think Amaya will ever be a star but I still believe he will be a solid major league regular.

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Yasel Antuna (21 High A SS Nationals)

Antuna received one of the largest signing bonuses in the 2016 international free agent class when he signed with the Nationals for 3.9 million dollars, three times more than Luis García.

The Nationals skipped the Dominican Summer League and brought him stateside for 2017 in the Gulf Coast League where he had a nice year as a 17-year-old.  Antuna and García went to Full season A for 2018.  While Garcia excelled, Antuna struggled possibly due to an elbow injury.

Antuna did not play after July 19th and underwent Tommy John surgery.  He was shut down after only three games in 2019 and there was no minor league season in 2020.

Not surprisingly, Antuna was rusty at the start of the season.  Through the first 29 games, Antuna was hitting.107 with a 23 wRC+.  Since then, Antuna has a 113 wRC+ with 32 extra-base hits and a strikeout rate under 20 percent.

With a healthy year under his belt, I look for Antuna to take off in 2022.

Jordan Brewer (24 Low A OF Astros)

The Astros selected Brewer in the third round of the 2019 draft on the basis of Brewer's 12 homers and 24 stolen bases in his one year at the University of Michigan.

Brewer was a two-sport athlete that is still raw. He got off to a very slow start as a pro in 2019 and missing 2020 was not ideal given his age and lack of baseball experience.

Brewer missed the first month and only had 14 extra-base hits in his first 55 games. However, he has three home runs and an on-base percentage of .532 in his last ten games.

He is a great athlete, but it is likely to be a slow rise up the organizational ladder.

Oswaldo Cabrera (22 AA INF Yankees)

A switch hitter having a nice year in AA who the Yankees may not have room for on their 4o man roster.   Cabrera would potentially be a nice Rule V pick.

In 2018 and 2019, Cabrera played 246 game games in Full Season A and High A.  He totaled 14 home runs and was 14 for 31 of the bath paths.  In 105 games in AA in 2021 Cabrera has hit 22 home runs and has stolen 20 bases in 25 attempts.

Cabrera is much bigger than his listed 145 pounds.  He has nice hands and can play all over the infield.  Cabrera has only made three errors in 56 games at shortstop.

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Sam Carlson (22 Low A RHP Mariners)

Carlson was an overslot cold weather second-round pick out of high school in 2017.  Prior to 2021, Carlson has had arm trouble and only threw three innings as a pro.

In July 2018 Carlson underwent Tommy John surgery.  While the results have not been great in 2021 he has finally been able to stay healthy.

With a full minor league season under his belt, Carlson is a candidate to break out in 2022. He has the size and talent to be a successful major league starter but needs to put together the consistency.

Wilmer Flores (20 Low A RHP Tigers)  

The younger brother of the Giants infielder with the same name, Flores has good size (6'4" 225 lbs) but is very raw. He pitched one year in 2020 for Arizona Western where he pitched 11.2 innings and walked 12 batters. Flores signed with the Tigers as an undrafted free agent.

Flores began the year with the Tiger complex team and was promoted to the Low A Lakeland on July 12th.  He has had his ups and downs but is finishing the season strong.

Estevan Florial (23 AAA OF Yankees)

Florial has tremendous raw strength and speed.  He has made a lot of progress since 2019 but still has holes in his game.

In 2021 Florial began the year at AA Somerset but earned a quick promotion to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barres after four homers in nine games.

It does not help Florial's progress that he has been called up to the majors six times in  2021 but only has 20 MLB at bats.

Florial is always going to have strikeouts issues and he will never hit for a high average.  However, there are few prospects with his athleticism and if he does ever put it together he could be very valuable.

Ethan Hankins (21 Low A RHP Indians)

A big-time talent who missed all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Hankins got injured in training camp.  He may return late in 2022 but it will likely be 2023 before he is ready to really take off.

Cole Henry (22 High A RHP Nationals)

A 2020 second-round pick who missed over two months with an arm injury.  The injury masks how successful Henry has been before and after the injury.

Brewer Hicklen (25 AA OF Royals)

He is old for his level and strikes out too much.  However, there are extenuating circumstances and Hicklen is actually young in terms of experience.

It is difficult to find speed and Hicklen is a legitimate base stealer.  At each level, Hicklen follows the same pattern of struggling for a few months and then hitting for power in the second half of the year.

Alec Marsh (23 AA RHP Royals)

The 70th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Arizona State, Marsh had a ton of buzz before the year. He had added velocity and was suddenly throwing in the mid to upper nineties.

Marsh threw five hitless in his first game in 2021 and then struck out 11 in his second game. Unfortunately, Marsh only pitched 14.1 more innings before going on the injured list with something similar to shin splints.  Marsh may be ready to pitch in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Coby Mayo (19 Low A 3B Orioles)

An overslot selection in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, Mayo debuted in the Florida Complex League at the end of June. Mayo has gotten more comfortable as the year has gone by.

Mayo has the size to be a big-time power hitter.  He was promoted to Low A Delmarva on August 17 and he has continued to mash.

Carmen Mlodzinski (22 High A RHP Pirates)

The 31st overall pick out of the University of South Carolina, Mlodzinski appeared to be on the verge of a promotion to AA Altoona when he hurt his shoulder and went on the injured list on July 12th.

Mlodzinski returned on August 15th but only made four appearances totaling 8.1 innings before he went back on the IL on September 9th.

Jared Oliva (25  MLB CF Pirates)

There are plenty of opportunities with the rebuilding Pirates.  Oliva had a solid season in AA in 2019 and was one of the top players in the 2019 Arizona Fall League. He has the ability to be a nice leadoff hitter and centerfielder.

Oliva missed the start of the 2021 season due to an oblique injury and was then was called up to majors after only 15 games at AAA. Not surprisingly it did not go well.  Oliva never played in AAA prior to 2021 and it was not until mid-August that he started to play well.

I think that Oliva establishes himself that a major league regular that will steal 20 bases with a decent average and the size to eventually hit for a bit of power.

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Liover Peguero (20 High A SS Pirates)

When the Pirates traded Starling Marte to the Diamondbacks in January 2020 they acquired Peguero who was a mid-priced international free agent that the DBacks had signed in 2017.

In his first year of full-season ball, Peguero skipped Low A and has spent the entire year with High A Greensboro.  He does a little bit of everything and does not have any major weaknesses.  Given Peguero's age and lack of experience, while his season has not been spectacular, it has been very successful.

Dionys Rodriguez (21 Low A RHP Cardinals)

An unheralded pitcher who celebrated his 21st birthday a few weeks ago and seems to be finishing the season on a high note.

Over his last five games, Rodriguez has pitched 26 innings and only given up 15 hits and eight walks while striking out 37.

Esteury Ruiz (22 AA OF Padres)

Ruiz has always been very young for his level with great speed and a bit of pop.  He has transitioned from second base to the outfield this year.

He has made some strides this year but still is a work in progress. Ruiz has cut down his strikeouts and improved his stolen base percentage.

It is typically more difficult to find players that contribute to stolen bases than any other category in fantasy baseball.  When you look at the stolen base leaders in the upper minors which does not benefit from the experimental rules, in terms of age and games played Ruiz stands out.

Gavin Stone (22 High A RHP Dodgers)

The Dodgers selected Stone in the fifth round of the 2020 draft out of Central Arkansas.  The Dodgers are a smart organization that has had a lot of success with finding unknown late-round draft picks.

Stone is listed at 6'1" 175 pounds and his future may be as a reliever. However, in his last eight games, Stone has a strikeout minus walk rate of 40.8 percent.  For a frame of reference for the season among qualified pitchers, Grayson Rodriguez is leading the minor leagues in strikeout minus walk rate at 34 percent.

Matt Tabor (23 RHP AAA Diamondbacks)

A 2017 third-round draft pick for high school in the Northeast.  Tabor took a leap forward with a nice year in Full Season A in 2019.

Tabor began 2021 in High A Hillsboro and was promoted to AA Amarillo after just four appearances.  Tabor was solid but not dominant in ten starts at AA when the Diamondbacks promoted Tabor to AAA Reno on July 31st.

Reno is a horrible place to pitch and the promotion to AAA seemed too aggressive. Tabor has been hit hard in six starts and may need to begin 2022 in AA to regain his confidence.

Tabor has a nice arm and is a good prospect but the promotion to AAA was ill-advised.

Heitor Tokar (20 Low A RHP Astros)

A very large man from Brazil who gets excellent extension and has an awesome name.  The Astros signed Tokar in 2017 to a $300,000 bonus.

Tokar has split the season between the Astros' Complex Team and Low A Fayetteville. He has been inconsistent but he has had several games where he has been virtually unhittable.

The Astros are an organization that is really good at developing pitchers.

Randy Vasquez (22 AA RHP Yankees)

Another Yankee prospect that has made a big leap since we last saw them in 2019.

Vasquez began the year making his full season debut for Low A Tampa.  In six games in June and the beginning of July, Vasquez only allowed two earned runs in 33.2 innings with 45 strikeouts. the Yankees promoted Vasquez to High A Hudson Valley on July 20th.

After two average starts in High A, Vasquez was spectacular in four games in August which earned him another promotion to AA Somerset.  Vasque has only made three starts in AA and the results have been mixed.

Vasquez has a nasty breaking ball and my guess is that the Yankees find room on their 40 man roster rather than expose him to the Rule V draft.

Cole Wilcox (22 Low A RHP Rays)

I happened to be watching the game on June 27th when Wilcox got hurt and he looked terrific before suddenly exiting the game. Wilcox underwent Tommy John surgery last week and will likely miss the entire 2022 season.

Wilcox only pitched 82 innings in college and 44.1 innings as a pro and he will be almost 24 when he returns in 2023 but he is highly skilled and worth waiting for him to return. If Wilcox had not gotten hurt, I think he could have had a similar quick rise up the organizational ladder as Ian Seymour has done.

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Brandon Williamson (23 AA LHP Mariners)

The Mariners selected the 6'6" lefty from Texas Christian in the second round of the 2019 draft despite limited success in college.

Williamson was excellent in six starts in High A Everett earning a promotion to AA Arkansas.  It took Williamson some time to obtain the same success in AA, but he has been strong lately. Williamson gets overshadowed by some of the other Mariners' pitching prospects but he had made impressive progress since being drafted.

Comings and Goings

Prospects Changing Levels

With only one week left in the AA, High A and Low A seasons, promotions to these levels are truly just a cup of coffee.

9/8CubsZachary LeighComplexHigh A
9/8MarlinsBennett HostetlerComplexHigh A
9/8DodgersBobby MillerHigh AAA
9/8GiantsWill BednarComplexLow A
9/8YankeesLuis GilAAAMLB
9/8MarlinsLewin DíazAAAMLB
9/9PiratesMike JarvisComplexHigh A
9/9RedsJames MarinanLow AHigh A
9/9DodgersSam McWilliamsLow AHigh A
9/9AngelsBrett KerryHigh AAA
9/9RaysIan SeymourHigh AAAA
9/9RaysTrevor BrigdenHigh AAAA
9/9MetsMark VientosAA AAA
9/10RoyalsZack PhillipsLow AHigh A
9/10MetsRonny MauricioHigh AAA
9/10RoyalsAndres NunezAA AAA
9/10Blue JaysKevin SmithMLBAAA
9/10RedsJose BarreroAAAMLB
9/10DiamondbacksSeth BeerAAAMLB
9/10BravesWilliam ContrerasAAAMLB
9/10DodgersGavin LuxAAAMLB
9/10RaysDietrich EnnsAAAMLB
9/11IndiansElvis JerezComplexLow A
9/11RaysOsleivis BasabeLow AHigh A
9/11RaysCurtis MeadHigh AAAA
9/11RaysAlika WilliamsHigh AAAA
9/11RedsFrancisco UrbaezAA AAA
9/11IndiansDaniel JohnsonMLBAAA
9/11RaysColby WhiteAA AAA
9/11RaysJosh LoweMLBAAA
9/11PhilliesMickey MoniakAAAMLB
9/11PhilliesAdonis MedinaAAAMLB
9/12RaysDiego InfanteLow AHigh A
9/12RoyalsKyle IsbelAAAMLB
9/13CubsLuis DeversComplexLow A
9/13RedsThomas FarrLow AHigh A
9/13TwinsCasey LeguminaLow AHigh A
9/13White SoxJose RodriguezLow AHigh A
9/13AngelsSam BachmanHigh AAA
9/14IndiansBryan LavastidaAAAAA
9/14IndiansXzavion CurryHigh AAA
9/14TigersZack HessHigh AAA
9/14PhilliesSímon MuzziottiHigh AAA
9/14OriolesGunnar HendersonHigh AAA
9/14PhilliesJosh HendricksonAAAAA
9/14Blue JaysSpencer HorwitzHigh AAA
9/14Blue JaysAddison BargerLow AHigh A
9/14IndiansCade SmithLow AHigh A
9/14Blue JaysPK MorrisLow AHigh A
9/14CubsBrennen DavisAAAAA
9/14IndiansAdam ScottAAAAA
9/15MarinersConnor PhillipsLow AHigh A

Prospects Who Went On the IL

9/8Blue JaysSebastian EspinoHigh A
9/8DodgersBrandon LewisHigh A
9/10Blue JaysOrelvis MartinezHigh A
9/11Blue JaysZach BrittonLow A
9/12TwinsWander JavierHigh A
9/13PhilliesTyler PhillipsAA
9/13RedsBryce BonninHigh A
9/14IndiansJuan HillmanAAA
9/14YankeesRyder GreenLow A

Activated From the IL

Luke Raley, Landon Knack, Korey Lee, Elvin Rodriguez, Jordan DiazJeremiah Jackson, Mariel Batista, Jonathan Ornelas and Casey Martin are prospects that were activated from the injured list this week.

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