2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-2-21

by Mike Schneider
2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-2-21

Welcome to the 9-2-21 edition of our 2021 MiLB Prospect Notes.

Most hitting prospects that have had a successful season have been promoted at least once in 2021. Zac Veen and Noelvi Marte are two prospects that have not been promoted.

I believe that both Marte and Veen would get more out of the last few weeks of the year if they were promoted to High A. While is it is unlikely to impact their development in the long term, I think they would be better prepared for 2022 if they got exposure to the next level this year.

Zac Veen may get more attention now because he is destroying Low A pitching, but Orelvis Martinez, who was promoted to High A on August 2nd and struggled initially, seems to be figuring the level out now.

2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-2-21

Revisiting Fast Starts Pitchers

Earlier this year I wrote about prospects that got off to strong starts.  Last week we looked at five position players that turned great starts into great years and five prospects that had great starts but turned out to not have a great year. We will do the same with pitchers this week. Here is the original article about pitching prospects who were impressive early.

2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 6-3-21

Great Year

Alek Manoah (Tor RHP)

Sometimes spring training results are meaningful and in Manoah's case, his dominant spring training showed that he was ready to get major league hitter out despite pitching just 17 innings as a pro prior to this season.  Manoah was called up after only three impressive AAA starts and he has had a superb rookie year.

Shane Baz (Rays RHP)

Baz has always had elite stuff with questionable command.  This year the control has gone from below average to above average. Combined between AA and AAA his walk rate is 4.3 percent in 2021.  In 2019 his walk rate was 10.8%. Since Baz missed time for the Olympics he has not pitched a full season and potentially could be a big factor for the Rays in the playoffs out of the bullpen.

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Logan T Allen (Cle LHP)

The Indians' 2nd pick in 2020 out of Florida International, Allen has been remarkably consistent in his first pro season.  Allen has split the year between High A Lake County and AA Akron.  In 18 games (17 starts) Allen has allowed four earned runs once and three earned runs twice. In the other 15 games, he has allowed two or fewer runs.

Grayson Rodriguez (Bal RHP)

The Orioles' first-round pick in 2018 emerged as a top pitching prospect in 2019 at Low A Delmarva.  Rodriguez dominated High A Aberdeen in May and earned a quick promotion to AA Bowie where he has continued to impress.  Pitching prospects are never sure things, but Rodriguez appears to have all the tools.

Xzavion Curry (Cle RHP)

A complete unknown at the beginning of the year who put up eye popping numbers at Low A Lynchburg. Curry was promoted to High A Lake County on June 3rd and in 11 starts has a .202 batting average against and a 0.91 WHIP.

Nice Start Not Great Year

Injuries are a major factor with several prospects here

Matt Frisbee (SF RHP)

No pitcher got off to a better start than Frisbee who had a 0,41 WHIP in five starts to begin the year for AA Richmond.  He was promoted to AAA Sacramento and allowed 45 earned runs in 53 innings with a .329 batting average against. Frisbee was demoted back to Richmond on August 6th.  He has pitched decently at Richmond but nothing like he was was in May.

Nick Lodolo (Cin LHP)

Lodolo has had nagging blister and arm issues and has only pitched 24 innings since June 1st.  He has pitched well when he has pitched.

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Simeon Woods Richardson (Min RHP)

After a great finish to the 2019 season, Richardson was very consistent for the first part of 2021.  However, he pitched poorly in a matchup with Grayson Rodriguez on June 26th and struggled in his next three starts. Wood Richardson then went to the Olympics and was traded to the Twins. He is tentatively scheduled to pitch for the first time since July 15th on Saturday.

Kyle Bradish (Bal RHP)

The Orioles acquired Bradish from the Angels in the Dylan Bundy trade.  Bradish had a lot of buzz prior to the year and he got off to an excellent start at AA Bowie. He was promoted to AAA Norfolk on May 25th.  Bradish has had strong games at AAA but he has been very inconsistent.  Bradish has a WHIP of 1.65 in 61.2 innings at AAA.

Alec Marsh (KC RHP)

The 70th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Arizona State, Marsh reportedly adding velocity and was a favorite sleeper pitcher prospect before the year by many prospect analysts.  Marsh did not allow a hit in his start.  He was not quite as shart in three other Mays starts but the strikeouts were high.  Marsh struggled in two June games and has been injured since a leg injury.

Mets Issues

People can debate whether the Mets'players should have given their fans the thumbs down in retaliation for booing. The most important issue for the Mets is that they appear to be slipping out of the playoff chase and it appears unlikely that Javier Báez will be returning.

An organization cannot keep giving away high draft picks like the Mets continually do and have such little to show for it.

From the 2018 draft, the Mets trading their first-round pick (Jarrod Kelenic), a second-round pick (Simeon Woods Richardson), and a fourth-round pick (Adam Hill).  The Kelenic is a well-documented disaster of a trade.  At least in the Wood Richardson deal, they did acquire a useful mid-rotation starter in Marcus Stroman.

Somehow the Mets traded Hill AND two other prospects to acquire Keon Broxton who had 49 at-bats with the Mets and hit .143 before being released.  One of the prospects in that trade, Felix Valerio is 20 years old and has emerged as a legitimate prospect this year. 

From the 2019 draft, the Mets have so far kept their first-round pick, Brett Baty.  However, the second-round pick, Josh Wolf was traded as part of the Francisco Lindor trade.

The Mets traded away their 2020 first-round pick, Pete Crow-Armstrong for Javier Báez.  Crow-Armstrong is my 55th ranked prospect the and two months after the trade it appears the Mets will have nothing to show for it.

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The Mets did not sign their 2021 first-round pick, Kumar Rocker.  I discussed this situation last month, essentially both the Mets and Rocker ended up losing out by not reaching an agreement.

Even big money teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox have learned the value of drafting and developing prospects. A team cannot do what the Mets have done the last few years.  It is going to hurt them eventually.  This is especially painful since the Mets have so little to show for it.

Three New Prospects To Know

The three prospects that we discuss this week include an older prospect with untapped potential, a very young prospect who exceeded expectations in his first pro season, and a pitcher who has taken his skills to the next level.

Brewer Hicklen (Royals OF)

A 25-year-old with a 30 percent strikeout rate is not normally a prospect to get excited about but there are some extenuating circumstances with Brewer Hicklen. There are few prospects with a better power and speed combination than Hicklen

The Royals selected Hicklen in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. Hicklen played both football and baseball in college at Alabama Birmingham and as a result, has developed a bit slower. The loss of the 2020 season likely had a bigger impact on Hicklen than most prospects.

In each of Hicken's three full seasons, he has played an entire year at a level beginning in 2018 in the Sally League with Lexington.  Each year he has started slowly and improved as the year has progressed.  Hicklen has hit 45 home runs since 2018 and 31 have come in July or later.

Everyone that has played fantasy baseball knows that stolen bases can be the most elusive category.  Hicklen has stolen 35 or more bases in each of his three full seasons.  This year Hicklen is 36 for 39 in steal attempts and only one player in the upper minors who has 37 steals has more than Hicklen.

Hicklen is coming off a great month in August where not only did he hit seven homers and was 16 for 17 in stolen base attempts but he reduced his strikeout rate to 23.7 percent and has a 17.2 percent walk rate.

This is a not sure thing but Hicklen has a ton of talent and is an intriguing lottery ticket. In 2021 there are a number of prospects putting up big numbers but few have as much upside to help your dynasty team if everything comes together as Hicklen.

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Colt Keith (Tigers 3B)

With the first pick of the fifth and final round of the 2020 draft, the Tigers select Keith a high school player from Mississippi who was scouted both as a pitcher and hitter.  The Tigers drafted Keith strictly as a hitter and signed him to a slightly above slot bonus of $500k.

Since Keith was a two-way player the thinking was that he going to take extra time to develop since he was late to move to be a full-time position player.  Having just turned twenty and listed at 6'3" 211 lbs it is easy to project Keith as a power hitter in the future.  The Tigers view Keith as a third baseman but it is possible that he outgrows the position and ends up in the outfield.

Keith did not make his pro debut until June when he was assigned to Low A Lakeland.  As expected, Keith started slow with a 60 wRC+ through his first 14 games. However, Keith got hot beginning on July 4th.

While Keith missed a couple of weeks beginning on July 21st, for a 33 game stretch Keith had a .514 on-base percentage and walked (26) more than he struck out (23).  This earned Keith a promotion High A West Michigan on August 23.

Keith has not hit for much power (15 extra-base hits) and he has struggled in High A (39 percent strikeout rate) but has exceeded his expectations in his first pro season.

Matt Brash (Mariners RHP)

A fourth-round pick of the Padres in 2019 out of Nigeria, which is in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.  Brash was acquired by the Mariners as the player to be named later in a deal at the trade deadline in 2020 for Taylor Williams.  Williams pitched one inning for the Padres in 2020.

Brash has added velocity in 2021.  At the beginning of the year in High A, while Brash was striking out plenty of batters he was also walking too many. On June 17th, Brash had his worst outing of the year and did not make it out of the first inning.  However, Brash has been much better since.

After three strong games following the June 17th outing, Brash was promoted to AA on July 14th where he has taken things to the next level.  In seven games, Brash has struck out 37.4 percent of batters while walking 9.7 percent.  He has held batter to a .113 batting average in four August starts.

Brash is now throwing in the upper nineties with a slider and a change up that are potential plus pitches.  In the last two months, Brash has gone from a fringe prospect to a top prospect.  If he can maintain his stuff and improve his control, Brash has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.

Comings and Goings

Prospects Changing Levels

It was another busy week with September called up and teams giving prospects a cup of coffee at a higher level before the end of the year.

8/24/21RedsAllan CerdaLow AHigh A
8/24/21RaysIan SeymourLow AHigh A
8/24/21NationalsDarren BakerComplexLow A
8/24/21RangersLeody TaverasAAAMLB
8/24/21RangersCurtis TerryMLBAAA
8/24/21CardinalsNick Plummer,AAAAA
8/24/21RedsEduardo SalazarHigh AAA
8/24/21White SoxBrian GlowickiHigh AAA
8/24/21RoyalsGarrett DavilaHigh AAA
8/24/21NationalsJoan AdonHigh AAA
8/24/21DiamondbacksAndy YerzyHigh AAA
8/25/21DodgersJorbit VivasLow AHigh A
8/25/21White SoxTaylor BroadwayLow AHigh A
8/25/21RaysJelfry MarteComplexLow A
8/25/21RaysAntonio JimenezComplexLow A
8/25/21AngelsArol VeraComplexLow A
8/25/21AngelsAlexander Ramirez ComplexLow A
8/25/21AngelsEdgar QueroComplexLow A
8/25/21AngelsBrendon DavisAAAAA
8/25/21MarlinsKameron MisnerHigh AAA
8/25/21AngelsLivan SotoHigh AAA
8/25/21PhilliesLogan O'HoppeHigh AAA
8/26/21MetsJose ChacinLow AHigh A
8/26/21CardinalsRoy GarciaComplexLow A
8/26/21CardinalsMichael McGreevyComplexLow A
8/26/21Red SoxJarren DuranAAAMLB
8/26/21AngelsJhonathan DiazAAAAA
8/27/21RedsBryce BonninLow AHigh A
8/27/21Red SoxWilkelman GonzalezComplexLow A
8/27/21RangersGlenn OttoAAAMLB
8/27/21DiamondbacksJake McCarthyAAAMLB
8/27/21AthleticsDaulton JefferiesAAAMLB
8/27/21RoyalsEdward OlivaresAAAMLB
8/27/21Red SoxJonathan AraúzAAAMLB
8/27/21White SoxZack CollinsMLBAAA
8/27/21MarlinsAlberto GuerreroAAAAA
8/27/21RedsDiomar LopezAAAAA
8/27/21RangersStephen VillinesHigh AAA
8/27/21CardinalsLeandro CedenoHigh AAA
8/27/21MarinersJake AnchiaHigh AAA
8/27/21RaysMiller HoganHigh AAA
8/28/21PadresEuribiel AngelesLow AHigh A
8/28/21Padres Robert Hassell IIILow AHigh A
8/28/21PhilliesGabriel YanezLow AHigh A
8/28/21PadresBrandon ValenzuelaLow AHigh A
8/28/21MetsLuis RodriguezComplexLow A
8/28/21AngelsKyle TylerAAAMLB
8/28/21PiratesCole TuckerAAAMLB
8/28/21IndiansJames KarinchakMLBAAA
8/28/21RedsJose BarreroMLBAAA
8/28/21AstrosJonathan SprinkleHigh AAA
8/30/21BrewersSal FrelickLow AHigh A
8/30/21TwinsSean MooneyLow AHigh A
8/30/21BrewersHedbert PerezComplexLow A
8/30/21RoyalsPeyton WilsonComplexLow A
8/30/21TwinsCade PovichComplexLow A
8/30/21RangersAJ AlexyAAAMLB
8/30/21DodgersKeibert RuizAAAMLB
8/30/21OriolesRyan McKennaAAAMLB
8/30/21Rays Josh FlemingMLBAAA
8/30/21TigersDaniel CabreraHigh AAA
8/30/21TwinsBen GrossHigh AAA
8/31.21AthleticsColin PeluseHigh AAA
8/31/21PiratesDiego CastilloAAAAA
8/31/21AstrosJaime Melendez High AAA
8/31/21IndiansJose FerminAAAAA
8/31/21IndiansSteven KwanAAAAA
8/31/21NationalsVictor RoblesMLBAAA
8/31/21AstrosJosh JamesAAAMLB
8/31/21AthleticsSkye BoltAAAMLB
9/1/21BravesJared ShusterAAAAA
9/1/21DodgersCarlos DuranLow AHigh A
9/1/21TwinsJoe RyanAAAMLB
9/1/21IndiansBryan LavastidaAAAAA
9/1/21Rockies Julian FernandezAAAMLB
9/1/21MarinersKevin PadloAAAMLB
9/1/21White SoxRomy Gonzalez AAAMLB
9/1/21Blue JaysNate PearsonAAAMLB
9/1/21YankeesEstevan FlorialAAAMLB
9/1/21RaysTaylor WallsAAAMLB
9/1/21White SoxGavin SheetsAAAMLB
9/1/21MetsKhalil LeeAAAMLB
9/1/21RoyalsJackson KowarAAAMLB

Prospects Who Went On the IL

8/24/21White SoxJarey KelleyLow A
8/24/21DodgersLandon KnackAA
8/25/21PhilliesJhailyn Ortiz AA
8/25/21CubsChase StrumpfAA
8/25/21AthleticsLawrence ButlerHigh A
8/26/21RedsNick LodoloAAA
8/27/21OriolesHudson HaskinHigh A
8/27/21GiantsJoey BartAAA
8/28/21CubsCaleb KilianAA
8/28/21MarinersEmerson HancockAA
8/30/21Red SoxJeter DownsAAA
8/30/21Blue JaysCJ Van EykLow A
8/30/21GiantsHunter BishopLow A
8/30/21DiamondbacksJeferson EspinalLow A
8/31/21AthleticsBrayan BuelvasLow A

Activated From The IL

Prospects that were activated from the injured list this week include Ethan SmallTerrin VavraNorel Gonzalez, Cole Henry, Israel Pineda, Kendall Simmons, Ryan Rolison, Bryce Jarvis, and Adam Hall.

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