2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-9-21

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

Welcome to the 2021 MiLB Prospect Notes - 9-9-21 update.

A reminder that the minor league regular season is coming to an end. The regular season ends on September 19th for all levels except for AAA.

This year there is an additional two weeks of regular-season games in AAA.

The Arizona Fall League begins on October 13th.

2021 MiLB Prospect Notes 9-9-21

Tracking Cleveland Pitching Prospects

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I play in several 30 team dynasty leagues with deep minor league pools.  We have ten-round first-year players drafts every year. After the few first rounds of the draft, I target organizations as much as players. I want players from organizations that I know are good at developing players.

The Cleveland Indians (soon to be Guardians) are good at developing pitchers. It is one reason that the lack of a financial commitment by ownership is so frustrating. Other than losing the World Series in 2016 and winning several weak AL Central Division titles, the Indians have little to show for all the pitching talent they have had in recent years.

When discussing pitching prospects there is a tendency to make quick judgments on a pitcher's upside.  Many pitching prospects with top of the rotation upside do not reach that level due to consistency and command.  Occasionally a pitcher who appears to have limited upside makes improvements and turns into an elite starter.  The Indians Shane Bieber is an example of a pitcher that appeared to have limited upside as a prospect but turned out to be much better than expected.

The Indians have had to suffer through a difficult year in 2021 with their major league pitching.  Their ace, Shane Bieber has been on the injured list for about three months.  Dan Plesac has been a huge disappointment.  Aaron Civale had been a pleasant surprise early in the year but was on the injured list from June 24 until returning earlier this week. .

Twenty-four-year-old Triston McKenzie struggled with his command early in the year but has been outstanding his last five starts, showing he is capable of being a front-line starter with more consistency.

The Indians have the pieces to have a nice starting rotation in 2022 if everyone stays healthy.  They also have a number of pitching prospects that progressed nicely in 2021 and could help the 2022 Cleveland Guardians. I will highlight these prospects here.  

Cody Morris (24 RHP 2018 7th round)

Looked like an average mid-round former major college pitcher heading into 2021.  After missing the first part of the season with a shoulder injury, Morris has looked like a much higher-end pitching prospect since returning.  He is throwing harder and has a curveball and changeup that can be above average pitches.

Morris' made a rehab on the Arizona Complex League on July 1st and struck out 12 of 16 batters. Morris was then moved to AA Akron where he made five starts totaling 20 innings.  He allowed three runs with 29 strikeouts and held batters to a .197 batting average with a 1.05 WHIP.

On August 3rd, Morris was promoted to AAA Columbus where he has been even better.  Morris has allowed 11 hits and six walks in 20.1 innings with twenty five strikeouts.  On September 2nd, he allowed just a hit and a walk, in five innings while striking out seven.

Morris is the biggest question mark because his dominance is limited to less than 50 innings. but he has the upside to turn into a top of the rotation starter if everything works and developed a slightly better command.

Logan T Allen (23 LHP 2020 2nd round)

In the first-year player draft in one of my dynasty leagues last year I drafted Indians pitchers in the second and third round.  My second-round pick, Tanner Burns has been a bit of a disappointment in 2021 but my third-round pick, Logan Allen has been really good this year.

Last week I discussed how consistent Allen has been in 2021 in my article about pitchers about pitching prospects that got off to good starts and have had great years.

Allen was a two-way player at Florida International but clearly is a better prospect as a pitcher than a hitter. Allen is a bit undersized (6'0"  190) and only throws in the low nineties but he has an above-average changeup and a decent curveball.

In 2022 Allen will likely begin the year in AAA and if he pitches well could debut early in the year.

Peyton Battenfield (24 RHP 2019 9th round)

Blake Battenfield is a 27-year-old year career minor leaguer that is not a major league prospect.  However, he is a thickly built workhorse type that gets the most out of his ability.  His younger brother Peyton, followed Blake to Oklahoma State and is a similar type of pitcher with a bit more talent.

Peyton Battenfield was originally drafted by the Astros.  He was traded to the Astros in January 2020.  After getting off to a great start in 2021 at High A Bowling Green, Battenfield was promoted to AA Montgomery on June 15th.  At the trade deadline, the Rays traded Battenfield to the Indians.

The fact that Battenfield was drafted by the Astros, and played in the Rays and Indians organizations is interesting. Those are three organizations that really good at identifying and pitching prospects.  A skeptic would point out that the Astros and Rays traded Battenfield for very little.

In 2021, Battenfield has thrown 31 innings at High A and 63 innings at AA combined between the Rays and Indians orgs.  He has struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.4 batters per nine innings.  Battenfield has held batter to a .165 and has a WHIP of 0.76.

Since Battenfield does not have light-out stuff he has to prove that he can be successful at each level.   He will likely begin 2022 at AAA Columbus but with four average pitches and plus command, Battenfield can be successful at the major league level.

Adam Scott (25 LHP 2018 4th round)

Since coming off the injury list in July, Scott has shown improved stuff and is clearly pitching the best baseball of his pro career.

Scott had a strong Senior season at Wofford and was draft in the fourth round where got a $50,000 signing bonus which was underslot but higher than most Senior draft picks.

In 2018 Scott pitched 34 innings across four levels never pitching more than three innings in a game.  In 2019, Scott split the season between High A Lynchburg and AA Akron.  Scott was not terrible but was not great either (.252 batting average against and 1.27 WHIP).

Once Scott came off the injured list in 2021 he has shown more of an ability to is bats (AA strikeout rate has increased from 23.6 percent to 30.5 percent) and a significant improvement in batting average against for .245 in 2019 to .198 in 2021.

Scott has increased his velocity for the low nineties to the low to mid-nineties.  His best pitch is his slider and he also throws a changeup.

The Indians are unlikely to have room to add Scott to their forty-man roster and since he is a polished lefty he could be an attractive option in the Rule V draft. However, if Scott is still in the Cleveland organization in 2022 he is a candidate to fill a spot in the back end of the rotation at some point or work out of the bullpen.

Daniel Espino (20 RHP 2019 1st round)

There are few prospects that have a more explosive fastball and slider combination than Espino.  I have Espino ranked as the 144th best prospect in baseball which is lower than most due to concerns about his command.

Espino was only the 24th overall pick in the draft due to the heavy effort of his delivery and that he appeared to be physically fully matured

After pitching 23.2 innings in 2019 split between the AZL and the New York Penn League, Espino began 2021 at Low A Lynchburg and made ten starts before being promoted to High A Lake County on July 13th.

Espino has shown the ability to overpower hitters (14.97 strikeouts per nine innings) and has been more dominant in High A than he was in Low A (strikeout rate of 43.9 percent in High A versus 35.6 percent in Low A). The walk rate is high at 11.6 percent.

It has been a successful season for Espino who at 21 will likely begin 2022 at AA Akron.  With success in the upper minors in 2022, the potential to reach the majors would not be far off.  However, there are still questions about Espino's command and development of a third pitcher which will be crucial to become a top of the rotation starter.

Xzavion Curry (23 RHP 2019 7th round)

Curry hurt his shoulder as a Junior at Georgia Tech which cut short his season and hurt his draft stock.  The Indians selected Curry, 196 picks after taking Daniel Espino.

In 2021 Curry began the year at Low A Lynchburg where it only took him five starts to show that he was too advanced for the level. Curry's strikeout minus walk ratio was 36.2 percent and he held batters to a .135 batting average.

On June 3rd, Curry was promoted to High A Lake County.  While Curry has not been as dominant for Lake County as he was for Lynchburg, he has been very impressive and over an extended period has proven that he is a legitimate prospect.

At High A in 64 innings, Curry has continued to walk under five percent of batters.  He is striking out 30.6 percent of hitters while holding them to a .202 batting average.

Curry strength is his ability to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.  He is slightly undersized and he is working on refining his off-speed pitches.  However, the results have been outstanding.

He will begin 2022 in AA Akron and if Curry continues to have the success that he has had in 2021, the majors may not be far off.

Other Cleveland Pitching Prospects to Watch in 2022 and Beyond

Gavin Williams (22 RHP 2021 1st Round Pick) A hard thrower who made big improvements in 2021 at East Carolina University.

Tanner Burns (22 RHP 2020 CBA Pick) A successful SEC pitcher at Auburn who the Indians selected 20 picks before Logan Allen. Burns missed some time with injuries and has not been as consistent as Allen.

Joey Cantillo (21 LHP 2017 16th round) Part of the Mike Clevinger trade with the Padres.  Cantillo was drafted out of high school in Hawaii and was impressive in 2019, but has missed virtually all of 2021 with a side injury.

Ethan Hankins (21 RHP 2018 1st round) At one point Hankins was projected as the number one player in the 2018 draft but fell due to injury concerns and he underwent Tommy John surgery this spring.

Carlos Vargas (21 RHP 2016 IFA $275K bonus) A very hard thrower who underwent Tommy John surgery this spring.  His future may be in the bullpen.

Lenny Torres (20 RHP 2018 CBA Pick) Returned from Tommy John surgery in 2021 and struggled with his command and consistency.  2022 will be a big year for Torres.

Doug Nikhazy (22 LHP 2021 2nd round) Had an outstanding career at Ole Miss as an undersized crafty lefty.

Tommy Mace (22 RHP 2021 CBB Round) Another season SEC pitcher at the University of Florida with a strong track record.  Mace is a big power pitcher.

Three New Prospects To Know

This week we will look at prospects in the last couple rounds of the 2020 five-round draft that are looking good.

Coby Mayo (Orioles 3rd Basemen)

When the Orioles went underslot with the second pick in the 2020 draft Heston Kjerstad, that left them with money to spend later in the draft.  They primarily used the extra money to draft and sign two high schools in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Coby Mayo graduated from Stoneman Douglas High School where he was a Sophomore at the time of the shooting at the school where 17 people were killed.

https://www.yahoo.com/now/orioles-draft-pick-coby-mayos-204316247.html

The Orioles signed Mayo to a $1.7500,000 signing bonus which was more than three times the slot for the 103rd pick in the draft.

Mayo did not begin his pro career until the Florida Complex League started at the end of June.  He was getting hits from the beginning, but it took him a few weeks to get comfortable and begin to hit with power.

Mayo was promoted to Low A Delmarva on August 17th and he has continued to hit.  In 18 games in Low A Mayo has a 166 wRC+ with four home runs. He currently has a streak of five multi-hit games in a row.

At 6'5'' 215 lbs there were some questions about whether Mayo will stick at third base. However, the reports have been positive on his defense. Mayo is nine for nine on the bases, but is unlikely to be a part of his game in the future.

It has been a positive year for Mayo who could begin 2022 in either Low A or High A as a 20-year-old,  Regardless of where he starts, expect Mayo to finish 2022 in High A.

Gavin Stone (Dodgers RHP)

Stone was the second to last player pick in the 2020 draft and signed an under slot deal for $97,500. Stone went to Central Arkansas in the Southland Conference. He had some success as a reliever as a Sophomore. He pitched well in four starts in 2020 before the season was cut short due to COVID.

In 2021, Stone began the year with A Rancho Cucamonga. On opening day he struck out six of 11 batters. He gave up a single and walked a batter in three innings. He mostly made three or four inning starts initially.

Stone struggled some with his consistency but when he was on he pitched several excellent games. On July 31, the Dodgers stretched Stone out to six innings. He allowed just a hit and a walk while striking out nine.

On August 17th Stone was promoted to High A Great Lakes.  Stone struggled in his first game at High A but has been excellent in his last three starts.  In 14 innings, Stone has given up just seven hits and three walks while striking out 22.

The Dodgers are an organization that is very good at finding and developing lesser-known prospects. Stone appears to be a prospect that is worth tracking.

Brandon Pfaadt (Diamondbacks (RHP)

Another underslot fifth-round draft pick from a small school.  Pdaadt is someone who caught my eye earlier in the year. I have been tracking for a few months but please don't ask me to pronounce his last name.

Pfaadt went to Bellarmine University in Louisville.  He impressed in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2019. The Diamondbacks signed Pfaadt for $100,000.

The Diamondback started Pdaadt this year in Low A Visalia.  Pfaadt caught my attention by striking out 12 batters twice in a row at the beginning of June. Then he was promoted to High A Hillsboro.  Pdaadt threw a nine-inning complete-game shutout on July 14th.

He made three August starts at High A pitching 21 innings. He allowed only one run on seven hits and four walks while striking out 24.  This earned a promotion to AA Amarillo where Pdaadt has been solid in four starts.

Pdaadt has good size (6'4" 220 lbs) and throws in the mid-nineties. He mixes in a slider and changeup that both have the potential to be above-average pitches.

Comings and Goings

Prospects Changing Levels

I believe that Mitchell Stumpo is the first prospect to begin the year in Low A, and during the season be promoted to High, AA and now AAA.

DateOrganzationPropsectFrom To
9/1/21DodgersCarlos DuranLow AHigh A
9/2/21Blue JaysVictor MesiaComplexLow A
9/2/21CubsLuis Angel RodriguezComplexLow A
9/2/21RockiesElehuris MonteroAAAAA
9/2/21CubsBurl CarrawayHigh AAA
9/2/21CubsJoe NahasHigh AAA
9/2/21CubsAnderson EspinozaHigh AAA
9/2/21CubsDJ HerzLow AHigh A
9/2/21RoyalsCaden MonkeLow AHigh A
9/2/21CubsGabriel JaramilloLow AHigh A
9/2/21PhilliesJohan RojasLow AHigh A
9/2/21Red SoxJeremy Wu-YellandLow AHigh A
9/2/21PhilliesLuis GarciaLow AHigh A
9/2/21BravesVaughn GrissomLow AHigh A
9/2/21PhilliesGriff McGarryLow AHigh A
9/2/21RoyalsAnderson Paulino Low AHigh A
9/3/21AstrosJose SiriAAAMLB
9/3/21BravesLuke WaddellHigh AAA
9/3/21BrewersAntoine KellyLow AHigh A
9/3/21PadresMacKenzie GoreComplexHigh A
9/4/21GiantsMauricio DubonAAAMLB
9/4/21Red SoxJay GroomeHigh AAA
9/5/21Red SoxBrainer BonaciComplexLow A
9/5/21PhilliesSimon MuzziottiComplexLow A
9/5/21DodgersJerming RosarioComplexLow A
9/5/21Padres Angel SolarteComplexLow A
9/5/21CubsFelix StevensComplexLow A
9/5/21DiamondbacksHenry RamosAAAMLB
9/5/21RockiesRyan FeltnerAAMLB
9/5/21DiamondbacksStuart FairchildMLBAAA
9/5/21GiantsSammy Long MLBAAA
9/6/21MarinersMilkar PerezComplexLow A
9/6/21OriolesZac LowtherAAAMLB
9/6/21PiratesCody PonceAAAMLB
9/6/21White SoxJimmy LambertAAAMLB
9/6/21DiamondbacksJohn SwandaHigh A
AA
9/6/21MarinersNoelvi MarteLow AHigh A
9/7/21DiamondbacksMitchell StumpoAAAAA
9/7/21PadresMacKenzie GoreHigh AAA
9/7/21Orioles
Kyle StowersAAAAA
9/7/21MetsMark VientosAAAAA
9/7/21PhilliesErubiel ArmentaHigh AAA
9/7/21DodgersBobby MillerHigh AAA
9/7/21MarinersAlberto RodríguezLow AHigh A
9/7/21NationalsAndry LaraComplex Low A
9/7/21CardinalsThomas FranciscoLow AHigh A
9/7/21BravesDylan DoddLow AHigh A
9/7/21MetsWilly TaverasHigh AAA
9/7/21OriolesJake LyonsLow AHigh A
9/7/21OriolesMike BaumannAAA MLB
9/7/21PhilliesSimon MuzziottiLow A High A
9/8/2`RockiesColton WelkerAAAMLB
9/8/21RaysJosh LoweAAAMLB
9/8/21DiamondbacksJake RiceLow AHigh A
9/8/21AthleticsAJ PukMLBAAA
9/8/21CubsLuis VazquezHigh AAA
9/8/21GiantsWill BednarComplexLow A
9/8/21GiantsRonnie WilliamsAAAAA

Prospects Who Went On the IL

DateOrganizationProspectLevel
9/2/21RaysGreg JonesAA
9/2/21AthleticsJordan Diaz High A
9/2/21PhilliesCasey MartinLow A
9/2/21RedsAustin HendrickLow A
9/4/21PadresJoshua MearsLow A
9/4/21CubsAlexander VizcainoHigh A
9/4/21TwinsTrevor LarnachAAA
9/5/21MarinersLevi StoudtAA
9/5/21RaysJayden MurrayAA
9/7/21Blue JaysJordan GroshansAA
9/7/21DiamondbacksJ.B. BukauskasAAA
9/7/21PiratesMichael Burrows High A
9/8/21Blue JaysSamad TaylorAA
9/8/21Blue JaysSebastian EspinoHigh A
9/8/21RedsEduardo SalazarAA

Activated From the IL

Sammy Siani, Lawrence Butler, Matt Cronin and Jeter Downs are prospects that were activated from the injured list.


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