5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers 5-15-23

by Mike Schneider
5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers 5-15-23

I will be profiling 5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers that are in my Prospect Rankings as of 5-15-23.

Three of the prospects that we profile are 21-year-olds who are already in AA.

One of the pitchers might be the best pitching prospect that is still in the minors.

The other pitcher is more of a 2023 pop-up prospect.

5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers 5-15-23

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Jonatan Clase, Mariners, CF, Age 21, Ranking 32

The Mariners' 2018 international free agent class was headlined by the signing of Noelvi Marte who received a 1.55 million dollar signing bonus.  The powerfully built Marte immediately established himself as an elite prospect with big numbers as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League and an impressive showing at the Mariners' 2019 fall instructional camp.

One of the Mariners' other signings for the 2018 international class, Jonatan Clase only received a $35,000 signing bonus. The undersized, Clase (listed at 5'9" 150 lbs) was primarily known for his 70-grade speed.   Fast forward to the present day and it is debatable whether Marte, who was traded to the Red as part of the Luis Castillo trade, or Clase is the better prospect.

After a solid showing in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 with a .434 on base percentage and 31 steals in 63 games, Clase had several nagging injuries that limited his time in the 2020 fall instructional camp after the 2020 minor league season was canceled and allowed Clase only to play 14 games in the 2021 Arizona Complex League.

In 2022 Clase broke out with a big year for Single-A Modesto where not only did he steal 55 bases in 65 attempts with a 373 on base percentage but displayed surprising power with 46 extra-base hits in 107 games.

The switch-hitting Clase has taken it to another level in 2023. Clase who turns 21 on May 23rd, had seven homers, nine doubles, a triple and 17 steals with a 201 wRC+  in 21 games for Hgih A Everett. Clase's fast start earned him a quick promotion to AA Arkansas.

Arkansas is one of the more difficult places in the minor leagues to hit and AA will be a big challenge for Clase who does not turn 21 until May 23rd. Even if it takes Clase a while to adjust to the upper minors, he is a prototypical lead off hitter who has established himself as the Mariners' centerfielder of the future.  An outfield of Clase, Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelennic has the potential to be among the best in baseball offensively and defensively.

Gavin Williams Guardians, RHP, Age 23, Ranking 44

For a number of years, Cleveland has been among the best organizations in baseball at developing pitchers who have become top-of-the-rotation starters such as Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, Trevor Bauer and Triston McKenzie.Already this year, pitching prospects Peyton Battenfield, Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee have made their major league debuts.

In recent years the Guardians have not used many first-round draft picks on pitchers. In 2019 they selected Daniel Espino a high school pitcher who was looking like a top prospect until injuries have slowed him down.  Espino recently underwent surgery for a right shoulder anterior capsule repair and is not expected to be ready to pitch again until the middle of 2024. In 2021 the Guardians selected Gavin Williams out of East Carolina University with the 23rd overall pick.

Williams spent four years at East Carolina but was limited to 68 innings in his first three years.  ln 2021 William put together a big year going 10-1 with a 1.99 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.  His strikeout minus walk rate was 33%.

In 2022, William is listed at 6'6" and 250 pounds began his pro career in High A Lake County where he made nine starts holding batters to a .167 batting average with an ERA of 1.40 and a 0.87 WHIP.  Willaims was promoted to AA Akron on June 6th. Williams made 16 starts for Akron where he limited batters to a .176 batting average and had a 1.00 WHIP.  For the year, William had a strikeout rate of 33.1% and a walk rate of 8.9%.

Surprisingly Williams began this year back at AA Akron but it only took three games to show that he was ready to move up.  William was promoted to AAA Columbus on April 27th and he has made three starts where he has continued to dominate. On the year William has thrown 30.1 innings allowing three runs, 12 hits and 10 walks while striking out 41.

Williams throws in the upper 90s and the slider and curveball have become strong secondary pitchers.  He has had some back issues in the past and there is some concern about it reappearing.

There was considerable hype when the three Guardians pitching prospects were called up earlier this year, particularly Bibee. Williams is not far behind them and the upside to considerably higher.

Luisangel Acuña, Rangers, SS, Age 21, Ranking 66

When your brother might be the best player in baseball, it brings more attention but also can add heightened expectations.

The younger Acuña was a mid-range international signing with the Rangers in July 2018 and received a $425,000 signing bonus. 

Based on his performance in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 and the hope that he would develop like his brother, Acuña skyrocketed up prospect rankings near the end of the 2019 season.. 

It seemed that without playing a game in 2020, a lot of evaluators soured on Acuña based on reports from the Rangers' training camp and that Luisangel was quite a bit smaller than Ronald.  However, Acuña has had an impressive climb up the Rangers' organizational ladder since minor league games resumed in 2021.  

In his first year in full-season ball in 2021,  Acuña start off slowly hitting .165 with a 29% strikeout rate in May. The rest of the way, Acuña hit .290 with ten homers and a 21.8 strikeout rate.  Acuña stole 44 bases in 55 attempts.

Last year, Acuña was exceptional as a 20-year-old at High A, Hickory.  In 54 games, Acuña has a wRC+ of 149  with a .417 on base percentage and eight homers. He was promoted on August 2nd.  While Acuña struggled in 37 games for Frisco while adjusting to AA pitching his strikeout rate of 21.3% indicated he was not overmatched. On the year,  Acuña stole 40 bases in 49 attempts in 91 games.

 Acuña is back at AA Frisco to begin 2023 and has gotten off to a strong start. He is hitting .321/.385/.471 with 15 steals without being thrown out in his first 32 games.

I believe that Acuña should be considered a better prospect now based on his minor league success than in 2019 when he was the shiny new toy in prospect circles. While he is not  Ronald, Luisangel looks like he is going to be a solid Major League regular probably ending up at second base.  He has the potential to hit double figures home runs with 25 steals which is a valuable fantasy player. 

Kyren Paris, Angels, SS, Age 21, Ranking 161

 When the Angels selected Kyren Paris in the second round of the 2019 draft with the 55th overall pick, he was six months away from his 18th birthday.

Paris broke his hamate bone in just his third professional game and missed the remainder of the 2019 season.  When minor league play resumed in 2021, Paris stole eight bases in his first six games.  However, he missed over two months in 2021 with a broken tibia. 

The Angels have been aggressive with Paris' assignment, promoting him to High A Tri-Cities for the final 13 games of the 2021 season despite only playing in 29 games at Single A. Last season, Paris was promoted to AA Rocket City for the final 14 games despite having a .229 batting average and a 29.8% strikeout rate at High A. Although it was only 14 games, Paris excelled in AA with a .510 on base percentage.

There are several aspects of Paris's game to like.

  • The emerging power. In the first 87 pro games of Paris' career, he hit four homers.  In the 99 games since then, he has hit 21 homers. Paris is currently leading the Southern League with nine homers.
  • He is a fast and efficient base runner. In his pro career, Paris is 65 for 74 as a base stealer.
  • Paris is a very patient hitter, He has played 45 AA games in which he has an 18.3% walk rate.

The one red flag for Paris has been strikeouts.  Throughout his pro career, the strikeout rate has always hovered in the 30% neighborhood but he has typically been one of the younger players at each level.

Defensively Paris has split his time between shortstop and second base and it remains to be seen where he ends up. He has a strong arm and good hands.

Justin Jarvis Brewers, RHP, Age 23, Ranking 278

With young prospects, there is a challenge of dealing with adversity. Professional baseball players were typically always the best players on their team growing up. While they struggle as a professional it is normally it is something they are not used to.

The Brewers also have a nice recent track record of developing pitchers with Corbin Burnes (fourth round in 2016) and Brandon Woodruff (11th round in 2014) becoming aces.

Justin Jarvis was selected by the Brewers on the fifth round of the 2018 draft out of high school in North Carolina, High school draftees are not usually finished products.  Typically they are not done growing and adding strength,

Jarvis had a nice year in Full Season A Wisconsin in 2019 when he was still a teenager. In 74.2 inning Jarvis held batters to a .198 batting average against although he only struck out 52 batters.  His best pitch was his changeup which kept hitters off balance but he still needed to increase his velocity.

After the 2020 minor league season was canceled, Jarvis was assigned again to Wisconsin which was now the Brewer High A affiliate. It was a difficult year for Jarvis who made 17 starts with a 1.55 WHIP.  He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League after the 2021 season where he walked 14 batters in 17.2 innings.

Jarvis was on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers yet again in 2022.  After a difficult April, Jarvis was good from May on.  In 20 games, he struck out 27.6% of batters and held hitters to a .229 batting average against.    Jarvis was promoted AA Biloxi for the last month of the year where he made six starts.  Jarvis held batters to a .217 batting average but walked 15 batters in 20 innings.

In 2023 at AA Biloxi Jarvis has been a different pitcher. After walking 11.4% of batters in 2021 and 2022, Jarvis has only walked 7.5% of batters in 2023. He is striking out 28.6% of batters.

Jarvis is more of a sleeper than the other four prospects discussed. It has been a longer road for Jarvis. However, he is beginning to show that he can be a potential solid major league starter.

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