Welcome to the 7-15-23 edition of 5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers that are in my Prospect Rankings.
It does not make sense to me that the MiLB has a break at the same time as the All-Star break. I can understand not playing on Monday (which is a normal day off for MiLB) and Tuesday so that the focus is on All-Star festivities. However, with no major league games on Wednesday and Thursday, it is a chance to focus on prospects. The Futures Games would get more attention if it was played on Wednesday than it does on Saturday. The minor league break should be the week before or after the major league All-Star break.
In this edition of Prospect Risers, we profile four prospects that were drafted out of high school in 2020 and 2021. We also profile a pitcher who was pretty much unknown coming into this year.
5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers 7-15-23
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Coby Mayo, Orioles 3B, Age 21, Ranking 18
In the MLB draft only competitive balance draft picks can be traded. However, unlike the NFL or NBA drafts, in the MLB there are more factors involved than just selecting the best player.
In 2020 the Orioles had the second overall pick in the draft. The Tigers selected Spencer Torkelson with the top pick and Austin Martin was generally considered the next best player in the draft. Arkansas outfielder, Heston Kjerstad was generally ranked between the eighth and tenth-best player in the draft. The Orioles and Kjerstad agreed to a deal where the Orioles would select him with the second pick and his signing bonus would be about $2.5 million dollars under-slot. This allowed the Orioles to have extra money to sign later draft picks.
The 2020 MLB draft was only five rounds and the Orioles had six picks. The rumor was that the Orioles had their eye on selecting Nick Bitsko with their next pick which was pick 30 and using some of their extra money to sign him. However, the Rays drafted Bitsko at pick 24. The next three Orioles draft picks, including Jordan Westburg, signed for around slot. This meant the Orioles had a lot of extra money to use with their last two picks.
Coby Mayo went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland Florida where he survived the school shooting on February 14, 2018, that killed seventeen people. He has been outspoken about the impact that the shooting had on him.
Due to the pandemic, Mayo's senior season was limited to eight games. He was committed to the University of Florida and after not being selected early in the 2020 draft, it seemed unlikely that a team was going to meet his signing bonus demands. However, the Orioles selected Mayo in the fourth round and signed him for a bonus of 1.75 million. The slot for that pick was $565,600.
In 2021 Mayo began his pro career in the Florida Complex League where he was outstanding in 26 games with a 165 wRC+. He had 14 strikeouts (15.4%) versus 13 walks ( 14.3%). Mayo earned a promotion to Single-A Delmarva for the last month of the season. Despite being just 19, Mayo excelled in his first exposure to full-season ball with five homers in 27 games and a .437 wOBA.
The Orioles were aggressive with Mayo's assignment last year in his age-20 season. He began the year at High A Aberdeen where he had a .251/.326/ .494 line with 14 homers in 68 games. The Orioles promoted Mayo to AA Bowie on June 28th. Mayo spent about a month on the injured list. He played 34 games at AA where he had a 102 wRC+ but struck out 34.5% of the time.
Mayo returned to AA this year. He got off to a solid start in his first 35 games with a .861 OPS. However, since May 20th, Mayo has taken it to another level. In 43 games, Mayo has 33 extra-base hits including 13 homers. during this stretch, he has a .447 on-base percentage and a 205 wRC+. On the year Mayo has a strikeout rate of 24.% and a walk rate of 14.7%. Mayo was promoted to AAA Norfolk over the All-Star break.
Back-to-back games with a Coby Mayo tater!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 2, 2023
Listed at 6'5" and 230 lbs, Mayo is fine at third base now with a strong arm. However, he likely will eventually outgrow third base and move to first base. In addition, the Orioles are loaded with infield prospects and it is unclear how this will shake out. For example, will Gunnar Henderson end up at shortstop or third base? Regardless, Mayo is a prototypical power hitter and his bat is strong enough to play at first base.
Brady House, Nationals, 3B, Age 20, Ranking 29
Prior to the 2021 draft, Brady House was in a group of four high school infielders with Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar, and Kahlil Watson that was expected to go at the top of the draft. The Nationals were pleasantly surprised when House, from Georgia, was still available when it was their turn to pick. The Nationals selected House with the 11th overall pick and signed him to an over-slot deal for five million dollars.
House played 16 games in the Florida Complex League in 2021 where hit four homers and had a .970 OPS. Of the group of four high school infielders, House and Watson had the most impressive starts to their pro careers. However, Mayer and Lawlar would surpass them in 2022.
Last year at Single a Fredericksburg, House got off to a nice start in April with 151 wRC+. He was placed on the injured list on May 4th with a back injury. House was activated on May 13th but was not the same player. He played in 24 games after being activated from the IL but had a strikeout rate of 33% in that time and a walk rate of just 2%. House did not play for the remainder of the season after June 11th.
This year House appears fully recovered from his back injury. House was never likely to stick at shortstop and the Nationals have moved him to third base which appears likely to be his permanent spot. His defense at third base has gotten positive reviews.
House returned to SIngle A Fredericksburg to begin the year and in 36 games had a .297/369/.500 line. His strikeout rate was 21.5% with a 10.1% walk rate. The Nationals promoted House to High A Wilmington on June 9th a few days after his 20th birthday.
Brady House, MD ?
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 3, 2023
In 14 games at High A, House has gotten off to a fast start with eight base hits including three homers. He has a wRC+ of 151 with a 20% strikeout rate.
House may not ever not be a star but there is a high likelihood that he is a solid major league regular.
Jackson Merrill, Padres, SS, Age 20, Ranking 83
The Padres selected Jackson Merrill with their first-round draft pick in 2021. He was the 27th overall pick and signed for 1.8 million, under the slot value of the pick, which was 2.57 million. Merrill was drafted out of high school in Maryland.
The Padres have a recent history of trading their first-round draft picks early in their pro careers. This includes Trea Turner, MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, and Robert Hassell. However, so far they are hanging onto Merrill.
Merrill has shown strong all-around skills. Like a lot of high school draft picks, the power comes last. Merrill played in 31 games in the Arizona Complex League in 2021 and held his own as an 18-year-old with .722 OPS. His 2022 season was limited to 55 games due to a fractured wrist. However, in 45 games for Lake Elsinore in Single-A, Merrill hit .325/.387./.482 with five homers. His strikeout rate was 19.2% and his walk rate was 8.7%.
After the 2022 season, Merrill played in the Arizona Fall League where at 19 years old he was one of the younger players. Merrill held his own with a .261/.316/352 line despite playing against players that were much more experienced than him.
At age 20, Merrill is one of the younger players at High A. He got off to a slow start with a .66 wRC+ in April. However, Merrill picked it up in April with a .329 batting average. After hitting four homers in the first 47 games, Merrill has hit six homers in the last 21 games. During this stretch, Merrill has a 162. wRC+. On the season Merrill has a 12.3% strikeout rate and a 5.7% walk rate. He has also stolen ten bases.
Top-ranked @Padres prospect (MLB No. 11) Jackson Merrill takes flight ✈️
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 2, 2023
Merril is a player who is good enough defensively to stay at shortstop and is at least average at everything. There is a very high floor with a nice ceiling as well.
Anthony Solometo, Pirates, LHP, Age 20, Ranking 159
The Pirates had the first pick in the 2021 draft and selected Henry Davis, out of Louisville. The Pirates signed Davis to a deal that was about two million dollars under-slot. The extra money was primarily used to sign two high school pitchers, Anthony Solometo and Bubba Chandler. Davis is of course now a top prospect who made his major league debut recently.
Solometo was a high school pitcher from New Jersey who was expected to be a first-round draft but fell to the Pirates at pick 37. He signed for 2.8 million which was about $800k over-slot.
The 6'5" lefthander did not make his pro debut until last year with Bradenton in the Single-A Florida State League. Rather than spread short outings throughout the year to limit his innings, the Pirates only pitched Solometo in the first half of the year. Solometo even had three starts at the end of May where he threw 20 innings which is quite unusual for a teenager.
Solometo had a statistically impressive year in 2022 holding batters to a .188 batting average, He has good command and is advanced for his age. There was a feeling heading into this year that while Solometo has a high floor that the ceiling is not as high as other top pitching prospects.
Solometo seems to have taken a leap forward this year. He began the year at High A Greensboro where his strikeout rate increased to 29.1%, In his last four appearances at High A, Solometo went 22 innings allowing only an earned run. During this stretch. Solometo allowed 17 hits and just four walks while striking out 22. The Pirates promoted Solometo to AA Altoona on June 15th where he is one of the youngest pitchers at the level. In four starts at AA, Solometo has pitched 19 innings holding batters to a .200 batting average while only walking four. He has a strikeout rate of 28.4%
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 2, 2023
Solometo is not the hardest thrower but he throws from a three-quarters angle that batters have a difficult time picking up. The slider has the potential of being a plus pitch especially because he commands it well. He is working on a changeup that could go a long way in determining if Solometo exceeds expectations. This year Solometo has moved up about 200 in my rankings. as a result of improved skills.
Christian Scott, Mets, RHP, Age 24, Ranking 296
Christian Scott was not on many people's radar, certainly not mine, at the beginning of the year. However, he had an outstanding stretch earlier this season that made everyone notice.
At the University of Florida, Scott mostly worked out of the bullpen. While he had a 1.02 WHIP in 2021 his strikeout rate of 23.2% did not stand out. Sill the Mets selected Scott in the fifth round of the 2021 draft and signed him to a slightly below-slot bonus of $350k.
After signing, Scott got a brief taste of the pros with three innings in the Florida Complex League.
Last year, Scott started nine games and made nine relief appearances. He missed the first month of the season and most of July. At Single-A St Lucie, Scott missed more bats with a 31.5% strikeout rate but gave up 40 hits in 38.1 innings. He got a late-season promotion to High A Brooklyn. In six appearances he never pitched more than four innings and had a .246 batting average against.
Scott began this year on the injured list. Once he was activated on May 5th he has been a full-time starter this year. Scott's first appearance of the year was for Single-A St Lucie before moving up to High-A Brooklyn. In his final four appearances for Brooklyn, Scott pitched 18 innings and allowed just six hits and three walks while striking out 22 of 63 batters. Scott was promoted to AA Binghamton on June 12th.
In Scott'st first three AA games, he had a .127 batting average against with a 0.61 WHIP and a 28.4% strikeout minus walk rate. Scott has made two more starts where he has not been as sharp.
Mets pitching prospect Christian Scott was lights out in his Double-A debut on his 24th birthday:
6 IP, 2 H, ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Set career-high in innings and tied career-high with 9 K's. His 23 whiffs led baseball for the day. He struck out Nick Yorke (#93 prospect in MLB) 3 times. pic.twitter.com/bz3ir82AEw
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) June 16, 2023
Scott has a mid-nineties fastball and a slider that is his best pitch. His third pitch is a changeup that is very much a work in progress. Scott had an unbelievable run for seven starts where allowed just 14 hits and seven walks in 37.2 innings. Time will tell if this is a hint of things to come or just a hot streak.
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