Welcome to the 9-15-23 edition of 5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers that are in my Prospect Rankings.
This is the final 5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers article of the year. In this edition, two Blue Jays prospects are featured as well as two pitching prospects who were drafted by the Padres.
5 Dynasty Baseball Prospect Risers 9-15-23
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Orelvis Martinez, Blue Jays, 3B, Age 21, Ranking 39
There is prospect fatigue with Orelvis Martinez who received a $3.51 million dollar which was the largest amount of anyone in the 2018-19 international free agent class. However, Martinez has always been young for his level and he has taken a step forward this year.
In 2019 the Blue Jays assigned the 17-year-old Martinez to the Gulf Coast League (GCL) skipping the Dominican Summer League. In 40 games, Martinez hit seven homers. The only player in the GCL who hit more homers that year was Kerry Carpenter who is more than four years older than Martinez.
After minor league baseball returned in 2021, Martinez began the year at Single-A Dunedin. After a solid start to the season, Martinez took it to another level in July when he hit 13 homers. Martinez was promoted to High A Vancouver on August 2nd.
Martinez was limited to 27 games at High A before an injury ended his season. He only had a .282 on-base percentage but did hit nine homers.
Despite the limited time at High A, at age 20, Martinez spent the entire 2022 season at AA New Hampshire. Martinez hit 30 homers in 118 games but hit only .203 with a 28.5% strikeout rate and an 8.1% walks rate.
This year Martinez returned to AA New Hampshire. On the surface, Martinez got off to an awful start. In 22 games, Martinez had a 0.89 batting average but his BABAP was .055. Over the next 48 games, Martinez hit 13 homers with a 170 wRC+. During this stretch, Martinez had a 18.% strikeout rate and a 16.3% walk rate.
Martinez was promoted to AAA Buffalo on July 17th. Martinez has had a solid start at AAA. In 45 games Martinez has eight homers with a .268/.347/.506 line with a 25.4% strikeout rate and a 10.4% walk rate.
After posting an .867 OPS in August, Orelvis Martinez kicks off September in style ?
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 2, 2023
This year Martinez has played second base, shortstop, and third base. He is probably not a shortstop at the major league level and the Jays have Bo Bichette for the foreseeable future. Martinez has the range and skill to play third base and appears to be the prototypical power-hitting third baseman. Matt Chapman has struggled since a hot start and is a free agent after this year. The Jays may choose to have a stopgap for a period but Martinez is not far away.
Samuel Basallo, Orioles, C/1B, Age 19 Ranking 119
For years the Orioles did not compete in the international free-agent market. In 2018 the Orioles hit rock bottom with a team that they were hoping would be competitive but was 28-69 at the All-Star break when they traded Manny Machado and began to rebuild.
After the 2018 season, the Orioles hired Mike Elias as the Executive Vice President and General Manager. Elias hired Koby Perez from Cleveland who was tasked with making the Orioles competitive in the international market. Most of the top international prospects have agreed to deal with an organization well before they actually are eligible to sign so the 2021-21 international class was the first class where the Orioles were players in the international market.
The Orioles' biggest signing in the 2020-21 international class was Samuel Basallo, a big catcher who received a $1.3 million bonus. I will brag a bit and point out that Basallo has been in my prospect rankings since the middle of 2021.
Basallo made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2021 before he turned 17. In 41 games Basallo hit five homers with a very respectable 20.8% strikeout rate and a 12.3% walk rate.
Last year, Basallo spent the year in the Florida Complex League. He hit six homers in 43 games with a 116 wRC+. No one in the 2022 Florida Complex League hit more homers than Basallo.
This year Basallo played 83 games for Single-A Carolina all prior to turning 19. He hit 12 homers with a .414 wOBA and a .299/.395/.503 line. The Orioles promoted Basallo to High A Aberdeen on August 1st where he has been even better. In 27 games at High A, Basallo hit eight homers with a 195. He struck out 20 times (17.4%) and walked 19 (16.5%). The Orioles promoted Basallo to AA Bowie for the last week of the minor league season.
It is clear that Basallo has an advanced bat with a tremendous amount of in-game power for a teenager. Basallo's defense is not as advanced as his bat. He has a very strong arm but is still learning the finer points of catching and may eventually outgrow the position.
The Orioles have played Basallo some at first base as well. Obviously, the Orioles have Adley Rutschman as their primary catcher. Basallo's bat may not be far away. Perhaps he can be a backup catcher who also plays first base and DH. Another possibility is that the Orioles trade Basallo for pitching.
Samuel Basallo's hit 5 homers in as many games, but this one meant a little more.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 8, 2023
Basello appears to be a special hitter and it will be interesting to see what the Orioles do with him.
Robert Gasser, Brewers, LHP, Age 24, Ranking 125
After graduating high school in Northern California, Robert Gasser played at the University of New Mexico as a freshman in 2018. He pitched 52.1 innings and made 11 starts but allowed 69 hits and 27 walks (1.83 WHIP).
Gasser left New Mexico and returned to Northern California. He spent the 2019 season at San Joaquin Delta College, a community college in Stockton. Gasser went 14-0 with a 2.38 ERA For the 2020 season, Gasser transferred to the University of Houston.
In 2020 Gasser was limited to 7.1 innings out of the bullpen where he gave up nine earned runs before the season was cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2021 everything came together for Gasser. He made 14 starts with a 1.07 WHIP and a 22.5% strikeout minus walk rate.
After the 2021 college season, the Padres selected Gasser with the 71st overall pick and signed him to a slot bonus of $884,200. Gasser made six short starts in 2021 mostly with Single-A Lake Elsinore.
Last year Gasser began the season for High A Fort Wayne. He had a 5.64 ERA through his first ten starts. However, his BABAP was .409 and he did have a 29.7% strikeout rate. Over Gasser's next three games, Gasser allowed one run in 19 innings with a .127 batting average against, a 0.58 WHIP, and a 30.3% strikeout minus walk rate.
At the 2022 trade deadline, Gasser was traded to the Brewer in the Josh Hader deal. The Brewers immediately promoted Gasser to AA Biloxi. In four starts in August, Gasser has a 1.08 WHIP and a .194 batting average against earning a promotion to AAA Nashville. Gasser made five starts in AAA in finish the year, sandwiching three good games between a mediocre AA debut and allowing ten hits in his last start of the year.
Gasser has spent all of 2023 at AAA. He did not get off to a good start primarily due to a 13.3% walk rate in first first eight games. However since then in 15 starts, Gasser has a 29.4% strikeout rate and a 6.2% walk rate.
— Nashville Sounds (@nashvillesounds) September 7, 2023
Gasser has a solid four-pitch mix. He is not the hardest thrower but looks like a crafty lefthander with good deception. The Brewers are one of the better organizations in baseball in developing pitchers. Look for Gasser to be in the Brewers' starting rotation beginning as soon as 2024. He may not be a front-end starter, but Gasser is a good bet to a number four pitcher with some upside to be more than that.
Ryan Bergert, Padres, RHP, Age 23, Ranking 322
From Canton, Ohio, Ryan Bergert attended West Virginia University but was limited to just 58.2 innings. Bergert had a strong freshman year in 2019 primarily in relief where he had 0.91 WHIP and a 28.4% strikeout rate in 34 innings. His sophomore year was cut short due to the pandemic but in four starts he had a 1.01 WHIP and a 30% strikeout rate.
Bergert did pitch in the Northwoods League in the summer of 2020. Bergert pitched well but injured his elbow and underwent UCL surgery. Despite missing the 2021 college season, the Padres selected Bergert with their sixth-round pick and signed him to an overslot $500,000 bonus.
After signing with the Padres, Bergert did return to the mound in 2021. He made seven short appearances in the Complex League totaling 11 innings. Bergert only allowed three hits with no walks and 14 strikeouts.
In 2022 the Padres had Bergert skip Single A and go to High A Fort Wayne. He got off to a strong start with a .167 batting average against and a 32.8% strikeout minus walk rate in 15.1 innings in April. However, Bergert struggled the rest of the year with a 1.74 WHIP after April which was not helped by a .394 BABIP. He did make it through a full year throwing 103.2 innings on the year.
This year Bergert returned to High A Fort Wayne to begin the year. In 14 games, Bergert limited batters to a .201 batting average against with a 29.5% strikeout rate but he had an 11% walk rate. However, in his two starts in July, Bergert did not walk a batter and was promoted to AA San Antonio on July 14th.
In his AA debut Bergert allowed seven baserunners in three innings but has been excellent since then. Then in his last six games over 36 innings, Bergert has allowed just five earned runs with a .153 batting average against and a 31.7% strikeout rate. The walk rate has been 10.8% during that stretch.
Ryan Bergert's slider starts on the outer half and just dives into the left hander's batter's box. pic.twitter.com/MpsadhlDc8
— Friars On The Farm Podcast (@Friarsonthefarm) August 26, 2023
Berget can throw in the mid-nineties and he has a slider, curveball, and changeup that are all at least average. He has taken a step forward this year and could be on the Padres' radar as soon as next year. Bergert's command will determine if his future is as a starter or reliever.
Rafael Lantigua, Blue Jays, UT, Age 25, Ranking 367
Prospects can take different paths to the majors. A lot of the prospects that I have profiled this year were either high-draft picks or highly-ranked international free agents. Rafael Lantigua is different. He is listed at 5'7" and 153 pounds. Lantigua was an international free agent who signed with the Blue Jays back in 2016 for a $100,000 bonus. He really did not emerge until this year as an intriguing prospect who can do a bit of everything and play all over the diamond.
Lantigua spent 2017 in the Dominican Summer League where he had a .379 on-base percentage but hit no homers and was caught stealing more than he was successful (11 for 23). The following year Lantigua spent most of the year with Bluefield in the Appalachian League where he had a 122 wRC+ in 48 games with a 15% walk rate.
In 2019 Lantigua played 95 games for Single-A Lansing where he had a mediocre .254/.302/.373 with four homers and nine stolen bases in 17 attempts. After minor league play returned in 2021 as a 23-year-old, Lantigua had a solid season primarily at High A Vancouver. In 80 games he hit 11 homers and stole 26 bases in 32 attempts with a .365 on-base percentage.
Last year Lantigua played 86 games for AA New Hampshire and 42 games for AAA Buffalo. He had a 107 wRC+ at AA and 94 wRC+ at AAA.
This year Lantigua has taken a leap forward. He has hit a career-high 12 homers with a 17% walk rate versus an 18.7% strikeout rate while stealing 23 bases in 32 attempts.
Defensively this year Lantigua has started at least five games at second base, third base, shortstop, leftfield, centerfield, and rightfield.
Blue Jays prospect Rafael Lantigua steals home! pic.twitter.com/TM9MQhq6JT
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) May 25, 2023
By all accounts, Lantigua is a smart hard worker with excellent baseball instincts. With the defensive versatility, the high on-base percentage, a bit of power and speed, Lantigua has turned into the type of super utility prospect that ends up getting more playing time than expected. He is a good bet to be on the Blue Jays in 2024.
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