Welcome to this week's Dynasty Prospects article: April 2022 Jupiter Hammerheads versus St Lucie Mets Report!
Last week, I ventured out to Jupiter to catch some Florida State League baseball. I saw the Jupiter Hammerheads take on the St Lucie Mets, the Low-A affiliates of the Miami Marlins and New York Mets respectively. Their rosters featured several intriguing players, whom I will write about here.
April 2022 Jupiter Hammerheads versus St Lucie Mets Report
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Kahlil Watson, SS, Jupiter Hammerheads
— Bailey Srebnik (@xwOBAiley) April 20, 2022
One of the top prospects from the 2021 MLB Draft, Kahlil Watson fell to the Miami Marlins at 16th overall due to signability concerns. He ended up inking a $4.5 million deal with the Marlins and debuting in the Florida Complex League last summer. In a nine game sample size, he posted a 1.130 OPS and 200 wRC+, quickly cementing himself as the team's top hitting prospect. (and top overall prospect as well, at least according to FanGraphs. They ranked Watson ahead of Eury Perez.)
As the 2022 season got underway, the hype for Watson continued to soar, as he belted four home runs in his first six games. Some fans were clamoring for him to be promoted to Beloit right away, and while his start was impressive, he needs more time in Low-A.
The game I saw from him last week was a microcosm of how his first month has gone. There was the "good" and the "not quite as good" aspects present.
The "good" was an RBI Single in the third inning that clocked in at 105.3 MPH off the bat. Watson also made a slick play at shortstop to end the first inning while two runners were in scoring position, saving at least one run.
Then there was the "not quite as good." In his other three at bats, Watson struck out all three times. He fell victim to Keyshawn Askew twice (more on him later), and later made an error in the ninth inning that loaded up the bases.
With all that being said, Watson is an incredibly talented player. Through his first 13 games, he is slashing .294/.339/.627, with a 173 wRC+. The key for him is going to be his walk and strikeout rate, which are 7.1% and 41.1% respectively. The fact that Watson, who just turned 19 last week and is facing older competition, has put up that good of a slashline and wRC+ while striking out almost half the time is uniquely impressive, and is a testament to how talented he is. He will continue to develop into a star in Jupiter while learning to hone the strike zone. The sky is truly the limit for him, and I cannot wait to get back to another Jupiter game next month to see him play. Watson is legit.
Alex Ramirez, CF, St Lucie Mets
Alex Ramirez continued his ? start to the season last night by going 2 for 3 with a double. He leads the FSL with 18 hits and is T1st with a .500 BA.
— St. Lucie Mets (@stluciemets) April 21, 2022
Back in July of 2019, the Mets top international signee was Alex Ramirez, who they signed for $2.05 million. Due to the pandemic, he did not make his pro debut until 2021. In 2021, he debuted in Low-A as an eighteen-year-old, where in 76 games he hit five home runs and stole 16 bases. He was essentially a league average hitter, as indicated by his 96 wRC+. That is a pretty good start to his pro career, especially when taking the competition into account.
Prior to the 2022 regular season, Ramirez appeared in two MLB spring training games, which is huge for a nineteen-year-old. He went 1 for 6 with a walk, single, and run scored. Ramirez began the regular season in Low-A St Lucie once again, where he is currently off to an insanely good 12-game start.
He is slashing .420/.473/.580 with a wRC+ of 207. He also lowered his strikeout rate from 31.1% in 2021 to 16.4% this season. The night I saw him, he looked like the real deal, as he went 2-for-3 with a walk, single, and double. His double had an exit velocity of 95.2 MPH.
Ramirez checked all the boxes for me. He hit well, he was speedy on the base paths, and he moved well in centerfield. He has zero home runs so far this season, so his power is still developing. Overall, Ramirez is a player who I expect to soon rise up to Top 100 prospect status, and could find his way into the High-A Columbia outfield by this summer.
Jose Salas, SS, Jupiter Hammerheads
— Bailey Srebnik (@xwOBAiley) April 20, 2022
Jose Salas was the Marlins' top signing in the 2019 international period, earning a $2.8 million bonus. He debuted in the FCL in 2021 and put up impressive stats. This made the Marlins give him an aggressive promotion to Jupiter to finish the season, and he was up for the challenge.
While the power was not quite there yet as indicated by his 0.65 ISO, the rest was mostly positive. He produced high exit velocities, and had a good eye at the plate. I was impressed by my multiple live looks at the end of last season.
Last week, Salas served as Jupiter's designated hitter. In his first plate appearance, he drew a walk, and then showed off his elite speed, stealing second base. In his second plate appearance, he launched a 105.3 MPH RBI Single that went 384 feet and looked like a home run off the bat. He ended up getting thrown out at second on a bang-bang play, and then was removed from the game. He was in the lineup the following day, so the removal was likely precautionary.
Salas is a fun player to watch, and he is only going to get better. He already has eye-catching exit velocities, which he couples with his above average speed. Salas will grow into more game power as he develops, and then he will be one of the top prospects in the sport. Fans in Jupiter are lucky to have him and Watson sharing the middle infield at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium this summer, and should soak up every minute of it.
Keyshawn Askew, LHP, St Lucie Mets
One of my favorite parts about going to Minor League Baseball games is watching a player whom I had admittedly known little about prior to the game, and then leaving with a lasting, positive impression of them. A good example of this was when I saw Elly De La Cruz in July of last year, and half way during the game did a double take when he stretched a routine single into a double. I thought, "how is this guy not a top prospect?!" Well, now he is. And maybe this player I am writing about soon will be too.
Keyshawn Askew went to Clemson University and was chosen in the 10th Round, 292nd overall, of the 2021 MLB Draft. He pitched in 9 innings in 2021 in the Florida Complex League, striking out 14 batters, and allowing one run.
Askew immediately stood out when St Lucie called him in from the bullpen last week, as he is a 6'4" LHP with a unique delivery. He proceeded to mow down Jupiter, posting a final line of 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8K. Everything was working for Askew that night. He featured a sinker, slider, and changeup, earning 17 whiffs. He also had a 43% CSW rate. He topped out at 92.3 MPH on his sinker. The movement on his pitches was mesmerizing, as the sinker to ring up Watson in his second AB versus Askew had 18 inches of horizontal break. (Note: Google the word "Askew" for a fun surprise).
Askew is absolutely a pitcher to keep an eye on going forward. The Mets are an organization with a history of finding pitching gems late in the draft, as they took Tylor Megill in the 8th Round and Jacob deGrom in the ninth Round of their respective drafts. No, I am not saying Askew will automatically be on either of these players' level, but I do think he is set up in an organization to succeed, and has the talent to be a force, whether out of the rotation or the bullpen.
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