Thursday, August 1, 2019

July Carolina League Top 50 Prospects

We have been in an between period where many of the most successful prospects at the beginning of the year have moved up (Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal,  Nolan Jones, Brady Singer, Leody Taveras, Jackson Kowar, Tyler Phillips, Seth Beer, Bryan Abreu and Jarren Duran) and the next crop of prospects are starting to arrive.

Next year is shaping up to be a great year for prospects in the Carolina League.  Prospects that should return at least for the beginning of the year include Andrew Vaughn, Tyler Freeman, Will Benson, Brice Turang, Sherten Apostel, Bubba Thompson, Miguel Amaya, MJ Melendez, Seuly Matias, Brailyn Marquez and Nick Pratto.  Top prospects that are likely to debut in the Carolina League in 2020 include Adley Rutschman, George Valera, Hans Crouse, Grayson Rodriguez, Bo Naylor, Ethan Hankins, Brennen Davis, Triston Casas, Freudis Nova, Korey Lee, Brady McConnell, Ethan Small, Cole Winn, Josh Jung, Jackson Rutledge and possibly Bobby Witt Jr.

July Carolina League Top 50 Prospects

The list includes active players in the Carolina League as of July 31st. 

.1.  Andrew Vaughn 1B (Winston Salem-White Sox) (NA) The 3rd pick in the 2019 draft, Vaughn is an advanced hitter with plus power.  He should move through the system quickly.  The White Sox projected 2021 line up with Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn should be interesting.

2. Tyler Freeman SS (Lynchburg-Indians) (2) Only 20 years old, Freeman continues to impress since his call up from Lake County on June 20th.  Freeman is a good all around player who I think will eventually hit for some power.  It was very surprising that Freeman was not in MLB recent update of the top 100 prospects.  He would be in my top 50.

3. DL Hall LHP (Frederick-Orioles) (3) Immensely talented southpaw with the potential for four plus pitches.  For the second straight year Hall has gotten stronger as the year as gone on.  Hall still has work to do on improving his command and becoming more efficient.

4. Will Benson RF (Lynchburg-Indians) (4) At 6'5225 lbs, Benson was the Indians 1st round pick in 2016.  He is a three outcome player with good speed and an excellent throwing arm.  Benson is struggling in his first go around at High A.   Look for Benson to begin 2020 back in Lynchburg and be much more successful.

5. Brice Turang SS (Carolina-Brewers (NA) The Brewers 1st round draft pick in 2018, Turang is the youngest player in Carolina League.  He turns 20 in November.  Turang was solid for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and got promoted to Carolina on July 8th.  Turang is ahead of schedule and getting used to level.  He will almost certainly be back on the Mudcats to begin 2020.

6. Kris Bubic  LHP (Wilmington-Royals) (10) Bubic was the 40th pick in the 2018 draft, but the Royals 4th college pitcher.  Bubic dominated the Sally League to start the year and has continued his success in the Carolina League. He has a delivery that looks like Clayton Kershaw.

7. Sherten Apostel (3B) (Down East-Rangers) (NA) Power and patience is a good combination for a hitter.  The Rangers stole Apostel from the Pirates in the Keona Kela and were being very aggressive in promoting him to the Woodies after struggling at the beginning of the season in Hickory.  Apostel will likely return to Down East in 2020. One question is whether he will be able to stick at third base.

8. Mario Feliciano C (Carolina-Brewers) (6) There are four catchers in the Carolina League that are in the same ranking tier.  When combining offense and defense, Feliciano is the most advanced.

9. Miguel Amaya C (Myrtle Beach-Cubs) (5) Has had a quiet, steady, unspectacular year. So far Amaya has avoided the second half slump that hurt his 2018 season.  The strikeout to walk ratio (57/40) has been impressive and throwing out 36% of base stealers is solid.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590

10.  Sam Huff C (Down East-Rangers) (8) Began the year as the least heralded of the four catchers and is now the highest ranked on the MLB's prospect rankings. While Huff is not homering at the rate he was in the Sally to begin the season, he still averaging an extra base hit for less that 10 at bats and throwing out 38% of base stealers. 

11. Jeremy Pena SS (Fayetteville-Astros) (38) A 2018 3rd round draft pick out of University of Maine, Pena has been extremely impressive in 26 games since getting promoted from Quad Cities on June 27th.  Pena is hitting .343/.377.933 with 14 extra base hits in 99 at bats.  Pena was placed on the IL on August 1st.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe

12.  Bubba Thompson CF (Down East-Rangers) (NA) Down East was a challenging assignment for Thompson at the beginning of the year.  He was the Rangers 1st round pick in 2017 out of high school, where  he was also a highly recruited football player.  Thompson has missed most of the season with a broken hamate and leg injury.  However, since returning on July 14th, Thompson is showing the skills that make him a top prospect. 

13. Kyle Isbel CF (Wilmington-Royals) (NA) Returned on July 13th after going on the injured list on April 18th.  Isbel was the 2nd best position player in the Carolina League prior to his injury.  He broke his hamate bone and had it removed.  Isbel has struggled since returning.  

14. Tristen Lutz RF  (Carolina-Brewers) (9) Turns 21 in a few weeks and has held his own all year in the Carolina League. Solid defensively with the potential to develop much more power.

15. MJ Melendez C  (Wilmington-Royals) (11) Has showed some signs of improvement offensively in June but only hit .155 in July.  Outstanding defensively including throwing out 59% of base stealers.  I believe Melendez will be a major league starting catcher, it is just going to take him a while.

16.   Jonathan Stiever (Winston Salem-White Sox) (NR) There are a number of college pitchers that were in the 2018 draft and were promoted to the Carolina League after the start of the year.  Aside from Kris Bubic who was a much higher draft pick, Stiever might be the most impressive. He seems to have had an uptick in velocity, throwing up to 97.  In 32 innings in July, Stiever only allowed 21 hits and 3 walks while striking out 38.

17. Steele Walker CF (Winston Salem-White Sox) (14) A good all around player, Walker was the White Sox 2nd round draft pick out of University of Oklahoma in 2018. Walker was promoted to Winston Salem when Luis Robert was promoted to Birmingham on April 30th.  He struggled for the first couple weeks, but has been solid since.

18.  Nick Pratto 1B (Wilmington-Royals) (12) Struggled mightily the first half of the year (.167/.262./.492), but has shown  improvement in July (.241/.308/.753).  Pratto who turns 21 in October was the Royals 1st round in the 2017 draft and will likely return to Wilmington for 2020.     

19. Aaron Ashby LHP (Carolina-Brewers) (7) After dominating his first couple of Carolina League starts, Ashby has come back to earth.  He is still a very talented pitcher with a plus slider.  Ashby is a 4th round pick from the 2018 draft and is a nephew of Andy Ashby who won 98 games in the major in the 1990s and 2000s.

20. Julio Pablo Martinez CF (Down East-Rangers) (16) Has developed slower than some expected when the Rangers signed Martinez out of Cuba in March 2018.  He still has a nice speed and power combination. Martinez was called up from Hickory to the Woodies when Bubba Thompson got hurt in April.  He has shown steady improvement.

21. Jonathan Arauz INF(Fayetteville-Astros) (15) The Astros has been very aggressive with Arauz who was promoted to AA Corpus Christi on August 1st.  The switch hitting Arauz was much improved over 2018 when he struggled in the Carolina League, but was not excelling (.252/.322/ .710). Arauz just turned 21 and profiles as a utility player.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe

22. Brewer Hicklen LF (Wilmington-Royals) (32) Another nice speed and power combination, Hicken is 23 but played a lot of football in high school and was relatively late to go to baseball full time.  Hicklen hit 18 homers in 2018 and has the size to hit for more power than he has shown this year.  Hicklen has a good eye and is leading the Carolina in stolen bases.

23. Tim Cate LHP (Potomac-Nationals) (23) A 2018 2nd round pick from UConn, Cate has a plus curveball.  Cate has been solid in 8 starts since being promoted from Hagerstown (42 innings, 40 hits, 12 walks and 43 strikeouts).

24. Jojanse Torres RHP (Fayetteville-Astros) (45) The hardest thrower in the Carolina League, Torres just turned 24 but did not 
sign with the Astros until 2018 and spent the whole year in the DSL. A pop up prospect and mystery player who could move up rapidly.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe
25. Paul Richan RHP (Myrtle Beach-Cubs) (21) Traded to the Tigers as part of the Nick Castellanos trade at the deadline. Richan was the Cubs 2nd round pick in 2018 and was an asset the Cubs were able to use to help them get better for this year.  Richan had a very strong five game stretch from June 25th to July 21st.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590
26. Payton Henry C (Carolina-Brewers) (22) Projects as a solid back up catcher.  Henry is going to strikeout a lot and hit with some power.  He has done a good job throwing out 38% of base stealers.

27. Jonathan Bowlan RHP (Wilmington-Royals) (40) Has been very strong for the Blue Rocks since his call up on June 23rd highlighted by a 9 inning no hitter on July 15th.  Yet another Royals college pitcher from the 2018 draft.

28. Juan Hillman LHP (Lynchburg-Indians) (17) Talented but very inconsistent.

29. Jack Patterson LHP (Myrtle Beach-Cubs) (NA) A pop up prospect that has yet to give up a run in the Carolina League.  In 23.2 innings, Patterson has only allowed 8 hits and 8 walks while striking out 24. Patterson is a prototypical crafty lefty who was the Cubs 32nd round pick out of Bryant University in 2018. He is already 24.  Patterson was promoted to AA Tennessee on August 6th.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590

30. Thad Ward RHP (Salem-Red Sox) (33) Another good looking pitcher from the 2018 draft (5th round) that was recently called up to the Carolina League.  When Ward has struggled, control has typically been the issue (21 walks in 38.1 innings).
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590
31. Noah Zavolas RHP (Carolina-Brewers) (25) Has been the most consistent pitcher in the Carolina League in 2019.  Zavolas was the Mariners 18th round draft pick in 2018 out of Harvard.  He was traded to the Brewers as part of the Domingo Santana trade and got assigned to a higher level and been more successful than many pitchers that were picked well before him. 

32.  Oscar Gonzalez LF (Lynchburg-Indians) (19) A productive player at a young age (turns 22 in January). His projections are limited by his selectivity issues (3% walk percentage) and already being a corner outfielder. Promoted to AA Akron on August 2nd.
Photo Courtesy of Patrick Cavey@PatrickCavey
33. Shawn Dubin RHP (Fayetteville-Astros) (30) Another college pitcher from the 2018 draft, like a lot of pitchers in the Astros organization, Dubin is putting up some eye popping strikeout numbers. In his last 49.2 innings, Dubin has struck out 76. 
Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe
34. Pedro Castellanos 1B (Salem-Red Sox) (37) Limited to 1st base, Castellanos has a solid hit tool but will have to develop power to make the majors.  He has good size but has hit for very little power in his career previously (he only had 8 career homers in over 1,100 at bats before a recent hot stretch where Castellanos hit 4 homers).  

35. Aramis Ademan SS (Myrtle Beach-Cubs) (18) I have learned to be patient with players that are among the youngest players in the league with the expectation that they are learning on the job.  However, it is very different story during the 2nd year in the league.  Ademan start to the year was encouraging, but he slumped badly in July.   
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590
36.  Brett Conine RHP (Fayetteville-Astros) (20) Nearly identical to Dubin, Conine is another college pitcher from the 2018 draft who like most Astros pitchers has gotten a lot of strikeouts.  On the year, between Quad Cities and Fayetteville, Conine has pitched 91.1 innings allowing 67 hits and 21 walks while striking out 116.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe
37. Kade McClure RHP (Winston Salem-White Sox) (29) A massive man (6'7" 230 lb) who was the White Sox 6th round draft pick in 2017 out of Louisville.  McClure has pitched well since getting promoted to the Dash on June 1st (2.60 ERA and 1.16 WHIP), but only has 45 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. 

38. Austin Cox LHP (Wilmington-Royals) (39) A 2018 5th round pick out of Mercer, Cox has been solid since his promotion from Lexington on June 23rd.  Cox has pitched 36.1 innings allowing 35 hits, 11 walking while striking out 36.  

39. Jakson Reetz C (Potomac-Nationals) (35) A 3rd round out of high school in 2014, Reetz is still only 23.  He is having by far his best offensive season (.278/.392/.859).  Reetz has thrown out an impressive 41% of base stealers.

40. Brenan Hanifee RHP (Frederick-Orioles) (48) Has gotten better as the year as gone on, Hanifee struggled with his command early in the year.  Hanifee is 21 and his bread and butter is his sinking fastball.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590
41. Gage Canning CF (Potomac-Nationals) (43) A 2018 5th round pick out of Arizona State, Canning is a good all around player that profiles as a 4th outfielder.

42. Cody Morris RHP (Lynchburg-Indians) (NR) Yet another college pitcher from the 2018 draft (7th round out of South Carolina).  Morris is big (6'5" 222).  He spent the middle of July on the IL. Morris has made six starts since being promoted from Lake County and has 28 strikeouts in in 27.2 innings.

43.  Cole Freeman 2B ((Potomac-Nationals) (NR) Like Gage Canning, Freeman is an undersized player from a major college program (LSU).  Freeman was the Nats 4th round pick in 2017 and has a strong season (.306/.394/.791 with 25 steals in 31 attempts).  Freeman will be 25 in September and it is surprising that he has not been promoted in AA yet.

44.  Curtis Terry 1B (Down East-Rangers) (NR) All of Terry’s value is in his bat. However, the bat continues to be impressive as Terry moves up the organizational levels.   Since getting promoted to Down East on June 21st, Terry has hit .353/.396/.956.       

45. Javier Assad RHP (Myrtle Beach-Cubs) (27) After a stretch in May when he had three consecutive scoreless starts, Assad has struggled with consistency.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lynn@SRL590
46. Nivaldo Rodriguez RHP (Fayetteville-Astros) (46) A 22 year from Venezuela.  Rodriguez has held hitters to a .185 BAA in 59 innings since getting promoted to the Woodpeckers on May 16th.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe
47. Konnor Pilkington LHP (Winston Salem-White Sox) (34) Has followed an incredibly similar path to Frederick's Blaine Knight.  Both were SEC pitchers, picked in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft and promoted from the Sally League to the Carolina League within a day of each other in May. Unfortunately both have struggled in the Carolina League more than expected.

48. Blaine Knight RHP (Frederick-Orioles) (49) Of all the pitchers from the 2018 draft who got promoted for full season A, Knight might have been the most dominant in full season A (26.2 innings allowing just 11 hits with 4 walks while striking out 33).  However, Knight has surprisingly struggled in the Carolina League (5.54 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and just 39 strikeouts in 63.1 innings).

49. Luis Garcia RHP (Fayetteville-Astros) (28) After a  spectacular June (18.1 innings, 9 hits and 28 strikeouts) Garcia came back to earth in July (6.75 ERA and 1.90 WHIP).  Garcia is averaging 13.02 strikeouts per 9 innings, but needs to reduce the 5.12 walks per 9 innings.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Dwyer@bullpen_joe
50.  Noah Bremer RHP (Down East-Rangers) (NR) Missed a large chunk of the season with an injury, but has been impressive when healthy (52.2 innings,  allowing 38 hits, 14 walks while striking out 48). Bremer is a 23 year old 2017 6th round pick out of University of Washington.

Honorable Mention

Telmito Agustin LF (Potomac - Nationals)

Diosbel Arias INF (Down East - Rangers)

Cam Balego 1B (Myrtle Beach - Cubs)

Tim Brennan RHP (Down East - Rangers)

Jhonathan Diaz LHP (Salem - Red Sox)

Daniel Gonzalez RHP (Salem - Red Sox)

Austin Hansen RHP (Fayetteville - Astros) 

Zach Jarrett RF RF (Frederick - Orioles)

John King LHP (Down East - Rangers)

Steven Kwan CF (Lynchburg - Indians)

Gilbert Lara 3B ((Potomac - Nationals)

Malvin Pena RHP (Potomac - Nationals)

Ofelky Peralta RHP (Frederick - Orioles)

Carlos Sepulveda 2B (Myrtle Beach - Cubs)

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