Panning For Gold: All Your Touch And All You See Is All Your Looks Will Ever Be

This past weekend could have been so much better. Really, it could have. If we lived in a world where the Wilpons sold the Mets and Brodie Van Wagen was never hired, Jarred Kelenic is still a Met and he’d be promoted to Binghamton. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in. None of those things are true except one. Jarred Kelenic was promoted to Double-A, but instead of south central New York, he’s in Arkansas. I’ve resided to the fact I’ll likely get my first live glimpse of Kelenic in the majors.

This isn’t pessimistic thinking either, it’s true. There’s a large contingent of prospects out west and in the south I only see on TV. That’s doesn’t mean I can’t watch video that people in that location shoot. Watch games, follow stats and trends on Minor Graphs, and get astute observations from really smart people with first-hand perspective.

There’s a lot that goes into covering prospects, and there’s distinctly different types of coverage, as there are for MLB and many other sports. It’s the understanding of the two sides and the ability to navigate both scouting style coverage and dynasty league context that led us to start this site in the first place. We love prospects, and we love researching each, which is what makes a player like Kelenic fun. Most likely I’ll never setup my tripod and zoom in on a Kelenic at bat. I’ll never go through the labor of love that is editing video of your own first hand account. I do get to take on a different role. That of the consumer. I learn from others, build on their work, but never without providing the proper credit. It’s in this way we function as this niche within a niche.

So when I encourage you to get excited and pursue Jarred Kelenic in a dynasty league, I do based on hours of study. Are my prognostications always accurate or even good? No. But I can tell you that Kelenic’s pretty left handed swing, starts from an open stance and engages with a leg kick. Hell, thanks to Jacob, I can learn a lot about Kelenic from the video below.

Anyway, Kelenic is up to Double-A and while he’s yet to inflict much damage, he’s up to .298/.371/.532 on the season with 17 home runs, and 18 steals. Good enough for a 158 wRC+ across three levels in his first full season as a 19-year-old prep player. He’s added good weight, gotten stronger and provided across the board production. Kelenic is climbing the end of season ranks with a bullet.

Julio Rodriguez, OF Mariners - Promoted to high-A Modesto with some rumors swirling that the teenager might end up on a AFL roster this fall. I feel like I’ve written about Julio monthly at this point, he’s phenomenal you all know that. But it’s pretty spectacular when you consider just how meteoric this rise is. As discussed on Tuesday’s dynasty podcast with Eddy, J-Rod is only a few months older than Wander Franco. While he’s not Wander — no one in the minors is — he’s still an 18 year old that was 44 percent better than his competition which on average was three and half years older. The Mariners have a pretty sexy system with some of their recent picks, trade additions, and signings. This might be a top 10 system. Well done, Dipoto.

I don’t even know myself anymore.

Cold Water: Shrug emoji. There’s not much to knock.

 Brandon Lewis, 1B/3B Dodgers - “Who the F$&@ is Brandon Lewis?” many of you asked as you perused your sortable stats of choice. You then dug deeper and found out he was a power first prospect with a future first base only profile. Lewis can hit, and the bat packs a punch. There’s some swing and miss too. Which has already shown itself in rookie ball. So temper expectations, though this is the Dodgers and they’ve long turned picks from almost every round into prospects. This means Lewis is one to keep an eye on, but let’s also not go crazy over 40 games on rookie ball, for a guy who played college ball for a year. He leaves Ogden and the Pioneer League after 32 games at the level with a slash of .369/.423/.723 with 12 homers, 10 doubles, and a wRC+ of 184. Pretty, preeeeetttty good.

Cold Water: Promoted to Low-A Lake County on Monday, Lewis will face a little more of a challenge in the Midwest league, which this time of the year will feature more advanced pitching with the influx of college arms.

Seth Corry, LHP Giants - Few players have done more to up their stock in a short period of time more than Corry. Over the course of 2019, he’s put the control problems aside and unlocked another gear throughout his first full season assignment. He’s heavily fastball-changeup, with an average looking curveball. Jesse Roche of The Dynasty Guru caught him last week and discussed him a little in a group chat we share and later shared his thoughts in a post. He came away impressed and felt there was some projection.

Cold Water: I’m certainly interested and have moved Corry into the top 20 left handed pitching prospects on my ranks. I do have some reservations considering it’s predominantly a low 90s fastball and a changeup. As we’ve beaten to death on this site, changeups play up in the lower minors where hitters have troubled picking up off-speed. I will give Corry the benefit of the doubt considering his age appropriateness for the level, and production over the course of the season. Only an add in leagues where 250+ or so prospects are owned.

 George Kirby, RHP Mariners - I love George Kirby. His pitch mix consists of four average or better offerings, with his fastball-curveball combo being his bread and butter. He fills the zone, rarely walking batters, painting the corners like a master. So it’s no shock that Kirby is yet to walk a batter across seven appearances. It’s only a 17 inning sample, but it’s indicative of who Kirby is.

Cold Water: This is short season ball so it’s not exactly the strongest sample. He did get beat up last time out FWIW. Still I’m not going to throw too much dirt in the Kirby engine, this is one of my favorite arms from the 2019 draft class.

Gabriel Arias, SS Padres - Perhaps it’s the Cal League or maybe it’s all those Piña Colada’s I’ve been sipping but Gabriel Arias is having a great season. We always knew the teenager could pick it, way back to when he first came stateside. But the bat has struggled to match his advanced glove. Thanks to Padres Farm for pointing this out, but Arias has really surged in terms of power. His estimated flyball distance is up, his flyball rate is up nearly 10% as well, and his approach has improved slightly. Is this hope for optimism on one of the stronger defenders in the minors?

Cold Water: Or is this just a mirage? This honestly looks incredibly Cal League inflated. Granted his wRC+ is 122, so he’s out pacing others with the same advantage. However, the Cal League has a tendency to jack with all elements of batted ball in my experience. So while Arias may very well have made changes to his setup, it’s questionable how sustainable the results will be in other environments. Still worth a flier, and I like to think some of this is actual growth. Happy thoughts, Padres colored shades.

 Gilberto Celestino, OF Twins - An international signing with some clout for the Astros a few years back. He came over in the Ryan Pressly deal last season, and has quietly put together a nice year in his full season debut. He’s currently slashing .277/.349/.412 with 37 extra base hits and 14 steals, good enough for a wRC+ of 123. He’s been boosted in large part to an absolutely scorching last 30 days, which has seen Celestino hit .415/.470/.660 over 26 games and 117 plate appearances. A strong outfield defender with above average speed, it’s always been hit tool over power for Celestino and largely still is. However… a simple dig onto Minor Graphs will prove fruitful in this case. Around June 1, something happened. Celestino began to hit the ball in the air with far greater frequency and it was in lieu of his groundballs, which also steadily declined.

Cold Water: You have to either buy the approach changes or you don’t. It’s simple. The sample size is still small and it’s possible it’s a fluke. I don’t fall in that camp. I’m excited and encouraged by Celestino’s trends and would be looking to buy in dynasty.

Tyler Freeman, SS Indians - There’s no denying the quality of Freeman’s hit tool, but when will he start putting balls over the fence in high-A? Through 48 games Freeman has yet to homer. On the bright side he’s maintained a flyball rate above 30 percent throughout his career, and hits a fair amount of line drives. I’ve long touted buying in early on the plus hit tool types. Typically their advanced barrel control and pitch ID allows them to more easily make adjustments for power.

Cold Water: On the other hand adding power is easier said than done, and it’s not as if Freeman’s swing is geared for it at present. So while there’s been some success with these types, the power coming is no guarantee. With only above average speed to fall back on there is definitely bust potential.

 Jesus Luzardo, LHP Athletics - The lefty was supposed to head the A’s rotation this summer and lead them into the playoffs. Then Luzardo got hurt, came back, got injured again, and finally made his way back to Triple-A last week. The results weren’t good. While it was nice to see Luzardo on a PCL mound, it was a rude awakening in typical PCL fashion. That said, I’m not worried about the blow up, it’s the PCL where an ERA under 4.00 is like 99’ Pedro Martinez. I am concerned by his track record of injuries. Fortunately for Luzardo his second turn for Las Vegas went far better, as he went 4 2/3, allowing an earned run, on three hits, two walks, while striking out five. There’s outside shot we see Luzardo for multiple starts down the stretch, though they might be as the header of a bullpen game.

Cold Water: Shoulders, backs, and elbows not a great combination of injuries for a player so young. It’s hard to deny Luzardo’s abilities, he’s a great prospect. By the same token he’s consistently in the trainer’s room. Perhaps it’s all a blip, but I’ve seen the same movie before and it hardly ends well. Yes, I watch movies about oft-injured pitching prospects. Don’t kink shame.

 Heliot Ramos, OF Giants - I should’ve traded for Ramos everywhere this off-season because he’s becoming a favorite of mine. I’ve always liked Ramos’ combination of toolsy and slugger. He’s matriculated all way to Double-A at 19 and will play all of 2020 at 20. The swing and miss is still an issue and it’s front and center thus far in Double-A. I’m not sweating it too much, but a period of struggles early in 2020 wouldn’t shock me. He’s a tantalizing talent and someone you want to own.

Cold Water: I’m not here to repeat myself but the Ks are bad. He’s also on the heels of his own Cal League experience, which makes all slash lines rosy.

P.S. - Our own Jacob Zweiback (@TheReelJZ) wrote up Ramos last Friday. It’s a great post and worth your time.

 Sixto Sanchez, RHP Marlins - It feels like Sixto is having the quietest great season in the minors. The year 2019 is the best season of the young right-handers career posting an identical ERA and FIP at 2.64, with a 24 K%, 4.8 BB%, and mostly importantly 110 innings when you include two rehab starts in Jupiter. With so much concern regarding his health heading into 2019, he’s done a good job of not only staying healthy for the long haul of the season but actually has gotten better as the season has worn on. Since July 13th a span of seven starts and 43.1 IP, Sixto has allowed just 25 hits, 7 walks, 5 earned runs, while punching out 38. The arsenal consists of a high-90s fastball, a curveball that shows plus, and a changeup. He controls all of them well, and has managed to find a balance of stuff and command. His strikeout numbers are pedestrian, even his his swinging strike number was very solid for his circuit at 11.8%. When you put into perspective his combination of strike-throwing, stuff, and ability to drive groundballs, it’s funny to see more people aren’t in on Sixto.

Cold Water: IT’S A TRAP! Just when we buy back in Sixto is going to get hurt again isn’t he? I’m so damaged…

 Dean Kremer, RHP Orioles - Made his Triple-A debut on the road against Syracuse and got rocked to the tune of six Ernies over four and a third. Prior to this Kremer had shown well during his second stint in Double-A, compiling a 2.98/3.58 ERA/FIP, 25 K%, 3 BB/9, and a 10.9 SwStr%. This after sustaining an oblique injury during Spring Training and missing all of April. He’s a good, not great prospect with a fastball that sits 92-93 touching 94, though it was more 89-91 for a good chunk of the season, possibly related to his injury. The curveball flashes plus, with two additional secondaries in a changeup and slider. The changeup is the better of the time two. I wouldn’t read too much into Kremer’s AAA debut, I think there’s a back end starter as currently constituted with some upside to be more if he improves his changeup or slider.

Cold Water: You’d have to be in a deeper fantasy format to add Kremer. He’s not going to strike out 28-30% batters at any point, his command is still spotty, and there’s the ominous home park on the horizon. If it’s a 20+ team dynasty with hundreds of prospects rostered he’s fine.

 Jorge Guzman, RHP Marlins - I fell hard for Guzman a few years ago, I caught him in the New York-Penn and he was electric. I was visiting family in New Jersey and made the trek to Staten Island the day before Fourth of July. Guzman went 6.2 innings, striking out 10, allowing two hits and walking no one. The lineup wasn’t punch-less either, Tri-City had Abraham Toro and J.J. Matjevic in the lineup. He hit 100 plus on the stadium gun and showed a slider and changeup both of which looked at least average. Since then, he’s been traded for Giancarlo Stanton and failed to replicate his short season success through full season ball. Guzman hasn’t been bad, but his ERA has outshined his peripherals the last few years. Over the last four starts Guzman has been electric, going 25 innings over four appearances, striking out 27, walking 11, and allowing just four hits, and two runs. Opponents have hit .051 against Guzman over that stretch. He made some mechanical tweaks in his side sessions late in July that have allowed him to stay more compact in his delivery which has increased his strike throwing ability.

Cold Water: I’m really not an objective source here, but I’m buying in. The Marlins have done some nice things developing several arms in their system. Is it possible that they identified something within Guzman that could unlock more consistency without playing down his great stuff? That remains to be seen, and frankly he’s flashed brilliance at times previously. Is it a hot streak or something of substance? I’m buying based on the strikeout upside in leagues where 200-300 prospects are owned.

 Nolan Gorman, 3B Cardinals - It’s no stretch to say Gorman’s season has been disappointing. He’s struggled with strikeouts, swinging and missing at a 17.4% clip during his time in the FSL. Regardless fantasy prospect writers have been slow to move off Gorman by and large. There’s still good power as he’s posted .424 slugging in the notoriously power deprived FSL. He’s been 23% above league average since July 1st slashing .267/.304/.453. Digging into Minor Graphs he’s hitting more line drives to his pull side and less flyballs. The flyballs he has hit for the most part have gone further over that period.

Cold Water: He’s striking out 30% of the time and hasn’t walked much over this period.

 Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF Twins - Another player that entered the season with so much hype that’s been derailed a little in 2019. He dealt with a wrist injury early and missed a month, then missed another few weeks in June with another injury. All things considered we shouldn’t be surprised that Kirilloff took some time to find his power stroke. Especially when you factor in the wrist injury. He’s been ablaze in August slashing .308/.333/.585 with five home runs and a wRC+ of 164. He’s now up to .279/.338/.421 with a wRC+ of 121 for the season.

Cold Water - Not sure what to make of his walk rate. If he’s hitting it doesn’t much matter and quality contact and swing and miss doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. I’m picking nits here a little.

Jackson Rutledge, RHP Nationals - One of my larger regrets from this summer is missing Rutledge’s starts versus Lowell back on July 15th. I had work and dad stuff and couldn’t pull it off without being a massive piece of trash. Certainly looks like Rutledge will be a player we’re going to fall in love with. He’s massive at 6-foot-8, 250 lbs, mixing an upper-90s heater with a trio of average or better secondaries, including an easy plus slide-piece. The San Jacinto product has been strong his last few turns after a somewhat tough debut at the full season level. Not much to add here other than to check in and update. I’m going to withhold critiquing Rutledge until I catch him live, which by my estimation is likely next summer.

Abraham Toro, 3B Astros - Can we put some Respek on my man’s name? Seriously all Toro has done is mash in his minor league career, while continuing to improve other parts of his game along the way. This is a switch-hitter with a track record of success, in a great player development organization, that puts the balls in the air more than he puts it on the ground, keeps his swing and miss in check, and he’s spent time at third, second, and first this season. Knowing the Astros penchant for flexibility defensively he seems like one of their guys. There’s chance Toro, now in AAA, hits the majors in September when rosters expand. Remains to be seen how much he plays, but IMO Toro is very much on my radar as a sleeper in all formats in 2020.

Cold Water: It’s a stacked lineup, and I’m not sure where Toro fits in, we’re likely going to need an injury for it to happen in Houston. On the other hand that doesn’t mean he hasn’t built up trade value. The only real issue is Toro’s splits versus left handed pitching (.241/.317/.426) which aren’t great but don’t seem to be a killer either, particularly since his strength lies on the strong side of the platoon.