Welcome to the first post of the New Year! No, it’s not our army of Top 100 posts, we’re still putting the finishing touches on those, but they’re coming soon, we promise. Instead, as you’re still recovering from last night’s shenanigans, we’d like to have a little bit of fun.
When the calendar flips to a new year, we take a little time to reflect on the past and think about how we’d like to change. Sometimes our hopes to change are small things. Other times they’re unreasonable asks! But a wish list is just that — something that you can dream on while the year is still free of pessimism.
Below you’ll find something each of us here at Prospects Live would like to see different in the 2019 minor league season. Enjoy and let’s make 2019 a great one.
More Aggressive Assignments
Some teams simply don’t give a damn about slowly bringing a player up through the minor league system. I love that. Shout out to the Braves, the modern leaders in this practice. Mike Soroka, Bryse Wilson and Ronald Acuña all debuted at 20 after flying through the minors. I’d like to see more of this with the players who deserve it. Here are some players that should be aggressively assigned to open 2019 so we can see just how good they are:
Wander Franco: (wish) High-A — (likely) A
Alex Kiriloff (wish) AAA — (likely) AA
Eric Pardinho (wish) High-A — (likely) A
Keston Hiura (wish) MLB — (likely) AAA
Vidal Brujan (wish) AA — (likely) High-A
Chris Paddack (wish) AAA — (likely) AA
Julio Rodriguez (wish) Low A — (likely) AZL
Elehuris Montero (wish) AA — (likely) High-A
Matthew Liberatore (wish) (A) — (likely) Appy
Malcom Nuñez (wish) A - (likely) Appy
Making the Leap
One of the coolest things about being in this industry is seeing the refinement of raw tools into results. For 2019, I want to see Estevan Florial and Cristian Pache improve their approach and take steps toward recognizing spin and making the adjustments needed to improve their respective hit tools. Both hitters have big time power that is currently limited by their approach. Better contact will translate into more game power.
Injuries suck. They often prevent us from seeing if a prospect can fully develop a part of his game and we’re left to wonder if he can still get there. I want to see a full healthy season from Rays two-way extraordinaire Brendan McKay. And in that healthy season, I want to see more aggressiveness at the plate and continued improvement with his pitch sequencing. - Jason Woodell
My wish is pretty similar to Jason’s in that I just want some prospects to refine their tools so they can become game changers. On offense I’m looking at you Seuly Matias. 80-grade raw power and 31 homers before a thumb injury ended his season. My wish is for him to acquire a useable offensive approach and to get someone to carry his luggage. On the pitching side, I’m wishing for Alec Hansen to throw more strikes. - Matt Thompson
Seriously can we just be blessed with 45 hit Monte Harrison? Imagine what he could do for the Marlins next year if he sported a contact rate in the 74% - 78% range? He hit .240 last year through the grace of God, or BABIP (.368). I confuse the two frequently. He had the third highest swinging strike rate among qualified AA hitters, and his 17.8% mark still sits 20th overall when expanded to players with a minimum of 100 plate appearances. The power, speed, and defensive value are there to make him an everyday player, but he lacks the hitting acumen that could make him a star.
There’s another player with a whole box full of tools, but much like Monte Harrison he swings and misses too much. After middling results heading into 2017, Jose Siri broke out, hitting for a high average and power, while swiping an eye-popping 46 bags. His numbers were uneven between high A and AA, and the swing and miss became a real issue in Pensacola. Siri led all of AA in SwStr%, not a great sign. As discussed in my Reds Top 30, Siri can make consistent contact, the issue is his hyper-aggressive approach at the plate. If he could hone his pitch recognition and stay away from spin off the plate, we might be talking about a first division centerfielder. While he’s made some improvements, his plate approach (or lack there of) still leaves his prospective future impact in doubt. - Ralph Lifshitz
My wish is for Luis Medina to take a step forward with control & command. Luis Medina is a white-hot ember capable of becoming a conflagration. The stuff is premium and watching him in a limited instructs look was a treat. Should he learn to better control his long limbs, he could take a quantum leap forward in 2019. - Jason Pennini
Injuries Stay Away!
A Six Million Dollar Steve Austin Elbow for Sixto Sanchez.
We need Sixto Sanchez to be healthy and never get hurt. That’s it. I love the skills but his prospect value is sinking like a stone with his murky health.
A healthy, normal season for Jason Groome.
After entering the 2016 draft season as a potential 1.1 candidate it’s been a rocky road for the big lefty. After a few injury plagued seasons, off-the-field issues out of his control, and poor performance, Jay Groome needs to get back on his feet after 2018 Tommy John surgery. Likely Groome will make a few starts at the end of the season. But staying on track for a normal offseason heading into 2020 would be a big boost to a player whose tanked professionally. - Ralph Lifshitz
James Kaprielian stays healthy.
In Fall of 2016 I saw Kaprielian in the AFL, and he flashed feel for four pitches. His fastball sat mid 90s. He looked like a mid-rotation starter, and I came away wicked impressed. Unfortunately, his career has been completely derailed by injuries. He had a right flexor strain in 2016, then eventually went down with a torn UCL in 2017. Last fall Kaprielian saw some action in instructs, reportedly throwing low 90s. Fingers crossed he recovers and comes close to the guy he was two years ago in the AFL. - Jason Pennini
Training and improving my scouting eye will be my main focus during the 2019 season. It was tough at times keeping notes on players while running from side-to-side of the concourse to get videos of open-side swings. Now that I have three camcorders, it will be much easier to just set them up in position while I sit back and grow my scouting eye. - Kyler Peterson
Dudes We Must See
Marco Luciano plays in the Giants January instructs.
I have been working on the Giants top 30 the past few days. Marco Luciano immediately stood out as one of the premier talents in the system. The body is incredibly advanced, and he already has crazy raw power. Luciano was one of the highest-rated 2018 J2 players, but he has yet to see action stateside. The Giants and Cubs opted to hold their instructional league camps in January instead of September. Will this be Luciano’s first action on US soil? We shall see, but for selfish reasons I sure hope it is. - Jason Pennini