Midwest League Live Looks

With the first cold and rainy month in the Midwest League in the books a few of us on staff were able to get out to the fields. Here’s what we saw:

Connor Scott, OF (Miami Marlins)

2018 first rounder. Tall, lean frame. Build reminded me of a young Christian Yelich. He glides around the bases with long strides. He’s made some changes to the swing since entering Marlins organization. Stance is slightly open. Bat path is very linear; too linear actually. Arm bar impedes bat path and creates flat swing. He’s altered his hands since amateur days. Slash and dash approach as his weight is shifting towards first mid-swing. Don’t see much power projection here at all. One of the leaders on that Clinton roster. -Matt Thompson

Alek Thomas, OF (Arizona Diamondbacks)

2018 first round pick, and had a scholarship offer to play defensive back for TCU. Short, stocky frame. Strong. Good instincts and reads in center. Made nice over-the-shoulder catch on the run. Played left in a few of my looks when Tra Holmes was in the lineup. Got 4.20 run times in my first look, times have settled in to around 4.25-4.35 since, which is in line with what scouts in attendance said. I’m confident he can be an above-average defender in center. In my scattered seven game sample Thomas was hitting a lot of pull-side groundballs. I haven’t seen him hit a ball to the right of shortstop in my sample, so that’s something I’m going to continue to track. - MT

Geraldo Perdomo, SS (Arizona Diamondbacks)

I’ve gotten seven games of Perdomo and I still don’t have a feel for his hit tool. The switch-hitter is a tough out, and is often looking at three-ball counts. He is utilizing the new swing that Jason Pennini broke down here. Really good feet and hands at shortstop, has only made one error in my looks and it was on a transfer on a play to his right. I haven’t seen him unleash his arm yet, but from the throws I’ve seen I’m confident there’s enough there to stick at the six. Perdomo has the eye and quick twitch movements to profile as a top of the order hitter. -MT

Ryan Weiss, RHP (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Diamondbacks fourth-round pick out of Wright State in 2018. Overcame personal tragedy and a significant weight lifting injury while in college. Ideal pitchers frame at six-foot-four, 210 pounds. Only went three innings and 75 pitches in my look. It was his first start of the year with a temperature in the 40s. He didn’t have any feel for his changeup likely due to the conditions. His fastball sat 92-94 with 2200-2300 spin rates. He had two similar looking breaking balls around 84-87 and it was hard to distinguish between his curveball and slider. Looking forward to catching him again. -MT

Nolan Gorman, 3B (St. Louis Cardinals)

Cardinals first rounder in 2018. Is one of the youngest players in the Midwest League but has a strong physical build. Built like a linebacker. Plus to double-plus raw power. Had a 108-mph homer to dead center in my look. Kane County used a shift against him with nobody on base. He has a mature approach. Off to a fast start and has cut the strikeouts down while using all fields. Looks like the swing has shortened a bit from last season. He’s a future middle of the order bat and it looks like the hit tool has improved so far. Kane County was getting him out with soft stuff away that was disrupting the timing. Can’t make a mistake though or he will punish it. - MT

Delvin Perez, SS (St. Louis Cardinals)

Perez was the Cardinals 2016 first-round pick. Above-average bat speed, but small frame and lack of strength are alarming. He’s a smooth defender with great hands and quick feet. Made two high instincts plays in the final inning when he cut a ball off and threw or tagged out the trail runner. I don’t think he will hit enough but that glove is absolutely good enough to get him to the big leagues.

Leandro Cedeno, OF (St. Louis Cardinals)

Cedeno has a large frame that will likely require some maintenance as he ages. He made a running catch while in left field, but misplayed a routine flyball in right field into a triple in my look. He seemed to struggle with the cold weather. Hit .336/.419/.592 in the Appy League last year, so he’s worth paying more attention to. He’s a strong kid and slight timing issues prevented him from tapping fully into his raw. Profiles as a first baseman only for me. -MT

Lars Nootbaar, OF (St. Louis Cardinals)

Nootbaar was the Cardinals 8th round pick out of USC. He used all fields in my look, and hit a pull-side homer. He works counts and has above average bat speed. A college draft pick by the Cardinals that uses all fields, has above average raw power and a mature approach. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. He profiles as a 1B/OF bench bat for me, but he’s interesting. -MT

Andy Yerzy, 1B (Arizona Diamondbacks)

The former second-round pick looks overmatched at the plate. The strikeouts are piling up. It’s hard to answer some of the defensive questions here, but the fact that I’ve only seen him catch once in my seven game sample isn’t the most encouraging thing. He has a big upper half, almost too big and he can look stiff at times. Funny thing, but it was Spongebob day at the park one of the games I went to and Larry the Lobster (Google him) is probably the most perfect body comp for Yerzy. It’s a terrible comp but sorry, I’m not sorry. You can cut him in dynasty formats. -MT

Ivan Herrera, C (St. Louis Cardinals)

Herrera is a quiet receiver and just as quiet in the box. Minimal wasted movement. Utilizes a simple load and flexes back foot. He’s athletic and hit a 105 mph line drive to right center. Strong defensive reputation and he worked well with Diego Cordero who didn’t shake him off all day. -MT

Diego Cordero, LHP (St. Louis Cardinals)

This is an intriguing arm. Small frame lefty that throws from a 3/4 slot. Sat 89-92 early but after the third inning was mostly 87-90. The changeup is a deceptive pitch that was his main source of swing and misses and weak contact. He also throws a slider to mostly lefties but will throw it at the back foot to righties. He was getting 2100-2200 spin rates on the fastball. Cordero needs to add some good weight to the frame and hopefully add some velocity, and more importantly, hold on to it longer in game. His feel for that changeup is elite. -MT

Jordyn Adams, OF (Los Angeles Angels)

The best all-around athlete in my looks, he might be the best athlete in all of the minor leagues. Adams is explosive out of the box and was getting 4.18 and 4.22 run times and looked like he is capable of sub-4.00 run times. The bat speed is elite, and he gets his hands inside the baseball. He’s a quick-twitch athlete that’s loose in the box, and has explosive hips. He’s just starting to utilize his lower half and generate more loft. I think he’s potentially more raw version of Royce Lewis. Jason Pennini compared his swing to his amateur days here. Bet on the athlete. -MT

Livan Soto, INF (Los Angeles Angels)

Soto brings with him a strong defensive reputation but I was impressed with his ability to barrel the baseball. Soto’s stance is a bit of an uncomfortable looking one, as he gets into a low crouch with his front foot pointing straight at the pitcher. This appears to be a recent change. Power will never be a large part of his game. Soto is a high-floor low-ceiling prospect and his defensive abilities and plate approach. -MT

Wander Franco, SS (Tampa Bay Rays)

I can say without hesitation Franco is now the top prospect in baseball as Vlad Guerrero Jr. finally ascends to the major league level. Franco is short, but his frame is sturdy from his shoulder to thighs. The legend of his electric hands is as mesmerizing in person as it is on tape. His follow-through is unique, often swinging his arm around his head, especially when he inside-outs a pitch. He faced a lefty in the game I saw, meaning over 75 percent of his batting practice was from the right side. He stayed extremely controlled, hitting the majority of balls to the track and not laying into a single pitch. There’s a future combination of 70 hit, 60 game power in his bat at peak, mixed with natural actions at shortstop and plus speed. He is the total package. -Lance Brozdowski

Osmy Gregorio, 2B/3B (Tampa Bay Rays)

Gregorio hit balls further than any other Bowling Green player in the team’s round of batting practice. Although the power is primarily to his pull side, it stood out given his wiry, 6-foot-2 frame—especially batting in the same group as Franco and 6-foot-3, 220-pound Kaleo Johnson (see below). I would be comfortable giving Gregorio a 60 raw grade with hesitation for anything more than above-average game power. With many hitters like this, it’s a question of how much their hit tool will allow them to tap into the game power. I think there is some hope for an average hit tool with Gregorio.

His swing is very simple, starting with his bat rested on his shoulder, hands popping up into his load as they slot relatively high. But the key with the high slot is Gregorio’s posture through his swing, which is naturally tilted toward the left-handed batter’s box through contact, allow him to lift and line balls. His stats show a decent eye for pitch recognition already and the total package is one I’m intrigued by for going into his batting practice and at-bats without any precedent for the player. I think there’s potential for 55 game power with a 45 hit tool. He would be one player I desire strongly again to see in order to refine my grades and comfortability with my projection. -LB

Osmy Gregorio

Osmy Gregorio

Kaleo Johnson, OF (Tampa Bay Rays)

Johnson hit in Franco and Gregorio’s batting practice group and naturally stands out with his large frame and toned lower half. He has natural raw power and a really quiet swing for his size. His hands stay completely still and slightly tensed as he drifts into a mid-thigh leg kick, exploding through the zone with a slightly level swing, one with less natural lift to me than Gregorio despite the aesthetic appearance that he would be able to lift the ball more.

With his frame, however, there comes strike zone limitations and a natural hole in the upper-third of the zone that even Midwest League pitchers can exploit, leading to high strikeout rates. He has played some third base in Low-A, which would be bode well for his future profile over first base, but Bowling Green has played him exclusive at first base this season. I see future 40 hit tool with 50 game power in a profile slightly less appealing than Gregorio’s. Johnson’s swing structure is so sound for his size he sticks in my mind from the game I saw. -LB

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Lyon Richardson, RHP (Cincinnati Reds)

Richardson had a confusing outing in Fort Wayne. He possessed zero control for the first inning of the game and came out for the second a different pitcher. He finished with a perfect three innings and struck out the final three batters he faced. He has innate changeup feel and a quick arm, which makes me comfortable projecting him to a future 55 on the pitch despite its present below-average status. I learned from a scout that he cuts his changeup at times, which I initially misread as a mid-80s slider. This only makes me more confident in his ability to grow with the pitch. His fastball sat 90-92, T94 with average life and his curveball sat 79-83 with average projection. I would like to see Richardson turn his cut changeup into a true slider and sit mid-80s with the pitch, creating a fourth velocity band to work in while keeping his curveball in the low 80s.

Richardson is a three- to four-year project for the Reds given his age. He is one to keep tabs on and check back in with in one to two years time. His delivery is athletic, with a strong lead leg, explosion with minimal momentum build and good extension that lets his fastball jump on hitters more than his velocity shows. -LB

Mariel Bautista, OF (Cincinnati Reds)

Bautista stood out because of his tall, wiry frame, plus wheels and ability to cover the zone with his bat. His hands are quick, projects for average game power with an average hit tool, but as many have mentioned, he needs some mechanical adjustment with his swing in order to tap into all of his potential. His stats show he has had a lot of trouble hitting line drives, diverting to either pop ups in the infield or ground balls. I think it’s a product of his hand path into his swing—twitchy and neutral to his body at first before becoming tense and awkward into his shoulder-high load. Even with that said, he adjusts to high and low pitches well and make enough contact to squint and see the potential for some offensive upside. This is a case of innate skill despite some quirks that make him play down.-LB

Ryan Weathers, LHP (San Diego Padres)

Weathers has a new slider (which you can read about here!) and it compliments his fastball and changeup better than his curveball did. This slider is about three to four mph faster on average than his curveball, with more lateral action and less hand wrapping at pitch release. The pitch mimics his fastball spin much better and as a result has stymied hitters through his first five starts in the Midwest League. Weathers is a high-floor number four starter with the potential for above average command.

His changeup is a future 55 pitch, slider can be a future 55 and his fastball is a 50 that will play up with his potential for above average command (the staple of his profile). Many knock his delivery but the key indicator of stability for a profile long term is how well he separates his upper body from his lower body at front-foot strike. Many pitchers with a very rotational delivery do this exceptionally well and Weathers is no exception. Knock his body all you want, but he’s athletic and has better command than almost any 19-year-old in the Midwest league I’ve ever seen. See video below for a look at the trio of Weathers’ offerings with velocities. -LB

Tucupita Marcano, SS/2B (San Diego Padres)

Marcano is slightly more intriguing to me than Edwards at the moment due to his offensive projection (see below). There is a similar advanced hit tool to Edwards present in Marcano with some natural loft and better bat speed that suggests some small chance for average power at the major league level. It is still hit over power here, but Marcano has a much better chance to survive as a major league hitter at the major league level in the modern age of baseball. Given the Tin Caps tendency to play Marcano at shortstop in the early stages of action, it also suggest some interest in keeping him on the left side of the field, which with an above average arm, means more versatility and higher value than being stuck at second base. I can see Marcano being a very valuable utility man with a plus hit tool at peak. An impact everyday regular is something I don’t see at the moment, but I am open to changing that opinion as I get more looks at the 19-year-old in the Midwest League. -LB

Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS (San Diego Padres)

Edwards and Marcano are players I will likely be updating throughout the season in Fort Wayne, so I will refrain from expanding too much all at once. Edwards is a true 80-runner with an easy shot to steal 60-plus bases in the Midwest with pitchers more often than not slow to the plate and below average arms behind the plate. That being said, Edwards makes an insane amount of ground-ball contact to play into his wheels. While this is logically the thing for a small, speedy leadoff hitter to do, I wonder if there’s anything else in the offensive profile outside of infield singles and the occasional double down either line. He swings down on the ball often with below average bat speed and decent balance in the box. This is purely my initial impression of Edwards, but I will have a hard time making him a top 100 prospect without some line-drive based success to convince me he can slug .400 at the major league level.-LB