May 22, 2017
Monday Morning Ten Pack
May 22, 2017
Eric Lauer, LHP, San Diego Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore)
The fastball worked 89-92 all night, touching 94 a couple times, and he spotted it consistently on both corners. It lacks a ton of life, and it’s a pitch that can get hit when he’s not careful with it. But it isn’t the easiest pick-up in the world, and he had no fear challenging hitters up and out over the plate or coming after the hands. It projects to a 55 for me, and his cambio does too. He went to the change frequently in this start, and it tunnels well off the heater at 82-85 with late fade and quality arm speed. While not a swing-and-miss pitch, it stayed off barrels and bedeviled hitters all night. He deployed his spin infrequently, with a mid-70s curve acting as a get-me-over strike-stealer and a short-breaking slider in the low-80s flashing average.
Lauer struck me as that boring kind of first-rounder in the Andrew Moore mold, who gets dinged unduly for being, well, boring. But boring isn’t a bad thing when you’re a pitching prospect with a deep arsenal, and Lauer looked every bit the part of a quality big-league rotation piece in this start. —Wilson Karaman
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (Low-A Lansing)
That said, there is a lot more to Guerrero than just namesake. He is a freshly minted 18-year-old who is laying waste to the Midwest League. As highlighted above, he has some pretty impressive raw power that he has had no trouble getting to in games. He has a wonderfully violent swing that leaves little doubt he’s hacking as hard as he can, but he streamlines his toe tap and load when he has two strikes to emphasize contact. However, what impressed me most about Guerrero was the bat control he exhibited. He had a knack for getting the barrel of his bat on just about anything. That sounds familiar.
There are also downsides to his profile, and they are centered around his defense. Guerrero is currently stationed at the hot corner, but odds are slim that he stays there. While he has the arm strength to play third, his hands are stiff, his footwork is clunky, and many of the throws he made were short or offline. He’s a 45 runner, 50 underway, but those grades are likely to go down given his body type. (He’s listed at 6’1”, 230.) This means the likely landing spot for him is first base. Even so, if there’s a type of bat that can carry a 1B profile, it’s this one. —Emmett Rosenbaum
Though Luiz Gohara and Ronald Acuna ascended to Double-A, the Florida Fire Frogs are still a über talented team, and one of those über talents is the 20-year-old Riley. Like his teammate, Alex Jackson, Riley is a man-child at 6’3”, 230. His body is more or less well-proportioned with a bit more length coming from his lower half. He is filled throughout and has more projection to come in the form of muscle. His speed is below average but usable. He moves well at third with good, easy actions for everything hit to his area, increasing his range with good reads off the bat—he made a diving play on a popped-up bunt near the foul line this weekend series, and in a series two weeks ago, a barehanded play charging in and finishing with an accurate, strong, and timely throw to first. There is more than enough arm strength, making throws on line from deep third with a clean though lengthy arm action. (Another similarity with his teammate, Alex Jackson, he was a potential two-way athlete throwing around 92 mph off the mound.) His raw power is easily above average, hitting fly balls to either gaps with ease. His bat speed is average plus, and has a decent ability to put barrel on the ball, but his mechanics and pitch recognition needs fine tuning (bat wraps, leakage and over shifting his weight forward resulting in chases as well as in-zone swings and misses). With a plus glove and more than enough arm, he projects to stay at third giving you an average bat with well above average power. —Javier Barragan
Jordan Humphreys, RHP, New York Mets (Low-A Columbia)
The season-to-date stats overstate Humphrey’s prospectdom, but he absolutely is a prospect. He’s been working with a low-90s fastball, touching up to 95. The fastball has decent late life, but more importantly Humphreys showed very advanced command for it. He’s throwing a curve and a change as secondary offerings; I liked the curve more in a viewing last week, but others have preferred the change. Neither projects as a true MLB out pitch quite yet, but both project as useful.
Dustin May, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes)
May’s got the stuff to back up the hair. He sat 92-94 mph, touching 95, while showing late explosion through the top of the zone. He also flashed a two-seamer at 88-90 that he’d run in under the hands of righties. May’s go-to weapon is his slider, a loopy offering with 10-5 break that sweeps across the entire plate at 80-82 mph. He wasn’t afraid to throw it for strikes either, front dooring it to hitters a few times, but the pitch is at its best when it’s diving out of the zone. May also had a hard change that clocked in at 85-88, but the pitch was firm and he lacked feel for it. May’s delivery is a joy to watch but a bit wild. It features a leg kick up to his shoulders, but he loses his release point frequently, especially out of the stretch, and it can lead to issues with command.
May is some ways off right now, but the stuff is real and his body hasn’t even begun to fill out yet. There’s definitely risk in the profile, but his ceiling is very high. —Emmett Rosenbaum
Connor Sadzeck, RHP, Texas Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
Felix Paulino, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians (Double-A Akron)
Defensively, Mejia had average pop times behind the plate, clocking in at 2.07 and 2.03 on two occasions against Binghamton. His throwing arm was above average in terms of strength, though he had some less than accurate attempts to throw out prospective base stealers in what were 40-something degree temperatures in May. While he will probably always be a bat-first catcher, Mejia will in all likelihood be adequate enough behind the plate to stick at catcher and be a first-division regular at the position. —Skyler Kanfer
Thairo Estrada, 2B/SS, New York Yankees (Double-A Trenton)
The Yankees signed Estrada in 2012 out of Venezuela, and it is easy to forget that he is still just 21 years old. He is a plus defender with fluid footwork and solid instincts, and while he possesses the range to succeed at shortstop and his arm probably could play at third base, he has been playing some second base due to the presence of Gleyber Torres (until Sunday, that is). His defensive ability and versatility give him a floor as a utility player, and he is capable of hitting well enough to develop into a regular. Through 139 plate appearances so far this season, he is slashing .347/.424/.458. He has failed to steal a base, which is a bit of a surprise given his above-average to plus speed. Estrada’s hit tool is much closer to average than plus, but is willing to take a walk and consistently makes contact with a line-drive swing and above-average bat speed. However, he sometimes loses his balance and ends up slapping the ball. Despite his career high eight homers in Single-A last year, the most evident drawback to his swing is that it does not lend itself well to over-the-fence power. Between Torres, Jorge Mateo, Estrada, Nick Solak, and others, the Yankees have a surplus of middle infield prospects and a loaded overall farm system. Don’t be surprised if Brian Cashman uses this depth in his search for a high-end starter on the trade market. —Erich Rothmann
Luis Ortiz, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers, (Double-A Biloxi)
What was most impressive in my viewing was his competitiveness. He is a bulldog and rises to excel in difficult situations. Stamina is a big question and he began to struggle as he went a third time through the order, but when he was in the most trouble, he threw his best sliders and showed outstanding sequencing to squelch a rally.
Given the stuff and the approach, Ortiz projects as a mid-rotation starter, but if he can avoid bad weight, affirmatively answer the stamina question and develop more consistency in his secondary pitches, he can still be more than that. —Scott Delp