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Orioles Top 30 Prospects and Beyond

photo: Eric Garfield
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Everyone has their standards for prospect rankings. The fairest way is to strike a balance among several factors. Talent, upside and opportunity mix with organizational philosophy, draft position, size and a few others to paint a picture of what can be reasonably expected.

Over the last handful of years, a period we can categorize as ‘the rebuild,’ the Orioles have been signing, drafting and trading for players who fit their models for growth. The results have been impressive. The major league club has been in first place most of the season, getting contributions from mostly vets while having roles filled by some of those recent draft picks.

Some make take issue with this, but that’s fine: for the purpose of this exercise, let’s say that Colton Cowser isn’t a prospect despite his occasional (and now former) MLB roster status. Jordan Westburg is, however, despite his spot on the MLB roster, because I consider him right on the line of a platoon/everyday player *at this particular moment*. (Again, feel free to disagree with me here. I want to be able to highlight how high I remain on Westburg on my list. And I’ll throw in some Cowser thoughts as well.)

Without further ado, my Top 30+…

1. Jackson Holliday

An excellent draft pick in a lottery group teeming with producers. Somehow the Orioles evaluators picked the best one. Holliday has shown that the preductions about him were on point and then taken his game to a level even his strongest supporters couldn’t envision. As of mid-August writing this, it’s not irrational to wonder if he could be the last guy on an MLB playoff roster. Steady, high walk rates, athleticism to spare in the field and maturity as far as strike zone management make him the best prospect in the sport before his power starts to show.

This is your opportunity to read that one more time and smile. There are plenty of future stars across the minor league landscape. Who’s on his level?

2. Jordan Westburg

Some felt maybe left a bit too long in the crockpot at Norfolk but he’s now contributing at the highest level, waiting for that regular role. As the months turn into years it may show that he simmered the perfect amount. He’s good at everything so his adjustment to the bigs has been not too bumpy. Striking out slightly less than he did at AAA Norfolk, his WRC+ is over 100 so he’s in no way statistically hurting the team when in. However, the standard set by his talent level is much higher than that. Watch him hit his stride over the next 12-14 months and prove to be a franchise stalwart. Even if some things don’t click he can still be an All-Star. Gunnar, Adley, Cowser, Grayson, Westburg already up. This gets better.

2A. Colton Cowser

(My explanation above notwithstanding, here are some thoughts on Cowser)

The 5th pick of the 2021 draft destroyed minor league pitching and finally made it up to the bigs. 26 XBH in 60 AAA games and on-base at .460 – he’s an amazing strike zone controller. Major league pitching and strike zones have required an adjustment he’s yet to fully make but his rates and metrics are wholly encouraging. He’s not an average player. Showing every skill in drills and more athleticism/strength than anyone thought early on, he’s a multi-time All-Star in the making. Being sent back to the farm isn’t a bump in the road, it’s a teachable opportunity that will benefit his game for a long time.

3. Coby Mayo

His immense power upside almost gave him the edge over Westburg who’s already in the big leagues and good. This is the year where so many important parts of his game have come together and the perfect circle of results is underway. Muscular but far from bulky, Mayo brings as much precision to his violent cut as power. The exit velos are truly man-sized; nobody in the entire organization has more triple-digit outs. It’s easy to view that as a positive. Last year he got to do it less because he was striking out in more than 1/3 of his ABs. This year he does it more as the K’s come less than 1/4 of the time. That’s also a big positive for his developmental track especially considering he’s 21 at AAA. Proving my point as this list is assembled, Mayo hit a 400 ft, 110mph HR yesterday.

4. Heston Kjerstad

Where Westburg was, setting the pace and looking to establish franchise records at Norfolk, is where Heston’s at now. After battling through tough circumstances early in pro development he’s looking like a MLB regular very soon and one who can make an impact. His ISO, his SLG, his WRC+ and oh baby his BABIP portend a non-choosy swinger who makes enough loud, deep contact to cover any swing decision imperfections. Versatility as an athlete means he’ll get you (and not cost you) outs at 1B or play an above average corner OF. Kjerstad’s profile is exciting and it seems that he’ll bring years of potential to the O’s clubhouse as his timeline for use and recovery was very well thought out. He’s ready to crush it in the bigs.

5. Samuel Basallo

Watching the FCL closely for years, it’s hard to look past how much his game grew with expert instruction from the player development staff early. This is the year where those lessons have started to fully form the player he’ll be which is an amazing one. Basallo brings so much to the table as a leader, and a learner that it sometimes gets away that he’s so young and so big. Despite the size, there’s never been long periods of his swing dragging. He was easily one of the most complete and most consistent players in Low-A so as much as it seems a forward move to have an 18-year-old everyday catcher at High-A, when it’s him it makes sense.

6. Joey Ortiz

I want to zig, but Joey has exploded in terms of development. There’s part of me that wrestled with his defensive perfection and total readiness vs Sam’s potential, but when looking at the big picture Ortiz being here in rankings and reality is a tribute to his intangibles. And baseball is a game and a culture that rewards people who show the kind of focus, determination and commitment that Joey does. Tell me the error you’ve seen him make in the infield. Showing another way that he’s an athlete who can add to his team’s results, he’s added a high speed score and 10 SBs to the stat line. Where some names on this list could be another franchise’s top prospect, Ortiz could be their starting big league SS. Are the Birds loaded on the farm or what?

7. Dylan Beavers

The swing is the thing for Dylan. Through some bumps in the road as far as in-game results, the cut he possesses has evened things out. He’s brought the counting stats and metrics up, while maintaining his decision weighted rates. Power, balance, control, leverage, athleticism are features of his game. He strides and throws well enough to play CF regularly. But the routes and make-up speed aren’t elite so maybe next to a true gold glove type he’s a corner, but that’s a question for another department. A separator for Beavers is a laid back mentality where the ups and downs of a full baseball calendar don’t shake him much. The organization looks at traits to build on and for Dylan his chill helps.

8. Connor Norby

Having him outside the top 5 seems criminal, or at the very least inconsiderate. I trust every single aspect of his game: his upside, his in the box maturity, his IQ. But the hit tool ability to make and aim power-driven contact is why I’d find a way to get him 450 AB at the highest level. Through his 1000 MiLB ABs he’s shown some serious skill. The most impressive one has been consistency which can only help once he gets on the roster. Never has had a k-rate over 23 and never a line drive % under 21. That says hitter. So does the 300 hits that he’s put up. So does the late development increase in oppo hit %. He knows exactly what to do with the bat in his hands.

9. DL Hall

He’s been around for a while but it finally appears that this regime knows what they have in the electric armed lefty athlete. A two-pitch specialist with the endurance to be more mixed with some factors that have held him back. His heat is elite. Where other arms maintain 90’s and have to work to climb into the higher mph’s he can throw harder for longer than almost all of them. Commanding the ball once released however has proved a different exercise but now the team doesn’t need him to get outs by the dozens so there’s truly less of a pressing need to force him to try.

Coming to the FCL to reset his schedule was a smart move. Catchers throwing down the one or two finger signals over 75% of the chances for 5-7 outs at a time would be even smarter. He’d have a role as a fireballing out-getter in high leverage spots and sometimes those guys turn into something.

The chip on his shoulder could also benefit him in a tight spot. I’d love to find out.

10. Cade Povich

This one’s kind of easy. He’s a lean lefty with a very repeatable, low impact deceptive delivery. Three hundred strikeouts over 218 IP isn’t an everyday rate. But Povich’s stuff is elite and since coming over from a pitching-smart Twins org, has improved as he’s grown. The cutter isn’t what the Orioles thought it might become, or maybe it’s because his slider and curve are such devastating finishers that it’s simply a pitch not on their level.

Either way, he belongs at AAA on the doorstep of the bigs. Two big things that stood out to me about Cade were his ability to hit high velocity immediately without intense warm-ups. He’d walk out to the hanging bags, wind his arm up around once or twice and be right at 92 on the very first throw. Uncommon. And during those minor league spring starts when everybody’s adjusting to the heat or the innings or the exertion, I noticed Povich not even breathing heavily. Physical factors help in that climb from high minors to bigs as much as stuff and results so the athlete in Povich can hang.

11. Jud Fabian

It’s going to get a little different after this but Jud and his baseball pedigree belong ranked high. He’s such a good athlete in all phases of the game that you can expect some more post-college growth. Even if that kind of run/jump bump doesn’t enhance the profile, he’s an impact player today. Jud stays aggressive at the plate, a foundation of that is swinging hard and often. So balancing the strikeouts will be a priority. Unless he does so much more of everything else that we can look at it as just another out. The probability he’s that kind of contributor certainly exists. After graduations and growth attrition I’d list Fabian as the prospect I expect to take the biggest jump from this season to next. Yes his k rate is less than ideal, but the ones who said he could be a top draft pick have reason to be heard from too.

12. Kyle Brnovich

Let’s zag. At this point in the list a pitch can speak volumes if it’s a difference maker. Brnovich’s true 12-to-6 does just that. There’s also a version of a knuckle curve too. The reports I’ve heard from the complex through his rehab with the curve were off the hook (I hope you didn’t miss that) and he showed plenty of maturity and no real rush to accelerate the process. That left an impression on me, as did his lives and pen sessions. The org can trust going forward that he’ll last lots of innings and fight with everything he’s got.

That type of contributor sets an example, and at 26 years old it’s a role he’s prepared for. I’m thinking he thrives.

13. Chayse McDermott

The pitching run continues and fortunately for the Orioles this trade return for Trey Mancini has advanced in skill as the traded away vet has declined. Last year, less than 100IP, 150k. This year, 92IP, over 115k. Also worked his way to 15 W over that stretch. His command metrics don’t show a number one-two starter to this point but his WHIP and BB rate have leveled off late in development so maybe there’s more growth ahead. We’re already in the teens and Chayse has a K/9 of 13. Maximizing his athleticism to keep the release consistent would be the key to that burst coming.

14. Enrique Bradfield

I am a sucker for athletic on-field contributors so despite only watching him a few times, I’ll rank the fastest guy I’ve seen in a while high here. Base stealing isn’t a way that the O’s have (traditionally) put together rallies so I’m still trying to grasp how they’ll incorporate someone that plays like Enrique does, but I’ve seen some real victories in development recently so there’s every reason to be open and optimistic. The momentum that comes from a home run-preventing catch or a clutch triple can’t be discounted. There are only a handful of players who can do both more than once a game. Finding out of the Orioles scouts identified one in Bradfield looks like it’s going to be lots of fun.

15. Luis Almeyda

Where to rank the youngster who has little experience? There’s lots of pedigree players to sort through, Almeyda’s all upside but I’ve seen enough action to make me a believer. Soon you will too. A very long-limbed but in no way awkward mover, the comp is a Tracy McGrady type based on how much space he can confidently control. His game gives off ‘lots of practice’ as his infield pivots and actions are refined with power to spare. His arm features accuracy, strength and confidence and with his height once those feet are planted you can count on a laser. At the plate he can make consistent barrel contact. In the Orioles system that’s not enough however, so the XBH training program is starting in earnest September of 2023. He should excel in MiLB scrimmages and the FCL next season making his name on the prospect landscape. With the talent he has, sub top-15 doesn’t feel right.

16. Braylin Tavera

Going young again. Tavera will be making a significant impact somehow; he’s skilled in too many areas not to. Speed to spare is one thing, but at 18 years old, he puts it to perfect use in the field. Accelerating in every direction with the glove up, he is a defensive playmaker as well as a terror on the bases. I’ve seen him swipe bases with or without a good jump demonstrating mature technique between the bags – it’s exciting. But the swing plane featuring low levels of uppercut but plenty of thump is even more promising. He does not have to smack a pitch or have one screaming in above 95 mph to hit it 400 ft with ease. The timing and leverage in his swing is worth the seven-figure bonus and investment in time. It’s possible he’s a five-tool player with five-star athletic gifts that he brings to games for a decade.

An indicator of what type of athlete he was proven in how quickly he improved his backtracking routes (needed to be more direct, maintain head posture/eye level through each stride) in basically the FCL’s first week. One game he had a problem with this, then the next one he didn’t and he’s been in CF since. His speed can force infielders to hurry on routine plays at this point.

17. Alex Pham

Feels good to give a player their due for both consistency and improvement. Over the years, Pham’s Nick Vespi-like in that his stats have always been good even when his role is more liquid than defined. Also atypical in his profile is that he walks a few more than you’d be comfortable with although it’s balanced out by very few hits. Fly balls get caught as Pham’s WHIP falls. Pitchers with his resumè and multi-pitch arsenal stay around, but he’s exploded this season doing so much more than surviving. Some of his K rates and FIPs over the years are eye-popping. Who strikes out 30%+? Pham has while developing in the O’s pitching program. He has a cutter that’s been good this year, and a slider that’s remained his out pitch. Something I remember from my time seeing Pham practice, rehab and rookie down here is that the heat doesn’t shake him. Will he keep improving?

18. Justin Armbruester

This feels like the first player that perhaps is ranked too low. Different than Pham in that his cutter has been excellent in 2023, his high heat numbers have him much more on the radar (pitching pun) than he was just months ago. Low-WHIP, low groundball for his career, at 24 his metrics and fastball characteristics have him close to the bigs. It looks like his usage has been managed quite well during his time in the O’s system as to not overwork him while giving him the chance for quite a few decisions. That says starter track.

19. Creed Willems

A baseball athlete who has made physical strides is really just scratching the surface of his potential. It seems that having catching prospects who throw well would be a priority, bu for lots of clubs it isn’t. What was noticeable during Creed’s 2023 adjustments was a much more balanced swing all the way through the zone. There’s less one-footed cuts or reaches from BP to the game. It’s much cleaner. The next part in his progression would be using it on the right pitches and spitting on the wrong ones. He’s too good with zone recognition to have a k:bb of around 3:1. Plus the pop. Loud, long, powerful contact is the trademark of a hitter like Creed when he’s maxing out. I’d bet on it. By ranking him top-20 I guess I am.

20. John Rhodes

Battling through injuries a bit while swinging with less reckless abandon, this has been a trying year for Rhodes. There’s no reason to think that he can’t be a run producer as despite every struggle he’s bounced back to handle each assignment better than league average. This year he’s put up his lowest average yet highest ISO and 11 HR after combining for seven total. So the developmental system is working for him. Rhodes has an above average arm too and better throwing mechanics than you’d think. Speed to get to balls in the alley and on the bases? You guessed it, above average, as he’s 16-16 in career SBs and has a 6.2 speed score on FanGraphs.

Players like him need to grind while draft classes after his filter upwards but there is no skill area where Rhodes is deficient. It’s reasonable to think he’s one click away from being a bigger name, but the total game he brings to the table says bust proof and we’re in the 20’s – a good sign.

21. Carter Baumler

There is only one thing keeping the rocket armed righty from being the pitcher he can be and it’s physical. Specifically post-usage fatigue. Carter has every single quality you’d want in a pitching prospect. Ability to spin, aim, put steam on a fastball and do it all for 6-7 innings or more are the easy parts for a throwing athlete like him. Lots of people look at his delayed flight as a negative. I don’t see it that way. The Baumler in Sarasota is more focused, more determined and more willing to do what it takes to make his name in this sport. He and the Orioles have a trusting relationship where both sides want the best for Carter and are willing to put in the plans and contingencies to make it happen. Every vital intangible is improved. His elbow is reconstructed to throw harder than the 95 he started with. My fingers are crossed that this is my most incorrect ranking 10-12 months from now.

22. Frederick Bencosme

A test case for the O’s player development staff to try to add on to his truly elite hand-eye/contact skill set there’s been some positives this season. Regular usage has given him the opportunity to balance out both hot and cold streaks so that crucial lesson of exactly how long the year is and how much he’s required to contribute is one of them. The brilliant 58:51 k:bb ratio is another. He’s so young and learning so quickly that as long as he can survive and continue to move up, that contact carrying tool will always afford him space in a lineup. You may feel like you’re waiting too long for even doubles power, but if he was a .247 hitter you’d be frustrated. He’s nowhere near that. He can also show solid SS fundamentals and use his length to get to balls in the hole. For a team that never did international drafts, he’s a damn good get for $10K on a bonus. Give that scout a pat on the back.

23. Luis DeLeon

Speaking of scouting finds that probably should have cost a bit more, I hope you have watched videos of this electric young lefty that I’ve provided. There are international evaluators that I’ve communicated with who have claimed to have known about him, which makes it even more impressive that the Orioles have him. And that it cost 30,000 to ink him. He’s Grayson-like in that after his electric fastball, the best pitch to use for improving or ending counts is a fade change up. There’s refinement ahead but plenty of arm action and athleticism to build on. Another pair of top of the rotation traits are a really high baseball IQ, good fielding mechanics and a very level head even when stressed. Yes, be excited about a 20-year-old LHP who hits 97 with ease but don’t be shocked if DeLeon gives you even more reason to be excited about his future.

Put a 50 breaking ball on those long fingers and the top of a rotation is the only outcome. Watch the videos.

24. Mac Horvath

The 2023 2nd round pick is supposed to be high level athletic with still developing at bat skills based on discipline. Pitchers’ pitches beat him in college but he showed enough promise to earn seven figures for his bonus. If any club’s early program can bring about the positives in your swing while showing you the benefits of better decisions, he’s in it so be optimistic about him being one of those prospects who’s better professionally than they were at school. The O’s usually don’t mess around with the IF part of IF/OF hybrids unless the footwork is top notch. I can’t offer an opinion as I haven’t seen him yet. That’ll change this winter so I’ll have a better idea then, but for now he can be ranked here ahead of a few injuries and maybes.

25. Thomas Sosa

A lanky lefty overflowing with 5-tool potential, this guy isn’t the smoothest or most aesthetic mover but can make a difficult sport look Bo Jackson easy. All the skills are present with none of the actions being forced or pushed. Sosa swings with ferocity but there’s an evident plan in place and he stays balanced. He can play corner OF today but is improving his CF skills rapidly because he’s the kind of athlete who has room to grow. A loud arm from the warning track, enough speed to take double digit bases and an eye to both choose and attack the correct pitches mean the foundation is strong as is. His out-of-nowhere ascension has him at #1 on my personal excitement list. There will be bumps, but this is the kind of talent you wait on.

26. Juan De Los Santos

Strong and well built in the middle, Juan is learning how to balance out how to rely on secondaries to get outs. So far in 2023 the results gave been OK, but he’s only 21. If you can strike out 1/4 of the batters you face and maintain a 3.6 FIP you’re going to excel into the high minors. Standing out for a non-bat misser he’s faced 330 hitters this year and only allowed a pair of HR’s. Hot in August, Juan has a .146 avg against and .61 WHIP in his 14IP.

27. Jean Pinto

Not by any fault of his own he moves down a bit. A young vet at 22, he brings a strikeout reputation and pedigree that he’s never wavered from or proved that he can’t keep up, but the talent around him has improved so much in every way. Drafts, trades and signings have made the population Pinto’s a part of the best in the sport. Jean is capable of long strikeout streaks and totals and keeps the walks at an acceptable rate. Clean contact is his priority to lower, once he does the strikeouts will move to the driver’s seat and become his entire profile. He’s not tall or long legged, so he’s the kind of thrower that requires full effort and exertion. From what I’ve seen in person he’s the kind of athlete who can do that without fatiguing. Amazingly, the spin and movement he can generate for having hands the size of a regular guy is tough to grasp (please) and when he’s warmed up there’s nobody in the system with that much natural ability. Like Drew Rom before him, I’d love to see the gloves removed and let him sink or swim at AAA to determine the next course of action.

28. Leandro Arias

As someone who tries to follow the action of his games with an iPhone, I have to say that Arias’ metrics must be off the charts. Around the bases his strides are explosive like a sprinter. After the transfer, his throws are like darts from either 3rd base or shortstop, but he uses the time to process much more efficiently thus making fewer wrong moves at short. His swing is full of energy and somewhat top hand-dependent, but as he gains strength in his arms he’ll let it go all the way. Anderson De Los Santos is a player with a similar skill set and size who’s started to bring some louder contact in his second year stateside. Seeing Arias at either left side IF spot in Delmarva next session makes sense so their tracks could mirror each other too. That’s the type of system fortifying movement that international signees who are well coached in a proven program can bring to the minors.

29. Noah Denoyer

His repertoire is designed to get outs and he’s had a positive career track so far. The team has to be a bit taken aback that this year at 25 his command and two-strike results have wavered from those norms. The pitching lab has had to get to work, and since 7/25 he’s at 8IP, 0ER, 10K. Denoyer has size, endurance, stuff as well as crucial experience against high caliber hitters. The rough stretch that was his 1st half of 2023 appears to be over.

30. Billy Cook

Experiencing some prospect resurgence, his skills alone should have him a few slots higher. Cook is a pedigree power hitter whose results are held back (although a lot less than yrs past)by not maximizing situationally at the plate. However, the counting stats and power numbers are damn good making one wonder how really good he’d be if he could not strike out exactly three times as often as he walks. He has 60SBs in 2.5 seasons. We need him on base. Power plus speed mixed with good routes and arm in the OF presents a strong profile going forward. Not so far from that 1,000 AB MiLB experience threshold (850 when writing), Cook has proven to be solid. If he can reach another gear he might even be a trustworthy regular.

I was going to do more but the rankings part started to make less sense here. Honorable mentions will be shorter but can be grouped together a bit more. For this section don’t consider the order, I didn’t.

Carter Young

Folks seem to think he has less of a hit tool, but every time I’ve seen him he works counts for good pitches and executes line drives too. In Delmarva this year I saw serious loft in his swing. He is equally adept with both hands (athlete) and can handle every aspect of SS.

Max Wagner

Came on late in his college career and the adjustment to the pros has had more downs than ups. Some power and speed are present and I have video showing serious defensive versatility. Swing decisions and specific situational outcomes need to be much better. He’ll swing and can take a walk, there just needs to be a change in the amounts of both. Just turning 22, there’s time for more growth.

Aneudis Mordan

Had heard he was a high offense backstop developing in the DSL so when the FCL team needed C help I thought they’d look to him. Got that part right but had absolutely no idea he’d explode into a league leader in terms of power hitting. His seven HR in 99 rookie league ABs doesn’t include the 5-6 he hit over the fence in the few weeks of extended spring. He wasn’t even in the US for spring training! The kid just got here and is pacing a good offensive group in HR/RBI/slg/ISO/OPS. Calm and in control in the box he has a level head during games. The team trusts him to keep learning.

Seth Johnson

I want to rank him much higher – in the teens maybe – but to this point I’ve only seen him in PFP drills. (he was awesome btw). Johnson has yet to show his stuff in a game environment so everything we have to go on is in another organization and/or reputation. He threw 98 before his elbow was reconstructed for forceful use so could be in triple digits at age 25 in the high minors making him an even better get for Trey Mancini. Fingers crossed.

*I waited to do the list until 8/19 to watch his inning in Sarasota. Delivery looked spotless, velocity was unforgiving. He was awesome. Am comfortable ranking him in the high teens if re-doing the list. His rehab assignment is from AAA so do not be surprised to see him thriving in the high minors. When that happens he’s easily top 10 of not higher. Talk to me in May 2024.

Stiven Acevedo

It takes a lot of effort to accomplish goals in the minors. Stiven has exceeded what his original outlook was but it’s taken some time and effort. A measure of how far he’s come is that in an FCL game from a season ago he came off the field celebrating his 3rd hit and the coaches let him know that he’s too strong to be hitting singles and there needs to be lift in his swing every time. In a series against Lynchburg last week he had a two-HR game where both were hit way over the fence with triple digit exit velocities. Stiven has always had good outfield skills but now is bigger, stronger and has a plan. Now that he’s physically there, the K’s need to turn into takes or XBH’s, raising the standard once again.

Can he keep improving? Proving his athleticism, he’s 27-35 in SB.

Juan Nuñez

So far on development he’s had streaks of good, bad and in the middle but hasn’t found a solidified role. Being on the wrong end of too many rallies or decisions for a pitcher with more than two finishers is worth examining. The team has moved him up because of his metrics which can be looked at as positive. He’s 22 with only 200 IP of wear so expect some learning still ahead. A slider with his kind of bite and a high power/low stress delivery says that eventually there’s going to be a usable weapon. Batted ball results haven’t been great at Aberdeen, but that won’t deter his track.

Kyle Stowers

Tough to not rank Stowers higher, but also difficult to gauge exactly where he is right now. Has his developmental window closed and he’s a finished product? I’d probably say close, but no. But with prospects Kjerstad and Cowser so close or ahead on the depth chart, where can he go anyway? These are the kinds of questions that are not made easier by the fact he’s doing pretty well at AAA. He checks too many Elias boxes like throwing perfectly, swinging hard and demonstrating plate discipline to have a non-defined role.

Trace Bright

Intense K rate development is underway & the results are eye popping. 35% of hitters leave after Bright k’s them, that’s obscene. He’s 22, from the SEC and pretty big. Also has use of a pair of breaking balls for finishers with a powerful heavy spin curve & a quickly improving slider. xFIP is 3.84 so he’s having a strong first full season. A positive sign going forward is that as he’s used more pitches & faced a higher level of competition his BB rate has shrunk slightly. He’s good.

Cam Weston

If K-BB is your thing you’ll love the streaky but never bad Weston (29% K – 7% BB). Speaking of 22, that’s his age as the former Michigan Wolverine puts together a strong summer. They’re hitting .229 off Weston, who’s put up a 3.11 xFIP in his first full year of use. June 10IP, 10k, 3BB. July 17IP, 23k, 3BB. August 11IP, 13k, 5BB. Lots for the coaches to work with.

Deivy Cruz

At 19, this lefty brings positive metrics as well as noteworthy counting stats. Many notes also include how strong of a fielder he is, often flying off the mound towards bouncers and bunts. Maybe he should be ranked higher. He’s got a whip-like arm action through the zone that’ll help his off speed become nasty quicker. This season he’s relied on the strikeout less, but has lowered his walk rate, lasted longer per appearance and reduced his hit rate in the zone. Major progress. High rotation piece in development. Maybe he should be ranked higher.

Dylan Heid

It’s tough to show your skill when you only pitch six or eight innings a month, but here’s something that might make you look twice. Heid struck out 48% of hitters at Aberdeen last year (in only four games, but still) & has followed it up by K’ing 40% this year. Heid has plenty of pitches that spin along with a few that don’t at all. He’s an elite athlete as far as run & jump is concerned but it may be time to let him strike out a few more hitters.

Trendon Craig

I see plenty of high pedigree prospects make OF read mistakes that Trendon will never ever make. Following fly balls is a natural skill and TC has it in droves. Craig can make consistent clean contact and control the zone, but a bit of swing decision adjustment and we could be looking at a high counting stats profile. He strikes out more than twice as much as he walks (which needs work) yet puts up on-base numbers in the high .300s, already solid. At 43-for-60 stealing, he can take a base too. TC only has 540 MiLB AB so there’s time to improve but the foundation is versatile and positive. 35 XBH over those ABs seems like a low total for a hitter like him.

Silas Ardoin

Already a polarizing prospect, I choose to have faith in athletes that can squat and pop up like Silas. Slowed down there’s not a lot of wasted motion & the arm goes through the zone quite cleanly. On base at 38% for his career with 114k:72BB means we can ignore some other stats. Maybe he’ll make better contact more often & perhaps some pop will present itself. 24 of 98 CS isn’t enough for a thrower like Silas but it’s not horrible. The grind of a pro season is tough on a catcher, but he’s still going strong batting .353 in August, on-base at a hot .436.

Moises Chace

At 20, lots of things are coming together for the hard throwing righty. A deeper voice, broader shoulders & more muscle in his legs say that lots of it is physical. This year opposing hitters aren’t even at .200 against Chace and he has 90 k in 60 IP. Too many three-ball counts is why the WHIP & BB numbers aren’t there yet. But he now has command of a cut fastball to add to the arsenal so things have been steadily improving. Battling some non-serious injuries off and on, he sizzled in July. 17IP, 27k, 7BB, .155 avg against, 0.00 ERA. The stuff, talent & makeup are there.

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