Prospects On The Cusp: National League

Ryan McMahon
Bernie Pleskoff
Written by Bernie Pleskoff

Last week, I began a three-part series regarding prospects I feel are on the cusp of graduation to the major-league roster at some point in 2018.

This week, I take a look at National League prospects I feel will be on their parent club’s roster at some point in the coming season.

My final article in this series will be a ranking of my top prospects. In the event you do not see a familiar name listed in this article, chances are that player has made my Top Prospects list to be published next Sunday.

Only those players will rookie eligibility remaining are listed.



Drafted in 2015 in the 3rd round by the Diamondbacks

2017= 12-9 W/L-145 IP- 3.35 ERA-1.20 WHIP

Clarke could be a surprise for the Dbacks. He is big and strong and commands his fastball, changeup, slider repertoire well. He pitches to contact and keeps the ball down in the zone. A good season combined at Double-A and Triple-A may have put him on the team’s starting pitching radar for this coming season.


Drafted in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft by the Dbacks

2017- 8-7 W/L-122 IP-5.39 ERA-1.44 WHIP

Banda got a chance to pitch for the parent club late in the season. He didn’t fare much better than in his minor league season at Triple-A Reno. With a crowded Dbacks rotation and with issues still to work out, the future for Banda may be a bit cloudy. He could likely pitch in long relief, but he still has to show he can repeat his delivery and throw consistent strikes.


The Dbacks signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2012

2017= .279/3/15/0 SB combined at Class-A Advanced and Double-A

The Dbacks shipped three middle-infield prospects to the Tigers in the deal that brought them JD Martinez. Leyba remains behind as one of the better hitting infield prospects in their system. He is a better than average fielder and could serve the role as an emergency middle-infielder if needed.


The Dbacks signed Brito in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic

2017: .291/5/44 at Triple-A Reno

Brito has had time with the parent club and he didn’t live up to expectations offensively. He got hurt and had limited playing time at Reno this past year. Somehow, some way, he forgot how to hit. I still consider him a “wild card”. I think he has a fine bat but he has to take some of the pressure off himself and somehow gain confidence. I believe if the Dbacks don’t want him, there are teams waiting in the wings to give him a shot.


Drafted by the Dbacks in the 10th round of the 2013 draft

2017: 2-1 W/L-49 IP-3.12 ERA-0.95 WHIP

Used exclusively in relief, Sherfy did well at Reno and earned himself a spot in the parent club’s bullpen late in the season. He has a very solid strikeout/walk ratio and projects to get a shot to return to the bullpen when the bell rings this season. He has good command of an upper-90’s plus-plus fastball, a good slider and an improving changeup.

Jared Miller

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris


An 11th round pick by the Dbacks in the 2014 draft

2017: 3-6 W/L- 70 2/3 IP- 2.93 ERA-1.09 WHIP

Flat out, Miller was the best relief pitcher I saw in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. He followed up that great performance with a good year at Double-A and Triple-A. He has a very solid mid-90’s fastball, and a better than average slider. He still has to sharpen his control, but he has enough to be a very attractive left-hander out of the bullpen as soon as this season.


Chosen by the Mariners in the 5th round of the 2013 draft and traded to Arizona in a deal for Mark Trumbo

2017: .278/4/56/21 SB at Triple-A Reno

I got to see Reinheimer quite a bit again in his 2nd appearance in the Arizona Fall League. He hit very well, finishing at .324 in 79 plate appearances. He is an average defender, at best. If he does get a chance, it will be as a utility infielder. He has little to no power and probably hit better this past fall than any time I have scouted him. There are lots of middle-infield options in baseball organizations, and Reinheimer is mediocre among them. His versatility, speed and athletic ability could mean he’ll see other positions this spring that could enhance his value.


The Orioles selected Walker in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. He was placed on waivers and was selected off waivers by the Braves, the Reds and finally by the Dbacks all in 2017.

2017: .309/32/114/5 SB AT Triple-A Reno. The Diamondbacks promoted him and he hit .250 in 15 plate appearances.

Walker’s power has always intrigued me. For a team looking for right-handed pop, he could help. Not very big for a first baseman, Walker should be used as a designated hitter in the American League as a primary role. He has hit for power wherever he has played. With Paul Goldschmidt a fixture at first base, the Dbacks may have a good trade chip in Walker.

ATLANTA BRAVES (note: many of their prospects will be in my Top Prospect rankings next week)

Travis Demeritte

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris


Selected by the Rangers in the 1st round of the 2013 draft and traded to Atlanta for pitchers Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez

2017: .231/15/45 at Double-A Mississippi

I saw Demeritte in the 2016 Fall League and he made my All Fall League team that season when he hit .261/4/14. I think he can become a very solid major-league utility player with good baseball instincts at three infield positions. He has some pop in his bat, plays solid defense and has a strong and accurate arm. I like him best as a second baseman, and I think his overall game should continue to improve with experience.


Drafted by the Padres in the 2nd round and traded to Atlanta in the deal that sent Justin Upton to the Padres.

2017: .248/1/30/1 SB at Triple-A Gwinnett

Injuries have impacted Peterson so far in his career. He was in a bus accident that cost him development time in 2016 and he had a hamate injury this past year. He is a powerful hitter, but he wasn’t able to show much in his 346 plate appearances this past season, as he hit only one homer. If he can hit quality pitching on a consistent basis this coming season he may get a late-season look by the Braves.

A J MINTER-LHP-6-0-205-AGE 24

Selected by the Braves in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft

2017= 1-2 W/L- 24.1 IP- 3.33 ERA- 1.31 WHIP at Class-A, Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A. He also threw 15 innings for the parent club.

Minter has a plus-plus fastball and remains a top prospect relief pitcher even after having Tommy John surgery while in college. He throws his fastball in the mid-90’s and also has a cutter and slider in his repertoire. On the small side, he can be used as a situational lefty coming out of the pen, and that role seems to suit him well. He has a shot to stick in the Braves bullpen.



The Braves drafted Caratini in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft and traded him to Chicago in a deal that sent James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to Atlanta.

2017: .342/10/61/0 SB at Triple-A Iowa. He also had 66 plate appearances for the Cubs and hit .254

The switch-hitting Caratini is an interesting hitter-first catching prospect. He is versatile enough to play corner infield positions as well. If the Cubs want his power off the bench, he could help them this coming year. However, he still has work to do defensively due to his slow reactions, slow feet and mediocre catching mechanics. He has a good arm and may also be able to fill-in at 3B if needed. He would make a good trade chip to the American League where his hitting skill could prosper as a DH.

The Cubs selected Zagunis in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft.

2017: .267/13/55/4 SB at Triple-A Iowa

Zagunis was a catcher at one point, but is now strictly considered to be an outfield candidate. He is a better hitter than defender, using good hitting mechanics and solid contact at the plate. He is capable of playing all three outfield positions, but is only an average defender, if that. If Zagunis gets a chance with the Cubs, it will be for his solid hit tool.

JEN-HO TSENG-LHP-6-1, 195-AGE 22

The Cubs signed Tseng out of Taiwan in 2013

2017: 13-4 W/L-145.1 IP-2.54 ERA-1.13 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He also threw 6 major-league innings.

With an ability to start or relieve, in my opinion, Tseng is an interesting left-handed reliever option for the coming season. With a fastball that now sits in the mid-90’s, he can use that pitch as well as a curveball and changeup to dispatch hitters. Not overpowering, Tseng locates his pitches well. He sets up the hitter with the fastball and finishes the at-bat with a much better than average changeup.


The Cubs drafted Maples in the 14th round in 2011

2017: 6-3 W/L-63.1 IP-2.27 ERA-1.27 WHIP combined at Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A. He also pitched 5.1 relief innings for the Cubs parent club.

With improvement this past season, Maples has put himself on the Cubs pitching map with a fastball that can touch 100 miles per hour. An attractive option for the bullpen, he yielded fewer hits than innings pitched and has a nice combination of a very good plus-plus fastball, and an above-average curveball and slider in his complete repertoire. He will have to control and command his pitches to be able to stick, an issue that has hampered him in his past.


Drafted by the Cubs in the 2nd round of 2012

2017: 13-7 W/L-138 IP-4.43 ERA-1.30 WHIP

Inconsistency is the word to use for Underwood. Considered to be a fine prospect pitcher, he has had his good days and bad. This past season really didn’t do much to elevate his status. But teams always look at guys that can throw 98 with their fastball. He also has a better than average curveball, cutter and changeup to complete his repertoire. Like so many pitchers, throwing strikes is an issue. He will have to show he can cut his high walk rate before he gets to perform as part of a big league rotation.



A 7th round draft pick by the Reds in 2013

2017: 10-7 W/L-144.1 IP- 2.06 ERA-0.96 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He also threw 20 innings for the parent Reds.

Throwing strikes and commanding a repertoire that includes a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup that are each at least major-league average quality, Mahle has a nice chance to become part of the Reds rotation. He will have to keep the ball down in his home, hitter-friendly park, but he can accomplish that with his sound mechanics. He can hit 96- 97 miles per hour with his fastball.


A 1st round 2012 draft pick by the Reds

2017: .314/2/41/4 SB at Triple-A. He also received 137 plate appearances for the parent Reds, hitting .298/7/15

If this isn’t the year for Jesse Winker to become a full-time outfielder for the Reds, they should trade him. He has an excellent hit tool with a measured swing that does not hunt home runs. Using good hitting contact and rarely striking out, Winker is an ideal top of the order table setter type hitter. He may add to his mediocre power output, but that isn’t his game. He’s a quality hitter with below average other tools.


Signed by the Reds out of the Dominican Republic in 2011

2017: .216/17/56/ 9 SB at Double-A Pensacola

Power will be Aquino’s calling card to major-league baseball. He didn’t hit for average last year at Pensacola, but he still showed why the Reds value him-he can hit the ball out of the park with a very strong frame and quick hands. Aquino has a solid and strong plus-plus arm from his position in right field. He may get a late-season look in Cincinnati if he shows the power and strength the Reds desperately need in their outfield.


The Reds took Long in the 12th round of the 2013 draft

2017: .281/16/50/9 SB combined at Class-A Advanced and Double-A

Slight of build, Long is known to be a good hitter with some sneaky power. One might think he has speed due to his smallish size, but he is only an average runner. I include him on this list because the Reds need playmakers. He can be one. He has a solid hit tool that has been consistent since he signed. His power makes a statement in the middle-infield.


The Yankees signed Davis in the 14th round of the 2011 draft. He was traded to the Reds in a huge 2015 deal for Aroldis Chapman.

2017: 4-5 W/L-83.1 IP-4.43 ERS- 1.27 WHIP combined at Rookie, Double-A, and Triple-A. He also threw 24 major-league innings for the Reds in seven games. He started six of those.

After missing time with a groin injury in 2016, Davis returned last season to pitch at several levels. He even started for the parent club. He has a better than average fastball, a curve and a below average changeup in his repertoire. Improving since being injured, he clearly may get the chance to prove worthy of being a target in the Reds trade that sent Chapman to New York.


The Reds signed Hernandez out of the Dominican Republic in 2008.

2017: 3-2 W/L-50 IP- 3.24 ERA-1.42 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He threw 24.1 relief innings for the parent Reds as well.

Hernandez is a bit of a puzzle. He has a great arm and can hit 100 miles per hour with his fastball. However, he hasn’t been able to show consistent command with the pitch and he allows far too many bases on balls. He walked 39 in 50 minor league innings last year. He has the upside of a closer. However, he will have to show that he can command and control both his fastball and curveball, which is also a better than average pitch.

KEURY MELLA-RHP-6-2, 200, AGE 24

The Reds signed Mella out of the Dominican Republic in 2011

2017: 4-10 W/L- 134 IP- 4.30 ERA-1.32 WHIP at Double-A Pensacola. He also threw 4 relief innings for the parent Reds.

Mella brings his fastball up to 97 miles per hour, but he has trouble with control and command of his repertoire. An option for the rotation or the bullpen, he includes a better than average slider and a mediocre changeup in his repertoire. The Reds really need to solidify their pitching, and Mella may get a chance to show he can help this coming season.

PHIL ERVIN-OF-BR/TR/5-10, 207-AGE 25

Ervin was a 1st round pick of the Reds in 2013

2017: .256/7/40/23 SB at Triple-A Louisville. He received 64 plate appearances with the Reds and hit .259/3/10

Ervin simply hasn’t produced the kind of offensive numbers the Reds anticipated when they drafted him out of Samford University. One would expect more production from him at this stage of his career-with five seasons of professional baseball in addition to his collegiate career. When I saw him in the 2015 Fall League he looked overmatched and hit only .209. I think this is a telling year for Ervin. His speed is good and he can play the outfield adequately. However, he will have to hit to have any chance of being a 4th or 5th outfielder, regardless of the round in which he was drafted.


The Reds picked him in the 1st round of the 2014 draft

2017: .265/12/51/4 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

Blandino is seen as a better defender than hitter. He is, however, improving on offense. I got to see lots of him in the 2015 Fall League when he played for Peoria and hit .246. He didn’t look like a No. 1 draft pick at that time. While I think the Reds need lots of players to contribute, I don’t think he is more than a utility infielder if he makes the club at all. But the clock is ticking. He has to have a good first half at Triple-A to get a longer look for a promotion to Cincinnati.


RYAN MCMAHON-1B/3B/2B-BL/TR-6-2, 185-AGE 22

McMahon was a 2nd round pick by the Rockies in 2013

2017: .355/20/88/11 SB combined while playing at Double-A and Triple-A last year. He also saw 24 plate appearances for the parent Rockies hitting .158.

Mark Reynolds was the first baseman for a great deal of time in Colorado last season. While still powerful, it may be time for someone like McMahon to take over at the position. Strong and powerful, McMahon has outstanding bat control and makes very good contact for a power-hitting prospect. The team may be hunting a bigger fish in free agency, but McMahon may still get a shot to make the club as a versatile player.


Castellani was a 2nd round pick by the Rockies in 2014

2017: 9-12 W/L- 157.1 IP- 4.81 ERA-1.33 at Double-A

A starting pitcher, Castellani throws a better than average plus fastball in the mid-90s, a slider and a changeup with both pitches being better than major-league average. He has some issues with command and control that are common with prospect pitchers. The Rockies have had success lately with guys that can get sink on their pitches-and that’s Castellani. It remains to be seen if he gets a shot late this coming season.

TOM MURPHY-C-BR/TR/6-1, 220-AGE 26***

Murphy was a 3rd round Rockies pick in the 2012 draft

2017: .255/4/19/0 SB at Triple-A Albuquerque. He also spent time on the Rockies roster, hitting .083 in 26 plate appearances.

As 2016 was about to unfold, Murphy seemed to be in position to claim the starting catcher’s role, if not be part of a time-share. However, a fractured forearm literally ruined his season. With the physicality of a prototypical catcher, Murphy will have to show he can reach his high hitting upside to claim the job. If Jonathan Lucroy leaves the Rockies, Murphy will have a shot at the job. If Lucroy stays, Murphy is in line as a solid backup. This is a crucial year for his future.

***Even though Murphy has exceeded rookie level limits, I feel it is important to treat him as a prospect. He has never really had a sustained opportunity to prove his value

Yancy Almonte

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris


The Angels chose Almonte in the 17th round in 2012. Almonte was traded to the White Sox for Gordon Beckham. The White Sox then traded him to the Rockies for pitcher Tommy Kahnle.

2017: 8-4 W/L-111.1 IP combined at Double-A and Triple-A.

I saw Almonte in this past Arizona Fall League. He had a rough time, yielding 18 hits in 10 relief innings. He has a mid 90-s fastball, but he can reach higher velocities at times as well. He pitches down in the zone, which is the only way to pitch at Coors Field. He has a fair slider and a below average changeup. If he makes it to Colorado, it should be in the bullpen initially.

SAM HOWARD-LHP-6-3, 170-AGE 24

Howard was a 3rd round pick of the Rockies in 2014

2017: 5-8 W/L-127.1 IP combined at Double-A and Triple-A

An attractive left-handed pitching option for Colorado, Howard has been used as a starter, but there isn’t anything keeping the team from using him as a lefty out of the bullpen. He has an average repertoire that includes a mid-90’s fastball, a slider and a changeup. He has fairly good command and control, which can sometimes be a problem for lefties.


The Rockies took Patterson in the 4th round of the 2013 draft

2017: .283/26/92/ 3 SB at Triple-A

Left-handed power works anywhere-but it sure plays well at Coors with an attractive wind tunnel in right/center field. Last year he belted 26 homers in a hitter-friendly league environment. However, that total represents an increase of 12 over 2016 in the same location. I think he’ll get a long look for the Rockies who will continue to blast their way past opponents. He, too, can fill a role as their new first baseman.


The Cubs took Farris in the 9th round of the 2014 draft. He was traded to the Rockies in the deal that sent pitcher Eddie Butler to Chicago.

2017: 1-3 W/L-57.2 IP- 3.59 ERA- 1.17 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He also pitched for Salt River in the Fall League where he finished with an ERA of 11.57 in 9.1 IP

Perhaps he was really tired, but Farris scuffled in the Fall League, yielding 16 hits in his 9.1 relief innings. He does have a good fastball and slider, but that’s about it. He is destined to be a reliever unless he can build his changeup to a better quality offering. He does keep the ball down, which of course will help. I’m not certain he can work his way to the Rockies pen, but anything is possible with a good start to his new season.



Oaks was a 7th round pick of the Dodgers in 2014

2017: 4-3 W/L- 91.2 IP- 3.83 ERA-1.28 WHIP at Rookie Ball and Triple-A combined.

His best pitch is a plus fastball, but Oaks also throws a cutter a slider, and a changeup in a full repertoire that serves him well as a relief pitcher. A ground ball machine, he gets a good deal of sink on his pitches and that may bode well for a role in the NL West where tough parks like Coors Field and Chase Field await in Colorado and Phoenix respectively. He had Tommy John surgery in high school but appears to be well beyond any elbow issues.

EDWIN RIOS-1B/OF/3B-BL/TR/6-3, 220-AGE 23

Drafted by the Dodgers in the 6th round of 2015

2017: .309/24/91/1 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

A left-handed hitter with the type of power and position versatility Rios offers is attractive. If he doesn’t fit with the Dodgers, other clubs would likely take a look at the big, strong hitter. He is aggressive at the plate, but the power results this past year hold hope that he will return dividends beyond his draft round. It looks now as if Rios will be target more as a first baseman, but he is capable of moving around the field.

KYLE FARMER-C/3B/2B-BR/TR/-6-0, 215-AGE 27

Farmer was an 8th round pick by the Dodgers in the 2013 draft

2017: .317/10/56/2 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

With the clock ticking and Farmer not getting any younger, it is within the realm of possibility that Farmer could get a chance to play at the big league level at some point in the coming season. He did get a chance to play for the parent Dodgers last season, hitting .300 in 20 plate appearances. Basically a catcher but versatile enough to play in the infield, Farmer’s best skill is a strong and accurate arm. He can use that from behind the plate or from third base. He hit well when I saw him play in the 2015 Fall League. I don’t hold much hope, however, that Farmer can get beyond being a utility player.


Brian Anderson

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris


Miami drafted Anderson in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft

2017: .275/22/81/ 1 SB combined while playing at Double-A and Triple-A. He had 95 plate appearances at Miami in 2017 and hit .262/0/8.

I’m a big fan of Anderson’s overall ability to hit quality pitching. I’ve watched him twice in Arizona Fall League seasons and I’ve been impressed with his measured approach at the plate. He makes excellent contact and knows how to hit. A very good defensive third baseman, I think power will come soon enough. With new management in Miami, he may get a chance.


The Marlins chose Peters in the 10th round of the 2014 draft

2017: 7-3-W/L- 63 IP- 1.57 ERA- 0.92 WHIP combined at Rookie, Class-A Advanced and Double-A classifications

To say the “new look” Marlins need pitching is an understatement. Peters is a small sized lefty with a chance to compete for a role in the rotation at some point in the coming season. He has a good fastball, a good curveball, and an average changeup in his repertoire. He has better than average control and command, which bodes well for a chance with the parent club. He is coming off a fine 2016 season.


The New York Yankees selected Smith in the 14th round of the 2013 draft. He was traded to the Marlins in November this year for pitcher Mike King and bonus slot money.

2017: 9-1 W/L-100.2 IP combined at Double-A and Tri- 2.41 ERA-1.06 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He also appeared in 9 games for the Yankees, with two as a starter. He went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in 18.2 innings.

Smith has been around the block due to being claimed in the Rule 5 Draft last year by the Brewers. Bottom line: he ultimately returned to the Yankees and last month was traded to the Marlins. He is a fly-ball pitcher with an average fastball, changeup and slider repertoire. He is little more than a lottery ticket that may pay dividends for the Marlins. It’s obvious the new Marlins staff knew of him from his days with the Yankees.

JOHN NORWOOD- OF-BR/TR-6-1, 185-age 25

Norwood was signed by the Marlins as an undrafted free agent in 2014

2017: .285/19/62/ 4 SB at Double-A

High strikeouts are the issue with Norwood. Yes, he has the power teams covet, but his lack of plate discipline is an issue. His long swing and trouble with breaking balls will have to be corrected for him to get the chance he seeks. There is no denying he has the power to hit in any park. A good runner and average fielder, he will have to impress during the minor league season to let his bat win a major-league job.


LUIS ORTIZ-RHP-6-3, 230-Age 22

The Rangers drafted Ortiz in 2014 and traded him to the Brewers that yielded Jonathan Lucroy for the Rangers.

2017: 4-7- 94.1 IP-4.01 ERA-1.23 WHIP at Double-A

Ortiz is a solid pitching option for the Brewers in the coming season. Still very young, he could possibly climb to the major-league roster at some point during the season. He has a good, above- average quality repertoire including a fastball that ranges from 93-97, a slider and a changeup. His control is fine, but he can stand to refine his delivery even more in the final stages of development.

ISAN DIAZ-2B/SS-BL/TR-5-10, 185-AGE 21

The Diamondbacks chose Diaz in the 2nd round in 2014. He was traded to the Brewers in the deal that brought Jean Segura to Arizona.

2017: .222/13/54/ 9 SB at Class-A Advanced

It would likely be a long shot for Diaz to play with the parent Brewers this coming season, but I think he has a chance. He’s a highly touted prospect with good range and average defensive ability. I believe he profiles best as a second baseman. The key to his success will be the pop in his bat. More powerful than most middle-infield prospects, Diaz may be very comfortable and the team can be enticed by what he can do at Miller Park.


The Red Sox drafted Dubon in the 26th round in 2013. He was then traded to the Brewers for Travis Shaw and Tyler Thornburg.

2017: .274/8/57/38 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

To me, Dubon is an exciting prospect. I saw him play in the 2016 Fall League and he was impressive in the middle-infield and in center field. He can hit for average, steal bases and provide a bit of pop from the upper part of the batting order. A true table-setter, Dubon is versatile, athletic and exciting to watch. I think he will only get better with time and experience.

Lucas Erceg

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris

LUCAS ERCEG-3B-BL/TR-6-3, 200-AGE 22

The Brewers drafted Erceg in the 2nd round in 2016

2017: .259/15/83/2 SB combined at Class-A Advanced and Triple-A.

I have always like everything about Erceg’s game. He has some power in his left-handed swing and plays well at third base. He will surprise with his steady approach and good, consistent at-bats. Making good contact, and using good hitting mechanics, I think eventually third base in Milwaukee belongs to Erceg. One of his best qualities is a strong and accurate arm from third base. Erceg may really become be an impactful player. This coming season may be just a bit too soon.


The Astros drafted Phillips in 2012 as a 6th round and traded him to the Brewers in a deal for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers.

2017: .305/19/78/9 SB at Triple-A

While he has some power and speed, he hasn’t hit as projected initially. He has a strong and accurate arm and fits nicely in right field. He’ll have to improve as a hitter and gain some power to break into a solid Brewers outfield. He did hit over .300 in a very friendly park in a very friendly league in Triple-A this past season. Still, there are concerns about his ability to hit quality major-league pitching moving forward.



The Mets took Cecchini in the 1st round in 2012

2017: 267/6/39/5 SB at Triple-A

It remains to be seen if Cecchini can play at the major-league level. He hasn’t lived up to 1st round expectations. If he does get a chance to play, and most 1st rounder’s at least get a big league look, he will likely be a utility middle-infielder. With a mediocre bat and mediocre defense, his best tool may be his upside regarding a solid batting average. However, little power and no speed add to the issues facing him as he moves along.

Tomas Nido

Photo Credit: Jerry Espinoza

TOMAS NIDO-C-BR/TR-6-0, 210-AGE 23

Nido was an 8th round Mets pick in 2012

2017: .232/8/60/0 SB-at Double-A

If the Mets need a backup catcher at some point in the season, Nido may be the man for the role. A better than average defensive catcher, Nodo has a strong and accurate arm from behind the plate. He moves well and plays above his press clippings. Nido doesn’t hit much at all and has little power and even less speed. But I like the way he handled pitchers in the Arizona Fall League. The Mets can do worse than Tomas Nido.


The Mets chose Guillorme in the 10th round in 2013

2017: .283/1/43/4 SB at Double-A

I got to watch Guillorme in the Fall League and not one player had quicker hands in the middle-infield. The ball disappears in his glove and is gone from his hand with accurate throws in a split-second. I like that he makes contact with a good eye at the plate. I think he can hit and I think he should get a chance with a Mets club that always needs middle-infielders. I think he takes his fine glove, quick hands and nice bat to New York at some point in the coming season.


The Mets took Flexen in the 14th round in 2012

2017: 6-1- 61/1 IP-2.35 ERA-0.81 WHIP combined at Class-A Advanced and Double-A

After Tommy John surgery in 2014, Flexen is back and pitching well. He can start or relieve, and probably fits best as a back end of the rotation starter. He has a plus fastball, a changeup and a curveball in his repertoire. He threw in 9 games for the Mets last season, all in relief. He has to continue to throw strikes and improve his changeup to continue to grow.


The Dodgers drafted Rhame in 2013 and sent him to the Mets in the Curtis Granderson deal.

2017: 0-3 W/L-54 IP-4.00 ERA-1.18 WHIP combined at Triple-A in the Mets organization as well as with the Dodgers. Rhame also saw nine innings pitching in relief for the Mets.

Rhame can hit 98 miles per hour with his fastball that is a plus-plus pitch. He gets great movement on that pitch. He also throws a slider and changeup, but both are actually still below major-league average in quality. In short, it seems to be fastball after fastball to record outs so far in his career. However, with such a good fastball he can help in the Mets pen.


The Mets drafted Oswalt in the 12th round in 2012

2017: 12-5 W/L-134.1 IP-2.28 ERA-1.17 WHIP at Double-A

With an average repertoire that includes a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball, Oswalt gets the job done with good control of his pitches. He knows how to throw strikes and is credible as a potential spot starter or as a back end of the rotation regular starter. With the Mets usually needing pitching help due to injuries, his good year at Double-A could mean a longer look this coming spring.


The Red Sox drafted Callahan in the 2nd round in 2012 and traded him to the Mets along with two other minor-league players (Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek) for Addison Reed.

2017: 6-3 W/L-52 IP- 2.94 ERA-1.25 WHIP combined for Boston and New York at Double-A and Triple-A. He pitched for the Mets, going 6.2 relief innings as well.

A good Fall League in 2016 opened lots of eyes and Callahan has gone on to improve his chances as a major-league reliever. He throws a fastball, a cutter combination and is suited exclusively for the bullpen with that limited arsenal. He is very serviceable as a guy that can give his team a mid-game inning or two and keep the opposition in check.



Drafted by the Phillies in the 2nd round in 2012

2017: .210/27/75/8 SB-at Triple-A

Power is the name of the game for Dylan Cozens. He really doesn’t have a solid hit tool, as his average from last year dictates. But he does have home run power. He may be a real force in his own home park in Philadelphia-if he gets playing time. He is coming off his worst batting average and will have to show that he can hit advanced level pitching. However, anyone that has two seasons of 40 and 27 homers back-to-back will get that extra look. With the Phillies getting younger and younger, don’t write Dylan Cozens off as a prime player.


Quinn was a 2nd round Phillies pick in 2011

2017: .274/2/13/10 SB at Triple-A

If Dylan Cozens is the prospect power hitter to watch for next year, Quinn represents the table setter. Small and fast, Quinn’s game is small ball based around enough speed to steal bases, chase down balls in the outfield and take the extra base. He has to get on base to be worthy of a roster spot, but his Grade 75 speed makes him dangerous. I saw him in the 2016 Fall League and he failed to impress. His 2016 season included time with the Phillies, but he is still considered a rookie. I’m not sure he’s more than a utility outfielder. If he is, he’ll have to show that to his club this coming spring. He isn’t Billy Hamilton.


The Phillies signed Tocci out of Venezuela in 2011

2017: .294/3/52/ 2SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

Not as good an outfield prospect as Cozens or Quinn, Tocci is coming off a good season where he hit well at Reading in Double-A and then faltered a bit with a brief look at Triple-A. The Phillies are looking to revamp and revitalize their club and a player like Tocci may help. He plays solid defense and can hit, a good combination for a guy that doesn’t flash much power. He may capture a role as a utility outfielder at some point.


The Dodgers signed Arano out of Mexico in 2013 and then traded him to Philadelphia for right-hander Roberto Hernandez.

2017: 1-2 W/L-38.2 IP-4.19 ERA and-1.29 WHIP at Double-A. He also saw time with the parent Phillies, throwing 10.2 relief innings.

Arano is a guy for Phillies fans to watch carefully. He could win a role in the back end of the team’s bullpen sometime this coming season. He has improved after converting to the pen after being traded by the Dodgers. His fastball/slider combination may be all he needs to pitch in relief, but he also has a changeup that he can improve upon in time. He has to improve his command of all three pitches, but he has the arm to make himself viable on a young and improving club.



Selected by the Pirates in the 1st round of 2015

2017: .267/4/41/11 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

It really may well be time for Kevin Newman to take over at shortstop for Pittsburgh. He is a decent defender, but not above average in any way. His hit tool is the one skill that could propel him to an everyday job in Pittsburgh. He doesn’t hit for power at all, but he runs well and makes all the plays. He can likely play either middle-infield position, and second base may be more suitable for him defensively. If he doesn’t break camp with the club, it is likely we see him at some point in 2018.

Edgar Santana

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris


The Pirates signed Santana in 2013 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic

2017: 1-3 W/L- 58 IP- 2.79 ERA-and 1.27 WHIP at Triple-A. He also pitched for the Pirates, going 18 innings in relief.

Santana was not the typical teenager when he signed with Pittsburgh out of the Dominican. He was older and more mature and has moved quickly through the development program. He has a real shot to pitch at the major-league level, using his 98 miles per hour fastball and a better than average slider in a combination that can miss plenty of bats. He still has to work on his command and control, but he has a future in the Pirates pen.


The Pirates chose Kingham in the 4th round of 2010

2017: 10-6 W/L-11.1 IP-3.95 ERA-1.25 combined at Double-A and Triple-A

We have seen quite a few big, strong Pirates pitchers come through their development program. But frankly, the big arms of Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon and even Gerrit Cole haven’t set the world on fire. Maybe it’ll be Mr. Kingham. He has three pitches in his arsenal that appear to me to be above average. He throws a solid fastball, curve and changeup. Tommy John surgery in 2015 slowed his progress. This may be the year we see Kingham realize his upside at the big league level. I look for him to pitch in Pittsburgh at some point in 2018.


Selected by the Pirates in the 9th round of the 2011 draft

2017: 10-5/ 112.2 IP-3.36 ERA-1.37 WHIP at Triple-A

Holmes is an intriguing name to watch. He is big and strong and is coming off an excellent season at Indianapolis. The problem was and is his high walk rate of 4.7 per nine innings. That’s very similar to his 2016 season, so progress has been slow. He is on the 40-man roster already and has a nice combination of a fastball, curve and changeup. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014 but has had a fine post-surgery return.


2017: .302/23/56/5 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He also received 87 plate appearances with the major-league club and hit .205.

Recovering from shoulder surgery in 2016, Luplow was healthy last season and put up decent enough numbers to get a look with the major-league team. He is likely more a utility player with few projectable tools. If he shows he can hit some balls out of the park in the early part of 2018 he may win himself another big league look.


The Pirates chose Eppler in the 6th round of the 2014 draft

2017: 8-9 W/L- 136.1 IP- 4.89 ERA- 1.40 WHIP at Triple-A

With a mid-90’s fastball, a slider and changeup, Eppler has enough of a repertoire to pitch in the Pirates rotation at some point going forward. He didn’t have the best year, as his walk rate was too high and he yielded a .292 batting average to the opposition. However, with his size, he should be able to figure things out, learn how to improve his delivery, gain control of his pitches and put his career on track for a 2018 arrival. He can bring the fastball to 94-95 miles per hour, which could play.


ERIC LAUER-LHP-6-3, 205-AGE 22

Drafted by the Padres in the 1st round in 2016

2017: 6-8 W/L-122.2 IP-3.30 ERA-1.24 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A

Lauer is among the young Padres players that could very well lead them to a bright future. A former 1st round pick, he has a nice repertoire that includes a fastball with excellent life, an above average slider, a changeup and a curveball. He has very good command of his arsenal and controls the strike zone well. He may find his way to San Diego at some point this coming year.


Gettys was selected by the Padres in the 2nd round in 2014

2017: .254/17/51/22 SB at Class-A Advanced

When I saw Gettys in the 2016 Arizona Fall League he looked totally overwhelmed and hit .157 in 76 plate appearances. He rebounded at Lake Elsinore this past season, hitting 17 home runs. While he is a long shot to make the team this spring, he could appear on the roster late in the year if he builds upon what he accomplished this past season.



The Giants chose Arroyo in the 1st round in 2013

2017: .396/4/16/2 SB at Triple-A. Arroyo played 34 games for the Parent Giants and hit .192 in 135 trips to the plate.

Arroyo was drafted in the 1st round because he can hit. He has a solid line drive bat, excellent hitting mechanics and he knows his limits. He is not a home run hitter. He is a solid bat to ball contact hitter with a chance to get on base by using the entire field. He can play anywhere in the infield. I think if Joe Panik were moved in trade, he would fit nicely at second base. The time has come for the Giants to give Arroyo a job and put him in the lineup every day.

CHRIS SHAW-1B/OF-BL/TR-6-4, 235-AGE 24

The Giants took Shaw in the 1st round in the 2015 draft

2017: 292/24/79/0 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A

Depending upon who one speaks with, the 1st base job in San Francisco belongs to Shaw this coming year or he will be blocked by Brandon Belt. With the Giants no longer in the mix for Giancarlo Stanton, perhaps all of their prospect players remain with San Francisco. Regardless, Shaw is on the radar. I saw him in only once in the Arizona Fall League. He played in five games and hit .158. Shaw has power that the Giants need, but his home park will be a tough place to smoke the ball out of the park. He can hit the gaps for doubles, but has virtually no speed, and in fact, he’ll clog the bases. Power is his game. Period. He doesn’t have much to offer defensively and the best option for him could be a trade to the American League where he could serve as a designated hitter.


Beede was a 1st round pick for San Francisco in 2015

2017: 6-7 W/L-109 IP-4.79 ERA-1.46 WHIP at Triple-A

Beede was hurt this past season and began to pitch again in the Arizona Fall League. Using care and taking things slowly, Beede is a solid starting pitching option when healthy. Everything depends upon his fastball command, but he throws an average repertoire that includes a cutter, a curve and a changeup in addition to his fastball. The Giants will need Beede to step up at some point during the season in a shallow rotation.


Duggar was a 6th round pick of the Giants in 2015

2017: .262/6/26/10 SB combined at Rookie-Class-A Advanced and Triple-A.

I got to see lots of Duggar in this past Fall League. Believe me, I liked what I saw. He can run, he gets his uniform dirty, he comes to beat the opposition and he is an above average defender. I think he can be the future center fielder of the Giants as soon as later this coming season. An excellent contact hitter, Duggar puts the ball in play and takes off running. He should have far more than 10 stolen bases in any given season.


Suarez was a 2nd round draft pick by the Giants in 2014

2017: 10-10 W/L-155.2 IP-3.30 ERA-1.33 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A

It isn’t very often that a player turns down a club that has drafted him in the 2nd round. That’s what happened when the Nationals took Suarez in 2014. He was also drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school in 2011 and turned them down as well. But he signed with the Giants and should be part of their pitching future-perhaps this coming season. Used as a starter, the lefty has above-average stuff and better than average command and control. His arsenal includes a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball.

Joan Gregorio

Photo Credit: Jerry Espinoza


The Giants signed Gregorio out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 as an international free agent

2017: 4-4 W/L- 74 IP-3.04 ERA-1.32 WHIP at Triple-A

I saw Gregorio pitch in the Fall League and I came away feeling he would be best used in relief. The Giants have used him as a starter. He was suspended in 2016 for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Very tall and thin, he needs to improve his secondary pitches. But his fastball hits 97 and could make him useful out of the pen.


The Giants took Coonrod in the 5th round in 2014

2017: 4-11 W/L-103.2 IP-4.69 ERA-1.33 WHIP at Double-A

Coonrod would be a long shot to make the Giants anytime other than late in the season. He will likely compete at Triple-A. But he has a good repertoire that includes a mid-90’s fastball, a slider and a less than average changeup. Once he masters that third pitch, he could get on the team’s starting pitching radar.


Signed by the Giants out of the Dominican Republic in 2010

2017: 3-0 W/L-17 IP-2.12 ERA-1.23 WHIP combined at Rookie level, Double A, and at Triple-A. Moronta also threw 6.2 relief innings for the parent Giants.

Possibly a closer in the Giants future, Moronta has a 97 miles per hour fastball that he compliments with a slider and a poor quality changeup. He can get wild and become way too aggressive in his approach, but the hefty framed right-hander has to be considered when bullpen needs are discussed.



Chosen in the 1st round by the Cardinals in 2014

2017: 14-4 W/L- 2.18 ERA- 1.04 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He also threw 21.1 innings for the parent Cardinals and registered a 6.33 ERA.

Flaherty has a very solid fastball/changeup combination. His changeup is probably his best pitch at plus quality. He controls his repertoire and should fit into the back end of the Cardinals rotation at some point this coming season. If, however, the team bolsters its starters from the outside, Flaherty could have to wait. He mixes his pitches well but he will have to show that he can get big league hitters out on a consistent basis.


The Mariners selected O’Neill in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft and traded him to St. Louis for Marco Gonzales.

2017: .246/31/95/14 SB combined at Triple-A for two organizations

O’Neill has a very compact and strong frame that results in raw power that can play anywhere. He strikes out way too much and has to shorten his swing, show better patience and pitch recognition and learn how to better hit breaking pitches. There is no denying what he brings in the way of power, but he has a way to go regarding most other tools. He does have good speed and can steal bases and chase down fly balls.

Harrison Bader

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris


Drafted by the Cardinals in the 3rd round in 2015

2017: .283/20/55/15 SB at Triple-A. Bader also had 92 plate appearances for the Cardinals and hit .235

I’m a huge Bader fan. He is just a good, steady, dependable baseball player without much flash. He does everything well, but I really think he can hit quality pitching. He has some pop, but he isn’t at the plate to hit home runs. He is content to make every at-bat count with a good barrel approach and steady mechanics. He’s a solid center fielder with a chance to play on an every day basis.


The Cardinals took Hudson in the 1st round in 2016

2017: 10-5 W/L- 152.2 IP-3.01 ERA-1.28 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A

Look at his numbers from last season and it is easy to tell why the Cardinals are excited about Hudson. On a club that develops pitchers very well, he may not be rushed to the big leagues. The team can take their time and smooth out any rough edges in his development. However, he may find a place in St. Louis late in the season. He has a better than average 97 miles per hour fastball, slider, solid curveball and changeup with good command and control.


The Cardinals signed the Cuban outfielder in 2016

2017: .266/11/49/8 SB combined at Class-A Advanced and Double-A

It remains to be seen if Arozarena can hit enough to make an impact with the Cardinals. He has stiff outfield competition in an organization that likes to take its time developing players. But he is a guy to keep an eye on in the coming year as a fast runner, a solid hitter and a good defensive player.


The Cardinals chose Gomber in the 4th round in 2014

2017: 10-7 W/L- 143 IP- 3.34 ERA-1.16 WHIP at Double-A

I saw Gomber in the 2016 Fall League and I liked what I saw at that time. Now a year older and after having a good season at Springfield, the big and strong lefty has a chance to pitch at the major-league level at some point this coming season. His curveball is his best pitch, but he also has a very credible fastball and changeup. I like his future with St. Louis in either a starting role or coming out of the pen as a left-handed reliever.



Taken by the Nationals in the 1st round of 2014

2017: 4-5 W/L-90.1 IP-3.69 ERA-1.16 WHIP combined at Double-A and Triple-A. Fedde also pitched for the Nationals going 15.1 innings

The Nationals used Fedde in their bullpen last year out of need, but he has returned to the rotation. He has a mix of a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a solid plus slider. His control is above average. He could find himself as a mid-rotation starter at some point. He throws strikes, gets ahead in counts and is in control on the mound. He has a nice future as a starter.


Stevenson is a former No. 2 draft pick by the Nationals

2017: .272/2/38/11 SB combined at Double-A and Triple-A. Stevenson also got 66 major-league at-bats and hit .158

Stevenson is an outstanding defensive outfielder. He’s just a good baseball player with limited power and a good hit tool. I got to watch him in the 2016 Fall League and I really liked his overall game. He is consistent, gives total effort and makes every play hit anywhere he is playing. While he doesn’t hit for power, he has played every outfield position because his defense is so solid. He’s a fine 4th outfield type if he doesn’t win an everyday role.


The Nationals signed Bautista out of the Dominican Republic in 2012

2017: .259/0/14/8 SB combined at Rookie-level and Triple-A. He did get 25 big league at-bats with the Nationals and hit .160

Bautista broke his finger at the beginning of the 2017 season and had limited development time. The previous year he stole 69 bases at Class-A Hagerstown. Speed will be Bautista’s calling card, although he still needs to learn the nuances of base stealing. He has little to no power and it may be tough for him to get on base, making a good eye at the plate and getting bases on balls important. He is an average defender in the outfield.

RAUDY READ-C-BR/TR/-6-0, 170-AGE 24

The Nationals signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2011

2017: .265/17/61/2 SB at Double-A Harrisburg. He also received 11 plate appearances for the Nationals and hit .273

Read may be able to carve out a role as a backup catcher at the major-league level. He has a nice hit tool, but his power and speed are very limited. His best tool is a strong and accurate arm from behind the plate. Dis defense is improving. Fellow Dominican teammate Pedro Severino may be a bit more advanced and capture the role Read is striving to obtain.

Drew Ward

Photo Credit: Ryan Morris

DREW WARD-3B-BL/TR-6-3, 215-AGE 23

Ward was a 3rd round selection by the Nationals in 2013

2017: .235/10/53/0 SB at Double-A

Ward had a fine Fall League campaign where he hit .309 and got some attention from scouts. It remains to be seen if he will be ready to play for Washington this coming year, but he has some solid tools and can be attractive as a trade chip. Ward is slow afoot and his lack of speed doesn’t help his profile. He is best suited as a strong-armed third baseman with some power.
He may scuffle against quality pitching as he advances.


The Nationals signed Marmolejos out of the Dominican Republic in 2011.

2017: .288/14/68/0 SB at Double-A

A good first baseman defensively, it appears as though it will be first base or nothing for the slow-footed Marmolejos. He has a solid bat with a chance to hit for average as a major-league player. He has never hit more than 14 minor-league home runs and that may well limit his opportunities. His batting average has always been acceptable.


The Nationals drafted Voth in the 5th round in 2013

2017: 4-12 W/L- 122.2 IP-5.94 ERA-1.63 WHIP combined at Short-Season Class A- Double-A and Triple-A

Voth would have to be considered a very long shot to make the club this coming year. He has a high walk rate and low strikeout rate as well as a high yield of hits per innings pitched. But the Nationals are hoping better command and control of his good fastball, slider and changeup combination can be enough to get him to the back end of their rotation at some point.

Next week: My Top Prospect Rankings

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff

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Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Bernie's work has been featured on MLB Pipeline, and FanRag Sports, among others. You can follow Bernie Pleskoff on Twitter @BerniePleskoff

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