Moderator: Hey everybody. I was lucky enough to write about the Appy League this year and there was a ton of talent, so this should be a fun chat. Let’s get started.
Danny V (Glastonbury, CT): Did Twins righty Brusdar Graterol generate any buzz around the league? Thanks for the chat.
Justin Perline: Absolutely. Graterol just barely missed qualifying for the league (2 IP away), but if he had, he would have probably ranked somewhere within the top five. He throws in the mid to upper 90s, and he combines the heat with three secondary pitches. While most international pitchers his age have trouble commanding the fastball, he does a solid job of working his spots and getting the ball where he needs it to be. When discussing prospects, many view Graterol as almost an equal to Wander Javier in the system.
Dan (Hartford, CT): Jose Miranda had a solid season with the bat, flashing some power with 11 HR for Elizabethon. Does he project as a future big-leaguer at 2B? Thanks for the chat.
Justin Perline: Continuing with the Twins questions, Miranda did stand out this year and came somewhat close to making the list. He’s going to outgrow second in short order – moving over to third base where his power profiles just as well. He doesn’t really command the strike zone right now, which is going to inhibit what he can do at the moment. The Twins expect him to put on more weight, so it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see him begin 2018 as a 3B.
Roger (Greenville, SC): How would you break the list into tiers?
Justin Perline: Great question Roger. I think there are a few definite tiers within this list that can broken down, starting off with the big three – Maitan, Javier, and Matias. They each have undeniable talent and tools that could shift a franchise several years down the road. After them, I think there’s a bit of a gap following the trio of Braves prospects (before Celestino).
Mila (Atlanta): Was Yorman Rodriguez C Reds under consideration? He has raked at every level. Does he have enough defensive potential to stick at catcher?
Justin Perline: The Blue Jays’ Yorman Rodriguez didn’t really come close to making the list but he was brought up at times by those who have seen him. He really knows how to work the count and spray the ball to all fields – already possessing natural hitter instincts that truly showed themselves in the Appy League. He’s still learning how to catch right now after playing more 1B than C in 2016, so he looked rawer behind the plate. Rodriguez’s throwing motion needs to be smoothed out so it’s too early to tell what kind of defender he could be at peak. A solid start for one of a growing number of young Jays catchers.
Grant (18th round): Is Ryan Noda a legit prospect? Terrific year, for sure, but he’s a bit old and had no draft pedigree. Does he have a possible MLB future?
Justin Perline: Definitely legit. But it’s also a testament to the Jays’ coaching staff who were able to re-locate his former self. Prior to 2017, he definitely had some pedigree and played on the Cape – some teams even seeing him as a top two round talent. Virtually everyone I spoke to brought him up unprompted and extolled his present hitting and power tools. It’s an impressive package when it’s working, but also understandable how a mostly-1B prospect who struggled to hit in his draft year fell to where he did.
Birdlaw, Esq. (My office.): Gigliotti looked amazing in his stint in the league. Could he be a 20/20 guy down the road? Seems like he regained his CCBL form
Justin Perline: Gigliotti definitely warranted praise after his Burlington days. I don’t believe he’ll ever have the power to hit 20 home runs, though. He’s a 70-speed player who really patrols the outfield and plays the game with an eye for getting on base. Like Noda, he was simply too advanced for the league because of well he can recognize pitches.
dave (Grayson, ga): What were opinions on the Braves IF Derian Cruz? Looks like a disappointing season even after his demotion from the Sally League.
Justin Perline: Derian Cruz wasn’t that close to making the list, but it had more to do with his positional move than his statistical output this year. The Braves decided to move him to 2B to lift some of the pressure off of him, and there were some late signs that it did the trick. However, Atlanta is going to keep him there in the long-term and allow his bat to develop as a switch-hitting, ultra-fast, 2B. He’s very inconsistent from AB to AB and game to game right now, and will need to keep playing every day.
Gary (Myrtle Beach, SC): Did the Braves make a wise acquisition in Huascar Ynoa? What can you tell us about him?
Justin Perline: Ynoa was one of the last players to be cut from the list after going from the Twins to the Braves in the Jaime Garcia deal. He’s pretty raw right now from a mechanics standpoint and could use to repeat a lot better. For him, it’s a matter of learning a lot of control/command/sequencing, then focusing on drawing out the best aspects of his arsenal.
Roger (Greenville, SC): Did any other Braves get some love from scout? Austin Bush, Drew Lugbauer, Jefrey Ramos, Huascar Ynoa, and Jean Carlos Encarnacion all seemed intriguing from a distance.
Justin Perline: The one player who did really get good reviews here is Lugbauer. The former Michigan player’s bat isn’t as much of a question as is his ultimate position. He was one of the most powerful Danville players and it did show (10 Appy HRs). Some wonder if he’s going to be too big for catcher, but he has improved some from his pre-draft stock when there were very few people who thought he could stick.
mike m. (Aberdeen, SD): You mentioned Charlie Barnes and Ryley Widell in the article. Were they considered in the 20 and what are their upsides?
Justin Perline: I saw Charlie Barnes make a start back in July and you could really tell how diverse the player crop is in this league just from what he was able to do to some batters. You’re going to have guys like Barnes come in after three years in an ACC school and just dominate. You’re also going to have 18-year-old international players come in with just a year of actual in-game experience. He’s a solid LHP who really knows how to command his entire arsenal around the plate, even his secondary stuff. He’ll probably move through the minors quickly and find himself in Minnesota sooner than later.
Sal (Boulder): Was Dermis Garcia close to making this list? What can you tell us about him?
Justin Perline: With him, it’s a matter of weighing a lot of the pros and cons because he’s going to be a very divisive player. Most evaluators think he’s going to end up at first base, so the bat really has to play. Making the issue worse is his current pitch recognition issues that he needs to iron out to really have a place on the list. On the flip side, he’s got enormous raw power and a strong throwing arm. Tools are there, but too early to get excited about a potential 1B with hit-tool issues this far down the ladder.
J.P. (Springfield, IL): Now that the Reds will soon be taking over Greeneville’s franchise, that means they’ll have two rookie level affiliates. So, which one is considered the higher of the two on the minor league ladder?
Justin Perline: This is a question I posed on Twitter just the other day because it’s a rarity to have two non-complex level rookie affiliates. I’m basing my answer here off of what the Royals do (Idaho Falls and Burlington), but they usually send guys to Burlington first then off to the Pioneer League when deemed ready. It happened a few times this year with guys like Travis Jones and Julio Gonzalez, who came into the Appy League and really quickly proved that they don’t belong. For the most part though, I think it’s going to be a 1A and 1B kind of situation.
Don (Tennessee): If you were to choose the next Cardinal in line to make the list-despite how far off they are-who would it be?
Justin Perline: This question could have a few different answers. SS Delvin Perez is obviously the most high-profile player to be left off the list. He’s still pretty young, but it’s never a good sign to see a player get demoted to the GCL after being a first round pick just a year before. RHP Johan Oviedo was considered but lacks the same kind of upside Perez has. Other players on JC that were brought up were Jake Walsh, Chase Pinder, and Imeldo Diaz.
Kevin Smith (Somewhere): I didn’t direct “Clerks”, but I did have a decent pro debut for Bluefield. Was I considered for your list, and what did scouts say about me?
Justin Perline: The Jays fourth round pick had his moments, but doesn’t offer the same kind of upside as other shortstops mentioned. He wasn’t really a flashy player with quick-twitch ability and appeared to have some of his more defining tools like speed and power muddled. He should’ve been able to easily handle the Appy but struck out 70 times and made 14 errors.
mike m. (Aberdeen, SD): Jovani Moran had amazing numbers as a reliever. Do you think those numbers will translate if the Twins make him a starter, or will he be a closer type?
Justin Perline: Moran was hit by the injury bug too often in the past, but with a clear summer it was easy to see why he stands out. He hides a 90-92 mph fastball well thanks to a deceptive arm action. It jumps out on hitters and helped him strike out 45 in just 24.2 innings. It’s hard to say if it’ll hold up in longer outings simply because he’s already been placed in a relief role and dealt with arm issues, though scouts say it’s a very efficient arm action that could play as a starter.
Keith (Farmington, CT): Thanks for the chat. Did Kevin Maitan show enough progress to start in Low A next spring, or is he likely headed back to the Appy League?
Justin Perline: I think the Braves are going to want to monitor Maitan’s conditioning very closely in the spring, so it wouldn’t shock me if he was held back in extended spring training to work on a few things. After that, he’ll probably get in more games in Danville so that his ability to recognize pitches improves without the added stressors of Low-A. Still, finishing in Low-A as an 18-year-old is mighty impressive.
Dave (Queens, NY): Where would Mark Vientos have ranked, and can he stick at short? Our system is depleted, so tell us we have someone special in him, please.
Justin Perline: My notes on Vientos are pretty limited (mostly echoing his pre-draft outlook) but I did want to use this question to provide some quick hits on a few other Kingsport players who had some traction. The starting SS Hansel Moreno is a 55 runner with a 55 arm who could grow into more power as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. CF Anthony Dirocie has a bunch of tools that could play as major league average or above, but is lacking in his approach and overall hit tool. LF/RF Wagner LaGrange has similar issues as Dirocie but is limited to the corners because he gets poor reads and has just average speed. 3B Rigoberto Terrazas tore the cover off the ball as a switch-hitter with an above average plan at the plate. He doesn’t have flashy tools but could back up a few infield positions and sneak up on a major-league job. As one manager described him, “You don’t know he’s there, but he’s there.” Lastly, RHP Christian James has a sinking fastball from 90-93 mph that he pairs with a nice slider and a developing changeup as a consistent starter.
Moderator: Thanks everyone for coming out to chat today, but that’s all I have time for at the moment. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@jperline).