Northwest League Top 20 Prospects
By Josh Norris and Bill Mitchell
Joey BartSalem-Keizer (Giants) CNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 220.
Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2018 (1)
After a standout junior season at Georgia Tech in which he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in batting average and finished among the top three in on-base and slugging percentage, Bart was taken second overall in the June draft, just behind Auburn righthander Casey Mize.
He got a quick tune-up in the Rookie-level Arizona League but otherwise spent the entirety of his pro debut in the NWL.
Bart was expected to be one of the most advanced hitters in the league, and he delivered. He showed an easy swing with exceptional barrel control that allowed him to hit 13 home runs, which was tied for third in the league. He especially impressed scouts by crushing pitches without having to sell out for power. There were some evaluators, however, who believe he might be best served by toning down a sizable leg kick. Defensively, Bart showed a strong arm, as well as fearlessness when it came to blocking pitches in the dirt.
181 AB, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 12 BB, 40 SOMore Less
Hans CrouseSpokane (Rangers) RHPNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-5. Wt: 195.
Drafted: HS—Dana Point, Calif., 2017 (2)
Crouse whiffed 47 in just 38 innings, including an 11-strikeout gem against Eugene on July 13. He also pitched a perfect inning in the all-star game, ringing two more strikeouts in the process.
Crouse’s delivery draws as much attention as his arsenal thanks to a violent, herky-jerky motion that also includes a pelvic thrust and a head whack. He uses that delivery to produce an electric fastball that sits in the upper 90s and has touched triple-digits. He pairs the fastball with an above-average, mid-80s breaking ball (most describe it as a slider, but it has curveball shape at times) and a changeup that is slightly below-average. Scouts like his ability to throw both his fastball and breaking ball for strikes, though they show concern over how long he’ll be able to make his delivery work.
Crouse was impressive enough in the NWL to earn a late-season promotion to low Class A Hickory, where he struggled with command.
5-1, 2.37 ERA
38 IP, 25 H, 11 BB, 47 SOMore Less
Brailyn MarquezEugene (Cubs) RHPNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 185.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
After two seasons at the Cubs’ minor league complex in Arizona, Marquez graduated to the Northwest League in 2018. Before moving to low Class A South Bend late in the summer, Marquez showed all the ingredients necessary to make evaluators believe he has a future in a major league rotation.
The first thing that jumps out about Marquez is his fastball, which regularly parks in the mid-90s and touched as high as 98 mph this summer. His best secondary pitch is a mid-80s breaking ball, which seems to vacillate between a slider and a curveball. It is an above-average pitch now and could be plus in the future with further repetition and refinement. His 86-91 mph changeup is presently a little behind. It has plenty of movement but often has less separation than most changeups.
Marquez needs to work on repeating his delivery, but his ceiling is as high as any pitcher in the Cubs’ system.
1-4, 3.21 ERA
48 IP, 46 H, 14 BB, 52 SOMore Less
Xavier EdwardsTri-City (Padres) SSNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht: 5-10. Wt: 155.
Signed: HS—Coconut Creek, Fla., 2018 (1s).
As was the case in the draft, Edwards was among the most tooled-up players in the Northwest League. He blended speed, athleticism and polish to become yet another intriguing piece in the Padres’ enviable farm system.
Edwards’ true standout tool is his 80-grade speed, which allows him to produce 3.9-second times to first base on a regular basis. He’s a rangy defender at shortstop, where his speed translates into above-average range. His arm can get to average, but it plays higher because of his quick release. Edwards doesn’t project for much power, but his game is geared more toward a slash-and-burn style of play. Edwards is also praised for his plate discipline and ability to apply his knowledge as quickly as it’s received. Edwards is teams look for in a top-of-the-order hitter with speed, a discerning eye and the desire to get on base.
Edwards’ next step will be a taste of full-season ball at low Class A. Scouts project him as a solid everyday shortstop with excellent on-base skills.
86 AB, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 15 BB, 10 SOMore Less
Geraldo PerdomoHillsboro (D-backs) SSNotes:
Age: 18. B-T: B-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 184.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Perdomo ranked among the best prospects in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, and he continued turning heads in the NWL this season. He arrived after brief stops in the Rookie-level Arizona and Pioneer leagues, where he quickly proved he was too advanced for the competition even at 18 years old.
Evaluators inside and outside the D-backs organization praised Perdomo’s advanced instincts and inquisitive nature, to say nothing of his tools and skills on the field. He’s got above-average range as well as quick hands, quick feet and the above-average arm needed to stick at shortstop. He shows a feel for the barrel from both sides of the plate and projects to eventually produce doubles power. He did most of his damage with Hillsboro from the left side, including all three of his homers at the level. Hops coaches worked with him to become more aggressive on fastballs early in the count. He also showed an extreme home-road split in favor of games at Hillsboro’s Ron Tonkin Field.
Next up for Perdomo will be his first crack at full-season ball, where he’ll keep working toward his future as a solid everyday shortstop.
103 AB, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 18 BB, 23 SOMore Less
Julio Pablo MartinezSpokane (Rangers) OFNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 190.
Signed: Cuba, 2018.
Martinez was lauded for his combination of power and speed as an amateur, and he showed both traits during his time in the NWL. He was one of four players in the league with eight or more home runs and double-digit stolen bases.
Scouts saw plus speed that served Martinez well on the basepaths and would allow him to stay in center field long-term. There was some concern raised about his longer bat path to the ball, but evaluators noted he still found the barrel often and made loud contact. The Rangers worked on shoring up the finer areas of Martinez’s game—baserunning, bunting, situational instincts—but there are plenty of tools to make him intriguing.
Already 22, Martinez was sent to the Arizona Fall League to get more reps.
234 AB, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 34 BB, 69 SOMore Less
Tucupita MarcanoTri-City (Padres) 2BNotes:
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-0. Wt: 165. Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
Marcano played both second base and shortstop this summer with Tri-City but might profile best at second base because of his fringy throwing arm. He’s plenty athletic up the middle and has plus speed. He’s on the smaller side and hasn’t hit for much impact yet, with only one home run in 364 career at-bats. He’s got a short, compact stroke from the left side that is geared toward solid contact and gap power.
He’s also got an excellent idea at the plate, as shown by just 16 strikeouts in 194 at-bats between the Rookie-level Arizona League and the NWL.
He’ll move to full-season ball in 2018, when he’s likely to pair with Xavier Edwards up the middle once more.
70 AB, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SOMore Less
Nelson VelazquezEugene (Cubs) OFNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-0. Wt: 190.
Drafted: HS—Puerto Rico, 2017 (5).
Velazquez’s calling card is his power, stemming both from his bat and his arm. His 11 home runs made him one of six players in the NWL with double-digit home runs, just four behind league-leader Curtis Terry. He generates his power brute strength and well above-average bat speed. Velazquez has a double-plus arm. He grades as an average defender in the corners and has enough athleticism to play center field in a pinch. The key going forward will be his hit tool. Scouts see a poor approach with a lack of awareness about the way he will be pitched and the types of pitches he’s equipped to handle.
264 AB, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 23 BB, 81 SOMore Less
Diosbel AriasSpokane (Rangers) 3BNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 190.
Signed: Cuba, 2017.
Arias was the shortstop on a talented Cuban national team in 2014 that included Yusniel Diaz, Michel Baez and Luis Robert, among others.
The Rangers signed him for $700,000 as part of their 2017 international class, and he made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League that August.
Arias’ best tool is his bat. His .366 average was not only the best in the Northwest League, but led all Rangers minor leaguers. At 22 years old, however, and a veteran of the Cuban national circuit, Arias was a bit too advanced for the NWL. He showed a line-drive stroke and an ability to slow the game down on both sides of the ball. Arias was signed as a shortstop, but his below-average range and footwork means he’ll likely move to third base. If that happens, there will be more pressure to hit for power.
Because of his age and pedigree, Arias is a candidate to jump straight to high Class A Down East in 2019.
224 AB, 3 HR, 44 RBI, 33 BB, 39 SOMore Less
Gregory SantosSalem-Keizer (Giants) RHPNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 190.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015 (Red Sox).
Acquired by the Giants from Boston in 2017 in the deal for Eduardo Nunez, Santos is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward, projectable power arm. After two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Santos headed straight to the short-season Northwest League, where he proved to have one of the league’s best pure arms.
Blessed with plus-plus arm strength, Santos delivers his fastball in the mid-to high 90s with plus life. It’s a loose arm, and his delivery has a longer stroke with length. Santos complements the heater with a slider that projects to be a plus offering. However, Santos gets poor direction with his front side and often misses across the body.
Because of inconsistent command and lack of an effective changeup, Santos profiles better pitching out of the back end of a bullpen than as a starter. He could move quickly in that role, but there is no reason to move him out of starting just yet.
2-5, 4.53 ERA
49.2 IP, 64 H, 15 BB, 46 SOMore Less
Jake WongSalem-Keizer (Giants) RHPNotes:
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 215. Drafted: Grand Canyon, 2018 (3)
Undrafted out of high school, Wong blossomed at the relatively new Division I program at Grand Canyon, spending his last two years there as the Antelopes' Friday night starter and took advantage of pitching in the Phoenix area during spring training when many high-ranking executives are in the area.
Wong's best pitch is a heavy fastball that will touch 97 mph, along with a sharp plus slider and a fringe-average changeup. He's an effective strike-thrower who commands all his pitches and competes on the mound. He repeats his delivery, pounding the zone with his fastball.
0-2, 2.30 ERA
27.1 IP, 28 H, 6 BB, 27 SOMore Less
Josh StowersEverett (Mariners) OFNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 200. Drafted: Louisville, 2018 (2)
In his junior season at Louisville, Stowers broke out. He hit for career bests in nearly every offensive category while maintaining the superb batting eye that helped him strike out just 72 times in three seasons with the Cardinals. That was enough for the Mariners, who took him in the second round and signed him for $1.1 million.
Stowers is built a bit thicker than your typical center fielder, and evaluators aren't sure he'll be able to stay at the position. To do so, he'll need to refine his reads, jumps and anticipation to get the most out of his plus speed. If he has to slide over to a corner eventually, his below-average arm will likely limit him to left field. In a corner, the question will come down to his average power. His sharp batting eye should allow him to amplify his power as he goes up the ladder and pitchers are around the zone more often.
200 AB, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 37 BB, 57 SOMore Less
Cal RaleighEverett (Mariners) CNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: B-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 215. Drafted: Florida State, 2018 (3).
Raleigh earned Baseball America freshman All-America honors in 2016 and was a third-team All-American during his junior year. He was among the offensive stars in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and received an $854,000 bonus from the Mariners as their third-round pick.
Raleigh's best tools show up when he's in the batter's box, where he shows off above-average raw power from both sides of plate. He hit well from both sides in his pro debut, but was particularly punishing against lefthanders, against whom he hit three home runs in 22 at-bats.
He's got an above-average throwing arm as well, and he was at least an adequate blocker. He also scored high on the Mariners' internal pitch-framing metrics. But some scouts still question whether the total package defensively can be better than fringe-average.
146 AB, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 18 BB, 29 SOMore Less
Matt TaborHillsboro (D-backs) RHPNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 180. Signed: HS—Milton, Mass., 2017 (3)
Tabor got bigger and stronger in his draft year, which led to a velocity spike that paid off in the 2017 draft. Tabor threw just 4.2 innings in his pro debut after signing, so this season was his first real chance to show what he could do against pro hitters.
In 2018, one of Tabor's biggest lessons was simply toning it down. The team worked with him to learn how to pace himself both before and during games so he could go deeper into games and, eventually, into seasons. His one-two punch is a sinking 89-92 mph fastball and a changeup he shows confidence throwing to both lefties and righties.
He complements those two pitches with a hard-darting slider. His delivery is high-effort, but it comes with the deception generated from a high front side. He's a fierce competitor, and was especially excited to face the more talented prospects in the league.
2-1, 3.26 ERA
60.2 IP, 59 H, 13 BB, 46 SOMore Less
Andy YerzyHillsboro (D-backs) CNotes:
Age: 20. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 215. Drafted: HS—Toronto, 2016 (2)
It's been a slow burn for Yerzy, who has advanced one level a year since Arizona drafted him in the second round in 2016. He was one of the youngest players in that draft class, so his slow pace hasn't hindered him all that much. He put up respectable numbers in each of his first two seasons, but he started hitting the ball in the air much more often in 2018.
Beyond his batted-ball profile, Yerzy started hitting the ball hard this season. His exit velocity was among the team leaders, and his .834 OPS was 10th in the NWL. To accomplish this, the Diamondbacks worked with Yerzy to get the bat into the zone earlier and stay there longer. They also helped him incorporate his lower half into his swing a little better, and he made strides with his pitch recognition. He's lauded by the organization as a studious player with a photographic memory who works hard with his pitching staff to develop plans of attack.
He got better defensively this season, but there's still a long way to go to keep him as a catcher for the long-term. He's got an average arm strength, but is a below-average receiver and dabbled at first base this year. He'll get his first crack at full-season ball in 2019.
239 AB, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 28 BB, 67 SOMore Less
Owen MillerTri-City (Padres) SSNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-0. Wt: 190. Drafted: Illinois State, 2018 (3).
As a reliable college shortstop, Miller knew he wouldn't have to wait long to hear his name called during the 2018 draft. He moved quickly through their system in his pro debut, moving up to low Class A Fort Wayne after starting the year in the Northwest League, finishing the season with Double-A San Antonio during their postseason run.
Miller may eventually profile better at second base because of a below-average arm, although sometimes he flashes better than that when he gets his feet set to throw. He is a steady defender with average range and good hands. He has a good approach at the plate, with his .395 on-base percentage ranking third among Northwest League hitters. Miller consistently sticks to his plan at the plate and has gap-to-gap power with strength in his swing.
"He has a great understanding of his skill set," Tri-City manager Mike McCoy said, "just an advanced hitter all around. He knows how to handle the bat and sprays the ball to all fields."
191 AB, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 15 BB, 24 SOMore Less
Grant LittleTri-City (Padres) OFNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 185. Drafted: Texas Tech, 2018 (2s).
Little joined the Tri-City team after competing in the College World Series with Texas Tech, signing with the Padres as a draft-eligible sophomore. The concern about Little during his two-year college career was that his below-average power wouldn't allow him to fit in an outfield corner role, and that question remains after his pro debut. He makes contact, shows good hand/eye coordination and has good bat-to-ball skills but doesn't yet impact the baseball.
"He adjusted to the wood bat over the season," Tri-City manager Mike McCoy said. "It took him a couple of weeks to adjust, but he just needs to get bigger and stronger so he can drive the ball. I think there could be some power in there."
While playing mostly left field in college, Little also saw time in center field with Tri-City. An above-average runner, he gets good reads in the outfield and his average arm is accurate. Little played some infield as an amateur, so with his athleticism he could profile as a super-utility player if the bat develops.
149 AB, 0 HR, 17 RBI, 20 BB, 28 SOMore Less
Henry HenryRHP, Tri-City (Padres) RHPNotes:
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 178. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015
Henry, known just as much for his potential and projection as a pitcher as he is for his name, returned for a second season in Tri-City in 2018. Even so, at 19 years old he was still age appropriate for the league. The native Dominican has a live low-to-mid-90s fastball, with a body that can add strength and arm action that works well.
A competitor on the mound, Henry commands all three of his pitches and improved both the slider and changeup this year.
"He's maturing," Tri-City manager Mike McCoy said. "He kept his emotions in check and is learning how to pitch and not just relying on the fastball."
Scouts are concerned that Henry is not developing as quickly as expected when he first arrived in the states two years ago, but he's still a raw talent at 19 with plenty of projection remaining.
4-3, 3.32 ERA
59.2 IP, 62 H, 11 BB, 44 SOMore Less
Terrin VavraBoise (Rockies) SSNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 185. Drafted: Minnesota, 2018 (3).
The most appropriate comment about Vavra came from his manager, with Boise skipper Scott Little saying, "He's a gamer type … just a little baseball rat who can play the game." That's not surprising since his dad was big league coach for more than 10 years and his two older brothers preceded him in minor league ball.
Primarily a shortstop in his college days at Minnesota, when he was named as a first team All-American, Vavra profiles better as a second baseman. His tick below-average arm is a little short for the left side of the infield although it plays up because of his good footwork and a quick release.
Vavra is a line-drive hitter who uses the whole field, with enough gap-to-gap power to run into a few home runs. He's no more than an average runner, but his instincts and feel for the game will allow Vavra to consistently play above his tools. He's advanced enough that he could skip a level and head to high Class A in 2019.
169 AB, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 26 BB, 40 SOMore Less
Jake McCarthyHillsboro (D-backs) OFNotes:
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 195. Drafted: Virginia, 2018 (1s).
McCarthy followed older brother Joe first to the University of Virginia and then into professional baseball after being drafted by Arizona in the first supplemental round. A wrist injury in his junior year in Charlottesville limited McCarthy to 20 games, but his draft status wasn't affected by the lost time due to a solid track record at Virginia as well as with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team.
Using a shorter, compact stroke, McCarthy hit for more doubles than home runs in his first season, although the Hillsboro ballpark tends to suppress over-the-fence power. Despite his size, McCarthy is a plus runner and is very athletic, giving him a good chance of staying in center field. He was playing too shallow early in the season but began getting better jumps when he played deeper. He projects as a plus defender albeit with a below-average arm.
What stands out most for the lefthanded-hitting outfielder is his outstanding makeup, getting an 80 grade from observers. It was noted that he made adjustments to his swing on his own after arriving in Hillsboro.
208 AB, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 22 BB, 40 SOMore Less