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2018 Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects Chat

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Jarred Kelenic (Photo by Tony Farlow)

2018 Appalachian League Top 20 Chat


Carlos Collazo: How's it going everyone? Thanks for stopping by. We've got a lot of questions already in the queue, but feel free to continue adding yours if you have them. I'll be here for a few hours, so throw them at me.

Carlos Collazo: This is officially an Appy League chat, but since we released our top 50 HS prospects for the 2019 draft as well today I might take a few of those if you have them.

Ben (Dallas, TX): 

    Do you see Franco's ceiling being as high as Vladdy's? How would you grade each of his five tools?


Carlos Collazo: Thanks for the question, Ben. It makes sense that we start with the top player on the list—especially since the Appy League had a player as good as Franco. I would go with Vladdy Jr. for a higher ceiling. His bat is truly elite. As far as how Franco grades out, nothing is below-average. 70 future hit, 60 arm, 55-60 power, 55 run (he's better underway than out of the box), 55 defense? That seems about right based on everything I've gotten from scouts. He's a special player.

Vander (Peru): 

    How good is Mike Siani's defense in CF? Does he have enough speed to stay there.


Carlos Collazo: Hey Vander, thanks for stopping by. I had plenty of conversations with amateur scouts working up to the 2018 draft in the spring who raved about Siani’s defense and his speed. Both are 60-grade tools and his overall defense might be better than that thanks to a strong arm, good routes, instincts and athleticism. I think he’s one of the safer bets to stay at the position.

james (Detroit): 

    hi, thanks for the chat. It is noted that Mike Siani is a "high floor" player, does this also mean his ceiling is low?


Carlos Collazo: Good question James. No I don’t think so. For some players this could be true, but Siani has enough ability with the bat that he could turn into a solid hitter as well. Depending on how he develops with the bat and how much power he’s able to tap into as he continues to develop, he could be a real five-tool sort of player. It’s noted in the report that he could become an All-Star caliber player, that’s definitely not putting a limit on his ceiling. More than anything here, high floor just means that he doesn’t really have to do all that much more offensively to have some value to a major league club in the future. His supplemental tools (running ability, defense, arm) alone should be able to give him some sort of role. Hope that answers your question.

mike (ontario): 

    Pardhino is 17 years old, will he likely progress at a one year per level pace? or would his advanced "feel" allow him to advance quicker??


Carlos Collazo: He is very young, but if he continues to have success I could see him finishing each year at the next level up. I pulled in Kyle Glaser on this one because he has a better context for this sort of thing, but he believes Pardinho is still at least three years away. There were only three 20-year-old pitchers in the majors this year and they all played for the fast-tracking Braves.

Gerry (Toronto): 

    Andy McGuire was drafted this year by the Jays and had an OPS over 800 as a hitter. He also had a WHIP of 1.03 as a reliever. And I see he was born in Morocco. Was he the most interesting man in the Appy League?


Carlos Collazo: Those are certainly solid resume boosters for most interesting player in the Appy League, but with all due respect to everyone else, Wander Franco had that locked down. Being that good is interesting. Being that good AND that young is interesting. Being that good AND that young AND putting up the numbers he managed in his debut season, more than three years younger than the average hitter is insanity. Franco is six years younger than McGuire.

Jacob Heatherly (Prospectville?): 

    Am I still a legit prospect, or yet another blunder pick by the Reds?


Carlos Collazo: There’s still a chance to get back on track, but a 6.9 BB/9 over 78 professional innings to start a career is concerning. There were scouts who still gave him a chance to be a back end starter, but Heatherly lacks the touch that’s necessary for that. More likely a future pen guy. He still has plus stuff.

Peter (Lake city Fla.): 

    Do you see Everson Pereira as the second coming of Estevan Florial and how long (if ever) before Luis Medina develops some command of his pitch's? Thank you!


Carlos Collazo: I’m not big on player comps in general, and I would especially hesitate before comping to a player to another I haven’t seen or done enough research on. That said, Pereira has really advanced feel for the game with athleticism and a several above-average tools that might become plus down the line. He’s very young—just 17 this year—and if he cuts down on his strikeouts… watch out. Sounds like he’s going to stick in center as well. A lot to like there. As for Medina… that’s the hope. I just mentioned Heatherly’s concerning 6.9 BB/9 for his career, but Medina is lapping him with an 8.4 BB/9. That’s absurd. He walked 11 and a half batters per nine this inning and somehow still managed to strikeout more than that. Those numbers speak to his elite raw stuff (80 FB, 60 CB) and his complete lack of strike-throwing ability. Despite the numbers, there are scouts who think he’ll be able to hone it in enough to be an asset in the bullpen, with a good arm action and delivery. He just has to figure out how to repeat it, which will be a challenge. He's 19 and still growing into his body, but will get plenty of time to work on everything given the premium stuff.

Jeff (San Francisco): 

    So I see you don't think Franco has as high a ceiling as Vladdy but what about if you stack him up against Juan Soto?


Carlos Collazo: It's hard to not say Juan Soto after the season he just had so I'll go with him. He just had the highest OPS by a teenager in MLB history and is only two years older than Franco, laughing at big league pitching. Not having the ceiling of Soto/Vladdy is not something to be ashamed of. These are potential HoF guys.

SBNY (PA): 

    As a Mets fan, I am very excited about Kelenic, Vientos and Newtown. Santana also had an outstanding stint in Kingsport and would have thought he would make the top 20? Another exciting prospect was Simeon Woods-Richardson. I know he was up with Kingsport for only a couple of games. What is the ceiling on SWR?


Carlos Collazo: Maybe one of those guys can help deGrom win a baseball game one day. But seriously, that is an exciting trio of players. Kelenic was thought of as one of the best overall hitters in the draft class and he showed that sort of hit tool at times this summer. I love his approach and plate discipline as well. Vientos was one of the younger players in the 2017 draft and has made some great adjustments offensively this year. He’s going to have a lot of thump in the bat. Same with Newton.

Carlos Collazo: As for SWR, I loved him coming out of high school. He’s got a terrific body for a young pitcher and like several players on this list, he just played his age 17 season. I think he turned 18 a couple weeks ago. With just a few games he doesn’t qualify for the Appy League list, but he has a trio of potential plus pitches and is very athletic. Middle of the rotation arm? He had no trouble racking up Ks which is good to see.

Joe (Syracuse Ny): 

    Any other Braves prospects standout in the Appy League?


Carlos Collazo: OF Justin Dean is a plus-plus runner with solid defensive skills. I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot to love with the hit tool moving forward. He hit well this year, but he’s already 21. Below average power as well. He’s interesting. OF Greyson Jenista struggled a bit in 10 games but then got promoted and looked better with the bat. SS A.J. Graffanino hit much better than what I expected him to, but again—he is a college player jumping into a Rookie League. 1B Griffin Benson dealt with some injuries but coaches were impressed with his ability to drive the ball and jump on fastballs early. Keep an eye on what he does with a full season, hopefully healthy, next year.

Bob (St. Louis): 

    What feedback did you get from other prospects on Johnson City's roster this year?


Carlos Collazo: Assuming you mean outside of Nolan Gorman… That team had a lot of power. 1B/OF Leandro Cedeno has 70 raw power and got some consideration for the top 20 because of that, but he’s pretty stiff with swing and miss concerns and is poor defensively. Apparently he hit one of the furthest home runs they’ve seen Johnson City in a long time. OF Jonatan Machado is a plus runner but he’s got a lot of work to do with his approach at the plate and with his defense in center field. OF Brandon Riley does have a really good approach at the dish and can play all three outfield positions, but he sounds like more of an org type player.

Appy Fan (Appalachia): 

    This looks like as talented an Appy league prospect list as I can recall, maybe even one of the best short season lists. Fair to say? Or is it more WSF making it look so good?


Carlos Collazo: This is my first year doing the list, but it is a very, very good year for the league. Wander Franco does help a lot with that. With that said, Vladdy Jr. (who we've been talking about) was in the league just a few years ago as well, so you don't have to go back too far to get something comparable or better.

Draft Question (Draftland): 

    UNCW's Greg Jones: what does he have to show this year to be a first rounder?


Carlos Collazo: OK, we're an hour in so it's safe to take a Draft question right? Right. I actually had a long conversation about Greg Jones with a scout recently. He's an interesting case and a player every team will be watching frequently next spring. Jones has an incredibly high ceiling because of his raw tools, but he's yet to perform with the bat after a year in the CAA and a summer in the Cape. There are also significant questions about whether or not he can play shortstop, which will obviously factor into whether he goes in the first round. So: hit more, strike out less, convince scouts he can stick in the dirt.

Chris (Ma.): 

    Did Kingsport infielder Luis Santana get any consideration for the list?


Carlos Collazo: There have been a number of Santana questions in the queue so I'll try and address them all here. He really impressed coaches in the Appy League with his hitting ability in his first year in the states. He's a high-intensity type of player and the reviews of his defensive work at second base were solid as well. That sort of BB/K rate (27/23) from a player who just turned 19 is impressive. If he does this at higher levels he'll really open some eyes.

Alan (St. Petersburg): 

    Did you get any feedback on the P-Rays' Tony Pena? I know he's a bit older, but the leap in his stats from last year was kind of startling.


Carlos Collazo: Good call, the jump in his numbers from the GCL last year to what he managed this year was impressive. Enough so that he was in consideration for this list. He was in the next group of 10 players that at least had an argument for the back end of the list. He's got good bat speed and a swing path that scouts liked, but he doesn't profile particularly well as a stout-bodied OFer who's going to be in a corner. He also just turned 21, as you mentioned.

Richard (So Cal): 

    Can you break down the hit tools for Gorman and Kelenic ?


Carlos Collazo: Wow, can't believe it took us this long to get to an actual Nolan Gorman question! Let's go with him first: 50 Hit, 70 Power, 45 Defense, 60 Arm, 40 Run. And Jarred Kelenic: 60 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Defense, 60 Arm, 55 Run. These are all future grades.

Mike (Orlando): 

    What are your thoughts on the Reds Rylan Thomas? He had a huge July as a 26th round selection.


Carlos Collazo: Yeah, I think a .316/.495/.734 line with 9 homers and 27 walks counts as a big month as well. Thomas shot way up our BA 500 ranking during the spring before the draft and has a good track record as a hitter going back to college, but never had the greatest all-around profile as a right-right, stocky first baseman. That said, scouts who saw him this summer think he might wind up being a steal as a 26th rounder.

DH (PA): 

    Suppose Gorman has already shown enough that several teams would draft him a lot higher if they had a do over? Are there still some questions regarding his hit tool as he moves up?


Carlos Collazo: Gorman definitely started off hotter with the bat than many expected, considering his struggles in the spring prior to the draft. There will probably continue to be questions with the hit tool, yes. He struck out almost 28 percent of the time across two leagues this summer in his debut. If you look at just his K% in Peoria after getting promoted to the Midwest League that number jumps to 36%. There's still plenty of improvement to be made in that regard. At the same time, Gorman doesn't turn 19 until next May. He's young for the 2018 class.

DR (East Coast): 

    Jordan Qsar mashed for Princeton, then seemed to struggle in NYPL. Is his more a case of mature college hitter teeing off on inexperienced arms?


Carlos Collazo: I think you nailed this one. I had a scout tell me that he took advantage of the pitching in the Appy League, but felt he would get exposed at higher levels. There are holes in the swing and as of right now he doesn't cover the entire plate. Even with the solid slash line in the Appy League he struck out 26 percent of the time as a 22-year-old. I think that's telling.

Lilith (Cincinnati): 

    What kind of upside does Josiah Gray have considering how inexperienced he is with pitching? It seems like he should be a bit raw, no?


Carlos Collazo: Yes, he does have plenty of upside, which hopefully is made clear with how highly he ranks on this list. I agree with you, it seems like he should be more raw than he is on the mound, particular in regards to how well he repeats his delivery. Scouts are extremely impressed with how consistent he already in that area. It speaks to his tremendous athleticism and body control. There are some nits to pick, he can get out of line with his lower half, but when looking at the entire operation it's very good.

Appy (Bluff City, TN): 

    I caught on the Appy championship game and noticed Matthew Liberatore and another Princeton Rays pitcher were in the bleachers behind home plate. Was this a common occurrence for the Rays pitching staff?


Carlos Collazo: This is a common in every minor league. Pitchers chart for most teams. Our own Josh Norris is watching instructs and the same thing is happening there right now.

Carlos Collazo: OK guys, that's going to have to do it for today. Back to the 2019 Draft work! Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and apologies if I could not get to yours. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@CarlosACollazo) and I might be able to give you an answer there at some point. Again, in case you didn't see it we dropped our top 50 high school prospects for the 2019 draft, with scouting reports and video of each player for subscribers—a big thank you to everyone who supports our work at BA! Here's the link to that: https://www.baseballamerica.com/rankings/top-50-high-school-baseball-prospects-for-the-2019-mlb-draft/

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