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2018 California League Top 20 Prospects Chat

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Jo Adell (Photo by Tomaso DeRosa)

Kyle Glaser: Hey everyone, thanks for joining me today. Let's get chatting

Tim (SLC): 

    What a tease... you skip over the A's most entertaining level (Texas League), for their least entertaining (Cal League) where they are the only team shut out of the rankings. Hoping to see Beck, Allen, and Lazarito on this list next year, but in the meantime, I guess we'll just wait another day for the highly anticipated Texas League Top 20.


Kyle Glaser: Yeah, sorry about that. We had to flip days to accommodate staff travel schedules, but the Texas League will run tomorrow. Brian Howard and Parker Dunshee were Stockton’s two primary candidates for the list and have worthy credentials, and Jonah Heim got some scout love too, so it’s not like the Ports were completely barren. There was just a lot of other really good players in the league that ultimately drew better reviews from evaluators and managers on the whole.

Warren (New London): 

    What did observers think of Pavin Smith? How would you compare him to Evan White at this point?


Kyle Glaser: Pavin Smith had a really, really tough year. To be honest, more than a few evaluators don’t consider him a prospect at all based on what they saw this year. White is multiple tiers ahead of Smith in every way – significantly better athlete, significantly better defense, significantly better bat-to-ball skills, and significantly more impact when he does make contact. The reviews on Smith were consistently some combination of: not all that athletic, not enough bat speed, overly passive approach, grooved swing to one spot, stiff both on defense and in the box – it really wasn’t good in any aspect. Lot of ground balls, weak choppers, soft low liners, etc. Opponents largely felt unless the ball was pitched to one spot and he was exactly on time, he wasn’t going to do damage against them, and he rarely did.

DH (PA): 

    What kind of player will Gavin Lux be? Does he project to hit at the top of a lineup, or closer to the bottom? Suppose he can take over 2B in 2020?


Kyle Glaser: With the swing changes he made, Lux projects as an everyday second baseman hitting .280+ with a bunch of doubles, double-digit home runs and a likely double-digit steals as well. Some thought he was the second-best athlete in the league behind only Buddy Reed, and he’s got great baseball instincts and growing skills to go with that. As long as Lux stays healthy, he should make his major league debut sometime next year and take over as the Dodgers everyday 2B at some point in 2020.

Eric (Toronto): 

    What happened to the International League rankings? It seems like you guys just skipped a league.


Kyle Glaser: The International League Top 20 ran on our website last Friday. You can find the list here https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/international-league-top-20-mlb-prospects/

Tumbler, Whiskey (Pacific Northwest): 

    Two guys I'm interested in: Pavin Smith and Marcus Wilson. Smith hit a lot of ground balls, keeping him from showing much power it seems. Is this a flat swing issue (going back to his UVA days)? Wilson didn't follow up his breakout very well. He's always walked a lot, but does that kind of approach present problems when pitchers can actually throw strikes and was this an issue for him? Thanks!


Kyle Glaser: Smith didn’t generate either the bat speed or show the raw power to project for home runs, which was of significant concern to evaluators. He actually did create some leverage in his swing this year, but didn’t have the other attributes needed to consistently produce power. Wilson actually did better than his numbers suggest, he had a lot of hard lineouts and got unlucky in a lot of his ABs. More than anything in Wilson's approach, one thing that came up is his focus isn’t always where it needs to be, and that affects his ability to perform at both the plate and in the field. Coaches and evaluators felt that focus issue – and the resulting shortage of quality ABs – was more responsible for his high strikeout totals than an approach issue.

Robert (Los Angeles): 

    Is Jo Adell ready to play in 2019 if Kole Calhoun falters in the first half? If so what type of production do you think he can provide to a re-tooling Angels team?


Kyle Glaser: It would be surprising to see Adell in the first half. He’s incredibly talented, but he also has some approach things he needs to work on and that will take time and reps against upper-level pitching, which you can’t really rush. It wouldn’t shock me if he’s up at some point late in the second half as a 20-year-old because he’s that dang talented, but first half is probably a little much. Also…Calhoun has just under an .800 OPS since coming off the disabled list in June. He’s been just fine since getting healthy and making a few adjustments.

John (Seattle): 

    Evan White started slow, but seemed to make a mechanical change in August and exploded offensively. Does it look like White is on a trajectory worthy of excitement now for the prospect-starved M’s?


Kyle Glaser: It wasn’t really a mechanical change as much as a mindset change. Early in the year White mostly focused on driving balls on a line the opposite way. Modesto’s staff worked with him on hunting some fastballs he could elevate to his pullside, and it clicked in a big way in August. White’s a good prospect and on the trajectory of a solid major league player. I don’t know if that gets you excited or not, but his mix of athleticism, insanely good defense and knack for the barrel should make him a contributor in some way.

Carl (San Antonio): 

    Was there any consideration to putting Carlos Rincon in? Granted it was only 131 PA, but he was the best hitter in the league with that amount of PAs. He also hit better outside of Lancaster. Has he made any changes that could project him as a decent offensive producer in the bigs?


Kyle Glaser: Carlos Rincon played for Rancho Cucamonga, so Lancaster isn't really a consideration here. But Rincon actually did not have enough PA's to qualify (140 is the minimum) so he wasn't in consideration for the list.

Andrew (Massachusetts): 

    Good Afternoon Kyle! How is everything going? My question is in regards to Marsh. Is he still one of those guys everyone should keep their eyes on? He seems like from what you guys wrote a few mechanical adjustments (albeit difficult) from being a top tier prospect(top 20).


Kyle Glaser: Hi Andrew, everything is good on my end, thanks for asking. Marsh absolutely is a guy to keep your eye on. His athleticism, defense, arm, speed - all of it is extremely impressive, and it's not like you have to dream a ton on the bat, he actually shows it to you in flashes, so you know it's in there definitively. But those mechanical changes at the plate do have to come for him to produce consistently, and if they don't his tools won't mean much. Seeing what his swing and approach looks like next year now that he has a full season under his belt will be interesting.

Craig (LA): 

    Hi Kyle - thanks for doing this, what are your thoughts on Connor Wong and Carlos Rincon? Also, in general, how does the industry view the Dodgers player development system given the improvement of their players as they go up in the system? Thanks!


Kyle Glaser: Hey Craig, my pleasure. Connor Wong is a good leader behind the plate who can hit a fastball, which is a good place to start, but his blocking and defense in general have a ways to go and he he really struggled once opponents started feeding him a steady diet of breaking balls. He's a fine player, but it's hard to see him jumping over Austin Barnes, Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz on the Dodgers catching pecking order anytime soon. We already touched on Rincon a bit (guys want to see him do this more over a longer stretch before they buy in). In general the Dodgers player development system is very well regarded, you see for yourself how many homegrown guys not only get up to the majors but are ready to make an impact quickly after getting there (Seager, Bellinger, Buehler, etc.). They do a really good job as well identifying and implementing the small tweaks needed to unlock something for guys (see Gavin Lux and the since-traded Dean Kremer).

Jose (Louisville, Kentucky): 

    I keep hearing Justin Upton as a comp for Jo Adell. Is that fair and accurate? I ask this question knowing that comps are lazy and imperfect but useful to understand the kind of archetype a player might fall under.


Kyle Glaser: I could see that outcome happening, although Adell probably has a little better chance to stay in center than Upton did. That's why I personally go more Vernon Wells, who was also a physical, thicker guy but who was able to play center. But either way, you're looking at an All-Star, middle-of-the-order impact player.

Bob (CA): 

    Do you think Welker's high quality bat to ball contact ability would make him a good candidate to show "surprising" HR power with the MLB ball? The spacious outfield in Coors Field is pretty good for a high average line drive hitter too. As long as he's playable at 3B it seems like he's got a shot to be an above average regular. Fair?


Kyle Glaser: That's all very fair. Welker certainly wouldn't be the first "gap-to-gap guy who can run into a few homers" who ends up hitting a lot of bombs in the majors for all the reasons you stated. We've had a 55 potential grade on him in the Prospect Handbook for two years now and probably will again this year, and that's an above-average regular, so we're pretty much in agreement.

Roger (Washington DC): 

    What kind of reports did you get on Mac Marshall. Between injuries and command issues he’s had a hard time of it as a pro.


Kyle Glaser: Marshall honestly never came up as a prospect for any evaluator I spoke with. Just doesn't throw enough strikes to really be competitive.

Ed (Cleveland): 

    A local product, Nick Margevicius, seemed to have a good year between Three levels in the Padres system. What are your thoughts on Nick. His k/bb is spectacular given he walked 5 in one outing.


Kyle Glaser: Margevicius certainly had a fine year. He's going to have to keep performing because he's really seen, even internally, as a a guy with fringy stuff with solid command. Sometimes you see 87-90, others 89-92, changeup has some fade and plays well off his FB. But the lack of stuff concerns some people how he'll perform at higher levels, and you saw that with how both his hits and runs allowed went up in Elsinore. Still, he's a lefty with solid pitchability and a good changeup, and those are fine traits to start with

Roger (Washington DC): 

    How close was Jalen miller to making the list. Were there adjustments that he made which allowed him to have much greater success in his second time through the league?


Kyle Glaser: Jalen Miller received some consideration. He was pretty young for the league last year and was a little more ready to compete physically this time around. A couple evaluators saw him hit enough they gave him a chance to rise as kind of an up-and-down offensive middle infielder, but his selectivity still needs some work. Fine player who definitely bounced back in nice fashion

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    I’ve seen Adell’s hitting grades between 50-60. What kind of batting average is that exactly?


Kyle Glaser: The scale is constantly adjusting because batting averages keep going down in the majors, but, strictly mathematically, as of last year a 50 hitting grade was about a .255 average and a 60 was about .285. Each team has different thresholds, but strictly on the math that would be the range. A 55 hit is probably the most appropriate for Adell, somewhere in the .270 range provided he keeps making the adjustments and natural strides hitters have to make as they move up the ladder.

Roger (Washington DC): 

    At 20 Sandro Fabian had a thoroughly miserable Cal League campaign and will certainly return in ‘19. But were there any silver linings in his reports from scouts? Good things to build on?


Kyle Glaser: Fabian showed some ability to drive the ball when he got his pitch and he wasn't a bad athlete. That's about it though. His entire approach needs a complete, start from scratch overhaul.

Roger (Washington DC): 

    What’s the general assessment on Heath Quinn now after two extremely disparate Cal League canpaigns?


Kyle Glaser: Quinn had a much, much better season but evaluators still didn't really care for him. They saw him as just kind of a standard, big ,stiff, low minors righthanded corner guy. They didn't NP him, but they unanimously wanted to see more fluidity before they felt they could consider him much of a prospect

DH (PA): 

    Is Michel Baez just so tall that it's less likely he figures it out? What is his likely outcome? High risk, high reward?


Kyle Glaser: The list of successful 6-foot-8 righthanded starters in the majors is a short one, and all the long limbs and moving pieces are a big reason for it. Baez's most likely outcome right now in the eyes of most evaluators is a 7th-8th inning reliever, but there's absolutely a high reward if he loosens up his lower half, finds his direction and gets his arm speed back to where it was at Ft. Wayne. A lot has to happen, but it's not out of the realm of possibility he gets back to looking like the dynamic front of the rotation starter we saw last season

Robert (Los Angeles): 

    Hi Kyle, Thoughts on the duo of Jack Kruger/Julian Leon and on the pitching side your thoughts on Patrick Sandoval/Luis Madero?


Kyle Glaser: Jack Kruger can really, really hit and he's a perfectly fine receiver as well. The problem is his arm. He struggled to reach second base in the air at times, and there's some strength building that needs to happen there. If he can get his arm up even just a little bit, he might have the mix of athleticism, hitting ability and receiving to be the Angels catcher of the future. Patrick Sandoval was a steal who flashes you four average of better pitches for strikes, something rare from a 21-year old. Madero is interesting with a low 90s fastball and a potentially average breaking ball and some projection remaining, but no is going crazy. More of an interesting, wait and see guy. Leon is seen purely as an organizational catcher

The One (San Jose): 

    I see that the Giants willl be moving on from Bobby Evans, was there any Giants prospects that stood out from the league this year?


Kyle Glaser: Logan Webb, who ranks No. 17 on our list, was really the only one. It was a really, really light crop at San Jose this year. Jalen Miller got a little consideration and Melvin Adon has a big fastball but no deception whatsoever, so opponents see it early and hit it.

DH (PA): 

    You commented that Rengifo's production fell as he climbed the ladder this year. Is that just a young guy figuring out tougher competition? Or has he been exposed and his tools aren't likely to translate to MLB?


Kyle Glaser: Rengifo still did just fine for himself as a 21-year-old in Triple-A all things considered. His tools may not explode but they're solid across the board, and a switch-hitting middle infielder with solid tools and great instincts becomes a big leaguer. It's just a matter of how much impact he'll have there, and there's still some debate about that. But I wouldn't say he's been "exposed"

Carl (San Antonio): 

    Meant to say Rancho! Sorry. Can you still answer the rest of the question


Kyle Glaser: No problem. RE: Carlos Rincon, it was such a short sample size that was so out of whack with everything he's produced throughout his career, evaluators were extremely skeptical he would keep it up over more games, especially once the league got to know him and adjusted. In the past he's struggled with anything on the outer half of the plate, and there wasn't really enough time for him to prove he's completely conquered that yet. He's always been a big strong kid with real power and bat speed, but we'll have to see next year if he's conclusively made lasting adjustments.

Derek (Louisiana): 

    Will Paddack break into SD's rotation sometime next year?


Kyle Glaser: The fact Paddack has to go on the 40-man roster at the end of this season certainly strengthens the possibility he will. You still want to see him show he can last more than 85 pitches in a game and tighten up that breaking ball before you throw him out there for good, but I'd say it's a strong possibility he gets there at some point next year.

Jose (Louisville, Kentucky): 

    Is it fair to say that the Cal league does not inflate offensive numbers to the same degree as 3+ seasons ago, but is still an obvious pitcher's league?


Kyle Glaser: I think you meant to say hitter's league there at the end. The answer is yes, the Cal League still leans hitter-friendly, but it's nowhere near the level it was before. Really once you get out of Lancaster (and to a lesser degree Visalia) the other six parks play pretty fair. So yes, it's still a hitter's league, but you can't as easily dismiss big offensive numbers or poor pitching numbers (Lancaster players excepted) as easy now that High Desert and Bakersfield are gone.

DH (PA): 

    Brandon Marsh had a nice second half, but his ceiling seems to have fallen. What kind of player do you think he'll become?


Kyle Glaser: There's actually still a pretty big ceiling there with Marsh. He showed worlds of physical ability, including flashes at the plate, and his struggles were more mechanical than any serious shortcoming in pitch recognition, hand-eye coordination, etc that would be more problematic. He has to make the fixes, and if he doesn't he won't get out of the minor leagues, but I'll bet he will and end making the majors as great defense, solid hitting outfielder.

Kyle Glaser: Alright everyone, that will do it for today. Thanks for joining, and keep an eye out for Texas League tomorrow

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