2018 Eastern League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Josh Norris: Hey all, it’s Monday, so let’s kill some time by chatting.

Bob (MI): 

    What’s the offensive upside for Isaac Paredes? The short stint in the EL was his first with a really high BA/OBP. Is something like 300/360/480 a reasonable upside?

Josh Norris: Paredes’ value is likely to be bat-only, at this point. He’s a really big boy already and is extremely unlikely to stick at shortstop. Most impressively, he didn’t show a significant home-road split while playing at the hitter-friendly Erie stadium. He probably won’t hit for that high of an average, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up significant power numbers if he reaches his ceiling. It’ll be really interesting to see what he can do with the MLB balls next year if/when he gets to Toledo.


    When can we realistically expect to see Bichette in a Blue Jays uniform? Thank you.

Josh Norris: Probably early 2020, if everything goes well this year.

Bob (MI): 

    What happened to Alex Faedo in the EL? 15 HR in 60 IP is horrible any way you slice it. Did his stuff decrease so badly from college that he’s already on the back of the rotation at best path?

Josh Norris: Yes, this was eye-popping. Quite simply, it’s a matter of fastball command and separation. Scouts who saw him noted he was leaving the ball up quite often, which is not advisable anywhere but it’s particularly dangerous in Erie. More than that, there’s not a whole lot of difference, vela-wise, between his fastball and his changeup. That’s not a good recipe. His fastball also averaged around 92 mph in pro ball.

Mobby (Detroit): 

    How concerning was Brendan Rodgers’ faltering end to the season? I would have expected him to produce big numbers in AAA given that ballpark.

Josh Norris: Not at all. He worked a lot on recognizing breaking pitches this year at AA, and he’s going to have to do that some more at AAA, where he’ll run into a lot of MLB quality-breakers. Still, he’s a 22 year old shortstop in Triple-A. That’s a great starting point.

Johnny (Philadelphia): 

    Darick Hall has never been ranked anywhere, wasn’t a high pick and probably is a first baseman at best defensively. Still, he’s got great pop and has put up strong numbers over the past 2 years. What is the word on him?

Josh Norris: Right now, he’s got power. That much is clear. He needs to add selectivity to that mix. He has to learn what he can hit and what he should lay off in order to take his walks. The 5.4 percent walk rate coupled with a 23 percent strikeout rate in Double-A leaves much to be desired.

Scott (Toronto): 

    Is there any hope left for Max Pentecost?

Josh Norris: Yes! One of the biggest positive signs from him was simply catching a ton of games this year. More than that, he looked good doing it. He caught 40 percent of runners trying to steal and turned in sub-2.0 pop times behind the dish. At the plate, the Jays have worked with him to slow everything down mechanically to help get in a position to hit more quickly.

Dugmet (East of the Sun. West of the Moon.): 

    To what would you attribute Jeff McNeill’s AA power? Can it follow him to MLB?

Josh Norris: McNeil is off to an incredible start with the Mets, which is assuredly a testament to his dedication and work ethic after several years of injuries. I went back and forth with putting him on this list because he was, after all, 26 years old in the Eastern League. That said, there’s a reason for the advanced age and he did all he could do to get out of Binghamton as quickly as possible. Part of his power surge was attributable to more lofty swing, which, interestingly, scouts have said isn’t the case now that he’s in the major leagues. Instead, he’s back to a more level path, which doesn’t always bring big power with it. That said, MLB baseballs are a hell of a drug.

JD (AZ): 

    If he was not hurt how close was Daniel Johnson to top 20?

Josh Norris: I can’t answer that question because he was hurt so I’m not sure what he would have looked like if he weren’t. Even so, he qualified for this list by plenty. His problem right now is that he has a little bit of a tweener profile. He might not be a slam-dunk center fielder, but he doesn’t have the prototypical corner outfield power either. I’m a fan of his, personally, though.

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    Is Peter Alonso’s offensive profile similar to Matt Olsen as a .240 hitter with 30 hrs? Or am I light on projecting his avg?

Josh Norris: I think that’s probably a touch light on the average, but you’re correct in projecting him for a power over hit type of player. But the power is real, and it’s spectacular.

Scott (Toronto): 

    Is Harold Ramirez a legitimate prospect again?

Josh Norris: He’s put himself back on the map somewhat by closing off his stance and aiming to get the ball in the air more often. The results were career highs on OBP, SLG, HRs and 2Bs and an Eastern League batting title.

Clint (British Columbia): 

    Uh, where’s Danny Jansen? Not on the IL or Eastern League top 20?

Josh Norris: He didn’t take a single at-bat in the Eastern League this year. Tough to make the list when you’re not in the league.

DH (PA): 

    Paredes is so young. Is there any more room for growth or is he maxed out? If he sticks at 3B, does he hit enough to potentially make him above average there?

Josh Norris: I think at this point you’d be worried if he grew more. He’s already listed at 5-11 and 225, so he needs to focus on getting in better shape.

Jose (Louisville): 

    Any hope for Bobby Bradley?

Josh Norris: He’s still young, still has massive power and showed the ability to make adjustments mechanically at Double-A this year, but he’s going to have to come a long way in terms of cutting his strikeouts.

Elliot (Youngstown): 

    So does McKenzie still rate among the top 30 or so prospects? Is there concern about his health?

Josh Norris: We currently rank him in our Top 30 overall, but I am concerned about his overall durability. He seems to be one of those guys who is just not going to gain much weight no matter how much he eats and works to add to his frame. If that’s the case, then it’s hard to see him holding up over the course of an MLB workload.

DH (PA): 

    Ke’Bryan Hayes is ranked very high on this list. His defense has always been great so the change is his bat. Do you suppose he’ll be an average 3B bat or a bit more?

Josh Norris: The reviews on Hayes were glowing, to put it lightly. The defense is spectacular at third base, and evaluators this year watched him mature as a hitter all season long. He started pulling balls with more authority to the point where teams had to change the way they played him defensively. Also notable: Altoona is a pitcher’s park, and Hayes slugged better than .500 in road games.

Aiden Elash (Canada): 

    Thoughts on Anthony Alfords disappointing year?

Josh Norris: Disappointing is the correct way to put it.Until he cuts his strikeouts, he might be one of those guys whose tools are louder than his production.

Scott (Toronto): 

    What is jordan romano’s ceiling? He had a solid season but doesn’t get as much attention.

Josh Norris: If he improves his changeup and begins throwing with more conviction, he could be a back of the rotation starter. If not, he might fit in toward the back of the bullpen. It all depends on finding that third pitch.

Elliot (Youngstown): 

    Did Aaron Civale kind of stall At Akron? Does he project as a back of the rotation major leaguer?

Josh Norris: He does project as a back of the rotation major leaguer indeed. He saw a small velo spike at the end of the year, and he also moved toward the center of the rubber to change the way his slider and cutter play. Specifically, he’s able to get those pitches to the glove side more often.

RD (NYC): 

    As a Mets fan, what can I look forward to with Andres Gimenez (until a mysterious malady prematurely ends his career, that is)?

Josh Norris: You can look forward to a slick defender with spark plug-type of offensive tools at the top of a lineup. Slash and burn type of player with well above-average speed. He could stick at shortstop, but he might defer to second base because of Amed Rosario. Related: I really like some of the stuff I’m seeing in the Mets’ minor leagues. Their lower levels are loaded.

Pete (Florida): 

    Do the Yanks Swanson and King have a future in a MLB rotation? King seems to have taken a step up from his Marlins days. Thanks!

Josh Norris: They might. Swanson didn’t qualify for this list, but he saw particular results because of the way his fastball carried through the zone. He also got better at commanding his entire arsenal and made progress with his changeup. As for King, what more can you say about the year he had? Evaluators in and out of the org were impressed with him. He’s a studious pitcher who keeps works tirelessly to prepare for starts, and it showed with the way he carved up hitters at three levels. The pure stuff won’t knock your socks off, but the command and plan of attack he brings to every start amplify his success.

DH (PA): 

    Biggio seems to have such a wide range of possible outcomes, even if he doesn’t flame out. He had a very productive year but his position and bat both seem more risky than most. What would be your guess where he ends up and how he hits?

Josh Norris: I think he’s going to be a super utility type of player who provide pop no matter where he plays on the diamond.

Terry (Janesville, WI): 

    T. J. Zeuch impressed me in the Az Fall Lg last year and is mentioned in the article, but didn’t make your Top 20. Where does he rank and what do you think of his chances making the majors?

Josh Norris: He was close. Scouts wanted to see more swing-and-miss from him. His ability to get grounders is certainly welcomed in this flyball-heavy age.

Josh Norris: That’s it for me for today. Thanks for the questions. I’ll be back Monday for the FSL Top 20.

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