2018 Florida State League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Image credit: Cristian Pache (Photo by Cliff Welch)

Josh Norris: Hey all, let’s start. I’m headed out to Arizona tomorrow morning for instructional league and Arizona Fall League. Follow along for all the adventures.

DH (PA): 

    The Pirates affiliate in Bradenton was pretty awful this year. Did any Marauders get close to the list?

Josh Norris: Not really, no. The closest any Bradenton guy got was Jared Oliva, and he wasn’t particularly close.

Frank (Oregon): 

    Ibandel Isabel set a league record for home runs, but he also struck out more than a third of the time he stepped up to the plate. What was the talk on him? Any chance he’s got a future in the Majors, even if it’s going to be a power threat from the bench?

Josh Norris: Without serious refinement, yes, that’s the only path to the major leagues for Isabel. The Reds were working with him on changing his approach and swing path, but right now he’s clearly a home run or bust type of guy on the order of Adam Brett Walker.

Kingsley (Toronto): 

    What about Patrick Murphy? Is it because he’s too old or he doesn’t have the upside that similar to the Top 20 FSL prospects?

Josh Norris: It’s because A) the league is really stacked this year (I was leaving off about half a dozen guys I wanted to rank) and B) The changeup still needs serious work if he’s going to be an option for the rotation in any capacity. The fastball and breaking ball are serious weapons, but the change is below-average at this point. Also, the injury history is scary.

Warren (New London): 

    What do evaluators think of Mickey Moniak after a bad first half and a fairly good second half? He hit much better at home than on the road—should one make anything of that? Has he done enough to move up to Reading next year?

Josh Norris: Some evaluators saw enough progress with him to make them believe he’d have some major league value, but not as a particularly impactful player. There was plenty of progress, but there needs to be a lot more before they’re ready to jump back on him as a regular.

Peter (Lake city Fla.): 

    Now that Garrett Whitlock has gone from a B.A. “Best Yankee late round pick” to success in the SAL and FSL what do see in his future? AA IN 2019 Yankees in 2020? Thanks

Josh Norris: Whitlock is an interesting one for sure, and he certainly had a heck of a first full season in the minor leagues. He’s strike-throwing, innings-eating sort of guy who could have a future as a back-end starter if everything breaks right for him. He needs to refine his changeup as well so that he can stick in the rotation. I’m sure he’ll return to AA Trenton in 2019 as well.

Dan (Internet): 

    Did Florial just miss the AB cut-off, or have evaluators cooled on him? Any chance he starts next season in Trenton?

Josh Norris: Florial qualified for the league, but it was pretty much a lost year for him. He obviously missed a bit of time with the hamate injury, and he didn’t have a whole lot of time otherwise to show he’d improved significantly in the necessary areas, namely strike-zone discipline. The Yankees are still confident in him based on what they see on their internal metrics, and evaluators said he made some subtle strides defensively, but it was too deep a league to put him on the 20 with the disjointed season he had.

Bob (St. Louis): 

    Any other prospects stand out on Palm Beach Cardinals besides Carlson?

Josh Norris: Elehuris Montero didn’t qualify for the list but he was probably that team’s other big prospect along with Carlson. Evaluators saw him as a fringy-average defender at third base with raw power and athleticism and hand-eye coordination. Andy Young was also in the mix. Late-round pick out of Indiana State, but dude just hit, especially in a 35-game stint at Double-A Springfield. Keep an eye on him.

JW (AL): 

    As you know and mentioned, the Cards have been surprisingly aggressive with D. Carlson. By all accounts he has seems to show an advanced maturity and approach to the game, has great plate discipline and you mentioned he has abundant raw tools, specifically his power. His hit tool seems to be lagging behind though. Is there a concern that the hit tool is not there? Also, does he stay in the OF or is 1B a possibility? Thanks

Josh Norris: I wouldn’t worry about the hit tool yet. He was 19 all season long in the FSL as a switch-hitter. Scouts are betting on his projection as well and believe some of his doubles will turn into homers, thus allowing him to profile as a corner outfielder. Plus, you love to see the K-BB ratio he turned in this year.

nb (philly): 

    Thanks for the chat! For years, while suffering through tough seasons at the major league level, we’ve been hearing about the strong pitchers in the lower levels of the minors. Well now Sanchez and Medina have both seemingly passed the test of the FSL. Should we expect to see both in Reading in 2019 and Philly sometime in 2020? Thanks!

Josh Norris: I honestly believe (and this is just me talking) that if he had been healthy and the Phillies hadn’t cratered down the stretch, Sixto would have been in Philly this year, at the very least in a bullpen role. There were at least two scouts who I spoke with who said he was the best pitcher they saw all year, at any level. He’s that good. Medina also did well. There’s a little more variance in how evaluators see him, however. The highest I got on him was a mid-rotation starter with two above-average offspeed pitches. I’m really, really, really excited to see him in the AFL next week (he and Nate Pearson are the two names on the top of my board)

Steve (PA): 

    Hey Josh, First of all – thank you for these chats! Love the insight us fans get! I am sure you love the “but what about..” questions but… what about Jose Pujols? 🙂 Don’t know much about him but numbers were good in the FSL, leading in OPS, etc. Is he a prospect?

Josh Norris: At the very least, he should get the Turnaround Of The Year Award (trademark pending). He went from an OPS of .552 with Clearwater in 2017 to .887 at the same level in 2018 before a promotion to Double-A. Power has always been his calling card, and this year he added some more plate discipline and a willingness to work deeper counts. He’s certainly raised his prospect stock quite a bit.

Bob (Det): 

    I was surprised Isaac Paredes didn’t make the list. A 19 yr old infielder with a near 800 OPS and 12 HR in 2/3 of a season in the FSL certainly had a very productive year. I know his SS defense isn’t good, but it seems like his bat would suggest a pretty strong upside as a 3B or 2B. What kept him from the list?

Josh Norris: Paredes was close, and he made the other list I did (the Eastern League), but the defensive limitations and the body questions were enough to knock him off the list in the FSL. Plus, the league was deeper.

DH (PA): 

    Pache is really high at #3. Is that due to his defense, or does he have a better potential bat than guys like Trammell and Jesus Sanchez? How would you compare those three guys?

Josh Norris: That is in large part due to his defense and emerging offense. He might be the best outfield defender in the minor leagues, period, and now that he’s starting to tap into his power he’s become a very tantalizing prospect. A strong 2019 (and AFL) could knock him into the upper echelon of prospects overall.

SBNY (Philadelphia): 

    How much did Anthony Kay and David Peterson miss the FSL top 20 by? What are their ceilings?

Josh Norris: Kay was closer than Peterson and has a higher upside. Kay could be a mid-rotation type of starter and Peterson might be closer to back-end starter. Kay needs a little more refinement (understandable coming off a TJ layoff and in his first full season as a pro) but there are quality ingredients there.

Michael Stern (Rochester NY): 

    Kevin Smith looks like a real good offensive player with both power and speed. Will his defense be good enough to stay at SS, and what do you thin his ETA will be for a landing in Toronto? Thanks for the chat!

Josh Norris: I think he’s going to be a bat-first shortstop with just enough defensive chops to stay at the position long-term. The quintessential “professional hitter.” ETA might be in 2020, although it will be interesting to see where he and Bo Bichette wind up defensively once both get there.

DH (PA): 

    What’s a reasonable outcome for Trammell? Can he be a 20-20 guy, and hit .275?

Josh Norris: That is actually a very reasonable ceiling for him.

Michael Stern (Rochester NY): 

    What did you hear about Vidal Brujan from his time in the league and where do you think he would have ranked had he had enough time to qualify? Thanks for the chat!

Josh Norris: There are many, many questions like this one in the queue, so I’ll answer them all here: First, I don’t really consider where a guy would’ve ranked if he doesn’t qualify for a list. It’s hard enough to figure out the guys who do qualify! That said, Vidal Brujan is one of my favorite prospects in the minors. He’s one of the best athletes in the system, shows a knack for barreling balls (even if there isn’t big-time power just yet) and is an 80-grade runner. There are some scouts who think he’s better suited for center field based on his level of skills.

DH (PA): 

    What would it take to change the Rays approach with McKay? Another year like this year? Any hint they’re considering a focus on pitching?

Josh Norris: I think they’re in this for the long haul with him. No hints that they’d consider just having him focus on pitching just yet.

DR (East Coast): 

    How does Andres Gimenez compare to the Nats’ Luis Garcia? Both seem to be hit over power capable infielders. Does Andres get the edge because of his power potential?

Josh Norris: Andres Gimenez is a better bet long-term at shortstop than Garcia, and is more of a sparkplug type of player than Garcia, who will probably indeed have more power.

Josh Norris: Thanks, guys. Talk to you in the desert.

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