2018 Northwest League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Image credit: Hans Crouse (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Josh Norris: The Northwest is the best part of the country, so let’s get this Northwest League chat started a little bit early.

Josh Norris: Hey, there’s going to be a delay with the chat. Scout call I need to take just happened. Hang with me.

Gerry (Toronto):

    Did any Vancouver players come close? The team likes Otto Lopez and a few pitchers did OK, Josh Winkowski and Joey Murray in particular.

Josh Norris: Griffin Conine was probably No. 21. The power was there, but the swing and miss was a concern for an advanced college guy in that league. Still, I expect a big 2019 out of him, probably at low A Lansing,.

Bill Mitchell: Hi, this is Bill Mitchell filling in for Josh for a while. Josh & I shared the responsibility for the NWL list, so I’ll do my best in answering some questions. As for Vancouver players, Griffin Conine got strong consideration but I don’t think his season was quite what was expected considering his draft pedigree. Short answer — he was probably #21 or #22 in the league in our final list. Winckowski drew interest from one of the opposing managers I talked to; what he liked about him was his competitiveness on the mound.

Todd (Davis Junction, IL):

    Bart was head and shoulders above the whole league. Does he skip low A ball? Also, which of Eugene’s pitchers after Marquez looked best?

Bill Mitchell: It wouldn’t surprise me to see Bart jump over Low-A and start the season at San Jose (High-A). I saw him quite a bit in the AZL before he headed off to Salem-Keizer, and what impressed me most was his maturity and leadership for a guy in his first few professional games. He was already like another coach on the field. Quite frankly, Bart probably could have played in the Cal League this year but there was no reason to rush him.

Roger (Washington DC):

    Seth Corry is another Volcanoes pitcher who may or may not have qualified for this list. He’s shown himself to be pretty “high risk” with major command issues so far, but is he also potential “high reward” if he solves those mechanical issues?

Bill Mitchell: To answer two of Roger’s questions in the queue, neither Sean Hjelle or Seth Corry got enough innings to qualify for the NWL list. When I was working on the AZL list, Corry was still a little polarizing among scouts as some observers think he’s a reliever long-term. He showed progress this year with the command, but there’s still more work to be done.

Roger (Washington DC):

    You noted that Gregory Santos is high upside/high risk and might be served better moving in relief. I would guess the somewhat pitching-barren Giants’ system really needs him to develop as a starter. In addition to the requisite command improvements, what needs to happen for that outcome?

Bill Mitchell: Santos also needs to get a third pitch, but I think consistency of command will be his biggest area for improvement moving forward. I saw him a lot during extended spring training and he could look dominating some days and then not able to command his pitches the next time. For his development priorities, I’d label command as 1A and a third pitch as 1B. But if it comes together for him, it’s a special arm with a big league future in some role.

Dan (Ft Worth TX):

    Did Curtis Terry get any list consideration? Besides power, what else does he bring to the table?

Bill Mitchell: Terry, the first baseman for Spokane, was named league MVP in his second NWL season. He has big raw power but that’s about it. He showed some improvement in the field, but scouts don’t see him as a big league prospect.

Navin (California):

    I’m guessing Nico Hoerner didn’t get enough reps but what did you hear about him. I’m pretty excited he’s headed to the AFL this year.

Bill Mitchell: Navin, you are correct about Hoerner. He barely had time to unpack and do any sightseeing in Oregon as he played only 7 games with Eugene. I saw him on several occasions this year, both with Stanford and then in a couple of early games in the AZL. The bat packed more wallop than I expected, so those scouting reports that questioned how much power he’d have may have been light on him. I believe he’s going to hit, and he’s the kind of guy who play above his tools. I’m eager to get more looks at him this week when AFL play starts.

Doug (Chicago):

    What’s the most pressing thing Julio Pablo Martinez needs to work on in 2019?

Bill Mitchell: JP (as he prefers to be called) needs to get plenty of reps to make up for lost time after he came over from Cuba. He’s smaller than I expected but has a strong build. Scouts aren’t sure how much he’ll hit, with some projections that he’ll eventually settle in as a fourth outfielder. He has good bat speed but with a longer bat path. JP spent a lot of time this summer improving his bunting, base running, base stealing, etc., so his first year of pro ball was more instructional than for most players. But he’s a plus runner and maybe will be a plus defender, so there’s value there. Another player that I’m anxious to get more looks at him in the Fall League.

Jamey Newberg (Texas):

    Assume Sherten Apostel just didn’t have enough time in the league to qualify, but how would he have figured in? Also interested in whether there were perceived shortcomings that kept Emmanuel Clase off the list, and whether Curtis Terry’s run/defense limitations were significant enough to keep him off.

Bill Mitchell: Apostel, a native of Curacao, was acquired by the Rangers in a trade with Pittsburgh, and got into just a dozen games at Spokane. I’ve seen a lot of Apostel during instructional league, and I’m a fan. He’s got a tall, muscular frame that should be able to get stronger, and there’s thunder in that young man’s bat. If you search Twitter, you will likely find multiple videos of Apostel slamming a long home run in an instructs game last week. If he gets bigger, he may not stay at third base but it won’t matter if the bat keeps developing.

Roger (Washington DC):

    Any other members of the Salem-Keizer lineup receive consideration for the list? I’m thinking particularly of Diego Rincones, David Villar, Aaron Bond, or Jose Layer.

Bill Mitchell: Rincones was on some early drafts of the top 20, so let’s say that he finished in our top 22. I wrote the capsule on him and emphasized that the kid can just flat out hit. He’s got really good bat to ball skills using all fields, with projectable power. Defense is the biggest question mark, especially as the body gets bigger. He’s an adequate corner outfielder now.

Carlos (Dallas, TX):

    What is Seth Nordlin’s projection, and how would you rate his pitches? Surprising his numbers didn’t at least get him a spot on your list.

Bill Mitchell: Nordlin is an effective strike thrower, more of a high floor type of prospect than high ceiling who didn’t get a lot of mentions from scouts. I could certainly see him as a big league middle reliever someday if he keeps developing. But now I’ll jump over to another Spokane pitcher, Emmanuel Clase, one of my favorite guys who finished just outside the top 20. (I could have sworn I saw a question in the queue about him but now can’t find it). Acquired from the Padres earlier this year as the PTBNL for catcher Brett Nicholas, Clase has an electric fastball that reaches 100 and that he can throw for strikes. Clase complements the heater with a future average slider. He’s a possible back-of-the-bullpen arm and one to monitor closely as he moves on to full-season ball next year.

Jamey Newberg (Texas):

    Thanks — and Clase?

Bill Mitchell: Ah ha! I knew I had seen a question about Emmanuel Clase, and here it is. One other tidbit of info to add is that he’s a control over command pitcher now. He walked only 6 batters in 28 innings, but still needs to get more consistent command especially with the breaking ball.

Harry (Toronto ON):

    What did scouts say about Griffin Conine?

Bill Mitchell: Lightning round answer here on Conine, Toronto’s 2nd round pick out of Duke — Makes hard contact to all fields, plus arm in RF, above-average power. The numbers weren’t great in Vancouver but he was likely worn out after the early start with his college season.

Navin (Pasadena, CA):

    What is Jonathan Sierra’s prospect status? He commanded a higher bonus than Aramis Ademan, Miguel Amaya, Isaac Paredes and Brailyn Marquez in the same IFA class but they have all seemingly passed him by.

Bill Mitchell: Sierra has gotten noticeably stronger since his pro debut, but his development has been more of a slow burn. It’s a long swing with some contact issues, and he hasn’t yet been able to get to the raw power in games. Keep in mind that he’s still only 19, so give him a little more time.

Eric (NY NY):

    We know about TB’s mega-prospect, but what are your thoughts on the “other” Wander Franco, in SF’s system?

Bill Mitchell: To clarify, there are three brothers from the DR all named Wander Franco. To make it even more confusing, the Giants also have the oldest brother who played in San Jose this year. The Salem-Keizer version of the Franco trio is 21, came out of the Astros system, and can hit but doesn’t have a position. He played more at 1B for the Volcanoes but also spent time at 3B (his primary position in the past). A switch-hitter, he’s got more doubles power right now. The over-the-fence power will have to emerge for him to be a corner infielder, but for now he’s at least kind of an intriguing prospect. But if you’re keeping score at home, be sure to remember the name Wander Franco because the Rays version may soon be in contention for top player in the minor leagues.

Bob (Texas):

    The description of Crouse’s delivery does not make it seem conducive to starting. What percentage would you give him to make it all the way up through the minors as a starter?

Bill Mitchell: Crouse’s delivery has always been a discussion item going back to his high school days in southern California. But the skeptics that think his delivery won’t work for a starting pitcher are becoming an ever-diminishing breed. He’s athletic and repeats his delivery, so no matter how wacky it looks at times it works for him. I can’t put a percentage on it, but most everyone believes he can be a starter.

Warren (New London):

    Good list—I liked seeing Edwards, Perdomo, and Marcano where you have them. Did anybody like Cade Harris?

Bill Mitchell: Last question, and then I’ve got to head off to an instructs game (where I’ll be seeing Geraldo Perdomo in action). No discussion from scouts on Harris, the Rockies 10th round pick from Oklahoma. However, in talking with the Boise manager he brought up the name Luke Morgan, their 20th round pick from College of Charleston. At 22, he’s a little older than most debut players, but he played all three OF positions for the Hawks and should continue to hit. Maybe a 4th OF in the making with Morgan.

Bill Mitchell: Thanks for all of the great questions, especially with many Giants and Rangers followers out in full force. Josh is still slaving away on gathering info on the extremely rich Yankees farm system for their top 30 and I’ve got to get out on the field. I’ll be back later in the week to talk about the Pioneer and Arizona League prospects.

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