2018 PCL Top 20 Prospects Chat

Image credit: Luis Urias (Photo by John Williamson)

Kyle Glaser: Hey everybody, thanks for joining. The PCL was loaded this year, a lot of worthy players who are absolutely legit future big leaguers got left off. It was tough, but fun, sorting it all out. Anyway, let’s get started

Derek (San Diego): 

    What are your thoughts on Franmil? I’ve been impressed with the adjustments hes made. Is his bat the real deal?

Kyle Glaser: This kind of power isn’t a shock. Reyes has always had it in him and many in the Padres organization considered him their best power prospect heading into the season. But the fact he’s getting to it while batting at a .280+ clip has surprised pretty much everyone. There’s still a sense he won’t sustain that over a larger sample, but before this the thought was he was going to hit .220 with some pop, making him a bench player who might eventually go play in Japan. Now the thought is he might be able to sustain .250, which with his power makes him an everyday guy.

AJ (Petco): 

    What is the ceiling on Luis Urias? can he be an all-star level player? His defense has really impressed me. Thanks!

Kyle Glaser: Urias absolutely can be an all-star level player, kind of in the way Placido Polanco was a two-time All-Star and probably deserved a few more nods. Even a tick lower, guys like Martin Prado, Omar Infante and Marco Scutaro all made an All-Star game at one point in their careers. Urias has the potential compete for batting titles at his peak while playing the above-average to plus defense at second base. That’s an All-Star.

Matt (Los Angeles, CA): 

    What are the upsides for Canning and Suarez? Canning’s pitch mix and delivery remind me of fellow Bruin Trevor Bauer

Kyle Glaser: Bauer is the oft-cited comp for Canning from scouts and coaches across every level he pitched at this season, and the upside is similar. A steady No. 3 or No. 4 most years who progresses up to a No. 2 in his best seasons. Suarez you get more of a No. 4 back-end lefty, but given his age and his annual adding of velocity, there are quite a few who think he’ll end up a No. 3 at maturity.

Bob (Memphis): 

    What other players on Memphis’ roster stood out among scouts and coaches this year?

Kyle Glaser: There were a lot. Memphis was loaded, both the first-half team and the second-half team. In addition to O’Neill, Hudson and Gomber who made the list (and Flaherty who would have made the list if he pitched enough innings to qualify), Carson Kelly, Andrew Knizner, Tommy Edman, Oscar Mercado (since traded), Lane Thomas, Adolis Garcia, Justin Williams, Daniel Poncedelon and Ryan Helsley all got positive reviews from scouts and coaches as legit present or future big leaguers who can stay on a ML roster. Even guys like Chris Ellis and Austin Warner got some love. It’s not a stretch to say there were a dozen legit big leaguers in Memphis this season, maybe even more. (On the flip side, the evaluations of Max Schrock, Randy Arozarena, Jake Woodford, Conner Greene and Connor Jones ranged from lukewarm to downright bad.)

Al (Austin): 

    Any consideratin for other Grizzlies Trent Thornton, Rogelio Armenteros and Garrett Stubbs?

Kyle Glaser: Yes. What pushed them out is everyone in the PCL Top 20 projects in an everyday role, while Armenteros, Thornton and Stubbs all project as big leaguers but in a situational role. Armenteros is 90-92, top 94 and doesn’t spin the ball well, so he’s not a starter, but his fastball and ridiculous changeup are enough for him to be a good bullpen piece. Thornton projects as a long man and Stubbs as a part-time catcher, mostly because he hasn’t shown he can hold up under a starter’s workload and few believe he can. All good players, all have a chance to be capable major leaguers, but the guys ahead of them are expected to be more prominent and impactful.

Billy Cardinal (MO): 

    What’s the deal with Max Schrock? Aggressive assignments throughout his pro career, targeted as a big piece of the return for Piscotty, and it looks like he hit a wall this year. Does he still proejct for you? Or just a polished college bat who’ll crap out in higher MiLB levels?

Kyle Glaser: Schrock is sort of “meh” at everything. He really is dependent on having a good approach and hammering strikes. That’s his ticket. He fell out of that this year, started pressing and his pitch selection really got poor, and you saw what happened. He didn’t strike out, but there was very little impact contact. He can run a little, plays an OK second base, decent arm, but nothing special anywhere, and his offense is really more dependent on his approach than any preternatural gift for hitting. If he can’t rediscover his approach, he’s a minor league org guy. If he does, maybe he’s the second baseman for a little bit on a second division team, kind of like Carlos Asuaje.

Tim (SLC): 

    Both Jorge Mateo and Sheldon Neuse made league top 20 lists last year before struggling in their transitions to AAA. I wouldn’t have expected them to make the lists, but any indication on what their outlooks look like going forward?

Kyle Glaser: Mateo doesn’t hit enough to be a big leaguer, period. Bad swing, bad approach, it’s all bad. Even with his defense and speed, he’s a minor league org player, maybe a cup of coffee type of guy. His bat is really, really bad. As for Neuse, he’s a little better but opposing pitchers found the hole (fastballs up) and he kept swinging and missing through them, never really adjusted. Neuse’s body is also worrisome. He keeps getting bigger and not in the good way. Next year will be key for Neuse, seeing what his body looks like and if he makes the adjustments needed.

JY (Chicago): 

    I know he’s getting up there in age, but should Daniel Vogelbach be starting, especially considering the other options the Mariners have at first? What about DH going forward?

Kyle Glaser: If Vogelbach starts it has to be at DH only. Everyone keeps waiting for him to develop into even remotely playable at first base, and it just isn’t happening. He’s a huge, slow guy that frankly just doesn’t move well enough to play the field, at least not for more than a game here or there. So as a DH only, it’s really going to be about if Vogelbach has learned from his first couple MLB stints and makes adjustments at the plate. He has enough power and patience to be a starting DH, and evaluators do think his bat is real. He’s just going to need consistent ABs at the ML level to see if his adjustments take hold. If Nelson Cruz ends up not resigning, the Mariners should give Vogelbach a real shot to be their DH…but first base ain’t happening.

Darren (Fairfield, CT): 

    Are the Mets better off signing Daniel Murphy to play either 1st or 2B or using Alonso and McNeil? Can they contend next year with Alonso & McNeil?

Kyle Glaser: Alonso and McNeil won’t be the determining factors if the Mets contend next year or not. The health of their pitchers and whether they actually start playing their best players rather than old, ineffective veterans all over the diamond will go a lot farther in determining their contention status. As for signing Murphy, McNeil you keep at second base full-time (his ability to hit is real and his defense keeps improving rapidly) and while Alonso still has a ways to go to even be playable at first base, you don’t want to lock up Murphy for multiple years and block Alonso for 3-4 years down the road. Long-term, the Mets probably are best letting McNeil and Alonso (or even Dom Smith) take over the right side of the infield rather than signing Murphy into his age 36-37 seasons or something. But doing that won’t be what elevates them to contention next year, a LOT of other things have to happen

Clint (Omaha): 

    How far off was Nicky Lopez from your list?

Kyle Glaser: Close. If this list extended to 25, Lopez would have been on it. Doesn’t have the impact tool of some of the guys on the back of the list (Hampson’s speed, Reyes’ power, etc), which ultimately kept him off, but he’s darn good baseball player who does everything well.

Jacob (Alabama): 

    Garrett Hampton – I see he’s finally gotten some love at the end of the season but what is it I’m missing with this guy? All he does is hit at every level with good plate discipline, surprising pop albeit not plus(but could be in Coors), elite speed/baserunning, and above-average multi position D. Yet he just now barely cracked the top 100 and seems to get labeled often as a future super utility. Am I too high on him? Thanks!

Kyle Glaser: We had Hampson on the Cal League Top 20 last year and in the Rockies top 10 prospects coming into the year, so the whole “he’s gotten no love thing” doesn’t really hold water. Anyway, speed, contact, on-base skills, it’s all there. His power numbers are inflated by playing in hitter-friendly parks, so there’s not really that much home run pop there, but he can drive a ball hard into the gap when you make a mistake. The hesitation many evaluators have on Hampson is because he’s played in so many hitter-friendly parks, they aren’t sure how much of his hitting ability is real. So that’s where you get the super utility label, not everyone is certain he’ll hit enough to be an everyday guy, even with his big numbers. Personally, having seen him a good bit, I do believe it is real and he’ll end up being the Rockies everyday second baseman for a long time. But again, not everyone shares that view.

Bob (California): 

    I know Francisco Mejia didn’t qualify for the list, but I was wondering if you have seen him recently with his defense. I know that bat is there but there seems to be conflicting opinions about the defense.

Kyle Glaser: There really isn’t a conflicting opinion on Mejia’s defense – the overwhelming consensus is his receiving and blocking aren’t good enough and need to get a lot better. The good news is a lot of his problems are effort and focus-based, which can be improved. The athleticism and skills are there, the effort just always hasn’t been. The Padres are genuine in giving him a chance to get better and prove to them he can do it, but he still has a long way to go, and that was visible even in his El Paso stint. This offseason will be key for Mejia to put in the work and show he can get in the right frame of mind to catch everyday.

DH (Pittsburgh): 

    Peter Alonso has both “subpar bat speed” and “eye popping exit velocities. Seems strange to me. Is it just extremely strong hands? Suppose he overcomes his flaws to become an every day 1B? Above average?

Kyle Glaser: I’m glad you picked up on this. When I dug into it, at Triple-A at least, he crushed a lot of the 86-91 mph stuff but not the better stuff. He had enough bat speed to post huge exit velos against the slighter stuff, but evaluators and opposing managers noted he didn’t consistently get to to the higher-end stuff. That’s where that came in.

Kyle Tucker’s Mom (Houston): 

    Will my son be a regular for the Astros? What’s his upside?

Kyle Glaser: Tucker’s upside is a 20 homer, 20-stolen base frequent All-Star. He has a chance to be really, really good. But what came up over and over and over again, unprompted, was a lot of observers felt he’s short-changing himself with the effort he puts in. One evaluator straight up said “Imagine how good he’d be if he actually cared.” That’s going to be something to watch with Tucker moving forward, if he puts in the effort to actually be great, because not everyone is convinced he will.

Smith (CN): 

    Yordan Alvarez struggled down the line, is his outlook still OK?

Kyle Glaser: Alvarez actually performed really well down the line, as mentioned in the writeup. Hit 295/.374/.484 over the final month and then 292 with three doubles and a homer in the PCL playoffs. His outlook as a future middle of the order power hitter remains intact

Alan (Fresno): 

    Beyond James, a number of Fresno pitchers had nice years (when taking into account the PCL) do Armenteros,Thornton, Sneed or Dykxhoorn have potential as starters in the majors?

Kyle Glaser: Not really. All those guys were seen as relievers or long guys/swingmen. If Armenteros figures out a curveball that might change

Kyle Glaser: Alright everyone, looks like that’s most of the PCL-related questions we had. We’ve got the International League coming up tomorrow and then we start rolling out the Double-A leagues next week, so keep it here at Baseball America for all the league top 20s

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