2019 Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects Chat (10/8/19)

Image credit: Brett Baty (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Carlos Collazo: Hey everyone, we’re about to get this thing rolling. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to chat about the Appy League this year in between playoff action. It wasn’t as loaded as the 2018 group was, but still a lot of fun players to talk about, particularly if you’re a Mets fan.

Dan (Lansing): 

    The Mets seem to be very aggressive with their assignments of international players. Do you think Francisco Alvarez could start next year in high A? I know it’s a reach for an 18 year old catcher to start his first full season skipping low A but it seems like a Mets thing to do. What’s Alvarez potential? 1st division regular?

Carlos Collazo: Thanks for the question, Dan! It always makes sense to start with the top prospect on the board, and it was pretty easy to put Alvarez in that spot this year—though not as easy as Wander Franco being the top prospect a year ago. I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to be honest. I like when teams aggressively push their top prospects and what stands out most about Alvarez is just how polished he is as a catcher for someone who doesn’t turn 18 until November. Pretty much every manager told me they were amazed when they found out how young he was for the league. Generally catchers move slow, but it’s because they have to figure out a lot of the details that come with catching. It sounds like Alvarez has the aptitude and polish to move a bit quicker. I’m for it. He does have the ability to be a first division regular. Chance for an above-average bat and above-average defensive skills.

Brandon (Canada): 

    Hiraldo had a better batting line than Baty, is a year younger, and has pedigree himself as a top J2 signee. Why are evaluators so high on Baty’s debut after mixed feelings about him in the draft?

Carlos Collazo: I try not to get too caught up in scouting the stat line when we are talking about players in Rookie Ball. There’s a lot that’s going on that doesn’t show up in the box score. Two things I would mention would be Baty’s power and his defensive work. While Hiraldo has some pop, Baty has more and I was told he uses the opposite field gap with authority better than most hitters at his age. I think his approach is better than what you might expect from the stat line as well. Those were too surprising for me after covering Baty for the 2019 draft, but I was surprised and encouraged by the feedback of his defensive ability. Managers and scouts were both pretty complimentary of how he looked at third base, citing an ability to make plays on the run and throw accurately with plus arm strength. If he can actually play third base, that helps his profile tremendously.

Miguel Hiraldo (the OTHER Jays international prospect): 

    Hi Carlos, thanks for the chat today. With everyone talking about my org mate Orelvis Martinez, I get lost in the shuffle as a legit prospect myself. What do scouts think about my offensive tools after my season in the APPY League? Do I have a chance at being a 60 hit / 55 power guy?

Carlos Collazo: We’ve previously graded Hiraldo out as a 55 hit / 60 power guy and I think that makes more sense for now than the flipped grades you suggested. He’ll have to grow into that power and improve his overall approach to get to those grades, but he’s pretty polished for his age at the moment and has quick hands. He’s going to have to get better at driving the ball to the opposite field and dealing with pitches on the outer half as he continues to progress up the minor league ladder though. He tends to get pull-happy at the moment.

Jays Fan (Toronto): 

    Miguel Hiraldo has been known as a plus hitter being regarded one of the best hitters in his 2017 class. After hitting 7 HRs and a league leading 20 doubles in 2019, do scouts see further power projection since he’s already pretty filled out physically? If so, can he be a future .300 / 20-25 HR guy all while sticking defensively at 3rd?

Carlos Collazo: I think he’ll have to answer some of those approach issues I mentioned in the previous comment to become a legit plus hitter, but it’s certainly possible if he’s able to do that. I’d go lower on the average you suggested and seemingly anyone with a bit of pop can get to that home run total in the current game, so why not? It does sound like third base is his best fit defensively, though he could fill in at all the infield positions if need be.

Jim (St. Mary’s, Maryland): 

    Seems like Burlington had several interesting pitchers. Who, besides Alcantara, attracted scouts’ attention?

Carlos Collazo: They had some interesting hitters as well. As for the arms, LHP Angel Zerpa had a pretty good year and gets into the 93-94 mph range from the left side. RHP Jonah Dipoto is older and doesn’t have the biggest fastball, but he’s got a solid cutter and a high spinrate curveball that’s interesting. RHP Donavin Buck is older than Dipoto but impressed with a fastball that got up to 97 mph. Those are some of the first to come to mind.

Dave (Grayson, ga): 

    As a Braves fan, the Danville roster is depressing. Besides Ball, is there even another prospect on the roster? Did Tyler Owens impress in his time in the Appy League?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah, well the good news is the Braves major league roster is a lot less depressing, which is what counts right? Clearly the strength of Atlanta’s system is in the upper minors now, but SS Beau Philip certainly qualifies as a prospect and continues to draw praise from everyone I talk to for his defensive ability. How much he’s able to hit will be the big question with him. I didn’t hear a ton about Owens specifically in regards to his Appy League performance, but he has an electric fastball and managed to miss bats in his pro debut. That’s encouraging. I’ll be curious to see if he can develop a reliable breaking ball to go with the heater and see how long he sticks in a starting role. His size and the plunge in his delivery would be concerns for me.

James (MA): 

    Are evaluators impressed by Francisco Alvarez’s bat as a catcher? Or does his hitting potential transcend position? I know he’ll make every effort to stick there, and it sounds like he has a real chance to be an average MLB catcher, but it’s hard to tell what scale his bat is being measured on.

Carlos Collazo: This is a good question and one worth answering. I think it’s hard to completely remove the position from the evaluation of a bat in general, but I will say that several people I talked with thought he was the best hitter in the league—period. I think it’s fair to say scouts think he’ll be an above-average major league hitter, not just an above-average hitter for a catcher.

Justin (Daytona Beach): 

    Any other members of the 2019 Greeneville Reds that were notable/worth keeping an eye on besides Callihan, Johnson, and Salvador?

Carlos Collazo: OF Danny Lantigua has big raw power but hasn’t shown much ability to get to that power with any consistency. OF Allan Cerda can really play center field well and has some on-base skills, but again questions with the bat. RHP Graham Ashcraft is interesting if he’s actually figured out the control side of things and showed some premium stuff when he was healthy. That’d be a guy I keep an eye on as a Reds fan.

Mitch (Saskatoon): 

    Whatd you hear about Nunez and Torres for the Cardinals? Whats your timeline on them? Who do you prefer?

Carlos Collazo: I prefer Torres, which is in line with him being on this list and Nunez not being here, and their ranks on our midseason top 30. I think he does more offensively and defensively, though I did hear some good things about Nunez’ hands at third base despite some athleticism questions. No solid idea for an ETA on either, they both have a good bit to do still.

Wes (San Jose): 

    Does Junior Santos have frontline starter potential?

Carlos Collazo: I guess he does have that potential because he’s huge and throws hard and has shown flashes, but I wouldn’t say a frontline starter role is at all likely with him until his breaking ball and changeup improve significantly. He’s very young, though and was focusing on his fastball control more than anything this season, so if he can figure that out and then improve in other areas I guess it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Still plenty of work to do before you can think about him as a No. 1 or No. 2 in my mind. But evaluators love his upside, work ethic and arm talent.

Alex (Brooklyn): 

    How much of a boost do you think the Mets system gets with the high representation in the Appy League?

Carlos Collazo: I’m not sure how much of a boost it’ll get when you balance out the strong performances of guys like Alvarez, Baty and Palmer with some of the trading the team has done. This system would look a lot better with guys like Jarred Kelenic, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson still in it, obviously.

Matt (Va): 

    I’m guessing with Alverez, Allan, and Batty Columbia should be one of the most prospect loaded teams in the South Atlantic League next year?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah that’s a pretty impressive trio and speaks to the amount of talent the team has in the low minors.

Miles (Iowa): 

    Did you get any reports from other Bristol prospects? Especially thinking of Santiago Florez, Francisco Acuna and Daniel Rivero.

Carlos Collazo: Florez is still learning how to pitch. He switched from a curveball to a slider as the go-to secondary and it sounds like he’s got more natural feel for the slider, so that’s encouraging. When he’s on he’s very difficult to hit. Acuna does a pretty remarkable job squaring up fastballs in the zone, regardless of the velocity. He has started improving with his contact rate against breaking balls as well, which is encouraging. Sounds like he can provide some utility value defensively as well. Don’t have much for you on Rivero, he didn’t stand out like some of these others did.

Clint (Omaha, NE): 

    Maikel Garcia has the speed and athleticism as well as the arm strength to play an above average defensive shortstop in the future. His contact rate (less than 6% swinging strike rate) was impressive for a hitter that had decent patience this season. Obviously he needs to add some strength and pop but what else does he need to improve his prospect status?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah he was an interesting one that came up. As you mentioned he’ll need to add some more strength, he’s pretty wiry and lanky right now and I think he’s still sort of figuring out his body and learning to be consistent with his levers, but once that comes and he continues to fill out he has the potential to do a lot of things well. I think the consistency of his hit tool is probably the biggest thing he’ll need to improve on right now, in addition to adding more impact ability. Those two things are obviously very important.

William (NY): 

    Will Brodie Van Wagenen trade some of these “supposed” prospects for an old middle infielder. Thanks

Carlos Collazo: Which of these guys do you not think is a prospect?

Bob (St. Louis): 

    Malcom Nunez won the Triple Crown in the DSL last summer. This year marked his first season stateside and it appeared he took a step back. What feedback did you get from scouts on Nunez and was he in consideration for this list?

Carlos Collazo: This was mentioned on the Cardinals midseason update as well, but it sounds like just inconsistencies on both sides of the ball and questions about his athleticism. He was considered yes, but once you got to the 15ish range on this list there were about 10-13 players who didn’t have a ton of separation from one another.

Steve (Berlin, New Jersey): 

    How close was Davis Schneider (Eastern HS 2017 draft round 28) to making top 20? Slashed .313/.380/.550, 6 HR, 13 2B, 51% fly ball rate and only 2 defensive errors playing 2B/3B.

Carlos Collazo: He was considered, but I didn’t get enough good feedback to warrant putting him on and there were others in front of him who didn’t make the list as well.

Rocchio vs. Hiraldo (Who you got?): 

    Hi Carlos, after the NY Penn League top 20 yesterday, who do you have as the better prospect between 2017 J2 prospects Brayan Rocchio and Miguel Hiraldo and why?

Carlos Collazo: Don’t have a ton of familiarity with Rocchio, and while I tend to really like polished defenders I’ll go with Hiraldo. More confidence in the bat at this point.

Steve (NYC): 

    He was not part of the top players but i would like to know what you thought of Roberto Chirinos. With Antonio Cabello, when it said that the player is maxed out does not mean that scouts don’t believe he will be strong enough to say hit .270 20 80 rbis?

Carlos Collazo: It doesn’t mean that scouts think they will or won’t be able to reach an arbitrary statistical output, it just means that there’s not much more projecting you can do on the player in regards to something like power improving in the future. Generally it means the toolset they currently have now is what they’re going to have moving forward. Whereas, if you have a wiry kid who clearly has some more strength to add to his frame as he develops, you could project on his future power a lot more.

Carlos Collazo: Alright guys, that’s going to do it for today. Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate all the questions about players who were actually, you know, ranked on this list! Hope you all enjoy the rest of the playoffs!

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