2019 Pioneer League Top 20 Prospects Chat (10/9/19)

Image credit: Jeremiah Jackson (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Bill Mitchell: Good morning from Arizona and welcome to the annual Pioneer League prospect chat. I’ve got a Fall League game on the schedule for this afternoon, and since there are already a bunch of questions in the queue let’s get this session started.

Jerry (Scottsdale): 

    How would you say this year’s crop stacked up versus previous years?

Bill Mitchell: Jerry, your question is a good one to open the chat in order to set a level on the quality of prospects in the Pioneer League this year. The quality has dropped in the past few years due to the reason outlined in the introduction to the list regarding more organizations adding a third short-season affiliate and having prospects skip around the Pioneer League and its extreme hitters environments. What was different this year was the number of intriguing young Latin players that make up much of the top half of the list, compared to previous years when there were more college players at the top.

Loiver Peguero (Future Top 100?): 

    I was previously seen has having below average power. After showing noticeable strength gains in 2019 as still only an 18 year old, do scouts now think I will have at least average power, if not more? Would that put my skills above average to plus across the board and a prime breakout candidate into the top 100 come 2020?

Bill Mitchell: Peguero now gets at least an above-average grade on his raw power, so expect more in-game pop to emerge as he continues to develop. He’s on my list as one who could jump up in the rankings next year.

Patrick Tsai (Taiwan): 

    Peguero or Perdomo? Who do you consider has a higher ceiling to become a star at the shortstop position?

Bill Mitchell: Patrick, thanks for checking in with us from across the Pacific. At this point Geraldo Perdomo has the higher floor because of how far he’s advanced for his age (he’s still just a couple of weeks shy of his 20th birthday). I polled a couple of scouts who have been watching both Perdomo and Peguero since their respective arrivals on the backfields of Arizona, and they both give a slight nod to Peguero as having the higher ceiling. It’s a nice position of strength for the Arizona organization.

Steve (AZ): 

    Hi Bill — Thanks for the chat. What name did you hear about the most that surprised you?

Bill Mitchell: Hi Steve, check my answer to the next question for the most surprising name on the list.

Bleed Blue (LA): 

    Andy Pages at No. 2!! Would you have expected that entering the season?

Bill Mitchell: No, I did not. I just wasn’t that familiar with Andy Pages when I started researching prospects and I know not to put a whole lot of faith in Pioneer League offensive stats, especially for Ogden hitters. But the more I talked to scouts and league managers about the prospects in the league, the more Pages kept moving up my list. I wanted to see him so much that I made a trip up to Grand Junction for Ogden’s first playoff game. The last line in my report on him said, “He plays with plenty of flair and emotion.” The comment that I often got in discussing Pages was that he’s got a lot of Yasiel Puig in him, both the good and bad. Two different managers said practically the same line about Pages, basically that if he’s on your team you love him, and if he’s not then his actions on the field can be irritating to opponents. However, scouts who saw Pages in both extended spring training and in the Pioneer League stated that he showed more maturity once he got to Ogden, so that’s a positive sign. Like Puig, he plays hard and he shows it.

Baseball Junkie (Montana): 

    Thanks for the chat. How much consideration did Billings OF Quin Cotton get? He was top 15 in the league in most offensive categories and played a very solid center field, when most pre- and post-draft evaluations said he’d have to play in left.

Bill Mitchell: Quin Cotton got some positive comments from managers across the league, but not so much from scouts who aren’t sure he’s a big league talent. While he played exclusively in center field with Billings, there are still questions as to whether he can handle the position long-term and whether he’ll have enough bat for the corner.

Frank (Dayton): 

    Two Billings outfielders caught my eye: Quin Cotton and TJ Hopkins. Did either come close to making the list?

Bill Mitchell: Frank, I just covered Cotton who did get some mentions from managers around the league, but nothing on Hopkins, the Reds 9th round pick as a senior sign from South Carolina.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    So Grand Junction has four potential all star shortstops: Carreras, Eddy Diaz, Koss, and Tovar. Which one is your favorite for the position? Do all end up at Asheville, or do some have the potential to start at high A in 2020?

Bill Mitchell: Karl, thanks for the question. I hesitate to put all-star potential on any player in a rookie league, but it’s an intriguing bunch. As I said in their reports, Carreras profiles better at the hot corner and Koss will be best in a utility role. Tovar has a high ceiling since he’s so good with the glove, and if he gets stronger and the bat develops he could be a starting shortstop in the big leagues. Diaz played as much at second base at Grand Junction because of the number of middle infielders on the team, and he should be able to handle both positions while consistently hitting for a high average. Another shortstop on that GJ team was Cristopher Navarro, who was described by one of the managers in the league as a “special defender.” He was repeating the Pioneer League because the bat is still light, but he got stronger this year and was better at staying through the middle of the plate.

Patrick Tsai (Taiwan): 

    Any other members of the 2019 Missoula Osprey that were worth keeping an eye on besides Peguero?

Bill Mitchell: It was a bit of a light year for prospects at Missoula besides Peguero. The only other name mentioned as a player of interest was 20-year-old catcher Axel Andueza. He’s versatile and athletic enough that he got in a few games at various infield positions and has an opposite field approach at the plate. Not a high profile prospect but more of an interesting name to watch as he advances through the system.

Dan (Lansing): 

    I was wondering if BA is going to go back and do the Carolina league chat? As of now it just links to the Sally chat. Also will you guys still be doing the MWL rankings. Thanks.

Bill Mitchell: Dan, the Midwest league list will be posted on Monday, October 14th.

Bill Mitchell: That takes care of every question in the queue. Thanks to all who participated. I’ll be back tomorrow for the Arizona League chat. If you come up with any other Pioneer League questions, feel free to toss them into tomorrow’s chat or reach out to me on Twitter @billazbbphotog.

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