2019 Southern League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Image credit: Luis Robert (Photo by Tony Farlow)

Matt Eddy: Sorry I’m late. Here we go.

Jemil (Scarborough): 

    Do you think Jazz Chisholm can make enough contact to be a star in the majors? Is Javier Baez a good comp for his upside?

Matt Eddy: Chisholm’s aggressive ranking is a reflection of my belief that his raw ability will translate to major league success. We saw him get away from his pull-happy and loft-at-all-costs approach after his trade to the Marlins, his strikeout rate shrinking from 34 to 26 percent in a small sample. Javier Baez’s name did come up as a comparison point, both because of his aggressive bat speed and also because of a rigid hitting approach.

Newton (Kitchener): 

    Is Trevor Larnach a similar prospect to Nomar Mazara or at least the prospect Mazara was when he was in AA/AAA?

Matt Eddy: The lazy comp I go to for Larnach is to a fellow former Beaver: Michael Conforto. Conforto charted a similar rapid course for Double-A and had a disciplined approach and all-fields power from the left side.

Chet (Nashville): 

    Jazz Chisholm seems like a slam dunk top 100 guy but he missed the cut at last update. The report in the SL Top 20 doesn’t seem so damning. Are the swing and miss issues that severe? Is there another glaring flaw? Thanks in advance for your insight.

Matt Eddy: We have six main chefs who determine the recipe for the Top 100 Prospects. As you might imagine, not all of us value prospects the same way. I must be the most bullish on Chisholm in our group. I just think his combination of power, discipline and easy shortstop defense will make him a standout.

Jim (Ontario): 

    Are we really saying that Dalton Varsho is a better prospect than Royce Lewis and Jazz Chisholm is a better prospect than Alex Kirilloff?

Matt Eddy: No, of course not. What we try to accomplish with these rankings is to take the temperature of managers and scouts who sat on a particular league all year. In the examples you cite, the Twins prospects didn’t play as well as consistently as others. Our Top 100 Prospects take a broader look at projected prospect value.

Jeff (Idaho): 

    Brusdar Graterol – does he make the Twins rotation out of ST next year? Or back to AAA for more seasoning?

Matt Eddy: It’s rare that a rookie starting pitcher makes the Opening Day rotation, especially one coming off a season shortened by a shoulder injury. I would target May or possibly June for a Graterol sighting — unless he makes the team as a reliever.

Mike C. (Lynchburg, Va.): 

    Thanks for the chat! What do you think Waters’ chances of remaining in center field are?

Matt Eddy: Scouts view him as a capable center fielder — probably a 50 — but a standout on a corner.

Mike C. (Lynchburg, Va.): 

    Who has more home run power, Robert or future teammate Jimenez?

Matt Eddy: I think Jimenez will access his power more frequently, but in terms of just pure power and “wow” factor, it’s hard to top Robert.

Jim (Ontario): 

    Thanks for taking my question and for the clarification. I really look forward to these top 20 league rankings every year.

Matt Eddy: No problem. Sometimes it’s hard even for us to keep everything straight.

George (Tampa): 

    What is the ceiling for Josh Lowe? Does he hit well enough against lefties to avoid a platoon?

Matt Eddy: Those who saw Lowe throughout the course of the season tended to view him favorably. He struck me as a “cheap” five-tool player who can do a little bit of everything, though possibly without a carrying tool. That could change if Lowe continues to mature into more power production.

Warren (New London): 

    I’m glad to see Josh Lowe squeezed his way onto the list, but my question is about Jahmai Jones. Is there any hope left for him? At what point will the Angels be willing to conclude that the second base experiment isn’t working?

Matt Eddy: Awesome question. Jahmai Jones is probably the single player I would highlight from this league who had a bad overall batting line but who might have a big league future. He went back to his old hitting mechanics in the second half — reduced his leg kick and improved his timing — and he finished strong by hitting .328/.404/.461 in his final 35 games. Jones also has improved his actions and looseness defensively at second base. Ultimately, I think he will be a multi-positional big leaguer who can do a bit of everything.

Steve (Kentucky): 

    How close was Kyle Muller to making the list?

Matt Eddy: Mississippi LHP Kyle Muller was the final cut from this list. His control (5.5 BB/9) and occupation (pitcher) ultimately cost him when compared with the position players at the back of the list. Also, he missed August with a calf injury. But there’s a lot to like here. He’s a 6-foot-6 lefty with a fastball that gets into the mid-90s. Muller shows confidence in his changeup but not his breaking ball as much. Thus he struggles to navigate lineups multiple times. Ultimately he probably fits at the back of a rotation or in high-leverage relief.

Jeff (Idaho): 

    I’ve seen 70 grade speed connected to Pache but his SB totals have been modest (to poor) thus far as a pro. Is this just a matter of coaching and picking spots better? Or is it kind of like BP power and in-game power? Do you see him as a 30 SB threat in the majors at some point?

Matt Eddy: This is one of the great unsolved mysteries in the land of prospects. How can a player with natural speed, terrific defensive instincts and an improving hitting acumen be so inefficient at stealing bases? I would bet the under on 30 SB, though 12-15 seems possible if he doesn’t run his way into a permanent red light. Also: Pache’s lineup position will be important to monitor if you’re seeking steals for fantasy. The Braves are stacked at the top of the order, and if they’re fitting Pache in at 6-7-8, he’s not going to see many green lights. Most steals in the NL come from players batting at the top of the lineup.

Brian (Somewhere in GA): 

    Who were some of the “sleepers” this year? Maybe one hitter and one pitcher? Also, Nick Madrigal’s Strikeout rate was unbelievable. Has there been anyone with such a low amount in the past few years ago? (Altuve comes to mind)

Matt Eddy: I referenced Jahmai Jones as the league’s ultimate sleeper. Likewise, I was floored by the reviews I receive on Jones’ teammate Brandon Marsh. He’s a lot better than I realized, though he has work to do to shed his extreme groundball profile. It’s worth noting that Marsh hit 6 of his 7 homers and slugged .491 from July 14 to the end of the season, so he to me is the No. 1 buy-low prospect in the SL. Pensacola’s Trevor Blankenhorn has some intriguing power, a LH bat and a 2B/3B/LF defensive profile. It really wasn’t a great year for pitchers in the SL, so I don’t have a great answer for you there.

Matt Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. You can ask me about Southern League prospects or submit fantasy questions on Twitter (@MattEddyBA). If I have a good answer, I’ll give it to you.

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