2019 Texas League Top 20 Prospects Chat (9/27/19)
Kegan Lowe: Hey y'all! Thanks for joining. Looks like we already have some good questions in the queue, but you still have time to ask some more. In the meantime, let's get going.
- Oh I get it, Cristian Javier played in the other Texas League, right?
Kegan Lowe: It seems fitting to start the Texas League Top 20 chat with a question about someone *not* on the list. But kudos to Geoff for asking about Javier, who would have been No. 21 on the Texas League Top 21. In short, there was some internal debate over Javier and Ronald Bolaños for the final spot. And really those last handful of spots were all up for grabs toward the end. Ultimately, I went with Bolaños simply because I thought his stuff graded out better than Javier's, based on reports I received from TL managers and scouts. But there's absolutely no denying Javier posted some of the best numbers of any pitcher in the Texas League this season, and his career numbers overall are pretty staggering. His fastball isn't as good as Bolaños, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up having the better career. Just came down to a "pure stuff" argument for me.
- Who do you see as a good comp for Owen Miller? Pedroia? Holt? Kinsler? Does he project as an everyday player?
Kegan Lowe: Owen Miller was a manager's favorite in the TL this season, which was a big reason he ended up cracking the Top 20. Those I talked to think the answer to your question is yes, he does project as an everyday player, most likely at second base. He has the potential to be a plus hitter and his defense is more than enough for second. There were some who even thought he could stick at shortstop. I'm not a huge comparison guy, but if you listed those names because you were trying to think of above-average second basemen who hit for a high average with average power, then sure! But let's also remember how good those guys are/were, especially Pedroia and Kinsler.
Peter (Rhode Island):
- What have you seen in Justus Sheffield's starts with the Mariners this year? Has anything surprised you or changed your forecast for him, for good or ill?
Kegan Lowe: I can't profess to have watched many of Sheffield's starts with the Mariners this year, but I can expand on what I've heard from TL managers and scouts recently. I think there's still a split on whether or not Sheffield will ultimately end up in the bullpen long term, but no one I talked to wants to give up on him as a starter because the stuff is that good. It looks like his strikeout numbers are good since joining Seattle, even if he's getting hit more than you'd want to see. But I wouldn't take too much stock into a handful of September starts for a bad Mariners team. If we're just grading on pure stuff, Sheffield had some of the best in the TL this season. His offspeed stuff, most notably his changeup, still needs some work, and obviously his control could always stand to improve. I'd imagine he'll get every chance to start next season in the Mariners' rotation, and 2020 stands as a very important year in Sheffield's career.
Shaun (San Ramon, CA):
- Midland’s Luis Barrera has some Loud tools as a Center Fielder. Was he heading for a spot in the Top 20 before he injured his Shoulder trying to make a catch in the outfield?
Kegan Lowe: I'm not sure Barrera would have made the list, but he was definitely in consideration for a spot near the back of the Top 20, regardless of the injury. If I recall correctly, this is now the second straight year Barrera has just missed the TL list and I've then proceeded to answer a question about him in the chat. His hit tool is above-average, but it doesn't appear he's ever going to have much power and he doesn't draw a lot of walks. Good baserunner and defender, so I'd say he has the floor of a productive fourth outfielder, assuming good health.
- I know he doesn't qualify for the list, but has your (or other evaluators you've spoken with) view of Trammell changed at all since his trade to San Diego?
Kegan Lowe: Trammell definitely finished with a flurry in the TL playoffs, but I don't know how much we can attribute that to the trade/Padres and how much of that is just looking into an extremely small sample. Evaluators were impressed with his athleticism and all-around tools, but his hit tool is still obviously raw. The power is there, he's just going to have to hit more in order to tap into that power more often. If he would have qualified, he definitely would have made the Top 20. Plus runner who probably ends up in left field long term.
Rick M. (Walnut Creek, CA):
- Outfielder Greg Deichmann is tearing up the Arizona Fall League currently, and was performing decently for Midland before injuring his shoulder diving for a ball. Describe his package of Tools. What kind of MLB profile does he have? Is a Poor man’s Nolan Gorman a good comp for him?
Kegan Lowe: Deichmann has plus power, but he's probably no more than an average hitter. He can get a little stiff at times, which leads to his elevated strikeout rates and low batting average. Good to see him doing well in the AFL, because everyone agreed he just needed more at-bats against high-level pitching. I had a few managers tell me they were pleasantly surprised with his defense, with one evaluator saying he might be an above-average corner outfielder now. While that might be steep as he continues to mature, he at least shouldn't hurt you in the field.
Brian (Washington D.C.):
- Has Logan Gilbert raised the ceiling on his profile at all? Or was this year a function of a polished pitcher dominating less advanced competition?
Kegan Lowe: I wouldn't say this year was a function of a polished pitcher dominating less-advanced competition, at least not when it comes to Gilbert in the Texas League. At 22 years old, Gilbert is still young for the TL, and we also have to remember this was his first year pitching professionally. The Gilbert-Sheffield debate was interesting, but everyone I talked to was extremely impressed with Gilbert. Solid four-pitch mix, throws them all for strikes, and the fastball is a true plus pitch. He was a first-round pick with aspirations of being a top-end starter, so I'm not sure if his ceiling has changed at all, but it was definitely a strong first season for Gilbert.
Jason L. (Tracy, CA):
- How close did Midland RHP James Kaprelian to making the Top 20 List? He was coming along nicely towards the end of the season.
Kegan Lowe: Kaprelian only had 27.2 innings in the TL this season, so he didn't qualify for this list. Even if he had, however, he still would have been behind some of his other Midland teammates who were in consideration. Nice to see him back on the mound and pitching relatively well, though. Fastball velocity was back into the mid-90s and he was getting more than a strikeout per inning. He'll be 26 next spring, but this would be a nice comeback story if he can stay healthy.
Mike C. (Lynchburg, Va.):
- Thanks for the chat! How concerned are you of Ruiz's offensive struggles?
Kegan Lowe: Hmm good question. I'd say not that concerned, honestly. Ruiz has elite bat-to-ball skills and almost never strikes out, but it sounds like the Dodgers have really tried to work with him at being more aggressive and trying to do damage earlier in counts. Because his bat-to-ball skills are so good, there are plenty of times where he's making contact with pitches that he really can't do anything with, in terms of driving the ball. I definitely dropped him a couple spots on this list because his numbers were subpar, but I wonder how much of that had to do with him repeating Double-A for the first part of 2019 and feeling a little stuck. Extremely small sample size alert, but his Triple-A numbers were good and his career numbers are still above-average for a catcher. Especially one as good a defender as Ruiz has become.
Avery (Beaumont, TX):
- Grant Holmes appears to be past his Injury woes. Does he still project to be a Starting pitcher or is a move to the Bullpen more likely?
Kegan Lowe: I'd still say starter for Holmes, if he stays healthy. Good velocity on his fastball, and both his curveball and changeup flash plus potential. Seems like he's been around forever, but Holmes is still only 23 years old. I think his stuff would play up in the bullpen, but I think he has three pitches good enough to stick in the starting rotation until proven it's failed.
Mike C. (Lynchburg, Va.):
- How long until we see Carlson in St. Louis' everyday lineup? Where do you see him hitting in the lineup if he continues to play well?
Kegan Lowe: I'd imagine Carlson will be in the Cardinals' everyday lineup sometime next summer, if not before that. He's turns 21 in about a month and has only played 20ish games in Triple-A, so I imagine St. Louis will start him in Triple-A next season for the first month or two, at least. But if he performs in the PCL as well (or better, considering the baseball) as he did in the TL, I see no reason why he couldn't be an everyday regular for St. Louis around the All-Star break. Where he hits (and when he's called up) has a lot to do with who else is on the roster and healthy at the time of his callup, so that is tougher for me to answer. I'll say the potential is a .275ish hitter with 20-25 home runs, so wherever you want that in your lineup, I suppose.
Matt (New York):
- How far was Pavin Smith from the list? One of the knocks on him so far is his power, but Southern League is notorious for suppressing that and he was able to post a .500+ SLG in the second half.
Kegan Lowe: Sorry, Matt! Wrong chat. Pavin Smith, as you pointed out, played in the Southern League, not the Texas League.
- Is Luis Patino closer to MacKenzie Gore than we may be giving credit?
Kegan Lowe: We currently have Gore ranked as the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball, whereas Patiño is somewhere in the 10-15 range, so maybe that's a bit of a reach? But I do think it's fair to say Patiño has established himself as the second-best arm in a stacked system, and he'd be the best pitching prospect in most other systems. Even if you wanted to give Patino the benefit of the doubt and said his stuff was fairly close to Gore's, I still think Gore would have an edge when it comes to control. But again, we're comparing him to the best pitching prospect in baseball.
Graham Haney (NC):
- Would you rather have Cam Newton or Dak Prescott for your starting QB?
Kegan Lowe: In the words of Bryce Harper: "That's a clown question, bro." Prescott, FTW.
Jonathan Schenk (Raleigh):
- Can I have a free year subscription if the Nats win the NL pennant?
Kegan Lowe: It's not going to happen, but I predicted the Nationals to win the NL pennant back in March. https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/mlb-preview-bold-predictions-for-the-2019-season/ So if your wish comes true, my six-month old prediction will be most impressive. Free subscription for me, if anything.
Inky Dink (A Bottle of Ink):
- Were Demarcus Evans, Joe Barlow, and Emmanuel Clase in consideration for a spot in the top 20, or did they not have enough innings to qualify?
Kegan Lowe: Because of the volatility of relievers, I find it really hard for bullpen arms to make Top 20s. Barlow didn't pitch enough in the TL to be eligible.
- Why is Dak Prescott the NFL's best QB?
Kegan Lowe: Because ESPN's QBR never lies.
Kegan Lowe: Alright, y'all I'm out of here. Thanks for sticking around and asking so many great questions. Be sure to check out the website next week as we continue rolling out Top 20s.