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2019 Triple-A Top MLB Prospects Chat (9/24/19)

Keston_Hiura_JohnWilliamson.jpg
Keston Hiura (Photo by John Williamson)

If you missed our rankings, you can find the International League Top 20 here, and the Pacific Coast League Top 20 here


Kyle Glaser: Hey everyone, thanks for coming out today. Doing the PCL Top 20 was certainly interesting this year, with a lot of pitchers with bad numbers getting a lot more love than hitters with good numbers. I'm sure you have a lot of questions. Let's get started

Warren (New London): 

    I'm a little surprised to see Keston Hiura ahead of Gavin Lux, who is younger and seems far more likely to be able to stay at 2B. How close a decision was that? Is Hiura's bat that special?


Kyle Glaser: This was one I really dug in with scouts, managers and front office executives on. Hiura and Lux flip-flopped between 2-3 quite a bit in the process. Ultimately, the consensus was Hiura’s bat is just so impactful it’s going to make up for the difference in the defense, which is significant. So to answer your question, yes, Hiura’s bat is that special.

Warren (New London): 

    While the words "low motor" were still used, there was a lot less about bad makeup in this year's description of Kyle Tucker than last year's. Did he make progress in that area?


Kyle Glaser: It’s fair to say the tone from scouts and managers was not as strong this year in terms of the utter damnation of Tucker’s effort that came through last year. That said, they’re still not fans of it (and neither are front office officials, new school or old school) and it’s something that still has room to improve.

Jeff D (Alexandria): 

    Regarding Nate Pearson who threw a career high 101 innings and reached AAA. I am guessing he will max out around 135 IP in 2020? What does the industry think of him in 2020 and beyond? Mid-season call up? Future #2 or better? Thanks in advance


Kyle Glaser: A bump into the 140s is certainly possible for next year, and maybe even more if he stays strong through it. Pearson has a real chance to be a frontline starter and he should make his ML debut next year. He’s a good one.

Bruno the Conflicted (Down the road and to the left): 

    Robel Garcia. Explodes into the states, makes a grand entrance into the majors...and the year ends with a whole lot of swing and miss. Is he a tweak or two away from something good or just a beautiful comet that amazed us and then was gone?


Kyle Glaser: Most think it’s the latter.

Jason (Tracy, CA): 

    Am very surprised to see Justus Sheffield on the list, when he barely played ( 55 Innings pitched ) and didn’t perform ( ERA over 6 ), instead of Sheldon Neuse. Neuse batted over .320 with power. 27 homers, over 100 RBIs and solid Defense at 3rd Base. What am I missing here? How come Neuse did not make the list?


Kyle Glaser: This was one of many “pitchers with bad numbers vs. hitters with good numbers” discussions that dominated my conversations with evaluators in the PCL this year. The overall consensus was Neuse benefitted greatly from playing in Las Vegas and can be pitched to—although he improved his approach later in the year—and will be more of a utilityman/backup type in the majors (40 grade). Sheffield, for all his flaws, consistently got positive reviews because the stuff is real and his issue (rushing through his delivery) is fixable, and we’ve seen it start to flash in the majors. Ultimately, there was a fair amount of conviction Sheffield will end up a back of the rotation starter or impact reliever (45-50 grade). In the end, that’s what put him ahead.

Oliver (Henderson, NV): 

    You lost me when you put a DH type like Josh Naylor on your list but not Sheldon Neuse. Neuse put up better stats and will actually contribute on defense. Not seeing any Defensive-value in Naylor. He will likely be a negative Defensive Runs Saved stat type of player. Please explain.


Kyle Glaser: Sure thing. You are correct Naylor is a DH type and that would be where he is best suited. That said, even with that, Naylor consistently drew reviews as a future everyday, middle of the order bat - someone who hits No. 3-4 in an order and changes games. He needs to pick out better pitches to swing at, but his hand-eye coordination and raw power are special. Neuse does good things, but there are a lot of approach issues and holes pitchers can exploit (fastballs up, velocity in general) that have him consistently put into the "part-time contributor bucket". It's interesting - A's fans seem to most annoyed about Neuse being omitted, but the guy that scouts and managers feel was the second-best player on that Las Vegas team (behind Murphy) was Seth Brown. Even with his age, there's more faith in his bat than Neuse's allowing him to have a larger role in the majors moving forward.

Roger (Washington DC): 

    Jaylin Davis made the IL list (which wasn't quite so stacked with hitters) but I wonder what the PCL contacts you talked to thought about him? How far off the lists would he have been in this league?


Kyle Glaser: Opposing managers in the PCL loved Davis. Evaluators weren't quite as high, but there was enough love he would have been in the 16-20 range of this list if he had received enough PAs to be eligible. Power, speed, defense, and at the plate he's got good feel and can power the ball to all fields. The biggest thing is going to be how much he swings and misses. He's strong and he's got an approach, there's just varying conviction on how much he'll be able to consistently make contact. If he does, he'll be a monster.

Roger (Washington DC): 

    Mike Yastrzemski had a torrid couple of months in the PCL, but did anybody foresee him having the major league success he did?


Kyle Glaser: No one. Scouts and managers both were amazed. I saw a good bit of Yastrzemski in the Orioles system and loved the athleticism and defense, but I can relate to those observers in never expecting him to do what he's done. It's awesome to see. Good athletes can bloom later, and Yaz looks like one of the guys to have done that.

Rocco (Bronx, NY): 

    Former Yankees Outfielder Dustin Fowler had s nice season. Seems like he has recovered from his knee injury. Does he still project as an everyday player or will his high Strikeouts/Contact issues hold him back?


Kyle Glaser: Fowler's walk rate went up this year, which was a positive development. His power, patience and defense all played this year and there is a sense his talent is worthy of being an everyday player, or at least getting a shot at being one, but probably not with a first-division team like the A's.

Jeff (Bay Area): 

    How close was Austin Allen to making the list? Is he viewed as a MLB quality catcher (at least in a back up capacity)?


Kyle Glaser: Allen was in consideration toward the back of the list. Ultimately it's still a C/1B/DH type of situation where he can catch intermittently, but not everyday. Unless the DH comes to the NL, it's probably going to take a trade to the AL for him to get the playing time necessary to get his bat to play.

Roger (Washington DC): 

    What sense did you get from folks regarding Melvin Adon's future prospects? After steamrolling the AFL last fall he had speed bumps in both AA and AAA this year.


Kyle Glaser: Adon did ok in AA this year. There's always going to be a lot of walks with him, but the stuff is good enough to miss bats and he'll get a shot in the majors. The ultimate expectation is he'll be one of those volatile flamethrowers who generally pitches in more low leverage situations than high-leverage.

Buford (Sparks, NV): 

    How close did Aviators’ Shortstop Jorge Mateo come to making this list? He’s probably the fastest player I’ve ever seen in baseball after Billy Hamilton. Besides the high Strikeouts, what else is holding him back? Seems like he plays solid defense.


Kyle Glaser: Mateo was someone I discussed as much as anyone with managers and scouts, but ultimately he wasn't close to making the list. He started off well, but tailed off. He's just a well below-average hitter who teases progress but inevitably falls back. There's a lot of frustration even within the A's organization about him, and there is very, very little faith anywhere he'll hit enough to be more than an up-down big leaguer. His speed and defense are great, but you have to hit. His approach and swing (save for intermittent flashes where he's short to the ball) aren't conducive to doing so.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): 

    Thanks for chatting, Kyle. Did you take the new, hitter-friendly baseball into account when you guys decided where to rank the hitters on both lists? If so, how big of a part did it play?


Kyle Glaser: My pleasure J.P. The balls absolutely had a huge impact on the league and these players' future outlooks, and thus these lists. The over-arching sentiment is rank the talent, always, but we definitely keep in mind that with the way the ball is playing, some hitters are going to outproduce some of the pitchers evaluators consider to be better or more talented. Some pitchers who managers or evaluators liked (Logan Allen) didn't make the list, while some players they were less bullish on (Trent Grisham) did in part because of that.

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    Reviewing Jo Adell’s scouting grades and stats, he seems like George Springer 2.0 How close am I in that assessment?


Kyle Glaser: That's certainly a potential outcome. You're on the right track with great athlete, 30+ HRs, can play CF or RF, has some swing and miss but is still one of the top players in the game.

Dieter (Tigard, OR): 

    Seth Brown is s nice Underdog story. Older prospect yet he still mashed for Las Vegas. 37 homers this year, and he is performing well for the Portland Athletics too (I’m predicting/hoping the A’s will move from Oakland to up here in Portland soon). Is Seth athletic enough to play Left field every day?


Kyle Glaser: Seth Brown is not only a nice underdog story, he's a legit major leaguer in a lot of people's eyes. Real power, good knowledge of the strike zone, frequent contact - again, quite a few managers and other observers (including some in the A's organization) think he's the guy behind Murphy that has the best major league future on that Las Vegas team among the position players (ahead of Neuse, Mateo, Fowler, Barreto, all of them). As far as his defense, he's capable in left field but he's probably best as a 1B/LF who starts against righties and sits against lefties than a true everyday left fielder. In that part-time role, there's a sense he could hit .280 with double digit home runs. He's good.

Trevor (Eureka, CA): 

    No PCL chat is complete without a token A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo question. Goodness me, what a pair of talented Lefties. Did you see Puk face off against Yordan in Houston the other day? That was must see TV. Do the A’s win their Division if these two had been healthy all year long?


Kyle Glaser: Both are studs. Legit, front-of-the-rotation type studs if they can stay healthy. It's tough to declare the A's win the division if those two are healthy all year long just because the Astros are so stacked, but they'll be in good shape in future years, that's for sure

Bob (WA): 

    Was Shed Long given any consideration for the PCL list? His AAA numbers were nothing special in the year of the silly ball, but he looks to have a pretty potent bat in Seattle. What would you expect from him in the majors going forward?


Kyle Glaser: Shed did get some consideration at the back. He's actually someone I'm scared will burn me for leaving him off. Mark McLemore came up as a comp in terms of being that kind of utilityman who plays everyday because you want his bat in the lineup. Long isn't strong enough defensively at any one position to hold it down everyday (at least not right now) but he's athletic enough to bounce around and his bat will keep him in the lineup.

Craig (LA): 

    What do scouts think about Edwin Rios and his hit tool translating to some type of major league role?


Kyle Glaser: Scouts have been in on Rios as a hitter for a few years now. He has enough hitting ability to get to his power. It's just about him getting an opportunity, and it's hard to see that happening with the Dodgers. If I'm an AL team or a 1B-needy NL team, I'm trying to acquire Rios this offseason. The bat is real enough to play everyday.

Wicho, Sr. (Oaxaca): 

    Does power ever develop for Urías or does he just need to focus on making contact and getting on-base?


Kyle Glaser: The worst thing Urias can do right now - and has been doing - is chase power. Making contact and getting on base should be his only goals right now. Shorten the swing, shorten the actions, adjust the approach, and get back to being short, quick and direct to the ball. If he does that, he'll be an everyday player. If he doesn't, he'll get passed up by Owen Miller or Xavier Edwards. It's that simple.

Hansford (Mansfield): 

    Do you see Randy Arozarena as a 4th outfielder or can he be something more than that?


Kyle Glaser: Most evaluators still see Arozarena as a fourth outfielder type. He has a lot of tools, it's just limited contact with a lot of big swings. (Even with his numbers this year, that came up a lot). There's a hard time seeing him putting together the 600+ consistent ABs needed to be a true everyday outfielder, but someone who can move around the outfield, steal some bases, and give you 300 good ABs is still someone valuable to have.

Jason (Tracy, CA): 

    Vegas center fielder Skye Bolt seemed to figure things out this year. Does he have a Josh Reddick type of profile?


Kyle Glaser: Reddick is too high. That's an everyday starter who delivered All-Star-level performance in his peak years, even though he never made an All-Star Game. Bolt's a nice player who can really fly and play center field, and he's made some adjustments offensively, but he's very much an extra, reserve outfielder type.

SBNY (Perkasie PA): 

    No one projected Pete Alonso to have the kind of rookie year he has had. Is there another under the radar high performer that we will be talking about for ROY this time next year?


Kyle Glaser: There's no one I would pick to break rookie records as Alonso has. With that, Jaylin Davis and Bobby Bradley are two players who come to mind who have massive power that has played in the upper levels and questions about how much they'll hit. I can see a scenario where both start barreling enough balls in the majors that the power numbers start getting loud. Again, I wouldn't put them in the Alonso-level bucket, but I can see an outcome where one or both of them make noise next year.

Bryan (Illinois): 

    Any ideas as to why Ty France's incredibly AAA season didn't translate into MLB success?


Kyle Glaser: Even as France destroyed the minors, the tool grades from evaluators throughout the year pretty much remained the same - 40s across the board with 50 raw power. 40 is a big league grade, it's just below-average. He's a big leaguer. No one can take that away from him. But even as we ranked him in the Prospect Handbook coming into the year, the grade and expectation was "hope for a second-division starter, bet on a backup bench bat." That's kind of just what he is. But again, a 34th-rounder who made the majors - that's an incredible accomplishment, and he earned it with is play.

George (Memphis): 

    What feedback did you get on Jake Woodford? Do scouts like the new-version of Woodford, who uses exclusively four-seam fastballs rather than sinkers?


Kyle Glaser: The issue with Woodford has been more how he uses his pitches more than what they are. Sequencing, command, etc. He was seen as most likely as a big righthanded reliever in the majors coming into the year, and that projection largely remained the same. He's seen as a future big leaguer, and one who can help, just in more of a relief/maybe spot start role.

Anthony Kay (Toronto): 

    Do I have #3 starter upside and what is my future for next season? In rotation to start the season?


Kyle Glaser: Kay has a chance at No. 3, most see more No. 4-5. And yes, he should be in the Jays' rotation to start next season

Eunice (Los Angeles): 

    Have the White Sox soured on Thaygo Veiera?


Kyle Glaser: It's no so much they've soured on him as it's just a reflection of who Vieira is as a pitcher. You can throw as hard as you want - if you can't locate, you won't stay in the majors.

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    Josiah Gray has gotten me pretty excited this season. If he keeps this up, how will he compare to Dustin May in terms of upside and future value?


Kyle Glaser: May's better, but Gray is pretty darn good too. Think of May as a potential No. 2 and Gray a potential No. 3, with the more likely outcome May No. 3 and Gray No. 4. Both are very good pitchers with bright futures ahead

Bob (Minn): 

    Brent Rooker missed a lot of time with injuries, but he put up some pretty impressive numbers in a half season. What kept him from making the list? What kind of MLB player does he project to be?


Kyle Glaser: I didn't compile the International League list, so I don't have an answer for your first question. As for your second, think a big power, low average type of hitter. Honestly though, Rooker might be the answer to the earlier question someone asked about who could exceed expectations a la Pete Alonso. Same type of questionable athlete, big power with a track record of getting to it. Again, not to suggest Rooker would approach Alonso's numbers (and we should remember Alonso was still a top 50 prospect coming into the year, it's not like he was off the list), but I can absolutely see Rooker going off with full health.

Luke (Seattle): 

    Boring RP question about the Mariners. Is Sam Delaplane or Art Warren for real or what M's RPs does the industry like much?


Kyle Glaser: Both should have a chance to be parts of the Mariners bullpen for years to come. Neither project to be lockdown closers or anything like that, but both are real prospects who should be able to help in some capacity. Both have real stuff that plays.

Mark (San Antonio): 

    Brandon Bielak and Vlad Gutierez' numbers don't jump off the page but both held their own in AAA this year. Is there hope for either or both to be in a major league rotation?


Kyle Glaser: Bielak has a chance, although more in a back of the rotation capacity than a front or mid. Gutierrez didn't really hold his own in Triple-A as you're suggesting. His struggles against lefties make him more likely to end up in relief, although he's not overwhelming against righties either.

Robbie (Atlanta): 

    Hey Kyle, thought I'd drop in with an International League question. Expounding a bit further from their rankings, where do you see Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint and Ian Anderson in terms of their future with the braves and do you believe that any of the 4 will end up a TOR guy. Thanks!


Kyle Glaser: Hey Robbie, thanks for chiming in. Toussaint is a pure reliever. That's who he is and what he's always been. He doesn't have the control to start. Braves fans have had very weird conceptions of him for awhile. He's a reliever, pure and simple. Anderson, Wilson and Wright are all seen as mid-rotation at best. There are very, very few top of the rotation-caliber prospects in the minors at any given time (think 6-8) and these three haven't crossed that threshold for evaluators. Still, a mid-rotation starter is a very, very good outcome and all three have the talent to help the Braves in some capacity in the near future.

Joe (CT): 

    Do you believe Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff will start the season at AAA? Do you see them become the future stars for MIN or after a slower 2019, is BA not as high on them?


Kyle Glaser: I expect Kirilloff to. Lewis needs more time in AA. Both are still top 25 prospects in baseball, so there is star potential. Kirillloff's bat is real, and it's reasonable to expect the power for first base will come as he gets older and starts playing with the ML ball. Lewis is still so young and such a good athlete you don't want to bail on him figuring it out at the plate, especially with the elite makeup he has.

Dave (Mpls): 

    I wouldn't say that Ty France "hasn't translated" to MLB. He just had an adjustment period, like many/most hitters. He's actually hitting really well lately.


Kyle Glaser: You are correct, France has hit .286/.375/.667 in September. You'll also note it's mostly come with him working as a pinch-hitter/late-game replacement (he's started 9 of 17 games in Sept). That's the role he can excel in. Start some days, mostly come off the bench.

James (Visalia): 

    What has happened to Mitchell White and Dennis Santana this year in AAA? Can they bounce back?


Kyle Glaser: White struggled with blisters and Santana struggled with some off the field stuff. Santana finished really well once they put him in the bullpen (1.93 ERA in 14 G) and White was better the final two months save for one horrendous outing vs. Memphis. Both are seen as future big leaguers, Santana is just definitely a reliever and White probably is too. Maintaining his stuff has been a longstanding issue. Putting him in the bullpen and letting him loose in short bursts is seen as the best way to go for him to have major league success.

Tyler (DC): 

    What happened with Carter Kieboom this year? His slugging percentage is way lower than the other members on this list and seems lower than what it should be in the PCL.


Kyle Glaser: Kieboom was lower on my initial list for the reasons you stated, but after talking to evaluators and managers, what came up was he's just super patient and it cost him some power. He was content to take a walk. He's a really mature hitter, and it's probably average power in the end, nothing more, but his plate discipline, contact skills, youth and ability to play the middle infield left evaluators very high on him. Him vs. Tucker at 4-5 was in interesting debate, ultimately the infield value and the belief that Kieboom will get the most out of his abilities gave him the edge.

Jack (Buckhead): 

    Who has the higher potential between Drew Waters and Austin Riley and how would you rate their likelihood of reaching that potential? If the Braves decide to resign Donaldson to a multi-year deal there will be a starting spot for only one of them assuming Pache is able to claim center for himself in the long term.


Kyle Glaser: Riley on both. Waters the same issue (K-BB) with a lot less power. And you are correct that if the Braves re-sign Donaldson, someone is getting squeezed out. It's a good problem to have, having lots of good young players and having them as currency for trades.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    Your best guesses on where they end up...Mountcastle and Akin? For Akin - the bullpen, a number 4 starter... For Mountcastle - DH, 1b...


Kyle Glaser: Mountcastle is trending more and more toward DH, but give him another year to improve at 1B. He only just started playing the position. Akin is more a No. 5, but we'll see. Lefties have a way of extending their shelf life and having peaks where they exceed expectations.

Blue (Michigan): 

    Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions, Kyle. Did Willi Castro get any love from the IL folks? If so, was he close to cracking the top 20?


Kyle Glaser: My pleasure Blue, I always enjoy talking baseball with our readers. I did not do the IL Top 20 so I can't speak to that process specifically, what I can say in general is Castro is a nice player but the bat is just really, really light, and as a result he is seen as being below the caliber of the players who are on the list.

Kyle Glaser: Ok everyone, looks like that will do it for today. Thanks for coming out, and have a great rest of your week.

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