Image credit: Nate Pearson (Photo by Carl Kline)
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The Reading Phillies won a league-best 80 games, but it still wasn’t good enough to get them to the Eastern League finals. Trenton (Yankees) defeated Bowie (Orioles) to capture the EL title for the fourth time in franchise history.
While Erie (Tigers) didn’t make it into the playoffs, the SeaWolves’ roster was one to remember. Righthanders Casey Mize and Matt Manning anchored a pitching staff that was joined by dynamic lefthander Tarik Skubal, who has firmly entrenched himself as one of the game’s elite pitching prospects but did not pitch enough innings to qualify for this list.
Righthander Alex Faedo returned to form as well, giving Erie one of the most prospect-laden pitching staffs in recent league history.
1. Nate Pearson, RHP, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-6. WT: 245. Drafted: JC of Central Florida, 2017 (1).
Pearson helped answer concerns about his durability by tossing a career-high 101.2 innings this year, including 62.2 dominating frames with New Hampshire.
As a Fisher Cat, Pearson threw five innings in one start followed by two innings in his next—the Blue Jays wanted to slowly build him up to a regular workload. Hitters never had an easy time with Pearson, and the righthander held opponents to a .186 average.
Pearson attacks hitters with a fastball that is consistently in the upper 90s and tops out in triple-digits. He pairs his fastball with a plus slider that is both firm and has tilt. His third pitch is a changeup that still lags behind his other two offerings. His command has shown signs of being above-average, but his fastball command is still suspect on occasion.
The righthander has front-of-the-rotation stuff. Some managers said they think he will have to work hard to stay on top of his body going forward.
2. Casey Mize, RHP, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-3. WT: 220. Drafted: Auburn, 2018 (1).
Mize showed what he could do in his first start against Eastern League competition. The righthander spun a no-hitter against Altoona and dominated the competition in the season’s first half.
Mize’s ascent was slowed when he went on the injured list in June with shoulder inflammation. When he returned in late July, he turned in three quality starts and three disaster starts. In his final six starts, he ran up a 7.09 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. He was ultimately shut down in mid-August due to fatigue.
“I loved that guy. He has electric stuff, and he knows how to pitch,” one opposing manager said.
Mize’s fastball has good life and tops out in the mid- to upper 90s. His splitter is a plus pitch with tumble that he throws in the mid-80s. Mize also features a hard cutter, which has been an effective go-to pitch this season, and a slider that also is an above-average pitch.
With four pitches that project as above-average or better and good control, Mize still has ace potential despite durability concerns.
3. Matt Manning, RHP, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-6. WT: 215. Drafted: HS—Sacramento, 2016 (1).
Manning was consistent in 2019 and quickly demonstrated that he could dominate Eastern League hitters. He ranked among league leaders in ERA (2.56), strikeouts (148) and innings (133.2). The righthander gets excellent extension off the mound, which helps his stuff play up.
Manning’s fastball sits in the lower 90s but tops out in the 94-96 mph range with good life. He has made great strides with his changeup, and it is effective against righthanded hitters with good sink. His best secondary offering is still his curveball, a pitch that tops out in the upper 70s with large, vertical break and two-plane movement down in the zone. His control has also headed in the right direction, and he shows the ability to throw more strikes with all three pitches.
Manning’s three-pitch mix and various improvements make it likely he reaches his ceiling of a mid-rotation arm.
4. Alec Bohm, 3B, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-5. WT: 225. Drafted: Wichita State, 2018 (1).
Bohm’s advanced hitting ability saw him play across three different minor league levels. He took advantage of Reading’s hitter-friendly park by batting .300/.363/.618 with 16 extra-base hits in 110 home at-bats. He spent time at both corner infield spots in 2019.
Bohm has a good feel for the strike zone and plus power. His ability to make contact is above-average, and he shows skills as a pure hitter who has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. Bohm receives praise for being a student of the game who wants to get better in each area. He shows a good arm with solid hands, but evaluators are split as to whether he will stay at third or have to move to first base.
Bohm’s feel to hit and ability to drive the baseball are what will ultimately help him stick in the big leagues.
5. Deivi Garcia, RHP, Trenton (Yankees)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. HT: 5-9. WT: 163. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
Garcia was one of the youngest pitchers in the Eastern League this season at the age of 20. For pitchers with at last 50 innings in the EL, his strikeout rate of 14.6 per nine innings was the best.
Garcia has an advanced feel for how to navigate a game. He can work hitters with his low- to mid-90s fastball or pitch backwards, throwing breaking pitches for strikes before going to his heater. He commands his fastball well, and it has late life with excellent spin rate.
Garcia’s curveball is a get-me-over pitch with big break, while his slider is a future wipeout pitch that is firm and misses bats. He also shows a changeup that flashes as a future average pitch. While he still needs to sharpen his control, Garcia’s stuff and pitchability should give him every opportunity to start.
6. Nolan Jones, 3B, Akron (Indians)
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. HT: 6-4. WT: 185. Signed: HS—Bensalem, Pa., 2016 (2).
Jones did not disappoint in his first stint of action in the upper minors with Akron. He began to hit for power, and in the month of August he drew 22 walks in 27 games.
Jones has plenty of raw power, and his bat profiles as a hit-over-power tool. He has a big move to load his hands during his swing, but he is able to repeat it and should grow into even more power. Jones is very patient at the plate, although at times he appears too passive, getting himself into pitchers’ counts.
Jones has a plus arm and is athletic enough to stick at the hot corner as he matures. His ceiling is that of a middle-of-the-order bat, and his defensive play should add value.
7. Bryan Mata, RHP, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-3. WT: 160. Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
After dominating the Carolina League, Mata’s stat line wasn’t exactly picture-perfect in the Eastern League. The righthander struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but his walk rate of 4.0 per nine didn’t help him limit the opposition from scoring.
Mata’s best quality is his feel to throw his fastball that tops out at 97 mph. His curveball is a harder breaking ball that he has above-average command of and uses to get swings and misses. Mata has worked on developing a slider, which projects to be a similar quality pitch to that of his curveball. His last pitch is a changeup, which he uses occasionally.
Mata doesn’t get flustered on the mound and pitches with plenty of confidence. He is still developing his pitches but has a high ceiling in the rotation.
8. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-4. WT: 225. Drafted: Arizona, 2016 (4).
Dalbec appeared in 29 games last season in the Eastern League and returned this season. He was on fire during the month of May, when he hit .279/.359/.596 with 16 extra-base hits in 28 games. He finished the season ranked among the EL leaders in on-base percentage (.371), slugging (.454) and OPS (.825).
Dalbec receives high marks for his work ethic and ability to grind out at-bats. His hit tool is below-average, but his strike-zone knowledge is improving and he has prodigious power.
“You don’t want to go to the hot dog stand when he is at the plate—you might miss a 500-foot bomb,” Portland manager Joe Oliver said.
Dalbec’s plus arm is a major asset at third base. His ceiling is as a future plus defender at third and as a six-hole hitter whose power and walks will provide the bulk of his value.
9. Andres Gimenez, SS, Binghamton (Mets)
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 161. Signed: Venezuela, 2015.
Gimenez made his return to the Eastern League after spending 37 games there in 2018. As the weather heated up in Binghamton, so did Gimenez. The shortstop slashed .295/.337/.500 with 10 extra-base hits in 25 games during the month of July.
“He stood out. You don’t see guys like that anymore. Excellent shortstop, great baseball IQ and the bat is good, too,” one manager said.
Gimenez has elite defensive skills on the infield, with a plus arm and internal clock for making plays. He also has a calm demeanor, which helps him stay consistent and make adjustments. He has below-average power and a hit tool that projects as average. While Gimenez isn’t a burner, he runs the bases well and shows feel to steal bases.
Gimenez’s maturity, athletic ability and approach to the game help him to project as an everyday middle infielder with impact defense.
10. Isaac Paredes, 3B/SS, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 225. Signed: Mexico, 2016 (Cubs).
Paredes slashed .321/.406/.458 in 39 games with Erie in 2018 and picked up where he left off in 2019. He ranked among the league’s better performers in each of the major offensive categories. His approach has continued to improve, and he struck out 61 times, which was just four times more than he walked.
“That kid is a super professional hitter, he has a really solid approach,” one manager said about Paredes. “He lets the game come to him, and his hit tool has grown to be plus with developing power. He is a solid defender on the infield with a good arm and pays attention to the finer aspects of the game.”
Paredes is a station-to-station runner with below-average speed. The biggest question Paredes faces going forward is where will he play. He switched from playing shortstop to primarily playing third base with Erie. Evaluators generally said that Paredes’ frame will likely not allow him to stay on the left side of the infield long term, but his natural hitting ability should help him to get to the big leagues.
11. Anthony Kay, LHP, Binghamton (Mets)
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. HT: 6-0. WT: 218. Drafted: Connecticut, 2016 (1/Mets)
Before his mid-season departure to Toronto via trade, Kay was busy carving up Eastern League hitters and was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse in mid-June. Kay’s 1.49 ERA was tops in the league for any starting pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched, and his 0.92 WHIP was tied for league lead as well.
Kay tends to work fast on the mound, and he has no trouble attacking hitters with all three of his offerings. His fastball works in the low to mid-90s with solid command. His curveball has good downward break and shows signs of being an above-average offering that can draw swings and misses. Kay showed impressive feel for his third-pitch changeup, which profiles as a useful weapon to get hitters off his fastball-breaking ball combo.
The lefthander recently made his major league debut with the Blue Jays and will get more starts at the back of the rotation.
12. Alex Faedo, RHP, Erie (Tigers)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-5. WT: 230. Drafted: Florida, 2017 (1)
Faedo was missing some velocity and arm strength during the 2018 season, which had affected his ability to attack hitters. This season was a different story, however, as Faedo found his form once again. The righthander cut his walk rate nearly in half while also generating more strikeouts as well (10.5 strikeouts per nine).
Competitiveness is what stands out about Faedo. He doesn’t back down from hitters and stays aggressive regardless of the count. Faedo attacks hitters with a fastball that tops out in the mid-90s, and he works with a slider that flashes plus and has good shape. The return of his arm strength has seen both pitches return to form and play up. His third offering is a changeup, which has some sink on it but lags behind his slider.
Faedo profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter and should be in the starting rotation for Triple-A Toledo next season.
13. Jarren Duran, OF, Portland (Red Sox)
Age: 23. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Long Beach State, 2018 (7)
The former college second baseman has continued to trend positively at both the plate and in the field. After punishing Carolina League pitching, Duran was among the Eastern League leaders in triples (five) and stolen bases (28).
Duran has continued to refine his strike zone discipline while showing an above-average hit tool. He puts the barrel on the ball, and while he can post solid or even above-average exit velocities, his level swing means he hits line drives instead of fence-clearing home runs. Duran has near top-of-the-scale speed, which helps him create havoc on the bases. In the outfield, Duran is a sound defender who is improving. He gets excellent jumps on balls and makes the most of his speed.
If he continues to improve and figures out how to loft the ball a little more, Duran could find himself as a table-setter at the top of Boston’s lineup.
14. Yusniel Diaz, OF, Bowie (Orioles)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Signed: Cuba, 2015 (Dodgers).
Diaz spent two different stints on the injured list but managed to show an impressive skill set when on the field. July was the best month for the outfielder, as he hit .299/.353/.514 with 16 extra-base hits in 28 games.
Diaz has plus bat speed and makes loud contact when he connects. Diaz is strong and shows above-average power with the bat. His range will allow him to stick in the outfield, but his plus arm should make him most suitable to play right field. While the tools are there, there are questions surrounding if he will ever put it all together as a player.
While it was a rather pedestrian year for him, Diaz still has the ceiling of an average outfield regular.
15. Michael Baumann, RHP, Bowie (Orioles)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Jacksonville, 2017 (3)
After 11 successful starts in the Carolina League, Baumann went on to dominate hitters in the Eastern League. The righthander was stingy on the mound, ending up among league leaders in ERA (2.31) and WHIP (0.94) for pitchers who threw at least 50 innings. Baumann even spun a no-hitter on July 16th, striking out 10 batters while allowing just two walks.
Baumann works with a plus fastball in the mid-90s that has good life. His changeup was particularly good this season, as it showed split-like action and the ability to work well off the heater. He can spin a slider, but it doesn’t have the same consistency. Baumann’s control numbers have trended in a positive direction, showing the ability to keep the ball in and around the strike zone.
If Baumann’s breaking ball improves, he has the tools to start. If not, it’s likely he ends up as a two-pitch bullpen arm.
16. Luis Garcia, SS, Harrisburg (Nationals)
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016
Garcia was the only teenager to appear in over 100 games in the Eastern League this season. The 19-year old didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but allowances must be made for him being younger than the average low Class A South Atlantic League player. June was his best month of the season, as he hit .312/.333/.385 with seven extra-base hits in 25 games.
Garcia has shown good actions at shortstop with a plus arm and plays with energy. The biggest concern is his lower half, which evaluators think might get too thick for him to stay up the middle. His bat lags behind his defense, but he profiles as contact-over-power hitter with plus bat speed. Garcia profiles as a fringe-average runner.
Considering his youth and feel for the game, his stat line doesn’t do him justice. Garcia still profiles as an everyday big leaguer.
17. Albert Abreu, RHP, Trenton (Yankees)
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-2. WT: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2014 (Astros)
Abreu was a workhorse this season, making more starts (20) and pitching more innings (96.2) than he has ever done at any one affiliate during his career. The righthander was particularly sharp at home, pitching to a 2.61 ERA across 41.1 innings in front of the Trenton crowd.
Abreu works with a four-pitch mix, including a fastball that tops out in the upper 90s. He is able to maintain velocity later on in outings. He can throw his above-average changeup for strikes, but his power curveball has a higher ceiling than his changeup despite being more erratic and less effective in the moment. Abreu has also reintroduced a slider, but that lags behind his other three offerings.
Abrue has all the ingredients to be a back-end starter, but his poor control could soon push him to the bullpen permanently.
18. Adonis Medina, RHP, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-1. WT: 185. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2014.
Media tossed over 100 innings for the third year in a row, but the Eastern League was still a learning experience for Medina, who had an up-and-down season. While his second half performance was lackluster, Medina pitched to a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings during the first half of the season.
Medina’s fastball tops out in the upper 90s with movement and shows good command. He has learned to throw his changeup more often, and the pitch flashes plus potential. His slider has depth and regularly draws swings and misses. But while his slider may miss more bats, his changeup has proven to be even more effective at times.
His control leaves something to be desired, but Medina’s athleticism and arm talent still give him the potential of a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the big leagues.
19. Adam Haseley, OF, Reading (Phillies)
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. HT: 6-1. WT: 195. Drafted: Virginia, 2017 (1).
Haseley returned to Double-A Reading after spending 39 games there in 2018. May was his best month, hitting .337/.410/.584 with 11 extra-base hits. Although he spent time on the injured list in June with a strained groin after being promoted to the big leagues, Haseley managed to come back and receive consistent playing time.
Haseley has more of a contact-oriented bat, but there is some developing power in his swing. The ceiling of his hit tool isn’t high enough to profile as an above-average regular, but he makes sense as a potential regular and a sure-fire, useful backup. He has above-average speed and could hold his own in center field, but he doesn’t profile to play there on an every-day basis. His arm is considered average and plays in the corners.
Haseley will continue to come off the bench for Philadelphia, where he profiles as a backup who can do a bit of everything.
20. Patrick Murphy, RHP, New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-4. WT: 220. Drafted: HS— Chandler, Ariz., 2013 (3)
Murphy was able to get his first taste of upper-level competition after pitching well in the high Class A Florida State League in 2018. While the righthander didn’t fare well overall and spent three different stints on the injured list, Murphy was a warrior during day games. He allowed just 19 hits in 38 innings during daytime starts while striking out just over one batter per inning.
Murphy’s 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame is built for innings in the rotation. He repeats his delivery well and has a blazing fastball that will touch the upper 90s. It’s a plus pitch and goes well with his potentially plus curveball, which he lands for strikes and features big, downward break. His changeup is a useable offering but doesn’t project as plus.
His arsenal and frame should get him starts at the back of the rotation for Toronto, and his velocity and breaking ball give him a solid fallback as a useful reliever.