Midwest League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Gerry (Toronto): Did Max Pentecost qualify?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Alright, pals of mine, let’s get this started. Just back from family wedding in Brooklyn. It’s a good day. Pentecost did qualify, and he had a very good year. The issue is, is he a catcher? Probably not. If that’s the case, where does he play? The shoulder surgeries make him possibly unable to play right field or third base, and maybe even first base. So, does he have enough bat to carry him? I’m not sure. That’s why I didn’t rank him. It’s such a big league, I could have easily ranked 30. In fact, I ranked 35 internally. But he didn’t make the 20. That doesn’t make him a bad player, certainly, just not among a very, very deep 20 in a deep deep league.

JY (Chicago): I know that where pitching was concerned, the main draws in Clinton were Gohara, Neidert, and Littell, but as the season wore on, I started to really take notice of swingman types like Kevin Gadea and Ronald Dominguez, who were both striking out double-digits per nine and walking two or fewer. Are either of those guys worth keeping tabs on?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Oh yeah, absolutely. Both those guys are interesting. Gadea’s a physical guy with 92-94 FB and feel for the changeup, with an improving breaking ball. Dominguez doesn’t quite have that velocity, but you’re talking about a fantastic slider, and righties have a tough time. Fastball at 88-91.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Where would Anderson Espinoza have ranked on this list if he were eligible? What did scouts have to say about his Tincaps debut?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: He probably would have been top five. I think I might have ranked him ahead of Alcantara and Diplan as top pitcher. No one was overly concerned with some bad outings. One evaluator said his fastball was still above average but that maybe the curveball wasn’t as sharp. A little loopy at times, but still great separation with the fastball.

Dan (Indianapolis IN): Where would you have placed McKenzie on this list? Thanks Vince.
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Probably top 10. There are some terrific pitchers that just missed the top 20, but I think McKenzie ranks right along with Alcantara and Diplan.

Dan (Hartford, CT): Hi Vince. Dodgers 2015 11th-rounder Imani Abdullah held his own at age 19 in his first taste of full-season ball. Did the righthander merit any consideration for the MWL Top 20? Thanks for the chat!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Sure, yep. I had a list of about 70-75 players I thought had a reasonable case for inclusion. Then I whittled to about 45, then got tough and cut to 35 and then we ultimately found the 20 we were ready to go with. But yes, reports on Abdullah were very good, and evaluators believe there’s more in the tank, fastball-wise, as he fills out.

DV (South G): Hi Vince. Did Peoria RHP Derian Gonzalez generate any buzz around the league? How does he compare to other young Cardinals arms like Alcantara and Fernandez? Thanks!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yep, he sure did. I got to see Derian, along with most of the Peoria staff, and the consensus was that his delivery wasn’t the smoothest, which could mean he ends up a reliever, but that he had more polish than either Fernandez or Alcantara. He’s just not as projectable as those guys, especially the lanky Alcantara.

Grant (NYC): Had he not succumbed to TJ, where would Chris Paddack have slotted in here, if at all?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I am a supporter of Paddack so I am sure he’d have slotted in somewhere in the 20, near the back. He’s not as raw as Alcantara in some ways, but doesn’t have Alcantara’s power stuff. Great change, obviously.

Kelly (st louis): I assume Yadier Alvarez didn't pitch enough innings to qualify. What's his best case scenario projection, Vince? thanks
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: He did not, correct. I would have ranked him ahead of alcantara, etc. I think he can be a mid-rotation guy—which is a lot to pin on a pitcher, because there are very few Nos. 1-2. I was really impressed by what I saw on video—I did not get to see him in person—and he seems poised.

Eric (Rockford, Illinois): What was the word on Alex Jackson's makeup this year? In retrospect was he an overdraft?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: It really depends on who you talk to. Some are concerned about maturity, but that could be echoes of past scouting reports. I think he’s still too young to completely discount as an overdraft. He showed signs of power and I think ultimately he might still be able to figure it out. The bat will have to carry, though.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Has the consensus opinion of Derek Hill's ceiling soured after this season?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Not really, but again it’s a matter of perspective. He’s a plus defender with 70 speed. So, that kind of guy can help a team. I’m not sure the bat will ever catch up, especially if he can’t stay healthy, but he missed the last two months and still finished one stolen base behind Eli Alvarez for the most in the MWL.

joe (Missouri): Did Junior Fernandez not qualify or has his stock fallen?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Stock fell, but not greatly. Again, it’s just a deep league. A 16-team league means a lot of players qualify and I only get to pick 20. That said, one evaluator I talked to mentioned that Junior’s problem at times is that when he gets into trouble, his solution is to throw harder. And then harder than that. He has the raw; he just needs to dial back and add and subtract a little.

Larry (Grand Prairie): Thanks for the chat Vince. How concerning are Francisco Mejia's liabilities behind the plate at this point? Do you think he'll have to move off the position?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Not a big concern. His arm is very strong. A ‘run-stopper,’ is what one evaluator told me. And his blocking and receiving have improved. He’ll stay back there.

Matt (Denver): MWL #8 prospect Michael Gettys seems to be divisive in terms of scouts' opinions. I assume this is due to his propensity to swing and miss. Otherwise, the tools seem to be there. What is a best case projection for him, and how do you think he will turn out?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yes, very divisive. It’s about approach more than swing and miss. The tools are definitely there; the guy can run, can play CF, great arm. He got physical comps—not performance comps—to Mike Trout! But scouts are not sure he’ll handle higher velocity and he has shown a propensity to chase. Best case I suppose is Mike Cameron? Lot o’ whiffs, great CF play, tremendous arm, .250-20-70, which is pretty good.

charlie (st louis): what is the ceiling for Eli Alvarez?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I think he can be a starting second baseman for a second-division club and a super-utility guy. The bat plays and he’s a smart guy, heady on the field, great bat control.

Warren (Texas): Who were the best prospects in the league who did not qualify for the list or just did not quite make it but still have MLB potential? Thanks for the chat!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Oh tons of guys. But I’ll cite Derek Hill again as a player with MLB potential because he can play major league center field now. I think he’ll have a big league career as a fourth outfielder with speed.

Ben (Iowa): How does Jordan Yamamoto get so many strikeouts? Is his BABIP troubles something he can regress moving forward?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: What one evaluator told me is that Yamamoto just attacks the zone to force swings. He’s not overpowering, it’s most low-90s and he can push to mid 90s—but he’s not afraid to pitch in, even to lefties, and his breaking ball is a swing and miss pitch. In terms of BABIP, sure. It’s so fungible because infields change, stadium conditions change.

Ben (Iowa): Trent Clark's hit tool has been praised as is strongest tool, yet he struck out over 25% of his at bats this season. What caused so many strikeouts and is it correctable?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Possibly. Part of it was Trent was disappointed about his staying in extended spring, and then he got hurt. So that put him in a bad frame to begin the season and he just never got right. Still, I’m optimistic—and so are the smarter people, more importantly—because he has excellent makeup and is extremely coachable. And athletic.

Lou (PA): What did you hear about Ryan Helsley of Peoria? His final regular-start was a real eye-opener, with a 91 game score. Thanks!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, Ryan’s an interesting dude. He’s a part of Cherokee Nation—just the third to play pro ball—and yes, he had a fantastic season. He was definitely on the Top 35 I set up. Ryan touched 100 mph this year—the way it was described to me was that he brushed it, ever so lightly—and he flashes a real hammer curveball, but the secondaries are very inconsistent. He’s not an overly physical guy, either, so scouts I talked to project him as a high-leverage, back-end reliever. Which is pretty valuable. Great makeup guy, too.

a.j. (las vegas): Who profiles as the better defensive CF, Michael Gettys or Manny Margot?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Gettys is a real flash in center field. I think Margot might—might—be the more sound fielder and has an underrated arm, but man Gettys is good out there.

Josh (Bismarck): Thanks for the chat! The Cubs have a bunch of lefties that appear to have some semblance of promise. Ryan Kellogg pitched well for SB this season. Jose Paulino did too in limited time and appears to have very solid stuff. Carson Sands and Justin Steele struggled, but were high bonus guys, so there's a bit of pedigree anyway. Thoughts on this group?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, it’s an interesting group. I really like Kellogg, but he’s difficult to project because he’s a big dude and doesn’t throw hard. Sands has three average pitches, but struggled with command this year; Steele has a little more in the tank in terms of fastball velocity, but doesn’t throw enough strikes. Paulino is a super-competitive guy with command problems as well. Fastball can get to 94-95 and the slider is average or maybe a chance at tick above.

Rod (Michigan): How far from the top 20 are West Michigan OFs Azocar and Hill?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hill was probably No. 23 on my unofficial top 35. Great defender, great speed, not sure about the bat and the injuries are a concern. Azocar was lower, but the tools are there, with a great arm. His batting approach is pretty raw, though.

Phil (Minneapolis): Given the talent level of the Peoria squad, I was somewhat surprised not to see more Cardinals prospects on the list. How close were guys like Fernandez, Sosa, Helsley, and Derian Gonzalez to making the cut?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, honestly Phil, at one point I thought I’d have the whole Peoria pitching staff in the top 20. But it’s a 16-team league, so there are a lot of candidates. I can tell you all those players were in my unofficial top 35 and all were in the running for the top 20 at one iteration of the list.

Jeff (Peoria, Ill): What other Cardinals prospects received top 20 consideration? Could you elaborate on them?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I’ll give you some thumbnails Edmundo Sosa: Above-average range, above-average arm, offense backed up a bit, chased some balls. Junior Fernandez. Probably a reliever; tries to get out of trouble by throwing harder Derian Gonzalez. Little more polish than Alcantara, not as projectable. Ryan Helsley. Touched 100, but two-pitch guy; reliever Jake Woodford. Overlooked on Peoria staff, polished, but stuff’s shorter than other guys on here.

Dan (Mechanicsville): Thanks for chatting. Where would McKenzie have slotted in if eligible?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Asked and answered, counselor! But really, in the top 10, fer sure.

Adiekmann (Los Angeles, CA): With his excellent pro start, where do you see Senzel playing in 2017? When does he project to make it to the Reds?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I would guess Double-A, and he could pull a Swanson/Benintendi/Bregman and make it next year.

William (Pensacola, FL): Is Evan Longoria a safe comparison for Nick Senzel ?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I’m not sure Senzel will ever hit 30 homers. I think maybe he could be Carney Lansford with more power and a better defender? I think he’ll end up 15-20 homers, .2800-.300 hitter, steal some bases. A good player.

Greg (The 513): Anything new learned about Senzel after a summer in pro ball ?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I think some things were confirmed, which is he was the most advanced bat eligible for the draft. I think most people didnt realize how good his opposite field power is, and that he’s a terrific baserunner.

David (Springfield): The Cubs' Jose Paulino had an outstanding showing in the Northwest League and was pretty good after being promoted to South Bend. Did he not get enough innings in either league to qualify? What kind of opinions did scouts and coaches have of him?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I answered above, but he did not qualify for MWL. Most scouts felt he’s ultimately a reliever because of command issues and because the secondary pitches are lacking.

Jason M (Chicago): What Cub prospects were closest to being named to the list?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: The closest guy for me was Donnie Dewees. I just really like the guy. He plays hard all the time—he was diving around the outfield for fly balls during BP at the Midwest League all-star game. He was compared to Johnny Damon as a guy who could develop power and he’s a 70 runner right now. I also really like Ryan Kellogg.

Jason M (Chicago): Vince, thanks for the chat! Recently, Cub fans have seen reports from Instructs that Jose Paulino is now one of the best pitching prospects in the system and may even get protected on the 40 man this winter. What were you hearing on him over the seasons second half?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, a little mixed on Paulino. Scouts like his competitiveness and his fastball was up to 94-95. But there’s concern about the command/control and his secondary pitches, which have a chance to be average.

Keith (Charlotte): Is Lucas Erceg the biggest boom or bust hitter on the list? Hit hit tool seem to have generate pretty positive buzz in the three months he has been in professional ranks....Questions regarding makeup and commitment have always lingered for some reason however
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, he might be. For questions about his makeup, read this: https://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/daily-grind-suits-lucas-erceg-just-fine/ He’s a good dude.

Jayson McCarty (Cedar Rapids Iowa): Do you think after this years showing with the kernels Luis Arraez will move into the twins top tier prospects?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yes, I do think so. They really think he can hit. The problem is the rest of his skill set is average, so that bat will have to keep carrying him.

DonaldPuk (Seattle): So, Alex Jackson: bust, or just a late bloomer?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I always vote late bloomer. Hell, I was a late bloomer. So late bloomer.

Jon (Peoria): Nick Neidert doesn't have the same stuff as some of the pitchers on this list but knows how to pitch. Did he get much consideration for making the list?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Oh yeah, Neidert was literally No. 21. A little taste of the report: has above average command and poise, fastball 90-92, maybe more if he needs it, off-the-charts makeup.

Nick (LA): We keep hearing that Senzel could move quickly like other recent college bats (e.g. Benintendi, Schwarber, Conforto), but what do you think is realistic? Will he really be ready by summer 2017? And how would you rank those 4 players for long term value? Thanks
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, I answered this above, but I like Senzel. I think he could start 2017 in Double-A and be in GABP by end of summer. Long-term value? I’d go Schwarber (because of power), Benintendi (all-around game), Senzel (third base over LF) and then Conforto (worried about LHP).

Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): Does Jon Harris have the stuff to generate more strikeouts down the road?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Oh yeah, I think so. I think he’s got a little more velocity in the tank because he still has room to fill out.

Don (Rosemont, IL): Hi Vince...What are your thoughts on some of the Peoria pitchers that didn't make the list: Junior Fernandez, Derian Gonzalez, Ryan Helsley, and Jake Woodford?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Hey Don, I answered that above, but here you go. Junior Fernandez, rhp, Cardinals. Probably a reliever; tries to get out of trouble by throwing harder Derian Gonzalez, rhp, Cardinals. Little more polish than Alcantara, not as projectable. Ryan Helsley, rhp, Cardinals. Touched 100, but two-pitch guy; reliever Jake Woodford, rhp, Cardinals. Overlooked on Peoria staff, polished, but stuff’s shorter than other guys on here

Drew 60 (New York): Just How far away was Eloy Jimenez from being the number 1 prospect? Thanks
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: An inch? Haha. He was No. 1 in the first iteration, but Senzel has more certainty, less volatility. That said, in terms of ultimate impact, there is plenty of room for Eloy to be the GUY.

Perplexed (Portland, OR): No Angel Perdomo?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Man, I’m telling ya, he was right there. right there. But I’ve only got space for 20! Here’s a little Perdomo for ya: With long arms and legs, Perdomo generates great deception with a crossfire motion that helps his 92-93 mph fastball play up. Secondary pitches are a work in progress.

Mike (Fort Wayne): Did any of the TinCaps pitchers get consideration? Jacob Nix? Anderson Espinoza? Logan Allen? De Los Santos? Thanks!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Is this Mike Monaco?? Well Espinoza did not qualify, otherwise he’d be in the top five. Nix I considered, but he just doesn’t have the upside of the guys who got in. I saw Logan Allen and like him very much, but again, I can only rank 20. Enyel de los Santos is also a personal fave.

mike (aberdeen sd): Any consideration for Luis Arraez of Cedar Rapids. How does he compare?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yes, Arraez was No. 22. Terrific bat, good bat control, but everything else was average. Just did not stand out over the 20 guys who got in. But that doesn’t make him a bad player! Line-drive swing, high-contact player. Twins signed him for just $40G!

Joel (St. Louis): Whats Ryan Heisley's projection?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: A high-end reliever, probably, is what most scouts say. The secondary stuff just isn’t there right now, but he throws hard and he competes.

Hansford (Mansfield, Tx): How close was junior fernandez to making the list. What kind of upside does he have?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: He was close. Maybe 28th on my list? Sat 93-95 mph with his fastball, touching 96. He also has showed an above-average changeup and a slider that has good tilt but is inconsistent. Problem is, the delivery is somewhat violent and he tends to try to overpower his way out of jams.

John (Raleigh): Edmundo Sosa didn't have a great year statistically but I know he has shown flashes. Any thoughts on him?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Is this Leventhal?? Yeah, Sosa’s offensive took a step back, but at shortstop, he has above-average range, an above-average arm and excellent hands. He plays with a lot of bounce and with excellent instincts.

Bob (Mundelein, IL): Ryan Borucki was finally able to stay healthy for a full year. While he struggled with an aggressive start at Dunedin, he was very solid in the MWL. What are your thoughts on him in comparison to the many other quality arms Lansing had this year?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, Lansing was loaded. Loaded. Like Peoria, we could have had a Lansing Top 20, or something. One scout said he was Borucki was the best pitcher on the staff by the end of the season. He has the organization’s best changeup, a plus-plus pitch, and he showed better bite on the slider, although that needs refinement. I love Harris, Perdomo’s interesting, Reid-Foley. I mean, it was a good staff.

JT (Peoria): What feedback did you get on Mags Sierra? Is he a guy scouts see growing into power?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Depends on what kind of power. Some evaluators are concerned the bat will get knocked out of his hands, and some felt he might—might—get to 8-12 homers. But his defense is plus. He can play a major league CF right now, and he changes games that way.

Proswagonist (Liberl): Any River Bandits just miss the cut?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: You know y’all had three dudes on there right? Kyle Tucker, Franklin Perez, Albert Abreu. But in terms of guys missed, yeah, some interesting guys. Really like Jose Hernandez—fastball/change guy who uses his curve as a freeze pitch. And Framber Valdez is intriguing. Throws a four-seamer at 90-94, two-seam at 90-94, change with sink and tail; groundball guy.

Nils (NY): Did Zack Littell qualify? He seems like he just keeps improving next year. What is his upside? Thanks
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yeah, Littell was in the back of the potential guys to make the list. But again, in a 16-team league, somebody has to be left off; Neidert would have made it before him, and I also like Gadea and Dominguez and Art Warren. Littell’s not overpowering. FB 89-92, moves a little bit, keeps it down, puts it where he wants so it works out. Alrighta folks, tons of great questions and I really enjoyed it. I’m just the warmup act. The great John Manuel will be here tomorrow for the FSL chat. Thanks again. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @vincelara.

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