New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Michael Lananna: Just finished an excellent sandwich, and I’m ready to start chatting. Thanks for all of the questions, everybody. Keep them coming.

vince (st louis): was jeremy martinez considered? how likely does he stay at catcher? it doesn't seem like he has the power to play first.
Michael Lananna: Jeremy Martinez was considered for the back end of this list, yes. The former Southern California catcher had a very nice debut with State College. He led the league in on-base percentage and his manager, Johnny Rodriguez, talked up his gamecalling and poise behind the plate. He’s got a chance to stick back there, but it’s never going to be anything flashy. He’s not super athletic, and his arm is fringy (the Cardinals will work with him on his throwing mechanics). At the plate, he does have some pull power, but you’re right, it’s not the kind of power you’d hope for from a first baseman. Martinez has excellent plate discipline (32 BB to 16 K this summer), and he uses all fields. There’s some upside with his bat. But his lack of athleticism and defensive shortcomings limit his ceiling. You’re probably looking at a backup catcher at the next level.

Mike (Chicago): Where would Aiken and Grooms have ranked on your list? Projections for both?
Michael Lananna: Both would’ve ranked fairly high, although Aiken is the trickier of the two. He hasn’t returned to his pre-Tommy John velocity, and his command, breaking stuff, etc., is still all coming along, too. Don’t think there’s reason to panic with him, but it’ll be worth watching how his stuff looks going forward. Groome only threw 6.2 innings for Lowell, which is obviously a microscopic sample size, but based on pre-draft scouting, he would’ve likely slotted in the top three of this list. He’s got first-overall-pick kind of stuff with a fastball that routinely touches the mid-90s and a curveball that has plus (or better) potential. He’s got the body you look for, and he was young for his class. A very high ceiling for Groome.

DBC (New York, NY): Hi Michael. I was surprised to see no Yankees on the list. Did Nick Solak, Freicer Perez and others get serious consideration?
Michael Lananna: Yes, both Solak and Perez were considered, and they both just missed the cut. Solak’s ability to make contact, coupled with his speed, gives him the chance to be a productive player. However, scouts question his power and his defense. He doesn’t have the type of swing or size conducive to over-the-fence power, and he’s a fringe-average defender at second base whose power wouldn’t play in the corner outfield. His ceiling is directly tied to how much he hits. Those questions kept him off the list. Perez, on the other hand, is a big body with a big fastball, and the numbers look good (7-3, 3.23, 68 K in 69.2 IP), but he’s got work to do on his breaking ball. His long arm action leads to inconsistency with the pitch. At times he’ll throw a good slider, but it still doesn’t have the consistent bite or power you look for. Though he’s starting now, he has a reliever profile.

Dr (NYPL): Hill seemed to excel in all offensive facets of the game as a relatively young bat. What's the concern from scouts that keeps him from being higher up? Swing and miss? Defense? Thanks!
Michael Lananna: There’s a lot to like with Tyler Hill’s bat, and he certainly caught the eye of NYP managers this summer—some who thought he was flat-out the best hitter they saw. He was admittedly difficult to rank because as good as his hit tool looks, there are questions with his other tools. He’s got a left-field profile. He doesn’t have the arm strength for right or the range for center, and if he’s going to be relegated to left, is he going to have enough power to stick there? He appears to have at least some power potential, but it’s really his hit tool that is carrying him right now.

Warren (New London): Stephen Wrenn was the best player in the league before he was promoted. How good a prospect is he?
Michael Lananna: Wrenn is an interesting one, and he very nearly snuck on to the back end of this list. He was drafted out of high school and has flashed big tools on occasion (he hit five homers in the Cape last summer), but he had a down year at Georgia, and that lowered his draft stock. Wrenn has bat speed and some power potential, as he showed with 12 combined home runs between Tri-City and Quad Cities, and he’s at least an above-average runner. But he has a left-fielder’s arm and needs to work on his route running in the outfield. There’s also a lot of swing and miss to his game. Realistically, he’s probably a fourth outfielder at the next level, but he certainly had a nice debut in the NYP.

Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): Am I just seeing things, or was Tommy Edman more athletic than expected and with a better approach than he showed (or was forced to adopt) at Stanford?
Michael Lananna: I did get some positive feedback on Edman this summer. He’s more of a sum-of-his-parts kind of guy than someone who stands out for any one particular tool. He’s a scrappy, grinder type—”a better version of David Eckstein,” as one evaluator told me. As far as his approach, he did show advanced discipline (48 BB to 29 K), and his manager told me Edman reminded him somewhat of Ben Zobrist in terms of his feel for the strike zone. He’s a switch-hitter with speed and probably isn’t an everyday shortstop. But with his kind of profile, I wouldn’t be surprised if Edman played his way to the big leagues as a utility type.

Dave (Brooklyn): Hey, Mike! Thanks for chatting today! SS Garvis Lara was the 16th Ranked Marlins' prospect in the always great 2016 BA Prospect Handbook, but has not played for Batavia since June 29 due to a 'Suspension for # days', per MiLB, with no other info available. Does anyone at BA know what happened? How much will missing almost a full Short Season of age 19/20 development damage his future?
Michael Lananna: Don’t have all of the specifics, but we do know that his suspension was team-imposed and not PED-related. Obviously disappointing for his progression as a prospect, but we’ll have to see how he comes back from it.

Dan (Aberdeen): Heard/saw Sedlock had trouble throwing strikes and had a funky delivery. Scouts sold on him being a starter? Also on the subject of Aberdeen, how close was Austin Hays? He made very hard and loud contact throughout the season.
Michael Lananna: Sedlock did have come command issues this summer and will need to iron those out, but he’s got a starter’s arsenal with three potential plus pitches, and I’d expect the Orioles to give him every opportunity to develop as a starter. As far as Hays, he did make the list at No. 14. He does have some thump in his bat and some bat speed—you’re right on about that. He’s got a right-field profile.

Steve (New York): What is the ceiling of Brooklyn's Lindsey and Alonso
Michael Lananna: If everything goes right for Desmond Lindsay, you’re looking at a guy with five-tool potential and a starting center fielder batting in the top half of the order. But that’s if everything goes right. The hamstring issues in back-to-back years are a concern, and we haven’t yet seen Lindsay fully uninhibited. But there’s a lot to like with him—a good runner, great bat speed, potential plus raw power. He’s still learning how to play center field, but he’s got a chance to stick there. There’s high upside but high risk, too, given his injury history and how far away he is from his ceiling. As far as Alonso, I’ve seen him crush some impressive home runs with my own eyes covering the college beat. His power is real, his strength is real, and he has the chance to develop into a Mike Napoli type of player. There are some knocks on his hitting, and he’s probably not going to be a high-average guy. But if he hits just enough, he could be a middle-of-the-order first baseman in the big leagues. He needs to stay healthy, too, although his injuries have been more flukey than anything else.

Steve (New York): Is Dunn the mets next great starter?
Michael Lananna: I’m a Justin Dunn believer, having seen him pitch quite a bit with Boston College. There’s no question Dunn’s got electric stuff, but the question that’s going to follow him throughout pro ball is: Is he a starter or a reliever? Dunn hasn’t been starting for very long, and he only pitched in three-inning stints with the Cyclones this summer, so time will tell. Depending on who you talk to, some think he has the chance to start, and others see him as a closer-type. Either way, the ceiling is high. His fastball-slider combo is strong. His curveball is serviceable but not a significant weapon. The development of his changeup could be key in whether he starts or relieves in the future.

Gary (TampaFl): What's the reason LHP Travis Ott did not even make top 20 after an outstanding year?
Michael Lananna: The numbers do jump off the page for Travis Ott—6-0, 1.06, 59.1 IP, 61 K, 18 BB. It was a very nice season for him, but this is a case where the numbers don’t tell the full story. Ott is the kind of pitcher who gets by more on deception than pure stuff. He’s got a fringy to average fastball in the upper 80s to low 90s and a big, sweeping breaking ball that is more effective against lefthanders than righthanders. He’s hard to pick up and is the kind of pitcher who would dominate at lower levels but likely won’t replicate that kind of production as he moves up. His best chance is likely as a lefthanded specialist at the next level.

JKM (Scranton): Is Timmy Robinson a legit prospect?
Michael Lananna: He’s a prospect but not an overly exciting one. He’s got some power and athleticism, but there are holes in his swing and a tendency to swing and miss. He probably has fourth outfielder ceiling.

Grant (NYC): How high would you have ranked Logan Shore, had he qualified? Is he projected as a starter going forward?
Michael Lananna: I could see Shore on the latter half of the list. He projects as a workhorse, mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter. Very polished with a plus changeup and great pitching feel.

Chris (San clemente): There were very few position players on your prospect list. Was this just a down crop of draftees? Any players come close to making your top 20? (I noticed during the season that more of the high profile position players seemed to be in the other short season looking forward to seeing that list.)
Michael Lananna: It was somewhat of a down position-player crop, and some of the higher-profile position players struggled in the league this summer. Position players who just missed the cut: Nick Solak, Stephen Wrenn, Jeremy Martinez, Gabriel Mejia, Miguelangel Sierra (offensive numbers were poor after a very strong performance in the Appy League, but he has upside as a true shortstop).

Dave (Akron, OH): Thanks for the chat! Did any other Scrappers come close to making the list? Calica and Mejia really raked the ball, and a few pitchers, such as Hillman, were pretty well thought of coming in. Thanks!
Michael Lananna: Gabriel Mejia was in consideration. He did put up good numbers, is a switch-hitter and he’s a plus-plus runner. But there are questions with his bat, whether he’ll hit enough at the next level. He’s very small, has very little power and more of a slap-type swing, especially lefthanded. His arm is also fringy, although he has the range and speed for center field. Calica put up strong numbers as well, but he isn’t particularly toolsy. He’s got an excellent approach at the plate and great discipline, but he’s probably a fourth outfielder. As for Juan Hillman, his stuff was fringier this summer than the reports were on him coming in—fastball sitting more in the 86-90 mph range. He’s still only 19, and you’ll surely see him in the Indians’ organizational top 30, but he didn’t quite merit the top 20 in the NYP this summer.

Michael Lananna: Thank you, everyone, for your questions. I’m afraid that’s all the time I have for today. This was fun, though. Let’s do it again sometime.

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