Reds' Callihan, Hinds Highlight Appalachian League Rosters
The short-season Northwest and New York-Penn and Rookie-level Pioneer leagues started their seasons on Friday, and on Tuesday it was the Appalachian League’s turn. The 10 teams across the region are littered with talent from the most recent drafts and international classes, and will house of some of the game’s next top prospects.
The league’s top prospect in 2018, Rays shortstop Wander Franco, has already blossomed into the No. 1 talent in the minor leagues, and the next four players behind him in the rankings are all among the most recent iteration of the Top 100.
With games starting today, here’s a quick look at some of the most intriguing prospects on the Appy League’s opening night rosters.
Tyler Callihan, 3B
The first two top-40 talents (as ranked by the BA 500) the Reds scooped up in this year’s draft, Callihan is known for his ability to hit and hit for power. The lefthander played at a variety of positions this spring for his high school team, including catcher and shortstop, but more likely fits at second or third.
Rece Hinds, 3B
The owner of the best raw power of any prep player in this year’s class, Hinds was ranked as the No. 39 prospect available. He has the potential to light up the Appy League this summer with raw power that ranks as a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
Yoendrys Gomez, RHP
Pulaski’s starter on Opening Night brings an intriguing three-pitch mix that allowed him to rank No. 24 on the Yankees’ Top 30 entering the season. He ran his fastball into the mid-90s last year, and showed early feel for a curveball and a changeup.
Antonio Cabello, OF
The Yankees had plenty of pool money to play with after Shohei Ohtani chose the Angels before the 2018 season, and they spent part of it on Cabello, a converted catcher who moved to center field because of his speed. He was outstanding in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer but dislocated his non-throwing shoulder before the fall instructional league. He’s a strong early bet to place highly on the league’s Top 20 prospects after the season.
Johnson City (Cardinals)
Malcom Nunez, 3B
The Cardinals’ No. 9 prospect entering the season, Nuñez signed out of Cuba for $300,000 in 2018. He pairs projectable plus power with a potentially above-average hit tool and made waves last year by winning the Dominican Summer League’s triple crown with a .415 average, 13 home runs and 59 RBIs in 44 games. His slash line was a gaudy .415/.497/.774.
Jhon Torres, OF
Torres was part of the two-player package the Indians received last July for outfielder Oscar Mercado. Originally signed by Cleveland for $150,000 out of Colombia, Torres brings prototypical right-field power from a large frame. He also boasts a double-plus throwing arm from the outfield.
Jelfry Marte, SS
Marte originally signed with the Twins for $3 million, but vision issues led to his deal being voided. He later signed with Tampa Bay for $820,000. Marte drew raves as an amateur for the combination of athleticism and grace with which he plays shortstop. There were questions about the impact he’d have with his bat, and his contact-hitting skill set likely means he’ll hit toward the bottom of a lineup when he gets to the big leagues.
Gionti Turner, SS
The Rays acquired Turner from the Indians in the deal that sent righthander Chih-Wei Hu to Cleveland. Turner, whom Cleveland selected out of high school in Arkansas, stood out for his speed and athleticism as an amateur. The Rays liked the tool package they saw while scouting him in the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer.
Michael Massey, 2B
Massey checked in at No. 168 on the BA 500 and hit .328/.371/.492 in three seasons at Illinois, with an impressive stint in the Cape Cod League mixed in along the way. He dealt with a back injury early this season but has shown the tools to be a plus hitter who can also impact the game up the middle.
Junior Santos, RHP
Santos cuts an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6-foot-8 and 218 pounds. He brings his fastball into the mid-90s from the right side and couples it with a high-70s slider and mid-80s changeup that behaves like a two-seam fastball. He ranked No. 28 on the Mets’ Top 30 entering the season.
Wilfred Astudillo, C
He’s Willians Astudillo’s brother. What more do you need?
Bluefield (Blue Jays)
Leonardo Jimenez, SS
Jimenez signed with the Jays out of Panama for $825,000 in 2018, and has earned a rep as a steady player with strong baseball intellect for someone his age. His below-average range might push him to second base eventually, but he’s a smart player who can spray line drives from gap to gap.
Matt Wallner, OF
The Twins supplemental first-rounder from this year, Wallner signed with Minnesota for $1.8 million out of Southern Mississippi. He has experience as a pitcher in college but was only used as a hitter this season after a forearm strain cost him time early in the season. BA ranked him as the No. 49 prospect in this year’s class on the strength of his classic right-field profile, with big power and a strong arm when healthy.