Scouts On Jo Adell, Jarred Kelenic And Other Graduated Prospects Yet To Establish Themselves
The transition from prospect to major leaguer is rarely smooth. For every Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza or Albert Pujols who hits the ground running, there is a Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay or Jim Thome who needs multiple years—and sometimes multiple demotions and callups—before blossoming.
That remains true today.
Jose Ramirez hit .239/.298/.346 over three partial seasons to begin his career and didn’t stay in the majors until his fifth callup. Max Scherzer was demoted to Triple-A during his third season and didn’t post his first sub-3.00 ERA until his sixth season. Nelson Cruz, who hit more home runs than any other player in the 2010s, bounced between the majors and minors for four seasons and didn’t become an everyday player until he was 28.
That’s just to name a few. Tim Anderson hit .258/.286/.411 in his first three seasons before winning a batting title and becoming a two-time all-star. Corey Kluber posted a 5.35 ERA in his first two big league stints and didn’t become a regular in the rotation until he was 27. Austin Riley hit .232/.288/.488 his first two seasons before blossoming into an MVP contender. Corbin Burnes posted an 8.82 ERA and was dropped from the Brewers rotation a year before becoming a perennial Cy Young contender.
Some players become standouts quickly, but others take time. Just because a player hasn’t established himself as an everyday player by his mid-20s doesn’t mean he never will. While early struggles can sometimes be an indication of real, lasting problems, other times they are little more than just bumps in the road the player eventually overcomes.
Here is a look at more than a dozen former Top 100 Prospects who have graduated from prospect eligibility but have yet to establish themselves in the major leagues, along with how scouts across the game view them and their outlooks.
Some have shown flaws that evaluators don’t believe can be overcome or that will limit them throughout their careers. Others have struggled early but shown enough for evaluators to believe brighter days are ahead.
All scouts are employed by MLB clubs and were granted anonymity to speak freely. Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Jo Adell, OF, Angels
Highest ranking: No. 3 in 2020
Career statistics: 161 G, .215/.259/.356, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 34.8% K rate, 4.7% BB rate, 70 OPS+.
Adell stormed through the low minors and established himself as one of the game’s elite prospects in 2019 when he excelled at Double-A despite an early-season injury, starred at the Futures Game and led prospect-laden Team USA in almost every offensive category during Olympic qualifying at Premier12. While he still had some rough edges to his game, evaluators across baseball considered him a perennial future all-star as long as he was given time to finish off his development.
But the Angels rushed Adell to the majors during the shortened 2020 season despite the fact he had little Triple-A experience, and he was quickly overwhelmed on both sides of the ball. He became more mechanical and robotic amidst those struggles and lost his natural athleticism and confidence on the field, leading to issues that have persisted for years. He has spent the past two seasons bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and the majors, and with the offseason trade acquisition of Hunter Renfroe, no longer has a starting spot in the Angels outfield.
Given extended, everyday playing time in the second half last year, Adell hit .212/.259/.353 and struck out in 38.9% of his plate appearances.
Scout’s Take: “I always thought Adell, for a player than was ranked in the Top 10 (Prospects), was one of the most raw overall players I’d ever seen. I couldn’t believe the Angels sent him to Triple-A in 2019 and put him in the majors in 2020. He didn’t know how to scoop a ball in the outfield. He didn’t know how to get into throwing position. He could read and react to certain pitches and hit them to the moon, but he needed time to marinate.
“I don’t feel a whole lot different now. He still does some really impressive things at the plate, but I give him 20 (grade) instincts. I don’t see a confident player, either. I think he’s a guy who can occasionally make a swing look beautiful, it’s just the whole rest of the game—defense, baserunning, overall instincts—is so far behind. I wouldn’t bet on him at this point.”
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Highest ranking: No. 4 in 2021
Career statistics: 147 G, .168/.251/.338, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 29.9% K rate, 9.3% BB rate, 66 OPS+
The Mets made Kelenic the first high school player selected in the 2018 draft and dealt him to the Mariners in a trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano that was much-maligned at the time. Kelenic hit for average and power as he raced up to Double-A in his first full season and came out of the pandemic considered one of the game’s best prospects.
But when the Mariners called Kelenic up in May 2021, he had played all of six games in two years. He was limited to the alternate training site during the coronavirus pandemic and had spent just one week in Triple-A when the Mariners brought him to the majors. He understandably struggled with the aggressive callup, was demoted back to Triple-A less than a month later and has bounced back and forth since. He began last season on the Mariners’ Opening Day roster, but he hit .141 and was demoted to Triple-A twice during the year.
Scout’s Take: “He made some adjustments in Triple-A, but I don’t know. It’s hard to see him hitting enough to be an everyday guy at this point. There’s just not enough contact. It’s a flatter, surround to pull swing. It’s gotta be just right for him to go out of the park.
“The thing I like is amidst all these struggles, he’s started to get really good in the outfield. He’s become a good center fielder. That will give him extra opportunities to figure out his swing and work on his timing and make better decisions. He’s not fleet of foot, but he gets good reads and his arm has gotten stronger.
“But bat life, how he fits, he’s going to have to be at the bottom of the order and they’re going to have to massage some of the matchups to get his average up. He’s probably a fourth outfielder until he makes adjustments.”
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
Highest ranking: No. 5 in 2018
Career statistics: 480 G, .233/.306/.359, 31 HR, 146 RBI, 23.9% K rate, 5.9% BB rate, 80 OPS+
Robles debuted in the majors at 20 and was the starting center fielder on the Nationals 2019 World Series championship team as a rookie, but it’s been all downhill since. Robles has hit .216/.291/.306 over the last three seasons and was demoted to Triple-A at the end of 2021. His average exit velocities have ranked in the bottom 1% of the majors each of the last three seasons and his hard-hit percentage has ranked in the bottom 5% each season.
Robles remains an excellent defensive center fielder, but he has been one of the worst hitters in the majors since his rookie year. His .597 OPS over the last three seasons ranks 181st out of 182 players who have made at least 900 plate appearances.
Scout’s Take: “He’s a guy whose defense is going to carry the day for him. A straight, defense-only guy. I don’t think he can hit the breaking ball, I don’t really think the swing decisions are particularly very good and he just doesn’t hit the ball that hard. I watch him and I see a guy who just never barrels the ball up, ever.
“I think the timing is fine, I just never see him hit the sweet spot. He’s got bat speed. There’s things that would have fooled you as an amateur. He’s not a guy we as an organization place any value on.”
Nick Senzel, OF, Reds
Highest ranking: No. 7 in 2018
Career statistics: 273 G, .240/.303/.360, 20 HR, 83 RBI, 20% K rate, 7.5% BB rate, 73 OPS+
Senzel was the consensus top hitter in the 2016 draft when the Reds selected him second overall, but a long list of injuries quickly piled up. He suffered two separate bouts of vertigo, tore a ligament in his throwing hand and had elbow surgery for bone spurs all in his first three seasons in the minors.
The injuries continued after he made his big league debut in 2019. He had season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum as a rookie, missed a month on the Covid-19 injured list in 2020, missed most of 2021 after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and missed the end of the 2022 season with a broken toe, which subsequently didn’t heal properly and required offseason surgery.
Those injuries have largely kept Senzel off the field, and he hasn’t done much to impress when he has played. Senzel played a career-high 110 games last season and hit just .231/.296/.306 with five home runs.
Scout’s Take: “The arrow is definitely pointing down there. He’s gotta prove he can stay healthy. That’s everything. He’s gotta stay healthy. Athletically and tools-wise, things are still intact.
“I’ve never questioned the effort per se. I have questioned the overall instincts and baseball IQ at times. There’s some of that, like getting himself out when he needed to get on base. With his athleticism he needed to be more of a run scorer than a run producer. He has the ability to be both, but there were times he needed to realize what his abilities were, and I’m not sure he always did that.
“He’s been a disappointment, but a few years ago, you wouldn’t have bet the house on it, but I would have bet on the tools and athleticism and ability. You can’t make that bet today. I don’t know many people who would. I don’t think they can trade him now if they wanted to.”
Cristian Pache, OF, Athletics
Highest ranking: No. 7 in 2021
Career statistics: 115 G, .156/.205/.234, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 29% K rate, 5.1% BB rate, 25 OPS+
Pache earned plaudits as the best defensive center fielder to come through the minors in years and was installed as the Braves starting center fielder during the 2020 National League Championship Series following an injury to Adam Duvall. His defense and youth in the postseason naturally drew comparisons to Andruw Jones and led to lofty projections about what was to come.
But while Pache’s defense was never in doubt, questions about his ability to hit long persisted, particularly his pull-heavy approach and inability to cover the outer half of the plate. Those shortcomings quickly became exposed with extended major league time, first with the Braves and then with the Athletics after he was traded as part of the deal for Matt Olson.
Pache’s start to his career has been not only one of the worst in recent memory, but one of the worst in the last 75 years. Pache’s 25 OPS+ is tied for third-lowest of any player in his first three seasons (min. 300 PA) since integration. John Vukovich (12 OPS+, 1970-73), Luis Gomez (24 OPS+, 1974-76) and Kevin Cash (25 OPS+, 2002-04) are the only three who were equivalent or worse.
Notably, all three went on the play at least eight seasons in the majors, but all remained well below-average players who never made a much of an impact.
Scout’s Take: “He truly is an elite center fielder; I’ll give him that. We’ve had guys say forever, though, that he just wasn’t going to hit. We’ve had below-average hit grades on him for the last five years. He’s another guy with really, really good bat speed but who never gets the barrel on the ball. Our front office held out hope for a little while with him while the scouts were saying no.
“All he does is put the ball on the ground. You can find that somewhere else. Just sign Brett Phillips or Adam Engel. It was kind of a weird trade for the A’s. I don’t really see any hope for it getting better.”
Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
Highest ranking: No. 15 in 2019
Career statistics: 104 G, .251/.295/.398, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 22.7% K rate, 4.9% BB rate, 94 OPS+
Kirilloff was lauded as one of the best pure hitters in the 2016 draft and appeared on his way to living up to it by batting .323 in the minors, but a series of wrist injuries have plagued his young career. He suffered a pair of wrist injuries that sent him to the injured list as a prospect in 2019, went on the injured list twice more during his rookie season in 2021 with right wrist injuries and then had season-ending surgery on the same wrist last year.
The repeated wrist injuries have thus far prevented Kirilloff from living up to the lofty expectations held for him as a hitter. His average exit velocity dropped nearly 2 mph last season and he has overwhelmingly hit the ball on the ground, including posting a 55.5% groundball rate last season. On the positive side, Kirilloff’s average exit velocity still remains above the major league average and he has shown the ability to consistently hit a fastball in his young career.
Scout’s Take: “I think if you were to ask me who of these guys I would bet on, it would be Kirilloff. He’s fine and he’s still only 25. I think he can be an everyday left fielder.
“His contact is good. He hits the ball hard. I don’t love the swing decisions, but he makes adjustments and the bat path is solid. I’d have no problem betting on this guy.”
Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
Highest ranking: No. 15 in 2020
Career statistics: 106 G, .197/.304/.285, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 26.8% K rate, 11.1% BB rate, 63 OPS+
The Nationals' top draft pick in 2016, Kieboom quickly hit his way up the minors and reached the majors for his big league debut at 21. He succeeded Anthony Rendon as the Nationals starting third baseman during the shortened 2020 season and was expected to stake his claim to the job, but he struggled badly and was demoted to the alternate training site during the year. He again failed to win the starting third base job in 2021 and struggled in limited stints in the majors, then had Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2022 season.
Kieboom is expected to be ready for spring training, but his outlook for playing time is clouded. The Nationals signed veteran third baseman Jeimer Candelario to a one-year deal this offseason and also brought back infielder Ildemaro Vargas, who finished last year as the Nats’ primary third baseman.
Scout’s take: “One of my least favorite players. No defensive home, I don’t like the makeup and I think the swing needs a total overhaul. It’s disjointed.
“I do think he sees the ball well and he makes contact, it just never comes out hot. He rarely, rarely barrels the ball up at the major league level. The whole swing mechanics to me are off. There is nothing I would bet on there. I would not buy low on him at this point.”
Keston Hiura, 1B, Brewers
Highest ranking: No. 17 in 2019
Career statistics: 284 G, .238/.318/.453, 50 HR, 132 RBI, 36% K rate, 7.4% BB rate, 105 OPS+
Hiura was one of college baseball’s top hitters at UC Irvine, one of the best hitters in the minors after the Brewers drafted him ninth overall in 2017 and continued to be a prolific hitter when he debuted in the majors in 2019 and hit .303 with 19 home runs, 49 RBIs and a .938 OPS in 84 games.
But Hiura came back from the coronavirus shutdown in 2020 with his swing and approach out of sorts, and he’s struggled to regain his previous form since. He’s hit .205/.293/.394 over the last three seasons with a 38.5% strikeout rate, far from the offensive force he used to be. He’s been demoted to Triple-A mid-year each of the last two seasons and moved down the defensive spectrum from second base to first base.
Scout’s Take: “He has a new swing every time you see him. Just no consistency. He’s a really bad defender at second base and really doesn’t have a position. He’s not good at first base, either.
“I just don’t buy the swing. Lots of strikeouts. They very easily they could have altered something that messed him up, because I know in the past he hit, but why has this guy not been able to figure it out for three years now? I get it, you had your swing messed with, but you’ve never been able to find something that works since? I think there is equal blame on that, coaching and him, but you’d think he would have figured it out.”
Luis Patiño, RHP, Rays
Highest ranking: No. 18 in 2020
Career statistics: 36 G, 22 GS, 7-5, 5.10 ERA, 114.2 IP, 113 H, 56 BB, 106 K, 21 HR, 79 ERA+
Patiño featured some of the most explosive stuff in the minors as a teenager in the Padres system and debuted in the majors at 20 years old. The Rays acquired him as the top prospect in the deal that sent Blake Snell to San Diego after the 2020 season and used him in a variety of roles in 2021, including giving him regular turns in the rotation during the second half of the season.
But Patiño wasn’t able to grab hold of a rotation spot and eventually returned to the bullpen at the end of the year. He then battled lat and shoulder injuries in 2022, spent most of the year in Triple-A and struggled badly in six starts with the Rays, posting an 8.10 ERA with more walks (13) than strikeouts (11) in 20 innings.
Scout’s Take: “He’s definitely not as interesting as he was in 2021. I saw one of his first Rays starts and he had a really athletic body, clean mechanics, a mid-to-high-90s fastball with decent life, a breaking ball that still needed to sharpen and get later in the finish and a promising changeup. You thought to yourself, ‘I’ve got a projectable body and great athlete with three plus pitches to maybe pitch in the middle of the rotation.’
“And then when I saw him last year it was low-90s velocity, the breaking ball got looser instead of sharper and he abandoned the changeup. He pitched more timid than I’d ever seen him pitch. There was some mental defeated-ness to him. Mechanics aren’t as clean as they used to be. He’s still a buy-low candidate to me, but there’s a lot more questions than answers to him. I still view him as a starter, but where you’re at now is you’re hoping he’s more of a fourth or fifth starter rather than a No. 3.”
Francisco Mejia, C, Rays
Highest ranking: No. 20 in 2018
Career statistics: 305 G, .241/.288/.393, 24 HR, 99 RBI, 21.4% K rate, 4.7% BB rate, 89 OPS+
Mejia put himself on the map when he put together a 50-game hit streak at the Class A levels in 2016, the longest hitting streak in the minors since 1954. He made his major league debut the following year at 21 and solidified himself as one of the most promising offensive catchers in years as a switch-hitting backstop who could hit for average and power.
Concerns about Mejia’s hyper-aggressive approach and poor defense rumbled in the background, however, and those concerns became amplified in the majors. Cleveland traded Mejia in 2018 to the Padres, where he struggled badly defensively and didn’t hit enough to make up for it, and the Padres subsequently flipped him to the Rays as part of the Snell deal after 2020. Mejia got his first chance to be a team’s primary catcher last year and hit just .242/.264/.381 while being one of the worst pitch framers in the majors. In the postseason, the Rays elected to start Christian Bethancourt behind the plate in both games of the Wild Card Series.
Scout’s Take: “The defense has gotten better. When he first came up with San Diego, he was maybe a 30-40 (grade) receiver and he’s gotten closer to be a 40-45. He can still really throw, he blocks well, but you can only have so many drops.
“But the Rays were banking on a little bit more offense from him because that was his calling card, and it just hasn’t really materialized. It’s pitch selection. You can put an over/under on ‘Will he swing at the first pitch?’ It’s a lot of early count swings at bad pitches that he’s putting in play.
“His bat-to-ball skills are good, but he doesn’t have that freakish strength to make up for it and hit the ball hard somewhere even when it’s off the barrel. When you don’t walk at all, you have to hit for average and you have to put the ball in the seats. He doesn’t do either well enough. I think he just is what he is at this point, which is a lesser backup catcher.”
Daniel Lynch, LHP, Royals
Highest ranking: No. 25 in 2021
Career statistics: 42 G, 42 GS, 8-19, 5.32 ERA, 131.2 IP, 155 H, 52 BB, 122 K, 30 HR, 80 ERA+
The 34th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Lynch quickly looked like a draft steal in his first full season as an athletic lefthander with a fastball that touched 99 mph, a vicious slider and a changeup that rapidly improved to give him a premium arsenal.
But like many of the Royals other top pitching prospects, Lynch was rushed to the majors before he was ready. The Royals called on him for his big league debut in 2021 despite the fact Lynch had never pitched above High-A, and he struggled both there and at Triple-A after he was demoted. The Royals again brought Lynch to the majors to start the season in 2022 despite his lack of success at Triple-A, and again he proved he wasn’t ready and was sent down twice.
Despite loud stuff and solid control, Lynch has allowed opponents to hit .292/.360/.459 and surrendered 30 home runs in 42 starts.
Scout’s Take: “It’s a consistency issue. Without that right voice in the room and somebody he can respect in a coaching position, and I think we can all agree the Royals whole pitching dynamic top to bottom was a disaster, that’s not a healthy environment for anyone to try and figure out things at the big league level. He had his development completely altered and affected due to Covid and got rushed. He’s still figuring it out at the big league level instead of having that true opportunity at Triple-A to figure things out and learn how to pitch.
“I still believe in him. I think that you get the right pitching coach or maybe a change of scenery for him and this is a guy who will excel. It’s still three plus pitches. It’s a lefty who throws hard and he’s a smart guy. It’s an overall consistency issue. He’s always been a No. 2 starter for me and I won’t back down from that. That guy can still be a 2. He’s still a breakout candidate to me.”
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Justus Sheffield, LHP, Mariners
Highest ranking: No. 27 in 2019
Career statistics: 48 G, 33 GS, 12-12, 5.47 ERA, 186 IP, 214 H, 90 BB, 155 K, 77 ERA+
Sheffield has been a central figure in two marquee trades, first going from Cleveland to the Yankees as one of the top prospects in the Andrew Miller deal at the 2016 deadline and then from the Yankees to the Mariners as part of James Paxton deal after the 2018 season.
After struggling in his initial stint in the Mariners rotation, Sheffield appeared to turn the corner when he posted a 3.58 ERA over 10 starts during the shortened 2020 season. But his control regressed the following year and he was dropped from the rotation, then spent most of 2022 in Triple-A. He posted a 6.99 ERA in 24 starts for Tacoma last season and made only six appearances (one start) for the Mariners.
Scout’s Take: “I like him because he competes his (butt) off and he cares, but everything is humdrum. Not a lot of life on the fastball, breaking ball flashes average but it’s traceable and he gets hit in the zone. He has to make perfect pitches.
“He’ll show a good sinker and throw a dirty change, but he fits in that sixth starter bucket type, maybe a swingman in the 45 (grade) lane. He’s corralled his delivery energy and he’s learned to pitch, so he’s done some good things. He’s lost weight, he’s gotten in better shape and he competes better than he used to. There’s just not a lot of life to the fastball and the rest of his stuff is vanilla. In the past I had him with three plus pitches, just filthy, but it just never materialized and the velocity has backtracked.”
Scott Kingery, 2B, Phillies
Highest ranking: No. 31 in 2018
Career statistics: 325 G, .229/.280/.387, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 28.4% K rate, 5.9% BB rate, 74 OPS+
A talented infielder considered on par with Rhys Hoskins and J.P. Crawford as they rose through the minors together as teammates, Kingery delivered a banner season across Double-A and Triple-A in 2017 and received a six-year, $24 million contract from the Phillies before playing a major league game.
Since then, it’s been a difficult road. Kingery struggled amidst an ill-advised move from second base to shortstop as a rookie and transitioned into a utility role the following year. A bout with Covid-19 limited him in 2020, he was outrighted off the 40-man roster after only 15 games in 2021 and spent all but one game at Triple-A in 2022. He also suffered a concussion and had labrum surgery in that time and has seen his production nosedive.
Kingery hit .230 with a .719 OPS at Lehigh Valley last season, both more than 60 points worse than he produced at the same level five years earlier. He also struck out in 29.5% of his plate appearances.
Scout’s Take: “He’s in that Rusney Castillo purgatory at this point. In the past I liked the fact that he could handle six positions. I thought there was maybe a little bit more contact coming because, despite the numbers, I thought he always controlled the zone fairly well.
“But he just doesn’t make contact. For a righthanded hitter who that was what he did at Arizona, he never swung and missed, his contact is horrible in pro ball. He’s just going to be an up-down Phillie. I haven’t seen anything to suggest there’s any hope there.”
Taylor Trammell, OF, Mariners
Highest ranking: No. 33 in 2018
Career statistics: 94 G, .174/.267/.376, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 36.6% K rate, 10.2% BB rate, 82 OPS+
Trammell won MVP of the 2018 Futures Game as a member of the Reds organization and was subsequently moved as a top prospect in two headline trades, first going to the Padres as part of the three-team deal that sent Trevor Bauer to the Reds in 2019 and then to the Mariners as part of the package for Austin Nola in 2020.
Trammell made his major league debut as the Mariners starting center fielder on Opening Day in 2021, but he hasn’t been able to stick. He was demoted to Triple-A just over a month later and has bounced back and forth between Seattle and Tacoma since. He missed significant time last year with a right hamstring strain and primarily served as a fourth outfielder when he was on the field.
Scout’s Take: “As much as I like him and think he’s a good guy who plays hard, I think he’s a depth outfielder at this stage. Has some ability to run into the ball and hit some home runs, but it’s an older body, non-instinctual style of play in the outfield and he’s not a great runner anymore.
“It’s not a very adjustable swing and he struggles with velocity and timing. He thinks his way through at-bats a lot, which hurts him. He’s always trying to find feel instead of being able to be instinctual and let it rip. When he runs into a ball its beautiful, but it’s never rhythmic, in sync or natural. It's a grooved swing, lot of struggles up and down. I hope I’m wrong. I’m pulling for him, but that’s where he is right now.”
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Cubs
Highest ranking: No. 40 in 2021
Career statistics: 142 G, .289/.336/.355, 2 HR, 39 RBI, 9.2% K rate, 5.3% BB rate, 93 OPS+
The fourth overall pick by the White Sox in 2018 despite his diminutive 5-foot-6 frame, Madrigal rose quickly to the majors in 2020 on the strength of his contact skills but hasn’t been able to stay on the field. A separated shoulder interrupted his rookie season, he had season-ending hamstring surgery in 2021 and, in his first season with the Cubs after being acquired in the trade for Craig Kimbrel, he went on the injured list three separate times for a back injury, left groin injury and right groin injury.
Madrigal has hit for average and limited his strikeouts when healthy, but his lack of power and speed and inconsistent defense at second base has limited his overall impact. The Cubs signed Dansby Swanson to play shortstop and are moving Nico Hoerner to second base, leaving Madrigal without a spot to play for the Cubs in 2023 and throwing his future into question.
Scout’s Take: “To me, there is no MLB carrying tool because his ability to make contact is not impactful. He’s not a plus runner, he’s not a plus defender, he doesn’t have a plus arm and he doesn’t have power.
“It’s a hard profile. He’s a contact bat that doesn’t strike out but doesn’t walk. He’s not a feared hitter in a lineup. I just don’t see him as a guy who can impact the game in any way, and it’s hard for him to be a utility guy because he can’t play the left side of the infield. He can’t hit leadoff because he doesn’t get on base enough and he can’t hit second because he doesn’t run and he can’t drive a ball out of the park. So where do you put him? I just don’t see a major league role for him.”
Evan White, 1B, Mariners
Highest ranking: No. 54 in 2018
Career statistics: 84 G, .165/.235/.308, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 37.6% K rate, 7.8% BB rate, 52 OPS+
White long earned rave reviews for his defense at first base, and after hitting for average and power in a difficult hitter’s environment at Double-A Arkansas, the Mariners gave him a six-year, $24 million contract despite the fact he had played only four games above Double-A.
White struggled badly with the jump straight from Double-A to the majors in 2020, though he did win a Gold Glove at first base, and he struggled to hit again in the majors in 2021 before having season-ending hip surgery. He entered 2022 looking to rebound, but he had sports hernia surgery at the start of the season and suffered multiple setbacks, limiting him to 28 games at Triple-A. He hit .204 with seven home runs in his limited Triple-A time.
Scout’s Take: “I still think he can be an everyday big leaguer with a chance to impact the game. I think the hit tool is in there and he’s a Gold Glove-caliber defender. He’s gotta stay healthy, that’s a bugaboo for him, but I still see him as an everyday player.
“I haven’t lost faith in him. He’s made a ton of swing changes. When he first came out the swing was really simple and it was right-center geared. Then I saw him the next year and it was like he was a totally different guy trying to sell out for power. A lot of pre-swing movement, launch-angle look to it. Then again, the last time I saw him there was just a lot going on in the swing. I think he needs to get back to his roots and hit lots of doubles and be J.T. Snow at first base, and the power will end up coming.”
Ryan Weathers, LHP, Padres
Highest ranking: No. 84 in 2021
Career statistics: 31 G, 19 GS, 4-7, 5.49 ERA, 98.1 IP, 107 H, 34 BB, 75 K, 71 ERA+
The Padres went above industry consensus when they drafted Weathers seventh overall in the 2018 draft, but the pick appeared prescient when his velocity jumped at the alternate training site in 2020 and he made the Padres NLDS roster. He memorably made his major league debut in the 2020 playoffs against the Dodgers and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings despite never having pitched a game above Low-A.
Weathers opened in the majors the following season and got off to a hot start, but longstanding concerns about his fitness and durability manifested as he struggled with his command and fell apart during the second half of the season, posting a 10.41 ERA over his final 12 appearances and getting dropped from the rotation.
Those issues persisted in 2022, as he struggled to hold his stuff or command deep into games at Triple-A El Paso and logged a 6.73 ERA while posting career-worst strikeout (6.4 K/9) and walk (4.2 BB/9) rates.
Scout’s Take: “He’s an emergency value guy who I don’t think will get better. He makes a ton of middle-middle mistakes when he’s in the zone. He gets hit hard.
“I wasn’t a big believer in that stuff and that size and that durability working for him, and you look at it now, it’s just flat, middle-middle and hittable. No deception. Hitters are on him. It’s some of the easiest at-bats guys take. It’s not an environment issue where the Pacific Coast League isn’t a good place to pitch. It’s a him issue.”