Greetings from the National High School Invitational at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Even though I'm in the middle of this terrific high school tournament with a ton of good 2017 Draft prospects competing, there's always time for a Pipeline Inbox.With Spring Training coming to an
Greetings from the National High School Invitational at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Even though I'm in the middle of this terrific high school tournament with a ton of good 2017 Draft prospects competing, there's always time for a Pipeline Inbox.
With Spring Training coming to an end, many of you wanted to talk about prospect performances this spring. More specifically, there were questions about those prospects and their futures as potential Top 100-type guys. It was an easy theme to pick out. Happy MLB Opening Day to all.
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Truth be told, I did not have the opportunity to watch as much back fields baseball as I would normally like to. When I was in Arizona, there weren't games yet and in Florida, the schedule often didn't work out in my favor. But there are definitely some guys who narrowly missed the Top 100 who were in big league camp, or I got reports on, who do stand out.
I'll pick out a few players, all of whom could climb onto the Top 100 in short order once the season gets going. On the offensive side of things, outfielders Harrison Bader of the Cardinals and Ronald Acuna of the Braves stick out. Bader, of course, is close to being big league ready, but Acuna is a ways away and more than held his own in big league camp. The Braves will lose a Top 100 player when Dansby Swanson graduates, likely on Opening Day, but Acuna could bring their total on the list back up to seven soon thereafter. On the pitching side, A's right-hander Frankie Montas narrowly missed the list, but he has been lights out this spring, out of the bullpen. Future closer alert?
I don't blame Phillies fans for being excited about the young pitching talent in the system. There are some exciting arms for sure at the lower levels of the system in particular. Franklyn Kilome is the one closest to the Top 100 and I could see him jumping on this season, if he takes the next step. I think Sixto Sanchez is legit as well, though I would like to see him pitch outside of the Gulf Coast League before I jump all the way in. And don't forget Adonis Medina, who is a bit further down the Phillies Top 30 at No. 16, but was creating buzz in camp for how well he was throwing.
Sounds to me like you're prepping for some kind of deep keeper league or just have an interest in former college bats who are perhaps a bit underrated. For me, Stubbs has the better chance at being a Top 100 pick eventually. The Astros' eighth-round pick in 2015 had a solid first full season, reaching Double-A and hitting for average and some power before finishing the year off in the Arizona Fall League. He's also a catcher who threw out 51 percent of would-be basestealers in 2016. At the very least, he probably needs to join our Top 10 catchers list, but the combination of skills could be Top 100 worthy if he picks up where he left off last year.
Quinn is a tougher sell, though the 2016 draftee did have a very good pro debut with the Giants. He has some ability with the bat, and the power might be legitimate, but I'm not 100 percent sure it's enough for him to climb onto the big list. That said, the Giants have done quite well in finding value in college performers who turn into solid big leaguers.
I spoke to Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics when I visited Rays camp not too long ago and he raved about Lowe's combination of physical tools and advanced approach at the plate and maturity. I think the move to center field is going to help him considerably, allowing his speed and instincts to really play up. He has the bat to hit for both average and power. I'd say the tools are there for him to eventually climb into the Top 100, but I'll preach patience. Since the 2016 first-rounder has a total of 173 professional at-bats on his resume, let's wait and see how he does as he gets out and plays more. I don't know where he's starting the season -- I could see him getting a full-season shot based on that maturity -- I think the Pipeline crew would like to see more of him before putting him into Top 100 consideration.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.