We had a wide array of questions to ponder for this week's Inbox. And that doesn't even count the one that led to a separate story on teams that could rebound in 2019 thanks to strong farm systems.This week, fans were worried about two former first-round picks and what the
We had a wide array of questions to ponder for this week's Inbox. And that doesn't even count the one that led to a separate story on teams that could rebound in 2019 thanks to strong farm systems.
This week, fans were worried about two former first-round picks and what the future holds for them, whether a D-backs pitching prospect was Top 100-worthy and where a new international prospect, who is so nice they named him twice, will land. And this is all during a relatively quiet time prospect-wise, with instructs running throughout baseball and the Arizona Fall League looming in less than two weeks.
I don't see how you could look at Mickey Moniak's 2018 season and think he's one step closer to being a bust. I don't want to announce his arrival back on the prospect scene or anything, but there's no question to me that he's taken a solid step in the right direction, particularly in the second half of his year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League.
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Yes, there are certain expectations for a player taken No. 1 overall to be a phenom right out of the gates. And perhaps when all is said and done, Moniak won't fit that No. 1 label well (Truthfully, how many No. 1s do?). There's still work to be done in terms of plate discipline, adding strength and using his speed to greater benefit, but his second-half numbers were vastly improved, and all accounts were that he looked much more confident and was driving the ball with more authority as the year wore on.
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Moniak (every time I hear his full name in my head, it's Harry Kalas saying it; go ahead and try it) hit .286/.332/.442 in the second half of the year in the FSL, with 24 extra-base hits in 224 at-bats after the All-Star break. His walk rate went up and his strikeout rate went down at the same time, and remember, he was nearly two and a half years younger than the typical hitter in the league.
The move to Double-A will be a good challenge for Moniak, though he'll likely benefit from the friendly hitting confines of Reading's home ballpark. Keep in mind that this was just his second full season, and it does take some guys longer than others, even if they are No. 1 overall picks. Not that Moniak is the same kind of player, and this was his second full season, but check out this No. 1 pick's first full season: .263/.343/.413. That was Justin Upton in the Midwest League in 2006. He figured it out faster, but it's still worth noting that patience is not a bad thing.
Honestly, not much. We'll be doing one more Market Correction for our Top 100 list, and even if Widener doesn't jump on the list then, he'll certainly be in the conversation for our 2019 list. I think if there's one reason why he hasn't jumped on yet it's perhaps a bit of caution, wanting to see him do it as a starter for another full season and at a higher level (which he's now done), to go along with good, but not top-shelf stuff.
Widener, acquired by the D-backs from the Yankees in the Brandon Drury deal last offseason, was a reliever in college, but he moved into the rotation in his first full season. That went well enough in the Florida State League, with a 9.73 K/9 rate and 3.77 BB/9 rate to go along with a .206 BAA. He got better when he moved up to Double-A this year, finishing second in the Minors in strikeouts while his K rate jumped and BB rate plummeted. As you can tell, I'll be the one pounding the table for Widener's inclusion in future Top 100 lists. We'll have to wait and see how persuasive I am.
It was recently announced that Victor Victor Mesa was declared a free agent and could sign with any team. The Cuban outfielder immediately became the No. 1 player on our Top 30 international prospects list. He's now free to sign with any team in baseball, but because he is subject to the international bonus pool rules, some teams have a better chance strictly because they have more money to spend.
As colleague Jesse Sanchez wrote recently, "The Orioles have a little over $6.7 million in bonus pool money to spend on international prospects, the most money in baseball. The Marlins are next, with $4.3 million, followed by the Rays at $3.6 million and the Dodgers at $2.78 million."
The Orioles haven't been active at all internationally in the past, but they collected a bunch of bonus pool money via trades, presumably with the hopes of making a splash like this. And Mesa might not take too long to be big league ready, either, making him even more valuable to teams trying to rebuild. I'd put Baltimore as the odds-on favorite because of that pool, but keep an eye on Miami, given the Cuban community and fan base that could be a draw for Mesa.
After Faedo didn't pitch at all (not uncommon for college arms in their first summer of pro ball) after going in the first round of the 2017 Draft, combined with some concerns about his durability due to minor knee issues in his college career, if someone had told you the right-hander out of Florida would top 120 innings and spend half the year in Double-A, would you have considered that a successful first full season?
I frame the question that way hopefully to make you take a step back from the "concern" you voiced in the question. Yes, Faedo's Double-A numbers don't look so hot, what with the 4.95 ERA and all. His walk rate went up, as did his hit rate, and he gave up too many homers, but he's far from the first pitcher to struggle a little upon reaching Double-A for the first time. It also should be noted that Faedo kept missing bats (actually at a higher rate) and still managed just a .239 BAA. His penultimate start of the year was seven innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts.
Faedo was making some mechanical tweaks, stuff that probably won't help long-term until next year. Suffice it to say, I'm not overly worried. He's healthy and look for him to learn from the hiccups in 2019, when he continues to make a beeline for Detroit.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.