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Inbox: M's Rodriguez or D-backs' Robinson?

@JonathanMayo
July 4, 2019

This week’s MLB Pipeline Inbox comes to you from Bradenton, Fla., site of the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’s been great getting a longer look at the top high school talent for the 2020 Draft. The good news is you’ll be able to see them, too. A total of

This week’s MLB Pipeline Inbox comes to you from Bradenton, Fla., site of the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’s been great getting a longer look at the top high school talent for the 2020 Draft. The good news is you’ll be able to see them, too. A total of 40 players from the group of 80 here will go to Cleveland to participate in Saturday’s High School All-Star Game, which you can watch live on MLB.com.

Then on Sunday, there’s the High School Home Run Derby (also streaming on MLB.com). The top two advance and will get to take their hacks in between rounds of the Major League T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night. And, of course, Sunday night brings the best night on the prospect calendar: the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

Kristian Robinson and Julio Rodriguez are outfielders who hail from the same 2017-18 international signing class and both commanded seven figures to sign. Robinson got $2.5 million from the D-backs to join the organization out of the Bahamas while the Mariners got Rodriguez for $1.75 million out of the Dominican Republic. Both have had solid starts to their professional careers and are, in many ways, ahead of the curve.

I’d have to give Rodriguez, No. 6 on the Mariners Top 30, the edge, and not just to justify the fact we have him currently at No. 87 on our overall Top 100. He’s also a step ahead of Robinson, who is the D-backs’ No. 5 prospect, playing in the full-season South Atlantic League while Robinson is in the short-season Northwest League. Of course, that might just be organizational philosophy, with Arizona proceeding with a bit more caution, but Rodriguez really forced Seattle’s hand by being so prepared to start the 2019 season.

They both have equally loud tools, and Robinson’s raw tools might grade out better in some cases. So it’s possible that he’d be the better pick here. I don’t think you can go wrong, and I do believe both will be excellent big leaguers, but I’ll stick with Rodriguez as my selection.

It can be impossible to try to make sense out of tragedy, no matter where it occurs. The baseball world has been reeling since news of Tyler Skaggs’ death reached us and really all I can do is provide some memories of Tyler from his prospect days.

In 2011, he was No. 12 on our Top 50. He moved up to No. 9 in 2012 and he began the 2013 season, the year he graduated from prospect status, at No. 10 overall. He held the top spot on the D-backs list on numerous occasions and was among the top 10 left-handers several times over as a two-time Futures Game participant, starting the game in 2011 when it was hosted by what was then his organization.

But that just gives context about him as a prospect and his value on the mound. While our reports while he was on our prospects list don’t talk about his makeup, I can speak to that first hand. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyler on multiple occasions, mostly in/around his Futures Game participation. He wasn’t just a young player willing to talk. He enjoyed engaging with others. My memories of talking with him are that they were conversations more than interviews. I hadn’t had the pleasure of crossing paths with him since he left the prospect world, but I can assure you, everything you’ve heard about him as a person and a teammate is definitively true.

There is currently just one Red Sox prospect in the Top 100 and that’s 2018 first-round pick Triston Casas. And there isn’t really an obvious pick to be next. I can’t even go the easy route and take their first-round pick from 2019 because they didn’t have one. None of the prospects right behind Casas seem like Top 100 caliber, at least not right now. So I’m going to scoot down to No. 9 on their Top 30 and pick Jarren Duran. A seventh-round pick in 2018 drafted mostly because of his 70 speed, he’s far exceeded expectations in terms of what he can do with the bat. While it’s been slow going with his transition to Double-A, the fact that he’s made it there in his first full season and still has a combined .326/.395/.442 line with 24 steals shows just how advanced he is. He’s a Futures Gamer, and not just because the Red Sox needed a representative. He’s deserving and I’m excited to see him show off his tools on such a large stage.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.