Weather has not been baseball's friend for much of April, with rain and snow (snow!) wiping out games at just about every level imaginable (high school baseball here in Pittsburgh is threatening to become a gym sport). But there have been some outstanding performances across the country by prospects, from
Weather has not been baseball's friend for much of April, with rain and snow (snow!) wiping out games at just about every level imaginable (high school baseball here in Pittsburgh is threatening to become a gym sport). But there have been some outstanding performances across the country by prospects, from the big leagues all the way down to this year's Draft class. This week's Inbox tries to reflect that.
We're less than seven weeks away from the 2018 Draft, and Jim Callis and I are working feverishly on a new Draft Top 100, which is coming soon. That will also mark the start of mock draft season (several of you have asked on Twitter). So I decided to kick off this week's Inbox with a question about the amateur set.
There is no question Casey Mize has separated himself, but in no way have the Tigers decided who they will take with the No. 1 overall pick. It's always fun to see the rumors that make the rounds at this time. Check out the video above for my response to this one.
Giving Marlins prospects some love is a relatively new thing, isn't it? And what I liked about this question the most is that while much of the attention has come because of the trades bringing in prospects, this is about two guys drafted and/or signed by the Marlins.
We can start with Dunand, No. 18 on Miami's Top 30. The club's second-round pick in 2017, Dunand has mostly been known to date as Alex Rodriguez's nephew, though now he can put Prospect Team of the Week on his resume. He certainly has started his first full season of pro ball well, with a .370/.407/.609 slash line across his first 46 at-bats, while getting pushed to the Class A Advanced Florida State League (not an easy place to hit). All of that is encouraging and yes, if Dunand keeps that up, he'd have to eventually be considered for the Top 100. But the emphasis is on eventually. It's just 11 games and he's No. 18 on the team list, so he has a ways to go before he's Top 100-worthy, to answer the "near future" part of your question.
Cabrera, the No. 12 prospect, really intrigues me, and he was our choice for the Marlins' breakout prospect. He's really young (just turned 20), has a great pitcher's body, electric stuff and a good feel for pitching. Only two starts in, obviously, but Cabrera is tough to hit. If the command comes, I could see him as a Top 100-type pitching prospect eventually. I'm encouraged by his start in his move to full-season ball, though.
Wow, this is a really tough call. It just so happens that I do the Top 30s for both the Cardinals and the Braves, so I know both of these talented right-handers quite well. My first gut reaction was to call this a dead heat, but let's try to take a closer look.
Based on where we have them on the Top 100 (Jack Flaherty is No. 38; Mike Soroka is No. 31), there isn't a ton separating them. There isn't much differentiation grades-wise, either:
Flaherty: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Soroka: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Before you say Flaherty should have the edge because he has a fourth pitch, it should be noted that Soroka adds and subtracts from his slider to give it more of a curve shape at times. Both command their stuff extremely well. Soroka has a very slight edge on the fastball, but Flaherty throws plenty of 60-grade fastballs. Flaherty has obviously pitched in the big leagues already; Soroka is knocking on the door and is two years younger. Flaherty has the higher strikeout rate; Soroka's walk rate has been lower. Yes, I'm stalling here. I'm leaning slightly in Soroka's direction.
I decided to send the question to a couple of folks in the scouting and player development world. It wasn't even close to exhaustive, but those I heard back almost entirely sided with the Braves righty. But I really think an argument could be made for either one.
Finishing off with a bit of a "homer" question (I live in Pittsburgh, for those who don't know). And I love Mitch Keller. In fact, I drafted him in our first Pipeline Prospect Fantasy Draft and he's rewarded me with two very solid starts to begin the year in Double-A.
We have two different questions about Keller here, though I think both have to do with potential fantasy value. If you're asking if you should pick him up in a keeper league, the answer is an unequivocal yes. If you're talking about this year, which speaks to the question about whether Keller will be up before September, I'd lean toward no.
It's not that I don't think the 22-year-old can compete in the big leagues. Keller's combination of stuff and feel for pitching is as good as just about any pitching prospect (I'd take him over either Flaherty or Soroka, for whatever that's worth). But the Pirates tend to be methodical in terms of pitching development and he has just eight Double-A starts (not counting the playoffs) to his credit. Maybe Keller's Arizona Fall League stint helps a littlte, but there's also some pitching depth ahead of him in Triple-A, so I don't see a severe need to get him to Pittsburgh this year. I'm all in for 2019, though.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.