Myworld continues to look at prospects who will have a major league impact in 2017 and other prospects to watch to see if they will find themselves on the cusp of making the major league team in 2018. Some of these prospects to watch are veteran minor leaguers trying to over come surgery, former top prospects who have tripped in their minor league ascension or Cubans who have no history at the professional level in the United States but were stars in Cuba. Today myworld takes a look at the NL West.
Breakout Prospect (Socrates Brito OF) - He had his opportunity to make an impact last year but stumbled with a .179 average in 79 at bats. Above average speed and minimal power makes centerfield an ideal position for him, but his arm is suited for right. In AAA he showed the ability to hit for average (.294) but he needs to improve his patience (13/65 walk to whiff ratio). His lack of patience was even more pronounced in the major leagues (2/23). Despite his speed he does not seem to rack up a lot of stolen bases. If he can establish a little more power he could fit in the seventh or eighth spot in the batting order but a poor OBA makes it difficult for him to win a leadoff role. With very little in the outfield Brito has an opportunity to establish himself this year if he can improve on his ability to get on base.
Prospect to Watch (Andy Yerzy C) - Myworld was going to put Peter O’Brien on this list but the Diamondbacks traded him after putting him on waivers. So we will take a look at the Canadian Yerzy, who impressed at the high school homerun hitting contest at the 2015 All Star game in Cincinnati, making it to the finals. This upped his draft stock with the Diamondbacks selecting him in the second round of the 2016 draft. Teams are always looking for lefthanded hitting catchers and when one shows the power as Yerzy the eyes light up. He is a clone of O’Brien, needing a lot of work defensively and his plate discipline is below average (4/38 at two levels) but there are tools there that the Diamondbacks can work with. And he hits lefthanded.
Breakout Prospect (Jeff Hoffman RHP) - It is always tough for pitchers to succeed in Colorado. The 2014 first round pick got six starts at the major league level last year and fared well finishing with a 4.88 ERA. The opposition tagged him at a .287 clip and his 17/22 walk to whiff ratio was disappointing. Those numbers will have to improve if he is going to have success in 2017. He throws three very good pitches in a fastball, curveball and change, though his fastball has not gained the high 90s it had prior to his Tommy John surgery. Jeff was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round and the Rockies acquired him in the Troy Tulowitski trade. All Hoffman has to do is pull ERAs just above 4.00 and win games when Rockie bats score more runs than the opposition. After all, the altitude is not friendly to visiting pitchers either.
Prospect to Watch (Forest Wall 2B) - The Rockies drafted him in the first round supplemental draft in 2014. The defensive work at second base is below average but the bat is supposed to be good. There was some talk about moving him to centerfield but that has not come to fruition. If Wall is going to play his bat will be his ticket to the major leagues. Last year he hit .264 with a .355 slugging. That is not going to cut it with a below average glove at second base. In 2015 he slugged .438 at Low A with a better strikeout to walk ratio. He needs to bounce back to be a viable player for the Rockies in the future.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Breakout Prospect (Jose Deleon RHP) - The Twins want Deleon included in any trade for Brian Dozier. The Dodgers are reluctant to trade Jose. The 24th round pick out of Puerto Rico has given the Dodgers a number of reasons to want to keep him. His mid-90s fastball and excellent changeup give the Dodgers at least two reasons. There was a bit of a struggle in his major league callup (6.35 ERA and .288 opposition average) but his minor league numbers were dominant (2.61 ERA and .194 opposition average). Coming into the 2016 season he averaged 12.3 whiffs per nine innings. In AAA he struck out 111 in just 86.1 innings.
Prospect to Watch (Willie Calhoun 2B) - He is a small second baseman, standing just 5′8″, a little taller than Jose Altuve. The quick lefthanded bat managed to drive 27 balls over the fence in AA. This was a breakout season for him when you consider in 2015 he hit just 11 homeruns. He did show power in junior college with 31 homeruns in 61 games. It will be interesting to see if his small, powerful frame can continue to send balls over the fence. His defense is not exemplary and the fact he did not steal any bases last year says a lot about his foot speed. The Dodgers have yet to acquire Brian Dozier so second base is still an open spot for Willie.
San Diego Padres
Breakout Prospect (Manuel Margot OF and Hunter Renfroe OF) - It is tough for teams to compete for a playoff when they have two rookies patrolling their outfield. The Padres know they are in rebuilding mode and it is time to see what these two talented players can do. Margot has the greater set of tools with the speed and athleticism to play center field. His power is good enough to split the gaps. Last year in a September callup he hit .243 in 37 at bats. Five of his nine hits went for extra bases (four doubles and one triple), but he failed to draw a walk, giving him a low OBA. Renfroe is the slugger who mashed four homeruns in a brief 35 at bat September callup. He is a little more plodding than Margot, but he has enough speed to cover the outfield. His arm is one of his best attributes so right field appears to be the perfect position for him. The Padres have to hope this duo reminds them of when the Red Sox brought up Fred Lynn and Jim Rice as rookies.
Prospects to Watch (Josh Naylor 1B and Javier Guerra SS) - Josh Naylor was drafted in the first round by the Marlins. They traded him to the Padres shortly after he cut Stone Garrett with a knife that was classified as horse play but some reports have stated was a little more serious than that. Not a lot of players are packed with the power that Naylor possesses but there is also a lot of swing and miss to his game. Last year could be classified as a disappointing season for him with his 12 homeruns resulting in a ugly .407 slugging percentage. That is a little south of .500 that teams want to see from their first baseman. Slow foot speed would make a move to the outfield not wise. Guerra had an off season where his average dropped more than 100 points to a .202 clip. His OPS also fell below .600 and his walk to whiff ratio (34/141) was ugly. All of the tools exist for him to play a quality defensive shortstop, but the bat has to work to get him in the lineup.
San Francisco Giants
Breakout Prospects (Christian Arroyo SS. Clayton Blackburn RHP) - We can’t get really too excited about any Giant making an impact this year. Arroyo is more suited for a utility role. With Brandon Crawford staffing short his only opportunity to get a full time gig in the lineup will be at third base. Myworld doesn’t think he has the power for that position. A move to the outfield would not be to his advantage because of below average foot speed. He did have a career minor league average of .303 coming into 2016 but hit just .274 at AA, so he can hit. A more likely player to make an impact is Blackburn. The problem with Blackburn is his stuff is more back of the rotation starter. His fastball is in the low 90s with average breaking balls and change. What he does have is command with the ability to locate the pitches and miss the barrel of bats.
Prospect to Watch (Chris Shaw 1B) - We like his power bat, which could eventually move Brandon Belt to left field. The 2015 first round pick hit 12 homeruns in his rookie season in 2015. He slugged 21 homeruns last year, but struggled in he AA Eastern League only slugging .414. There is not any speed to his game so a move to the outfield is out of the question and his defense is a little stiff at first. Expect him to repeat AA. If he has some success first base may be his position in 2018, or he could become trade bait for another team to allow the Giants to stock up on veteran players in a playoff run.