Top 100 Prospects 80-71

This ten is loaded with righthanded pitching.

80. Nolan Jones 3B (Indians) - The Indians second round 2016 pick had a breakout year in his first opportunity to play full season ball. The bat showed power with 19 homeruns at the two A levels with a .466 slugging percentage. The Indians would like to see him cut down on his whiffs, but he also draws a lot of walks (89) resulting in a .405 OBA. At 6′4″ he could become too immobile to play third base. His lack of speed makes moving to the outfield a challenge and a move to first would decrease his value. The Indians will hope he can stick at third. The 2019 season should begin with High A and a promotion to AA if he continues to hit.

79. Jonathan Loaisiga RHP (Yankees) - The Nicaraguan native had an excellent year, leap frogging over a number of prospects to place in the Top 100. He finished with a 2.89 ERA with a 8/67 walk to whiff ratio in 56 innings, starting at High A and resulting in a major league promotion. He got blitzed a bit in the majors with a 5.11 ERA and a .271 opposition average. He stands at only 5′11″ but his fastball sits in the mid-90s. His curve and change are quality offerings and his command is solid. The Giants had originally signed him back in 2012 but injuries led to his release two years later. The Yankees signed him in 2016 but he could make only one start before having Tommy John surgery. Health is an issue. A little time in AAA would not hurt. His small stature and problems with staying healthy may make the bullpen the best alternative for him. Expect him to ride the Yankees roller coaster in 2019 from minors to majors and back again.

78. Mathew Liberatore LHP (Rays) - The Rays first round 2018 pick made an impressive professional debut with a 0.98 ERA in eight starts of Gulf Coast League ball. Opponents batted just .170 off him. He pitched six shutout innings against Korea in the finals of the 18 and under World Cup games resulting in a rise in his prospect status. At 6′5″ he has a large frame but his fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s. The curve ball is his best pitch resulting in most of his swings and misses. Mathew also has no problems finding the plate and moving his pitches around the strike zone. Next year he should make his debut in Low A where the Rays can work on giving him some innings.

77. Josh James RHP (Astros) - Last year Josh was not considered a prospect. That comes with the territory when you are a 34th round pick in the 2014 draft. He signed for just $15,000. Then his fastball started hitting the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. No minor league pitcher last year had a better strikeout rating of 13.5 per nine innings pitched. Once given an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues the whiffs continued and major leaguers could only hit him at a .183 clip. His secondary pitches are good enough to play as a starter but his struggles at finding the strike zone on a consistent basis could relegate him to the bullpen. The Astros are looking at him as their fifth starter but a spring training injury could force him to start the season in AAA. If he continues to dominate there as he did last year a callup to Houston would be quick.

76. Griffin Canning RHP (Angels) - The ace of the UCLA Bruins pitching staff in 2017 dropped to the Angels in the second round. His innings work load and a concern for injury after his physical prevented him from pitching in 2017 in the minor leagues. Griffin has some heat on his fastball (mid-90s) and quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) that makes the middle of a starting rotation a good possibility. The injury issues seem to be put to rest with his 113 innings of solid work where he climbed all the way to AAA. This puts him just a knock away from the major leagues. His struggles a bit in AAA (5.49 ERA and .294 opposition average) will force him to start the season there and hope for improvement. The Angels have had trouble keeping starting pitchers healthy so it would not be a surprise to see him reach the major leagues sometime by mid-season if he can find success in AAA.

75. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - The 2016 third round pick did not replicate his 2017 season, but that would have been hard to do. Arm injuries limited him to just 16 starts last year, a reminder that he had trouble with those injuries at Rice and in his first season with the D-Backs after being drafted. The opposition still had trouble hitting him in AA (.217) and his 2.69 ERA was still quality. The fastball can hit the mid-90s but sits mostly south of 95. Quality secondary offerings (slider, curve and change) and the ability to throw strikes makes him a good candidate for the top of a starting rotation. The big test is whether he can stay healthy. Expect him to start his season in AAA with a promotion to the major leagues in 2019 if he can achieve success.

74. Yusei Kikuchi RHP (Mariners) - The Japanese pitcher will not dominate like Ohtani. His fastball hits the mid-90s but sits in the low 90s. The 2017 season was his best year when he went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA with 217 whiffs in just 187 innings. Last year his strikeout rate dropped below one per inning and his ERA rose to 3.08. He stands only 6′0″ but he is a crafty pitcher with quality secondary offerings (slider, curve and change) with the ability to move his pitches around the strike zone. He was one of the first Japanese pitchers to declare he wanted to play major league baseball after his high school season, requesting Japanese teams to not select him in the draft. He was the Ohtani before Ohtani, except he could not hit.

73. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - With Sixto traded to the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto trade Adonis is now the top pitching prospect for the Phillies. His fastball is not as explosive as Sixto, but it hits the mid-90s. His changeup has improved allowing his fastball to look better. In 2017 his whiff rate improved from 4.7 to 10 whiffs per nine innings. A good slider forces hitters to pound the ball on the ground when they are not swinging and missing at his fastball. The Dominican stands only 6′1′ so there could be durability issues. Last year he pitched 111 innings in the Florida State League. The Phillies will hope for another innings increase in AA next year.

72. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - The Cuban is the son of Victor Mesa, who was a legend on the international baseball circuit, leading Cuba to a number of gold medals. The father of Yuriel and Lourdes Gurriel also starred on those teams. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million, with his younger brother signing with him for much less. Victor played in the Cuban professional league at 16 and was frustrated with the high expectations Cuban fans had for him. His defensive play will be gold glove while his bat could take some time before it develops. Speed is his game but he needs to show the bat to shine in the major leagues. Some have compared him to a Victor Robles. The Marlins may start him at High A with quick promotions as he shows success.

71. Ryan Mountcastle 3B (Orioles) - There is no question the Orioles 2015 first round pick has the bat. He will hit in the neighborhood of .300 with double digit homerun power. The challenge is finding a position he can play. He started as a shortstop but his arm was not strong enough to play there. The Orioles moved him to third, but the arm does not fit the position and watching his throws float to first is painful. He could move to left where his arm won’t help him or play first where his power would come up short. Ryan will start the 2019 season in AAA and see his major league debut this year. Myworld will be curious what position he will ultimately play.

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