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Mariners’ Post-Deadline Top 25 Prospects

Mariners’ Post-Deadline Top 25 Prospects

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While I rail on the fact prospect rankings do not carry inherent value, they can serve one very partcular functional purpose, and that’s to sort the value in a club’s farm system.

Of course, these rankings are subjective, do not reflect the evaluations of any club let alone the consensus, and not all sets of rankings are created equal.

Here at Prospect Insider I have always blended information gathered from player development staffers and scouts with  my own live looks and observations.

I also value players, skills, tools, and profiles differently than others, for example: when a pitcher appears destined for the bullpen but does not profile as a premium, high-leverage type, I will not have this player ranked ahead of the more promising lottery tickets, even though said lottery tickets have little shot to see the majors and the reliever has a pretty good chance, because the middle reliever is not very valuable relative to everything else on a 26-man roster, and it’s not difficult nor costly to find arms to fill the role.

As a result of things such as this, my rankings always look different, even if the player-specific evaluations are similar or the same.

Here is my Mariners Top 25, post-deadline:

1. Harry Ford, C

Ford is a very good athlete with a chance to catch and provide well above-average offensive production. After a bit of a slow start this season (.209/.370/.291 in 29 games through May), Ford has absolutely raked to the tune of a .311/.449/.515 slasj in 44 games. He’s posted 20 extra-base hits in that span — five homers, 11 doubles, four triples — and even swiped eight bags.

I don’t expect speed to be a big part of his game long-term, particularly if he sticks behind the plate, where he has every physical tool necessary to be a premium defender, but is at least 3-4 years from looking like a big-league backstop. His bat may leave his glove behind.

There’s been talk of other positions since Draft day, including second base and centerfield, and while both are plausible, I’m focused on catcher first, and third base second as long he continues to pound the baseball the way he has the past two-plus months. Athletically, he’d have no problem playing anywhere, but the skills required to play the middle of the field take time, so unless that move was made soon, it’s probably not going to be made, at least by Seattle, at least not during his most formative years as a pro.

The right-handed batting Ford generates easy leverage with a quick and relatively short swing that covers the entire horizontal zone, and he’s shown the ability to hit the fastball at the hands, and the soft stuff down in the zone, including to right field with power. His mechanics are simple with no wasted movement, and his hip rotation is explosive and compact.

Ford does a very good job keeping his hands back, though like nearly all players in his age group will leak out on his front foot on occasion. But not much, and he’s very selective, displaying regular good takes in between searing libe drives. There isn’t much swing-and-miss right now, either, and very little of it in the zone.

He’ll be challenged by better pitching down the line — the Cal League doesn’t boast a lot of stuffy arms, and many that have velocity and above-average secondaries have 40-grade command — which could present some challenges to his contact rates and ability to adjust. Alas, the life of a young hitter.

Defensively, the reports I get are a mixed bag, but none of it remotely worrisome to Ford’s shot to catch for the long haul. He’s just not there yet, and the fact he’s only catching half Modesto’s games is most likely due to all the work he’s putting in at the position between games.

Catching coaches have often noted the games can kinda-sorta get int he way when you’re learning to catch, and there’s no question that fits with a 19-year-old in his first full season in pro ball. The arm is easy plus, but his footwork and technique need refining so he can improve his accuracy. But he’s quick and agile and attacks the gig like he does a middle-middle fastball.

If he sticks behind the dish, Ford is probably not going to see the majors until at least mid-2025, and that very easily could stretch into ’26. He may hit his way off the position, however, which theoretically speeds up his arrival in Seattle to as early as summer-to-September, 2024.

Many have asked when the club might move him off catcher. I can’t imagine they do so anytime soon unless they become convinced he either can’t catch regularly, or they see a middle-of-the-order hitter they don’t want to delay.

I think for now, as long as catching is part of his game, he will not play other positions regularly, since he’d be learning a new one, and catching and learning a new spot is a ridiculous ask of a kid.

The easy comp here is J.T. Realmuto, but I see some prime Russell Martin here, as well as prime Justin Turner, and even some prime Vernon Wells.

Currently, Ford is the one position prospect in the system with 60-grade power and hit, and right now I have him down for 60s across the board. The only dings are the uncertainty that comes with his future position and a short professional track record, but I’d be absolutely floored — like, woke up with my head sewn to the carpet, floored — if Ford wasn’t a major leaguer in some significant capacity.

2. Emerson Hancock, RHP

Hancock is finally getting consistent run. After his junior year at Georgia was cut short after just four starts and 24 innings, there was no minor league season post draft, and what should have been his first full year as a pro was abbreviated to 44.2 innings due to lat/shoulder discomfort (the Mariners are adamanant about playing it safe with young arms).

Then, to start this season the lat issue kept the right-hander out until May 17.

Since then, Hancock has held batters to a .206/.280/.360 slash in Double-A Arkansas. What we’ve seen for the most part from Hancock is reminiscent of Phladelphia Phillies righty Kyle Gibson. It’s average stuff overall, despite touching 97 mph, and he’s mixing some strikeouts with a repeatable ability to get ground ball outs, but isn’t dominating with bat-missing stuff.

I imagine the Mariners believe there’s more in the tank, and so do I, but there’s a lot to unpack in terms of how he goes from good No. 4 to something closer to a frontline arm.

Hancock’s fastball shape primarily suggests ground balls more than anything else, generating limited swings and misses, but he is going to the top of the zone more, giving him a shot to improve the fastball value long-term.

He’s yet to display a swing-and-miss breaking ball, despite useful slider and projectable curveball he rarely uses. The slider is of the fairly short-breaking variety at 84-87 mph, typically, and can flatten out above the knees.

His 85-88 mph changeup is his best shot at a plus pitch right now. He has good feel for it, can throw it for strikes, and it shows good, late sink and some tail.

At his best, Hancock commands a 94-96 mph fastball, touching 98 with some downhill plane and late arm side run, a fringe-average slider he throws for strikes, and a plus changeup serving as the strikeout pitch versus hitters from both sides of the plate.

The curveball has better shape and projection but is further away in development. When the slider is more 82-85 it offers more depth and, in my opinion, a better chance to miss bats, bit if the curveball is going to be part of his future arsenal, the club is likely to want that slider on the firmer side so he can tunnel with the fastball.

Hancock is athletic and the arm action is clean, but his delivery isn’t as consistent as it will need to be. Right now, the stuff is rather ordinary, but it is improving as the season moves along. He sits here at No. 2 tentatively, because the club’s fourth-round pick from last season is rising fast, and the industry expects the Mariners to add a top prospect when the year’s international class signs.

3. Bryce Miller, RHP

When the Mariners traded Levi Stoudt as part of the trade to acquire Luis Castillo, my very first thought was about Miller, who is better equipped to start than Stoudt has shown this season.

The right-hander, who is a year younger than Stoudt, has every bit the stuff and then some, starting with a four-seamer up to 99 mph with average control. Miller’s slider is about average, flashing above-average, and he’ll mix in an above-average changeup. Perhaps most critically, Miller does a good job locating the fastball to both sides of the plate, and has the movement to get swings and misses.

He’s an athletic 6-foot-2 or so and 190-195 pounds, and while there’s some effort in the delivery, it’s not a reliever-alarm levels by any stretch, and he’s been finding the strike zone consistently. He’s also holding his velocity deep into outings.

Miller throws from a high three-quarter slot and has tremendous arm speed, which helps him sell the changeup off the high-90s heat.

I’m a big Miller fan, and buy him as a mid-rotation starter if the slider gets to consistently-average. There’s also a relatively high floor here as a No. 4 starter or high-leverage reliever in the mold of Garrett Richards.

Miller is almost certain to start 2023 back in Double-A Arkansas, but has a chance to see the majors next season in some role, perhaps passing Hancock in both MLB ETA and future value projection. More efficiency from the Texas A&M product helps him cruise out of the minors, no matter the role.

By the way, the fact Miller is ranked No. 17 in the system by MLB Pipeline, but Stoudt was No. 5 is a total freaking joke and an utter indictment of the process that outlet uses to rank players. And you can tell them I said so.

4. Cole Young, SS

Young gets this spot despite not having played a game in the professional ranks. He’s a surefire shortstop to at least average levels with above-average range and arm strength, has the swing and track record to suggest he’ll make contact and hit for average, and the physical tools to get to some power.

As I said on Draft day, there’s hope he’s the 2022 version of Dansby Swanson (.300/.358/.469) in his prime, but he’ll do his damage from the left side of the plate. (Side note: Yes, if Swanson doesn’t stay in Atlanta and has any interest in the West Coast at all — he may not — Seattle should be all over him. Pay him like a shortstop, use him anywhere he’s OK playing, and supplant J.P. Crawford if need be).

Young enters pro ball at 18 years of age with a hit-over-power profile, above-average speed and athleticism, very good hands and feet, and a real shot to get some slug into his output as he moves through the minors. The swing is simple, short, and sound, he uses the left-center gap easily, and he doesn’t have to sell out for pull power. Young is going to be a very interesting hitter to follow.

5. Gabriel Gonzalez, LF

I saw Gonzalez in Stockton earlier this month and three things stood out from the start. He’s bigger than I expected. I’d say he’s 200 pounds if he’s his listed 5-foot-10, but he may he 5-11 or 6-feet, which may mean he’s more like 205 or 2010.

He runs well, but despite 55 present speed isn’t a quick-twitch defender or baserunner, and as a result belongs in left field, where he looked comfortable early, including showing an average or slightly above-average throwing arm.

Gonzalez’s meal ticket is the hit tool; it’s a short swing producing a lot of line drives and what looks like around average power, though as he’s adding strength and maturing the swing, maybe theres a bit more pop in there, because otherwise he’ll have to hit for high average and get on base a ton to profile as an average or better regular.

But he might do just that, which is why he ranks here at No. 5.

6. Michael Arroyo, 3B

Arroyo received strong consideration for the No. 4 ,5, and 6 spots and if I were ranking in tiers he’d be right there with Montes, Miller, Young, and Gonzalez.

The 17-year-old is a beast, with present strength and an advanced swing already producing huge in the DSL, garnering reports he’s better than Gonzalez at the same point. The reason that’s big isn’t restricted to the simple fact Gonzalez profiles as a major league, it’s also because despite not projecting long-term at his natural position of shortstop, Arroyo figures to land at third base, with second ot completely out of the equation, either.

The right-handed hitter makes consistent and loud contact, has shown a mature feel for the zone, and has sprinkled enough power into the production to suggest a potential 20-homer, 40-double ceiling.

He’s a bit above-average as a runner now and figures to stay there for a little while and perhaps land around average as he gets to the majors. It’s a slightly above-average arm in terms of strength, but he’s very accurate, his transfers are clean, and his throws consistent and accurate.

7. Lazaro Montes, OF

Montes comes with more risk than those ranked behind him, but the upside exceeds all of them, too, thanks to 30-plus homer raw power and a chance to stay in right field.

He’s a bit raw at the plate and the swing occasionally gets long and loopy, but at 17 he’s performing very well in the DSL, including big power.

The key consideration here is the swing-and-miss. He’s chasing too often — which is very common at this stage, even for eventual All-Star caliber bats — and the swing shape and length makes him susceptible in the zone versus good velocity.

But there are times he’s short enough to the baseball and hits a lot of liners and deep drives to the middle of the field, and he’s displayed a good feel for the zone in general.

There’s a solid chance he ends up at first base, depending how well he can maintain his foot speed as he fills out, putting a lot of pressure on the bat, but for now he’s an average runner with an above-average arm that’s handling right field well, with the bat to back up any position on the diamond.

There’s fear he’ll take five or six years to get through the minors, and the higher-floor suggests a three true outcome type bat that lands in the Luke Voit range.

But at 17, many believe he’ll be able to hit .250 or better with walks and plus power, and that’s a regular in any lineup.

8. Matt Brash, RHP

Brash has the raw stuff and arm talent to be among the best multi-inning relievers in baseball, but we’re waiting for the consistent control and command to unlock such results.

As-is, Brash is an entry-level big-league middle reliever with strikeout ability but a tendency to issue too many bases on balls to trust with the game on the line. Essentially, Tyler Thornburg.

Brash’s athleticism and pitchability (two plus breaker, and a changeup if he ever needs it), suggest a good chance at a stronger outcome, perhaps in the Adam Ottavino, Bryan Abreu range or more.

I’m not fully convinced he can’t start, but it appears those days are behind him, at least in Seattle, which may increase his chances of sticking around and developing a shorter stack of skills to maximize is bullpen value.

9. Walter Ford, RHP

Another of this year’s draft class in the Top 10 — this happens when a top 5 farm system graduates 5 Top 100-type prospects in less than two seasons, and trades five Top 10s in five months – Ford offers arm strength, athleticism, and projection with a projectable frame.

He’s just 17 until December and while he won’t pitch for the org this summer, lands here due to the projection. If things go well here, it’s a mid-rotation or better arm, and it’s an awfully exciting piece of clay for the club to mold.

Ford has touched 97 mph and scouts like the future of the slider, with the knocks coming in regard an immature changeup and inconsistent mechanics, but that sounds an awful lot like every other prep pitcher draftee, even first-round picks.

You have to dream a little here, but you don’t have to squint to see the frontline possibilities, and it doesn’t hurt the floor is relatively high thanks to the velocity, which may land in mid-90s with consistency.

At the end of the day, this is Connor Phillips, but more athleic, three years younger, and with a higher ceiling. So, not Connor Phillips at all, really. He’s better. 🙂

10. Juan Pinto, LHP

This is me choosing upside and much higher risk over prospects almost certain to see the majors in the next year or twom but carrying significantly lower ceilings.

Pinto has made eight professional starts, all in the DSL, punching out 30 batters in 27.1 innings. Hes also held opposing batters to a 217 average and .258 slugging. His one blemish? 21 bases on balls.

Pinto is up to 6-foot-4 and over 200 pounds, touching 92-93 mph most starts, and has been up to 94. There’s room for him to land in the mid-90s. His best pitch is a classic overhand curveball with depth, shape, and late break, and projects as a plus offering.

The changeup is young but has flashed this summer, and his loose arm and athletic lower half offer a good chance at average or better command.

He’s years away still, but this is a fun, tooled up lefty I considered ranking even higher here.

11. A.J. Izzi, RHP

Not unlike Walter Ford, Izzi is all dream here, but one I’m more sold on the more I ask about him. He was the club’s 4th-round pick, and while there were clubs that had him as low as the sixth round, there were a few clubs that had Izzi a top 80 player.

He’s hit 97 mph on the gun, has a soft, fringey slider he locates, and his changeup is just a baby, but there’s so much physical projection here it’s impossible not to love both the floor and the ceiling.

Issi isn’t as polished as Ford in terms of pitch development, but does throw more strikes. His arm works well, and he throws from a higher three-quarter slot with deception thanks to a bit of a slingshot motion that hides the ball longer than most.

Scouts like the useage of the lower half and the chances Izzi lives 95-plus down the line, along with consistent action and arm speed on his secondaries. Long-term, there’s major upside here along with the risk he’s a middle reliever.

12. Taylor Dollard, RHP

While Dollard’s 89-92 mph fastball is fringe-average, he’s pounding the zone with three pitches and a chance for a fourth, and has the best command in the system.

The right-hander features two average breaking balls — or simply one in which he varies the velocity, changing its shape, whichever explanation you prefer — but the slurvy version at 76-80 mph is the one he uses the most and flashes above-average

He’ll miss a few bats with the fastball when he goes up in the zone, but it’s been his general ability to induce weak contact with his entire repertoire, including an average changeup.

He can spot the heater and will touch 93 on occasion.

Dollard currently profiles as Chris Flexen; a strike thrower who doesn’t miss a lot of bats, and doesn’t induce a lot of ground balls, but is efficient and savvy and teases you with the chance of more. With Dollard, however, I have to wonder if there isn’t more velocity in the tank. He’s 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds and possesses other physical characteristics of a pitcher who can live 92-95. Something to consider.

Mechanically, he does a lot of things well and repeats it all, hence the well above-average walk numbers (5.5%), and his command within and around the zone has helped him avoid barrels. Batters have managed just a .190/.251/.281 slash versus Dollard this season in the Texas League.

Despite the low ceiling, there’s value in an efficient arm, and there’s always the chance Dollard’s stuff plays up in the bullpen, and/or with an adjustment to his choppy arm action.

13. Bryan Woo, RHP

The 22-year-old Woo, from the same school, Cal Poly, as Dollard, has better stuff and a higher ceiling than his former teammate, offering a fastball up to 97 mph to go with a slider and changeup.

Initially, my profile of Woo on Draft day was as a future power reliever, and while that’s still the most ikely outcome, there are those that have seen enough from his three-pitch mix and athletcism to give him a real shot to start.

The fastball is into the mid-90s with good life from a three-quarter slot, and he employs consistent, fluid mechanics from break through release point, suggesting a great chance to throw strikes consistently.

As a starter, the re-development of his slider and command after UCL surgery will go along way in deciding his future role, but his changeup has flashed well this season, giving him a legitimate third offering.

If he was further along in his return, Woo might rank a it higher, but for now this is as high as I can justify considering the most likely result, but there is plenty of four-seam value to open up a lot of doors for him to move up the ladder in the rotation.

14. Jonatan Clase, CF

Clase doesn’t get his due respect from a lot of folks, but he’s not just a 65 runner.

Despite a wretched July — .209/.351/.363 — Clase has had a good season, sans the issues with the strikeout, adding more power and even stretches with better contact rates.

He’s average in center where he’s still learning routes and how to maximize his jumps, but has an above-average arm and his speed helps him make up for some instinctual deficiencies, perhaps enough to allow him to stay in center long-term.

He’s a good base stealer, not a great one, but has improved his reads in 2022.

If he can find a way to cut down on the swing-and-miss, Clase has a shot to be a fine major leaguer, up to and including as an everyday player. He’s just 20 — won’t turn 21 until next May — and is trending in the right direction in all facets.

15. Adam Macko, LHP

When he’s healthy and at his best, Macko is 92-95 mph, touching 97, with arm side run and life up in the zone with a four-seamer to set up two good breaking balls, led by an above-average slider. His curveball has flashed, too, but in the two starts I saw him it was loopy and he slowed his arm down to throw it, and overall he struggled to find consistency despite flashing big potential and performances.

I haven’t seen anything resembling a useful changeup, but if he can refine the delivery, throw a lot of strikes, and get above-average fastball value, his two breaking balls may be enough for him.

There’s a lot of talent here, but Macko’s development has been disrupted by injury and he will be 22 to start next season with a track record of 35/40-grade control, suggesting 2023 will be a huge year for him.

There’s still a shot hes’s a mid-rotation starter, perhaps a bit like Drew Smyly, but Matt Moore is a comp I run into a lot.

16. Prelander Berroa, RHP

Berroa was acquired from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Donovan Walton and has since been impressive from a stuff standpoint.

The fastball will touch 96 mph, but it’s pretty true forcing him to locate it, which he does fairly well — he tends to stay up or in (or both) to right-handed batters to set up a hard slider that has a chance to be plus in time.

Berroa, just 5-foot-11, throws from a high arm slot, but does well tunnelling the fastball and slider. When he struggles to finish, however, the slider will hang.

There’s a changeup in the arsenal somewhere, but I haven’t seen it, and his arm is often late. These two factors are why the typical projection on Berroa is a future bullpen role, and that’s also were I am.

But it could be a very good two-pitch attack, and in shorter stints Berroa may approach triple digits.

17. Michael Morales, RHP

Morales is more of a very intriguing project than a top prospect, but his smooth, easy mechanics already are producing velocity up to 93 mph with command.

Morales has four legitimate pitches, the best of which is a two-plane curveball with depth. He’ll throw it through the back door to lefties in any count, and right now it’s his best bet for swings and misses.

Morales’ slider can flatten out and he doesn’t throw it a lot. The changeup is seldom-used, too, but it flashes, thanks to good arm speed and some sink.

He’s an average athlete in terms of quickness and twitchy actions, but operates a lot like Greg Maddux — efficiently, with a delivery he repeats very well, and I like the fastball’s life, even at 91.

It’s relatively easy to project Morales for four big-league pitches and a spot in a rotation somewhere, but there’s not yet a lot that jumps out at you. He’s just 19 and with such easy velocity it’s reasonable to think the club can go get more of it with better use of his lower half and more aggression toward the plate, but whether or not that noticeably impacts his ability to throw strikes and ultimately represents a downgrade in overall value remains to be seen.

18. Isaiah Campbell, RHP

Campbell has been transitioned to a relief role, which was always a legitimate destination but perhaps cemented after he underwent elbow surgery.

Campbell has four pitches, but in relief has gone exclusively to a fastball-slider combo. He’s up to 98 mph and the slider has sharp, late break, though he tends to pull up short on it some, leaving it up in the zone and very hittable. His fastball lacks life and is better when he creates plane and stays on the edges.

I’m curious how the Mariners manage Campbell. Not from the standpoint of promotions — he’s now in Double-A — but in terms of  pitches and their development. He’s shown a good splitter in the past — it was probably his best pitch in college — and the fastball could use reshaping. I know they’re just wanting him to get innings right now, but sooner than later it has to be about what they can turn him into over the long haul.

Campbell probably ranks a few spots higher here if his track record was longer and the fastball was a bit better at missing barrels, but like Hancock he hasn’t pitch all that much and is really playing catch-up this season.

19. Alberto Rodriguez, RF

I’m not nearly as high on Rodriguez as some, despite the fact he continues to put up pretty good exit velocities thanks to good bat speed and a short swing.

He’s been challenged with both more and better breaking stuff this season and hasn’t handled it well, and he’s expanded the zone more than ever before. He’s drifted out in at least half the 30 or so plate appearances I’ve seen, which is something he doesn’t have to do because his hands are quick and his path to the ball is short enough, but he’s not recognizing pitches and locations soon enough to combat this.

He’s an average defender at best, has a plus arm, and is a below-average runner, so it’s all about his bat and I just don’t really see it.

I trust the data, however, so he has a shot to iron out some stuff between the ears and allow his swing to play, but it’ll be a waste of 60 raw power if he doesn’t, and there is no other way he gets to the big leagues.

20. Tyler Locklear, 1B

Locklear was the Mariners’ second-round pick, a data-driven selection with one way to work out in the end: he has to mash.

At VCU, he did just that albeit against questionable competition, but the numbers are astounding: .402/.542/.799 with 47 extra-base hits — 20 HR — and a 47-25 BB/K ratio. He backed that with nine homers on the Cape last summer.

The power is at least 60-grade, and there’s a lot to like about the swing from a mechanical standpoint. He starts open with his hands high, settling early and employing an abbreviated leg kick and driving through the ball with minimal wasted movements.

He’s a bit stiff athletically, leading many to believe he has to move to first base, and if that is the case the pressure on the bat is enormous. Locklear isn’t as heavy-footed as I was led to believe initially, but his actions in the field are very… first basey. He does have a plus throwing arm.

This selection and this prospect is a bit of a litmus test for the club’s player development staff, at least from my point of view. They have developed Cal Raleigh and Kyle Lewis into big-league hitters — although Lewis was a bit of a can’t miss in many ways, and Raleigh proved himself versus the best competition in amateur baseball — Locklear will need to hit a lot more than Raleigh has to date to warrant regular time in the show, and Seattle hasn’t yet developed that kind of player into that kind of major leaguer.

21. Starlin Aguilar, 3B

Aguilar came to pro ball with a swing engineered for contact and doubles power, but thus far he’s managed the strike zone well, but hasnt found many barrels. In the complex league this season he has six doubles in 152 plate appeaeances — 0 homers — though he has maintained good contact rates and hit for average.

He’s just 18, however, and has time to improve his conditioning and develop his swing. The initial idea was hit-over-power, but with a chance to develop pull pop because the swing is clean and Aguilar’s bat speed is above average.

Defensively there are major questions as to how he says on the dirt, unless it’s at first base; he’s not a good athlete and his throwing arm is below average, too.

My hope here is Aguilar ends up a 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2, 220-pound player despite being listed at 5-foot-11, 170 when he signed two winters ago. With that kind of physicality, it’s not as difficult to see the power bloom. But production is all that will keep him in the Top 25.

22. Juan Mercedes, RHP

Mercedes has shown quality stuff and command all year for Everett, the only bugaboo being the home-run ball (10 in 71 innings). He’s missing bats in the Northwest League with mostly fastball and two breaking balls, the best of which is a slurvy slider. The fastball is up to 95 mph with some arm side ride and hop.

He repeats pretty well and his frame and delivery should handle 100-plus pitches, but while his changeup flashes, there’s little consistency to it yet, which is why Mercedes projects to the bullpen.

23. Axel Sanchez, SS

Sanchez has been on my radar since Day 1, but not until I got a look at him in Stockton did I fall for the kid.

I knew he had good hands, arm, and feet, but what I didn’t know was Sanchez has strength, bat speed, and hits the ball hard. He ripped four balls over 100 mph in two games with me in attendance, including three extra-base hits. The loft and leverage was natural.

He’s a legit long-term shortstop with a 55 arm and easy, natural actions. He’ll have some problems covering the zone versus better pitching with his current attack plan, but he’s just 19 and has shown power, speed, and defense both years in pro ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanchez climbs into the Top 10 at some point, but his ability to make consistent hard contact as he moves up the ladder will dictate that, and everything else.

24. Stephen Kolek, RHP

The knocks on Kolek are age, he’s already 25, consistency — he’s gone two games without walking three or more just once all year and has had below-average command in about half his starts — and the lack of a quality third offering.

But it’s a big fastball, into the 96-97 mph range without a lot of effort, and an above-average slider with which he generates swing and misses and called strikes.

The entire package works in a relief role where Kolek probably sits 95-100 mph, and there’s a good shot the slider sharpens, too, giving him a potential high-leverage role.

25. Travis Kuhn, RHP

Kuhn is a pure reliever and probably the best in the system right now. He’s 95-98 with a two-seam fastball with good sink, run, and the data to back it, and a 60-grade slider that’s a short, cutter-style breaker. Both induce swings and misses.

Kuhn needs to throw more strikes, however, which probably starts with a tweak to the delivery. His raw stuff and proximit to the majors lands him here at 25.

Just Missed

Robert Perez Jr., 1B

I’m still wanting to see Perez show he can make consistent contat before I buy into his bat, because his profile is all bat. He’s in Everett showing off now. The offseason update could very well reflect my opinion changing on Perez.

Joseph Hernandez, RHP
He’s a middle reliever in the big leagues, but his fastball-slider combo and lower-than-average arm slot make him very interesting in such a role.

Milkar Perez, 3B
He started the year with a shot to hit his way into the Top 10 but the exact opposite has happened as he’s hit well under .200 with now power. Having said that, he’s still just 20 years of age, has physical tools to work with and continues to show he can work counts and draw walks.

George Feliz, CF
While Feliz maintains centerfield projections, they aren’t as strong as they once were, and he’s struggled at the plate with a lengthy swing and lack of zone discipline.

Edryn Rodriguez, 2B
The 19-year-old is a good athlete who can handle second base well and find the gaps regularly.

Martin Gonzalez, SS
He’ll probably end up at second, but there’s contact skills and gap power upon which to build.

Jean Munoz, RHP
There’s just not enough track record here yet, but Munoz will sit 92-94 mph and hit 96 with a four-seamer showing arm side tail. He currently is rolling out a 79-83 mph slider I imagine the club would like the tighten and firm into the mid-80s or better, and a changeup without much sink or fade but it’s a pitch he can win with thanks to deceptive arm speed.

Hogan Windish, 2B
I just haven’t seen enough of Windish as a pro — nor has anyone else — to get a good feel, but I did see him handle second base just fine for 18 innings in Stockton. He doesn’t have more than fringe range but he turned it at the bag, made every play he had the chance to and showed an above-average arm.



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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 and spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio. He now serves as the Executive Copy Editor at Data Skrive, a tech company that manipulates data to provide automated content to clients including the AP, BetMGM, USA Today, and ESPN.

Find Jason’s baseball podcast, Baseball Things, right here.

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