Digging For Diamonds: Jose Siri and Michel Baez
As we enter the post-deadline duration of the fantasy baseball season, it is important to begin identifying potential trade targets once the regular season ends. If you are like me, you like to get a jump on those guys you just know are going to get a ton of hype this offseason and become impossible to acquire. These final months are typically when the short-season prospects pop up and start to establish themselves as legitimate, potential top-100 prospects, but today I’d like to focus on two 21 year olds making waves in full-season, Low A ball right now: Reds’ outfielder Jose Siri and Padres’ right-hander Michel Baez.
Take out your iPhones and ask Siri who holds the record for the longest hitting streak in the Midwest League. The answer? It’s Siri! Jose broke the record just last week, but it unfortunately was snapped at 39 games after the opposing pitcher beaned him in his final at-bat last Thursday. You can probably guess what happened next. Siri actually turned 22 a few weeks ago, so he is fairly old for the Low-A level, hence why he has flown under the radar thus far. Siri has “a slender 6-2 frame” and has “surprisingly big tools… a plus runner with above-average raw power and arm strength.” Longenhagen also goes on to mention his good bat control (something I love) and that “he has big upside if he can continue to hit,” comparing him to Phillies’ outfielder Nick Williams. The folks over at Baseball America heap even more praise on Siri for their midseason Reds list: “Siri has always been one of the toolsiest players in the Reds’ organization for several years, but his struggles with plate discipline have kept him from scratching the surface of his potential. He’s made big strides in that department and his hitting has taken off. Siri is an excellent center fielder with game-changing speed and power potential.” Siri made their All Prospect Team for July and was also named one of their Top 10 Power-Speed Prospects (a list which is sorely lacking a one Cedric Mullins, sadly). While he will need to continue to make strides in the arts of plate discipline and pitch recognition, he is the type of fantasy prospect who should fill up the stat sheets on a nightly basis. He is a candidate to be “Mullins-ed” and jump straight to Double-A next year if he impresses during Spring Training.
We all know by now that TINSTAAPP (hell, I even tried to argue earlier this year that TINSTAACP either). Still, this is a fantasy website, and there is no denying that pitching prospects do have value in dynasty baseball leagues, so we mustn’t turn a blind eye towards all pitching prospects, and it becomes increasingly easy to avoid doing so when they look like this. Listed at 6-8/220, the 21 year-old Cuban was signed back in December for a $3M signing bonus and has been absolutely dominant thus far: 63 strikeouts in his first 41.2 innings in the United States, including 56 in 36.2 innings at Low-A and a 1.08 ERA. The best part about Baez is that the scouting reports are arguably more glowing than the stats. My boy Eric Longenhagen said last month that “Baez repeats his delivery surprisingly well for a 6-foot-8, 21-year old and he wields a 94-98 mph fastball and generates crazy extension. He’s just blowing fastballs past hitters right now, but he showed breaking-ball feel in Arizona.” Baseball America ranked him as the Padres’ seventh best prospect this midseason, above Dinelson Lamet, Eric Lauer, and Josh Naylor. Kyle Glaser says that he “sits 94-95 mph and reaches 98 with his fastball out of an athletic delivery and flashes an above-average slider” and their most recent Hot Sheet notes that after his recent 14-strikeout performance, his stock is “quickly rising even higher.” He honestly sounds like he could be a dominant MLB bullpen piece right now, but the Padres will obviously want to take it slow with him (especially since he was slowed this spring by a strained trapezius muscle) and I would imagine that they would want to keep him a starter for as long as possible.
Since I am not a scout, I tend to leave that stuff to the professionals and rely on my math background to scour through statistics and find prospects that need more attention than I believe they are getting. With Siri and Baez, the reports line up with their impressive stats, and while neither made a midseason Top 100 list that I can recall, I expect that to change this winter once offseason lists are finalized. These two seem like prime-time guys to go out and get from unsuspecting owners (or draft, in Baez’s case) before their team lists get published after the postseason. While Siri’s swing-and-miss issues and Baez’ status as a non-hitter both worry me, the pros far outweigh the cons here, and with their stocks both heading in the right direction, I would not be surprised at all to see them as top 50 prospects this time next year.