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Notable Short Season Prospects

June marks an exciting time for those who follow prospects! While the MLB Draft draws a lot of attention, short season leagues are just getting underway. As such, although the minor league season passed its halfway point, it is just starting for numerous intriguing prospects.

Short season leagues play an abbreviated season, starting in mid-June to transition draftees into professional baseball. All told, there are seven short season leagues, including three rookie leagues, two rookie advanced leagues, and two Low-A short season leagues. Over the last week, six short season leagues began game action, with the Dominican Summer League starting three weeks ago.

This article will examine the top prospects to follow in each short season league, including several top 240 prospects.

Rookie Leagues

The Dominican Summer League started game action on June 2nd, and several prospects are already moving on to Rookie Advanced or Class A Short Season Leagues. Meanwhile, the Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues just started this past week. Home to countless promising teenagers, including most high-profile 2017 international signees, and many 2018 MLB draftees, these rookie leagues likely will produce a handful of MLB stars.

Dominican Summer League (DSL)

Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners (signed for $1.75 million in 2017). A prototypical right field prospect, Rodriguez has a projectable 6’3″ frame with plus raw power potential and a feel to hit.

Larry Ernesto, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (signed for $1.8 million in 2017). Like Rodriguez, Ernesto has a projectable 6’2″ frame with above-average power, but with a less refined hit tool. Unlike Rodriguez, he is a switch-hitter with above-average speed.

Danny Diaz, 3B, Boston Red Sox (signed for $1.6 million in 2017). Arguably, Diaz has the most present raw power of any of the 2017 J-2 signees. Indeed, he already has 4 home runs in just 13 games. Further, he projects for even more power and a potential average or better bat at maturity.

Carlos Rodriguez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (signed for $1.35 million in 2017). Although Rodriguez received a smaller bonus than Ernesto, most regard him as the better prospect. With an above-average hit tool and plus speed, he profiles as a top-of-the-order bat. On the downside, Rodriguez has just nominal power and a slight 5’10” frame.

Miguel Hiraldo, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (signed for $750,000 in 2017). A promising bat, Hiraldo could hit and hit for power. With limited athleticism, he likely will move to third base long-term.

Others of Note:

  • Adrian Hernandez, OF, New York Mets
  • Ronny Rojas, 2B/3B, New York Yankees
  • Antoni Flores, SS, Boston Red Sox
  • Eddy Diaz, SS/2B, Colorado Rockies
  • Ynmanol Marinez, SS/3B, Miami Marlins
  • Juan Querecuto, SS, Seattle Mariners
  • Alvaro Gonzalez, SS, Detroit Tigers

Arizona League

Xavier Edwards, SS, San Diego Padres (38th overall pick in 2018 MLB draft, signed for $2.6 million). Arguably the fastest player in the 2018 MLB Draft, Edwards carries high upside. However, opinions vary regarding his hit tool, and his slight 5’10” frame only generates modest power.

Kristian Robinson, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (signed for $2.5 million in 2017). Built like a NFL wide receiver, Robinson has potential plus power and speed. As his hit tool continues to develop, Robinson should quickly appear on (and rise up) prospects rankings.

Trent Deveaux, OF, Los Angeles Angels (signed for $1.2 million in 2017). Like Edwards, Deveaux has blazing, double-plus speed. In addition, he is more projectable, with a thin 6’2″ frame, adding two inches in the last year.

George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians (signed for $1.3 million in 2017). Possibly the most advanced bat in the 2017 J2 class, Valera exhibits excellent plate discipline with a smooth left-handed swing.

Alexander Canario, OF, San Francisco Giants (signed for $60,000 in 2016). A lesser known prospect from the 2016 J2 class, Canario broke onto the scene in the DSL last year, displaying a polished hit tool. Already with good raw power, he figures to add even more as he fill outs.

Others of Note:

  • Jeremiah Jackson, SS, Los Angeles Angeles
  • Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Micah Bello, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Alexander Campos, SS, Oakland Athletics
  • Quentin Holmes, OF, Cleveland Indians
  • Jordy Barley, SS, San Diego Padres

Gulf Coast League

Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (3rd overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $5.85 million). The premier power bat of the MLB Draft, Bohm possesses 70-grade raw power and a strong 6’5″ frame. In addition to the power, he is an all-around hitter, with solid plate discipline and a refined approach.

Jarred Kelenic, OF, New York Mets (6th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $4.5 million). A potential plus hitter, Kelenic also flashes plus raw power, with big exit velocities, plus speed, a plus arm, and impressive work ethic. In an ideal world, he could develop four plus tools!

Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (16th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $3.5 million). A tall and lean left-handed pitcher, Liberatore is projectable with a deep and above-average repertoire. Further, he exhibits advanced pitchability, mound presence, and command for a high school pitcher.

Freudis Nova, SS, Houston Astros (signed for $1.2 million in 2016). With plus bat speed and a leveraged swing, Nova projects to hit for significant power. Further, he exhibits promising discipline, a line drive stroke, and plus speed.

Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets (signed for $2.1 million in 2017). With tons of projection remaining, the 6’3″ shortstop could develop any number of ways. Mauricio already has a good feel to hit with burgeoning power.

Others of Note:

  • Triston Casas, 3B/1B, Boston Red Sox
  • Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Nick Schnell, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Raimfer Salinas, OF, New York Yankees
  • Anthony Seigler, C, New York Yankees
  • Ezequiel Duran, 2B, New York Yankees
  • Antonio Cabello, OF, New York Yankees
  • Roberto Chirinos, SS, New York Yankees
  • Jelfrey Marte, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Joe Perez, 3B, Houston Astros
  • Luis Garcia, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

Rookie Advanced Leagues

Loaded with numerous college prospects, the Pioneer and Appalachian Leagues are a step up from standard rookie leagues.

Pioneer League

Kevin Maitan, SS, Los Angeles Angels (signed for $2.2 million in 2017). A long-time favorite of international scouts, Maitan initially signed with the Braves in 2016 for $4.25 million. Unfortunately, last year did not go well for Maitan, as he arrived overweight and hit just .241/.290/.340. Then, following the season, he became a free agent as part of the Braves’ punishment for violating international signing rules. Regardless, Maitan still possesses immense upside. A switch-hitter with huge raw power and bat speed from both sides of the plate, he could develop into a plus hitter with plus power.

Others of Note:

  • Ryan Rolison, LHP, Colorado Rockies
  • Jean Carmona, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Bren Spillane, OF/1B, Cincinnati Reds

Appalachian League

Nolan Gorman, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (19th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $3.2 million). Enormous 70-grade raw power is Gorman’s calling card. While his hit tool and athleticism draw criticism, he has good plate discipline with plus bat speed that generates big exit velocities.

Shane Baz, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (12th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, signed for $4.1 million). Baz has a deep and electric repertoire, with five potential average to plus pitches. However, his poor command and violent, erratic delivery limit his effectiveness.

Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (signed for $3.83 million in 2017). A switch-hitter, Franco displays a quick bat from both sides of the plate, creating loft and hard all-fields contact. Long-term, he could develop above-average hit and power tools with above-average or plus speed.

Luis Medina, RHP, New York Yankees (signed for $280,000 in 2015). Medina has an explosive arm, generating a 95-102 mph fastball. In addition, he flashes a plus power curveball and a tumbling changeup. If Medina figures out how to control his exciting stuff, he has a sky-high ceiling.

Mark Vientos, SS, New York Mets (59th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, signed for $1.5 million). With a highly projectable 6’4” frame, Vientos could develop into a plus hitter with plus power.

Others of Note:

  • Yunior Severino, 2B, Minnesota Twins
  • Everson Pereira, OF, New York Yankees
  • Eric Pardinho, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Steven Jennings, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Sherten Apostel, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Conner Uselton, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Ryan Jeffers, C, Minnesota Twins
  • Hagen Danner, C, Toronto Blue Jays

Class A Short Season Leagues

On the verge of full season ball, Class A Short Season leagues often contain advanced prospects and elite college performers.

Northwest League

Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, Texas Rangers (signed for $2.8 million in March 2018). A heralded signing this spring, Martinez is an advanced bat with solid power and plus speed. In early June, he got his feet wet in the DSL (.409/.606/.682) and should quickly move through the low minors.

Hans Crouse, RHP, Texas Rangers (66th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, signed for $1.45 million). Crouse has a dynamic, upper-90s fastball and a wipeout slurve. Both his changeup and command need lots of work, but his arm is special.

Josh Stowers, OF, Seattle Mariners (54th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $1.1 million). Closing his college career on fire, Stowers vaulted himself into Day 1 of the 2018 MLB Draft. Possessing an intriguing blend of speed (36-for-43 in stolen bases) and power (.223 ISO), he is a solid flier in deeper leagues.

Others of Note:

  • Andy Yerzy, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Mason House, OF, San Diego Padres
  • Andres Munoz, RHP, San Diego Padres
  • Matt Tabor, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Fernando Kelli, OF, Chicago Cubs

New York-Penn League

Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (10th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $4.4 million). A patient hitter with plus raw power and speed, Swaggerty possesses five-tool upside.

Jeremy Eierman, SS, Oakland Athletics (70th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $1.23 million). Despite a questionable hit tool, Eierman still exhibits excellent bat speed and high exit velocities. Meanwhile, Eierman is an aggressive, instinctual base runner, making the most of his above-average speed.

Seth Beer, OF, Houston Astros (28th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, signed for $2.25 million). A patient hitter with plus power, Beer is a long-time elite college performer. A poor athlete, his bat will have to carry him to the majors.

Matt Sauer, RHP, New York Yankees (54th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, signed for $2.5 million). Already touching the mid-90s with his fastball, Sauer could add even more velocity as he fills out his projectable 6’4″ frame.

Gilberto Celestino, OF, Houston Astros (signed for $2.5 million in 2015). Unable to wait for short season leagues to start, the Astros briefly assigned Celestino to Double-A. A promising hitter with plus speed, he has yet to develop much power.

Others of Note:

  • Delvin Perez, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Adam Hall, SS, Baltimore Orioles
  • Tyler Freeman, SS, Cleveland Indians
  • Wadye Ynfante, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Canaan Smith, OF, New York Yankees
  • Michael Mercado, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Nolan Martinez, RHP, New York Yankees
  • Tanner Dodson, OF/RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Gage Canning, OF, Washington Nationals
  • Brayan Gonzalez, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Christopher Torres, SS, Miami Marlins
  • Brett Kinneman, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Sam McMillan, C, Detroit Tigers

Missing in Action Prospects

In addition to unsigned 2018 MLB draftees, the following notable prospects are yet to receive a short season assignment.

  • Chris Seise, SS, Texas Rangers
  • Sam Carlson, RHP, Seattle Mariners
  • Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants
  • Connor Scott, OF, Miami Marlins
  • Cole Winn, RHP, Texas Rangers
  • Kyler Murray, OF, Oakland Athletics
  • Logan Gilbert, RHP, Seattle Mariners
  • Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

Please feel free to post comments, questions, or your own observations!

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The Author

Jesse Roche

Jesse Roche

Jesse is an attorney, currently residing in Greensboro. An avid fantasy baseball player, Jesse has experience in a diverse range of leagues, including head-to-head, rotisserie, points, and simulation. Jesse is a five-time website-wide champion at Benchwarmer Baseball and a repeat champion of a dynasty league with John Sickels at Minor League Ball. With a specific interest in baseball prospects, Jesse plans to provide in-depth analysis of up-and-coming stars accessible to all league sizes and types.

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