Short Season Breakout Prospects
Last month, I detailed notable short season assignments (Part 1 and Part 2). Most recently, Scouting the Stat Line – Post Draft Talent detailed several short season breakouts, including Bryce Ball, Francisco Alvarez, Diowill Burgos, Luisangel Acuña, and Alexander Mojica. As a follow up, I will revisit the short season leagues, reviewing the most notable breakout performances. Importantly, I will focus on lesser known short season breakout prospects. As this article only reviews performances for one to two months, please note this bright, flashing warning: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!
Short Season Breakouts
Short season leagues play an abbreviated season, most 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.
Dominican Summer League (DSL)
Misael Urbina, CF, Minnesota Twins. The Twins doled out $2.75 million to sign Urbina last summer. In his debut, he has not disappointed, hitting .304/.405/.512 with 17 stolen bases and an impressive 10-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Known for his hit tool, Urbina has advanced bat-to-ball ability with a line drive stroke. His hitting ability paired with above-to-plus speed should allow him to profile as a table-setting bat. Meanwhile, his power projection is an open question and limited by his smaller (6’0″) frame. Although the whole package lacks the upside of other high-end international signings, Urbina profiles as a potential .280/15/20 bat.
Luis Matos, CF, San Francisco Giants. The Giants have an exciting group of talented, young prospects in short season leagues (several pictured above). Indeed, three high-profile 2018 international signees (Luciano, Pomares, and Matos) are enjoying huge debut seasons. Matos, who signed for $725,000, is taking the DSL by storm, hitting .361/.410/.590 with 6 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Of course, DSL numbers, especially stolen bases, are highly suspect, but he has present plus speed with average raw power. While his frame (5’11”) does not promise much power projection, Matos carries plenty of upside with offensive tools which now project as average-to-above.
Maikol Escotto, 2B/3B, New York Yankees. One of the top performers in the DSL (176 wRC+), Escotto is flashing five-category upside. Signed by the Yankees last summer for $350,000, he has had his way with the DSL, hitting .333/.442/.587 with 7 home runs and 7 stolen bases. Fangraphs describes Escotto as an “[a]bove runner and thrower can play both middle infield spots, hit-over-power type that has limited projection left.”
Others of Note:
- Diowill Burgos, RF/LF, St. Louis Cardinals (.352/.457/.669, 9 HR, 5 SB, between DSL and GCL)
- Alexander Mojica, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates (.354/.478/.591, 7 HR)
- Luisangel Acuña, SS/2B, Texas Rangers (.371/.461/.472, 14 SB)
- Benyamin Bailey, LF/RF, Chicago White Sox (.356/.511/.470, 23.3 BB%)
Rookie Leagues: Arizona (AZL) & Gulf Coast (GCL)
Aaron Bracho, 2B, Cleveland Indians. Bracho was the headliner of the Indians’ 2017 international class, which included George Valera and Brayan Rocchio. Unfortunately, he failed to debut in short season ball last year due to a broken arm. This year, he is making up for lost time, hitting .305/.412/.642 with 6 home runs and 4 stolen bases, including a red hot July (.373/.464/.776). A switch-hitter, Bracho has plus bat speed, promising bat-to-ball skills, a leveraged swing, and average-to-above pull-side power. Most notably, he has exhibited superb plate discipline (19-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio).
Aaron Bracho ayer de 5-3, le faltó el doble para la escalera. Ha pegado jonrón en tres de sus últimos 4 juegos. Cómodo. Lleva 5 jonrones en la temporada, 3ro en la Arizona League. ?️@indiansPro. Prospecto de Tiburones. pic.twitter.com/pUjEu8gQoe
— José G. (@JoseGasspar) July 13, 2019
Jairo Pomares, RF, San Francisco Giants. The Giants signed Pomares last summer for $975,000. As a Cuban defector, he is not a traditional international free agent, and he is a year older than his counterparts Luciano and Matos. While Luciano, Canario, and Toribio have dominated for Giants Orange, Pomares has starred for Giants Black (.382/.420/.618). A left-handed hitter, he uses the whole field (30/33/37) and flashes better raw power than most expected. Already a corner outfielder, Pomares will likely need his potential above-average hit tool to carry his bat.
Heriberto Hernandez, 1B, Texas Rangers. Last year, Hernandez finished second to Malcom Nunez in hitting in the DSL (200 wRC+, .292/.464/.635, 12 HR). Since arriving stateside, he has continued his torrid pace (.375/.475/.634). While he can hit, he has a stocky build with limited athleticism, receiving playing time at first base, catcher, and right field. As a right-handed hitter and thrower, Hernandez has a high bar to cross at the plate to profile at first base.
Jose Peroza, 3B, New York Mets. The Mets signed Peroza for $280,000 during the 2016/2017 international signing period. Since then, his progress stalled in the GCL last year, limited to just 24 games due to injury. Still just 19 years old, he has rebounded in a big way, hitting .328/.389/.766 with 6 home runs in just 16 games this year. On July 22nd, the Mets promoted Peroza to the New York-Penn League, where he has already hit another home run. With a strong, 6’1″ and 214-pound frame, he possesses above-average raw power to all fields.
Just up from the GCL, 19-year-old Jose Peroza's first hit with the Brooklyn Cyclones is a 376-foot home run to left field.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 24, 2019
Others of Note:
- Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants (.336/.444/.664, 9 HR, 7 SB)
- CJ Abrams, SS, San Diego Padres (.405/.444/.656, 3 HR, 13 SB)
- Luis Toribio, 3B, San Francisco Giants (.315/.446/.495)
- Wilderd Patino, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks (.365/.414/.482, 9 SB)
- Darryl Collins, LF, Kansas City Royals (.371/.445/.505)
- Pedro Martinez, SS/2B, Chicago Cubs (.368/.433/.526, 9 SB, between AZL and NWL)
- Alexander Ovalles, RF, Texas Rangers (.355/.418/.587, between AZL and NWL)
- DJ Gladney, 3B, Chicago White Sox (.319/.356/.563, 8 HR, 50-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio)
- Michael Harris, CF, Atlanta Braves (.382/.440/.529)
- Johan Lopez, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (.363/.455/.538, 25 SB, 15-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio, between DSL and GCL)
Rookie Advanced Leagues: Pioneer (PIO) & Appalachian (APP)
Jeremiah Jackson, 2B/SS, Los Angeles Angels. A second round pick in the 2018 draft, Jackson made quick work of the AZL (.317/.374/.598) in his debut before hitting a wall in the PIO (.198/.260/.396). In his second go-round in the PIO this year, he has found far more success, easily leading the league in home runs (14). A wiry and projectable athlete, Jackson already flashes significant, all-fields raw power for a player with such a slight frame (6’0″ and 165 pounds). However, he continues to suffer far too much swing-and-miss (35.5% strikeouts and 17% swinging strikes).
— Jared Tims (@Jared_Tims) July 24, 2019
Liover Peguero, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks signed Peguero for $475,000 in 2017, and aggressively promoted him stateside last year. At just 18 years old, he is one of the youngest players in the PIO and yet among the league leaders in hitting (.368/.416/.520). A natural shortstop, Peguero should be able to stick at the position while providing intriguing offensive upside. At the plate, he utilizes the whole field with a level (59.3% GB), quick, line drive stroke, burgeoning power, and plus speed (8-for-9 SB). Interestingly, Fangraphs noted comparisons to a young Jean Segura.
— Missoula Osprey (@ospreybaseball) July 23, 2019
Andy Pages, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers. A late international signing ($300K) in 2017, Pages has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers. Last year, he performed well between the DSL and AZL (.229/.392/.464, 10 HR), and, this year, he is obliterating the PIO (.290/.408/.629, 10 HR). Pages boasts a power-over-hit profile, with a leveraged swing (48.2% FB) and significant raw power. The PIO has some hitter-friendly parks, so much of his performance likely is noise. Regardless, Pages looks like a potential 45-hit, 55-power bat, and his production at just 18 years old is still impressive.
Spencer Steer, SS/3B, Minnesota Twins. A third round pick in the 2019 draft ($575K), Steer is off to a fast start between the APP and Low-A (.336/.435/.516). This hitting ability is nothing new, as he impressed in the Cape Cod League (.304/.351/.481) and during his junior year for Oregon (.349/.456/.502). While Steer lacks a ton of power or speed, he is a high-contact, line drive hitter with a potential above-average hit tool.
Others of Note:
- Miguel Hiraldo, 2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays (.305/.359/.481, 4 HR, 6 SB)
- Eddy Diaz, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies (.336/.370/.450, 16 SB)
- Ryder Green, LF/RF, New York Yankees (.284/.356/.515, 7 HR, 5 SB)
- Bryce Ball, 1B, Atlanta Braves (.325/.411/.725, 13 HR)
- Christian Koss, 3B/SS, Colorado Rockies (.393/.486/.708)
Class A Short Season Leagues: Northwest (NWL) & New York-Penn (NYP)
Alexander Canario, CF, San Francisco Giants. A little-known international signing in 2016, Canario immediately jumped out in his 2017 debut, flashing elite bat speed and tantalizing upside from his undeveloped, wiry frame. Last year, he held his own in the AZL (119 wRC+), but, without an advanced rookie affiliate, he returned to the AZL to start this year. There, he was unstoppable, going 17-for-43 with 7 home runs over just 10 games. As such, the Giants quickly promoted Canario to the NWL, where he has settled in after a slow start (.305/.389/.542 over his last 17 games). It appears his production is finally catching up to his tools, which include potential plus raw power generated by his quick stroke. Notably, he is tapping into his power with a far more leveraged swing (15% more fly balls).
— Roger Munter (@rog61) July 24, 2019
Gilberto Jimenez, CF, Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox aggressively assigned Jimenez to the NYP this year in his stateside debut. Thus far, he has not disappointed (.358/.396/.439), showcasing his game-changing, double-plus (or better) speed. An old-school, slap-and-dash hitter, he hits tons of ground balls (68.3%) and opposite field contact (43.4%). With a slight, 5’11” frame, Jimenez lacks little present power, and his power plays down even further due to his approach. If he can muster double-digit home run pop, he has sizable upside as a potential .280/10/30 performer.
Franklin Labour, RF, San Francisco Giants. Labour, not Kristian Robinson, is the resounding home run leader (14) and hitter (190 wRC+) in the NWL. A former international signing in 2015, he has slowly matriculated through rookie ball, and he is already 21 years old. Now, he is hitting in the middle of a lineup featuring Canario, Hunter Bishop (2019 1st), and Logan Wyatt (2019 2nd). Labour has legitimate, plus raw power, with a solid, all-fields approach. It is only a matter of time before he receives a promotion to Low-A.
— Roger Munter (@rog61) July 17, 2019
Others of Note:
- Kristian Robinson, CF/RF, Arizona Diamondbacks (.322/.396/.584, 9 HR, 8 SB)
- George Valera, CF/RF, Cleveland Indians (.252/.364/.475, 8 HR, 6 SB)
- Ethan Hankins, RHP, Cleveland Indians (1.26/0.98, 35 2/3 IP, 37/15 K/BB)
- Greg Jones, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (.328/.405/.474, 12 SB)
- Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (2.27/1.12, 35 2/3 IP, 33/15 K/BB)
- Luis Frias, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (2.09/1.06, 38 2/3 IP, 62/14 K/BB)
- Yoendrys Gomez, RHP, New York Yankees (2.78/1.23, 35 2/3 IP, 32/11 K/BB, between APP and Low-A)
- Ezequiel Duran, 2B, New York Yankees (.277/.366/.504, 7 HR, 5 SB)
- Kohl Franklin, RHP, Chicago Cubs (1.52/1.15, 29 2/3 IP, 36/11 K/BB)
- Juan Aparicio, C/1B, Philadelphia Phillies (.374/.446/.570)
- Johan Rojas, CF, Philadelphia Phillies (.288/.358/.514, between GCL and NYP)
- Ricky Vanasco, RHP, Texas Rangers (2.27/1.14, 31 2/3 IP, 48/17 K/BB)
- Zack Trageton, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (2.01/0.79, 40 1/3 IP, 41/1 K/BB, between NYP and Low-A)