Monthly Prospect Update: Outfielders, July 2019
Each month, The Dynasty Guru will provide an outfield prospect update, including notable performances (good and bad), assignments, promotions, trades, injuries, and suspensions. Most importantly, the monthly update will examine prospects with increasing and decreasing fantasy value, from the elite to the obscure.
At the beginning of July, TDG reviewed June performances for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers. Since then, several notable prospects exceeded rookie limits and others arrived in the majors. As this update only reviews performances for one month, please note this bright, flashing warning: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!
A Note on Minor League Context
Before delving into prospect performances, I want to emphasis taking performances within league context. For example, the Pacific Coast League has 12 of 16 teams with an OPS of .800+ and a league average slash of .277/.354/.479! Indeed, Las Vegas is hitting .304/.376/.536 as a team! Dustin Fowler (.279/.334/.507, 98 wRC+) and Sam Hilliard (.251/.316/.537, 96 wRC+) are performing below league average. The difference between the Pacific Coast League and the Florida State League in league OPS is 167 points. The following table shows league OPS through August 1st.
|Triple-A||Pacific Coast (PCL)||0.833|
|High-A||Florida State (FSL)||0.666|
|Low-A||South Atlantic (SAL)||0.681|
|Class A Short Season||New York-Penn (NYP)||0.655|
|Class A Short Season||Northwest (NWL)||0.691|
|Rookie Advanced||Pioneer (PIO)||0.768|
|Rookie Advanced||Appalachian (APP)||0.714|
|Rookie||Gulf Coast (GCL)||0.672|
|Rookie Foreign||Dominican Summer (DSL)||0.697|
In addition, there are substantial differences within each league, as certain ballparks play as bandboxes. In June, Baseball America updated minor league park factors, noting the best run scoring parks are Reno (ARI/AAA), Alburquerque (COL/AAA), Las Vegas (OAK/AAA), Charlotte (CHW/AAA), and Lancaster (COL/A+). Other notable hitter-friendly parks include El Paso (SD/AAA), Salt Lake (LAA/AAA), Louisville (CIN/AAA), Oklahoma City (LAD/AAA), and Asheville (COL/A). Meanwhile, the worst run scoring parks are Jacksonville (MIA/AA), Wilmington (KC/A+), Lakeland (DET/A+), Mississippi (ATL/AA), and Jupiter (MIA/A+). Of course, the quality of hitting and pitching do influence these numbers, including league OPS (above). However, you must consider league context when evaluating player performance.
Notable Outfield Prospect Performances
The Rising Outfield Prospect
Kristian Robinson, Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks signed Robinson for $2.5 million from the 2017 international class. In his professional debut last year, he received an aggressive, stateside assignment to the AZL and promotion to the PIO at just 17 years old (.279/.363/.428). Although he did not receive a full-season assignment to begin this year, he is doing his best to squeeze a full season worth of production into a couple months. In July, Robinson flashed his elite power/speed combination, hitting .320/.404/.630 with 8 home runs and 9 stolen bases. Still just 18 years old, he has offensive upside to match the likes of Luis Robert. Robinson’s strong, wiry, and broad-shouldered 6’3″ frame generates easy plus raw power while retaining his plus speed. Meanwhile, he has exhibited a patient approach with reasonable swing-and-miss. On August 3rd, the Diamondbacks finally promoted him to the MID.
Note, the following video likely does not accurately state the distance of Robinson’s home run, but it was still a bomb!
107 MPH exit velocity.
32 degree launch angle.
We are running out of ways to describe Kristian Robinson. He hits his 9th HR of the season to put us up 3-1 in the 7th! Wow. Just wow.#AllHoppedUp pic.twitter.com/TRYPisrxVL
— Hillsboro Hops (@HillsboroHops) July 25, 2019
The Graduated Outfield Prospect
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros. This has been a truly remarkable season for Alvarez, who hit .343/.443/.742 with 23 home runs in the PCL before nearly duplicating that performance in the majors (.326/.413/.674). In fact, he has the highest OBA (.459) and the 6th highest xwOBA (.413) in the majors as of publication! Alvarez has enormous, double-plus raw power, which he has consistently tapped into this year. What makes him special is his above-to-plus hitting ability, expert use of the whole field, and feel for barreling the ball. During the July update to the Top 600 Dynasty League Players, Alvarez ranked 53rd overall. Nearly a month later, this ranking appears light.
Yordan. Alvarez. Wow.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 20, 2019
Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres. The trade deadline move of Franmil Reyes should open up an opportunity for more regular playing time for Naylor. In August, he has started in 4 of 6 games, and it appears he may be part of a 3-player rotation with Wil Myers and Manuel Margot. Meanwhile, Naylor is starting to settle in at the plate, with more hard contact, including his first home run, and less swing-and-miss. It is difficult to remember he just turned 22 years old on June 22nd. As such, an adjustment period is very likely. Despite double-plus raw power, Naylor has favored a disciplined, contact-oriented versus a damage-based approach, and his 3.7° launch angle is evidence of his level swing. Still, there is upside here for a potential .280/25+ slugger.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 19, 2019
Others of Note:
- Pablo Reyes, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Major League Outfield Prospect
Trent Grisham, Milwaukee Brewers. After years of mediocrity (.228/.347/.344, 1,236 PA), Grisham has finally made good on his draft pedigree (2015 15th overall). Since late May, he has been on an absolute tear, hitting .369/.477/.813 with 21 home runs over 52 games between the SOU and the PCL. While much of his production came in the hitter-friendly PCL, his home park (San Antonio) has the least amount of runs/game in the league. All signs point to this being a legitimate breakout for Grisham, who is making far more hard contact while elevating and pulling the ball more. Since July 2018, his estimated fly ball distance has steadily increased (below). With his newfound power stroke, Grisham now combines his elite plate discipline and patience (15.2% BB) with average-to-above power and some speed. On August 1st, the Brewers promoted Grisham to the majors.
Adam Haseley, Philadelphia Phillies. The eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft, Haseley made his short-lived major league debut in early June before landing on the injured list. Since his return to the majors after the All-Star break, he has been an everyday player and performed well (.293/.329/.480, 110 wRC+). Although he has yet to steal a bag, Haseley has flashed above-average speed. With some speed, some pop, and a line drive stroke, he has the makings of a solid fantasy contributor. With that said, he has overperformed (.244 xBA, .365 xSLG) and adopted a far more aggressive approach than he had throughout his career (50.4% swing). Expect some struggles to come.
Against a divisional foe, #Phillies No. 4 prospect Adam Haseley launched his longest #MLB homer to date: a projected 411-foot solo shot to center with a 104.9 mph exit velocity.@Phillies updated Top 30: https://t.co/Xf2FfXvsk0 pic.twitter.com/WOH0kQ4W9W
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 28, 2019
Others of Note:
- Lane Thomas, St. Louis Cardinals
- Aristides Aquino, Cincinnati Reds
- Scott Heineman, Texas Rangers
The Good Top 200 Outfield Prospect
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox. After the Futures Game, Robert received a promotion to Triple-A, and he did not skip a beat, hitting .351/.420/.714 with 6 home runs and 5 stolen bases over his first 18 games. Through July, he already has a 22/34 season! All year, Robert has exhibited consistent power and hard contact to all fields. Most importantly, he has been trending in the right direction in both strikeout and walk rates. With that said, he has suffered a concerning amount of swinging strikes (17%) and his aggressive approach likely will lead to some struggles initially in the majors. Recently, Kiley McDaniel noted these concerns are keeping Robert from being an elite prospect and brought up Lewis Brinson as a cautionary tale.
He's a fast, fast man! 🏃♂️
Luis Robert takes second for his fifth stolen base with the Knights and 33rd overall this season!
Knights and PawSox are tied 1-1 after 1. pic.twitter.com/PmjXZXXRSK
— Charlotte Knights (@KnightsBaseball) July 27, 2019
Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals. In a breakout season (which I, among many others, predicted), Carlson had his best month in July (.301/.389/.602, 7 HR). His performance as one of the top hitters in the TEX at just 20 years old is comparable to fellow switch-hitting outfielder Drew Waters. Freed from the pitcher-friendly FSL, he has tapped into his plus raw power while making consistent hard contact (26.8% LD). Now, it is reasonable to project Carlson to develop an average-to-above hit tool despite some swing-and-miss (12.1% SwStr). Meanwhile, he has also stolen 13 bases (on 20 attempts), but he only has average speed and, while he may total double-digit steals early in his career, it is not really a part of his long-term fantasy outlook.
Others of Note:
- Drew Waters, Atlanta Braves (SOU: .327/.374/.439)
- Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners (CAL: .284/.384/.500)
- Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers (GCL/NYP: .323/.398/.417)
- Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants (CAL: .323/.380/.505)
- Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks (MID: .352/.426/.523, promoted to CAL)
- Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks (AZL: .290/.457/.464, 8 SB)
- Yusniel Diaz, Baltimore Orioles (EAS: .299/.353/.514)
- Julio Pablo Martinez, Texas Rangers (CAR: .283/.340/.500, 10 SB)
- Travis Swaggerty, Pittsburgh Pirates (FSL: .319/.375/.447)
- Daniel Johnson, Cleveland Indians (INT: .333/.379/.467)
The Good Non-Top 200 Outfield Prospect
DJ Peters, Los Angeles Dodgers. The big, 6’6″ slugger was having a quiet season in the TEX (.241/.331/.422), then he received a promotion to the PCL . . . . A player with Peters’ mammoth power in the PCL is a match made in heaven. Sure enough, he has laid waste to the PCL since his arrival, hitting .342/.458/.728 with 12 home runs over his first 30 games. Of course, Peters still suffers substantial swing-and-miss given his long levers (29.2% K, 16.6% SwStr), but it has been far more manageable in the PCL. Long-term, he has a potential three-true-outcomes profile in right field.
Excuse us while we watch this DJ Peters GIF for the next 45 minutes 💪 pic.twitter.com/8XVtGaMLkW
— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) July 29, 2019
Jaylin Davis, San Francisco Giants. Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina (where I currently live), Davis attended Appalachian State (at the same time my wife attended the Master’s program there). Obviously, I have to profile him, especially after he obliterated the PCL in July (.368/.442/.755, 11 HR). This hot streak lead the Giants to quietly acquire Davis from the Twins at the trade deadline as part of a package for Sam Dyson. Do not overlook this move, as the Giants continue to audition outfielders. Davis has plus raw power to all fields, but has always had elevated swing-and-miss (25.9% K, 15% SwStr). Further, he likely is a left fielder long-term given his weak arm. Regardless, Davis could surprise at the plate with a major league look, and there is opportunity with the Giants.
Jaylin Davis continues to mash. Here's his 14th home run in just 38 Triple-A games! pic.twitter.com/YaEuG9y3aS
— Rochester Red Wings (@RocRedWings) July 28, 2019
Others of Note:
- Misael Urbina, Minnesota Twins (DSL: .306/.427/.548, 8 SB)
- Gilberto Jimenez, Boston Red Sox (NYP: .347/.387/.436)
- Jairo Pomares, San Francisco Giants (AZL: .380/.419/.633)
- Randy Arozarena, St. Louis Cardinals (PCL: .378/.455/.592)
- Edward Olivares, San Diego Padres (TEX: .356/.407/.584)
- Chris Shaw, San Francisco Giants (PCL: .330/.369/.649, 7 HR)
- Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners (TEX: .337/.394/.547)
- Gilberto Celestino, Minnesota Twins (MID: .369/.430/.563)
- Luis Matos, San Francisco Giants (DSL: .404/.458/.548, 9 SB)
- Franklin Labour, San Francisco Giants (NWL: .314/.395/.667, 9 HR)
- Jared Oliva, Pittsburgh Pirates (EAS: .388/.443/.544, 13 SB)
- Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies (PCL: .263/.339/.576, 8 HR)
- Dominic Fletcher, Arizona Diamondbacks (MID: .333/.398/.516)
- Canaan Smith, New York Yankees (SAL: 393/.509/.517)
- Cal Stevenson, Houston Astros (FSL: .372/.455/.465)
- Darryl Collins, Kansas City Royals (AZL: .352/.452/.479)
- Junior Perez, San Diego Padres (AZL: .310/.386/.620, 6 HR, 8 SB)
The Bad Outfield Prospect
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros. Not only did Tucker struggle in July (.194/.333/.347), but he also was not traded. As such, he presumably remains blocked by Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick through 2020. Further, the PCL has buoyed his performance (110 wRC+, .263/.346/.557, 28 HR), and he has suffered plenty of swinging strikes (14.8%). Tucker still has a promising future, with plus power, a line drive stroke, and plus base running instincts despite average-to-below speed
Jesus Sanchez, Miami Marlins. The Rays promoted Sanchez to the INT this month despite a rough final 19 games in the SOU (.182/.214/.212), and his struggles continued in Triple-A (.206/.282/.317). At the trade deadline, the Rays sent him to the Marlins as part of a package for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards. The PCL likely will invigorate his bat, and a change of scenery could be a good thing, but Sanchez now moves to a difficult major league home park.
Others of Note:
- Cristian Pache, Atlanta Braves (SOU: .221/.295/.326, 32 K)
- Taylor Trammell, San Diego Padres (SOU: .216/.296/.341)
- Estevan Florial, New York Yankees (FSL: .250/.283/.360, 38 K)
- Daz Cameron, Detroit Tigers (INT: .193/.343/.301)
- Antonio Cabello, New York Yankees (APP: .214/.289/.340, 35 K)
- Will Benson, Cleveland Indians (CAR: .184/.260/.299, 34 K)
- Lolo Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates (FSL: .164/.230/.194)
Additional Outfield Prospect Notes
- The Marlins assigned 2019 fourth overall pick J.J. Bleday straight to the FSL.
- Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins underwent wrist surgery in mid-July (out 4-6 weeks).
- Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox has begun to settle in at Double-A, going 18-for-42 to finish the month.
- The Padres demoted Tirso Ornelas from High-A all the way to the AZL, where he is still struggling (10-for-53).
- Kyle Isbel, Kansas City Royals is just 6-for-51 in High-A since his return from injury.
- Griffin Conine, Toronto Blue Jays has been an all-or-nothing hitter since his return from suspension, hitting with tons of power (7 HR in July) and swing-and-miss (44 K in July).
- The Phillies released Dylan Cozens.
- Lazaro Armenteros Strikeout Watch: 48 in July, 183 total
- Notable July trades: Taylor Trammell (CIN to SD); Jameson Hannah (OAK to CIN); Niko Hulsizer (LAD to TB); Cal Stevenson (TOR to HOU); Travis Demeritte (ATL to DET); Joe McCarthy (TB to SF); Ruben Cardenas (CLE to TB)
- Notable July promotions: Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels (SOU to PCL); Hunter Bishop, San Francisco Giants (AZL to NWL); Trevor Larnach, Minnesota Twins (FSL to SOU); Kameron Misner, Miami Marlins (GCL to MID); Victor Victor Mesa, Miami Marlins (FSL to SOU); Connor Scott, Miami Marlins (MID to FSL); Trejyn Fletcher, St. Louis Cardinals (GCL to APP); Franklin Labour, San Francisco Giants (NWL to SAL); Zach Watson, Baltimore Orioles (NYP to SAL); Trey Harris, Atlanta Braves (FSL to SOU)
- Notable July injury returns: Bubba Thompson, Texas Rangers; Corey Ray, Milwaukee Brewers; Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays
- Notable July injuries: Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins (groin); Jake McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks