Digging for Diamonds 2022: Round 1
The name of the game is getting in early. Right? Is there a better feeling than finding a player you believe in, and watching him succeed? I know it’s the part of playing dynasty baseball I enjoy most, and I’d wager that most of you enjoy it as well. So, welcome back to Digging for Diamonds. An article series based entirely on finding prospects outside the TDG’s top 100 prospects that we present for your satisfaction. We think they’re worthy of your hearts and minds, and spill ours to share about their potential. However, we do need something in return.
Here’s the deal. We’re looking for this season’s best under-the-radar prospect, but we want your help. Each week a few writers will present you with a case as to why a particular player needs your attention. Your job is to vote on which prospect has piqued your interest the most.
You get a bunch of prospect info, we get some bragging rights. Deal? Make sure to vote in the poll at the end of the article. We’ll announce who moves on in the next article.
Now, let’s dig in.
Masyn Winn, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Age: 20, Highest Level: High-A
Analysis by Andrew Jurewicz
Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, and Mathew Liberatore take most of the spotlight when it comes to prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals organization but don’t forget about Masyn Winn! Winn squeezed into TDG’s top 200 prospect list coming in at 196 overall and is considered one of the best pure athletes in the system. The 2020 second round pick brings exciting tools of premium speed and a cannon for an arm from the shortstop position; regularly getting clocked with in-game throws of 92 mph or better. Drafted as a two way player the arm talent easily plays up at shortstop and it looks like the Cardinals plan is to keep him there for the foreseeable future.
He got his professional career off to a good start with the Class-A Palm Beach Cardinals for 61 games slashing .262/.370/.388 with a 14.1/21.1 BB/K%; adding 50 runs scored and 16 stolen bases good for a 112 wRC+. Earning a promotion to High-A in late July, Winn struggled to find the same success for the last 36 games to close out the year with a .209/.240/.304 and BB/K% ratios headed in the wrong directions. He still was able to swipe another 16 bases but only having a wRC+ of 48 to show for it.
Winn reported early this year to the Cardinals spring training complex in Florida looking to get a jump on preparation for the 2022 season. An area of focus is to work on his approach at the plate as well as pitch recognition in an effort towards making better swing decisions. He got into a habit last year of chasing pitches high in the zone with an uppercut like swing thinking that’s what he needed to do to drive those balls. If he’s able to level out his swing more consistent solid contact should follow and with that opportunities to utilize his speed on the base paths.
For an excellent athlete with great speed and arm, Winn is in the right organization to continue to develop as a hitter if he’s going to stick at the shortstop position. If these early investments for getting better at the plate pay off I can see him getting a lot more attention from the fantasy baseball community and perhaps worth a stash in leagues with deeper rosters.
Tommy Romero, Starting Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 24, Highest Level: Triple-A
Analysis by Ross Jensen
Today I’d like to focus your attention on a hidden gem within the Rays organization, Tommy Romero. A 15th round pick in 2017, Romero did not appear on Ken Balderston’s top 200 prospect list. His repertoire includes a low-90s fastball, a solid changeup, and an average curveball. Based on that information alone, I wouldn’t blame you for walking out on my pitch, but hear me out: Romero flat-out gets results. In 407 career minor league innings across 4 seasons, Romero has a 2.52 ERA with 9.5 K/9. That’s not exactly a small sample size, and Romero has done it with tremendous consistency, never posting a full season with an ERA over 3. The success continued in 2021, where Romero posted a career low in WHIP (0.961) and a career high in strikeouts (145) and K/9 (11.8) across the highest levels of the minor leagues (Double-A and Triple-A). He’s ready to show what he can do at the Major League level if the Rays can find a spot for him on their talented roster.
Romero’s critics say that he lacks dominant secondary offerings and carries relief pitching risk as a result. If you will recall, these were the same criticisms we heard about Shane Bieber (who was also ignored by major top prospect lists) before he joined the big leagues and established himself as one of the league’s best starting pitchers. The numbers don’t lie! Perhaps it’s his arm slot, maybe it’s his command or makeup; whatever it is, something is clearly working for Tommy Romero.
Victor Acosta, SS, San Diego Padres
Age: 17, Highest Level: DSL
Analysis by Patrick Magnus
Victor Acosta is a player I’ve been rostering later in this year’s drafts. Why? First, stats, baby!
So, next, CAVEATS! This is the DSL so we need to take this performance with a grain of salt, or like a pound of salt. But, those numbers check all the boxes for me, these are generally my go-to stats for most prospect hitters. When I’m combing through stat lines on Fangraphs, I’m always looking for numbers like these. The stats though suggest a skillset of a player who knows the zone, makes contact and might have some pop.
However, due to them being in the DSL, I know I need more to get your vote.
SO, there’s more!
Let’s talk money. You know, that thing that owners dragged out at the start of the 2022 season because they cried poverty due to a pandemic? Yeah, well the Padre’s dished out a little bit for the young Dominican shortstop. To the tune of $1.8 million, which put him 18th in his class. Now, that’s not top prospect money, but it was the Padre’s big international signee. The same org that developed Fernando Tatís Jr. It’s also more than they paid any international signee this year.
The Padres have been going hard in the paint on international signees. Do they have the best say ethical track record with signees? No. Yet, I’m in on Acosta and you should be too.
He’s currently a switch hitter, with doubts about him maintaining that skill. Eric Longenhagen notes:
“His barrel drags through the zone from the left side, making it hard for him to turn on pitches and causing him to pepper the opposite field; his righty swing is more generic.” Top 39 Prospects: San Diego Padres, May 12th, 2021
However, there are also A LOT of glowing reviews for this young man. Including my personal favorite from Padres international scouting director Chris Kemp
“He’s got tools, man” (San Diego Tribune, 2021)
Other quotes of his include:
“It’s real bat speed from the left side and right side. He’s a dynamic player, very instinctual, and a plus runner.”
Looking for player comps? Try this one on from the same San Diego Tribune article:
“if the stars align,” Kemp said — to that of Jose Ramirez or Francisco Lindor.”
Don’t trust a guy who works for the organization that signed him? No problem.
Baseball America’s scouting reports love Acosta. Originally ranked him as the Padres’ #20 prospect in 2020. He now sits at #11. Glowing reports about his tools, and they believe he has a projectable offensive profile. They also like the development of his righty swing, much more than Longenhagen’s report from 2021. They like the bat. I know I keep saying this, but you should too.
From the grainy film I’ve watched, I’m beyond intrigued. The thing that impresses me most is his ability to foul off pitches. That amount of contact helps him stay alive for the pitch he’s looking for. A skill that appears to be well above his age. Sure, the DSL performance casts doubts, but he’s got a decent amount of cash for signing, he’s received rave reviews in at least one aspect of his games from multiple scouts, the bat-to-ball skills seem real, and there’s some promise with the power. If this kind of hitter can continue that .199 ISO, we’re all in for a treat.
Listen, still having doubts? Feel like you might vote for someone else? Let me help you out but sharing this clip I found at Prospects Elite League.
That kind of swagger, that’s not something you want to miss out on. That’s a kid worth rooting for. We deserve players like this in the bigs. Vote Acosta.