Checking in on the Kids: AL West Edition
As part of our new mid-season rankings update, we wanted to shine a light on some of the recent call-ups or hidden gems in each division. This week we are focusing on the AL West. Like a parent checking in on a suspiciously quiet five-year-old in the next room, we here at TDG want to check in on our “kids” and see what they`re up to.
Ryan Clifford, 19, Houston Astros, OF
How do the Astros keep doing this, finding great hitting prospects later in the draft? Their development system must be a huge reason for this obviously and that goes hand in hand with great scouting. Clifford was an 11th-round pick last year out of Raleigh, North Carolina, billed as a future prodigious power source with a quick bat Clifford has done nothing to change that evaluation.
He opened up his first year of season-long ball in Single-A where he showed patience bordering on passivity, which can be a troublesome trait in players. They look great in the lower minors where pitchers struggle to find the strike zone, but as they progress up the ladder the strikeouts climb and the walks disappear as the pitchers are able to attack the zone much more effectively.
He was promoted to High-A earlier this year and is adjusting to his new level, albeit with eleven home runs in only 200 plate appearances. He should be rostered in all but the shallowest of dynasty leagues and he seems primed to take the next step as he settles into High-A. If he can get to even a 40-grade hit tool, with his power, you`re looking at a future star.
Michael Arroyo, 18, Seattle Mariners, SS/2B
From the depths of a stacked farm system, Michael Arroyo has elevated to Single-A after only four games at the Arizona Complex. Splitting his time between shortstop and second base so far in Modesto, Arroyo has stepped up to the task! Including his DSL season, Arroyo is batting .332 over 65 games. His promotion to the California League is a good sign; he is 3.3 years younger than league’s average age and age relative to level is a big deal for prospect evaluation.
Arroyo was signed out of Columbia in 2022 for the largest signing bonus ever given to a Columbian amateur (source). Investors need to consider the organizational depth because of shortstop JP Crawford and fellow riser Cole Young, whose natural position is also shortstop. The Mariners are again wealthy at the middle infield after trading Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, not to mention a haul of a few middle infield athletes in the latest amateur draft.
Big Picture: Arroyo lands in an Org that pushes talent quickly and he has felt that draw, albeit at the lowest levels of the professional rank. Dynasty managers may want to invest early—second base is dismal at the major league level and the Mariners go for it in their own way. Arroyo may see the major league level by 2024 and if the state of the second-base position remains as it is today, Arroyo will have a chance to hit to stick if he can force his way into the batter’s box for the Teal.
(The Roto Red)
Sebastian Walcott, 17, Texas Rangers, SS
You may have guessed correctly . . . that is Sebastian Walcott’s Isolated Power (slugging less batting average, .140 league average) since he moved to the Arizona Complex League. Yes, it is only over 45 plate appearances. Yes, no review of AL West kiddos would be complete with discussing the rookie-league shortstop.
Walcott joins a stable of Bahamians in the professional ranks. The young man trained at the Elite International Academy and signed with the Rangers for $3.2 million. Per the Sports Illustrated report, the Walcott signing was overshadowed by a Guerrero family signing; at the moment, however, Walcott is shining brighter than Pablo Guerrero (aged 16, 18/15 BB/K, 143 wRC+, outfield, DSL) in the prospect world. FanGraphs has him 61st in all of baseball (The Board) with a 70 Grade Game Power (power that a player can get to in a game, as opposed to batting practice power, which also happens to be 70 in Walcott’s case). MLB Pipeline gives him a 50-grade hit tool and 55 power and a chance to stick at short.
A simple “Sebastian Walcott” search on Twitter nets results and clips ready to make a dynasty manager drool. There is a long way to go for Walcott, the epitome of a Kid to check on. Fare thee well young man!
(The Roto Red)