Feature Photo: Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox
Welcome to the 2080 Top 125 Prospect Update newsletter, where contributors Mauricio Rubio and Emily Waldon will be tracking all the prospects from our 2016 Top 125 Preseason Prospect Ranking List on a weekly basis for the rest of the season. They’ll also be tracking some other players who could force their way onto a future list.
They’ll be doing different variations of this newsletter to keep the content fresh. This week, they focus on guys whose arrows are up, and guys whose arrows are down. – Mark Shreve, Editor
(Ed. Note: Stats are through May 19th; 2080 preseason prospect rank in parentheses)
Anderson has had a hot week for the Knights, which included a three-game homer streak, and he’s hitting .468 over his last 10 games to bring his average up to an even .300. He was also named the International League Batter of the Week for the week ending April 16th. Coming into the year, Anderson was rawer than most 22-year-old prospects as he was late to baseball. The tools were always loud for the former first-round pick (#17 overall) of the White Sox, but questions about his approach lingered for the young shortstop. Anderson only has five walks early in the season compared to 40 strikeouts through his first 160 ABs, but he is starting to show the raw skills that made him an intriguing prospect at the plate, along with flashing some of that sneaky pop. -Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Beau Burrows, RHP, Tigers (Class A West Michigan, Midwest League)
It’s difficult to not be intrigued by a high school right-hander with a plus fastball, but that’s just what Detroit snagged in the first round of last year’s MLB Draft in the form of 19-year-old Texan Beau Burrows. Listed at a generous 6’2”, Burrows features a potential plus sharp curveball, coupling it with his fastball that rests comfortably in the middle 90s. A changeup is in the works, but hasn’t been a regular for Burrows early on this season. A move to Class A West Michigan is offering the first challenge to the right-hander, and he’s posting a jump in his ERA to 3.18 through 28 innings of work compared to last year’s 1.68 ERA over 28.1 IP in Rookie ball. Burrows is averaging 7.7 Ks-per-9 IP, down about three Ks-per-9 IP in 2015. Considering his build and solid two-pitch arsenal, he projects a solid bullpen piece, as long as his development continues on schedule. -Emily Waldon
The 21-year-old Cleveland Indians standout is best described as raw power in the purest sense of the term. Selected in first-round pick (fifth overall) by Cleveland out of the 2013 MLB draft, the 6’1”, 190-pound outfield staple has yet to hit below .250 at any level in his pro career to-date. Frazier’s power comes through with a team-leading 35 runs, 45 hits and 14 doubles, and his doubles and runs’ totals leading the Eastern league through May 19th. To date with Double-A Akron, Frazier is slashing a solid .300/.384/.507. Frazier comes as a full-package player, an above-average runner with a plus arm hitting as high as 98 mph with throws from the outfield. Frazier stands to improve on recognizing secondary offerings, specifically an established breaking ball. Maturation aside, Frazier is showing he’s well on his way to turning his natural ability into a well-rounded arsenal that should find him continued success. -Emily Waldon
(#53) Alex Bregman, SS, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi, TExas League) As of writing this Alex Bregman has nine homers and nine strikeouts, a testament to his strong bat profile and preternatural contact skills. The 22-year-old Bregman was seen as a polished product coming out of the 2015 MLB draft from Louisiana State, which can sometimes be misconstrued as ‘low-ceiling’. This isn’t so with Bregman. His only barrier to entry to the major leagues at this point is a stacked Astros’ infield that has Carlos Correa at shortstop and Jose Altuve at second base. The solution? Move Bregman to third where he has been playing of late. He’s making a strong case to arrive earlier than previously anticipated, and he should augment a talented infield with immediate results. To date, he is slashing .330/.435/.691 over his first 97 ABs at the Double-A level. – Mauricio Rubio
(#30) Andrew Benintendi, CF, Red Sox (Double-A Portland, Eastern League) Benintendi dominated the Sally League to the tune of a .341 average and twice as many XBH’s as strikeouts (21 XBH, 9 SO). There just wasn’t a lot to prove for the talented center fielder, so the Red Sox have aggressively pushed him to Double-A where he will test his plus-potential hit tool against more advanced pitching. The Sea Dogs planted him in the #3 hole, and he turned in a 2-for-3, 2 RBI, one walk performance in his second game, a 5-3 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Benintendi was seen as an advanced bat coming out of the 2015 draft and he’s delivered on that promise early in his career. Contact skills aren’t his only viable tool, however. Benintendi has a shot to have average in-game power, and he can play the hell out of the center field position. -Mauricio Rubio
Where there’s youth, there’s projection and the San Diego Padres hold high hopes for their 19-year-old infielder Ruddy Giron. Giron first signed with the Padres from the Dominican Republic at the age of 16 in July of 2013. Giron’s introduction into the Padres Arizona Rookie League the following year proved to be a shaky one, with the young infielder hitting a meager .168/.205/.222 with 10 doubles and 13 RBIs in 48 games.
Since his debut, Giron has adapted at a noticeable pace, earning a starting shortstop role with the Class A TinCaps, hitting .285 in his first full season of pro ball. Standing in at 5’11”, and weighing 175 pounds, Giron shows ingrained instincts in the infield, moving well on his feet. On the other side of the ball, the Dominican native displays above-average bat speed with more raw power than his reported 175 pounds would suggest.
In this, his second outing of full-season ball, Giron will need to pick up the pace to repeat his 2015 performance, hitting just .168/.205/.222 with six doubles, a triple and six RBIs with Fort Wayne. With plenty of room to develop physically, and with time still on his side at such a young age, Giron should continue molding into a strong infield fixture within the Padres organization. – Emily Waldon
Velocity comes easy for the tall and sturdy right-hander. He possesses plus arm speed and a low-effort delivery to pump gas with a 93-to-94 mph fastball. Nix pairs his heat with a curve that flashes plus with late depth, displaying the potential to be a bat-missing offering at the highest level. Nix has the ingredients to become a plus pitcher at the highest level. He’ll have to refine his command and show more feel for his changeup to get there, but he’s on the right track thanks to a strong start in the Midwest League. While he has yet to pitch into the fifth inning in his seven starts, he has posted a 2.61 ERA across 22.1 IP, striking out 19 while holding hitters to a .234 BAA. -Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Musgrove continues his march through Houston’s farm system. After rolling through three minor league levels in 2015, the former 2011 supplemental first-round pick (by Toronto) was promoted to the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies last week. He retired the first seven batters he faced in his Triple-A debut, and settled in for 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks and a no-decision in a 4-3 win over the Tacoma Rainiers. He was strong in his second start May 19th, going six innings and giving up 6 H, 2 ER with no walks and 7Ks in a 4-2 win over the Memphis Redbirds – Mark Shreve
It’s been rough go for Cameron out of the gate in 2016. He hasn’t played for the River Bandits since May 1, and was hitting just .143 with four extra base hits in 77 ABs. Cameron was simply overmatched in the Midwest League to start the season, something that isn’t out of the ordinary for a 19-year-old at Class A. He’s not .143 bad, but early-season looks do suggest that Cameron’s ultimate upside is lower than was previously expected at draft time last year. -Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Since surfacing as the Tigers first-round selection (23rd overall in 2014) out of Elk Grove High School, the challenge for Hill appears to simply be remaining healthy. After a nagging quad injury stole nearly three months of his 2015 season for the Class A Whitecaps, the now 20-year-old outfielder has returned for his second stint with the club for the 2016 season.
Before being placed on the disabled list again on May 9th (his fourth DL stint), Hill was hitting .239/.293/.315, with 22 hits, including two doubles, three triples and seven RBI in 23 games for the Whitecaps. Following a 10-day absence, Hill was reactivated on May 19, adding a single and scoring a pair of runs in his return. The 6’2”, 195-pound youngster has bulked up since last season, but hasn’t appeared to have added much muscle to his swing with his ISO matching his 2015 mark of .076, and his slash line largely equal to his 2015 marks as well.
He did post a seven-game hit streak several days before moving to the DL, and he’s showing the ability to drive the ball on a consistent basis, which when paired with above-average bat speed should make his hit tool play to at least average. He’s got plus to double-plus speed and it shows up on the base paths, with 25 stolen bases in 2015, and eight more this year though in limited time. On the defensive side, he possesses an ability to think on his toes and has a solid glove and a strong arm which, along with his speed, should make him, an above-average defender overall.
But the issues with Hill are centered on his health – get him to be 100 percent – or close to it – for a full season, and the Tigers will have plenty to buzz about. -Emily Waldon