Feature Photo: Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals
I kick off week four of my 2016 Arizona Fall League video highlights by posting twenty new prospect videos, including 13 players who went in the top three rounds of the MLB Draft from 2011-15, as well as four catching prospects who are getting some extra reps this October: Victor Caratini (Cubs), Carson Kelly (Cardinals), 2013 first-rounder Nick Ciuffo (Rays) and six-foot-six backstop Grayson Grenier (Tigers).
Here’s a closer look at ten of the twenty prospects that were posted today. The full update can be found by visiting our Prospect Video Library.
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Drafted as a third baseman and moved behind the dish full-time prior to the 2014 season, Kelly’s fall league campaign comes on the heels of posting a .289/.343/.395 slash line with 6 home runs across 96 games at Double-A and Triple-A, before eventually earning a September call-up with St. Louis. The 22-year-old has been an early standout with Glendale offensively, leading the team with two home runs and ten RBI’s alongside a handsome 5:4 BB/K ratio. Kelly has featured a patient approach at the plate and has displayed average contact skills thus far, and a strong, stocky frame should give him a chance to hit for average power at the next level. The former second-round pick has thrown out 32% of base stealers in 1,200-plus innings as a pro, and he has posted pop times ranging from 2.0-2.2 in my live looks.
Arguably the most prolific base stealer at any level of pro ball (140 SB over his last three seasons), Perez’s speed has been on full display for Mesa early on, swiping a team-high seven bags in nine attempts through his first 10 contests. The switch-hitting outfielder has also done damage with a hot stick this fall, owning a .341/.426/.390 line with a BB/K ratio of 6:9 in 47 plate trips. Perez’s tandem of elite wheels and a plus arm give him a chance to play a quality center field at the next level, and track record for base nabbing likely profiles him best in the leadoff spot. The only question is whether he will hit or get on base enough for his speed to reach his ceiling, with his .256/.312/.312 career slash line).
Abreu’s 2015 breakout in the Class A South Atlantic League (six home runs, .769 OPS, 30 stolen bases in 123 games) was met with some regression with High A Potomac in 2016, batting .247 with six home runs, 18 stolen bases, and a lighter .649 OPS in 128 games. The 22-year-old’s fall league stint hasn’t necessarily reconciled for those struggles, either, owning a .544 OPS with two extra-base hits (both doubles) in 35 PAs. Abreu has been aggressive early in the count, culminating in a 1:9 BB/K ratio, and has generated predominantly gap power with his level barrel through the zone. Defensively, the Dominican-born middle infielder has flashed plus range to his back-hand side, with soft hands and an above-average arm.
Twice drafted by the Royals as an amateur, Beal pitched at three different levels of the minors in 2016 (mostly High A and Double-A before a late-year bump to the PCL) and produced each step of the way as a later-inning arm, posting a 3.33 ERA and 7.3 K/9 in 73 total frames. His fall league campaign has been a mixed bag, yielding six strikeouts in 6.1 innings, but also issuing four walks. Tall and lean, Beal works out of a low three-quarters arm slot and sits 90-to-93 mph, and with slight arm-side bore to his average fastball, which he has trouble locating a times. His only observable secondary is an 85-to-86 mph slider that has produced barrel-missing ability both down and away to righties and to the back foot of lefties.
No qualified batter in the Double-A Southern League produced more raw power in 2016 than Cron, who led his counterparts with 26 home runs and tied for a league-high .215 ISO across 500-plus plate trips. And while the TCU product does boast Salt River’s team-high of two home runs to this juncture, the rest of his game has left a lot to be desired (.133/.200/.31, 4 BB, 10 K in 49 PA). Featuring a hulking frame, Cron’s plus raw power has stood out in batting practice, creating natural loft to his pull side with a slight uphill plane through the zone. However, he has been prone to chasing pitches in the dirt and lunging at off-speed stuff, which figures to be his biggest road block as he heads back to the PCL in 2017.
Drafted and signed as a high-upside starter after a standout collegiate campaign, Anderson’s pro career has gone south in a hurry, enduring his worst pro season in 2016 by way of transitioning to the bullpen almost full time, while posting a 4.81 ERA and 1.11 K/BB ratio across 67.1 innings. The 24-year-old continues to lament against AFL bats, walking (six) more hitters than he has whiffed (five) en route to a 13.50 ERA over three starts (8.0 IP). Tall and filled out with sloped shoulders, Anderson sat 89-to-93 mph with little movement on his average fastball, and it was hittable in the zone. He lacked feel for his mid-80s changeup that looked like a BP fastball at times, and his 85-to-86 mph slider showed average 3/4 bite.
Tampa’s first-round pick back in 2013, Ciuffo’s 2016 campaign with High A Charlotte was abbreviated by a hand injury suffered in early June. The 21-year-old wound up slashing just .250/.280/.283 sans any home runs in 64 gafivees split between the GCL and Florida State Leagues, though a solid AFL rebound (.262/.289/.429 with 5 doubles in 44 PA) has given some reason for optimism offensively. Ciuffo’s best asset is his arm, registering pop times anywhere from 1.81-1.90 seconds in my looks, and he has cut down 50% of base stealers as a pro. The bat remains unpolished, and while he has shown average contact skills, his below-average raw power figures to manifest as gap-oriented pop at his peak.
After three years of largely scuffling at the plate in the lower minors, Hermosillo had a breakout offensively in 2016, slashing .317/.402/.467 with six home runs and 10 stolen bases across 71 games split between Class A and High A. The former dual-sport athlete (football) was amid on a solid start to his AFL campaign (.267/.353/.400 in 33 PA) before leaving a game last week with a wrist injury on a diving attempt in left field, which will sideline him for the remainder of the schedule. Hermosillo pairs average contact with fringy raw power and average straight-line speed (4.3 HP-to-1B), though his quality athleticism allows for above-average range in the outfield with an average arm in my live looks.
A stellar first three pro seasons with Colorado’s system put McMahon on a shortlist of third-base prospects with power and average potential, though a career-worst 2016 campaign in the Double-A Eastern League (.242/.325/.399, 12 HR, 30% strikeout rate) lowered his prospect status considerably. The 21-year-old hasn’t exactly filled the stat sheet in Arizona (.214/.353/.262 in 50 PAs), but an 8:11 BB/K ratio in that same span reflects some level of necessary adjustment on his end. McMahon has showed average defensive range and an above-average arm at both corner infield positions thus far, which is where his above-average raw power and fringy contact skills profile best long-term.
Martes’ first full-year stint in the Double-A Texas League brought with it a 3.30 ERA and 9.4 K/9 in 125.1 innings as one of the league’s youngest arms. His fall league campaign has been up and down against advanced competition, though, posting a 7.27 ERA with seven strikeouts and five walks across three starts (8.2 IP). His fastball was up to 98 mph (94-to-97 sitting) and flashed plus arm-side sink last week, and his mid-80s slider missed bats with late 3/4s bite and was used early in the count. Both the changeup (88-to-91 mph) and his overall command require extensive work before he’s ready to challenge for a call-up, but his combination of velocity, the slider and a strong, durable build foretell a potential #2/3 starter’s upside.