Featured Photo: Fernando Tatis, SS, Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
2080 Baseball pro-side evaluators have been in the field since March getting up-close and in-person looks at the game’s top prospects. Below is a summary of all of our notes and video covering the World Team participants in this year’s MLB Futures Game. We hope you enjoy! –Adam McInturff
Also check out the USA Team Preview Piece (here).
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Yordan Alvarez | LF | Astros (Triple-A Fresno, Pacific Coast League)
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/225 B/T: L/R Age (as of April 1, 2018): 20y, 9m
After missing over a month of action – reportedly due to a hand injury – Alvarez returned to the field last week and absolutely raked his way through series against San Antonio and Frisco, going 13-for-31 with four home runs and a slash line of .419/.419/.839 (!) over that short span. The soon-to-be-21-year-old seems to have picked-up where he left off in early May, enjoying a breakout year with Double-A Corpus Christi thanks to more consistent power output and a still-steady on-base profile despite jumping a level after just two months in High A to close out 2017.
Alvarez boasts a powerful lefty swing with improved loft and more than enough strength to muscle balls out to the opposite field. He has a keen eye in the box and has done well working counts and finding pitches to drive across the zone, utilizing the whole field. The big-bodied corner stick can get too passive at times, however, forcing himself to work from behind and expand the zone with his weakest contact coming on rolled-over grounders versus the soft stuff. Still, his approach is impressively advanced for a player of his age and with his level of reps, and the overall developmental trajectory bodes well for his future as a potential impact bat at the big-league level.
There isn’t much in the way of defensive value tied to the profile, but Alvarez is competent in left field and should have enough stick to be at least an everyday guy regardless of whether he winds-up on the grass or in the dirt at first base. With no pressing need for a corner bat in Houston, the Astros have the luxury of giving Alvarez time to continue to hone his approach at the dish with an eye towards an MLB debut some time in 2019. -Nick Faleris
Leody Taveras | OF | Rangers (High A Down East, Carolina League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/170 B/T: S/R Age (as of April 1, 2018): 19y, 7m
The centerpiece of the Rangers’ 2015 J2 free agent class, Taveras signed for a $2.1 million bonus. As much noise as the industry makes about the variability of seven-figure international signees, Taveras has done nothing to make his bonus look like an overpay. He’s a freak athlete with developing baseball instincts, able to play a quality center field while showing a high-ceiling power/speed toolset from a switch-hitting profile.
He’s listed at 6’1’’ and 170 pounds, but at just 19 years old, he’s still growing into his body and he’s both taller and more physical than his listing. He flashed more raw power in BP than I have seen in previous looks, especially from the right side—though the game contact is more polished from the left side of the plate, where he shows a more fundamental swing. The power potential I saw on top of the speed and athlete tools were exciting, and it’s impressive he is holding his own in High-A at the same age as most college freshman. Taveras has excellent range in centerfield with long, effortless strides across the outfield grass. On a freezing cold night where everyone was stiff, he cold picked up a single to center and delivered a whistling rope to the third baseman to hold a runner at second; it is a no-doubt plus field and throw defensive profile.
Taveras’ bat is still a few years away from Arlington, but the physicality, athleticism, and well-rounded tool set gives him impact potential on both sides of the ball. Even if the hit and power tools finish more 50-grade than 60, his speed and elite defensive upside still project to add significant value. With more bat than that—especially in the power category—Taveras could be yet another homegrown Rangers hitter on his way to stardom. -Adam McInturff
Miguel Amaya | C | Cubs (Class A South Bend, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2018): 19y, 1m
Amaya signed with the Cubs from Panama as a 16-year-old in 2015, agreeing to a $1.25M bonus. He moves well behind the plate, projecting as an above-average defensive catcher with enough offensive upside for a solid-regular ceiling. The 6’1” Amaya exudes confidence and comfort behind the dish. He is a quiet receiver with soft hands, and he shows framing aptitude by consistently keeping his glove inside his body on borderline pitches. There are more informational nuances to catching than ever before, and while it takes time for catching prospects to become refined defenders, Amaya has all the ingredients to be a future 60-grade glove with an above-average throwing arm (1.94-1.98 pop times).
Offensively, he showed above-average raw power with enough carry to clear the power alleys with the bat control to square up off-speed pitches Amaya’s hit tool projects to fringe-average, applying a pull-heavy approach that leaves him vulnerable on the outer third–especially on well-placed changeups late in the count. This approach lets him punish mistakes, balanced with swing-and-miss that has him striking out over 20-percent of the time, both of which featured in this look. The result is a 45 hit tool with 50 game power.
A plus athlete with a physical frame that’s built to withstand the rigors of the position, Amaya’s defense carries the profile, but the 16-20 HR power potential could make him as high as a FV 55 above-average everyday contributor. -John Eshleman
- Seuly Matias, OF, Royals (Class A Lexington) -Adam McInturff
- Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants (Class A Augusta) -Adam McInturff
- Andres Gimenez, SS, Mets (High A St. Lucie) -Steve Givarz
- Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays (High A Charlotte) -Steve Givarz
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics (Double-A Midland) -John Eshleman
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