Feature Photo: Brice Turang, SS, Brewers
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Brice Turang, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
After a decorated amateur career on the showcase circuit and with Team USA, Turang may have been the victim of some prospect fatigue. He was still a first-rounder, but went later in Day 1 of the draft than many expected, sliding to Milwaukee at #21 overall from a Southern California high school. Turang showed his polish by slashing .283/.396/.352 after signing, reaching the Pioneer League by season’s end and walking nearly as much as he struck out.
Turang has the physical tools to play shortstop in the big leagues, carrying his 6-foot-1 frame with lean, quick-twitch muscularity. He’s a plus athlete with good actions and body control in the field, showing enough arm for the position with a quick transfer. At the plate, he lacks the present strength and lift in his swing to generate much home run power right now. Turang has a short, efficient stroke that makes lots of contact, and his hitting ability is played up by a very patient approach. He’s fearless going late in counts and shows a mature feel to work pitchers into giving him something to hit. He conservatively projects as a future 50-grade hitter who consistently draws walks, able to grow into 40 or 45-grade power with continued strength gains. It’s more likely what power does develop offensively conveys to game action as gap sting rather than true over-the-fence loft.
Turang’s chances at being an everyday 2-3 WAR contributor center around his ability to stay at short. The chance to develop an average hit tool at a premium position give him the upside of a long-time regular at the 6. His polished and well-rounded game gives a higher floor than most recent high school draftees, even if he winds up falling short of that ceiling.
Tyler Freeman, SS/2B, Cleveland Indians
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 170 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 10m
The 71st overall pick in 2017 from a California high school, Freeman moved onto the national prospect radar after a huge season in the New York-Penn League. He slashed .352/.405/.511 with 14 stolen bases, showing excellent bat-to-ball skill with a minuscule seven-percent strikeout rate.
Freeman has all the makings of a plus hit tool, frequently barreling balls with a quick and short path. His swing is geared to spray line drives around the field, and the batspeed is here to grow into some sneaky power with any increase in lift. Freeman is more fundamental than flashy on defense, playing up average range and fringy arm-strength with a fast transfer. Scouts who saw him last summer raved about his intangibles and leadership, already having improved significantly since turning pro and showing the makeup to continue getting the most out of his tools. Freeman’s potential plus hit tool gives him the chance to be an above-average player, especially if he’s able to tease out more power and/or stick at shortstop in the future.
Mike Siani, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Signed to a well over-slot bonus ($2 million) in the fourth round last year to pass on his University of Virginia commitment, I got a look at Siani on the Arizona backfields this spring. He showed some improvements at the plate since his pro debut last summer, looking the the same general type of player overall from a tools standpoint.
Siani’s athleticism jumps off the page. He’s an elite defender in CF who frequently finishes highlight reel plays in the outfield. His speed and glovework both are potentially game-changing tools, things that give him the floor of at least a role player even if his bat winds up light of everyday production. A cold-weather prep player from the Philadelphia area, the Reds are banking on Siani’s athleticism to translate into offensive gains once he gets more pro reps. Skipped over the AZL entirely, he held his own last summer in the Appalachian League (.288/.351/.386) but showed trouble staying short to the ball or generating hard aerial contact. He showed a more compact swing in my spring looks, spraying line drives with the batspeed to catch up to premium velocity. Siani has the speed to be a solid contributor with the bat so long as he makes contact, a plus runner that projects to rack up steals.
Siani could be an everyday player on the strength of his defense and potential to hit for average. He’s athletic enough that his ceiling could look much higher once he gets another full year or two of pro at-bats under his belt. Likely to head to Low-A Dayton to start 2019, Siani could move up prospect lists by showing developments at the plate in full-season ball.
Luis Oviedo, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 170 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 10m
Oviedo signed for a $375K bonus in 2015, and he has progressed quickly through the system since. After starting 2018 in Extended Spring Training, he dominated in nine New York-Penn League starts before a late bump to the Midwest League. He was shut down in August with a lower back/glute issue, but it isn’t seen as a long-term concern. All looked well during my backfields look, where Oviedo showed off a deep mix of stuff and was throwing free and easy.
Oviedo requires projection but has all the ingredients of a solid big league starter. His 6-foot-4 frame oozes projectability, and he repeats a low-maintenance delivery well enough to grade up on his control. Listed at 170 pounds, he has added muscle in the last year and now appears broader than that. The fastball touches 96 mph at best and generally sits 90-to-94 mph, showing solid run when angled down in the zone. It exploded to his armside at times this look, diving away from barrels very late. Oviedo already can throw both a slider and curve with distinct action from one another, the slider flashing swing-and-miss upside at best. He also shows feel for a changeup, giving the foundation of a four-pitch mix.
Ticketed for Low-A Lake County to start 2019, Oviedo is on the short list of potential breakout arms in full-season ball this year. His mix of size, delivery, stuff, and control give the upside of a mid-rotation starter.
Pablo Abreu, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 170 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 5m
Abreu signed with Milwaukee for $800K in 2016. He played in the DSL and AZL in 2017 before being held back in Extended Spring Training to begin last season, showing an intriguing speed/power toolset upon being assigned to the Pioneer League. I got a look at the athletic outfielder on the backfields this spring, where he showed both upside and overall rawness to his game.
Abreu’s athletic 6-foot frame is wound tight with quick-twitch muscle. That leads to good raw power for a center-diamond defender, which he showed by ambushing a fastball in the first inning for a towering pullside home run. He takes an aggressive cut with limited bat control, causing more present issues squaring up soft stuff. Abreu swung over numerous off-speed pitches in my look, and his 25-percent strikeout rate last summer in short-season ball hints that he’ll need to further shore up his approach. He moves well in the outfield with an easy defensive gait, covering ground with long strides. Abreu has the body type to remain in CF even as his frame continues to mature.
The ingredients are here for a solid role player or low-end regular presuming Abreu adds polish at the plate. He has the tools to impact numerous facets of the game, with the speed, defense, and athleticism to contribute in a bench role even if the bat doesn’t fully come on. A high-ceiling lottery ticket with plenty of risk, Abreu will get his first crack at full-season ball in 2019.
OTHERS OF NOTE
|Leugim (LG) Castillo||MIL||OF||Video|