Feature Photo: Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
Special thanks to Dan Rosenberg and Ryan Sullivan for contributing video to this piece.
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We just released our updated Top 125 Prospects entering 2019. Click here to view our user-friendly table, sortable by team, age, position, grade, MLB ETA, and more.
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Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox (Winston-Salem Dash)
Robert has started his 2019 on an incredible pace, giving a demonstration of what can happen when he’s making consistent game contact. The #43 prospect in baseball in our recently updated Top 125, Robert has belted five home runs, swiped six bases, and slashed .471/.518/.902 in his first 50-some Carolina League plate appearances.
Robert is a physical specimen, a broad, filled out 6-foot-3 that would look the part on an NFL field. A double-plus athlete, his raw tools are among the loudest in the minor leagues. It starts with power, as his BP sessions draw easy 60s from scouts with raw that could finish as high as a 70-grade tool. He battled injuries last year and never found a groove, showing issue staying short to the ball and recognizing off-speed. There’s still length in the swing—and Robert likely will always trade some strikeouts to get to his power—though enthusing increases in his bat-to-ball ability give hope he can develop into at least an average hit/on-base producer. That offensive profile is extremely valuable considering his position on the field, as the 21-year-old projects to remain in CF despite his strength and muscled-up body type. Robert covers lots of ground in the outfield, keeping runners honest with a 60-grade arm with booming strength and carry.
A true potential five-tool player, how impactful Robert will be in the big leagues ultimately comes down to his contact frequency and approach. The ceiling is a legitimate all-star talent, and given all the ways he impacts the game, he’s likely to be valuable contributor even if the hit tool leads to some peaks and valleys at the plate.
Brady Singer, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Wilmington Blue Rocks)
The Royals selected the athletic righty with the 18th overall pick in last year’s draft, inking him to a $4.25M bonus after a stellar amateur career at the University of Florida. After a long college season, Singer didn’t pitch in an official game this summer. I saw him toe the rubber this October during instructs.
Singer stands tall over the mound and uses an abbreviated wind-up and uptempo delivery to create deception on his 91-to-93 mph fastball. He drops down to a low three-quarters slot, and the pitch is especially tough for righties to pick up. His low release point creates excellent natural tailing action, showing movement to all parts of the zone. Singer’s athletic delivery projects to at least average command within the zone, allowing the fastball to grade as a future above-average pitch. The go-to secondary is a sharp slider at 81-to-83 mph, showing sharp bite and hard two-plane break out of the zone. It was inconsistent in this look, but it projects to another 55-grade pitch, working well as a backfoot option to lefties or chase pitch away to same-side bats. Singer’s third pitch is a mid-80s changeup that works well off his sinking fastball, showing similar action at release with separation and fade. The change is his least refined pitch, but he has feel to locate it off the edge of the plate. Considering his pitchability and athleticism, I’m projecting it aggressively as another potentially above-average pitch down the road.
Instructional league is Singer’s first action as a pro, and in this look he showed the makings of a mid-rotation starter with feel for three pitches and the ability to fill the zone. With solid present stuff and feel, Singer could be fast-tracked to the bigs with his change-up the primary developmental hurdle remaining.
DL Hall, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Frederick Keys)
Baltimore’s top pitching prospect threw three innings in his 2019 debut, pulled early after running up a high pitch count. His stuff showed through plenty, striking out six on three hits and two walks en route to one earned run. The 20-year-old spent all of last season with Delmarva, making Friday’s outing his High-A debut in the Carolina League.
Hall’s fastball topped out at 96 mph, sitting at 93-to-94 mph for most of the outing. His signature curveball showed the same tight spin and sharp, two-plane break that has drawn praise from scouts since his high school days. Hall developed his changeup quite a bit as last year went on, and he worked it in regularly with effect in the low-80s. If anything, he may have been a bit amped up this look, falling into some long counts. No cause for long-term concern; Hall just placed #64 on our recently-released Top 125, grading as a potential mid-rotation lefty with the polish to move quickly through the system for a high school draftee.
Bryan Mata, RHP, Boston Red Sox (Salem Red Sox)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 160 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 11m
Though he’s pitching his second season in the Carolina League—and third year stateside overall—Mata is amazingly still just 19-years-old. He’ll turn 20 early in the 2019 season, but his experience relative to his age underlines the belief Boston has in the power-armed righty. Mata was sharp in his first outing of the year, allowing only one earned run over 5.2 innings of work. He struck out three and walked none.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 160 pounds, he’s gotten stronger since signing and is now much heavier than that. Mata pitches from a full windup, breaking his hands over his head into a shoulder-led three-quarters arm-stroke. There’s some rigidity to his delivery’s finish, but the lower release point adds deception and produces heavy sink and run. The fastball touched 97 mph this look, sitting in the mid-90s. Mata relies heavily on his heater, and while it’s effective, he doesn’t rack up strikeouts with his stuff like you’d expect because of limited off-speed usage. His primary secondary pitch is a hard cutter/slider hybrid in the upper-80s, something that could develop into at least an average offering. Mata sprinkled in a handful of changeups, though his feel for it lags behind the rest of his arsenal. Throwing strikes has been a concern in the past—Mata walked nearly as many as he struck out last year—though his ability to limit free passes late into a game in this look was enthusing.
Mata’s youth gives plenty of reason to project on some of his skills moving forward. The frame and heavy mid-90s fastball are no-doubt big league tools, ones that could make him valuable in the ‘pen if his secondary and control/command don’t come around enough. He’ll get every chance to start for now, as Boston hopes the increased reps help develop more overall polish.
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