Feature Photo: Orelvis Martinez, SS, Blue Jays
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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.
Our new 2019 pro-side video, scouting report, and spotlight libraries are now live! Check out the links below–and you can always refer to our 2018 libraries for even more player info:
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Yoendrys Gomez, RHP, New York Yankees (FV 50)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 175 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 5m
Gomez signed with the Yankees for just $50K in 2016, a bonus that looks like an absolute steal given the stuff he has shown since coming stateside. The Venezuelan righty is still very lean but has gotten stronger since signing, and his stuff has ticked up accordingly across the board. Gomez struck out more than a batter per inning and held opponents to a .194 average-against as an 18-year-old last summer in the GCL, and he has generated plenty of buzz in Extended Spring Training to start 2019.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, Gomez is still quite lean with a narrow overall build that hints he might always be on the thin side. That doesn’t stop him from throwing hard, though, as his fastball now tops out at 95 mph from a loose high three-quarters slot that looks able to add a tick more velocity. He shows advanced feel for spin, having added power to his curveball and now throwing the pitch in the upper-70s. It showed tight rotation and consistent two-plane depth, looking the part of a future big league offering. His changeup is a developing third pitch, coming in at 85-to-86 mph with light fade and occasional vertical drop. Though it’s less refined than his other two pitches, Gomez’ clean delivery and loose arm action bode well for improving the change with continued reps. He threw strikes with his fastball, landing his curve in the zone during better sequences.
Gomez’ three-inning outing was arguably the most impressive of any pitcher I saw on my swing through Florida Extended Spring Training. His fastball and curve showed above-average upside, with clean mechanics that allow projection to the changeup and overall control/command. There’s a long road ahead and he’s far from a sure thing–like virtually every teenage pitching prospect at the complex level–but the ingredients for a big league rotation piece are here.
Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 50)
Ht/Wt: 6’5” / 243 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 7m
Kloffenstein signed for an above-slot $2.4 million bonus as the 88th overall pick in 2018 from the Texas prep ranks. He was very young for his class, still 17-years-old when he turned pro and still just 18 for most of his first full season. I got a look at the big righty during Extended Spring Training, and came away impressed with his mix of physicality, stuff, and pitching IQ.
Kloffenstein looks all of his 6-foot-5 and 243-pound listing. He’s an imposing figure on the mound with advanced durability for a pitcher this age, albeit in a frame that’s similarly more mature than most teenagers. He gets through a low maintenance semi-windup fairly easily, with moderate effort that projects to clean up a bit with more time at the professional level. The fastball touched 96 mph in my look, sitting at 92-to-93 mph with consistent angle and armside run. Kloffenstein showed a polished ability to mix grips on his heater, mixing four-seam and two-seam variants to stay off barrels. His main off-speed is a mid-80s slider that flashed hard gloveside action at best, showing the makings of a definite future big league pitch. It was enthusing to see a pitcher this age show feel over a true four-pitch mix, as Kloffenstein also wrinkled in a curveball (76-77 mph) and changeup (85-86 mph) that both showed glimpses of promising action. Just as impressive was his mound presence, pitching with a competitive fire even in a backfields intersquad game and drawing high praise from coaches for his on-field makeup.
The ninth overall prospect on our rundown of Toronto’s top prospects this off-season, we placed Kloffenstein fairly high in a deep system considering he has yet to develop much pro track record. The Blue Jays are understandably bringing him along slowly, and even if it takes another year or so, this is the type of arm that can really break out in full-season ball—especially if his velocity takes a jump forward. Kloffenstein has the makings of a solid big league starter with continued development of his changeup and off-speed execution.
Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 50)
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 188 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 17y, 4m
Martinez signed for the second-largest bonus of last year’s J2 period, agreeing to a $3.5 million bonus with Toronto. The 17-year-old infielder is already stateside for Extended Spring Training, potentially hinting the Blue Jays plan to send him straight to the GCL (or even higher) once short-season ball begins.
Martinez is a large, athletic 6-foot-1, looking trimmer through the middle than he did in some of his showcase videos as an amateur. He’s still fairly thick in the lower-half at an early age and runs closer to average, so it’s likely 3B is the long-term defensive home. Even so, Martinez’ loud offensive tools jump out and are doubly impressive considering his youth. He whistles the bat through the zone with impressive batspeed for a teenager, generating advanced power from explosive hip torque and core strength. The ball jumps off his bat with tall lines, and while I didn’t see him fully square one up in a short look, it’s easy to see power potential just in the strength of his contact. Like many young international hitters, he’s over-aggressive on spin and is still learning to cut down his swing length when behind in the count.
There’s a reason Martinez commanded the bonus he did, and it will be interesting to see how game ready his bat is as a 17-year-old this summer. The strength, batspeed, and power potential are rare for this age—especially considering Martinez is likely to stay above the lowest parts of the defensive spectrum. With the qualifier that it’s accompanied by extreme risk, we’re filing him aggressively in the FV 50 tier already despite his current lack of pro track record.
Eric Pardinho, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 45)
Ht/Wt: 5’10” / 155 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 2m
The Brazilian righty signed with Toronto for $1.4 million in 2017. Known for his extremely advanced polish and pitchability as an amateur, he performed as advertised in the Appy League last summer as a 17-year-old. Pardinho is polished enough to be in full-season ball right now, though elbow soreness this March caused him to start 2019 in Extended Spring Training. He showed the same stuff and ability to execute in my backfields look, though at a near-maxed 5-foot-10, it’s fair to wonder how much more upside is left for Pardinho to unlock.
Pitching from a deliberate semi-windup, he repeats his delivery very well and throws consistent strikes with a low-90s fastball. Pardinho gets late hop up in the zone on a four-seamer, able to run a sinking variant down and armside. His heater ranged from 89-to-93 mph, sitting around 91 mph. There’s plenty of time to develop command at his age, and Pardinho has the pitchability to do it; even so, he’s unlikely to over be particularly overpowering and will need to improve his ability to spot the fastball down in the zone. His best off-speed is a hard upper-70s curve, a sharp downer that induced numerous swinging strikes. A low-80s changeup showed consistent separation and armside fade, backed by a true slider at 80-to-82 mph he wrinkles for another look. Pardinho’s ability to sequence pitches and land his off-speed for strikes early in counts was impressive, keeping hitters on their toes and unable to lock in on fringy velocity.
Pardinho will be interesting to watch develop through the lower levels of the minors. He’s the type of pitching prospect that often breezes through A-Ball and reaches upper-level competition early, but starts to be challenged more once he’s no longer significantly more polished than the competition. The feel and control profile could be good enough to still make him a back-rotation starter even without overpowering stuff. In the event his small, developed frame is able to grow into more velocity, he could finish better than that.
Miguel Hiraldo, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 45)
Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 170 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 6m
Hiraldo was seen as one of the more pro-ready bats in the 2017 international class, and he lived up to that billing by slashing a combined .300/.362/.435 between the DSL and GCL as a 17-year-old last season. Signed to a $750K bonus, he turned 18 after the year and has begun 2019 in Extended Spring Training.
At 5-foot-11 and a listed 170 pounds, Hiraldo’s medium frame has some maturity to it with stocky muscle throughout. He still splits time between SS and 3B, and while he moves well for his size in the middle infield, a strong arm and thick lower-half likely wind up at the hot corner down the road. At the plate, Hiraldo’s raw offensive tools are evident: there’s explosive batspeed and hip torque through a strong cut, with power potential that jumps out immediately despite aggression and barrel control that are currently age-appropriately raw. Balls jump off his barrel when squared, and though Hiraldo overswings at times and comes out of his shoes on pitches he shouldn’t, it was enthusing to see him show occasional ability to shorten up and battle with two strikes. Stats from the complex level only mean so much, but Hiraldo’s track record of patience—walking nearly as much as he struck out last summer—also bodes well for the development of an offensive approach.
It would be easy to place him conservatively as a FV 40, as Hiraldo is a long ways from ready and isn’t likely to finish up the middle defensively. This type of batspeed and strength from a teenager is rare, though, and he’s advanced enough at the plate it wouldn’t be a shock to see Hiraldo put up numbers this summer in short-season ball. Though basically all players at this level are wildcard, lottery ticket types of prospects, he already places in the FV 45 tier because of high-ceiling offensive tools that give the upside of a bat-first regular.
Leonardo Jimenez, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 45)
Signed from Panama, Jimenez put himself on the map with his performances on the international tournament circuit as an amateur. He inked an $825K bonus with Toronto in 2017. Known for his polish and well-rounded game, Jimenez made his pro debut last summer in the GCL and held his own as a 17-year-old. He turned 18 roughly a week before I saw him in May.
A lean, wiry 5-foot-11, Jimenez is athletic but still needs to get significantly stronger. How much mass he’s able to add will likely have bearing on his long-term offensive upside and overall value. He has natural rhythm at the plate and shows bat-to-ball ability, though there isn’t much behind his contact right now. Jimenez won’t ever be a huge power threat, but if he develops enough ability to hit for average and reach base, his glovework in the middle infield could make him a useful big leaguer. His best tools are on defense, with slick actions and good overall instincts. I didn’t see Jimenez challenged at SS or 2B in a short look, though it’s easy to envision this type of frame staying at a center-diamond position down the road.
In the best-case scenario, Jimenez develops enough at the plate to wind up a potential regular or solid role player. It’s a deep projection hit tool that requires some dreaming, though his youth (he would be young for the 2019 high school draft class), contact skills, and refined approach give reason to project aggressively. We’re aiming high by putting him among the FV 45 prospects in Extended Spring, noting that he’ll settle in as a FV 35+/40 type of glove-only bench type if there aren’t many offensive developments by the time he fully grows into his body.
Jol Concepcion, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 40)
Ht/Wt: 6’5” / 195 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 6m
Concepcion signed with Toronto in 2016 for 150K. He reached the Appy League the next summer but hasn’t played since after being suspended 60 games for a PED violation after the 2017 season. He has lost valuable development time but is still only 20-years-old, with size and flashes of a promising fastball/curveball combo that make him a prospect.
Concepcion has a mature 6-foot-5 frame with good overall strength, though his build is more durable than it is athletic. There’s some effort in his delivery, as his arm gets off-line in the back and recoils through a three-quarters slot. The fastball touched 96 mph in my viewing and sat in the mid-90s, showing firm overall life that was at its best when he got both run and sink down in the zone. His curve was a separator, flashing hard depth and good power at 78-to-82 mph throughout the game. It backed up on him at times but showed the ingredients of a potential big league breaking ball. Concepcion’s upper-80s changeup was more crude than his other two pitches, often too firm and lacking much movement. He wrinkled a handful in the 85-to-86 mph range with slightly better finish, suggesting there’s at least a chance for a bit more refinement.
Considering the noise in his delivery, inconsistent third offering, and early-stages pitchability, it’s reasonable to expect Concepcion to wind up a reliever down the road. His better two pitches likely would play up in a short-stint role, with imposing size and velocity that fit in a big league bullpen. He’ll likely continue to work as a starter for now, giving the opportunity to develop his control and changeup through the low minors even if he does ultimately move from the rotation.
Emanuel Vizcaino, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (FV 40)
Vizcaino signed for just $50K in 2016, which looks like great value in hindsight given how he has developed since. He’s still all projection—and hasn’t taken the jump in stuff we hoped since first getting eyes on him last summer—but is only 19-years-old and has lots of physical development left.
He pitched in the 87-to-91 mph range this outing, sitting in the upper-80s, with steep natural angle from a tall arm-slot. A mid-70s curveball shows long vertical action at times, though its spin and sharpness are inconsistent. His 80-to-84 mph changeup varied in quality as well, occasionally showing moderate action but straightening out when he lost a feel. There isn’t significant effort in Vizcaino’s delivery that projects to prevent him from throwing strikes, though his present control/command are spotty because he struggles to keep his long, gangly limbs balanced to the plate.
Youth and significant projection are what place Vizcaino in the FV 40 tier, though he’s admittedly on the fringes of the 35+/40 divide given how raw both his stuff and pitchability still are. He’ll need to grow into his body while adding power to his fastball and curve to stay on the prospect radar into his early-20s.
OTHERS OF NOTE (FV 35+)