2019 LEAGUE ALL-STAR PREVIEWS
(Updated as each piece is released)
* * * * *
Leody Taveras, OF, Texas Rangers (Down East Wood Ducks)
Taveras’ 2018 was not unlike his 2017 full-season debut in Low-A: his stats alone were relatively pedestrian, with tools and scouting grades that were significantly better. Another similarity is how young he was for the level, playing all of last season as a 19-year-old in the Carolina League. He’s repeating the level this year, showing more life at the plate but still struggling to bring power into games with a .294/.368/.376 line in the first half.
Taveras is a remarkable athlete who impacts the game in CF, grading as a potential 70 defender at a premium position. A switch-hitter, he’s more advanced from the left side but has made progress with his right-handed stroke. It still hasn’t showed up, but there’s sneaky power potential that could still be on the way as Taveras fills out a wiry, long-limbed frame. We’re bullish on the tools, chalking up his lack of production to being extremely young for his level each step of the way so far in his career. Switch-hitting compounds this, as young players learning two different swings often come into their offensive game a bit later. His defense in CF is enough to make Taveras a regular, with the chance to be a FV 55 contributor with continued offensive development.
Brady Singer, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Wilmington Blue Rocks)
Singer was moved up to Double-A a few weeks before the all-star game, but was named to the North Divsion roster after pitching to a sparkling 1.87 ERA in 10 Carolia League starts in the first half. He repeats an abbreviated windup very well, extending down the mound and able to spot his fastball low in the zone. The heater sits in the low-90s, touching 94-95 mph, with above-average run that’s aided by a three-quarters release point. Both Singer’s off-speed pitches—a slider in the low-80s and change at 83-to-85 mph—are made more effective by his ability to land them for strikes. Neither is a bat-misser, but he knows how to use his stuff and has pitches to combat both righties and lefties.
Singer draws mixed reviews from evaluators. His supporters see an extremely polished, close-to-ready potential mid-rotation starter with a long track record of winning. Skeptics point to a style of pitching well-suited for the college game and don’t see a true plus pitch. We took a something of a middle-ground stance at 2080 Baseball—though even within our group, there are differing opinions of Singer’s future profile—placing him 97th on the recent Pre-Season Top 125 Prospects as a high-floor arm with mid-rotation upside.
Michael Baumann, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Frederick Keys)
Baumann’s stuff backed up over the course of his first full pro season in 2018, dropping to the low-90s after showing 95-to-96 mph heat early in 2018. Adjusting to the pro workload and leaning more heavily on his four-seamer have made Baumann’s second trip through the Carolina League go much more smoothly, named a mid-season all-star after pitching to a 3.83 ERA over 11 starts with Frederick. He’s missing bats at a much better clip, more than doubling a meddling strikeout rate from 2018.
The fastball sits in the 92-to-93 mph range, again able to crank up to the upper-90s early in starts. Baumann’s command still lags behind his control, loose over the plate without significant lateral life despite ride up in the zone. Even the walk prevention is a bit shaky, as he’s yet to post a walk rate better than 10-percent as a pro. One of the bigger risers in Baltimore’s system this year, Baumann could turn into a back-rotation starter with improved control and continued off-speed development. His walk rate and fastball still leave the door open for a move to relief at higher levels.
Diosbel Arias, 3B/INF, Texas Rangers (Down East Wood Ducks)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 190 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 8m
Arias was a member of a stacked Cuban national team, teaming with current top prospects like Luis Robert (White Sox) and Michel Baez (Padres). He debuted in Cuba’s highest professional level as a 16-year-old, defecting a few years later and signing with the Rangers for $800K. Arias was old for the short-season Northwest League last year, but he tore up the level by slashing .366/.451/.491 in 61 games. That production has’t slowed much since moving to the Carolina League, named an all-star at mid-season after a .305/.382/.402 showing in the first half.
Arias has a good arm—certainly enough for the left side of the infield—but he’s probably a step too slow for a Major League shortstop. As such, he’ll really need to hit and produce power to get in a lineup every day at the hot corner. Arias has a quick bat from the right side, though his level swing path is geared more for line drives than loft power right now. Nearly 30-percent of his balls in play were line drives last summer in the Northwest League, so there’s some reason to believe a bit more power will be on the come if he can add lift. The lack of power has been an issue again this year, however, with only one home run in nearly 70 games and an ISO hovering close to .100. Arias projects as a hit-first role player unless he can tap into more offensive impact.
FEATURED SCOUTING REPORTS
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox (Winston-Salem Dash)
Chance for plus hit tool and 2B glove give high floor; moved to Double-A before all-star game and won’t be participating.
Jackson Kowar, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Wilmington Blue Rocks)
Velocity and curveball have both improved at pro level; above-average fastball and two solid off-speed pitches give mid-rotation upside.
Nolan Jones, 3B, Cleveland Indians (Lynchburg Hillcats)
Ideal size and power for corner profile with excellent zone control; continued issues with same-side pitching hint at platoon issues.
Daniel Lynch, LHP, Kansas City Royals (Wilmington Blue Rocks)
Fastball has ticked up at pro level, now touches 96-97 mph with two solid off-speed pitches; ceiling of mid-rotation lefty SP.
MJ Melendez, C, Kansas City Royals (Wilmington Blue Rocks)
In the midst of a nightmare first season at High-A, though high-ceiling tools still on display; will be watched closely in the second half to see if he bounces back.
OTHERS OF NOTE
|Javier Assad||RHP||Myrtle Beach||CHC||Video||Spotlight|
|Paul Richan||RHP||Myrtle Beach||CHC||Spotlight|
|Jason Bahr||RHP||Down East||TEX||Video|
|DeMarcus Evans||RHP||Down East||TEX||Video||Spotlight|