2019 LEAGUE ALL-STAR PREVIEWS
(Updated as each piece is released)
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Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins (Ft. Myers Miracle)
The #1 overall pick in 2017 from the SoCal prep ranks, Lewis proved far too advanced for the Midwest League in 2018—no small feat for a teenager in his first full year of pro ball. He’s had a rougher go since moving up to High-A around the middle of last season, though he just turned 20-years-old and is still very young for the level. Lewis’ immense physical gifts still jump off the page in game action, something that was clear across my four-game look.
Lewis’ 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame has more strength and size than most players with his speed. There’s still room to get stronger, though this body type can stay at a center-diamond position even with physical gains. That strength shows up in BP, where Lewis generates impressive raw power for a shortstop because of an extremely loose, whippy swing. Though he hasn’t fully unlocked it in game action—it’s also worth noting the FSL has huge parks and suppresses almost every player’s home run totals—he projects for at least average game power with plenty of doubles. He has struck out at a career-high clip so far in 2019, though he’s facing advanced pitching consistently for the first time in his pro career and definitely shows the long-term tools to hit. Lewis expanded the zone and swung through breaking stuff in my viewing, often struggling to shorten up when behind in counts. His batspeed and natural hand-eye coordination are so good, some of the current over-aggression stems from being used to barrel everything as opposed to any uncorrectable long-term flaw. You’re projecting on improved selectivity and a more patient overall approach, though with those changes made, Lewis can develop into an above-average hit/on-base producer.
Some scouts felt he would have to move from SS to CF when Lewis came out of high school. There’s a non-zero chance that switch still happens, though I came away feeling he should get more time to develop as an infielder. He can get hard-handed at times, staying upright and fielding balls off to the side. Like his offensive development, lots of Lewis’ present lack of fundamentals can be chalked up to being talented enough that he hasn’t, to date, had to do things correctly in order to get desired results. Lewis has a plus arm with effortless carry, finishing numerous plays from the deep hole throughout the series.
Patience, not panic, is the best way to characterize Lewis as a prospect right now. He still shows the same unique five-tool potential and excellent intangibles that made him a top-of-the-draft talent. One of the best prospects in baseball—ranking #4 overall on our Pre-Season Top 125—Lewis’ upside as a franchise player and long-term building block in Minnesota remains unchanged.
Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton Marauders)
Swaggerty has a short, but strong and compact build. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, he does not have much room for physical projection. The young outfielder hits from a low, athletic position which helps engage his lower half into his swing. He can produce above average pull-side power due to his solid foundation and quick swing. Swaggerty also has the ability take an outside pitch to the opposite field due to a balanced approach at the plate. The 20-year old has plus speed, which he uses to steal bases and track down fly balls in centerfield. In addition to showing good range in the outfield, Swaggerty also possesses an above average arm.
Thanks to his combination of speed and pull-side power, Swaggerty projects to be a 20-20 hitter in the big leagues. His plate discipline, speed, and hit/power combo make him a perfect #1/#2 type hitter in the modern game. The #60 overall player on 2080 Baseball’s Pre-Season Top 125 Prospects, Swaggerty’s ceiling is a FV 55 above-average regular. -Matt Linder
Jose Devers, SS, Miami Marlins (Jupiter Hammerheads)
One of the prospects Miami acquired from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton deal, Devers got off to a torrid start at the plate this year—in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, no less—after adding noticeable muscle through the off-season. I only caught one game of the athletic infielder this year, as he was placed on the IL early in my full-series look at Jupiter.
Devers is a throwback shortstop, unlikely to bring much power to the plate but able to hit, run, field, and throw well enough to potentially fit as a regular at a valuable position. He was one of the youngest everyday players in the South Atlantic League last year, showing the makings of solid bat-to-ball skill but lacking much strength at contact. Devers’ physical gains have started to change that, as his compact swing can now spray hard liners all over the field.
His best tools are still on defense, where the 19-year-old shows the first step and easy actions to stick at short. His arm was fringy from the deep hole last year, but added strength has changed that too. I didn’t see him challenged much defensively in this viewing, though the handful of routine throws he did make came out with noticeably crisper life across the dirt.
Cal Mitchell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton Marauders)
Mitchell entered the spring of his senior year at Rancho Bernardo (CA) high school as a potential top-30 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. He tried to get away from the hit-first approach that is his calling card that spring, sliding to 50th overall to the Pirates. Mitchell has gotten back to basics at the plate since turning pro, performing last year in the South Atlantic League and named an all-star again at mid-season this year in the Florida State League.
Contact and approach are Mitchell’s best attributes, with a very short, efficient swing with quick wrists that keep the barrel in the zone a long time. Mitchell shows feel for the zone and an understanding of ID’ing off-speed, laying the groundwork for a hit tool that could grade above-average to plus at maturity. He’s more of a contact hitter than a slugger, though Mitchell has shown the ability to drive the ball with loft at times and fits the mold of a hitter who could come into power later in today’s game. Defensively, he’s playable in either outfield corner from a range perspective, but a below-average throwing arm likely limits him to left field at the big league level.
A .275 hitter with average pop in left field grades out to more of a solid-regular than a star, but the feel to hit makes Mitchell a fairly high-floor prospect. His ceiling is a regular corner outfielder with strong hit/on-base skills.
Tarik Skubal, LHP, Detroit Tigers (Lakeland Flying Tigers)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 215 lbs. B/T: L / L Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 4m
Skubal’s physical frame and left-handed velocity were attracting attention as a college underclassman, but he was hurt his junior year at the University of Seattle. He threw bullpens leading up to the draft in 2017, but ultimately opted to head back to school after sliding to the Diamondbacks in the 29th round. He showed the same stuff as a redshirt junior but struggled with control, lasting until the Tigers took him with their ninth-round pick. Skubal made a few appearances last summer after signing with Detroit, but the bulk of his pro experience has come in this year in the Florida State League. He has put himself on the prospect radar with a strong performance, named to the league all-star team after showing gains in control and pitchability that have opened the door for a potential long-term rotation role.
A muscular, athletic 6-foot-3, Skubal looks the part of a power arm and has the fastball to match. His semi-windup is deceptive but a bit robotic, with a funky overall operation reminiscent of Mariners lefty James Paxton. He throws up a high, closed front side with a plunged arm-circle, offsetting timing but struggling to stay in-sync. This causes inconsistent command and overall placement within the zone, though he has the stuff to be effective without pinpoint location—especially in A-Ball.
Skubal runs his fastball to 97-98 mph early in starts, settling in the 93-to-94 mph range with lively finish through the zone. His best off-speed is a low-80s curveball, flashing sharp bite and solid two-plane finish at best. It gets slurvy at times, blending into a 84-to-86 mph slider that he’ll flash as a show-me second look. Skubal’s 80-to-84 mph change is definitely a work in progress, but the glimpses of effective movement hint it could finish a solid third pitch with more development.
Skubal checks the boxes of a potential late-bloomer, and as a southpaw with premium velocity, the bar is a little lower for how sharp his secondary and command need to be in order to stick as a starter. He’s a classic risk/reward wildcard, possessing the frame and tools of a power mid-rotation lefty if his command and off-speed can get more consistent. Even if they don’t, this type of stuff and deception can impact from the bullpen if he needs a fallback. Though he’s far from a sure thing given the lack of pro track record and injury history, Skubal’s breakout season has placed him among the more interesting arms in a talent-rich Florida Sate League crop this year.
FEATURED SCOUTING REPORTS
Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater Threshers)
#3 overall pick in last year’s draft has improved pure hitting ability and trimmed up XL frame since signing; emerging as a top offensive prospect in 2019, a potential impact middle-of-the-lineup bat.
Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins (Ft. Myers Miracle)
Physical corner outfielder with advanced hit/on-base ability and developing power; could be an above-average regular as line drive, all-fields approach shifts towards more fly ball lift.
Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays (Charlotte Stone Crabs)
Elite switch-hitting contact skill and plus speed/defense give chance to be above-average regular despite limited power; potential top-of-the-lineup catalyst and on-base threat.
Jonathan India, 3B, Cincinnati Reds (Daytona Tortugas)
Former hit-first shortstop has moved to the hot corner and morphed into a high-power, high-strikeout power bat at the pro level.
Cody Bolton, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton Marauders)
Breakout pitching prospect in 2019 that’s taking steps forward after showing flashes of dominance last year in the South Atlantic League; chance for above-average sinker/slider give mid-rotation upside.
Edward Cabrera, RHP, Miami Marlins (Jupiter Hammerheads)
Upper-90s fastball and sharp power curve give ceiling of power mid-rotation starter or high-leverage ‘pen arm.
Trevor Rogers, LHP, Miami Marlins (Jupiter Hammerheads)
Will be on a longer development track but has shown encouraging progress across the board; size and raw ingredients of a durable #4 starter, still requires some dreaming.
OTHERS OF NOTE
|Johan Quezada||MIN||Ft. Myers||RHP||Video||Report|
|Ryan Jeffers||MIN||Ft. Myers||C||Video||Report|
|Lewin Diaz||MIN||Ft. Myers||1B||Video||Report|
|Tony Dibrell||NYM||St. Lucie||RHP||Video||Spotlight|