2019 LEAGUE ALL-STAR PREVIEWS
(Updated as each piece is released)
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Dustin May, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Tulsa Drillers)
The Dodgers’ third-rounder from a Dallas-area high school in 2016, May has emerged as the top pitching prospect in the organization. He ranked #47 overall on our Pre-Season Top 125 entering 2019, and his stock is trending even higher after an impressive start to the season in the Texas League. He has been named a league all-star as a 21-year-old, posting excellent strikeout and walk numbers for a power arm through 15 first half starts.
May’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 97-98 mph, able to hold that velocity deep into games. His long levers and deceptive three-quarters slot make it even tougher to pick up, playing as a plus pitch that could finish a 60-grade offering in the big leagues. His best secondary is a hard slurvy breaker, coming in at 83-to-86 mph with hybrid slant between a curve and true slider. It flashes swing/miss potential and is aided by his funky release point. He’s working to improve his 82-to-84 mph changeup, a pitch he worked in more to lefties with a bit of fade that has taken steps forward this year.
May is a high-upside mix of stuff, present control, and remaining projection. There are still a few tweaks to iron out, though there’s ample time to do so. It’s impressive enough that he’s reached the upper-minors so quickly and is having success in Double-A against older competition. May’s athleticism and track record of year-to-year improvement bode well for his ability to reach his ceiling as a #2/#3 starter.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (Tulsa Drillers)
Ruiz has been extremely young for the level each of the last two years, as the Dodgers pushed him aggressively to Double-A last year as a 19-year-old and he is back again to start 2019. On their own, his offensive numbers don’t jump off the page–though his age, position, and switch-hitting profile also play a role. His upside is significant enough to still be named to the Texas League All-Star Game this year after being a mainstay in Tulsa’s lineup in the first half.
Built thick but flexible, Ruiz’ 6-foot and 200-pound frame is well-suited for catching. He is most polished defensively, setting low and quiet targets with soft hands receiving the ball. Advanced footwork and a quick release play up average raw arm-strength. A switch-hitter, Ruiz is more of a contact hitter and more of a threat from the left-hand side of the plate. He might never be a 20+ home run threat, but given his age, body type, and loose swing, there’s reason to project some power against righties. The ceiling is an above-average backstop with 55-grade defensive tools and solid on-base ability for the position. His offensive is very oriented around contact and the hit tool, a profile that can regress under the physical rigors of catching. Even if Ruiz winds up closer to an average offensive producer for the position as the years go by, his instincts and defensive ability will make him a long-time big leaguer.
Justin Dunn, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Arkansas Travelers)
Dunn was the main pitching prospect in the off-season blockbuster that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets. The 2016 first-rounder is coming off a season split between two levels, getting his first taste of Double-A competition in 2018. Back at the level this season, he was named to the Texas League All-Star Game after posting excellent strikeout and walk numbers in the first half, pitching to a strong 3.46 ERA across 13 starts in the first half.
A plus athlete, Dunn’s coordinated mechanical operation allows remaining projection on his control and command. The fastball sits 92-to-93 mph, touching 95-96 mph at best, showing the ability to reach back for a bit extra when needed. Dunn has advanced ability to mix grips on his fastball, moving between four-seam, two-seam, and even occasional cut-like variants. He locates the pitch best to his armside, showing occasional ability to spot the heater across the plate inside to lefties. Dunn shows a good feel for his two breaking balls, mixing a true slider in the low-80s and a softer curveball as a wrinkle. He lands his slider both inside and outside the zone with intent, getting swings over the top by causing same-side batters to chase it down and away. The changeup grades out behind his breaking stuff, but still plays as an effective pitch. It’s a bit firm at 86-to-88 mph and could use more separation off his fastball, though it flashes late show and armside dive that hints there’s room to develop a better third offering. Dunn will need to find something more reliable against lefties, who have consistently hit him harder throughout his pro career.
At 23-years-old, Dunn isn’t far away from helping in the big leagues and could fit as a potential backend starter as soon as late 2019 or early next year. With more changeup development and improved ability to face lefties back through lineups, the long term ceiling is a potential mid-rotation piece. Regarded as a candidate to move to the ‘pen as an amateur, he has ironed out parts of his game and now seems like a decent bet to get a chance to prove himself as a starting pitcher.
Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Springfield Cardinals)
Back in March, we tabbed Carlson as a potential breakout candidate in our Cardinals Organizational Review after he slashed .253/.352/.411 in the second half of 2018 as a teenager in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. That is exactly what this year has been for the 20-year-old outfielder, named an all-star in the Texas League after slashing .286/.369/.512 in his first 65 games.
An athletic 6-foot-3, the switch-hitting Carlson has intriguing power potential from both sides of the plate. He’s a very selective hitter that consistently works at-bats and draws walks, something he will only do more of with age. Despite some length to the swing, Carlson doesn’t strike out much and projects to hit for more average as he keeps developing two different swings. He has spent most time this year in CF, though at his size, it’s likely he moves to a corner down the road.
Evan White, 1B, Seattle Mariners (Arkansas Travelers)
White’s abnormalities have been well-documented. Seattle’s first-rounder in 2017 from the University of Kentucky, he’s unique for a 1B prospect in that he hits right (but throws left), runs well, and didn’t show blow-the-doors-off power as an amateur. It’s an odd profile to fully buy in on, but he keeps performing and is hitting for more power in the Texas League than he did last year in the friendly confines of the California League.
Before he slugged .703 in the last month of 2018, White’s power numbers in High-A were meddling. He’s clearly trying to get to more game power, having moved to a more aggressive swing that utilizes a leg kick to generate force. White whistles the bat through the zone and takes a strong cut, though it’s one that may have gotten away from the barrel control that was his bread and butter as an amateur. He waves through well-placed off-speed, and I’ve seen a healthy amount of swing/miss across numerous looks as he’s working through this swing change. He’ll hit for average, the question is whether there’s enough home run power to produce the way many 1B are expected to. White’s above-average athleticism for the position is on display in other facets of the game. He’s an excellent defender at 1B with great mobility and playmaking skill, to the point some scouts want to see him try a corner outfield spot.
If White does wind up a regular at 1B, it won’t be the hulking, slow-footed, patience-and-power type that’s common in today’s era. If the lack of power becomes a serious hindrance closer to the big leagues, Seattle could try White at a few positions to increase his versatility.
Owen Miller, SS, San Diego Padres (Amarillo Sod Poodles)
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 190 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 4m
Miller has done nothing but hit since signing under-slot with the Padres in 2018’s third round. He reached Double-A by the end of his pro debut last summer, and was named an all-star in the Texas League repeating the level in 2019. We love his feel to hit and considered him one of the top sleepers in the Padres’ loaded system, and he has backed that up so far this season.
Miller has an efficient stroke with plus batspeed and barrel control, grading as a potentially above-average hitter who won’t whiff much. His level path and contact-focused approach don’t lend themselves to much power, though he has shown a bit more pop in 2019 and is putting fewer balls on the ground. He’s more reliable than flashy at short, and it isn’t a sure thing he stays at the position in the big leagues. If he does, the hit-first profile gives the chance to finish an everyday player. Even if he winds up a hair short of that, Miller’s fundamental game, plus instincts, and defensive versatility can combine to make him a solid role player or utility type.
Edward Olivares, OF, San Diego Padres (Amarillo Sod Poodles)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 195 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 0m
The Venezuelan outfielder signed with Toronto for a minuscule bonus in 2015. One of two prospects returned in a small trade before the 2018 season–moving to San Diego in exchange for big league veteran Yangervis Solarte–Olivares is looking like a potential steal relative to what the Padres gave up to acquire him. The 23-year-old was named a mid-season all-star for the second consecutive season, this time in the Double-A Texas League.
Olivares is a plus athlete with above-average feel for the barrel, showing plus speed and a bit of power. It’s a soft five tool skill set that shows up in numerous facets of the game. He has split time the last two seasons between CF and RF given the presence of Buddy Reed in Lake Elsinore and Amarillo, but has a chance to play a center-diamond outfield spot adequately. Olivares’ best chance at finishing a big league regular will be in CF, as his lack of blow-the-doors-off power makes him a more iffy fit to stick as a regular on a corner. Though 23 is far from senior–especially in Double-A or Triple-A–he’s a little older than most of the Padres’ surplus of prospects and might have less skill projection left as a result. Olivares’ well-rounded style of play raises the floor and makes him a likely fourth/extra outfielder even if he falls short of his upside as an everyday player.
FEATURED SCOUTING REPORTS
Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Tulsa Drillers)
Ranked #65 overall on our Top 125 Prospects entering 2019, and stock is rising even since then after big offensive first half as a 21-year-old in the Texas League.
Khalil Lee, OF, Kansas City Royals (Northwest Arkansas Naturals)
One of the youngest regulars in the Texas League this year; potential everyday outfielder if he can stick in CF and/or brings more raw power into games.
Abraham Toro, 3B, Houston Astros (Corpus Christi Hooks)
Offensive tools plus switch-hitting profile and defensive versatility give upside of low-end regular or bat-first role player.
Gabriel Cancel, 2B, Kansas City Royals (Northwest Arkansas Naturals)
Offensive-minded infielder with sneaky pop; projects as solid role player or hard-hitting bench bat with adequate defense at 2B/3B.
OTHERS OF NOTE
|Bryan Abreu||HOU||Corpus Christi||RHP||Video|
|Colin McKee||HOU||Corpus Christi||RHP||Video|
|D.J. Burt||KCR||NW Arkansas||INF||Spotlight|
|Gerson Garabito||KCR||NW Arkansas||RHP||Video||Report|
|Conner Greene||KCR||NW Arkansas||RHP||Video||Spotlight|