2019 LEAGUE ALL-STAR PREVIEWS
(Updated as each piece is released)
* * * * *
Casey Mize, RHP, Detroit Tigers (Erie SeaWolves)
Mize has done nothing but validate the Tigers’ decision to take him with the first pick in 2018. He overpowered Florida State League hitters for four starts before moving up to Double-A. He has been equally dominant in the Eastern League, named to the league all-star game despite a recent injury scare that knocked him to the IL. He won’t be playing in the game, but the good news is he’s throwing again and avoided surgery.
At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Mize has the prototypical size and durability of a starting pitcher. His delivery is simple in its operation, and he’s able to repeat it despite mild effort. His fastball sits 93-to-95 mph, occasionally taking a little bit off in order to create more sink. Mize’s best off-speed pitch is a plus splitter that he is comfortable throwing to both righties and lefties. It tumbles out of the zone at times, but the potential for a swing-and-miss offering was clear, with hard, late diving action at best. His power slider comes in at 84-to-87 mph with sharp break, able to execute the pitch to lefties and spot it on their back leg. He struggled with it early but was able to find more feel for the slider as the game progressed. With three pitches in the mid-80s or higher, Mize shows pitching IQ by executing a slower true curveball to throw a wrinkle into his hitting speed. It keeps the opposition off balance, making it tougher to just sit on anything hard. -Matt Linder
Matt Manning, RHP, Detroit Tigers (Erie SeaWolves)
Manning was the ninth overall pick in 2016, a two-sport star from the Northern California prep ranks. His father was a 6-foot-11 forward in the NBA, and that athleticism translates to his game on the mound. He’s coming off a big 2018 season, rocketing to Double-A as a 20-year-old and firmly establishing himself as one of baseball’s better pitching prospects. Manning is back in the Eastern League, leading the circuit with over 100 strikeouts in the season’s first half.
Manning controls his extra-large frame well for a pitcher his age, though there’s still some rigidity to his delivery that causes the in-zone command to be a work in progress. He won’t ever have to be pinpoint, however, as his velocity and natural extension make his fastball very effective up in the zone. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 97-98 mph, showing excellent late ride that beats barrels to spots up in the zone. Manning’s best off-speed is a hard curveball, a 77-to-80 mph downer with sharp 12-to-6 tilt. It flashes swing-and-miss action right now and projects as a plus pitch with continued development. His changeup is less advanced than the fastball or curve, but it’s a work in progress that’s taking steps forward.
There’s room to work on bettering his changeup and overall control/command, but Manning’s raw tools give the upside of a frontline starter. His size, velocity, and two plus pitches could fit an impactful #2/#3 role on a contending staff.
Colton Welker, 3B/1B, Colorado Rockies (Hartford Yard Goats)
Welker was the Rockies’ fourth-round pick from a Florida high school in 2016. He has moved quickly, reaching Double-A at the age of most college juniors in the draft. He has held his own in the Eastern League, named an all-star after hitting in the middle of Hartford’s lineup throughout the first half.
His best tools are at the plate, with a loose, strong swing that has above-average bat control for its longer and lashing path. That allows Welker to square up different pitch types, able to adjust the barrel to numerous parts of the zone. He doesn’t have the look of a high-strikeout hitter, with reason to project on more power given his large frame and plus batspeed. Defensively, Welker splits time between infield corners and likely projects to do so in the early parts of his career. He has the arm for 3B, but a thickening lower half holds up his lateral range and could make it tough to stay at the hot corner past his physical prime.
Welker’s offensive upside has moved him near the top of Colorado’s farm system. The tools to be an above-average hit/power producer are here, though his iffy defensive value might bump him to the FV 50 tier. He could be a solid big league contributor for a long time.
Deivi Garcia, RHP, New York Yankees (Trenton Thunder)
Garcia rocketed through three levels last year, finishing 2018 in Double-A as a 19-year-old. Back at the level this season, he’s still extremely young for the Eastern League at 20 and has been one of the circuit’s top starting pitchers in 2019. Named a league all-star, Garcia has missed a ton of bats for Trenton despite seeing his walk rate climb a bit with his first extended exposure to upper-level competition.
Just 5-foot-9, Garcia is the rare extra-short righty who actually has a chance to start. He’s durably built for his size and works with a deep arsenal, showing flashes of sequencing that demonstrates projectable pitchability. The fastball sits in the 92-to-94 mph range and touches 96-97 mph at best, with above-average riding life that hops above barrels up in the zone. Garcia’s off-speed repertoire consists of a sharp low-80s curve and firm upper-80s changeup he could live to take some off of. He has also leaned more heavily on an 88-to-91 mph cutter/slider hybrid this season, an interesting wrinkle that could develop into a larger part of his mix.
Still only 20-years-old, Garcia has plenty of time to refine aspects of his control and overall polish. He has struck out nearly 40-percent of opposing hitters (in Double-A, no less) while aged like most college sophomores in the draft. That’s meaningful, but the lack of size—and its likely correlation to long term durability—probably cap the ceiling somewhere around a FV 50 mid-rotation starter. That’s still a very valuable prospect, and there are plenty of scenarios in which this type of arm can be deployed in a versatile manner between a number of roles if he doesn’t hold up as a traditional every-fifth-day rotation piece.
Isaac Paredes, SS/3B, Detroit Tigers (Erie SeaWolves)
It’s all about the bat for Paredes, who has the ingredients of a future plus hit/on-base producer. He has a track record of making contact, posting minuscule strikeout rates at each minor league stop. It’s impressive that he has even cut down on his strikeouts even more in Double-A considering he’s so much younger than the average player at the level. Paredes has a fast, loose swing with uncanny hand-eye coordination. Though he certainly isn’t without power, there’s reason to project on more coming given his batspeed and frequent line drive contact. A stocky 5-foot-11, he’s plenty strong but quite thick through the lower half. Though that helps his offensive projection but will cause him to move from shortstop, likely to 3B where his strong arm profiles well.
Paredes has enough potential at the plate to still get everyday at-bats on a corner. His mature feel for hitting is impressive, and the numbers he’s putting up in Double-A at this age have pushed him into the mix for our Top 125 Prospects. The ceiling is likely a solid everyday corner infielder (FV 50), with some chance to be a bit more if the power really explodes or his hit tool ultimately exceeds 55/60-grade outputs consistently.
Mickey Moniak, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Reading Fightin Phils)
The first overall pick just two years ago, Moniak’s ups and downs in pro ball to date have been highly scrutinized. After a quiet first full season in Low-A, the industry was ready to press the panic button after he limped to a .254/.272/.321 line the first half of last season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Moniak quieted some doubters with a strong second half, making a few critical adjustments and rebounding to slash .286/.332/.442 the rest of the way. He was placed on the IL just before the Eastern League All-Star Game but was named to the East Division roster.
The Phillies assigned him aggressively to Double-A to start 2019, where he’s currently one of the youngest regulars in the Eastern League. After struggling through April, Moniak turned it on in since the start of May with a .292/.355/.459 slash line. The raw ingredients for an everyday CF are still here, and his gains in both swing lift and power last season make it more realistic he could finish with enough offensive impact to play every day. Moniak is an instinctual outfield defender with an above-average arm, a potential solid-to-above-average glove in CF who would be plus on either corner.
While he wouldn’t go 1/1 if the 2016 Draft was done again, we’re cautiously optimistic there’s reason to stay the course on Moniak’s general upside. With continued offensive development–especially against both same-side arms and advanced off-speed in general–he’s a potential regular at a center-diamond spot. The makeup and feel for the game that drove his draft stock prevent the floor from being too low; even if Moniak winds up a tweener, his well-rounded toolset and general instincts project to make him a capable role player.
Tanner Houck, RHP, Boston Red Sox (Portland Sea Dogs)
Questions about whether Houck fits best long term as a starter or reliever have persisted since his college days at Missouri. Scouts still are split, though he has helped his case some by cutting into his walk rate and making strides with a changeup in 2019. His stuff has backed up a tick—sitting in the 92-to-93 mph range and touching 95-97 mph with less frequency than he has in the past—but the pitchability has improved and he’s still getting tons of outs on the ground. Houck’s mid-80s breaking ball looks like a deep slider at its best, though he still battles a low three-quarters slot and can drop under it at times.
Houck just turned 23 in late June, so while he isn’t ultra-projectable past this point, there’s still at least some reason to think certain tweaks can be made. His complex delivery offers quality deception, but also is what impedes his consistency in terms of breaking stuff and command. Houck’s 6-foot-5 frame and mechanics could simply just be the type that take more time to grow in to, leaving some chance to finish a #4 starter in the best case scenario. I saw interesting leverage relief upside in my look last year, and still feel Houck likely brings most impact in a multi-inning ‘pen role.
FEATURED SCOUTING REPORTS
Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Boston Red Sox (Portland Sea Dogs)
Power and patience give upside of slugging everyday 3B; will always come with strikeouts and low batting averages.
Adonis Medina, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Reading Fightin Phils)
Lean frame has lost a slight bit of velocity in 2019; still shows the arsenal depth and advanced off-speed for at least a mid-rotation ceiling.
Zac Lowther, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Bowie Baysox)
Finesse lefty has moved quickly through the minors and had success at every stop; deception and command give back-rotation upside.
OTHERS OF NOTE
|Hoy Jun Park||NYY||Trenton||SS/2B||Video|
|Santiago Espinal||TOR||New Hampshire||UTIL||Video||Report|
|Zach Logue||TOR||New Hampshire||LHP||Video|
|Forrest Wall||TOR||New Hampshire||OF||Video||Report|