2019 LEAGUE ALL-STAR PREVIEWS
(Updated as each piece is released)
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Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (Round Rock Express)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 190 lbs. B/T: L / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 2m
Though he struggled in a short big league stint in 2018, Tucker has done little to quell his prospect status back in Triple-A this season. Named an all-star in the Pacific Coast League, he slashed .275/.349/.589 in the first half with 24 homers.
The 22-year-old has shifted from CF to RF, though his 6-foot-4 frame fits well on a corner. He still has speed, most of it showing up on the bases: Tucker has swiped 19 bags so far this year, only being caught once. He’s a prototype corner outfield profile with the chance to produce average and power, though the move down the defensive spectrum likely puts him in the FV 55 tier as opposed to the potential five-tool CF some prognosticated when Tucker entered pro ball.
Luis Urias, 2B, San Diego Padres (El Paso Chihuahuaas)
Ht/Wt: 5’9” / 185 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 9m
Urias has scuffled at the big league level each of the last two years, but he’s still one of the most polished pure hitters in the minors and has a long track record of performance. He’s also still just 22, and while his huge power spike in Triple-A this year is probably a bit of a Pacific Coast League mirage, Urias has batted over .300 all year with an absurd 25-percent line drive rate. He has the ingredients of a plus hit tool, with limited swing/miss in the profile with uncanny bat-to-ball ability. Urias moves between infield spots, but with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. firmly entrenched on the left side in San Diego, his best chance to crack the lineup long term is likely at 2B.
Jorge Mateo, SS, Oakland Athletics (Las Vegas Aviators)
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 192 lbs. B/T: R / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 9m
The high-energy Mateo has never been short on tools, with 80-grade wheels and a strong arm leading the profile. He struggled badly in 2018 in his first taste of Triple-A, though the 24-year-old has performed much better in 2019. Named a Pacific Coast League all-star, he hit over .300 in the first half with 18 stolen bases. His power numbers have spiked this year, too, though his underlying peripherals from last year aren’t that different and he still puts most contact on the ground.
Mateo’s speed translates to excellent defensive range, and though he has struggled with unforced errors in the past, the physical tools are here to be an impactful center-diamond defender. Mateo’s offensive surge only helps his chances of winding up an everyday big league shortstop. His speed and athleticism give the floor of a quality role player if the bat craters once moved out of such a hitter-friendly league.
Isan Diaz, 2B, Miami Marlins (New Orleans Baby Cakes)
Ht/Wt: 5’10” / 185 lbs. B/T: L / R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 10m
Diaz is a patient hitter who takes walks and works deep into counts. This also leads to some strikeouts, as seeing pitches ultimately leads to more two-strike situations. He doesn’t shorten up when behind and shows fringy contact ability versus spin, things that also contribute to the present whiffs. Diaz projects as a future 45-grade hit tool for me, one who could add to that grade only if he sacrificed some of his game power. He has juice in the bat for a smaller player, with 45-grade raw power that shows up to the pullside and sprays the gaps with hard contact. The game power projects to 45, meaning Diaz shows the upside of a 12-15 HR bat with plenty of doubles. Defensively, Diaz is limited to second base because of a below-average arm, but his actions and glovework at the keystone grade above-average. He ranges well to the hole and shows soft hands. Average speed rounds out the profile; though he isn’t a burner, Diaz has the timing and baserunning instincts to swipe the occasional base.
An instinctual player who plays hard and with fire, Diaz grows on you over multiple looks. He’s the type of player that backs up a solid toolset with an awareness of the little things–finishing plays defensively, taking an extra base, or showing situational awareness and feel at the plate. The sum-of-the-parts gives a FV 50 ceiling, an everyday regular at second base. Diaz is close to big league ready, only needing to develop more of a two-strike approach before being able to contribute to a rebuilding Marlins club. -John Eshleman (2018)
Brent Rooker, OF, Minnesota Twins (Rochester Red Wings)
Rooker is the type of slugging corner player whose value has diminished at the highest level in recent years. The 35th overall pick in 2017 from Mississippi State, he has moved quickly to the upper minors but was old for that draft class and came out of college a relatively finished product.
Rooker excels at what he can do—and struggles mightily in other areas—but his production is at least fairly predictable. He’s going to hit the ball out of the park, take walks, strike out, and bring limited defensive value between LF or 1B. He’s doing all of those things in Triple-A right now, though cutting down a whiff rate that’s currently above 30-percent will need to be a priority before reaching the big leagues.
In the best-case scenario, Rooker’s power outweighs low-grade hit and defensive tools such that he winds up a low-end corner regular. His track record of handling same-side righties (a bit unusual for this type of profile) could help him reach that upside, though his bat-only status could relegate him to FV 40 or Quad-A territory quickly if he doesn’t mash.
FEATURED SCOUTING REPORTS
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Indianapolis Indians)
Struggled in brief big league debut, though peripherals were strong; upside of solid #3 starter with mid-90s heater and plus curve.
Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, Baltimore Orioles (Norfolk Tides)
Potential to hit for average and power still gives everyday upside despite moving to 1B this season.
Willi Castro, SS, Detroit Tigers (Toledo Mud Hens)
Added a ton of muscle and transformed himself at the plate; now looks like he will hit enough to play everyday at shortstop.
Keegan Akin, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Norfolk Tides)
Sturdy lefty with back-rotation upside if he can cut down his walk rate.