This week, we went a little deeper to provide our readers with some names in which they might not be familiar. Sure, we could have put Vlad Jr’s name down yet again as he’s establishing himself as the best player in minor league baseball, but instead, we are introducing Telmito Agustin and Dennis Santana. But, we did have to mention Juan Soto who after being promoted to High-A looks like he might not be there very long. The kid can really play and might be this year’s Ronald Acuna – defined as someone who just blitzes through level after level.
Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.
Juan Soto (OF, WAS) – With all due respect to Vlad Jr., the best player in the minor leagues this season has been Nationals right-fielder Juan Soto. Sure, he’s a level behind Jr, but he’s the same age and through 14 games in High-A, he’s posted a 1.289 OPS. Through 16 games in Low-A, he posted a 1.300 OPS and the Nationals promoted him. Could another promotion be far behind? At this rate, it will happen sometime in late June.
Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHW) – After getting a late start to the year, Eloy Jimenez picked up right where he left off. In 20 games in Double-A, he’s slashing .346/.375/.704 with five home runs. In his small sample size, he’s been able to cut down on his strikeouts but at 6-foot-4, he’s just going to have some swing and miss in his game. The White Sox should promote Jimenez to Triple-A sometime in the second half with an anticipated 2019 major league debut.
Keston Hiura (DH, MIL) – After batting only .238 in April, Keston Hiura improved his BABIP and his batting average followed to a robust .358 in May. He also showed his penchant to be very aggressive at the plate as he has yet to walk in the month. That said, he can hit with some pop but concerns still linger as he has yet to play the field. Since he plays for the Brewers, and the last time I looked, they are still in the National League, the situation warrants some level of concern.
Cavan Biggio (2B, TOR) – Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette have gotten most of the attention in the Blue Jays system, and for good reason – they are tremendous talents. Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio is waving his hand to say – “Don’t forget about me”. In May, he is getting on-base at a .424 clip while slugging .654 with 3 home runs. He needs to cut down on his swing and miss, but the power is starting to develop and with his high-baseball IQ, he has a chance to be a solid major league regular.
Franmil Reyes (OF, SD) – Franmil Reyes was signed by the Padres at 16 in 2012 and has always shown double-plus raw power but also a ton of strikeouts. After depositing 25 home runs last year in Double-A, he’s already up to 13 home runs in 32 games in Triple-A. He’s still striking out a ton, 29 times in 32 games, but with a favorable .351 BABIP, he’s posting a .336 batting average. Plus, he’s had the luxury this year of playing in some of the best ballparks in all of baseball. Net…net, there is 25 plus home run potential with Reyes but with obvious pressure on his batting average.
Royce Lewis (OF, MIN) – Royce Lewis is proving that he was indeed deserving of the overall pick in last year’s draft. In 21 at-bats in May, he has 11 hits, all singles with five stolen bases. Overall, he’s hitting .356 with two home runs and 10 stolen bases. At this rate, the Twins could elect to accelerate his path to the big leagues. On the other hand, they might be gun shy given what happened with Byron Buxton. They pushed Buxton hard and even though he responded at each level, once he arrived at the big leagues, he was overwhelmed. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be a different result with Lewis as he’s just a better hitter. The skills are not nearly as explosive as Buxton, but with his solid approach, I think he could handle aggressive assignments and succeed quickly in the ultimate test.
Telmito Agustin (OF, WAS) – A new name to most prospect watchers is Telmito Agustin. Known primarily for his speed and defense, his bat speed suggested that he could eventually develop into some power. That seems to be happening as he is slugging .641 over the first six weeks of the season. He’s aggressive at the plate but makes enough contact that his secondary skills should be able to play. He’s likely a fourth outfielder at the highest level, but I know a number of scouts who think he could be more.
Chris Paddack (RHP, SD) – Chris Paddack creating a lot of buzz in 2016 as he dominated Low and High-A over nine games striking out 71 while walking 5. Unfortunately, he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John Surgery. He’s back and seemingly healthy with nearly an identical stat line. In two starts, he has yet to give up a run, has struck out 16 while walking one. I think the “stir” could be starting up again.
Dennis Santana (RHP, LAD) – Signed as a shortstop in 2013, the Dodgers converted Dennis Santana to the mound and has been slowly working through the system. Now at 22, the Dodgers have cleaned up his stiff delivery and he’s throwing more strikes while continuing to show a plus fastball and slider. While he’s likely a reliever long-term, he’s made significant progress and the Dodgers believe he can start long-term. He’s a kid to definitely monitor.
Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW) – After two outstanding outings to start May, right-hander Dylan Cease makes our list. In 13 innings, he struck out 18 while walking two and giving up only a single earned run. His secondary pitches are starting to round into shape and with a fastball that can touch the upper nineties, there’s just a lot to like with Cease long-term.
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