MLB: Prospect Mailbag 5/26/22

MLB: Prospect Mailbag 5/26/22

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

The top 400 prospect rankings are fully updated! As will be the case on the final Thursday of every month, I'll be posting a written version of the Wednesday mailbag episode of the podcast. This time around, it was heavily devoted to the rankings update. 

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe on your podcast app by searching "RotoWire Prospect Podcast".

Several questions about why Royce Lewis is at No. 2 overall.

I don't really know what the argument against Lewis in the top three is. His tools measure up with anyone – I think he'll hit for plus power with plus speed on the bases – and his performance as a hitter at Triple-A and the majors is unmatched by anyone with his tools. This isn't some pop-up prospect, he was a top-15 prospect for me from January 2018 through January 2021, and he got as high as No. 3 overall.

Several questions about why Gabriel Moreno dropped.

Short-term playing time concerns played a role, as Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk also deserve playing time. Moreno probably deserves to be top 30 just based on his hit tool and proximity, but the playing time thing coupled with his lack of above-average game power has him a little lower. If I said Moreno was essentially going to be Keibert Ruiz 2.0 but with more roadblocks to playing time, where would you want that player ranked for dynasty?

Several questions about Miguel Vargas's ETA and path to playing

The top 400 prospect rankings are fully updated! As will be the case on the final Thursday of every month, I'll be posting a written version of the Wednesday mailbag episode of the podcast. This time around, it was heavily devoted to the rankings update. 

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe on your podcast app by searching "RotoWire Prospect Podcast".

Several questions about why Royce Lewis is at No. 2 overall.

I don't really know what the argument against Lewis in the top three is. His tools measure up with anyone – I think he'll hit for plus power with plus speed on the bases – and his performance as a hitter at Triple-A and the majors is unmatched by anyone with his tools. This isn't some pop-up prospect, he was a top-15 prospect for me from January 2018 through January 2021, and he got as high as No. 3 overall.

Several questions about why Gabriel Moreno dropped.

Short-term playing time concerns played a role, as Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk also deserve playing time. Moreno probably deserves to be top 30 just based on his hit tool and proximity, but the playing time thing coupled with his lack of above-average game power has him a little lower. If I said Moreno was essentially going to be Keibert Ruiz 2.0 but with more roadblocks to playing time, where would you want that player ranked for dynasty?

Several questions about Miguel Vargas's ETA and path to playing time.

He's probably big-league ready. Long-term, I think he'll be a lot like prime Justin Turner, which is great. Figuring out when he gets a chance to play every day is really tricky. Obviously not every Dodger is playing well, but there's not an obvious Dodger hitter who is playing a lot and who I see them pulling the plug on. It might take a serious injury ahead of him for him to get the call before September.

Bob May: Where are you at right now on Josh Lowe? Do you think we see him back in the MLB anytime soon? Has your long term outlook changed?

I do have some concerns emerging (it was always a possibility) that he might be a Quad-A hitter. He'll probably be back up and back down and back up again at points throughout the summer, but I don't think he'll flip a switch and solve his strikeout issues in season.

Stealing Goof Troop Valor: Does the power ever develop for Austin Martin? If bullish, what is the ultimate power upside? If bearish, what does the overall ceiling look like without much power?

I think Martin can be an 8-to-15 homer guy, but that's not what makes him appealing. He could be a Tommy Edman type in terms of AVG and SB, but unlike Edman, he could get on base at an elite clip, allowing him to score 100-plus runs in peak years. This isn't a prototype fantasy performer that we've seen many times before, Martin's skillset is very unusual. 

JH Schroeder: How many of these guys should be rostered in an Ottoneu 5x5 league? Where's the cutoff? How much does level matter?

I'd say 1-13 should all be rostered plus some guys like George Kirby, Nick Lodolo, MJ Melendez, Caleb Kilian, Christopher Morel and Cal Mitchell who are going to contribute in the short term.

D.J. Trainor: Looks like Brennen Davis, Luis Matos and Coby Mayo all dipped in this set of rankings. Those three guys (plus George Valera and Taj Bradley) were all sent away by you for Mike Trout recently, so would you have not made that same trade a month ago? Two months ago?

I probably wouldn't have made that trade two months ago — I probably would have one month ago. There's value in seeing how good your team is before pushing that many chips in on the short term, and I was also able to rule out crazy breakout years from Davis, Matos, Mayo — they could have good years, but I don't see any of those three being top-50 dynasty assets at season's end.

Dan: Esteury Ruiz seems like a really tough rank. His stat line is insane (29 SB, .340/.484/.569 at AA) and the plate skills seem to have legitimately improved (15.5 BB%, 17.1 K%). What keeps him out of the upper tiers at this point? Doubt the power? Expecting major BABIP regression?

He is a very tough rank. I think most people will be surprised that I pushed him from unranked to top 80, especially given how long he has been around. I can see a case for pushing him quite a bit higher, but I'm going to wait and see how he does at Triple-A before really pushing him. This feels like a fair endorsement for now.

Flunkie: What's keeping Robert Hassell out of top 5 status for you? Are you officially worried about Anthony Volpe? You're probably the lowest on Zac Veen I've seen around, what's alarming you about him and why the large drop?

Hassell is a top-five caliber prospect, but so are the eight guys I have ahead of him. I'd like him to get the ball in the air a bit more, but he's tracking toward being a top five prospect once Royce Lewis, Riley Greene, Adley Rutschman and Shane Baz graduate. I'm not worried about Volpe, but I also don't think he's an elite prospect, just a really good prospect. Veen is fine, but I'm just not really sure what he's going to be. I don't think the speed will age well, I'm concerned about the ultimate hit tool and a little concerned about the game power. I also don't have any faith that the Rockies will get the most out of him.

Toolsy: Luis Matos? Are you worried? While technically not a prospect he is in the minors, I have to ask about Jarred Kelenic. Do you have any faith in him turning it around this year or in dynasty?

I'm happy to hear that Matos is dealing with a quad strain and not something more serious. I think he'll be fine, and I don't think anything about his ceiling has changed, but I also think it's fair to move healthy performing players with similar risk/reward past him. I'm really worried about Kelenic.

DungeonMaster28: Nick Yorke holding steady despite less than stellar superficial stats, do you see something in the process metrics to keep you confident in his bat?

Yorke, Volpe and Brayan Rocchio are examples of guys whose numbers don't match preseason expectations but who look like the same guys on video and whose bats are good enough that I think you should buy the dip if you can.

Niel: Do you think that Jackson Merrill could develop power?

Absolutely. Power was part of what got him drafted in the first round last year, so he has it, just a matter of getting to it in games (he's currently out with a wrist injury).

BrothersJudd: Bo Naylor seems to have fully recovered offensively; is he good enough defensively to come up this year? Will he stay at catcher long term?

I can't see Cleveland pushing Naylor up this year. He's not on the 40-man and teams don't usually rush catching prospects, but I think he'll be up for a good chunk of next year, and yes, I think he'll catch enough to retain that eligibility — might be kind of like Daulton Varsho.

Sean Edward: Do you like Miguel Vargas as an overall hitter better than Triston Casas?

Yes.

Sean Edward: What do you like about Jordan Lawlar to move him up so much?

I was expecting to put Lawlar in the top 20, but the more video I watched, the more blown away I was by his physicality and tools. As an amateur, I thought he lacked high-end physicality, but he's an athletic specimen now. This is what a future No. 1 overall prospect looks like. He's excellent at everything.

Nate Handy: It feels pitching in general has taken a little bump in the right direction. If this observation is correct, is this a little philosophical shift or just the current lay of the land? 

I was surprised to have three pitchers in the top 13, but I also don't see a good case for any of Shane Baz, Grayson Rodriguez or MacKenzie Gore to be any lower than that. Baz and Gore have had success in the majors and have big-time ceilings and Rodriguez is a finished product who should be having success in the big leagues in a matter of weeks. I don't really think I pushed pitching more than in the past other than at the very top.

John H: With guys like Joey Wiemer and Matt McLain, how do you weigh power/speed intrigue with the risk of high K rates?

McLain is selling out for power a bit. If he had the strikeouts in check, he'd be top 30 even with fewer HR. Wiemer is just such a toolshed that I want to keep him in the middle of the top 100 until he slows down. Anyone in that range could bust, but few in that range have his upside if he can keep the strikeout rate manageable as he climbs the ladder.

Steve G: How do you separate guys who are pop ups who will stick as opposed to one year wonder pop ups who flame out? Anthony Volpe seemed like a lock for top 10 after last year now scuffling.

Great question, I think guys like Lenyn Sosa and Jacob Amaya check a lot of boxes both from stats and the eye test that gives me confidence in buying in. I would have dropped Volpe quite a bit further if I was worried, I just think people may have overestimated his eventual fantasy upside. Volpe is more like Gavin Lux than Royce Lewis from a tools, athleticism standpoint.

Andrew Redding: I am thinking of trading for Henry Davis but I already have Keibert Ruiz and Fransisco Alvarez, I'm not sure I need another catcher… When Forest Whitley comes back do you think he still has the potential to be a top pitching prospect? 

I would offer Alvarez for Davis straight up. I feel like a lot of people prefer Alvarez. However, I wouldn't want three catchers of that caliber, it's just an unnecessary allocation of resources. Whitley could be top 75 by the end of the year or off the top 400 altogether. I have no idea what to expect from him once he's healthy, but I don't think you can rule out the possibility of it all coming together for him.

Ulysses: What's your forecast for Ken Waldichuk this season & beyond? Maybe a No. 2 starter? 

Waldichuk is definitely trending up and he's a starter all the way, thanks to a deep repertoire and strong command. I probably could have ranked him even higher than I did, but No. 2 starter seems like a stretch. The annoying thing is that the Yankees have so many options ahead of him, like Hayden Wesneski, JP Sears and maybe Clarke Schmidt.

Chef Lexvold: ETA for Corbin Carroll?

I highly doubt he is up this year, mainly because I don't expect the Diamondbacks to be competitive enough for it to make sense. However, I expect him to break camp in the majors next year like Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt this year.

Matt Maison: Would love to hear your thoughts on Jackson Chourio.

He certainly looks the part of a five-category outfielder and he's handling a super aggressive assignment very well in a small sample. My hope is that he focuses on making good swing decisions and putting bat to ball for now rather than chasing home runs – those will come. 

Dawes Williams: Are you downgrading Brewers offensive prospects at this point? Seems like a terrible recent track record, with Joey Wiemer the only bright spot. Keston Hiura, Hendry Mendez, Jeferson Quero, Hedbert Perez and Garrett Mitchell all underwhelming recently. Wondering if that's part of why you aren't buying into Felix Valerio.

Valerio is hitting .210/.276/.360 since April 15. If you recall, he hit four home runs in the first week and it's possible he went away from what made him a promising prospect in the first place: his hit tool. So that's why Valerio is ranked where he is. As for the Brewers, it's been a major weakness for them, but like with anything like this, some of it is poor development, and some of it is poor player acquisition decisions. I think Hiura falls under poor development — another player who was hit-over-power, fell in love with power and then everything fell apart. Mitchell looks like a bad draft pick choice in hindsight, as he was always going to need to overhaul his swing and that's been a disaster. I wouldn't say I'm downgrading Brewers hitting prospects yet, and guys like Jackson Chourio and Tyler Black could reverse that trend.

Buck: Just curious as to why Kahlil Watson fell that significantly?

He has a 40.4 K%. I was expecting him to strike out around 20-24% of the time at Single-A.

Fish Alaska: Evan Carter. Floor Grady Sizemore, ceiling poor man's Mike Trout. Thoughts? 

Carter was a really tough rank, because he's all of a sudden getting to power, which kind of changes the scouting report a little. I'm not sure how real it is, but it's possible he is a top-25 prospect at the end of the season if he keeps this up.

LLABESAB: What is going on with Wilman Diaz and Gabriel Gonzalez?

Those guys weren't going to be assigned to full-season ball. It's extremely rare to go from the Dominican Summer League straight to Single-A (which is what makes what Chourio is doing so impressive). They will debut when complex leagues open in a few weeks.

Mark Louis: I have Michael Harris and Eury Perez in multiple NL only leagues in my minors. If all works out, what is the most realistic timetable for each to be promoted to the majors?

Early next year for both (realistic), Perez maybe as early as this year if the Marlins need him in a push for the playoffs.

TheFairPoll: Is Vaun Brown on your radar at all? He's on a late-bloomer trajectory but looks absolutely electric and the numbers are superb.

He's on my radar, but he turns 24 in June and he's at Single-A. He could join the rankings if he mashes at High-A.

Tony: Surprised Jay Allen did not move up slightly with a .786 OPS. Orelvis Martinez at age 20 at AA showed a significant drop in your rankings. Don't you think of it as the Blue Jays being too aggressive and promoting him early?

Allen is doing a great job at certain stuff like getting on base, but he's not performing any better than I expected him to on the whole. He is really talented and seems like he has a bright future. I've struggled so much with where to rank Martinez over the years. I simply don't believe in the hit tool being better than fringe-average. The Jays know what they're doing with level assignments, and I don't think he'd be learning anything at High-A. 

Paul McLaughlin: Caleb Kilian and Connor Seabold, when do they make the show and how good are they?

Seabold is more of a back-end guy and he's out with a pectoral injury. Kilian is great and he's been one of my favorite pitching stashes for a while. He might be up in June.

DrOctagon Cards: Glad to see Colt Keith made a jump on to the list. Curious to hear thoughts on him.

Really solid all-around hitter. Hit-over-power now, but he's 6-foot-3, 215, so I think he can be a classic power/hit third baseman if it all comes together.

Dandy Chiggins: What's the ultimate ceiling for Brayan Bello? Also Gunnar Henderson made a HUGE leap! What is his HR/SB/OBP upside?

Bello could be a top-30 starter, he's on a really nice upward trajectory. Henderson's massive game power to all fields and plate skills really stand out. I know he's stealing bases, but I don't expect that to be a big part of his game. Henderson's ceiling is an OBP monster who hits 30-plus homers every year.

Dan: How does the quality of this top ten compare to the last few prospect classes? It feels a bit weak to me, do you agree?

I think the main difference with the top 10 now versus at points when it's been strongest is there are four guys (Corbin Carroll, Jordan Walker, Jordan Lawlar, Robert Hassell) who are highly unlikely to debut in the current season. There was a point this offseason where at least eight and maybe nine guys in the top 10 were going to be up in 2022. From a pure talent and upside standpoint, the top 10 feels as strong as ever.

Ross Redcay: How much do you penalize guys who are having a big year, but are repeating the level?

One example here is Marco Luciano. It would have been really discouraging if he'd struggled again in a return to High-A, and it's not surprising at all to see him mastering the level. The big thing with him will be what he does at Double-A. On the flip side, Esteury Ruiz is repeating a level, but he's blowing past anyone's expectations for him this year, so it's a big deal for him.

Chris Mickler: I personally think what Chris Welsh said on P1 about considering the long term view is important. There was big movement on some guys that were even top 10 before the season. I would say if they had top 10 pedigree they have skills worth waiting on and vice versa with new guys needing more proof…

I'm just trying to make the best rankings I can. Guys like Nick York, Anthony Volpe and Brayan Rocchio stayed around where they were, but I think there are very valid concerns with guys like Brennen Davis and Oneil Cruz. All the current top 10 guys have an excellent case to be where they are. You might say I should have waited longer to put Jordan Lawlar where he is, but that's truly how I'd value him in a dynasty league. I think he's got a better chance of being a perennial first-round pick in fantasy than Davis or Cruz at this point.

Rex Romae: How should we refine our processes with Jazz Chisholm's improvements and the K struggles of better graded hit tools like Keston Hiura and Jarred Kelenic?

With Jazz, I thought he would be terrible in the majors last year, just based on where he seemed to be developmentally, even though I still liked him long term. The fact that he was competent was extremely impressive and made it clear that he was a special talent who was rapidly improving and adjusting to better competition, which is why I was all-in on him this year. With Hiura and Kelenic, their struggles came at a time when there were full expectations that they would at least be competent, so that was a red flag and a reason to not buy in the following season.

Rex Romae: I know it's a bit of a folly but are there any RP prospects you consider close and of quality? 

Francisco Morales seems like he could be the Phillies' closer next year if everything breaks right.

Rex Romae: Do you think more teams should be pursuing the Brewers strategy of bringing SPs up to the MLB through the bullpen for experience?

Yeah, and a good example here is Matt Brash. If all it was going to take was four bad MLB starts for him to be demoted to the Triple-A bullpen, why not just break him in out of the big-league bullpen to start the year?

Joel Wesseling: Where would Luis Garcia fall on this list if eligible? 

He'd be around No. 35 overall, although he did just injure his hand at Triple-A. Hopefully it's not serious.

Mark Vogel: Is Corbin Carroll on the J-Rod/Witt tier of prospects who you would trade only for a king's ransom?

He's not on the level of preseason J-Rod, but I think he's on the level of preseason Bobby Witt for me in terms of his current dynasty value.

Here are some players who listeners brought to my attention or who I noticed after the fact that have a case to be on the top 400:

Jeremy De La Rosa, OF, WAS

Alejandro Osuna, OF, TEX

Jordan Diaz, 3B, OAK

Blaze Alexander, SS, ARI

Enmanuel Valdez, 2B/3B, HOU

Ryan Ward, OF, LAD

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
MLB Best Bets Today: Free MLB Picks and Same Game Parlays for Saturday, June 25
MLB Best Bets Today: Free MLB Picks and Same Game Parlays for Saturday, June 25
DraftKings MLB: Saturday Breakdown
DraftKings MLB: Saturday Breakdown
FanDuel MLB: Saturday Targets
FanDuel MLB: Saturday Targets
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Saturday Picks
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Saturday Picks