This week on Big Hype Prospects, we use Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year awards as a lens to spotlight just a few guys who did not get sufficient love on this column.
Five Big Hype Prospects
Ezequiel Tovar, 21, SS, COL (AAA)
(AA) 295 PA, 13 HR, 17 SB, .318/.386/.545
Tovar wasn’t picked for the Rockies Player of the Year in what finally was a coin-flip scenario Adael Amador. However, we mentioned Amador final week, and Tovar is ready to make his debut as we speak. After performing properly in Double-A, Tovar compiled 23 profitable plate appearances at Triple-A. He’ll get a short trial to complete out 2022 whereas the membership considers its long-term plans.
Scouting experiences typically begin with Tovar’s protection which is universally well-regarded and may stand out in a post-extreme-shifts metagame. He depends far much less on positioning than the numerous big-bodied shortstops across the league. As a hitter, he has improved his high quality of contact this season. There’s nonetheless concern he’ll be strikeout and gentle contact inclined early in his profession as he additional develops his plate self-discipline. His selectivity appears to be trending in a optimistic course.
A few freely obtainable experiences resembling this one from FanGraphs make point out of his hit instrument as a carrying trait. Hit-tool-oriented prospects are likely to have rocky developmental paths (no pun meant). At decrease ranges, they carry out properly in opposition to pitches outdoors of the zone which lends itself to an ineffective, swing-happy strategy within the Majors. We’ll quickly get a primary take a look at how Tovar adjusts.
Wilmer Flores, 21, SP, DET (AA)
83.2 IP, 10.22 Ok/9, 2.26 BB/9, 3.01 ERA
The newest pitcher to rise within the Tigers system, Flores squashed High-A hitters early in 2022 earlier than transferring on Double-A. Not to be confused together with his brother, 10-year veteran infielder Wilmer Flores, Flores is a pitcher by the identical title who depends on arm energy and a pair of energy breaking balls. Reports point out poor command regardless of a low stroll fee – a sign he is throwing his stuff within the zone and letting hitters get themselves out. For a poor-command pitcher with plus stuff, there are worse methods to develop. This season, no less than two notoriously errant relievers – Jose Alvarado and Felix Bautista – had breakouts by merely throwing extra pitches within the strike zone.
Flores entered the season firmly thought-about a future reliever. His work this yr, together with sustaining velocity deep into outings, is starting to vary that perspective.
Endy Rodriguez, 22, C/2B, PIT (AAA)
(AA) 138 PA, 8 HR, 1 SB, .356/.442/.678
Acquired within the Joe Musgrove commerce, Rodriguez’s improvement superior by leaps and bounds this season. He entered the yr as a utility man with some catching expertise. He now seems to be the a part of both a premium catcher or second baseman. His hitting, which has all the time been discipline-forward, took an enormous step this season. Including all three ranges he is performed, Rodriguez hit 24 dwelling runs, 37 doubles, and three triples in 520 plate appearances. Not solely is he hitting for energy, he is making wonderful swing selections and bettering at each stage. In a extra broadly applauded system, this efficiency may advantage inclusion among the many Top 25 prospects. As it stands, he is quietly leaping onto the Top 100 lists.
Kyle Manzardo, 22, 1B, TBR (AA)
122 PA, 5 HR, 1 SB, .323/.402/.576
A six-foot-one-inch first baseman, Manzardo should mash to earn his technique to the Majors. Fortunately, he is already doing so. He additionally finds himself in the correct group. The Rays are the one workforce to present the equally height-deprived Ji-Man Choi an opportunity to discover a function. Manzardo reveals higher potential to keep away from strikeouts than Choi whereas sustaining comparable plate self-discipline. Including High-A, his 22 dwelling runs in 397 plate appearances signify an enchancment on preseason scouting experiences that prompt he had below-average energy. Manzardo, a left-handed hitter, skews barely to fly ball contact. Depending on the event of his energy, he may grow to be a premium first baseman or else wrestle with low BABIPs on the higher ranges. The early returns recommend the primary end result is extra seemingly.
Tyler Gentry, 23, OF, KC (AA)
331 PA, 16 HR, 8 SB, .321/.417/.555
The Royals have been maybe held again by the sheer quantity of prospects they promoted to the Majors this season. That additionally means there’s room for brand new names to ascend, like Gentry. A well-rounded hitter, Gentry thrived in 152 High-A plate appearances earlier than ascending to Double-A the place he continued to excel. Per Baseball America, he credit a simplified strategy and cargo together with his offensive breakout – not that he wasn’t already a well-regarded hitter getting into the season. The knock on him is his protection. He’s a nook outfielder who is not identified for significantly good jumps. It’s a profile that requires an enormous bat to work within the Majors. While he does not have a single carrying trait as a hitter, all the profile performs up due to extra self-discipline and a knack for barreled contact. Keep an eye fixed on his BABIPs subsequent season.
Taylor Dollard, SEA (23): The Mariners graduated Julio Rodriguez and George Kirby. Matt Brash joined the bullpen, Emerson Hancock had a down season, and Noelvi Marte was exported to Cincinnati. Dollard steps in as a candidate for the highest spot within the Seattle system on a pitchability foundation. The right-hander limits walks (1.94 BB/9) and may induce loads of whiffs when wanted. He largely pitches to contact, making him a possible future innings-eater on monitor to debut subsequent season.
Louie Varland, MIN (24): Making his third large league begin as I write, Varland pitched ably in 20 Double-A appearances earlier than a formidable four-game stint in Triple-A. While he is not a bodily specimen and lacks the mutant velocity related to most of as we speak’s pitching prospects, Varland does possess a four-pitch repertoire of common choices. He’s in a position to combine and match in a manner that ought to, ultimately, preserve large league hitters off stability. He’ll in all probability toss his share of clunkers alongside the way in which.
Jeremy De La Rosa, WSH (20): A left-handed hitting heart fielder with defensive chops, De La Rosa carried out properly as an age-appropriate place participant at Low-A. A promotion to High-A did not sluggish his base thievery, but it surely did render his bat impotent (53 wRC+). De La Rosa appears poised for a slow-burn developmental path. Defense all however assures an eventual Major League arrival whereas a excessive strikeout fee may render him a long-term backup.
Ceddanne Rafaela, BOS (22): A five-foot-eight-inch utility man, Rafaela hit for astonishing energy throughout two ranges this season. He’s an aggressive hacker with loads of swing-and-miss to his recreation, traits that could possibly be exploited within the higher ranges. This season, he managed 21 dwelling runs and 28 stolen bases in 524 plate appearances cut up between High- and Double-A. He turned 22 5 days in the past.
Colson Montgomery, CWS (20): Montgomery began sluggish and did not impress in a number of seems to be I took this season. However, the composite stats present promise from the multi-sport athlete. He makes a ton of contact, works counts properly, and is already growing sneaky energy. Most gamers together with his background – he was a rising hoops star who additionally performed quarterback – have a tendency to maneuver slowly by the decrease ranges. Montgomery has already risen to Double-A.