Last week, I highlighted ten key principles (https://mvpsportstalk.com/2020/09/19/its-time-to-fix-how-we-evaluate-mlb-prospects/) of modern-day prospect evaluation. Unfortunately, those principles were created based on glaring misconceptions with the practice, and that has led to several prospects being undervalued. Luckily for those prospects, I’ve built an objective model that isn’t swayed by certain biases. Rather, it analyzes scouting grades, and based on a weighting system that relies on stable aspects of their skillset, projects their future mean $/year worth.
The purpose of the model is to take my previous research on stable metrics, positional value, and the significance of each specific area of production (offense, defense, base running) in order to calculate how valuable a player is likely to be. Thus, it is projecting what their Value Over Average (VOA), a statistic created at mvpsportstalk.com (https://mvpsportstalk.com/2020/07/06/meet-voa-a-statistic-that-captures-an-mlb-players-value-better-than-war/), will be if they reach their mean outcome. From there, the model calculates the mean between their exact $/VOA value and the implied value based on their position. In other words, if they play a position where there are more players with a high VOA, such as first base and third base, they’ll need to be an impact producer in order to stand out- the bar for them is much higher than a catcher or shortstop, for instance. To formulate the VOA calculation, the model uses consensus scouting grades in specific areas to calculate their following tools: on-base ability, power, defense, and base-running; with those variables accounted for, it is able to calculate the amount of wins they’ll provide on offense and defense, which can be translated to VOA.
Today, we’ll be looking at the top 50 prospects that deserve far more recognition that they were receiving.
Quickly, I’ll list #50-26. These prospects all project as impact major leaguers, though my model isn’t as confident on them as it is for the others that we’ll get to:
#50: UTIL Vimael Machin, Oakland A’s
A rule-5 draft pick this offseason, Machin is the epitome of a player Billy Beane has constantly valued in Oakland. Although he won’t hit for a lot of power, his pitch selection and pure-hitting ability should translate to high on-base percentages, which would mean he’ll likely end up as a productive everyday second baseman.
#49: SS Anthony Servideo, Baltimore Orioles
Servideo went into the third round to the Orioles, yet, per my model, he should’ve been a first-round pick. He posted a .429 on-base percentage in his sophomore season at Ole Miss, and complements those on-base skills with strong defense at shortstop.
#48: RHP Sean Hjelle, San Francisco Giants
Standing in at 6’11”, Sean Hjelle is quite the awkward plate appearance for an opposing hitter. Although he doesn’t have an overpowering pitch, the deception he creates due to his frame is notable, and he’s a very well-rounded pitcher. Between his durability, ability to generate ground balls, and his command, he projects as a likely middle-of-the-rotation starter.
#47: RHP Brian Howard, Oakland A’s
Right now, Brian Howard doesn’t have a clear “plus” pitch. What he does have, however, is a track record of consistent production in the minor leagues, in addition to a cutter that could easily develop into the pitch he needs to take him over to the top. Regardless, his K-BB ratios throughout his time in pro ball suggest he’ll be a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter.
#46: COF Chas McCormick, Houston Astros
A 25-year-old undersized corner outfielder will never sound appealing, but that let that discount Chas McCormick. Between Double-A and Triple-A last season, he posted a double-digit walk rate, has excellent bat control, and has no apparent weakness. As he continues to improve his swing path, his stock figures to only go up.
#45: 1B Mason Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates
If my model values as a first baseman, then you know there is something special about him. In Mason Martin’s case, his offensive profile is tremendous. He has 70-grade raw power to complement his strong on-base skills. Worried about his strikeout rates? Don’t be; I’d trade strikeouts for increased quality of contact any day of the week!
#44: 3B Drew Ellis, Arizona Diamondbacks
I have a great appreciation for how the Diamondbacks have built their farm system, and Drew Ellis is a clear example of what I’m talking about. He may not be a “flashy” player, but he had a 14% walk rate in 2019 and has a lot of raw power, which would equate to him being a serviceable third baseman.
#43: 2B Terrin Vavra, Baltimore Orioles
Traded to Baltimore for receiver Mychal Givens, Terrin Vavra may have finally got the break he needed. He walked as much as he struck out in 2019 at Single-A and also is an above-average defender at second base, but he needs to improve in some other areas, primarily his swing path. Luckily for him, the Orioles’ player development staff is a perfect fit for him.
#42: CF Ronnie Dawson, Houston Astros
2019 didn’t go as planned for Ronnie Dawson, who really struggled between Double-A and Triple-A. With a strong sample size of production previously, though, I can see why my model is still a believer in him; he walks, has raw power, and is athletic. That’s a strong combination of skills, so hopefully he can get back on track next season.
#41: SS Zack Short, Detroit Tigers
Another prospect traded at the trade deadline, Zack Short is an even more overlooked player than Vavra- he was traded from the Cubs for Cameron Maybin. That’s a puzzling move for a team that needs any sort of contributions from cost-controlled players. The 24-year-old’s contact skills are lacking, yet he compensates for that with his ability to draw walks, and he doesn’t have a clear weaknesses- I can’t overstated how valuable that last part is.
#40: SS Cadyn Greiner, Baltimore Orioles
Playing on an extremely talented Oregon State team that won the College World Series, Cadyn Greiner was easy to overlook. Now, due to his strikeout issues, he’s gone even more under-the-radar. Yet, once again, evaluators are overvaluing the importance of strikeouts, especially since he walks, is an excellent defender, and is a top-notch athlete. I’ll gladly take that from my everyday shortstop.
#39: CF Skye Bolt, Oakland A’s
Now 26-years-old, I’m worried that Skye Bolt may never get the chance to prove his abilities. That would be a shame, as he hasn’t done anything to indicate he can’t be a productive starting center fielder. He’s the classic Billy Beane player in terms of that he posts high on-base percentages despite low batting averages, and he’ll also cover a lot of ground on defense.
#38: RHP Richard Gallardo, Chicago Cubs
Since he’s only 19-years-old, Richard Gallardo may get more recognition over time. However, that may not actually be the case. He lacks the projectable frame to excite scouts, and will likely get labeled as a “low ceiling arm”. Regardless, his present ability is rare for a pitcher of his age, and when it’s all said and done, he has a good chance to feature an above-average fastball and wipeout curveball with plus command. That’s quite the intriguing profile.
#37: CF Jonatan Clase, Seattle Mariners
Due to his age (18-years-old), Jonatan Clase is only in the earlier stages of his development. Generally, that may be a reason to be skeptical, but in his case, his proficiency in stable aspects is incredibly impressive. He has already displayed the ability to walk at an extremely high rate, and with his elite athleticism, also projects as a gold-glove caliber defender in center field. In a few years, I could definitely see my model rating him as one of the top outfield prospects in the sport.
#36: CF Lane Thomas, St.Louis Cardinals
For some reason, Lane Thomas has never gotten the opportunity to shine with the Cardinals, despite their troubles in the outfield. Ultimately, I’d expect his on-base skills, solid power, and tremendous defense to win out, whether it’s in St.Louis or with another team; he’s a fascinating trade target for teams with a clearer path to playing time (Indians, Giants, Diamondbacks, Red Sox).
#35: TJ Zeuch, Toronto Blue Jays
Based on his production in the minors, TJ Zeuch isn’t a very inspiring pitching prospect. Nevertheless, my model is betting on his skills ultimately vaulting his stock. He projects to have multiple above-average pitches with borderline elite command, so although he hasn’t had his breakthrough yet, there is reason to believe he can still be a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
#34: RHP Drey Jameson, Arizona Diamondbacks
To be fair, there is some reliever risk with Drey Jameson, who is undersized and has a violent delivery. Yet, he has been able to maintain that delivery well, and even when accounting for the likelihood he won’t eat many innings, he was a steal as a second-round pick in the 2018 draft. His fastball is electric, and besides that, he has THREE other plus pitches (curveball, changeup, slider). That is incredibly enticing.
#33: RHP Parker Dunshee, Oakland A’s
In 2019, Parker Dunshee posted a 5.38 ERA in Triple-A, which has dimmed his prospect stardom. Previously, however, he had never had a minor-league season with a K-BB ratio below 5, as his command is exceptional; he has “#3 starting pitcher” written all over him, which is huge for the small-market A’s.
#32: CF Hudson Haskin, Baltimore Orioles
Coming out of Tulane, Hudson Haskin was seen as a reach when the Orioles took him at the top of the second round in this past draft. Don’t be mistaken, though; that was one of the steals of the draft. What is there not to like with a center fielder who had a .372/..459/.647 slash line in his freshman season! Really, the main flaw with him seems to be his funky mechanics, but as long as he continues to get on base, it doesn’t matter how he looks doing it.
#31: 2B Richard Palacios, Cleveland Indians
Due to injuries, Richard Palacios has missed a lot of time, so he’s not a very well-known prospect at this point. Hopefully, 2021, can be the year he can stay healthy, as his on-base skills and athleticism indicate that he could be a very productive player. He is still 23-years-old, after all.
#30: RHP Josh Wolf, New York Mets
I’m generally much more in favor of taking high-school pitchers than high-school hitters, given the nature of the two positions, so Josh Wolf could have easily been a first-round pick in 2019. Fangraphs grades his fastball and breaking ball as a future 60-grade offerings, and he has no weakness. Add in his projectable frame, and I don’t understand why he isn’t getting more attention- he appeals to all crowds.
#29: CF Brenton Doyle, Colorado Rockies
As a fourth-round pick in 2019, Brenton Doyle is expectingly not someone that the general fan would know much about. There isn’t much to take away from his college career at Shepard University, but that could also mean he has a chance to be an unheralded gem. He has a lot to offer in terms of pitch selection skills, raw power, and athleticism, so keep a close eye on him.
#28: RHP Yoendrys Gomez, New York Yankees
Since he has not pitched a lot, you wouldn’t expect Yoendrys Gomez to be one of the higher-regarded prospects in a deep Yankees farm system. Don’t let that stop you from understanding what a sturdy three-pitch arsenal and plus command can translate into; with this player development staff, he should be a productive big-league pitcher.
#27: COF Will Benson, Cleveland Indians
Since scouts and evaluators tend to rely on “hit tools” rather than an on-base tool, Will Benson has been dismissed- his batting averages are remarkably low. When you walk at a double-digit clip, elite raw power, and above-average athleticism, though, you should not be overlooked; the former first-round pick is an excellent buy-low trade candidate should the Indians decide to move on from him.
#26: CF DJ Peters, Los Angeles Dodgers
Speaking of outfielders with high strikeout rates, DJ Peters can be an all-or-nothing type of hitters, which is perfectly acceptable. Similarly to Benson, he’s shown the ability to take his fair share of walks, has elite power, and also is a plus athlete. The difference in Peters, though, is he has far better pure-hitting ability (it’s not a liability), so the strikeouts are the nit to pick with his skillset. Since he is 24-years-old and doesn’t have a path for playing time, he likely is available via trade; if I were a general manager, I’d be calling the Dodgers everyday trying to acquire him.
Now, on to the top 25:
#25: COF Jaylin Davis, San Francisco Giants
$/Year Value: $12.88370568M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Strikeouts, Age
Initially, when the Giants traded reliever Sam Dyson to the Twins at the 2019 trade deadline, it looked like they received too little of a return. Yet, Dyson had an injury that caused Minnesota to non-tender him, and San Francisco acquired a gem in Jaylin Davis. Sure, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Davis, who is already 26-years-old and hasn’t found a role in the majors. Yet, he posted a wrc+ over 160 in Triple-A between the two organizations last season, his is a testament to his offensive skillset. Not only does he have exceptional raw power, but he also has demonstrated above-average pitch selection, and together, those two traits should lead to success in the long-term. Then, you add in he’s a plus athlete that’ll be a quality defender in a corner outfield spot, and striking out is his only issue. In other words, ignore him at your own peril.
#24: RHP Ljay Newsome, Seattle Mariners
$/Year Value: $13.03843416M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Doesn’t Have a Flashy Pitching Arsenal
Oftentimes, when we evaluate pitchers, we tend to focus too much on their flaws. However, there are a lot of different ways to prevent runs, and in Ljay Newsome’s case, it’s his command. Throughout his minor league career, he posted a BB/9 of just 1.1, and that’s carried over so far; as of Thursday, he has a 0.6 BB/9 in 15.2 MLB innings. Plus, with a career 8.5 K/9 in the minors, it’s not as though he can miss bats. He’s a classic example of a pitcher who doesn’t have a complete arsenal, as his breaking ball isn’t great, but with a fastball and changeup that each project to be above average, he should slot in as an effective middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the type of pitcher any team could use.
#23: RHP Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks
$/Year Value: $13.06180667M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of Linear Progression
No matter the sport, there is a common belief that a young player’s progression is supposed to be linear. However, this isn’t a video game, which means that you can’t just boost up a player’s overall with development points. Thus, I’m not as concerned about Jon Duplantier’s poor 2019 season as others. His ability to miss bats has never been issue, but last season, his command faltered- he walked 6.63 BB/9 in Triple-A. Yet, previously, his walk rates generally sat in the low 3.00s, which is fine considering his strikeout ability. He probably won’t eat a lot of innings, but even in a 140/150 inning role, he can be effective; Andrew Heaney is actually a decent comparison even from a stylistic standpoint.
#22: RHP Tyler Phillips, Texas Rangers
$/Year Value: $13.18896168M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Doesn’t Have Flashy Pitching Arsenal
Right now, the Cubs have a pitcher that doesn’t throw hard, but has utilized his command, feel for pitching, and a fastball-changeup combination to be an effective #2/#3 starter. That would be Kyle Hendricks, who signed an extension that almost lines up perfectly with Tyler Phillips’ projected worth. With his athleticism and strong track record eating innings, there are zero concerns with his health, and that’s added onto further with his excellent command- he’ll keep his pitch count low. Plus, similarly to Newsome, he has a plus fastball and changeup that’ll allow him to miss enough bats; he posted an insane 7.9 K-BB ratio in 2018. It’s not a flashy profile, but don’t be surprised if he’s the classic example of a successful pitcher that was overlooked due to a “low ceiling”.
#21: SS Freddy Zamora, Milwaukee Brewers
$/Year Value: $13.36051709M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Injury, Lack of Power
Unlike some of the other prospects in this list, it’s at least understandable why Freddy Zamora has been overlooked. Seen as a potential first-round pick heading into the 2020 season, he tore his ACL, which is part of the reason he was available with the Brewers’ second-round pick. Yet, his production over the first two years of his college career at Miami should make ups for that. In 486 plate appearances, the 21-year-old posted a .391 on-base percentage, while he also walked more than he struck out. Thus, he’s productive in all of the stable offensive metrics, and when you add in his defensive ability, he projects as an above-average defender with high on-base skills. I don’t know about you, but if I can get a player with that profile at a premium position like shortstop, I’d use a top-five pick to secure his services, let alone the 54th overall pick.
#20: C Garrett Stubbs, Houston Astros
$/Year Value: $13.70205041M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of Overwhelming Physicality, Age
Principle #6 is one of my favorite principles; it states that age and body time are overvalued when evaluating prospects. Few prospects embody this better than Garrett Stubbs. At 27-years-old and weighing in at 175 pounds, he sure isn’t someone that’s going to excite you at first glance. Yet, we’re talking about a catcher that has never walked at a rate below 10%, has tremendous bat control, and is an above-average athlete. Thus, even if he’s not a full-time catcher, which there isn’t any reason to believe he can’t, he projects as a super utility player (ability to literally play every position), and that’s a heck of a floor. The Astros are going to have a tough time constructing their roster with a lot of their everyday players due for new contracts, and Stubbs could be a tremendous diamond in the rough for them.
#19: 1B/3B Drew Mendoza, Washington Nationals
$/Year Value: $13.74337036M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Below-Average Hit Tool, “Too Passive of An Approach”
In MLB Pipeline’s write up of Drew Mendoza, it states that he has “too passive of an approach”. I’m sorry, what? You’re talking about someone who utilized a 23.5% walk rate to post a lethal .471 on-base percentage in his final season at Florida State! Apparently, those concerns are wide spread, as he fell to the third round of the 2019 draft, which, in my mind, is absurd. Generally, I’m not pounding the table to draft an un-athletic corner infielder, but when you’re one of the most productive offensive producers in the NCAA, you should be a valued commodity; he is also cited for having tremendous raw power. For a team that so badly needs young, cost-controlled position players, Washington should be thrilled that they were able to draft Mendoza where he did.
#18: 3B Will Toffey, New York Mets
$/Year Value: $13.82293354M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Age, Unusual Profile
What’s so valuable in a 25-year-old third baseman with below-average power? I get it, Will Toffey certainly doesn’t have the typical profile of a corner infield prospect. Yet, I’m confident in him becoming an everyday third baseman. That’s the beauty in having elite pitch selection, which shows with minor-league peripherals- he’s never walked at a rate below 14.7%. Plus, his lack of linear development has been impacted by multiple injuries, so even if you’re a proponent of classic progression, you need to cut him some slack. In 2018, he showcased his abilities with a .254/.394/.433 slash line in Double-A. With an elevated launch angle, I’d expect his pure-hitting ability and power to be better, and over time, he projects to be a similar player to what Kyle Seager currently is- a very useful player.
#17: 3B/1B Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox
$/Year Value: $13.85398367M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Strikeouts
As baseball has shifted more towards a “three tree outcome” type of sport, the philosophy of hitting has changed. The general perception is that you need to make a lot of contact to succeed, but in my findings, I found that this tends to be overvalued- you’ll trade a lot of whiffs if you can hit the ball hard when you do, in fact, make contact. This explains why my model is much higher on Bobby Dalbec than most. The 25-year-old has 70-grade raw power that should continue to translate into games, and although he strikes out a lot, he also has constantly posted elite walk rates in the minors. The profile reads very similarly to Joey Gallo at the plate, and although prospects are too unknown to suggest such a lofty comparison, it’s clear that his strikeouts shouldn’t get in the way of him being a successful big-leaguer; he’s adjusted well to major-league pitching in his short stint with the Red Sox this season.
#16: CF Jared Oliva, Pittsburgh Pirates
$/Year Value: $14.05547919M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Age, Lack of In-Game Power
One of the most frustrating aspects of hitting can be the inability to translate raw power into game power, which has held Jared Oliva back. The 24-year-old has posted excellent exit velocities in the minors, per Fangraphs, but due to absurdly high ground ball rates, he’s never been able to post respectable power numbers. Yet, isn’t this the point of player development? Elevating one’s launch angle is generally one of the easier fixes for a hitter, and from there, power production is relatively volatile. Who know what isn’t a concern? The on-base skills that he is cited for having, in addition to the his athleticism and ability to play center field. I see no reason why he can’t develop into an everyday center fielder, and given the lack of depth at the position, that’s certainly valuable.
#15: 2B Trevor Hauver, New York Yankees
$/Year Value: $14.18397054M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Defensive Value? Honestly I Don’t Know Why
To put my model’s ranking of him in perspective, Trevor Hauver was ranked as the 130th best prospect in the entire 2020 draft, per MLB Pipeline. Thus, he may truly be the most under-appreciated prospect in the entire sport. I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed by a .339/.433/.574 slash line, and that’s exactly what he posted as a sophomore at Arizona State. In total, he walked at 15.4% rate in college and demonstrated the ability to hit for power. That’s a pretty well-rounded profile, and even if he doesn’t have a set position, he can easily be taught to play a passable second base; it’s a position that doesn’t require as much stress as it once did, given the amount of shifting. Anyways, offense is significantly more valuable than defense, and Hauver can provide a lot of offense at an up-the-middle-position. I can’t comprehend how he got so little recognition in the draft process.
#14: CF Ryan McKenna, Baltimore Orioles
$/Year Value: $14.36992505M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of Power, Low Batting Averages
Having speed is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t get on base, it doesn’t matter. If all goes well, that won’t be an issue for Ryan McKenna. The 23-year-old has showcased his ability to walk in the minors, which pairs well with his 70-grade speed; the speed also allows him to cover a lot of ground in center field. Now, he doesn’t hit for a lot of power, and he hasn’t posted consistent batting averages. With an improved vertical bat angle, however, he should theoretically should be able to run high batting averages on balls in play, and if that’s the case, he doesn’t need to hit for much power. I’ll take a plus defender in center field with solid on base skills and elite speed any day of the week, and in the future, I expect his sustainable abilities to translate into even better production.
#13: RHP Luis Medina, New York Yankees
$/Year Value: $14.55779004M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of Control/Command
So far, with the pitchers on this list, we’ve focused on prospects with great command. Now, let’s take a 180-degree spin, and analyze Luis Medina. With a triple-digits fastball and a wipeout curveball (each of which rate as a 70-grade future offering from Fangraphs), in addition to a solid changeup, it’s clear that he has an electric pitching arsenal; he’s posted a K/9 in the double digits over the past two seasons. However, his stock is lower than it should be right now, and that’s due to his command, which is still a work-in-progress. Yet, that should be expected from a young flamethrower, and is much easier to develop. Hence, his improved command (15 walks over 45 2/3 innings, per MLB Pipeline) during the stretch run of the 2019 season, a clear result of him changing his release point. This is a future frontline starting pitcher with not only a very high ceiling, but a relatively high floor (as expected given his tremendous “stuff”). Give it a year, and I expect him to be getting much more buzz from league-wide prospect rankings.
#12: RHP Joe Ryan, Tampa Bay Rays
$/Year Value: $14.76950064M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Heavy Reliance on Fastball
Can a pitch be too effective for your own good? That’s apparently the consensus on Joe Ryan, who, per Fangraphs, is throwing his fastball at above a 70% rate. Thus, there are concerns about his ability to be a long-term starting pitcher, but I don’t share that same viewpoint. Based on recent research, I’ve conducted, the pitch that is not only the hardest to master, but is also the most critical, is a fastball; from there, a pitcher can build his arsenal off of the fastball. Considering how many how many whiffs he’s getting (12.8 K/9 in 2019), it’s clear that his current pitch usage is effective, especially since he also does a great job limiting walks. Over time, I’d expect Ryan to be able to have at least an average breaking ball and changeup, and with how tremendous his fastball is, that’s all he needs. The 24-year-old appears to be the next in line for an organization that has constantly churned out high-end pitchers.
#11: 2B Michael Busch, Los Angeles Dodgers
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of a Clear Defensive Position
The Dodgers have a lethal lineup full of stars, and a key part of it is unathletic 6’0″ left-handed hitter without elite power or a clear defensive position. Yet, Max Muncy has utilized his elite pitch selection skills to blossom into a superstar, and Michael Busch projects to be a similar-type of player if all goes well. In his final season at North Carolina, he walked at a 19.56% clip, and even more impressive, posted a 61-39 K-BB ratio! That’s an absurd on-base profile, and when you add in his above-average power, that’ll play at second base, even if he’s a subpar defender. There’s a reason why the Dodgers continue to dominate the rest of the league; their prospect acquisition techniques are incredibly sound.
#10: SS Taylor Walls, Tampa Bay Rays
$/Year Value: $14.81619278M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of Power, “Low Ceiling”
Of all the scouting misconceptions out there, the one that frustrates me the most is the idea that we can quantity a player’s ceiling. While it may seem like certain players have more potential than others, who’s to say that a player has reached his limit; this fallacy in prospect evaluation has led to several young players being overlooked, only for them to blossom into impact players. Taylor Walls should be the next in line. Ranked as just the Rays’ 17th best prospect by MLB Pipeline, the 24-year-old has been constantly productive in the minors, and has done so by posting double-digit walk rates. Sure, his power isn’t great, but even then, it’s been average in the minors, and he just needs to not be a liability in that regard. After all, when you’re an athletic switch-hitting shortstop with above-average on-base skills and defense, there’s a lot to like about your profile. His slight frame and age will cause him to be labeled as a utility player, yet I trust that Tampa Bay, a smart organization, sees him as a future valuable contributor for them.
#9: CF Jeisson Rosario, Boston Red Sox
$/Year Value: $15.47996527M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Lack of Power, “Low Ceiling”
Do you want to know how undervalued Jeisson Rosario is? When the Red Sox traded Mitch Moreland to the Padres, he wasn’t even the most discussed prospect dealt! With all due respect to Hudson Potts, Rosario is on a different level. He’s a very unique player; his approach is so tailored to contact that he completely gives up on hitting for any power whatsoever. Yet, he’s just 20-years-old, and that feels like a fixable problem, and if he doesn’t, he still should be an everyday center fielder. After all, he hits the ball somewhat hard when it’s not on the ground, and his profile outside of his power is tremendous. In 525 plate appearances in Single-A, he posted an elite 16.6% walk rate in 2019, and he complements that eye with excellent defense and speed. If he can improve his bat angle, he’s going to hit for average, which, with his walk rate, could mean on-base percentages in the high .300s; he also should also hit for enough power. Doing that while playing exceptional defense is quite the ceiling for a player who lacks “upside”, according to traditional evaluation methods.
#8: OF Kameron Misner, Miami Marlins
$/Year Value: $15.7784845M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Inconsistent Contact Skills
I don’t know about you, but the last player I’d expect to be undervalued is a lefty slugger with a 6’4″, 220 pound frame. Alas, Kameron Misner is an outlier in that regard. Seen as a potential top-ten pick heading into his junior season at Missouri, the 22-year-old fell to the 35th pick of the draft; he was cited for having a “down season”. Well, if posting a .440 on-base percentage isn’t acceptable, then I don’t know what is! Sure, Misner is never going to hit for high batting averages and will strike out a decent bit. Nevertheless, with his plate discipline, he’s going to post strong on-base percentages, and with proper develop, his 70-grade raw power should show up more. It’s one thing to target a toolsy player, but it’s another thing to target a player whose tools are in every stable facet of play. When you have the power/speed combination that he has, in addition to his pitch selection, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be a high-end player. Believe it or not, but he’s the Marlins’ best prospect.
#7: RHP Tahnaj Thomas, Pittsburgh Pirates
$/Year Value: $16.12424832M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Unpolished Secondary Offerings
Ironically, Tahnaj Thomas isn’t someone with a massive track record, which would seem to lower his floor. That’s not the case, however, as the evaluation of pitchers differs greatly from the evaluation of position pitchers. Pitchers control the game, so we can learn more from their skillset than we can for hitters; we rely more on their production to assess their on-base abilities, whereas it’s more easier to analyze a pitcher’s arsenal. Thus, when my model sees that the 21-year-old has a triple-digits fastball and an above-average curveball, it’s going to project him to be successful, especially when he’s a high-end athlete with good command. Yes, it’d be nice if he developed a changeup, but we’ve seen so many pitchers succeed with just two pitches, and it makes sense- why would you throw your elite pitches less. It’ll take some time, but in a year or two, I expect Thomas, similarly to Luis Medina, to be considered a future ace; the increased margin for error that his two-pitch mix gives him actually gives him a very high floor.
#6: CF Travis Swaggerty, Pittsburgh Pirates
$/Year Value: $16.21736614M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Inconsistent Contact Skills
To be fair, Travis Swaggerty was a top-ten pick inn 2018 and has generally been seen as a top-100 prospect. However, his prospect stardom has seemed to fade, as he hasn’t hit for much power. Are we going to be worried about his power production, though? His exit velocity numbers are strong, and before last season, hitting the ball on the ground had never been something he did frequent; it shouldn’t be difficult to tweak his bat angle. All of a sudden, that one improvement will transform into an everyday center fielder with an intriguing power/speed combination, but we haven’t even gotten to his best trait- his on-base skills. A 19.5% walk rate allowed him to post a .455 on-base percentage in his final college season, and so far, his walk rates have been solid. Really, there’s nothing, outside of hitting more balls in the air, preventing him from being an extremely well-rounded, All-Star center fielder. Thus, he, along with several Pirates prospects, needs to be recognized as one of the game’s top outfield prospects.
#5: 3B Sherton Apostel, Texas Rangers
$/Year Value: $16.23362546M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Heavy Build
I’ll concede that a 235-pound 21-year-old isn’t the most pleasant sight for a prospect. Yet, unlike Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Sherten Apostel isn’t a liability whatsoever when it comes to his defense at third base. With that being addressed, let’s appreciate his excellent offensive profile. We’re talking about a player who has constantly been one of the leaders in walk rate, and that’s not a fluke- his pitch selection is cited as being incredible. Thus, he’ll obviously be able to get on base, and don’t worry- his power is legitimate. Simply put, Apostel just needs to prove to have enough defensive value to not be a designated hitter. His offensive skillset gives him an insanely high floor, and soon enough, he won’t just be known as the “player to be named later” in the Keone Kela trade.
#4: RHP Daniel Espino, Cleveland Indians
$/Year Value: $16.575830088
Reason For Being Undervalued: A Lack of Understanding What Reliever Risk Is
“He’s just a thrower not a pitcher”. “You can’t be a starting pitcher when you throw triple digits”. These are general preconceived notions about young flamethrowers. There is some validity to those concerns in some instances, but labeling them on every pitcher who throws hard is incredibly short-sighted. I’m all about increasing the margin for error for a pitcher, and when you can throw 100 MPH at 19-years-old with a sharp slider and developing changeup, there’s a good chance that you’re going to strike a lot of hitters out. Thus, all Espino needs to do is refine his command, and there isn’t anything to suggest he can’t; I’d much rather have a young pitcher with elite stuff and developing command than the other way around if possible. The Indians know their pitchers, and I fully expect Espino, their 2019 first-round pick, to be their latest success story.
#3: 2B Jacob Amaya, Los Angeles Dodgers
$/Year Value: $17.36705957M
Reason For Being Undervalued: Limited Power, “Low Ceiling”
Back to the misconceptions of understanding upside and giving players “utility man” designations! I get that it can be hard to get excited about a lightweight second baseman with poor power numbers. Yet, what if I told you that same player has borderline 80-grade pitch selection, a strong hit tool, AND is an above-average defender? That sounds a lot more appealing, which is why my model believes Jacob Amaya should be held in a much higher regard. It ranks him as the prospect with the 13th-best mean projection, given his absurdly high floor, yet he’s barely ranked as a top-30 prospect in the Dodgers’ system by several outlets! Once again, having a high floor isn’t a criticism, and any team knows this, it’s the Dodgers. With slight improvements in unstable facets of play, which are far easier to make, he’ll be yet another impact player developed through their system.
#2: RHP Jhoan Duran, Minnesota Twins
$/Year Value: $19.05953496M
Reason For Being Undervalued: No Clue; Too Much of a Power Pitcher?
How is Jhoan Duran not considered one of the game’s top pitching prospects? This is something I cannot wrap my head around. Do you value production? He posted a sub 3.00 xFIP last year and has generally had quality K-BB ratios. Do you value the eye test? He has three pitches than Fangraphs thinks will end up as being worth a 60 grade or higher, and he also looks like a workhorse at 6’5″ and 230 pounds. Nevertheless, we’re somehow here having this conversation. Traded from Arizona in a package for Eduardo Escobar, it appears that the 22-year-old has made some adjustments, which has allowed for him to maximize on his elite raw abilities. What else has to be said? It’s rare to have a pitcher with this type of profile, and the Twins, who have done a great job with helping their pitchers, are the perfect place for him to flourish.
#1: SS Geraldo Perdomo, Arizona Diamondbacks
$/Year Value: $20.19406469M
Reason For Being Undervalued: “Low Upside”
Finally, we’ve gotten to #1 on the list! When the Diamondbacks traded shortstop Jazz Chisholm for starting pitcher Zac Gallen, many were confused; how can you trade you shortstop of the future? Yet, they knew exactly what they were doing- Geraldo Perdomo projects to be a significantly better player than Chisholm. Still just 20-years-old, he’s never posted an on-base percentage below .400 in his three minor-league seasons, which is due to his well-rounded on-base skills; he’ll hit for average, draw walks, and rarely strikes out. Thus, he should please all crowds, and though his power production has inconsistent, that’ll changed with an improved bat angle. Besides that, there isn’t anything to worry about. He’s seen as a potential gold-glove defender with tremendous makeup, is a switch hitter, and is still very young. If you’re wondering how he isn’t seen as an elite prospect after reading this, you’re certainly not the only one. In a few years, I believe we’ll be looking back at the trading of Chisholm as the time where general manager Mike Hazen chose Geraldo Perdomo, his next key cost-controlled All Star, as the true cornerstone of their next contending team.