Coming at you with the second edition of the top 5 prospects in High-A Central. We are covering the West Division this week. The West Division of High-A Central includes the following teams.
Beloit Snappers (Miami Marlins)
Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins)
Peoria Chiefs (St. Louis Cardinals)
Quad Cities River Bandits (Kansas City Royals)
South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs)
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers)
Last week, I covered the High-A Central East Division which was loaded with prospects from the Cleveland Indians. The West Division has much more diversity in terms of teams where the top 5 prospects come from.
Jordan Walker, 3B, Peoria Chiefs
2021 Stats: 62 H, 17 2B, 8 HR, 29 RBI
By far my favorite prospect to cover in High-A Central, Walker has been turning heads all year long. Only 19 years old, he has taken the aggressive assignments the Cardinals have been giving him by storm. He is slashing .325/.407/.967 with 8 HR, 29 RBI, and 23 BB between Low and High-A this year. He comes in at 6-foot-5 and 220lbs already so the power potential is ridiculous.
There were some questions about how his hit tool may develop, but he is making adjustments and has a very strong work ethic. If he keeps making these positive steps forward with his hit tool, Walker is easily going to become a top 50 prospect. He might even be there already, His strikeout rate has increased to 29.1% as he has made his way to High-A and his walk rate has lowered 4.9% from 14.8% in Low-A. Those numbers can be a little concerning, but it is good to remember that Walker is only 19 and playing at a much higher level than most other prospects his age.
Masyn Winn, SS, Peoria Chiefs
2021 Stats: 69 H, 16 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 37 RBI, 17 SB
Another young Cardinals prospect, Winn was recently promoted to High-A and has only played 9 games so far. Winn was originally drafted as a SS and SP and the Cardinals had planned to develop as a two-way prospect, but he has yet to pitch. During his time in Low-A, he was hitting .262 with 3 home runs, 34 RBI, 40 walks, and 16 stolen bases. He’s struggled to adjust to High-A so far, slashing .194/.237/.361. It is too soon to make a judgment on Winn’s performance in High-A.
Winn hasn’t blown anyone away at the plate yet, but he has shown good plate discipline early on has some fun plus-bat speed. His close to above-average speed and ability to utilize his speed on the bath paths will lead him to steal a decent amount of bags. His ability to pitch and throw his fastball at 98 mph when he is on the mound makes Winn’s best asset and plus tool his 65-grade arm. He has the athleticism and range to stick at shortstop as well. The development of Winn will be fun to watch and it is great to see the Cardinals being aggressive with this 19-year-old as well.
Asa Lacy, LHP, Quad City River Bandits
2021 Stats: 52 IP, 41 H, 30 ER, 41 BB, 79 SO
For his first pro assignment, the Royals started Lacy in High-A. Unfortunately due to injury, it sounds like he will be on the IL for the remainder of the MiLB season. He has been a tale of two stories this year when healthy. The 2020 4th overall pick has an impressive 33.3% strikeout rate, but a very troubling 17.3% walk rate. The walk rate leads to a crazy 7.10 BB/9. His control didn’t show any signs of improvement during the season either.
There is still plenty of upside in Lacy. He has a fastball that sits around 92-97 mph that pairs with an above-average slider and two other solid offerings in a curveball and changeup. Lacy will have to improve on his command and control if he wants to become a frontline starter. The Royals will keep trying to develop him as a start, but if he doesn’t improve on his mediocre command, he could end up a high-leverage reliever.
Matt Canterino, RHP, Cedar Rapids Kernels
2021 Stats: 18 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 35 SO
Another pitcher who has been out with an injury, Canterino has been out since the beginning of June with a strained right elbow. Before the elbow injury, Canterino was flying up prospect boards with his unbelievable 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and a ridiculous 51.5% strikeout rate. Although the injury has been a bit of a setback, I expect he will hit the ground running in 2022 continue to rise up prospect boards even further.
He truly has starter-level stuff with a fastball that was sitting 94-95 at the alternate site and two plus offspeed offerings in his slider and curveball. He’s also started to develop a changeup that seems to be working its way to a plus pitch as well. He showed solid command and control early on with his 4.4% walk rate. His new four-pitch mix allows him to stick as a starter, but with his recent injuries, durability will be the only question mark. If he can work through the recent injuries and come back healthy, he will need to prove he can sustain a full-length season and compile a good amount of innings.
Alexander Canario, OF, South Bend Cubs
2021 Stats: 63 H, 16 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 15 SB
Canario was acquired by the Cubs from the Giants at the trade deadline, along with Caleb Kilian, for Kris Bryant. Canario got on people’s radars in 2019 when he slashed .318/.377/.623 with 16 HR, 54 RBI, and 4 SB. Even the Giants added him to their 40-man roster. His blend of power and speed will make you drool, but even during that year, he showed significant flaws in his hit tool by having a 32.4% strikeout rate.
He’s maintained a similar strikeout rate this year (31.7%). His 40-grade hit tool doesn’t seem to be improving, which does have me concerned. We are going to see lots of swing and miss in his at-bats if this doesn’t get improved. His major tools are his ridiculous raw power and elite bat speed, but he is going to have to focus on his strike-zone discipline more as well as his aggressive approach if he wants to turn into an elite-level prospect.
The Next Best
Anderson Espinoza, SP, South Bend Cubs
Victor Victor Mesa, OF, Beloit Snappers
Nick Loftin, SS, Quad City River Bandits
Bryce Ball, 1B, South Bend Cubs
Jeison Guzman, SS, Quad City River Bandits
Louie Varland, SP, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Wander Javier, SS, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Ryan Jensen, SP, South Bend Cubs