When I started writing this article, hopes were high and I was looking forward to scouting guys at Spring Training. I was only half way though my Arizona trip when everything was shut down, so I didn’t get to see all the teams that I wanted to. No one knows if/when baseball will resume and where these guys will land, but here’s who I’m hoping to see this year in the Cal League. Naturally, my projections were made with a full season in mind, so these timetables could change drastically if only a partial season is played.
2020 Cal League Preview
The disadvantage of not being responsible for covering a team is I don’t get to see the entire organization and make bold predictions about the players in them. The advantage is, I can make bold predictions about eight different team’s players. Problem is at this point in the season, I don’t know who will be at each level for those organizations. In this article, I’m going to make bold predictions about who I hope to see in the Cal League this year. This means I have to look at guys who were at Low-A and Single-A to see who might be coming up. Wish me luck and I look forward to hearing who you think I missed on this list.
With Jazz Chisholm traded last year, I needed a new Diamondback to follow. Well it seems I’ve found one in Kristian Robinson (OF) who is also happens to be from the Bahamas. He’s young, big, and full of talent. With only a month of Low-A experience, I hope to see him in Visalia post All-Star Break. Honorable Mention: Matt Tabor (SP) who projects to start the season in Visalia.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Diego Cartaya (C) – I don’t have a lot of intel on Cartaya yet, but the Dodgers think highly of him and that put him on my radar. Honestly, I don’t know when this guy will reach High-A, maybe a mid-year call up, but you can be sure that my eye is on him and I’ll be watching him closely. He’s only 18 and already an above average receiver and he’s projected to hit for both average and power. The Dodgers have a plethora of talented catchers in the system (including this guy), which is why they felt comfortable trading Connor Wong in the Mookie Betts deal. Honorable Mentions to Kody Hoese and Michael Busch who are more likely to appear in Rancho first.
This was the toughest organization to identify a prospect for High-A. I’m most excited to see the A’s 2019 top international signing, Robert Puason (SS) from the Dominican Republic, who was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the second-best prospect in the 2019 international class and is 3rd on our A’s Top 50 prospects. “Robert is a dynamic switch-hitter with the tools to play a premium position at a very high level,” said Dan Feinstein, the A’s Assistant General Manager, Major League and International Operations. But at only 17-years-old, he’s probably two years away from reaching this level. Definitely someone to look forward to seeing in the future.
Robert Puason has been out of the spotlight since signing for $5.1 million last July, but he’s coming to a boxscore near you this summer. On his journey into professional baseball, his goals and what shortstop he watched video of as a kid: https://t.co/A1GK09QIcr
— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) March 5, 2020
San Diego Padres
CJ Abrams (SS) – This was an easy pick in a stacked organization that has promoted most of its top talent up the ranks in the last year. In an interview with @Zippy_TMS, one part of the @FriarsOnTheFarm duo that includes @SDDonavan, he said, “He’s an extreme athlete with top-of-the-scale speed and a very promising hit tool as evidenced by a very strong pro debut in the Arizona League. As a high school draftee, he projects to add some power but the combination of plate discipline and contact skill have him rising up rankings already.
He’s athletic enough to handle shortstop, but there are concerns about his ability to throw accurately from difficult positions and arm angles and that has some suspecting he might move to centerfield or second base down the road, but he’ll be given time to develop as a shortstop.
Padres coaches and player development personnel speak highly of his work ethic, competitiveness, and aptitude. He’s a kid we’re really excited to have in the organization.”
San Francisco Giants
Hunter Bishop (OF), brother of Mariners’ Braden Bishop, was drafted in the first round in 2019 out of Arizona State. He was solid in his final year at ASU but struggled in his first year in pro ball. He could be a fast riser in the Giants organization but needs to put up some solid numbers and show some consistency before we see him at High-A.
The Bishop brothers creating a memory together. pic.twitter.com/bgtBBEncKq
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 27, 2020
Ok, this one was easy, but I chose him based on my heart and not my head…Julio Rodriguez (OF). While I think he has the skills to start at Double-A, I secretly and selfishly hope he starts in the Cal League if only so I can watch him play in person some more. He had a brief stint in the Cal League at the end of 2019 and I also got to see him briefly in the Arizona Fall League. Most surprising and impressive to me was his presence on and off the field. Not only is he physically intimidating (6′ 4″ 225) but he’s got a personality that just shines. This kid is going to be a star. And at only 19-years-old, he’s primed to make an early and lasting impression. The Mariners have a backlog of OFs in the system, so that could also be a factor in why he could start at High-A Modesto. Fingers crossed!
Now the only question is…how long do I have to wait for these guys to return to action?