I’m not used to watching Minor League Baseball from home but unfortunately that is the nature of the age we’re going through. I typically like to do my evaluating at the ballpark, because of the fact that there’s only so much you can see on a MiLB.TV broadcast, but video scouting will have to do for now. The Myrtle Beach broadcast is solid, other than the occasional “show a kid eating ice cream while a pivotal pitch is being delivered.” All kidding aside, it probably is one of the best productions at the High-A level.
The Cubs Class-A Advanced affiliate had some great prospects pass through the Grand Strand in 2019 and I went back and watched approximately 10 games, spread out across the season. I chose a select bunch of players to write up who I thought were pretty interesting, so I hope you enjoy!
C Miguel Amaya – 6’1″ 185 lbs
The 21-year-old Panamanian catcher was signed by the Cubs in 2015’s international signing period. He spent all of 2019 in Myrtle Beach after playing out the entirety of the prior season in the Midwest League. Amaya has been awarded two consecutive appearances in the All-Star Futures Game, the first of which being as a 19 year old in 2018.
I’m not that high on Amaya’s offensive skillset. His approach is fine, with a strong ability to pick up spin, but the swing is flat, and you normally would prefer a guy of Amaya’s physicality to possess more than fringe pop. An effective swing tweak would improve his power numbers, but I’m not sure he has the bat control that would cause him to adjust well to a lofty swing. However what makes him a solid major league prospect is his advanced tools behind the plate. Amaya has soft hands, plus instincts, and really takes control back there. He has a great arm, too.
Hit – 40/45
Pwr – 45/45
Spd – 30/30
Def – 50/60
Arm – 55/55
Projection: Starting catcher in the big leagues with low-impact offensive numbers, batting in the bottom third of the order
SS Aramis Ademan – 5’11” 160 lbs
Ademan, a left-handed hitting shortstop from Santiago, was a highly regarded signee in the same class as Amaya. He is a terrific athlete. Ademan likes to swing the bat, and has great hands that he utilizes in his swing and at shortstop, where he has plus actions and footwork with an average arm. He has some gap power but he doesn’t get to it very often. Ademan will be able to stick at shortstop. The question will be how far will his skillset take him? If the hit tool can come along like I believe it will, he could be a major leaguer.
He has limited strength even if he does add a few pounds to his slight, 160 lb. frame. It’s worth noting that he was listed at 150 when he signed at five years ago at 16 years old. I wouldn’t expect an onslaught of home runs coming off of Aramis’s bat, but then again, I think every middle infielder in MLB and their sister hit 20 home runs in 2019 (Freddy Galvis with 23, really?) so you never know.
Hit – 40/fringe 50
Pwr – 40/40
Spd – 50/50
Def – 50/60
Arm – 50/50
Projection – MLB Bench player that will supply valuable plus defense at a premium position
Chicago drafted Mitchell in 2014’s 13th round. The 24-year-old Mitchell has a wiry, basketball build at 6’4″ 185 lbs. and has loud raw power, but his swing and miss issues seem to be too prevalent to overcome. Mitchell moves well, with above average speed. His further development has been and will be all about the hit tool which hasn’t seem to come around yet.
Projection – Organizational piece with strikeout issues holding him back
CF Zach Davis
Davis is a grinder, who is a good athlete with a slappy contact-oriented approach from both sides of the plate. Davis has little to no power, but his plus or better speed plays not only in centerfield, but on the basepaths as well, stealing 40 bases in 2019. The 25-year-old reached AA toward the back-end of the 2019 season. He’s a fun player to watch, but likely an org guy going forward
Projection – Organizational defense/speed asset in CF
Position Players – Brief Notes
3B Cam Balego – almost 25-years-old, I like his hit tool but I’m mixed on him at third base.
RHP Alex Lange
24-years-old, two vertical breaking balls that flash above average to plus get lots of whiffs, but they don’t have enough separation in their movement charts, His above-average changeup is very effective too. Lange has struggled with not only command but control. His stuff is good enough to get outs at the big league level, but I’m not in on him as a starter. Lange was traded to the Tigers in the Nicholas Castellanos deal.
Projection – RP who will lean on secondaries
LHP Bryan Hudson
Hudson is a deceptive 6 foot 8 lefty with advanced secondary pitches. His curveball has always been his best pitch and his recent dropping of his arm slot has shifted the spin axis, creating plus sweeping action on the offering. He typically works low in the zone, mixing his fastball (which sits around 90 mph) with the curve as well as a slider. Hudson’s command is average and I believe he will be able to either crack the back of the Cubs rotation, or be a weapon out of the pen to present opposing teams with a unique look.
Projection – Had trouble with this one, but might not be quite enough to crack a big league rotation. They’ll find a use for the arm though
RHP Paul Richan
23-year-old Richan is a strikethrower. However that is often to a fault. He throws too many strikes and has a tendency to hang balls. Richan’s secondaries are decent at times but his command must catch up to his control before we can start talking about him as a starter. He has two breaking balls which are similar and should be condensed into one if you ask me. When the slider is at its best its his most effective pitch, with the changeup not far behind. Richan was traded along with the aforementioned Alex Lange in the July deal for Nicholas Castellanos. He’s an interesting arm for sure, but it’ll take some tweaks by the Tigers player development folks to make a big leaguer out of him.
FB 45/45 – 90-92(93)
Projection – chance for back-end starter, I’ll lean middle reliever
RHP Manuel Rodriguez
The 23-year old has big league stuff at times with a heavy mid-high 90’s fastball that touches 99 and an above-average hard curveball. He tends to work low in the zone due to that being where low-spin fastballs are typically more effective. Rodriguez also has a changeup that he throws sparingly but it has potential. He is undersized at 5’11” and his command is a work in progress for sure, but if he can figure that part out we’re looking at potentially a set-up guy by the time he works his way through the minors.
Projection – 7th or 8th inning role
LHP Brailyn Marquez – 6’4″ 185 lbs
Marquez, who was 20-years-old for the entire 2019 season, is a high-octane lefty with a powerful, intimidating frame. He attacks hitters from a low-slot, making it especially tough for left-handed hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. Brailyn works low in the zone with his mid-high 90’s fastball that touches triple digits and misses bats with ease. He can also hold the velo throughout the duration of his starts. He mixes in a hard slider that flashes above average but is rather inconsistent. The changeup shows sparks too but it is currently a clear third pitch. Command is the question with Marquez, as it is normally for a pitcher with an arsenal as electric as his. His mechanics can get a bit out of whack at times, causing him to overthrow some balls to the glove side but some coaching should be able to iron out these issues. I also have slight concerns about his body continuing to add weight which could worsen his chances at being a rotation-piece. (Keep in mind I only got a single-start look at him, so there’s a small sample of pitches I’m looking at.)
FB – 70/70
SL – 45/55
CH – 45/50
Projection – #2 starter or dominate high-leverage RP
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below your thoughts and why I’m wrong!
Owen Surett covers the South Atlantic League for Prospects1500. Owen is an enthusiast of baseball at all competition levels from college/MLB Draft, to all levels of the minor leagues and MLB. He is an avid fan of the New York Mets and West Virginia Mountaineers. His springs and summers revolve around going to as many baseball games as possible, seeing prospects, and writing scouting reports. He is from New Jersey and regularly attends minor league games in Lakewood (Phillies A) and Trenton (Yankees AA). You can follow him on Twitter @CountryRoads277.