Tantalizing Athleticism on Display in St. Lucie
The Jupiter Hammerheads squared off with the St. Lucie Mets June 28th- July 3rd in Port St. Lucie. If you like young, super athletic players with frames you can’t help but project, this series had you well covered. I’m profiling the three players I found the most exciting for each team.
It should be mentioned that these types of profiles more often than not come with some warts. At this level with how young these guys are, some plate approaches are relatively raw and you see some ugly swings. That doesn’t take away from the mammoth homers, blazing speed, and whatever else drops your jaw though. I say we can still get excited, so let’s dive in.
St. Lucie Mets
The Ramirez hype train has left the station and for good reason. Well represented in FSL leaderboards before his promotion (through July 5 he was 4th in AVG (.284), 8th in OPS (.802), 10th in OBP (.359)), Ramirez is also an exceptional athlete. He glides around centerfield and easily covers a ton of ground. Furthermore, he’s a big threat on the base paths with his long strides. Listed at 6’3” 170lbs, it’s the size and projectable frame that leave room for something that could be pretty special. The 19-year-old signed out of the Dominican in 2019 and was promoted to High-A over 4th of July weekend after terrorizing Jupiter pitching.
All that excitement being relayed he is still just 19 and does get fooled with some consistency. A 22.2 K% at Single-A shows what is evident while watching him- some trouble recognizing spin. It is not so severe though that I couldn’t envision improvements with more time and exposure. He had a 31.1% K rate his first go round of the level last year so that’s a massive improvement already. Ramirez has also shown the ability to spit on off-speed pitches at times as well, an encouraging sign for someone his age. More encouraging still, through 66 plate appearances for High-A Brooklyn since his promotion, Ramirez has maintained a near identical 22.7% K-rate while batting .279 and swatting 2 home runs. The teenager has been unfazed by the advanced level of competition.
The blend of tools, his size, and his pure athleticism have me very excited for the young outfielder’s future.
Another fantastic athlete, Santos is a bit older at 22 and more filled out. He is already very strong but seems to have some projection remaining. Hammerhead pitchers induced some ugly swings on off-speed stuff in the dirt during the series. He is striking out 32.2% of the time through 7/26 but that’s a 2.4% improvement from 144 plate appearances at the level last season. A modest improvement. The swing and miss is admittedly a large red flag in the profile, which can’t be ignored, but neither can the tools. He has crushed 12 homers with an .814 OPS through 7/26, both good for the top 10 in the league, with the OPS mark serving as the league leader. He also leads the FSL in steals with an absurd 48. For context, no one currently has more than 30. The tools remain very enticing for the 2019 signee. De Los Santos has big power and big speed. He is a fun guy to watch play baseball.
Another intriguing athlete advanced to High-A Brooklyn in July, Consuegra was having a decent season in St. Lucie, slashing .251/.324/.431 with 8 homers and 8 steals before his promotion. He showed big power during the series, swatting a pull-side homer off the left field pole. His large frame is not just all power though, he’s got a great arm and runs very well. Since his promotion, he’s sporting a very similar .250/.324/.500 slash through 71 plate appearances. Another name to keep an eye on in the Mets System, Consuegra can hit.
When Watson is at the plate, he looks to inflict damage on baseballs. When he connects, he usually does just that. The frequency of those connections though has become concerning. The 16th overall pick from the North Carolina prep ranks is a pure athlete, make no mistake about it. Compact and bouncy, Watson is strong and lean. His big power is evident, 8 homers, but so is the swing and miss in his profile. Often swinging out of his shoes in the series, Watson has amassed a strikeout rate of 39% so far this season in Single-A, through July 1, his last at bat to date in Jupiter. The tools are tremendous but he will need to start making adjustments. He returned to game action on July 22 in the Florida Complex League, promptly homering in his second game. It should be noted in the tiny sample of 4 games he has struck out 4 times in 9 at bats.
Another bouncy athlete with an explosive swing, Johnson has big raw power with long levers and plus speed. The 2019 second rounder has made big improvements in the K department from his time at the level last season(28.3% in 2021; 17.5% 2022) and in the batting average department as well (plus .over 050 points from last year through July 10) Those two improving metrics are encouraging, enough so that the Marlins promoted him to High-A on July 10. He has struggled a bit to get to his big raw power in games though, 5 homers through 275 PA in Single-A, but remains an exciting athlete nonetheless.
Maybe the most fitting in this theme of athletes on display, Lewis has blazing speed. I mean he can really fly. The 2019 signee out of the Bahamas also plays a smooth infield with a strong arm. He is pretty raw at the plate at this stage but is a name to keep an eye on at 19 years old.
The Tarpons certainly had their headliner in touted prospect Jasson Dominguez. The expectations seem to have tapered off a bit from when he was signed and that’s probably for the best. Dominguez looks like a solid prospect showing big bat speed, power, and foot speed. The word solid comes to mind when watching him. Forget all the previous expectations, and I think we should, he’s a solid prospect. He slashed .265/.373/.440 through 324 PA during his time at Single-A in 2022. Dominguez had 9 homers and 19 steals with a 27.5% K rate and 14.2% BB before his promotion on July 14. He looks filled out physically at 19 years old which will be very interesting to keep an eye on. He is just so young, a mashing corner profile looks like a realistic ceiling at this juncture.
Shortstop Alexander Vargas has been batting lead off for the Tarpons and he has been taking his lumps. Lauded as an elite defender, the glove carries the profile and Vargas certainly plays a mean shortstop. The concern is that he has not put on much good weight yet at 20 years old. The spindly switch hitter is slashing .195/.268/.300 with 6 homers, 23 steals, and a 30.4% K rate in his first taste of full season ball (through July 26). Ideally, he’ll cut down on the strikeouts and get stronger moving forward. The 2019 signee likely will need quite a bit more time at the level but he is very fun to watch play the infield, I’m optimistic about his long-term outlook.
Lastly, if you like big humans playing for the Yankees and hitting for power, Anthony Garcia is your man. Listed at 6’5” Garcia is a presence in the box. Making his full season debut last year, the switch hitter struck out 36.8% of the time while walking at a 19.1% clip. This season he is up to a 39.3% K rate and 22.6% BB rate through July 26. A .205 batting average with a .390 OBP is not something you see every day but neither is his raw power or size.
Nick covers the Florida State League for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Bay Area he fell in love with the Oakland A’s at an early age. The A’s have never loved him back but that’s never stopped him from obsessing over all things baseball, especially prospects, the minor leagues, and dynasty baseball. Find him on Twitter @Leobaseball3.