Diving Deep – Exciting Prospects Who Didn’t Make Our Top 50s

Willians Astudillo - photo credit Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America on Zimbio.com

30 teams. 50 prospects per team (sometimes more). 1500+ prospects ranked and covered by our staff over the last month as each major league team’s minor league organization Top 50 prospects were released.  You can find links to all 30 of those articles on our 2019 Top 50 lists page. I want to thank all of our readers who shared some players’ names in comments on the site, Twitter and Reddit that weren’t included on the Top 50 lists that possibly could have been. Each writer of course has their own ranking criteria, which for one reason or another, did not include the following players. Let’s keep an eye out this season to see if any of these prospects continue to improve and make a case to be included in future Top 50 lists, possibly as early as Opening Day or later during our midseason write-ups.

The 15 prospects are listed alphabetically, with no bearing on ranking for this article.

Willians Astudillo, C (Twins)
Opening Day Age: 27
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Fantasy baseball’s love affair with Astudillo seems to be growing week by week. He got that cup of coffee with Minnesota in 2018, hitting .355 in 29 games, with 3 HR and 21 RBI. He’s still prospect-eligible with only 93 MLB at bats. He’s coming off a solid campaign in the Venezualan Winter League where he hit .316 with 8 HR and 41 RBI. Twins correspondent Dave Funnell (@sportz_nutt51) adds – Loved Astudillo’s strikeout rate and wished he walked a bit more, but overall, no Twins catcher made the most of the time he was given. It’ll be interesting to see how he adapts when the pitchers adapt.

Jacob Bird, RHP (Rockies)

Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Rookie (Pioneer League)
From Rockies correspondent Michael Parnell (@parnellmichael) – Bird, 22, the 156th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of UCLA, spent the summer with Rookie-level Grand Junction. He was an all-PAC 12 pitcher his senior year at UCLA, with a 7-4 record and league-leading 2.18 ERA. He pitched 17 games at Grand Junction in 2018, all in relief, and struck out 30 in 26.2 innings with a 1.20 WHIP. With a fastball that tops out at 92 and a decent changeup, Bird needs to develop another secondary pitch to remain a starter.

Starlyn Castillo, RHP (Phillies)

Opening Day Age: 16
2018 Highest Level: DNP
Castillo is one of the top Dominican pitching prospects coming out of the 2018 J2 signing period, and the Phillies gave Castillo a .6 million signing bonus. Castillo didn’t make Tony Bps’ Phillies Top 50 or Jason Woodell’s Top 30 on Prospects Live, but they do both like him. Woodell says “he could fly up this system rankings though if he shows some feel for off-speed command, etc.” Tony will have Castillo listed on his upcoming Phillies prospects outside his Top 50.

Rochest Cruz, 2B (Cubs)

Opening Day Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Dominican Summer League
This kid has wheels. Speed counts, right? 56 SB in 65 attempts. He did hit .302 and has a .420 OBP so it’s not like he’s a Billy Hamilton clone. Paul Martin (@PaulTheMartin) tabbed him Prospects1500’s Rookie level hitter Prospect of the Week last June 11-18 when in 6 games that week Cruz slashed .500/.567/.846, had 13 hits including a 2B, 3B, 2 HR and 8 SB! Then he was my Rookie level hitter of the week a little over a month later when in 6 games he hit .474 and notched 11 SB! We’re looking for him to make his stateside debut this year.

Nathan Eaton, 2B/3B/OF (Royals)

Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Rookie (Pioneer League)
All Eaton did in 2018 was impress at Idaho Falls in his pro debut at Rookie ball. Slashing .354/.427/.581/1.008, he added 5 HR, 53 RBI and 9 SB. The versatile Eaton can play 2B, 3B and OF, and get this – he’s also eligible as Pitcher (SP & RP) on Fantrax! He was drafted in the 21st round last year as a catcher out of Virginia Military Institute and did pitch in 17 games in relief for VMI in 2018. It doesn’t appear that pitching will be in the plans for his professional career but definitely wanted to point that out.

Lazaro Estrada, RHP (Blue Jays)

Opening Day Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Rookie (DSL)
Thanks to @zackwaxman for pointing out these awesome numbers for Estrada. Across all levels of the minors in 2018, only 4 SPs with a minimum of 50 IP had K/9 greater than 11.0, K/BB greater than 7.0, ERA less than 2.50, and WHIP less than 1.00. Chris Paddack, Brendan McKay, Ronny Henriquez (Jake Berry’s #21 Rangers prospect) and Lazaro Estrada. In 70 IP for the DSL Blue Jays, Estrada posted a 2.06 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and punched out 87.

Ryley Gilliam, RHP (Mets)

Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
Could be one of the first 2018 draftees to reach the majors. From Mets correspondent Ben Wilson (@TBDubbs11) – Gilliam was a 5th rounder and no doubt put up strong numbers in the NYPL last year. Coming out of Clemson, he was likely a bit advanced for the level against hitters who have trouble with spin. He’s undersized and relief only, so there’s likely a middle relief ceiling. However, he could be a fast mover and there’s added value here knowing in all likelihood there is a big league future for Gilliam.

Heriberto Hernandez, 1B (Rangers)

Opening Day Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Dominican Summer League
There’s one interesting statistic that stands out for me for Hernandez. A wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) of 200 in 2018, good for 2nd among all minor leaguers behind only St. Louis’s Malcom Nunez (238). In comparison, Vlad Jr’s wRC+ was 194. His line is 60 games in the DSL was .292/.464/.635/1.099 with 12 HR, 49 RBI and 5 SB. Very solid stuff for a 19-year-old.

Marcelo Martinez, LHP (Royals)

Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: A
Martinez notched Prospects1500 Rookie ball pitcher Prospect of the Week once in 2018, and was also Honorable Mention another week. He did get one start at Full-Season A Lexington, but spent most of the campaign with the Burlington Royals in the APPY league. 90 strikeouts in 69 innings, good for an 11.7 K/9 rate. He also showed great control posting an overal WHIP under 1.00 (0.99). Will be very interesting to see how he fares against better hitters in 2019, but no reason he shouldn’t be claimed if you’re in a dynasty league that rosters 750 or more minor leaguers.

Patrick Murphy, RHP (Blue Jays)

Opening Day Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
Jays blogger @jeffquattro wrote about Murphy last month. He points out that one of Murphy’s specialties is inducing weak contact, seen in his 59.4& ground ball rate at High-A Dunedin in 2018. Aside from one game started at Double-A Manchester last year, Murphy was 10-5 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.20 WHIP at High-A with 135 K in 146.2 IP, good for an 8.3 K/9.

Jaylen Palmer, 3B (Mets)

Opening Day Age: 18
2018 Highest Level: Rookie (GCL)
From Mets correspondent Ben Wilson (@TBDubbs11) – I like Palmer’s size and he’s a local kid born in Brooklyn and attended high school in Flushing, a dream come true for a Mets prospect. The 22nd rounder in 2018 has great athleticism and the power/speed is intriguing, but had a nearly 30% K rate in Rookie ball. A step forward in the hit tool this year would help his other tools manifest in game and put him on the Mets Top 50 list midseason 2019, perhaps as one of the system’s biggest risers.

Tarik Skubal, LHP (Tigers)

Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: A
Drafted in the 9th round in 2018, Skubal impressed across 3 levels (Rookie, Short Season-A and A) late in the season. Through 22.1 IP he posted a 2-0 record, 0.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 33 Ks. Is one of Andy Patton’s (@andypattonSEA) favorites and he reports that Skubal “has great size, plus gets that fastball up to 97 with decent control.

Cal Stevenson, OF (Blue Jays)

Opening Day Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Rookie (APPY League)
Impressive debut as he slashed .369/.511/.523/1.034 between Rookie levels GCL and Appalachian League. Oh by the way, Stevenson was 5th among all MiLB’ers with a 181 wRC+ (behind Nunez, Hernandez, Vlad and Curtis Terry). From Blue Jays correspondent Greg Bracken (@gregbracken07) – Stevenson was next on my list as #52. Advanced plate approach and good speed could make him useful.

Kervin Suarez, OF (Red Sox)

Opening Day Age: 20
2018 Highest Level: A
Only slashed .234/.282/.340/.623 in 2018 at Full Season-A Greenville, but was named Boston’s Minor League Baserunner of the Year. He tallied 25 SB in 31 attempts. Suarez should open the season at High-A Salem.

Luis Tejeda, SS (Pirates)

Opening Day Age: 17
2018 Highest Level: DNP, International signing in 2018
We don’t have a lot of information about Tejeda, but what we do know is that Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) has his eye on him, so we should too. Jason wrote a little about this 2018 J2 signing on Prospects Live’s FYPD Deep Sleepers. He’s likely to play in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.

President of Prospects1500. Commissioner of Diamond Duos dynasty fantasy baseball leagues. Founder of MLB Fantasy Playoffs Parlay. Participant in more than a dozen other dynasty/fantasy baseball leagues. Account Manager for Reminder Publishing in real life. Huge Bruce Springsteen and pro wrestling fan. Along with his wife and two boys, lives in Longmeadow, MA. Follow on Twitter at @Scotty_Ballgame.

1 Comment

  1. A’s good job grabbing Mark Payton a rule 5 selection from the Yankees.Mark from Chicago played 4 years at u of Texas where he reached base 101 consecutive games a div.1 record. With New York he was stuck in AAA.Watch him explode now that he has a legitimate shot to make and stay in Majors.His baseball iq is off the charts and his time has finally arrived.

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  1. Wednesday, February 6, 2019 – Fantasy Baseball Links | FantasyRundown.com
  2. Diving Deep – Exciting Expectations Who Didn’t Make Our Top 50 s – Prospects1 500 – Full Gamut Radio

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