One of the things that I tried to do while doing my prospect countdown rankings is to give an overall perspective of how I see certain players ranking based on many different factors such as age, expectations, track record, and proximity to their major league debut. When ranking players it is extremely difficult to have certain lower level players ranked highly and so I’ve tried to rank players based more on how I think they might reflect as a whole in the prospect world more so than where they could be ranked based on pure talent alone. I’ve decided to do some in-depth dives on players I feel have the ability to move up the rankings in 2020 but are in my opinion still quite underrated and under-ranked do to various reasons. I hope everyone has enjoyed the rankings thus far. Here are a few more players that appear on my countdown on Twitter. Continue to follow me to find out where these players and other top prospects rank as I continue to countdown to March 1st when Spring Training will be in full swing.
#76 Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox
2018 1st Round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox selected with the 26th overall pick out of Plantation HS (FL). Casas reclassified so that he could be drafted a year earlier than expected after performing well on the summer showcase circuit as an underclassman and he performed well as a pro, especially in his first full season despite playing in only 2 games in the GCL the year before. In 2019, his first full season, he ranked in the top 3 in OPS and Home Runs among all high school hitters from the 2018 draft class, and was the only Red Sox hitter other than Xander Bogaerts to hit at least 20 home runs as a teenager in the last 50 years. He is the #1 ranked prospect of the Boston Red Sox according to both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. Where will he wind up on our upcoming Prospects1500 Red Sox Top 50? He finished as a top 5 prospect in the South Atlantic League after impressing plenty of scouts and evaluators according to Baseball America.
Age: 20 Size: 6’4,” 238 Bats: L Throws: R ETA: 2022
Hitting: Casas generates tons of power from his big strong build but he’s more than just a power hitting first baseman that scouts feel has a chance to develop plus to possibly double plus power. He’s good at making adjustments and isn’t afraid to shorten his swing with 2 strikes and he’s shown the ability to still drive the ball regardless of the count. Casas also has an all fields approach and solid plate discipline which helps scouts and evaluators feel he has all the talent to develop into an above average hitter. He will probably become a below average runner as he gets older but moves well for his size and gets average grades for his speed.
Defense: The Red Sox tried Casas out at third base and although he wasn’t able to stick there, he did show off enough athleticism for scouts to believe he can be an above average to plus defensive first baseman with the work ethic to possibly develop into a gold glove caliber 1B at some point. He also has an above average arm.
2020 and Beyond: Triston Casas will more than likely start the season at High-A with a chance to make it to AA before the end of the season if he performs well. He projects as a middle of the lineup power hitter from the left side that has the ability to possibly develop into a gold glove first baseman. He reminds me of a young Anthony Rizzo type.
Prospects1500 Overall Ranking: #76, MLB Ranking: #85
Hit Streak: 10 (8/16-8/26) 12-35 (.343) with 3 doubles and a home run
Best Game: 6/10/19 vs. Kannapolis 4-5, with a double, a home run and 4 RBI’s
Splits: vs. RH: .268/.359/.497 vs. LH: .213/.317/.416 Fielding%: .995
#75 Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets
Signed by the New York Mets out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. Mauricio was considered one of the top international players in his class and he has continued to live up to those expectations as he is considered to be the New York Mets #1 prospect according to both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. Christian Kainer’s Mets Top 50 is coming up this month and we’ll see what rank Mauricio is on that soon enough. In 2019 he made his full season debut and was a mid-season All-Star in the South Atlantic League despite being one of the youngest players and he performed well enough to be considered a Top 5 prospect in the league according to Baseball America.
Age: 19 Size: 6’3,” 166 Bats: B Throws: R ETA: 2022
Hitting: Mauricio is a switch hitter with a better swing from the left side. He has some length to his swing and is considered more of a power hitter than a hitter for average. He still projects to be an above average or better hitter with above average to plus power. Mauricio has a nice all fields approach and adjusts well to breaking balls but often times is overly aggressive and will need to refine his approach so he not as susceptible to pitchers pitches. He’s an average runner currently and there’s a chance he loses some speed as his body continues to grow and mature.
Fielding: Mauricio has the talent to stay on the infield but some evaluators question whether or not he’s a shortstop long term. He has a plus arm that would profile well at third base and that’s where some think he will end up. He has the talent defensively to stick at shortstop, but he might have to move over to third base as his body continues to mature.
2020 and Beyond: Mauricio will probably start the season at High-A and although it’s not certain what his position on the infield will be in the future, he has the talent to be an impact player on both sides of the ball.
Prospects1500 Overall Ranking: #66, MLB Ranking: #80, Baseball America Ranking: #54
Hit Streak: 10 (5/26-6/11) 16-44 (.364), with 5 doubles and a home run
Best Game: 5/18/19 @ Rome 4-5, with a double, a home run and 2 RBI’s
Splits: vs. RH: .280/.325/.381 vs. LH: .232/.250/.286 Fielding%: .948
#69 Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
2018 2nd Round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Thomas is the son of the White Sox strength coach Allen Thomas, so Alek got a chance to grow up around the game and it showed in his first full season. He won the Midwest League MVP and also made it to the Futures Game before being promoted to High-A before the end of the season. While at High-A he helped Visalia to win the California League championship with a walk off base hit in the deciding game. He finished as a top 10 prospect in the Midwest League according to Baseball America.
Age: 19 Size: 5’11,” 175 Bats: L Throws: L ETA: 2022
Hitting: Thomas is an advanced hitter for his age and he has all the talent to develop into a plus hitter in time. He has an all fields approach, and a nice compact swing that allows him to barrels balls well leading to plenty of extra bases with a chance to have sneaky pop that could lead to more home runs than most would expect. He has plus speed that plays well on the bases.
Fielding: Thanks to his plus speed, good instincts, and ability to get good reads and jumps, he looks to be a plus defender in centerfield where his below average arm would play well.
2020 and Beyond: Thomas is one of the more polished prep players in his class despite being one of the youngest. He will more than likely start the season back in High-A with a chance to make it to AA at the age of 20. He has plenty of upside and already knows how to be a pro thanks to his plus makeup and he’s willing to put in the work.
Prospects1500 Overall Ranking: #56, MLB Ranking: #59, Baseball America Ranking: #85
Hit Streak: 12 (5/22-6/5) 20-49 (.408), with 7 doubles and 2 home runs
Best Game: 7/3/19 @ Peoria 4-4, HIT FOR THE CYCLE with 2 RBI’s
Splits: vs. RH: .305/.383/.472 vs. LH: .271/.363/.329 Fielding%: .991
#68 Shane Baz, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2017 1st Round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates selected with the 12th overall pick out of Concordia Lutheran HS (TX). In 2018 Baz was dealt from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Tampa Bay Rays along with Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow for Chris Archer. In 2019 in his first full season in the Tampa Bay Rays system he made his full season debut in the Midwest League where he was able to showcase his power pitching repertoire. Baz impressed evaluators enough to rank him among the top 5 prospects in the Midwest League according to Baseball America. He also had some of the best stuff in the Arizona Fall League. He’ll be somewhere up near the top of Jake Wiener’s Rays Top 50 Prospects coming later this month.
Age: 20 Size: 6’2,” 190 ETA: 2022
Stuff: A 3-pitch pitcher with a chance to have 3 above average or better pitches. His best pitch is his fastball that he was able to touch triple digits with while regularly pitching in the mid 90s as a starter while during the regular season, his plus fastball sat around the upper 90s when he pitched out of the bullpen while in the Arizona Fall League. His slider is his best secondary pitch and looks to be a plus pitch and typically sat around the mid 80s. His changeup is still a work in progress, and he needs to improve his control and command in order to reach his full potential as a dominant starting pitcher. Baz also has the stuff to dominate out of the bullpen if the Rays choose to go that route with him.
2020 and Beyond: Baz has a ton of talent and he will more than likely start the season at High-A with a chance to make it to the upper minors by the end of the season. A power pitcher with great stuff how well his command and control develop will determine what role he has in the future.
Prospects1500 Overall Ranking: #64, MLB Ranking: #94, Baseball America Ranking: #70
Best Game: 5/26/19 vs. Dayton 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB
Splits: vs. RH: .211 vs. LH: .215 Scoreless Starts (Min. 4 IP): 5
#67 Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Chicago Cubs
Signed by the Chicago Cubs out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. In 2015 when Marquez was just 16 years old he was the top left handed pitcher in the International class as he was already pitching in the low 90s. Over the next few seasons his velocity has gone up a ton now touching triple digits and generally pitching in the upper 90s. In 2019 he started the season in the Low-A Midwest League but pitched his way to a midseason promotion to High-A after finding improved command. He was among the top 5 prospects in the Midwest League according to Baseball America. It will be interesting to see where Tom Usiak ranks him on his upcoming Cubs Top 50 Prospects this month.
Age: 21 Size: 6’4,” 185 ETA: 2021
Stuff: A 3-pitch pitcher with a chance to have 3 above average or better pitches. His stuff is some of the best pure stuff among all pitchers in the minor leagues as he’s a left handed pitcher that can touch triple digits which already give him a plus to double plus fastball that when he has command of it he’s almost unhittable. His best secondary pitch is his curveball which could develop into a plus pitch which already has the makings of an above average pitch, and he’s also working on improving a changeup that is still very much a work in progress but could be a solid third pitch in time. He still has had some mechanical/coordination issues which scout’s question how much it will affect his overall ability to command his pitches, especially his secondary pitches as he’s had issues with control in the past leading to plenty of walks.
2020 and Beyond: Marquez should probably start the season at AA in case the Cubs might need to use him at some point in 2020 although it seems more likely he would get to big leagues the following year in 2021. Marquez will look to show his new found control is real and try to dominate early knowing that the big leagues are probably closer than it seems. He has the talent to be a front of the rotation starter if he can command his pitches, if not he has a future as a power pitching left handed specialist.
Prospects1500 Overall Ranking: #126, Baseball America Ranking:#92
Best Game: 7/25/19 vs. Lake County 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 14 K, 0 BB
Splits: vs. RH: .253 vs. LH: .132 Scoreless Starts (Min. 4 IP): 6
James Weisser has been following prospects since 2003, when the Florida Marlins won the world series with players like Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis. He has seen MVP's, Cy Young Winners, and All-Stars before they ever played in the majors, and is an avid college baseball fan who enjoys watching the SEC and ACC in the spring when often times the cold, wet weather of the Midwest allows him to follow some of the top players in both conferences. He also enjoys following/covering the Midwest League which is often players first full-season level. He also watches some of the top amateur talent that comes through Chicago and the Midwest like the Under Armour All-America game at Wrigley Field which features some of the top incoming seniors for the following year as well as the 17U Team USA which features some of the top juniors in the country. He currently resides in McHenry, Illinois which is located within an hour from the Beloit Snappers and Kane County Cougars which allows him to see 4 or more organizations Low A teams in a week at times. A White Sox fan growing up one of his favorite moments was watching them win the World Series in 2005. A few of his all-time favorite players to watch are Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Clayton Kershaw, Barry Bonds, Mike Trout, and Ken Griffey Jr.