Prospect Profiles – Rising Stars for 2020, Part 3

Grayson Rodriguez, Delmarva Shorebirds. Photo credit Jim Zele, @ZelePhotography on Twitter

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 five more players that appear on my countdown on Twitter, a couple who have already been released (at #44 and #42) and a few others soon-to-be released. 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.

Prospects1500 ranks listed are from our overall Top 172 prospects from back in October.


#44 Matthew Liberatore, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals 

2018 1st Round Draft Pick of the Tampa Bay Rays selected with the 16th overall pick out of Mountain Ridge HS (AZ). Liberatore was recently traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. The top prep high school pitcher in his class he impressed on the summer showcase circuit the summer after his junior year, but later dropped on draft  day due to signability concerns. In his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League he pitched well enough to be considered the top pitching prospect in that league in 2018. In 2019 in his first full season he made it to the Low A Midwest League where he once again was considered the top pitching prospect in the league by Baseball America.

Age: 20 Size: 6’5,” 200 ETA: 2022

Stuff: A 4-pitch pitcher with a chance to have at least 3 plus pitches. His best pitch is his plus fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s which he’s  able to locate well. His best secondary pitch is his plus curveball that sits in the high 70s. He also throws a slider that’s an average pitch, and a changeup which he hasn’t used much but shows flashes of becoming an above average or better pitch. He has very good control for a young pitcher and should develop above average or better control as he continues to improve.

2020 and Beyond: Liberatore will more than likely start the season at High A. He’s a very good up and coming young pitcher with excellent control and good command of the strike zone with his fastball and is continuing to improve his secondary pitches, although nothing’s overpowering yet. He seems like the type of pitcher that once he’s more of a finished product will dominate as he has the talent to be a mid-rotation with the upside to be even better as he has really good command.

Prospects1500 Ranking: #50, Baseball America Ranking: #31, MLB Ranking:#41 

Best Game: 6/28/19 vs. Great Lakes 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 10 K, 1 BB

Splits: vs. RH: .213 vs. LH: .290 Scoreless Starts (Min. 4 IP): 4

My Interview with Matthew Liberatore


#42 Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers

2019 1st Round Draft Pick of the Detroit Tigers selected with the 5th overall pick out of Hagerty HS (FL). In 2019 he won the Gatorade High School Player of the Year award for the state of Florida and was a top 5 overall pick. After turning pro he impressed in both the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League earning promotions at both stops while making it to the full season Midwest League to end the season. He impressed scouts and evaluators enough during his time in the New York-Penn league to rank as the #2 prospect according to Baseball America.

Age: 19 Size: 6’3,” 200 Bats: L Throws: L ETA: 2023

Hitting:  Considered perhaps the best pure hitter among all prep hitters in his draft class after impressing on the showcase circuit in 2018, Greene has the talent to develop into a plus with plus power. He drives the ball to all parts of the park and has a solid approach at the plate.

Fielding: Greene is a below average runner with a below average arm which leads many scouts and evaluators to consider him a few left fielder. 

2020 and Beyond: Riley Greene will more than likely start the season at Low A with a chance to possibly make it to AA by the end of the season if he can have a breakout first season similar to how Jarred Kelenic rose in the last year. He profiles as a future power hitting left handed middle of the lineup hitter.

Prospects1500 Ranking: #40 (Tigers #3), Baseball America Ranking: #50, MLB Ranking:#46 

Hit Streak: 8 (7/6-7/15)       16-35 (.457), with a double, triple, and a  homerun.

Best Game: 6/24/19 vs. GCL Blue Jays 5-5, with a double, 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s

Splits: vs. RH: .247/.324/.364 vs. LH: .328/.400/.493 Fielding%: .985


JJ Bleday, OF, Miami Marlins 

2019 1st Round Draft Pick of the Miami Marlins selected with the 4th overall pick out of Vanderbilt. Bleday had an outstanding collegiate career. He was a starter as a freshman in 2017 and in 2018 was Vanderbilt’s best hitter as well as the top hitter that summer in the Cape Cod League. In 2019 Bleday helped lead Vanderbilt to a College World Series championship and was the SEC Player of the Year after leading all Division 1 hitters. He started his pro debut in the High-A Florida State League where he continued to impress finishing as a top 5 prospect in the league according to Baseball America.

Age: 22 Size: 6’3,” 205 Bats: L Throws: L ETA: 2021

Hitting: Bleday is considered a plus hitter with plus power and he should be a quick to the big leagues type hitter. He has a nice smooth left handed swing with an all fields approach and good plate discipline. He has an excellent work ethic and has continued to improve every year.

Fielding: Bleday is considered an above average fielder. He’s an average runner with a plus arm that profiles well in right field, which is where he played the most as a pro.

2020 and Beyond: Bleday might start the season at AA as he’s already an advanced hitter, and he’s a quick to the big leagues player that’s already played close to 50 games at High-A. Bleday has the ability to be a special hitter that’s able to hit for both power and average and could be a future All-Star someday.

Prospects1500 Ranking: #41 (Marlins #2), Baseball America Ranking: #53, MLB Ranking: #29   

Hit Streak: 11 (8/8-8/20)  16-39 (.410), with 4 doubles and 2 home runs 

Best Game: 8/20/19 @ Lakeland (DH)

4-7, with 2 doubles 

Splits: vs. RH: .272/.314/.404 vs. LH: .192/.300/.269 Fielding%: 1.000


Logan Gilbert, RHP, Seattle Mariners 

2018 1st Round Draft Pick of the Seattle Mariners selected with the 14th overall pick out of  Stetson. In 2019 Logan Gilbert made his professional debut in Low A and dominated earning promotions up to AA in his first full season while posting a 2.25 ERA across 3 levels. He pitched well enough in the California League to be considered a top 10 prospect and was also named a top 5 prospect in the Texas League by Baseball America. He also happened to be drafted out of Stetson University, the same school that produced Cy Young winners Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber.

Age: 22 Size: 6’6,” 225 ETA: 2020

Stuff: A 4-pitch pitcher with a chance to have 4 above average or better pitches. His best pitch is his fastball that grades as a plus or better pitch that generally sits in the low to mid 90s. All 3 of his secondary pitches grade as least average or better with his best secondary pitch being his slider that could develop into a plus pitch to go along with a changeup and curveball that could develop into above average or better pitches in time. He has above average control that could also improve in time.

2020 and Beyond: Logan Gilbert will probably start the season in AAA with a chance to make it to the majors at some point in 2020. He has the talent to develop into a front of the rotation starting pitcher in the near future.

Prospects1500 Ranking: #53 (Mariners #3), Baseball America Ranking: #68, MLB Ranking: #48

Best Game: 5/19/19 @ Rancho Cucamonga 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 11 K, 0 BB

Splits: vs. RH: .206 vs. LH: .187 Scoreless Starts (Min. 4 IP): 9


Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles 

2018 1st Round Draft Pick of the Baltimore Orioles selected with the 11th overall pick out of Central Heights HS (TX). In 2018 he impressed in his short season debut in the Gulf Coast League where he ranked among the top prospects in the league. In 2019 he continued to impress in his first full season as he was named the Orioles minor league pitcher of the year and was a Futures game selection. He was considered a top 5 prospect in the South Atlantic League according to Baseball America.

Age: 20 Size: 6’5,” 220 ETA: 2022

Stuff: A 4-pitch pitcher with a chance to have 4 plus pitches. His best pitch is his fastball that grades as a double plus pitch that he has excellent command of that sits in the mid 90s and has topped out at 98 mph. His best secondary pitches vary depending on what he has better command of that day, his curveball looks to be a plus pitch when it’s on and his slider looks to be an above average pitch when it’s on. He’s also working on adding a changeup that shows flashes of developing into another above average or better pitch. He has really good command which grades as plus.

2020 and Beyond: Rodriguez continues to impress and he should start the season at High A with a chance to make it to AA at some point before the end of the season. The Orioles will allow him to develop without rushing him and he has the upside of a front of the rotation starting pitcher.

Prospects1500 Ranking: #38 (Orioles #2), Baseball America Ranking: #45, MLB Ranking: #44

Best Game: 8/10/19 vs. Kannapolis 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 10 K, 2 BB

Splits: vs. RH: .165 vs. LH: .182 Scoreless Starts (Min. 4 IP): 7

 




About James Weisser 7 Articles
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.

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