Minor league baseball weekly cultivation for week ending July 10, 2021
The Major League Baseball draft begins Sunday, July 11, and will continue through Tuesday, July 13. This week’s cultivation will focus on players taken primarily in the last two drafts that have worked their way up the ladder in minor league baseball. The 20-round draft this coming week will add a whole new crop of young players into the professional ranks, so look for many of them to begin their work in complex leagues or even higher by the end of the 2021 minor league baseball season.
Statistical Leaders (stats through July 10)
AVG – Thairo Estrada, Sacramento (SF), .385
OBP – Jamie Ritchie, Reno (Ari), .497
SLG – Cody Thomas, Las Vegas (Oak), .691
HR – Jo Adell, Salt Lake (LAA), 18
SB – Brian Miller, Jacksonville (Mia), Andrew Velazquez, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY), 17
IP – Kirk McCarty, Columbus (Cle), 68
ERA – Beau Sulser, Indianapolis (Pit), 3.02
WHIP – Joe Ryan, Durham (TB), 0.87
SV – Kevin Quackenbush, Oklahoma City (LAD), 12
K – Drew Anderson, Round Rock (Tex), 67
AVG – Jose Miranda, Wichita (Min), .345
OBP – Rudy Martin, Northwest Arkansas (KC), .450
SLG – Jorge Bonifacio, Reading (Phi), .618
HR – Taylor Snyder, Hartford (Col), Mason Martin, Altoona (Pit), MJ Melendez, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 16
SB – Dairon Blanco, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 22
IP – Mario Sanchez, Harrisburg (Was), 68 1/3
ERA – Janson Junk, Somerset (NYY), 1.08
WHIP – Cole Winn, Frisco (Tex), 0.75
SV – Colton Hock, Pensacola (Mia), 12
K – Glenn Otto, Somerset (NYY), 103
AVG – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .348
OBP – Patrick Frick, Everett (Sea), .439
SLG – Alex McKenna, Asheville (Hou), .616
HR – Griffin Conine, Beloit (Mia), 20
SB – Max Schuemann, Lansing (Oak), 34
IP – Matt Waldron, Fort Wayne (SD), 64 1/3
ERA – Logan Allen, Lake County (Cle), 1.58
WHIP – Jayden Murray, Bowling Green (TB), 0.72
SV – Carter Loewen, Fort Wayne (SD) and Jonah Dipoto, Quad Cities (KC), 7
K – Jay Groome, Greenville (Bos) and Seth Corry, Eugene (SF), 75
AVG – Jordan Walker, Palm Beach (StL), .374
OBP – Edouard Julien, Fort Myers (Min), .490
SLG – Jordan Walker, Palm Beach (StL), .687
HR – Marco Luciano, San Jose (SF) and Juan Carlos Negret, Columbia (KC), 14
SB – Braulio Vasquez, Augusta (Atl) and Jordy Barley, Lake Elsinore (SD), 32
IP – Breiling Eusebio, Fresno (Col), 59 1/3
ERA – Santiago Florez, Bradenton (Pit), 1.37
WHIP – Hyun-il Choi, Rancho Cucamonga (LAD), 0.83
SV – Juan Mejia, Fresno (Col), 8
K – Carson Ragsdale, San Jose (SF), 88
AVG – Warming Bernabel, Rockies, .548
OBP – Ryder Green, Yankees, .636
SLG – Jesus Chirinos, Brewers, 1.294
HR – Aeverson Arteaga, Giants, Jesus Chirinos, Brewers, and Luis Rodriguez, Dodgers, 4
SB – Jonatan Clase, Mariners, 9
IP – Freddery Paulino, Giants, 15
ERA – Nine with 0.00
WHIP – Po-Yu Chen, Pirates, 0.33
SV – Gabriel Hernandez, Angels, 4
K – Gabriel Aguilera, Reds, 24
Sorting through the weeds:
Ethan Paul, 2B/3B – Paul exemplifies one type of player that typically moves quickly to Triple-A. Unfortunately, from the last two draft classes, any other hitters that fit the other type of player, a player who rockets up the system due to his impressive talent, have moved beyond the minors to the majors. Paul’s group of player is an advanced baseball skills sort of player, as Paul was coming out of Vanderbilt when the Pirates drafted him in 2019’s 9th round. He’s spent the season at Pittsburgh’s two upper-level minor league teams because of his ability to handle the level defensively, though it’s pretty obvious that his bat is not there. His pro future may be limited at best, but a player like Paul is very valuable in a farm system and could stick around for a long time at the upper levels with a potential future in coaching or managing when he hangs up the spikes. Season line: .185/.283/.210, 81 AB, 3 SB, 10/33 BB/K.
AJ Lee, IF – Lee fits into the same bucket as Paul, but with a very different pedigree. Lee was a late draft pick in 2019, drafted in the 34th round out of Maryland, and signed for a slight $1,000 signing bonus to begin his pro career with the Astros. He flashed some high-level raw tools in his draft season, but he’s definitely got work to go, despite his background at a program in a major conference. Lee opened the season with Houston’s High-A club, but injuries pulled him up to the Triple-A level, and while his lack of polish has shown through, his ability to play multiple infield positions has been valuable. He did get bumped down to Double-A just before this went to print, but he is still a good example of the type of player from the 2019 class that has worked to the Triple-A level. Season line: .139/.221/.208, 101 AB, 1 HR, 3 SB, 8/55 BB/K.
Zack Thompson, LHP – While the question of the second-best college arm in the 2019 draft included Thompson, he was clearly the #2 college lefty on the board, so when he fell into the Cardinals’ hands at pick #19 of the first round, many felt that he could move quickly through St. Louis’ system. Thompson works with a pair of breaking pitches that can flash plus that he pairs with a fastball that can be inconsistent, but at its best sits 92-95 and touches 97-98. The issue for Thompson is that he did not get a lot of time in college due to injury, then missed what should have been his first full minor league season of development in 2020, and it has shown in inconsistencies in his delivery that have shown up significantly in Thompson’s control, leading to a terrible walk rate and plenty of grooved pitches when behind in the count, which has led to a lot of balls leaving the yard for Thompson. He may need a second dose at Memphis, but Thompson’s raw stuff should allow him to work as a #3/4 starter with even 50-grade control. The Cardinals could flirt with a move to the bullpen using his raw stuff out of the role. Season line: 37 1/3 IP, 9.16 ERA, 2.17 WHIP, 2 SV, 25/34 BB/K.
Josiah Gray, RHP – Gray is the one 2018 selection in this week’s write-ups, but he’s a great example of a low-profile draft pick turning into a top prospect. Gray was a shortstop at Division-II Le Moyne until his draft season, and he performed so well that he was actually selected with the 72nd overall selection by the Cincinnati Reds before being traded to the Dodgers before his first full minor league season. Gray ascended quickly through the Dodgers system, showing himself to be an elite prospect in one of the elite systems in the game due to a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 98 with plenty of movement along with an impressive slider/cutter hybrid pitch that he works in the mid-80s along with an average change. Gray’s high level of athleticism has allowed him to work with the Dodgers development staff to pinpoint his delivery, including arm speed and tunneling, which has allowed him to show as a plus command pitcher on the mound with excellent ability to sequence his pitches. Gray missed some time due to injury this season, or he may already have figured into the big league club’s rotation woes, but now that he’s returned to the mound, he certainly could end up on major league mound by the end of 2021. Season line: 11 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 2/15 BB/K.
Austin Martin, SS/OF – Most considered Martin the second-best college hitter available in the 2020 draft coming out of Vanderbilt. The Blue Jays were delighted to snag Martin with the fifth overall selection. The biggest question on Martin coming into the draft was his future position after he played third base primarily in college, but he put in time at every position around the field, including playing games at catcher in a summer league. Martin has primarily spent his time between shortstop and center field with New Hampshire this year. The bat is definitely talented and definitely needs some refinement to tap into the raw power, but he’s shown flashes of a potential future 20/20 player that could hit for average and get on base at a high level as well. Season line: .273/.394/.379, 161 AB, 2 HR, 5 SB, 25/45 BB/K.
Garrett Mitchell, OF – If Garrett Mitchell did not have Type I Diabetes, he would have been a first-round selection out of high school rather than falling to the 14th round. His diabetes came into discussion in the 2020 draft again, as teams questioned his ability to endure a full season’s wear and tear before Mitchell fell to the Brewers at the 20th overall selection. Mitchell tore up the High-A level before receiving a promotion to Double-A July 6. His athleticism in the outfield will allow him to project as a center fielder, and a good one at that. The pre-draft questions about his ability to tap into his power have certainly been answered, with his numbers this season projecting to a 25-30 homer pace over a full season of at bats. He could push for one of the outfield jobs that will open up after Lorenzo Cain and Jackie Bradley Jr.are free agents after the 2022 season with continued success in 2021 and 2022. Season line: .327/.3471/.551, 107 AB, 5 HR, 12 SB, 29/34 BB/K.
Logan Davidson, IF – Considered a high-floor option coming out of Clemson, the Oakland Athletics drafted Davidson with the 29th overall pick in the 2019 draft. As a switch-hitter that was a three-year starter for an ACC program in the infield and also had big league bloodlines (father Mark had a 6-year career as an outfielder for the Twins and Astros), Davidson was considered a guy who would move quickly and adapt well to the pro game. He has moved quickly, but rather than the patient, disciplined hitter he showed to be in college, he’s become more passive as a pro, which does mean a number of walks, but it also leads to a significant amount of strikeouts, and Davidson is not making enough contact to balance that out to this point. He has played primarily third and short in 2021, but he’s played around the infield, and the A’s could be developing him to fit in their profile of guys who can handle a number of positions capably, but his bat will have to do its part as well. Season line: .219/.314/.338, 228 AB, 4 HR, 3 SB, 31/73 BB/K.
Reid Detmers, LHP – Many who watched Detmers pitch at Louisville saw that while he had a high floor as a polished left-handed starter, there was still some room for growth in his arsenal that could propel him into another level as a pitcher. The Angels were certainly hoping for that growth when they selected him 10th overall last summer. While he is typically a guy who sits 91-94 with his fastball, he can reach back for 96-97 and he’s got excellent life on the pitch, especially up in the zone. His curve is an elite swing-and-miss pitch, and he works with a slider and change that both flash above-average as well. His control of all four pitches has been plus this season, which has allowed him success, even with questionable defense behind him at times in Rocket City. Detmers likely will be given a full season in the upper minors, which could finish at Triple-A, but don’t be surprised if he makes a push by mid-2022 to be part of the Halos rotation. Season line: 50 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 17/91 BB/K.
Bryce Jarvis, RHP – Jarvis jumped up draft boards before his final year with Duke to get selected 18th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020. He spent the summer of 2019 working with development organizations like Driveline rather than spending time in summer leagues, and it paid off as his fastball jumped up to a mid-90s pitch and his slider and his change both improved in those programs as well in their shape and his ability to tunnel the pitches with his improved fastball. Jarvis has continued that progress in 2021, though he’s shown some inconsistency in his control during the season. His most recent start was his most dominant at the Double-A level, and it was also by far his most consistent command shown at the level. Jarvis will look to iron out that consistency this season and potentially make a push for the Diamondbacks rotation by the end of the 2022 season. Season line: 55 1/3 IP, 3.58 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 21/60 BB/K.
R.J. Dabovich, RHP – Dabovich moved into the closer role at Arizona State last spring, and that allowed his fastball to play into the upper 90s along with his above-average breaking pitches, both of which can flash plus. The big thing Dabovich brings to the table now in the Giants system is plus command. He shifted from a true 3/4 arm slot to a high 3/4 to overhand slot when he moved to the closer role, and he’s become very comfortable in repeating those mechanics now. With the change in slot, his fastball plays well at the top and bottom of the zone, while his curve has added bite and his slider has been tough for hitters to handle. He also uses a splitter that works as a change as a “show-me” pitch. Dabovich is the rare pitcher that’s being groomed as a reliever with a four-pitch mix, but his mix is such that he could certainly be an elite reliever as he climbs the ladder, with one poor game currently coloring his Double-A stats since his promotion, as he’s continued his season-long dominance since his promotion outside that one hiccup. Season line: 20 1/3 IP, 3.98 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 8 SV, 10/45 BB/K.
Jordan Westburg, SS/3B – Many Orioles fans were frustrated when a seeming low-bonus selection with their first pick in the 2020 draft led to their next pick in the competitive balance round, 30th overall, being Westburg rather than a high-ceiling prep pick. Westburg was considered a high-floor infield selection out of Mississippi State, which isn’t exactly a sexy pick, but he’s come out this season and has really shown himself to be more with the bat than many of his scouting reports would have led anyone to believe. He’s struck out at a fairly high rate, but it’s been in part due to an approach at the plate that runs the line of patient and passive, with Westburg showing aggressiveness deep in the count. Westburg is a guy who could pass at short but be a potential above-average to plus third baseman. At the plate, he’s got average power and plus speed that he uses well on contact to the gaps. Season line: .311/.429/.500, 196 AB, 6 HR, 12 SB, 32/58 BB/K.
Daniel Cabrera, OF – After his summer 2019 performance in the Cape Cod league, folks had questions on Cabrera’s performance in college at LSU as he’d shown power that didn’t show up with a wood bat. Cabrera was selected in the second competitive balance round by the Tigers last summer, and he’s struggled to produce in his first experience with a wood bat in 2021. Cabrera was always known to be restricted to a corner outfield spot, so his future will depend on production from his bat. The one positive thus far is that Cabrera’s strikeout rate has remained at a decent level, even though he’s not gotten the ball into the air to tap into his above-average power. At this point, he’s hitting nearly 50% of balls into the ground, so he has work to do in that regard. Season line: .252/.311/.381, 218 AB, 4 HR, 5 SB, 20/56 BB/K.
Casey Martin, 2B/SS – Entering the 2020 college season, many considered Martin one of the elite talents in college baseball, but he had a mixed bag season on and off the field that led to him being selected in the third round by the Phillies last summer. Martin opened the season with Low-A Clearwater, and he performed very well at the level, earning a promotion to High-A Jersey Shore, where he’s struggling notably after the promotion. Martin has certainly shown his raw talent, but also the development needed in his game, which is notable as a 22-year-old college draftee. After some questions about his potential defensive position, Martin has shown the ability to handle either side of the keystone, though his arm definitely could work at third base as well. His path will likely be slower than the typical college player due to how raw Martin is, but he could be someone that clicks and moves quickly if he can show he’s beyond the off-field stuff that worried some teams in the past. Season line: .230/.311/.347, 222 AB, 2 HR, 12 SB, 25/65 BB/K.
Jared Shuster, LHP – Shuster jumped forward from “college lefty” to a legit prospect, as his fastball ticked up to 92-95, touching 97. That made his plus change and average slider work that much better. His delivery is calm and the fastball/change combo is elite, but he’s shown very positive development with his ability to locate and shape his slider in early going this year with Rome. The Braves have been aggressive with the promotion of their 2020 draft picks this season, so Shuster could move to Double-A by the end of the season, but he’s been handled more carefully than the team’s other picks this year, just clearing five innings for the first time in his most recent start, so it’s doubtful the team will pile too many innings on him. Season line: 24 IP, 3.38 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8/31 BB/K.
Emerson Hancock, RHP – Hancock was significantly more impressive in his sophomore year in 2019 than in his starts before the 2020 season was canceled. He has the ideal frame for a big-time starter, and his pitch mix indicates an elite starter, with a plus fastball and a plus change with a curve and slider that flash well but are inconsistent. Control was a high point for Hancock in college, but he’s struggled at times with location, especially with his breaking stuff. The Mariners appear to be pushing his breaking stuff for development purposes, and Hancock is still keeping runs off the board, but his pitch efficiency is still building as he’s yet to exceed five innings in any start. As he builds up, Hancock may finish the year with a few starts in Double-A before spending the majority of the season in 2022 in the upper minors. Season line: 26 IP, 2.42 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11/25 BB/K.
Asa Lacy, LHP – Lacy was arguably the most impressive pitcher in college in 2020 before the season was shut down. The Royals nabbed the lefty with the fourth overall selection last summer. He flashes rare skills for a lefty, running his fastball in the mid-90s, touching 98-99 with big movement on the pitch. He works with three potential plus offspeed offerings, led by a wipeout slider that runs in the upper-80s. The change and curve are behind the two lead pitches, and the Royals have been working with Lacy to develop his entire repertoire. Lacy has a very powerful delivery, but he has found himself getting off track frequently this season, leading to control issues. Lacy will continue ironing out his delivery for consistency in his whole pitch mix and better attack of the strike zone, and if he can accomplish this, the Royals would likely allow him to work his way to Double-A by season’s end. Season line: 45 1/3 IP, 4.96 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 34/72 BB/K.
Zac Veen, OF – In the mix for the top prep bat in the 2020 draft, Veen was the second high school player drafted last summer when the Rockies took him ninth overall. Veen is an elite athlete that has plus raw power and has shown an advanced feel for the strike zone early on in his pro career. He’s also used a high baseball IQ to swipe plenty of bases, though he’s more of an average to above-average runner that likely profiles in right field long-term, especially in Colorado’s spacious outfield. Veen has really tapped into his power recently, so there could be more to see from Veen as the season continues. Season line: .249/.368/.395, 205 AB, 4 HR, 26 SB, 36/64 BB/K.
Austin Hendrick, OF – The Pennsylvania native was considered the best prep power bat available in the 2020 bat. Hendrick fits a right field profile with plus raw power and a plus arm. While Hendrick absolutely has the raw tools that caused the Reds to draft him 12th overall, he’s struggled to put those tools into play. This is not uncommon for a young hitter, so there’s certainly no reason to panic, but the big swing of Hendrick will definitely need to cut down as he works up the Cincinnati system in order to have those tools come to the surface consistently. Season line: .191/.397/.340, 94 AB, 2 HR, 3 SB, 28/45 BB/K.
Ed Howard, SS – The Cubs kept the local boy home, drafting Howard 16th overall last summer. Howard received some backhanded praise as the top prep shortstop in a weak class, but his talent is in line with the top guy in any year’s class. He’s certainly going to stick at shortstop defensively, with advanced defensive instincts and a plus arm that could grade even higher. The bat skills are impressive, but he’s been inconsistent to open his pro career with the stick. He’s flashed average power and above-average speed in his game to go along with a quick bat through the zone, but his strike zone judgment has not been where it needs to be to this point, likely meaning he’ll spend the full season at Low-A, working on the nuances of both playing the excellent defense that he does as well as providing offensive contributions. Season line: .211/.259/.284, 109 AB, 1 HR, 1 SB, 6/40 BB/K.
Dax Fulton, LHP – A tall (6’6″-6’7″) lefty from high school in Oklahoma, Fulton attracted the attention of a number of teams as a pitcher who may take some time to develop but had the frame and present skills to dream on what he could become. He then had Tommy John surgery that caused him to drop out of first round consideration to where the Marlins selected at 40th overall in the second round. He has struggled to maintain his delivery, which is often a concern for a pitcher at his height, but his raw stuff has plenty of upside as he is currently working in the low-90s with his fastball, offers a plus curve, and throws a change as well. Often, pitchers recover their velocity when returning from TJS first and their location second, so there could come a point this season or in 2022 when the location clicks, and Fulton could rocket up the Marlins system. If he adds a second breaking pitch and/or another couple ticks of velocity, Fulton could quickly move into the elite prospects in all the game once he can harness it. Season line: 36 2/3 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 21/37 BB/K.
J.T. Ginn, RHP – In line to potentially be a top half of the first-round selection in 2020 when the collegiate season began, Ginn ended up having elbow surgery after just three innings pitched on the year. The Mets grabbed him in the second round, assured that his heavy fastball that can run up to 99 and his potential double-plus slider could carry him upon his return. They’ve done just that, as Ginn has leaned heavily on his two-pitch mix as the Mets manage his innings this season in his return to the mound. Ginn has a similar profile in his two lead pitches to current Mets starter Marcus Stroman, though he will need to continue working on secondary offerings to remain in the rotation. If not, pumping 99 with an elite slider could make Ginn a potential dynamite reliever. Season line: 32 2/3 IP, 2.48 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 8/31 BB/K.
Cole Wilcox, RHP – Though Wilcox had the profile of a first-round college arm, teams were scared off once he fell to the back of the first round that he wouldn’t be able to be signed, leading to him falling to the Padres last June in the third round. He was traded to the Rays in the offseason as part of the Blake Snell deal, and he’s been nothing short of dominant in his pro debut with the club, likely in line for a promotion before he recently went on the injured list. Wilcox can touch triple digits with his sinking fastball and typically works in the mid-90s while offering a plus slider and a change that has come along significantly already in his pro career, though he doesn’t throw it often at the Low-A level. He definitely could use the promotion simply to continue testing his raw stuff, but that will likely come after he returns. Season line: 44 1/3 IP, 2.03 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 5/52 BB/K.
Carson Tucker, SS – The Indians tabbed Tucker in the first round last summer, hoping to capitalize on his growth, both on the diamond and physically, and continue it in their development system. Tucker has added multiple inches of height and significant natural muscle development to his frame since coming on the scouting scene, and that led to him needing to make some notable swing changes with longer levers. He’s shown excellent baseball instincts in the field and at the plate, but his hits simply haven’t started falling – yet. Tucker often gets compared to his older brother Cole, who was drafted by the Pirates in the first round in 2014, but they’re very different players, and Carson could wind up shooting up top prospect lists as soon as the end of this season if he finishes his pro debut strong. Season line: .150/.320/.300, 20 AB, 1 HR, 1 SB, 5/4 BB/K.
Blaze Jordan, 3B – Combine one of the younger players in the 2020 draft, the prep player in the 2020 draft known for hitting 500-foot home runs in exhibitions, and a baseball media market like Boston, and you have the perfect storm for Blaze Jordan to have plenty of hype coming into the season as a third-round selection. The baseball card industry has already seen the hype around Jordan go through the roof. It’s good to keep in mind, though, that Jordan was known to have a long, powerful swing that would take time at the complex level and likely also require time working up the minor leagues to smooth out any concerns before he’d ascend to the big leagues. Early returns show exactly that, though getting out to full-season leagues will be his first major test. Season line: .192/.250/.192, 26 AB, 2/7 BB/K.
Marco Raya, RHP – The Minnesota Twins took a risk on Raya as he was a “helium” prep pitching prospect early in the 2020 season before things got shut down. Raya works with a low-90s fastball and offers two breaking pitches that flash plus. He’s not used a changeup much yet, but that will be development the team will work with Raya down the road. Raya has plenty of physical development left in his frame, which portends another couple potential ticks of velocity left in the tank. He’s an intriguing arm to watch once he is turned loose by the Twins this summer. Season line: Has not pitched.
Mason Cole, RHP – Cole is an example of a player that the lost 2020 season really nipped. Cole struggled through injuries in his college career, causing him to fall to the 27th round in the 2019 draft to the Rangers. His draft slot shouldn’t hide his raw talent, however. Cole works with a fastball that can bump triple digits and sits in the mid-90s. He pairs that with a wicked splitter and has shown a slider. At 6’6″ with a developed frame, Cole has the frame and raw stuff to be an impressive reliever, and that’s the role the Rangers will mold him in, but he will likely be slow out of the gate as he establishes his arm after multiple years of injury. Season line: 3 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3/7 BB/K.