Minor league baseball weekly cultivation for week ending July 17, 2021
The last few weeks have seen a lot of top 100 prospects noted in this report. This week’s minor league baseball cultivation features exactly zero prospects that have ever appeared on a top-100 list. A couple mentioned have some level of notoriety, but the focus this week is on players who are underrated and little-known, so a number of relievers and multi-positional players will be noted this week. That certainly doesn’t change the fact that multiple players mentioned this week are guys that you will want to be tracking going forward in your dynasty leagues.
Statistical Leaders (stats through July 17)
AVG – Thairo Estrada, AAA (SF), .385
OBP – Jamie Ritchie, AAA (Ari), .478
SLG – Jose Marmolejos, AAA (Sea), .691
HR – Griffin Conine, High-A (Mia), 22
SB – Delvin Zinn, High-A (ChC), 38
IP – Caleb Kilian, High-A/Double-A (SF), 74 2/3
ERA – Nick Lodolo, Double-A (Cin), 1.00
WHIP – Phoenix Sanders, Triple-A (TB), 0.68
SV – Kevin Quackenbush, Triple-A (LAD), 14
K – Glenn Otto, Double-A/Triple-A (NYY), 107
AVG – Thairo Estrada, Sacramento (SF), .385
OBP – Jamie Ritchie, Reno (Ari), .478
SLG – Jose Marmolejos, Tacoma (Sea), .761
HR – Jo Adell, Salt Lake (LAA) and Brent Rooker, St. Paul (Min), 19
SB – Brian Miller, Jacksonville (Mia), 19
IP – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 73
ERA – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 3.33
WHIP – Joe Ryan, Durham (TB), 0.79
SV – Kevin Quackenbush, Oklahoma City (LAD), 14
K – Drew Anderson, Round Rock (Tex), 74
AVG – Jose Miranda, Wichita (Min), .345
OBP – Marty Costes, Corpus Christi (Hou), .418
SLG – Mark Vientos, Binghamton (NYM), .611
HR – MJ Melendez, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 18
SB – Dairon Blanco, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 24
IP – Mario Sanchez, Harrsburg (Was), 72 2/3
ERA – Janson Junk, Somerset (NYY), 1.46
WHIP – Cole Winn, Frisco (Tex), 0.78
SV – Colton Hock, Pensacola (Mia), 12
K – Glenn Otto, Somerset (NYY), 103
AVG – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .378
OBP – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .460
SLG – Alex McKenna, Asheville (Hou), .616
HR – Griffin Conine, Beloit (Mia), 22
SB – Delvin Zinn, South Bend (ChC), 38
IP – Matt Waldron, Fort Wayne (SD), 72 1/3
ERA – Jayden Murray, Bowling Green (TB), 1.72
WHIP – Jayden Murray, Bowling Green (TB), 0.69
SV – Oliver Garcia, Greensboro (Pit), 8
K – Seth Corry, Eugene (SF), 85
AVG – Jordan Walker, Palm Beach (StL), .374
OBP – Edouard Julien, Fort Myers (Min), .490
SLG – Jordan Walker, Palm Beach (StL), .687
HR – Juan Carlos Negret, Columbia (KC), 17
SB – Jayce Easley, Down East (Tex) and Tyler Tolbert, Columbia (KC), 34
IP – Ryan Murphy, San Jose (SF), 63
ERA – Santiago Florez, Bradenton (Pit), 1.37
WHIP – Hyun-il Choi, Rancho Cucamonga (LAD), 0.81
SV – Vincent Timpanelli, Daytona (Cin), 9
K – Carson Ragsdale, San Jose (SF), 94
AVG – Erickson Sarita, Indians, .600
OBP – Frandy Almonte, Rangers, .714
SLG – Javier Francisco, Giants, 1.200
HR – Aeverson Arteaga, Giants, Jesus Chirinos, Brewers, and Luis Rodriguez, Dodgers, 4
SB – Jonatan Clase, Mariners, 14
IP – Jorge Garcia, Giants, 21
ERA – More than 50 with 0.00
WHIP – Four with 0.00
SV – Gabriel Hernandez, Angels, 5
K – Gabriel Aguilera, Reds, 30
Sorting through the weeds:
Seth Beer, 1B – Beer is probably the most widely-known prospect that will be reviewed in the entire weeds section. Beer was a freshman phenom at Clemson as a power hitter, and his last name has always drawn extra attention his way. The Astros drafted the burly slugger in the first round after his career at Clemson, and he was traded to Arizona as part of the deal that sent Zack Greinke to Houston. Beer is limited defensively to a future at 1B/DH, but he’s got a legit bat. Beer has produced for average along the way, and though he’s not knocked a load of home runs in the 2021 season, he’s still stroking a notable amount of doubles, among the top 5 in all the minor leagues in two-baggers this season. Beer’s road to the majors is blocked until a DH slot opens in the National League with the Diamondbacks, but he’s got a strong bat and a big league swing. Season line: .283/.382/.498, 219 AB, 8 HR, 22/46 BB/K.
Jake Meyers, OF – A two-way player at Nebraska that the Astros plucked in the 13th round of the 2017 draft, Meyers has developed himself from a speed-first, plus arm outfielder to a guy who consistently shows above-average raw power. Meyers’ plus speed is used well in the outfield, but he doesn’t have great instincts on the bases. He can handle center due to his speed, but his instincts are better suited for right field, and his arm plays well at the position. His bat has come along well to work at a corner as well, potentially offering double-digit home runs and steals to fantasy owners if he can crack the Astros lineup down the road. Season line: .330/.396/.609, 233 AB, 16 HR, 8 SB, 22/51 BB/K.
Colton Hock, RHP – Hock went from a highly-rated prep pitcher in Pennsylvania to a dominant college closer for Stanford. The Marlins drafted him in the fourth round in 2017, and outside an experiment in 2018, they’ve left him in the bullpen throughout his development. Hock works into the upper 90s with a heavy fastball that shows late life, and he works with hard curve as his primary secondary pitch. Hock’s struggled some with the late life on his pitches, and he’ll need to work to sharpen his control/command to have success at the big league level, but he has the potential to work as at least a middle reliever, and depending on how strong and consistent that command can get, he could find himself in the back of a bullpen. Season line: 30 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 12 SV, 11/33 BB/K.
Zach Jackson, RHP – The Blue Jays drafted Jackson in the third round in 2016 after a dominant college career at Arkansas as a multiple inning reliever. He moved quickly through the Jays system in the bullpen and was on the cusp of the majors in 2019, but he never made the big league squad, and the Athletics claimed Jackson on waivers this winter. Jackson operates with a fastball that can work into the upper 90s, but he controls the pitch much better at 96-97 with late bite. Jackson also seems to work best when he works his curve with a bit more loop to it and a bit less velocity. He was dominant in Double-A to open the season, but he’s been less so in Triple-A, though he has continued to show a strong ability to control his fastball. Jackson’s control of both of his pitches will determine his ability to work as a middle reliever for the A’s and could show him to be an excellent value pickup by the end of the regular season. Season line: 28 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 6 SV, 13/47 BB/K.
Vinny Capra, IF/OF – Capra was a 20th round selection out of Richmond in 2018 by the Blue Jays, and he’d really done little to distinguish himself before 2021, though he had jumped over High-A to Double-A in 2019 with just 94 at-bats of full-season play. In returning to the level in 2021, Capra expanded his utility role. After primarily playing infield with a handful of center field games in 2019, Capra has played the infield and outfield primarily, but he’s even pitched and caught along the way this year. Along the way, he’s changed his approach to add loft to his swing, resulting in dramatically lower ground ball rates this season and notably better hitting lines overall. Capra may not have a set position, but his above-average arm and glove can play at third and second well and cover short in a pinch while also covering the corners of the outfield very well and passing in center. Season line: .376/.448/.656, 125 AB, 6 HR, 3 SB, 15/39 BB/K.
Carlos Cortes, OF – Coming out of South Carolina, Cortes was a short, stocky player without a clear defensive home. He’s always shown power in his compact swing, and he’s also tended to walk more and strike out less as he’s stayed at a level. His fringe-average speed and below-average arm make left field his only hope as a defensive regular, though if the DH were to come to the National League, a future would definitely open to Cortes. The Mets could also have Cortes as a very strong lefty bat off the bench, but he’ll need to continue his success in Triple-A to earn that opportunity. Season line: .262/.323/.502, 225 AB, 10 HR, 22/62 BB/K.
Michael Beltre, OF – Beltre slowly worked his way up the Reds system for seven seasons before signing with the Yankees as a free agent in November. He’s dropped the switch-hitting he’d done in the Reds system and really began to wait out his pitch, and the results have been impressive, to say the least. Beltre’s swing is still long and will lead to swing-and-miss, but he has always had excellent raw tools on the offensive side. He has above-average raw power and plus speed. Beltre may only have average defensive tools and a fringe-average arm, so he’ll have to work to be a left fielder, and at 26, Beltre is “old” for a guy without a Triple-A plate appearance. If the Yankees keep pushing him, Beltre could surprise as at least a quality backup, but his skillset could definitely interest fantasy owners if he were to find his way to the big leagues. Season line: .269/.350/.519, 208 AB, 11 HR, 17 SB, 25/63 BB/K.
Jovani Moran, LHP – The Twins drafted the Puerto Rican Moran in the 7th round in 2015. He went through Tommy John surgery after his pro debut, and he’s been a reliever since he came back. Often he’s been used as a multi-inning reliever. He has battled injuries along the way in 2019 and struggled with his command in his first go-round at Double-A, but he’s shown notably better this season. Moran works with reverse splits as a lefty due to a double-plus change that he pairs with an average fastball that works in the low-90s but has some wicked late movement. Though he made his Triple-A debut on Saturday, he’ll work as a Double-A representative for this week. Season line: 40 1/3 IP, 1.79 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 2 SV, 15/69 BB/K.
Indigo Diaz, RHP – A 27th round draft pick from Michigan State by the Atlanta Braves in 2019, Diaz bolted up the farm system this season in his first full pro year thanks to some other-worldly numbers. Diaz works in the upper 90s with his fastball and has a sharp breaking ball, but he’s simply dominated hitters thus far with overpowering control of his pitches, seemingly putting them where he wants to. If he can continue this, he’ll definitely have a role in a big-league bullpen. Season line: 30 IP, 0.90 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 5 SV, 9/58 BB/K.
— Chris Harris (@CHarris731) July 15, 2021
Nic Enright, RHP – The Indians grabbed Enright from Virginia Tech in the 20th round of the 2019 draft after he saw inconsistent results in college. At his best in college, he’d show a mid-90s fastball and a breaking ball that flashed plus with tight snap. He seems to have already smoothed out a lot of inconsistency as he’s showing the same stuff night-in, night-out. The big thing he’s showing this year is ridiculous control and command, and that can help him keep out of trouble as a future reliever. Season line: 29 2/3 IP, 2.12 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 4 SV, 4/48 BB/K.
Justin Yurchak, 1B – The White Sox drafted Yurchak in 2017 out of SUNY-Binghamton. He was a raw hitter that worked his way up to full-season ball in 2018 before injuries slowed his 2019 ascent up the system. He finished that year with a role as an alternate at the Arizona Fall League. Yurchak is a contact hitter without a ton of power behind the bat, but he makes consistent contact enough to give him a chance to make his profile work. He’s a 1B-only profile, which would typically require more power, but if he can hit for a high level of contact, that could pass, though the bar will be notably higher. Season line: .378/.460/.483, 180 AB, 3 HR, 29/36 BB/K.
Austin Shenton, 3B/1B – The Mariners grabbed Shenton out of Florida International in the 5th round in 2019. He jumped up to full-season ball in his draft season. After missing 2020 due to COVID, Shenton has shown himself to be an elite hitter this season. He has advanced zone judgment and contact skills, and his above-average raw power has been accessed much more frequently in-game this season, allowing for a recent promotion to Double-A. Defensively is the big question for Shenton as he’s a fringe-average defender at third base. His best hope is to pass in left field, where his average arm could potentially work. Season line: .298/.421/.579, 228 AB, 11 HR, 42/62 BB/K.
Curtis Mead, 3B/1B – The Phillies signed Mead out of Australia, and he had a strong showing in 2019 at the complex before the Phillies swapped him in an offseason deal that winter to the Rays. A frequent top performer in the Australian winter league, Mead is showing his talent this year in Tampa Bay’s system. Mead is a guy who isn’t an elite defender anywhere, but he’s an adequate defender at multiple spots, including all three outfield spots. His versatility will work well within the Rays system. Mead’s combination of power and speed will please fantasy owners were he to make it to the major leagues. Season line: .341/.390/.550, 229 AB, 8 HR, 9 SB, 16/38 BB/K.
Michael Burrows, RHP – Plucked with an 11th round pick in 2018, Burrows has quickly established himself as an arm to watch in the Pirates system. Burrows offers a mid-90s fastball with above-average control of all his pitches. He doesn’t really have a secondary pitch that grades plus, but his curve is a solid above-average pitch, and he’s shown increasing comfort with his change as the season has gone on this year. Whether he’ll be a long-term starter or multi-inning reliever, he’s got a chance to work to the big leagues with his current stuff, especially if he can continue to grow as he moves up the system. Season line: 44 IP, 2.25 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 17/63 BB/K.
Scott Kobos, LHP – The Cubs signed Kobos as an undrafted free agent out of Coastal Carolina. He had never pitched in high school, converting to the mound in college, though injuries and COVID limited his exposure to teams. After work at a training institute, Kobos’ fastball lept forward from the upper 80s to mid-90s and his slider showed more consistent bite. Add in an altered changeup grip that baffled hitters, and Kobos was absolutely dominant before succumbing to an injury in June. Per Greg Haus of the Growing Cubs podcast, Kobos is nursing a sore elbow that doesn’t need surgery but also doesn’t have a timeline for return. When he does get back on the bump, however, he could quickly ascend to the big leagues if he’s keeping hitters at bay the way he has this season. Season line: 17 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 7/30 BB/K.
Cody Bradford, LHP – The Rangers picked up the Baylor lefty in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. The 2020 season being lost allowed Bradford to recover fully from thoracic outlet syndrome and hit the ground running. He’s not going to blow anyone away with velocity, but Bradford flashes plus control of his three pitches, which has allowed him to use his stuff well at the High-A level. Bradford was operating in the upper-80s in college and looks to have gained a tick of velocity after recovery, but he has certainly shown better feel for his secondary pitches, confidently using them in all counts. He could work as a backend starter, potentially moving quickly as the Rangers allow him to put innings back onto his arm. Season line: 51 IP, 4.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 15/65 BB/K.
Euribiel Angeles, IF – The Padres signed Angeles out of the Dominican in 2018, and his first pro season in 2019 was impressive, but no one would have expected that after the year off to the pandemic that Angeles would be one of the top hitters in the minor leagues. He’s played around the infield thus far, and he’s shown well with the glove at second, third, and short with an above-average arm. Angeles has plus contact ability, but that is likely his one plus carrying tool. He’s got a frame that would indicate potential average power and shows above-average speed as well in his profile, so he certainly is one to watch in an already-loaded Padres system. Season line: .348/.406/.470, 253 AB, 3 HR, 13 SB, 25/44 BB/K.
Ezequiel Tovar, SS – Tovar signed with the Rockies in 2018, and he’s impressed all along, quickly adding power to his frame. Defensively, Tovar can definitely stick at shortstop, and he could potentially be a very good one at the position defensively. Tovar doesn’t really have a single plus offensive tool, but his entire toolset jumps out as above-average, and in the looks I’ve had, he’s one of the more impressive young players I’ve seen this year. He’s an aggressive hitter at this point, and it works for him, with low strikeout numbers to go with the low walk rate, but that is the one thing in his statistical profile that catches my eye still and could give me pause is his low (3.9%) walk rate. Season line: .314/.349/.498, 255 AB, 9 HR, 18 SB, 11/34 BB/K.
— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) July 11, 2021
Joe Davis, 1B – The Red Sox drafted the University of Houston slugger in the 19th round in 2019 and signed him for just a $5,000 bonus. He’s certainly done what he was expected to do ever since, which was hit. Davis doesn’t have the best frame at just 6′ and 225-235 pounds, but he is able to generate ample power in his swing and still covers the plate well. While he’s earned a bump up to High-A this week, he’s yet to have an official at-bat at the level as of this writing, so he works as a Low-A representative here. Davis has the ability to potentially work as a power righty bat in a 1B/DH role, but the bat will be forced to produce at a high level in order to have value in that role. Season line: .333/.384/.577, 189 AB, 10 HR, 17/41 BB/K.
Emilio Marquez, LHP – Marquez was a late signee by the Royals, not signing out of Venezuela until he was a month from his 20th birthday. Often with players of that profile, it’s a pitcher that has significantly developed physically or added velocity since the typical signing age of 16. At just 5’8″ and 170 pounds, physicality is not Marquez’s calling card. That said, he’s completely baffled hitters to this point in his minor league career. Available information suggests that his fastball is below average, and his breaking pitch and change are really average pitches as well. What Marquez does so well is pound the strike zone, with just 18 professional walks in 107 2/3 innings. He may need an extra tick of velocity or a pair of secondaries that really play up to succeed in the upper levels, but for now, watching his numbers is incredibly impressive. Season line: 42 2/3 IP, 1.48 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 1 SV, 7/62 BB/K.
Ignacio Feliz, RHP – Incredibly, Feliz is already on his third professional organization at just 21 years old. If he keeps pitching like he is this season, he won’t be going anywhere soon, however! The Orioles grabbed Feliz as a minor league Rule 5 selection this winter, and he’s served as a swingman with Delmarva in his first full-season assignment. While Feliz had previously served primarily as a starter, the move to swingman has seemingly fit him well. His fastball works in the low-90s, creeping into the mid-90s at times, but he pairs that with a plus curve, which is his money pitch. Feliz rarely throws his change, and he could eventually transition back to a starter if the Orioles want to develop him in that way, but he has shown enough success in this role that they’d be wise to let him blossom in his new-found success. Season line: 43 IP, 1.05 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 2 SV, 21/45 BB/K.
Kyle Harrison, LHP – The Giants nabbed a gem when they grabbed prep lefty Harrison from the California high school ranks with a third-round selection last summer. He signed for over-slot money, but his raw tools indicated that he was one of the best prep lefthanders in the country. The Giants pushed him to full-season ball in his first pro season, and he’s responded well, ranking among the minor league strikeout leaders all year long. He works from a low 3/4 arm slot from the left side with a fastball that can touch the mid-90s but usually sits more 90-93. His secondary stuff is wicked when it’s on, featuring an upper-70s curve and a change that can seem to have a parachute on it. While he has a fairly consistent delivery, Harrison can lose the feel of his pitches and he’ll get hit or struggle locating at that time. A fourth pitch with some horizontal movement, such as a cutter, would keep hitters from being able to look as much vertical as his current offerings allow, and paired with his tough slot from the left side could allow Harrison to profile as more of a #2/#3 starter rather than a #3/#4. Season line: 56 1/3 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 31/87 BB/K.
Jesus Chirinos, 1B – Originally signed as a catcher, Chirinos moved out from behind the plate in his second pro season. In his stateside debut, he’s played for both Milwaukee Brewers affiliates in the Arizona Complex League, and he’s shown power for both. Chirinos has a short, compact swing, but he does have some timing issues that could be exposed by top-end velocity or breaking pitches. Season line: .343/452/.743, 35 AB, 4 HR, 7/6 BB/K.
Jamari Baylor, SS/2B – The Phillies drafted Baylor in the third round in 2019 out of high school in Virginia. He didn’t get a lot of run in his draft season due to a hamstring injury and then missed the pandemic year, so the Phillies really are looking to find out what they have with the young infielder. Baylor is a high-level athlete with plus speed, an above-average arm, and the frame to indicate at least potential future average power. The Phillies can be patient with Baylor, and his early returns indicate that he may be aggressive at the plate, but the athleticism is certainly there. Season line: .279/.436/.442, 43 AB, 1 HR, 4 SB, 10/22 BB/K.
Leonardo Balcazar, SS – Signed this January out of Venezuela, the 17-year-old Balcazar has a strong defensive profile, projecting as a shortstop due to high-level defensive ability and a fringe-plus arm. I’ve chosen him to be a representative for the opening of the Dominican Summer League as Balcazar shows up currently on the leaderboard in the DSL for home runs and stolen based thanks to a quick start to his first pro season. Season line: .294/.350/.647, 17 AB, 1 HR, 2 SB, 2/2 BB/K.
Enrique Saldana, RHP – The Cardinals have a habit of finding guys in the Latin market “late” and turning them into something. Saldana is from Panama and this time, the Cardinals very well might have plucked their older player from another organization. Saldana was a shortstop when the Rockies signed him. After two years when he really didn’t perform terribly with the bat, Saldana was converted to the mound, and he’s done very well in the role. The Cardinals picked Saldana in the minor league Rule 5 in 2019. The one line on Saldana is that he has a very strong arm. It will be very interesting to see how he develops. Season line: 16 IP, 1.13 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5/18 BB/K.
Chase Chaney, RHP – Chaney had a father and grandfather that played pro ball, so he was ready when the Angels came calling in the 16th round in 2018. Unfortunately, his elbow wasn’t, and Chaney ended missing most of the 2019 season. Finally fully healthy, Chaney is back on the mound. He sports a strong arm that can work into the mid-90s and a curve. While athletic, Chaney is still working to get consistent with his delivery, and that’s led to a few balls left over the middle of the plate this season. He’ll be one to watch with his raw pitches, though. Season line: 12 2/3 IP, 6.39 ERA, 2.13 WHIP, 4/14 BB/K.
Wilmer Flores, RHP – The Tigers signed Flores as an undrafted free agent last summer, and he was promoted this week to full-season ball, but he’ll still work for a complex arm for this week. Flores is the younger brother of the Giants infielder of the same name. He has just one season of junior college pitching under his belt, so the Tigers are being quite aggressive with their early promotion to full-season ball. Finding scouting reports is a challenge, but one report notes only that he throws “hard” and that he has an unrefined breaking ball. Coming from a guy that checks in at 6’5″ and 240 pounds, that could be an interesting relief combination right there. Season line: 17 IP, 5.82 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 6/22 BB/K.