Late January is a sluggish period in the baseball transactions calendar. As has occurred in other slow weeks this offseason, we’ll be generous with our definitions of “Big Hype” and “Prospects” in order to cover interesting players recently in the news.
Five BHPs In The News
Brett Baty, 23, 3B, Mets (MLB)
(AA/AAA) 420 PA, 19 HR, 2 SB, .315/.410/.533
Baty’s future role with the Mets has shifted a few times this offseason. When it appeared the club was set to sign Carlos Correa, Baty shifted from a potential cost-controlled building block to trade bait. The division-rival Marlins even reportedly explored a trade for Baty involving either Jesus Luzardo or Edward Cabrera. With Correa crossed off the acquisition list, Baty is back in the picture for third base reps. From a roster management perspective, an Opening Day role will likely require either a monstrous Spring Training or an injury to incumbent third baseman Eduardo Escobar. While Baty had an excellent season in the minors, he only recorded 26 plate appearances in Triple-A. He then skipped to the Majors where his issues with ground-ball contact were on display in 42 plate appearances. Encouragingly, he posted above-average exit velocities. He profiles as a high-floor future Major League regular, though he’ll need to hit more balls in the air to access a star-caliber ceiling.
Although Baty is currently a below-average defender, he has the raw tools to improve to league average with sufficient effort. For the sake of comparison, Baty’s range, throwing skills, and athleticism are superior to those of Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm.
Oscar Colas, 24, OF, White Sox (AAA)
(A+/AA/AAA) 526 PA, 23 HR, 3 SB, .314/.371/.524
Colas had an encouraging stateside debut, blitzing through High- and Double-A before finishing with a power show over 33 plate appearances at Triple-A. Despite hitting .387/.424/.645 in that brief taste of Triple-A, Colas also recorded a 36.4 percent strikeout rate and 21.6 percent swinging-strike rate. The White Sox have done little to resolve an opening in right field, leaving the position an open battle between Gavin Sheets, Eloy Jimenez, Leury Garcia, and others. Colas is expected to have a legitimate opportunity to make the Opening Day roster. The left-handed slugger has a couple traits in common with Baty – namely, he produces high exit velocities with too many ground balls. There are also questions about his plate discipline, breaking ball recognition, and feel for contact. Overall, Colas has a volatile profile – the sort one could picture winning Player of the Week honors and experiencing an 0-for-30 slump in the same season.
Drew Waters, 24, OF, Royals (MLB)
(MLB) 109 PA, 5 HR, .240/.324/.479
A former top prospect in the Braves system who lost his luster in recent seasons, Waters is another volatile outfielder with a wide range of plausible outcomes. The Royals found 109 plate appearances for him last season. He’s primed to start in 2023 following the trade of Michael A. Taylor. Since joining the Royals in the middle of 2022, Waters has posted uncharacteristically high walk rates – possibly an important sign of improvement. Long considered an undisciplined hitter, he’s always had issues with low walk and high strikeout rates. It’s worth noting his swinging-strike rate improved along with the improved walk rate. Waters can produce an above-average maximum exit velocity, but his 84.1-mph average exit velocity was among the league’s worst. All told, there are a lot of moving parts to Waters’ profile. The 2023 campaign should prove instructive for his future role.
Vaughn Grissom, 22, SS/2B, Braves (MLB)
(MLB) 156 PA, 5 HR, 5 SB, .291/.353/.440
Like teammate Michael Harris, Grissom skipped Triple-A last season and still managed to perform remarkably well. He’s an effective Spring Training away from an Opening Day role in the Braves’ middle infield. While he’s no longer a rookie, there’s no question he’s still a developing young player. Per reports, infield coach Ron Washington is encouraged by his development as a shortstop this offseason. That’s a necessary improvement, as defensive metrics indicate he struggled as a second baseman last season. Presently, the Braves’ shortstop options amount to Grissom, Orlando Arcia, Ehire Adrianza, and Hoy Park. It’s possible opposing scouts figured out how to exploit Grissom at the plate late last season. His final 53 plate appearances amounted to a .174/.264/.196 triple-slash. He also struck out in all three postseason plate appearances.
Darell Hernaiz, 21, SS, Athletics (AA)
(A/A+/AA) 452 PA, 12 HR, 32 SB, .273/.341/.438
The Athletics’ return in yesterday’s Cole Irvin trade with the Orioles, Hernaiz was considered by both clubs to be more valuable than Irvin despite the pitcher’s success in the Majors. Hernaiz’s path to a regular role in Baltimore was narrow and unlikely to be achieved. He’s praised for his work ethic and baseball acumen, leading most scouts to consider him a future utilityman as a floor. He could stand to improve his plate discipline, though it isn’t a fatal flaw like with many aggressive, young hitters. He has above-average feel for contact and has shown unexpected growth in the power department. He’s expected to remain a contact-over-power hitter. As a defender, he’s sure-handed but might lose the footspeed necessary to remain at shortstop – especially in a post-shifts era.
In my opinion, this was an intelligent move by both clubs. The Athletics landed an up-and-coming prospect who would have remained overshadowed had he stuck in the Orioles’ farm system.
Connor Norby, Orioles (22 years old): For most clubs, Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg would serve as an enviable middle infield prospect duo with Jackson Holliday offering a down-the-road reinforcement. Baltimore has additional depth, rendering Hernaiz a practically unusable luxury. Norby is Major League adjacent and hit 29 home runs across three levels last season. I get vague Chase Utley vibes from him – meaning his production comfortably exceeds his appearance. After a few looks, you’ll come to expect clutch hits in big spots.
Joey Ortiz, Orioles (24): Ortiz is also Major League adjacent. A gritty gamer, Ortiz seems destined to fill an oft-used utility role in the Orioles’ loaded infield. The club is enamored with Ortiz and may struggle to find another team that likes him as much as them, even though he’d project as a starter in most systems. His presence could help them feel comfortable dealing Westburg if and when a blockbuster opportunity emerges.
Jose Salas, Twins (19): Acquired as ballast in the Luis Arraez trade, Salas is considered a high-probability future big leaguer. As with most developing teenagers, there’s a wide degree of plausible outcomes ranging from emergency bench depth to future front-line starter. A switch-hitter, there are still exploitable holes in his swing from both sides of the plate. It’s also unclear how his power will develop.
“For the sake of comparison, Baty’s range, throwing skills, and athleticism are superior to those of Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm.”
You know who you are.
Is Jose Salas the older brother of the International catcher who the Padres just paid $5.6 million and was considered the top international prospect in this recent free agency? I heard he had an older brother who was in the Marlins system and both of their last names are Salas but I haven’t heard it brought up since then.
C Yards Jeff
Never believed Baty was trade bait. Crazy thinking. A first rounder. Calm plate discipline. Saw him play in person. For what it’s worth, IMO, his D looks good to me.
“Range, throwing skills and athleticism”…superior to Bohm. Heck, I like and appreciate Alec and marvel at the defensive improvement last season, but range and athleticism are hardly his calling cards and the arm is solid but not special.
We are hoping that he maintains and slightly improves on defense to stick as an average fielder, while the bat comes into its own as well. The hit tool is his supposed carrying tool, and we need to see more power and an improved plate approach to consider him to be a core piece. This is an important year for him.
Sounds like Rave Reviews to me!
yea that Bohm comment isn’t wrong, but it does seem like a random dig without a real purpose.
Baty is going to be a very very good and impactful MLB player either with NYM, or elsewhere.
This one belongs to the Reds
Mets don’t seem to want to give him a shot and I keep wondering why.
I dont know if this is true vs just a narrative
Maybe they could have promoted him to AAA sooner, but they called him up to the majors as an everyday 3b when Escobar went down even though he had only 26 PA in AAA and they could have theoretically tried Vientos who had like 400 more AAA PA on his resume.
While Escobar’s hot September may have robbed him of a starting spot down the stretch in a pennant race or playoff scenario, we’ll never really know bc he got hurt.
I don’t think trying to sign Correa had anything to do w/ not believing in Baty and most reports are that the mets were eyeing a move to the OF vs trading him if the deal went through (he has the arm for RF and supposedly the range isn’t terrible and would improve as his route recognition got better)
He may not break camp w/ the mlb team, but I can pretty much guarantee that the mets would love it if Escobar became a bench piece and potential DH compliment to vogelbach w/ Baty seizing the everyday 3b role — despite his strong arm and some people relying on the “eye test” Escobar is not a particularly good defensive 3b either, and aside from September, he was pretty much unplayable against right handed pitching
Cubs need a 3B for the future
Who you want for him?
And dont say PCA
Pls bro, my ptsd
Bohm was out!
If you say he’s out, you’re also saying that it’s possible Ozuna can throw out a runner, which even the umpires think is impossible with that neon noodle of an arm.
He was, but only because he didn’t get his foot down. Technically he beat the throw, but never touched the bag. More importantly…who cares? That was a long time ago. Braves got a ring since then.
So was Holliday!! Both never touched the plate:
Julio Lugo wasn’t though!
I doubt Grifol will use Eloy in the OF. His hamstring injury has slowed him down. He couldn’t even run out grounders last season. Colas seems 50-50 as far as being help on offense, which the Sox already have plenty of players like that, but his defense could be major league level.
Unless Grandal or Moncada has a serious bounceback (unlikely), Colas should immediately become their 2nd best LH hitter after AB. I fully agree with their analysis: a lot of swing-and-miss, but undeniable power that he can regularly tap into. Cannon arm, a little slow, but gets good reads on balls and is much more sure-handed than Vaughn (not that that’s a particularly high bar to clear). Overall, I expect him to break camp with the club unless they decide to play the service time game and to get the most RF starts of anyone this year.
Ground balls aren’t the worst thing anymore with the shift ban.
This is especially timely as more teams have been encouraging and developing contact hitters. Players such as Luis Arraez and Steven Kwan are “hit ’em where they ain’t” guys. They hit some fly balls but mostly line drives and grounders. With assuring only 2 defenders on the infield dirt (or closer) on each side of 2B, it leaves large gaps to hit through.
All processional sports go thorough cycles where something works for a while so the copy cats come out. Not all position players are meant to be power hitters and get the ball up in the air a high percentage of times. Hitters that cut their swings down and prioritize making contact generally will be more selective at the plate, hit more foul balls to run opposition pitch counts up, and walk more often. This is the antidote to the power pitchers striving for a high K rate. The love affair with the OPS stat by the media and many teams has got to be put in its place. Winning baseball has always been about balance. Some guys on offense should be there to get on base, some to hit them in. A team isn’t going to have 9 high OPS guys in its lineup each day. Some of the smaller players – especially middle infielders whose prime responsibility on the team is defense – are extremely valuable if they can get the batted ball past the infielders.
This 3 outcome era is coming to an end. It hasn’t been good for the game or the fans. See enough W’s, K’s, and HR’s and fans become immune to them. Stringing hits and walks together along with opportunistic baserunning holds fans interest a lot longer. It’s what made the game so great until this ‘One Size Fits All’ style of baseball took over.
@Samuel – Agreed; the dominance of the analytics mindset has been pretty bad for the health of the game. It seems that they forgot something critical, and it is hard to understand if one actually goes to the games.
Action…that is it. Sure – chicks dig the longball, but the stadium gets going as the action occurs. A single…a steal…a hard fought at bat…slick defense…a sacrifice bunt…double in the gap…throwing a guy out as he tries to stretch an extra base. Whatever…but when the game drags on with weak K after weak K with poor fundamentals, 92 pitching changes, pitchers with great stuff that cannot find the zone and pop fly after pop fly baseball is not only boring for the average fan…it is boring for the avid fan as well.
It is almost as if MLB decided to dumb the game down, deciding that to grow the fanbase they needed power (only) for drama. No – the regular fan loves to see many of the nuances…they are not all totally uninformed about the game and even if they are the way to engage them is with the full spectrum available. I am happy to see that the pendulum is starting to swing back.
It is time to place the sabernerds into their proper role…a very important DEPARTMENT but not the driving force behind the entire structure. Big picture stuff should not be overwhelmed by small picture mindsets.
What do you mean “love affair with the OPS stat?” OPS includes your beloved batting average. But OBP and slugging percentage are far more important components of OPS. Besides the many park and league adjusted metrics you guys hate like WRC+, OPS is the one basic stat that gives you the most knowledge of how impactful a hitter has been. It’s pretty simple, you know? Just add up OBP and SLG and you get OPS. A team of high OPS players will dominate over a team with high batting averages and low power. This isn’t the deadball era anymore.
How’d you do in your rotisserie league last year?
Shouldn’t this article be tagged with these prospects’ teams? This doesn’t show up when I filter to White Sox rumors.
Oscar Colas is gonna be a stud!
You know a good comp for Hernaiz would be Semien. Good work ethic, maybe the A’s should finally hire Ron as the head coach.
C Yards Jeff
Hernaiz may have gotten squeezed from both sides of the O’s talent pool. Bencosme is rocketing through the lower minor levels. He and Holliday up the middle one day?