This week on Big Hype Prospects, we continue our offseason tradition of focusing on players tangentially linked to news and rumors.
Five BHPs In The News
Anthony Volpe, 21, SS, NYY (AAA)
(AA) 497 PA, 18 HR, 44 SB, .251/.348/.472
True to their word, the Yankees never got around to solving their left field opening with an external addition. Nor did they upgrade Josh Donaldson after the veteran turned in his worst-hitting performance since 2012. The club has opted to go with internal depth like Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Also factoring into the calculus is the imminent arrival of Volpe.
The 21-year-old slugger has only 99 plate appearances of experience at Triple-A and posted a modest 91 wRC+ at the level. While minor league data isn’t comprehensive, there’s evidence Volpe was too patient with pitches inside the strike zone. A repeat at the level makes sense given the personnel already on hand in the Majors. It would require an incredible Spring Training for Volpe to crack the Opening Day lineup. In the interim, with Gleyber Torres participating in the World Baseball Classic, Volpe should have more opportunities for middle infield game reps.
Hayden Wesneski, 25, SP, CHC (MLB)
(AAA) 110.1 IP, 8.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 3.92 ERA
With Kyle Hendricks expected to begin the season on the injured list, the Cubs have a battle for the fifth rotation slot. The most intriguing entrant is Wesneski, a right-hander who showed a knack for avoiding hard contact in a brief 33-inning trial last season. Wesneski features a five-pitch repertoire including three distinct fastballs, a slider, and a changeup. While he doesn’t project to run rampant strikeout totals in the Majors, Wesneski is stingy about allowing hits and walks. It’s a Jameson Taillon-like profile, and it’s probably no accident the Cubs acquired both players in the last calendar year.
Logan O’Hoppe, 23, C, LAA (MLB)
(AA) 447 PA, 26 HR, 7 SB, .283/.416/.544
Acquired at the previous trade deadline for formerly hyped prospect Brandon Marsh, O’Hoppe will compete with Max Stassi for a starting role on the thirsty Angels. Although the right-handed hitter has yet to play in Triple-A, the Angels gave him a vote of confidence in the form of 16 Major League plate appearances last fall. O’Hoppe took advantage of hitter-friendly conditions to torch Double-A pitching. His 2022 breakout included improved plate discipline without sacrificing aggression against pitches in the heart of the zone. This is a relatively rare adjustment. Should he seize the Opening Day job, keep an eye on his plate discipline metrics. If he retains his selective aggression, O’Hoppe could emerge as one of the top catchers in the league.
Kyle Harrison, 21, SP, SFG (AA)
(AA) 84 IP, 13.61 K/9, 4.18 BB/9, 3.11 ERA
Including High-A, Harrison threw a total of 113 innings. He should approach a full complement of 30 starts this season – perhaps with a mix of longer and shorter outings to manage his workload. The Giants put together a deep pool of Major League starters. In addition to the presumed starting five of Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, and Alex Wood, Jakob Junis and Anthony Desclafani await in the bullpen.
While Harrison finds himself behind a number of very qualified starters, the pool of viable minor leaguer replacements is relatively thin. This is also a group of veterans who (mostly) have familiarity with major injuries. This apparent depth could evaporate at a moment’s notice, offering a temporary opportunity for Harrison to audition. As of last look, command is Harrison’s greatest weakness. Most scouts think he’ll develop in this regard. If not, his stuff is sufficient to support him in short-burst starter or elite fireman roles.
Vidal Brujan, 25, 2B/OF, TBR (MLB)
(MLB) 162 PA, 3 HR, 5 SB, .163/.228/.259
Although technically no longer a prospect, Brujan still fits a looser definition of an “unestablished, young player.” He’s also received plenty of hype over the years. Brujan doesn’t fit cleanly on this iteration of the Rays roster, leading MLBTR staffer Anthony Franco to consider him a trade candidate. The switch-hitter has struggled to make impactful contact at the top level, though he has posted an above-average batting line at every minor league level – aside from nine plate appearances at Low-A in 2016. At one point, prospect watchers secretly hoped Brujan would flip a power switch like similarly-built infielder Jose Ramirez. Now it’s looking likelier Brujan settles as a defense-first regular with a contact-forward hitting approach.
Thad Ward, WSH (26): Although I’ve yet to hear of the Nationals planning to use Ward as a starter this season, the absence of Stephen Strasburg creates a tempting opportunity. Ward has served as a starter throughout his minor league career and profiles as a potential rotation regular. The Nationals are in a state of internal evaluation and have little reason to withhold starts from their Rule 5 pick.
James Outman, LAD (25): After spending much of the offseason with a clear path to a starting role, Outman now finds himself locked behind David Peralta. As a fellow left-handed hitter, Outman faces an uphill battle for regular reps.
DL Hall, BAL (24): Hall is currently behind schedule due to lower back discomfort. The oft-injured southpaw already looked questionable to make the Opening Day rotation. This setback only increases the risk of a minor league assignment. While Hall undoubtedly could play as a Major League reliever, the club is still assessing his potential as a starter.
deGrom Texas Ranger
Some fool on MLB.com suggested about a few months ago that Texas trade Corey Seager for Volpe straight up. I really wish that guy were the Yankees’ GM right now.
With the new shift rules, doesn’t Seager stand to gain the most?
deGrom Texas Ranger
Of course, but at that point, you could sign Trea Turner and trade him for some top pitcher and end up even better. Or, maybe go for Judge with the new savings? This was towards the start of the offseason. It’s also possible to trade Volpe for Yelich, Woodruff, and Williams or Yelich and Burnes in a salary dump, perhaps.
Volpe has more trade value than Seager
deGrom Texas Ranger
This is my point exactly.
Way more. Seager has almost none (he just about earns his salary).
Lmao Seager is a proven elite SS at the major league level. Yeah the contracts make it taught to evaluate, but ideas like this is how the Yankees delude themselves into wasting Judge prime years with IKF at SS
But two years from now Volpe could be just another big hype prospect that can’t hack it at the MLB level and Seager will still be an above average performer. Seager is close to a sure thing, Volpe is a hope.
Or. Volpe can be an upper tier 2B, while Seager declines, and the NYY spend the $32.5M on someone like Machado.
They could suggest it, but the Yankees passed on Seager to open the door for Peraza and Volpe. They wouldn’t change direction one year later. I guess that’s why you called him a fool!
I do think Seager will have a big year.
deGrom Texas Ranger
Yep. I am very excited for Seager without the shift and deGrom. I just think the Semien, Gray, and Perez money could have been spent more effectively and efficiently. They should have waited for Trea Turner instead of spending on Semien. Some sources say Seager lost 20 hits, while others say he lost a net 30 hits. Adding that to his batting average gets him back to his career averages. How exciting!
No doubt Turner would have been better than Semien, but there was no guarantee they would’ve been able to land Turner. Teams can do everything to the utmost, like SF and SD in their pursuit of Judge, but if a guy wants to sign elsewhere there’s nothing they can do. Having Semien is better than passing on him, and then Turner signing elsewhere.
@LordD99- I was definitely one of the guys who wanted the Yankees to sign Seager last season, he could of played shortstop and then moved over to 3rd base, when Peraza came up. The Donaldson/IKF trade was definitely a disaster. Thank god only one more year of Donny though. Do you want Machado on the Yankees, next season playing 3rd base? I’m ok with DJ playing 3rd next season, and forgetting about Manny who will cost a fortune. Hey hope all is well.
deGrom Texas Ranger
@Judge Correa was cheap, and Turner would have been a solid signing too. What were your wish list rankings this offseason for shortstops and last offseason? I’d personally rank last offseason as Seager, Correa, Baez, and Story and this one (if they only signed 1 or none of them) as Turner, Correa, and Bogaerts. Turner over Seager, though, in my opinion due to his elite all around talent
@CaptainJudge, to me it wasn’t an either-or scenario. I wanted Seager because he was young, a needed lefty bat, and he could play SS until Peraza and Volpe arrived. When they did, he could shift to 3B. Next year, Machado would be great, but I don’t have an interest in him on a 10-year deal. The time to have signed him was four years back at 26.
L99: It’s for the reasons you cited that my personal preference is to pass on Machado in favor of signing Soto. If they were the same age, or even close thereto, it would be a different discussion; but Soto will only be 26, is LH, and has elite offense.
I sincerely hope the Yanks don’t try the Harper/JTR/Machado (1) approach again to save money now, only to spend it on older, less successful players later.
What do the last five WS champions have in common? All of them refused to lock up their incumbent shortstops to ridiculously long extensions.
BRIGHT SIDE.i just looked that up. you are correct and that makes me re-think the dumb bogarts deal.im a yanks fan and i want them to just put volpe in at short and deal with the growing pains.what do you think?
foolish indeed. like the Yanks could have used Volpe to get Soto. why.. I can’t even continue with how silly that guys idea is
deGrom Texas Ranger
It would have taken more than Volpe, but yeah
Curious to see how the Angels handle O’Hoppe, meaning do they turn over the pitching staff to him immediately, or slowly work him in behind Stassi?
Volpe is probably a mid-season call up. I don’t see any easy path for him to break with the team with Peraza likely getting first shot at SS, and while they assess Donaldson for at least the first month. LeMahieu and Cabrera and IKF are three players they’ll need to find AB’s for.
Not convinced Brujan can hit enough.
I read somewhere that Cabrera could wind up starting the season in AAA since he’s got options left.
Cabrera could be the LFer on the heavy side of the platoon. My guess is he sticks unless he flops. The Yankees pretty much played him regularly the last six weeks. They seem to like him.
@Joe, certainly a possibility as they try to find space, and players with options can be on the Scranton shuttle. As LD99 notes, the Yankees seem to be invested in Cabrera to a higher degree than the prospect charts warrant.. He can bring a lefty bat with some pop, so they’ll try to fit him in. That’s why I believe Volpe might be the odd man out at the very start of the year. Sticking to my belief that IKF gets traded before Opening Day. They want to first make sure everyone else is healthy, particularly LeMahieu, before moving on.
Poster formerly unknown as . . .
They might trade IKF, but my guess is that they’ll hang onto him as a hedge against Donaldson looking like he’s done. Cabrera might end up getting the bulk of left field innings, and if DJ takes over most of the innings at third, it seems to me possible that IKF might be needed to serve as their primary infield utility player.
On the other hand, the way salary seems to play into the playing time equation, they might just stick with Donaldson no matter what.
@poster, Although DJ is the better hitter, I prefer him utility to keep him fresh to leverage the dog days of summer. I always thought Gardner’s most value at the plate was working the count and adding to the pitch count. DJ is similar to that and his 10th pitch slap hits were really missed last year. I think they may leverage Cabrera as a showcase through June and July and perhaps flip for whatever the need is then. I really liked him and think his versatility and attitude is great for most teams.
i like al conin
For O’Hoppe it’s probably not a question of who starts but what percentage they each play.
The thirsty Angels?
Yes I was going to say the same thing haha
I guess when the Angels fail in 23, it will be how they pissed away the opportunity instead of referring it as being hungry (when everyone would be talking about how the season went into the crapper).
i like al conin
Why will they fail? The team is really improved. Waaaay too early to regurgitate and pile on past narratives.
The Angels Bench is improved, but they have questionable starters at 2B and SS, and no established closer. Health has to improve, as that’s been there Achilles heel.
Thirsty to win, duh!
Big Dick Jed fleeced the Mets and the Yanks for PCA and Wesneski.
I wouldn’t say that. Efross pitched well prior to his injury.
I wouldn’t say fleeced on the Wesneski/Effross thing–but to this point the Cubs are way ahead on the luck side of the deal. Effross was brought in to fortify a bullpen to make a World Series run. In spite of him pitching well, he nor the team got to the World Series and he’s down for a year.
Wesneski “has a chance” to help the Cubs pitching.
As for PCA—that was a disaster for the Mets whether or not PCA ever makes it as a viable major league player.
I definitely wouldn’t call it a “fleece” either but it’s a typical over reaction by fans after a has some immediate success.
To me, it’s crazy that Wesneski isn’t expected to “miss many bats” with that nasty wipe out slider he has. Watching him toss that perfect inning, his slider looked absolutely ridiculous.
Plenty of teams trade prospects for mid season help. So many fans overvalue prospects. Top draft picks, top prospects, it’s mostly gorilla dust, very few make the majors and just a handful become stars
@Wampum While that is true, PCA was and is worth much more than <50 games from Javier Baez and some solid innings from Trevor Williams. Baez did great for NYM, but in the end, it didn't matter as they still finished below .500 and they didn't resign Baez. Williams was decent in NY, but a low-leverage long-reliever/spot starter is not that valuable. Best case scenario at this point for the Mets in that deal is that PCA doesn't develop and the trade becomes a wash. Even if he ends up as Michael A. Taylor 2.0, it's an even trade.
Poster formerly unknown as . . .
Looking at his Barrels/PA%, Wesneski is in some pretty good company:
PCA was injured with the Mets. How was that a “disaster”?? They would’ve waited for him to heal just like the Cubs did and he would be a highly rated prospect in their farm system now.
Rondon—they made that trade to win a World Series. They were in first place at the time of the trade and went 21-37 the last two months and finished eight games under .500, in third place.
I fully understand that Javy played well and wasn’t the reason for the collapse, but he was supposed to that last piece to get them over the hump.
They (the Mets) failed and I don’t blame them for going for it but as it stands now they have nothing to show it.
It wasn’t a disaster at the time—but by October it was clear that Javy was moving on and they didn’t even sniff the playoffs.
The deal made sense prior to the injury. Still could work out well for the Yankees as Effross has a lot of control left. It won’t work out this year. I liked Wesneski, but he’s more back-end rotation material. The Yankees could use that depth in 2023, but assessing the deal will take a few more years.
Carl that’s a nasty comment and we’ve given up high prospects in the past. Wesneski is good but hardly a top of the rotation pitcher. PCA was injured when traded and we won out on him
The only one who got fleeced was wesneski who
Will never see a playoff game until he gets out of chicago
Poster formerly unknown as . . .
One year after the Yankees won their last World Championship, the Cubs finished the season in 5th place. Six years later, the Cubs won the World Series. It’s been six years since the Cubs won their last championship and more than twice that many years since the Yankees won theirs.
I hate seeing Thad Ward on this list. I’m still miffed by the fact that Bloom decided to not protect him, opting to protect David Hamilton instead. I have a bad feeling this decision will come back to haunt the Red Sox down the road.
Motor City Beach Bum
I’d like the Tigers to try and pick up Brujan. TB is always looking for pitching and they Tigers have lots of that to spare. He’d be a nice replacement for Schoop next year (or this one if he tanks again) or perhaps slot into the OF there.
He does look like a good player and I like his speed, but the Tigers do have a few IF prospects on their way up. He’d have to be a bargain.
Just bring them all to the majors and let them play. There is a point where they waste their talent in the minors. I don’t want to watch over the hill players who need 6 days off out of 7 each week.
An impact rookie at a position of dire need….
Brujan is such a fit for the Angels that it wont happen
Just give O’Hoppe the keys to the Ferrari and let him drive it. Can’t be any worse than Stassi or other mediocre catchers the last few years. He at least has a high ceiling and is only going to get better with the time and experience. You can’t really say that with any of our other options at the moment.
I’m guessing Harrison is why they let Rodon walk.
John, to me Rodon isn’t the reason. Webb is under control for 3 yrs and I expect them to extend him by the opener. A 5 year deal (so 2 plus the current 3). Giants are averse to long term deals for pitchers but Webb is home grown and letting him go after 3 isn’t going to look good. Rodon getting 6/$162 mill was not going to happen with SF. Before 2022, Rodon had injury concerns. So 2/$44 mil with an opt out option after 1 year was obviously the best offer he got. It was a gamble for SF. With a good year, he opts out and SF benefits with having him for one great year. With a bad year, he doesn’t opt out, and sf is on the hook for 2nd year. He opts out, gets a Qualifying Offer, declines it and signs for $27mill/yr for 6 years. So “let him walk” is an incorrect view but I get what you meant. Harrison? If he debuts (early, I hope) and excels that rotation looks pretty good. We’ll see if Rodon stays healthy enough to warrant 6 years. That’s a gamble.