The hype is real this week on Big Hype Prospects. Numerous notable youngsters are among the top performers in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.
Five BHPs In The News
Jordan Walker, 20, OF, STL (AA)
536 PA, 19 HR, 22 SB, .306/.388/.510
Walker is fourth among qualified spring hitters with a 1.429 OPS across 28 plate appearances. He’s already popped three doubles and three home runs. This column has covered Walker’s scouting traits many times. His hot play is putting him in the picture for an Opening Day role, though such an assignment is unlikely for numerous reasons. The sad truth is club control is an important consideration for teams when choosing a debut date. While new rules offer some consolation, the terms* are rather difficult to achieve. Additionally, the Cardinals have a deep roster. Nolan Arenado covers Walker’s natural position of third base. He’s converted to outfield where Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Alec Burleson, and Juan Yepez are also in the mix. In addition to competition and control incentives, Walker isn’t on the 40-man roster nor does he have any experience in Triple-A.
*Namely, two new rules. A player is awarded a full year of service if they finish top two in Rookie of the Year voting. A team can gain extra draft picks if a “top prospect” makes the Opening Day roster and later finishes top three in rookie voting or top five in MVP/Cy Young voting.
Brett Baty, 23, 3B, NYM (MLB)
(AA) 394 PA, 19 HR, 2 SB, .312/.406/.544
Another frequent guest of BHP, Baty is currently sixth-best among qualified hitters with a 1.208 OPS. He has one double and one home run. He spent most of 2022 in Double-A, though he had brief trials in Triple-A and the Majors. He didn’t look overmatched in his debut even though the end results weren’t impressive. An uncharacteristic .179 BABIP entirely explains his modest 71 wRC+. Baty is competing with Eduardo Escobar who could find himself in a utility role if Baty wins the third base job. There’s also room in the designated hitter competition where Daniel Vogelbach, Darin Ruf, and Tommy Pham are expected to see the bulk of the action. None of those veterans should be considered a lock to make the Mets roster.
Anthony Volpe, 21, SS, NYY (AAA)
(AAA) 427 PA, 24 HR, .280/.358/.519
Yet another player who has been covered ad nauseum by this column, Volpe is on the cusp of his big league debut. His 1.097 OPS looks strong in the early going. In addition to a home run and two doubles, he also has three stolen bases. Volpe’s path to the starting shortstop role should be viewed as an uphill battle if only because the Yankees have given themselves a number of difficult decisions to make this spring. Volpe is plagued by the same criteria that could give the Cardinals pause regarding Walker. Additionally, Volpe has identifiable flaws as a hitter – most notably, a fly ball-oriented swing. He could find himself with a low BABIP in the Majors, especially since many pitchers have become adept at attacking this hitting profile.
Oscar Colas, 24, OF, CWS (AAA)
(AA) 225 PA, 14 HR, 1 SB, .306/.364/.563
Colas surged through the White Sox system last season, making stops in High-, Double-, and Triple-A. His time in Double-A was his most meaningful performance. He only accrued 33 plate appearances in Triple-A. Colas has a bead on Chicago’s right field job where first baseman Gavin Sheets is seen as the main competition. Colas is batting .429/.455/.476 in 22 spring plate appearances. He is known for making impactful contact. Like many products of the White Sox farm system over the years, he has a detrimentally aggressive plate approach. His first test in the Majors will be laying off competitive pitches outside of the zone. Many a prospect with comparable tools and discipline to Colas failed to stick in the Majors.
Drey Jameson, 25, SP, ARI (MLB)
(AAA) 114 IP, 8.61 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, 6.95 ERA
Jameson is competing with Ryne Nelson and others for the Diamondbacks fifth starter job. He mostly relies on two fastballs and a plus slider, though he also features a curve and changeup. In three spring outings, he’s tossed 6.2 innings with eight strikeouts, five hits, two walks, a home run, and three runs allowed. Although he’s proven a tad homer prone throughout his development, a high ground ball rate helps to salve the sting. He has the raw traits of a future workhorse. Within the next couple seasons, he could click in much the way Logan Webb clicked between his 2020 and 2021 campaigns. For those concerned about his Triple-A numbers, those are at least partly an artifact of circumstance. Reno’s starters combined for a 5.24 ERA which ranked fifth out of 10 clubs in the PCL.
Cole Ragans, TEX (25): Ragans averaged 92.1-mph with his heater last season so it raised a few eyebrows when he hit 99-mph the other day. With a number of Rangers starters banged up, there’s a decent chance Ragans will nab a start or two early in the season. I’m withholding enthusiasm until he maintains velocity in longer outings. At a minimum, the southpaw could really play up out of the bullpen.
Masyn Winn, STL (20): Though he has almost no chance of playing his way to an Opening Day assignment, Winn is making a favorable impression this spring. He has a 1.071 OPS in 17 plate appearances with a homer and two steals. Scouts want to see him adjust against competitive breaking balls but are otherwise enamored with the young shortstop. Defensively, he has an 80-grade arm but closer to 40-grade range and footwork. The arm ensures he’ll stick on the left side of the infield.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, CIN (23): Acquired in the Tyler Mahle trade, Encarnacion-Strand has slugged at every stop along the ladder. He’s expected to reach Triple-A early this season if not right out of the gate. In 18 spring plate appearances, he has 11 hits including a double and three home runs. The profile reads like a more compactly built Franmil Reyes.
I still think Walker starts the year in St. Louis. They will make room for him if he keeps hitting. I think Winn will be starting in Memphis.
L Francis Reves
Making room for Walker will probably mean trading TON.
It’s a very nice problem to have. I’m starting to feel good about the Cardinals next five years or so.
They gonna need to go pitching heavy in the draft with top choices for the next 3 years
Walker needs to start in AAA. it’s good to see him hit major league pitching. I wanna see him do it for 1 month in AAA then get the call.
I have watched the man a lot In Springfield,he’s got nothing left to prove. He’s ready and was most of last year. Acts like a pro and loves the game! I’m a big supporter!
One guy I don’t see the upside in compared to STL coaches and scouts is nootbar. Yeah he went on a heater 2nd half of season, but he hits about .250, he doesn’t steal bases, and its not like he’s a gold glover. I just don’t see why he is above walker right now when clearly the kid should be thrown at the MLB dart board and seen if he sticks. Nootbar can DH while walker is in LF, oNeill in CF, & Carlson in RF. The added bonus of getting another 1st rd pick if he finishes top 2 ROY should be enough for cards Nation to roll the dice
stan lee the manly
It’s his underlying stats that are what people are raving about. He’s hitting the piss out of the ball and it’s only a matter of time until that translates to long-term success if he continues to
stan lee the manly
I disagree. He’s going to completely take off with it if he finds somewhere that hands him a near full-time DH role. The only thing that’s kept him from starting in St. Louis is his defense and the fact that they had an inhuman Pujols last year.
Jordan Walker is the real deal. Volpe, I think is going to be a disappointment. Just a gut feel…
Walker to AAA while they look to move Yepez and others for pitching help?
Some of those other outfielders like Yepez and Burleson have minor league options available. They are good but Walker looks to be decisively better. Break camp with the best team to win. April games are important too.
Yes, there are going to be some trades made for starting pitching. There are too many players ready to start at the MLB level in the Cardinals system. Some are going to be packaged for a top of the rotation pitcher. We may have to iclude a pitching prospect not named Hence to get it done.
No one is trading much for a guy like Yepez. Bench bat who can run into a little power surge.
holecamels35 – I did say package. Yepez is better than many players teams are starting around the league. He was 11% above league average at 24 and 274 plate appearances.
Walker has to make the team, right? Yes they have options but they are actually competing so need to keep the best players on the roster. Not sure who their DH is but Nootbar can DH? And Carlson and O’Neil play the field or switch them around.
At this point Walker looks to be the best outfielder on the team. Even Gerrit Cole was impressed today by his ability to adjust between at bats today. He did get one of the two hits off Cole today when he was dealing.
C Yards Jeff
Cole Ragans. Faster fastball. Cool. Maybe he’s finally on the other side of the 2x TJ surgery saga?
Don’t worry, if Volpe flops Hal will reward Cashman with part ownership.
deGrom Texas Ranger
It’s funny that they extended their GM the same day they fired their manager.
Encarnacion-strand makes more contact and has more speed than reyes. much better upside.
Here rooting for CES to make the OD roster, however his 1B glove still needs some polishing in AAA.
I dont understand the rules distinction. You should recieve a free supplemental draft choice for having a ROY no matter who the prospect is. Its hard enough for these non 100 guys to get a look and now their is literally competive incentive to keep them off rosters.
Because the rule was implemented to de-incentivize service time manipulation of major league talent. The cut-off for that “talent” was top 100.
They do not have to be on the Opening Day roster. They need 172 days of service time which gives teams about 14 days into the season to call them up.
I think Volpe will be great. Not too worried.
I don’t think Volpe is gonna burst out of the gate fully formed, but I really can’t see the justification to hold him back any longer. It’s basically time.
It might not be a fairy tale season, it might be streaky, but the defense will be as good or better and the offense will be better than IKF even if it’s underwhelming for expectations.
He doesn’t need to be the second coming. He just needs to be average with a little plus value in certain areas. Which he will be. And then he will improve beyond a rookie campaign.
Surprisingly, I agree that he’s ready. I initially thought that he was too far off, but seeing him play in person really validates why everyone is so high on this kid. He is really, really good already. Volpe seems like he’s playing on a different level. I thought he had the potential to be a bust, but I’m honestly glad Cashman kept him because he’s going to be a difference-maker, imho.
Yankees need to start making decisions and committing to them though.
Yeah. I can see him being a Dustin Pedroia or Derek Jeter without as much of the peripheral value type. Light power, but does a little bit of everything and his defense is between serviceable-but-looks-great or actually very good.
CES is a future star in the Majors. All that dude does is hit.
CES is a stud, was not a fan of the Twins dealing him.
Did they seriously just compare Strand to Reyes?? Haha.. not that average is everything but Strand is looking like a pure consistent hitter where Reyes is a career avg 220ish.. and Reyes is about a half foot taller then Strand lol.. you guys smoke that devils lettuce before you made this comparison??
Thanks man.. sorry you lost em.. you guys extend Mahle.. he’ll be good for ya
Really excited for CES to step into the 1B position when Votto’s contract is done. Gives him a little more time to work on defense at 1B this upcoming season at AAA.
Ive seen too many prospects in the White Sox org to assume Colas is anything yet because of good minor league numbers (Viciedo anyone?) Heck even Jimenez and Robert have not really shown what they did in the Minors (yet..hopefully).
He makes Little League level mistakes in the field and swings at anything within a foot of home plate…really no fundamentals apparently, maybe they can teach him but at 24 he should already know these things.