This week on Big Hype Prospects, we’ll take a closer look at high-profile youngsters pushing for an Opening Day assignment.
Five BHPs In The News
Jordan Walker, 20, OF, STL (AA)
536 PA, 19 HR, 22 SB, .306/.388/.510
This column has nothing new to say about Walker. He is in the midst of a bid to skip Triple-A entirely and oust one of Tyler O’Neill or Dylan Carlson in the process. Playing time for Juan Yepez and Nolan Gorman could also be negatively affected by Walker’s imminent debut. Through 54 spring plate appearances, Walker is batting .340/.352/.604 against a mix of competition. If there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s his singular walk. Then again, Walker is in camp to impress with his bat, not to work free passes. Those can come later. Of his 18 hits, eight have gone for extra bases including three home runs.
Anthony Volpe, 21, SS, NYY (AAA)
(AA) 497 PA, 18 HR, 44 SB, .251/.348/.472
Like Walker, Volpe is wearing out his welcome in BHP. The young shortstop is batting .297/.422/.568 with two home runs and four doubles in 44 plate appearances. The Yankees have a number of awkward roster decisions to make. Volpe’s success only adds to the pressure. Do they embrace the youth movement with Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Oswaldo Cabrera or hand the keys to veterans like Aaron Hicks, Rafael Ortega, Willie Calhoun, and Josh Donaldson one more time? Of course, there’s a middle ground – pick the best option between Volpe and Peraza for shortstop, option the other, and juggle as many of the others as possible until Harrison Bader can return. The “safe” play lies in retaining as many assets as possible. A bolder course might be necessary in a tough AL East.
Brett Baty, 23, 3B, NYM (MLB)
(AA) 394 PA, 19 HR, 2 SB, .312/.406/.544
Continuing a theme, past episodes contain (and then repeat) all of the analysis and scouting notes I have on Baty. He’s batting .351/.478/.459 in 44 plate appearances. Of modest concern, he’s hit for extra bases just twice out of 13 hits. He also has a 27.27 percent strikeout rate. Baty doesn’t profile for the superstar ceilings enjoyed by Walker and Volpe. His ground ball-oriented swing limits his offensive potential. There’s only so much he can do to lift the ball without entirely reworking his mechanics. Despite this shortcoming and inconsistent defense, Baty profiles as a high-probability, above-average regular. His main competition, Eduardo Escobar, is batting .125/.222/.347 in 16 spring at bats. He also went 1-for-10 with a home run at the World Baseball Classic.
Vaughn Grissom, 22, SS, ATL (MLB)
(MLB) 156 PA, 5 HR, 5 SB, .291/.353/.440
The first draft of this writeup was penned before the Braves optioned Grissom or Shewmake. Grissom spent much of the 2022 season in High-A and skipped Triple-A entirely en route to a splashy debut as the Braves second baseman. He faded down the stretch and vanished in the postseason. The presumptive favorite for the shortstop job for much of the offseason, the Braves went out of their way to tout Braden Shewmake in the last week before pivoting to veteran options. Thing is, Grissom performed well this spring. In 37 plate appearances, he batted .371/.400/.429 with only four strikeouts. Reports on his defense have been positive, though he spent more time at second base recently. While he didn’t hit for much power, he looked as if he belonged in Atlanta. Presumably, he’ll continue to work on his defense in Triple-A.
Hunter Brown, 24, SP, HOU (MLB)
(AAA) 106 IP, 11.38 K/9, 3.82 BB/9, 2.55 ERA
Brown has been favored to win a job since the moment Lance McCullers Jr. suffered an elbow strain. Spring stats for pitchers tend to be extra difficult to evaluate since so much of their work happens on back fields and in side sessions. In four recorded games, Brown has 10 strikeouts in nine innings. He’s also allowed only five hits. That’s where the good news ends. Brown has also coughed up six runs (five earned) thanks to five walks and a hit batter. Command has long been the weakest aspect of his game. There’s still relief risk if he continues to miss spots. The overall vibe resembles Red Sox ‘tweener Tanner Houck – a repertoire of plus offerings, a ton of ground balls, a below-average changeup, and shaky command.
Braden Shewmake, ATL (25): Though he’s behind Grissom on the depth chart, Shewmake had an impressive spring. He hit .323/.371/.452 in 33 plate appearances. Shewmake spent the entirety of 2022 in Triple-A where he posted a modest .259/.316/.399 triple-slash. Scouting reports indicate this reflects his actual talent. He’s considered a future bench guy.
Oscar Colas, CWS (24): A free-swinger, Colas seems the obvious favorite to win the right field battle in Chicago. He’s the best defensive option among those with some offensive capability. While aggression is expected to hold him back, such hitters can sometimes ride an early hot streak until opposing scouts discover their weaknesses. He’s batting .283/.298/.500 with three home runs in 47 plate appearances.
Brice Turang, MIL (23): This is Turang’s fifth Spring Training and by far his best outcome. Through 36 plate appearances, he’s batting .313/.389/.438 with a home run and a double. He’s competing for a role at either second or third base with a collection of misfits – namely Mike Brosseau, Keston Hiura, Owen Miller, and Abraham Toro.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
Braden shewmake was a huge disappointment of a 1st round pick.
Shewmake is on the brink of the majors after three seasons in the minors. It seems like he’s on track to be a productive major leaguer in the near future. I’m not sure how that’s a huge disappointment.
Really don’t know how even a 1st rounder that turns into a “productive major leaguer” can be anything but a success — ref. @Marianarivera’s “huge disappointment” dig. Just yesterday we saw former #1 overall Mark Appel be released, possibly ending his comeback. This is not the NFL/NBA — 1st rd only gets you more guaranteed signing dollars, after that, it’s Bull Durham for everyone.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
How was that a dig?, please tell me that sir, the article says scouts think of him as a future bench depth option. Do you think that’s what any team wants from a first round pick? How is someone who so far hasn’t hit in the minors, and put up a 700ops in triple a as an older prospect anything but? Do you want me to say he has lived up to the the top 100 prospect status he had at one point and has lived up to the potential he had as a middle infielder coming out of the first round from Texas A and m? That would be lying. Do you think he has lived up to hype? A potential depth piece?? And how has he been a productive major leaguer? But sure, go ahead and attack me and say I’m talking trash about the guy when I want nothing more than him to succeed. Jesus Christ. 95% of first rounders are huge disappointments. But go ahead and please tell me how he lived up to the hype he once had and how he fulfilled your expectations.
“huge disappointment” is a dig, especially since there’s time for Shewmake to be a solid big leaguer.
Also, he didn’t create the hype and expectations, others did.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
That doesn’t matter who created it, there was hype, how was this a dig when 95% of prospects are huge disappointments. Did he meet your expectations? And yeah he still could make an impact, but people a lot smarter then you and I think he will be relegated to a bench role, he is a huge disappointment relative to the player scouts once thought he could be and you can’t really argue that buddy. There is still time but SO FAR how could you say anything different?
Whose expectations? You’re speaking like every first rounder has to be a star, when there is a place for someone to be a productive big leaguer and still be a success, even if it’s the Ben Zoborists of the world, or other utility players. “Huge disappointment relative to the player scouts once thought he could be…” — what are you referring to? He’s never thought to have been a star. I don’t recall ever reading any scouting reports that pegged him as such, but I could be missing something. If so, enlighten me. The idea is, some teams draft to fill needs, and ATL values athleticism (ATL was one of the few that drafted Harris II not as a pitcher) and the ability to play multiple positions, like Shewmake. Frankly, him contending for the starting SS position (and arguably should be considered for it) is nothing but a success so far. Remember there was no 2020 season, and 2021 represented guys trying to develop after not playing competitively for 1.5 years, so give context to his interrupted development and think his abbreviated MiLB stats probably don’t tell the full story.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
Shewmake seems like a really nice dude, he signed an autograph for my son when he was playing a-ball, there is nothing personal that would be a dig, a dig would be “he’s fat and ugly and runs funny and has weird fingernails” but I would never say that about anybody. I hate that you people think I’m trying to throw shade at the man when all I am talking about is performance relative to what the scouts thought his potential was coming out of the draft, it has nothing to do with him as a person or the expectations he had for himself.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
You are missing something, at one point one or two rankings had him as a top 100 prospect. These are the expectations I’m referring to man. They thought he would be an above average offensive SS with average defense coming out of the draft, expectations change, but these are the ones I’m talking about.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
Look at 29 buddy tell me who that is please
Maybe the people doing the rankings were wrong. They’re just as likely to have hugely disappointing evaluations as the players are to fulfill them or fall short.
And performing like 95% of your cohort does hardly seems disappointing. That seems like meeting expectations, with the success stories being the exception.
The creator of ZiPS readily admits there is zero scouting involved in the development of his prospect lists.
Great — finally, it took 4 posts before you give me some receipts/links! Yes, a former top-100 prospect pushing for a starting SS job is a “huge disappointment”? LOL.
Maybe you can go to Gwinnett and try for another autograph after calling him a “huge disappointment” to his face and see what you end up with. I’m sure he wouldn’t take it personally.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
Of course they were wrong silly, It doesn’t change the fact that these people’s expectations are what I’ve been talking about!!! Saying that they were wrong about their assessment is what I’ve been trying to say this whole. freaking. time. I’ve been literally saying this whole time that he didn’t live up to what they thought he would be, IE disappointing compared to the projections.
Did you comment on FanGraphs and tell Dave Szymborski he’s been a big disappointment?
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
You could have looked it up using Google if you weren’t too busy talking down to me like I had no idea what I’m talking about. you asked me what expectations and when I show you you just continue to be a complete ass to me when I was just showing you what expectations you wanted to see, I don’t know why you don’t seem to get that I am talking about the projections the people at FG and MLB put up on him, it’s, exhausting.. you continue to make it seem like I’m talking crap about the guy when I’m only talking about his performance relative to the expectations the big wigs put on him. Yeah, he is competing for the starting shortstop role, but thus far hasn’t hit in the upper minors. I never said he won’t, just that it hasn’t looked good so far and that people in the industry thought he would hit more. I don’t know why no one can see that.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
I never said that and you know it. I said he was wrong about the projections. Something I’m sure he agrees with, nothing wrong with being wrong about a prospect it’s easy to do. Something I’ve said the whole time man. Please stop trying to twist my words around. If it seems like I was being an ass I’m sorry, it wasn’t intentional. But can you at least see the point I was trying to make? About the people that make rankings? The fact that they thought he would do more offensively? It’s all relative to that.
Don’t apologize, that’s weak AF. You made a solid point and you are 100% right. It’s not your fault those two are dummies.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
This is less about being right and more of hoping they see my point and not seeming like an ahole. They aren’t dumb though, I have had conversations with them in the past and they are ok. Idc if it’s “weak”
Lol, stop it, he was never going to win the starting SS gig. Why? because multiple write ups on him say the same underlying theme. He is better suited for a bench role. A top 30 prospect (whether they got it wrong or not) is a huge disappointment when in 3 years he is considered by multiple so -called experts to be nothing more than a utility player. Nothing against the guy, but it is what it is.
I see your point, but you’re missing the fact that no evaluations called him a disappointment except you (that I know of), based on the fact that he’s a former top-100 prospect. You can not hit in the minors (with a solid glove) and still be a top-100 prospect (see Cristian Pache: 2020 #13 overall per MLBPipeline). He was drafted a glove that could hit (though with some contact issues). The fact that he’s provided contact AND a solid glove at spring training should be no surprise that he was being considered for a starting gig.
His predecessor was a former #1 overall prospect that took 5 full seasons to hit above average (per OPS+) and took some time for his glove to come around. I’d think him having a steady glove making routine plays and hitting average, making routine contact (eliminating strikeouts, something this lineup is notorious at doing) is exactly what they were/are looking for.
I’m not certain what you’re referring to when you said, “I never said that and you know it..” I’m guessing it’s regarding ZiPS not being scouting-based. I was just pointing out that the ZiPS ranking has no connection to a player’s draft position.
Also, saying, “Braden shewmake was a huge disappointment of a 1st round pick” seems to me like an indictment of the team that drafted him, the scouts that recommended him, the prospect sites that ranked him before and after the draft, and the player himself. If he’s a huge disappointment, then that’s partially on everyone involved.
Dusty Baker's tooth pick.
It was clear what you said don’t get it twisted. What we have here is you showing the publication you were referencing, which shows that shewmake has under performed relative to the promise a major publication thought he would have. (Also i think after he was drafted he was given a #92ish ranking by another network.) And when they realized they were wrong they changed their argument and their wording around to fit the narrative he was attempting to push. “Huge disappointment” probably wasn’t the best word choice but the point was sound.
Wouldn’t mind seeing Baty replace Escobar but I’m guessing that’s not gonna happen. Unless maybe Escobar really tanks for the first couple months of the season or gets injured
Escobar is a bit underrated IMO. He carried the Mets offense late last season. That being said the Baty hype is justified. Seems like one of those good roster problems to have.
First, opening day rosters and assignments are not etched in stone. Things shift as the year goes on.
Baty, despite the overall spring numbers, has struggled this past week or so with major leaguers getting more time on the mound as we get deeper into spring training. (1 for his last 11, a couple of strikeouts, and when he did make contact, it wasn’t hard contact). He’s simply needs some time in AAA. How much time remains to be seen.
I do have concerns about Escobar. For most of last year, he looked like an aging player who has lost bat speed. His late season surge suggests he’s not completely done yet. But he may be soon. For now, he has earned the right to open the season as the starter unless someone else really blows the door open. And nobody has. As for Escobar’s spring numbers: they are not good, but he’s also had only 26 ABs. Terry Collins used to say that the veterans usually need about 40-50 ABs to get ready for the season. Let’s see what happens with Escobar goes past that threshold. From what we saw last season, if Escobar stumbles, Plan ‘B’ will be to platoon him at 3rd with Guillorme. If that proves inadequate, perhaps Baty will be ready by then.
Good points. Keep in mind Escobar played in the WBC as well. So his ST numbers don’t tell the full story.
Well, Escobar only played 3 games in the WBC and went 1-for-10. But at the end of the day, spring training is rarely any indication or has any bearing on what happens in the regular season. For now, Escobar is the incumbent veteran who finished strong last year, and Baty is a kid who has played only 18 games above double-A. One or both of them would have to do something extraordinary before the equation gets altered. And neither of them has.
C Yards Jeff
Spot on Geofft. Great stuff. A question. Surprised to see Baty with the 27% K rate. Any concern?
C Yards Jeff
Ronnie Mauricio. Not a fan but heck of an off season and ST. “He’s blocked at SS so trade him” seems to be the popular lament concerning his future. Heck, plug him in at 3rd at AAA and see what happens. Yes? No? Maybe?
Possibly. But then what to do with Baty? Trade him instead? Interesting season coming up for all the kids. A lot depends on injuries.
C Yards Jeff
@Bill M, Point taken. Didn’t consider how moving Ronnie to 3rd could effect Baty. Dolt!
Initially not concerned by a 27% K rate in spring training for a player who is still a minor leaguer. But I checked his minor league numbers last year, and his K rate was just below 25% even there. And this is a guy who hits a lot of grounders, so the HR power to offset that k rate might not be there. That said, Still a minor leaguer. The Mets brought in a guy from Driveline to be the new new hitting coach at Syracuse, and this might be the very reason: Alvarez is also having terrible strike-out and pitch-recognition issues this spring. And Mauricio’s pitch selection has always been an issue.
Premature to talk about Mauricio at this level yet. Another guy who hasn’t played above AA yet, and still has some flaws to overcome. His winter ball season was impressive. But even there, his walk rate started out better than normal for him, hen plummeted in the second half – which is usually when the major leaguers first start joining their teams.
Can’t plug him in at 3rd right now because Baty’s going to be there. He did play some 3rd in winter ball this year, and has also played some 2B.
But look: these guys don’t all have to arbitrarily be every day starters from Year 1. No reason he can’t spend this year in AAA, and ’24 shuttling back and forth from AAA to NY.
yanks should give the kids a chance. if Volpe flounders you send him back down but ultimately it’s not like JD, RO or AH are guys that will be relied upon to win this team a world series. They are at best role players and shouldn’t be kept as starters, in the case of Hicks and Donaldson just on principle.
All the kids will definitely get a chance. Peraza will be starting the season playing shortstop, Dominguez will be starting the season at AA. Volpe will be groomed to play 2nd base, with Peraza playing shortstop for the Yankees. Volpe will probably be up right before or after the all-star break, so he’ll likely go to AAA for now. If Torres plays well as expected he’ll likely be traded by the trading deadline,for a starting left fielder.
If Volpe hits in the minors and Donaldson or Isiah
Kiner-Falefa don’t hit he will be up way before the all star break, And this is coming from a Red Sox fan.
deGrom Texas Ranger
Jung? Texas has fully developed Tex, Kinsler, CJ Wilson, and Gallo this century that I can think of.
I know the Cardinals would never trade him straight up to Chicago, but I’d love to see O’Neil on the Northside. Push him over to RF temporarily while Suzuki recovers and then over to left once Happ is moved or figure out some type of rotation in the outfield utilizing the DH spot as well (thinking eventually one of Hosmer or Mancini will flame out and the other can just be first).
“Ground ball oriented swing”, exactly what type of mechanics generate that type of swing? When the batted ball exits below the barrel, what launch angle would that ball be hit? Players these days are swing up so much, they create length to their swings and either top the ball or strike out. No wonder people talk about how boring today’s game is.
I don’t think calling Colas a free swinger is fair. He does an adequate job of working the count and laying off bad pitches. So far, it’s not equating to walks. Like many young rookies, he strugges with breaking balls that start over the plate and move off the plate, but I think it’s really unfair to call him a free swinger. There’s a difference.
I want to ask you guys something: What is a prospect you had a gut feeling about, and ended up being right? Was it a guy that most evaluators were high on, but you weren’t, or a guy who was generally overlooked, but you saw something in them that you liked?
Bernie Williams. He was never on the top of anyone’s prospect list. A four-tool lite player with an average arm. The Yankees then had a stacked outfield. It was multiple injuries that gave him playing time and the chance to shine. Definitely overlooked by scouts.
BaseballAmerica had him pretty high in 1991, at #11. Mine is a little more recent. I never saw what made Cristian Pache such a high ranking prospect. Average hit tool, mediocer plate discipline, okay raw power. I guess because he was a well above average runner with great defense made it to where he was a top prospect, but even then, you’d think that would only put him in the 80-60 range, not the 20-10 range. I’m not saying he’s a bust just yet, but it hasn’t looked good for him so far.
September of 1974, I told my best friend, a Yankees fan that Rice and Lynn were going to be great. That wasn’t exactly rocket science.
Sorry, comment placed incorrectly. Shame!
RE: Turang and the “collection of misfits” – you left out the best of the bunch, who could start at 2B or 3B: Luis Urias.
Brown is going to get his chance. It’s all about command for him.
If he can put the ball close to where he wants it he will be a beast with huge K and ground ball numbers. If not hecwill be back in AAA when McCullers is activated.
For what it’s worth with the end of the shift, the Astros could have 3 of the best starters in MLB at getting ground balls, and all 3 are also better than average at getting Ks.
Talking Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr, and Brown.
The Astros are just as good as the Tampa Bay Rays at developing pitching talent. Brown is gonna be another quality starting pitcher for them.
But Donaldson just had a two home run game! Clearly he’s gonna bat .333 with 57 HR’s this season! (Sarcasm)
I was a naive fool who thought Higashioka was gonna hit like 20-30 dingers in 2022 because of his spring training performance last year. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
I do think the Yankees may wind up having to outright release Donaldson, even with a few moments where he’s his old self. The guy is a veteran who used to produce at MVP levels. His worst is still gonna be better than abject worthlessness. Still needs to be moved on from ASAP.
I think Cabrera is basically ready to go, he is what he is. He’s a Marwin Gonzalez/DJ LeMahieu utility player who can be plugged into almost any position as needed and will grade out average or better with 15-ish HR power etc.
It’s clear Volpe is ready for the majors even if he’s still a year or two away from a break out season and the Yankees don’t like the major league veteran options that are blocking Volpe anyway-
Whatever the Yankees do, I hope they have an approach closer to when the Red Sox shipped out their beloved Nomar for Cabrera to better position themselves. Putting together the most competitive line up that will actually win sometimes means tough, unpleasant personnel decisions.
“Misfits”? Wow, that’s a bit harsh
Are they not though? Several players that you can plug and play and aren’t going to amount to anything.
Haha, had to laugh out about Walker ousting O’Neil. He is already penciled in as the everyday CFer.
“Pencilled in” means it can be erased. If only it were etched in stone.
Fine, they already stated O’Neil was the everyday CFer. Is that better?
Good luck with that. O’Neill is probably the worst fielder between him, Carlson, and Noot.
I would like to see where “they already stated O’Neil (sic) was the everyday CF.”
I’ve heard Marmol say he’d give him a chance, but I’ve never heard he or Mo talk about O’Neill as the “everyday centerfielder.”
Walker is definitely taking a spot, whether it’s O’Neill or someone else remains to be seen, but he’s definitely getting the shot.
Didn’t O’Neill win 2 gold gloves recently and doesn’t he have elite sprint speed? Pretty good for the worst fielder of the three. I bet Walker starts in left, O’Neill shuffles between center and left, Noot in right. Carlson shuffling between right and center. Gonna be tough to get them all at-bats.
He’s a gold glove left fielder, but that doesn’t make him a great centerfielder. If he were the best fielder of the three, he would have been playing there all along.
He’s only playing centerfield right now because of his Team Canada stint and the goal of making him more valuable to other teams.
That’s probably because they had Harrison Bader to play CF. And the person who is most likely out is Dylan Carson.
None of the three (O’Neill, Carlson, Noot) are “out.”
O’Neill and Carlson are both going to lose playing time to Walker until one of them is traded for a starting pitcher, but that’s going to happen sooner than later.
O’Neill is going to get playing time in centerfield to boost his value, but he’s nowhere near as a good a fielder as Carlson. O’Neill covers a lot of ground because he’s fast, but he’s really awkward out there.
O’Neil’s two gold gloves say otherwise. And Carlson isn’t better defensively than O’Neil I don’t know how you came to that conclusion.
Ha! That’s a joke, right? You certainly don’t watch them every night.
O’Neill is a gold glove “LEFT* fielder. That doesn’t make him a gold glove centerfielder.
First and foremost, I never said that or even remotely came close to saying that. I clearly stated I read O’Neil, who is still a better OFer than Carlson. is penciled in as the everyday CFer with Nootbaar in LF and Carlson in Rt. Oh and look who started in the CF yesterday and today? Can things change for sure? Yes, but for now that is the plan and even if Walker makes the team he won’t replace O’Neil or even start in CF as he has played a total of 31 games in the OF with a majority of them in RF. Carlson would be the odd man out with Walker moving to LF or RF. No way they are going to move Walker to CF even if he makes the team. You move your best OFer to center.
Ugh! Have you never heard of an experiment? These aren’t real games! O’Neill wants to try CF. The Cardinals need to put the three best bats in the outfield, no matter where they play. The top-4 are all good fielders somewhere. Besides, it helps O’Neill’s trade value to play CF.
O’Neill has played 2,777.1 innings in a professional outfield. He’s only played 210.2 in CF. (2415.0 LF, 151.2 RF)
Carlson has played 2,484.1 professional outfield innings. He’s played 1,144.0 in CF, 1,203.2 RF, 136.2 LF.
The better outfielder has played more innings in CF, and that’s Carlson.
Ugh! From MLB.com Projected starting lineups.
1) Brendan Donovan, 2B
2) Jordan Walker, LF
3) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4) Nolan Arenado, 3B
5) Willson Contreras, C
6) Nolan Gorman, DH
7) Tyler O’Neill, CF
8) Lars Nootbaar, RF
9) Tommy Edman, SS
I like I said, this isn’t the first time I have heard this. I have read it from Rotowire, Rotonews and from Cardinal websites. But keep believing what you want to believe. Everything I have read has Walker/Carlson in LF.
We’re debating two different things.
You’re reposting lineups from current spring training/early season experiments, mostly written by people who don’t follow the Cardinals.
I’m saying Carlson is a much better fielder than O’Neill. When both are in the same lineup, Carlson has been (and will be) the centerfielder most of the time.
Maybe you’re right, but like I said I have read reports from people who follow the Cardinals. Only think I can say is we have to wait and see.
Get rid of IKF and both Volpe & Peraza.