Last week, we broke down the early trade deadline deals. Let’s finish things up. For the smart alecks in the audience, we are relaxing our definition of “big hype” to accommodate timely analysis.
Five Big Hype Prospects
Drew Gilbert, 22, OF, NYM (AA)
(A+/AA) 321 PA, 12 HR, 10 SB, .277/.367/.461
Acquired in the Justin Verlander trade, Gilbert looks the part of a future core-performing outfielder. The Astros took him with the 28th pick of the 2022 draft, and he’s already within spitting distance of the Majors. The overall profile doesn’t read as particularly impactful, instead filling a high-floor, modest-ceiling bucket. While that isn’t an exciting review of Gilbert’s skills, he’s still viewed as a Top 100 prospect with some support for a Top 50 ranking. High-probability 2-WAR athletes are widely coveted around the league. Defensive reviews vary. Some evaluators prefer him in a corner, but he seemingly has the skills to stick in center if a better defender isn’t already on hand.
Jake Eder, 24, SP, CWS (AA)
(A/AA) 41.1 IP, 10.9 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 4.35 ERA
The return for Jake Burger, Eder was on the fast track in 2021 before requiring UCL replacement. He was well on his way to a Top 25 prospect ranking. Alas, his stuff has backed up since returning, and his command shed a grade as well. At his best, the southpaw had a carrying fastball, a lethal slider, and a show-me changeup. Reports indicate he’s lost his arm slot which affected his stuff. He’s also lost velocity, further diminishing his stuff. More distance from surgery could be the cure.
If he’s in search of development, my contacts recommend he follow Lucas Giolito’s lead and seek help from a third party. His new org is not well-regarded by outside evaluators. There’s now considerable relief risk – and not necessarily sexy high-leverage kind. Still, he was among the best pitchers on the planet only a few years ago. He could yet recover.
Ryan Clifford, 19, 1B/OF, NYM (A+)
(A/A+) 320 PA, 19 HR, 4 SB, .284/.394/.513
The other piece of the Verlander trade, Clifford might turn out to be the best hitter dealt at the deadline – assuming he connects enough to catch on at higher levels. He’s a slow runner, and he struggles against fastballs at the top of the zone. Considering even most sinkerballers have a high fastball in their repertoire these days, it’s not a great time to bring that Pat Burrell swing back to the Majors. That said, he punishes anything low in the zone, including breaking balls. Power is Clifford’s carrying trait. If he ever maintains a permanent Major League role, it will be on the back of 30-homer power.
The Astros had him working on his passivity at High-A, and it seemed to be going well. We’ll see how the Mets approach his development.
Kahlil Watson, 20, SS, CLE (A+)
255 PA, 7 HR, 14 SB, .203/.333/.364
One of the top prep shortstop prospects in the 2021 draft, Watson’s development has stagnated in the Marlins system. Inconsistent strike zone judgment and a 12.5 percent swinging strike rate are to blame. The Guardians are known for their love of disciplined, contact-oriented athletes. Ostensibly, they know how to train these traits. There are fully substantiated reports regarding his makeup – you can google them if you want – which the Guardians will need to address. It’s fair to remember not every 20-year-old athlete is an old soul with a zen attitude. Some guys are fiery and later learn to channel it. In any event, Watson’s athleticism remains on display. He should be considered extremely raw.
Kevin Made, 20, SS, WSH (A+)
300 PA, 3 HR, 3 SB, .240/.328/.355
In recent years, we’ve gotten used to watching meteoric rises within every farm system. The business of prospecting is booming. Still, some guys take a longer path to the bigs. Made looks like one of these. He’s an able defensive shortstop who should remain at the position. Tool grades on his bat generally come in around the 45- to 55-grade range. He has plus discipline without the usual case of passivitis. There’s a high probability utility man floor here with potential for a starting role – likely of the second-division variety. For now, he needs to mature into more physicality without losing a step.
Nick Nastrini, CWS (23): Sent to the White Sox in the Lynn/Kelly trade, Nastrini features two above average breaking balls and a quality heater. He’s a fly ball pitcher with below average command. I view him as a future reliever, but plenty of better evaluators give him a shot at sticking in the rotation.
Hao-Yu Lee, DET (20): Lee has hit at every stop. His defensive limitations – he’s a second-baseman only – and modest pop lead to an awkward fit in the current meta. At the top end of the spectrum, comparable defenders like Luis Arraez and Edouard Julien hit enough to force their way into the lineup. By the time Lee is ready, Detroit will have some practice with this defensive profile courtesy of Colt Keith.
Sem Robberse, STL (21): Robberse doesn’t turn heads, but he has all the traits teams look for in under-the-radar innings eaters. He features a plus changeup and a deep repertoire of otherwise slightly below average offerings. His command has potential to be plus and will help decide how far he travels along a Zach Eflin-like path.
Did I miss a detail or nuance? DM me on Twitter @BaseballATeam to suggest corrections.