For this week’s post, let’s look at some prospects who might be affected by recent rumors….
Five BHPs In The News
Estevan Florial, 25, OF, NYY (MLB)
(AAA) 461 PA, 15 HR, 39 SB, .283/.368/.481
Although Florial has spent parts of three seasons in the Majors, he has just 63 plate appearances to his name. The left-handed hitter has yet to find success in New York, batting a combined .185/.302/.278. Now out of minor league options, Florial is poised to participate in a good old-fashioned Spring Training battle for oufield playing time. Barring a trade, the Yankees are running out of free-agent challengers for in-house options like Florial, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa for left field. They also added Willie Calhoun and Rafael Ortega as non-roster depth.
It’s easy to spot Florial’s biggest weakness; no matter the quality of competition, he consistently posts a high swinging strike rate. Florial is also a disciplined hitter, which means he takes his fair share of looking strikes. These traits contribute to an over 30 percent strikeout rate. Successful hitters of this type (i.e. Kyle Schwarber) have an excellent quality-of-contact profile, but since Florial hasn’t yet demonstrated an ability make such contact, his future as a Major League regular is dependent on skills growth. Should his strikeout rates and/or quality of contact improve, he has easy double-plus speed and enough raw power to become an entertaining regular. Even if Florial remains a role player, his speed dovetails nicely with the new baserunning-related rules. Even if playing time might be hard to come by in the crowded New York outfield, Florial could serve as a useful pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
Ricky Tiedemann, 20, SP, TOR (AA)
(A/A+/AA) 78.2 IP, 13.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.17 ERA
A 2021 third-round draftee, Tiedemann is on the shortlist with the likes of Andrew Painter and Eury Perez for best pitching prospect aged 20 and under. We’ve covered him a few times within the confines of this column. The Blue Jays appear headed toward a Spring Training battle for the fifth starter role, and Tiedemann is an attractive (albeit longshot) option for the job. The southpaw has three plus pitches, although reports suggest he could do with more time in the minors to better learn how to command his offerings. An Opening Day roster spot seems implausible, but we could see Tiedemann in Toronto by midseason. One caveat is his workload, as he averaged just over four innings per start last season and typically faced between 17 and 20 batters. Between low per-outing and total innings, Tiedemann might be more focused on stretching out than contributing in 2023.
Jacob Amaya, 24, SS, MIA (AAA)
(AA/AAA) 567 PA, 17 HR, 6 SB, .261/.369/.427
We covered Amaya a little over a month ago when speaking of the Dodgers middle infield depth. The skinny is straightforward – he’s a patient hitter with a history of modest exit velocities and too much ground ball contact. The profile is that of a second-division starter or utility man. Acquired by the Marlins as the return for Miguel Rojas, Amaya should find his way to the Majors at some point this season – possibly Opening Day. Unlike higher-profile prospects, the Marlins have little incentive to worry about Amaya’s club control. He could potentially form a platoon with Joey Wendle or join Jon Berti and Jordan Groshans as flexible bench depth.
Ezequiel Tovar, 21, SS, COL (MLB)
(AA) 295 PA, 13 HR, 17 SB, .318/.386/.545
Tovar has just 23 plate appearances in Triple-A and another 35 in the Majors. Even so, the Rockies seem intent to include Tovar on the Opening Day roster. Colorado explored at least one trade of infielder Brendan Rodgers, and the free agent options to fill a middle infield role are beginning to dwindle. Even with Rodgers in the fold, Tovar could still garner a starting job. The shortstop is expected to have some issues with swinging strikes early in his career, particularly with breaking balls outside of the zone. An aggressive approach might help him to avoid strikeouts.
Miguel Vargas, 23, UT, LAD (MLB)
(AAA) 520 PA, 17 HR, 16 SB, .304/.404/.511
Major League pitchers figured out how to work above Vargas’ barrel in a limited 50 plate appearance trial last season. Vargas has both discipline and a feel for contact. The Dodgers are adept at deploying their hitters in beneficial matchups. Look for Vargas to form a very loose platoon with the likes of Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, and James Outman across multiple positions. His reputation for barreling baseballs suggests he’ll adapt to high fastballs. If not, he can still be used against pitchers who lack that particular weapon or otherwise have poor command. He’s considered particularly adept at hitting breaking balls.
JJ Bleday, MIA (25): No longer rookie-eligible after making 238 plate appearances last season, Bleday nonetheless remains an unproven prospect with an uncertain future in Miami. Bleday did well to adapt his swing after a disappointing 2021 campaign, but he is an extreme flyball hitter who seems destined to require a friendlier home venue. The Marlins’ rumored interest in Max Kepler could affect Bleday’s opportunities in 2023.
Stone Garrett, WSH (27): A late-bloomer who signed with the Nationals early in the offseason, Garrett could be the next Patrick Wisdom. The sluggers aren’t perfect clones of one another, but they’re known for whiffing often and putting a charge into it when they connect. Garrett has an over-aggressive approach and questionable breaking ball recognition.
Brett Baty, NYM (23): Now that Carlos Correa has officially re-signed with the Twins, Baty should be back in the Mets long-term plans. The patient lefty hitter is expected to bat for a high average. Between power-suppressant CitiField and a grounder-oriented approach, Baty’s high exit velocities might not parlay into many home runs. His third base defense is considered below average, though I would hazard his baseline is higher than that of Alec Bohm. If Bohm can work his way up to acceptable defense, Baty should be able to do the same.