Spring Training Prospect Roundup: Week 3

Notes on the top prospect performers from the past week.

Welcome to the weekly prospect roundup! Each week during spring training we will provide news and notes on top prospects and highlight the top prospect performers from the past week.

Overall these will all be prospects with at least some dynasty relevance. I will try to provide updated scouting reports when necessary, but for the most part, you can find full write-ups on the team-by-team Top-50 lists done by our wonderful dynasty team.

Though it’s hard to draw conclusions from spring training, there are a few things that I pay particular attention to. For the most part, I look at mechanical adjustments and physical growth, which there is bound to plenty of, given that we haven’t seen many of these prospects since last spring. For pitchers, this also includes notable velocity and/or pitch mix changes. Though not all spring facilities have Statcast, we can (and will) certainly take advantage of the ones that do.

Let’s get into the best prospects from week 3 of spring training:

 

Prospect News and Notes

 

  • Here’s your Weekly Witt Update: Though he’s cooled off this week, Royals GM Dayton Moore remains “open-minded” about the 20-year-old top prospect making the club’s opening day roster. Personally, I see very little chance of this happening, with Witt never having played above Rookie ball β€” nevermind the service clock consideration. That being said, he has been fantastic this spring and may yet find his way onto the Royals roster by the end of 2021.
  • Nate Pearson (groin), already expected to begin the season on the IL, suffered another setback and does not have a timetable for return.
  • As we get closer to Opening Day, here are some notable names from the latest round of roster cuts:
  • Baltimore will add pitching prospects including RHP Grayson Rodriguez and LHP DL Hall to major league camp. Both were held back early in camp and are not expected to pitch in games.
  • The Giants reassigned multiple prospects to minor league camp including Marco Luciano and Joey Bart
  • Rays reassigned prospects including Wander Franco, Luis Patino, and Shane Baz to minor league camp
  • The Tigers sent Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene to Minor League camp
  • The Blue Jays announced a handful of roster cuts, including Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans, Alek Manoah, and Simeon Woods-Richardson
  • Rangers optioned several prospects, including infielders Josh Jung, Davis Wendzel, Justin Focuse, and Shertan Apostel
  • Find mechanical adjustments from hitters around the majors, including prospects like Bobby Bradley, Christian Pache, and more, on the new MATH tracker!

 

Β Hitters of the Week

 

Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, PIT, #1 prospect): 6-for-13, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 SB

Hayes has been on fire this spring, with six more hits this week bringing his cumulative slash line to .433/.485/.800. He launched his first homer of the spring on Monday against the Orioles and with 8 of his 13 spring hits of the XBH variety. He also flashed the leather and stole a pair of bases this week, continuing to look like the odds-on favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year.

 

Mark Payton (OF, CIN, unranked): 7-for-11, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB

The unranked Reds outfielder had himself a week, reaching base eight times β€” including a pair of homers β€” in 12 PAs. Though he may no longer be considered a true “prospect” the 29-year-old minor-league journeyman has been an above-average hitter at every minor league level he’s played, including four quality years in the Yankees system, a 148 wRC+ at Triple-A for Oakland in 2019, and then finally seeing major league time with the Reds in 2020. He isn’t likely to be fantasy relevant but could fill a bench role for the Reds in 2021.

 

Jarren Duran (OF, BOS, #4 prospect ): 6-for-12, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, SB

Duran returns to the Prospect Roundup after a 6-for-12 week 3 performance. Four of those hits came on Friday, which included a lefty-on-lefty RBI double to straightaway center that just narrowly missed being a homer. Duran has been one of the most exciting prospects to watch this spring and raised his slash line to .407/.488/.815. His revamped swing has shown noticeable power and he looks capable of handling center field. Though he won’t make the roster out of camp, it would not be surprising to see him at Fenway relatively soon after.

 

Ka’ai Tom (OF, OAK, unranked ): 7-for-12, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

After missing the start of camp with an oblique strain, the A’s Rule 5 pick made up for lost time with a seven-hit week. As a Rule 5 pick, Manager Bob Melvin says Tom will get plenty of ABs as spring continues. The small-statured outfielder has a lightning-quick swing and generates above-average power for someone his size. He hit 23 homers and 27 doubles in Cleveland’s system in 2019 and already has a line-drive homer and a pair of doubles this spring. He’s still got competition for the A’s final outfield spot, but if he continues to play like this he’s got a chance to stick.

 

CJ Abrams (SS, SD, #2 prospect): 5-for-15, 2B, HR, 5 RBI

The Padres seem to have shortstop figured out, but that hasn’t stopped them from giving CJ Abrams an extended look this spring. Their #2 prospect has responded, showing speed and power throughout his 36 spring ABs. Abrams had another five hits this week, including a grand slam β€” his second homer of the spring β€” on Monday against the Brewers. He has split time between shortstop and second base thus far, and though the Padres certainly do not lack infield depth, Abrams may be pushing for a major league spot sooner rather than later.

 

Jonathan India (2B/3B, CIN, #6 prospect ): 4-for-13, 2B, HR 3 RBI, BB

India gets a mention for the second straight week. Though he hasn’t put together a truly hot week, he remains a consistent contributor and is greatly increasing his chance at an opening day roster spot. Perhaps most telling is simply his playing time, as the Reds continue to give India extended time as they try to sort their infield alignment. With guys like Dee Strange-Gordon, Jose Garcia, and Kyle Farmer failing to separate themselves from the pack, India’s solid .333/.474/.633 slash is looking better and better. With another homer this week, India has gone from the roster bubble to possibly pushing for a starting role.

 

 

Pitchers of the Week

 

Ian Anderson (RHP, ATL, #1 prospect): 7.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 16 Ks

Anderson made two starts this week, and though he gave up five runs on eight hits in just under eight innings, he also struck out a whopping 16. His most recent start came against the Twins on Friday, and he was dealing. He gave up a pair of runs in his final frame but struck out nine in 4.1 innings. His four-seamer was consistently sitting in the 93-95 range and hit 96 on multiple occasions. The changeup was filthy as usual, sitting in the 84-86mph range with good drop. It will be interesting to see if/how the Braves limit his innings in 2021, as he already looks like a capable front-line workhorse.

 

Garrett Whitlock (RHP, BOS, #31 prospect): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks

Whitlock β€” Boston’s Rule 5 pick β€” has Sox fans thanking the Yankees. Coming off Tommy John surgery Whitlock has put together a fantastic spring, with just 1 ER in nine innings and a 12:0 K:BB ratio. He threw multiple innings for the first time this week, striking out five in a pair of scoreless innings against the Rays on Friday. He was reportedly sitting 93-95 with the four-seamer and 84-85 with a changeup that looks to be his best out-pitch. He could be a sneaky valuable member of an improved Red Sox bullpen.

 

Deivi GarcΓ­a (RHP, NYY, #2 prospect): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 4 Ks

Deivi continues to battle for the Yankees’ final rotation spot and managed to throw six more scoreless innings this week, despite not having the best command in either of his two outings. On Friday he threw primarily four-seamers (62%), which sat 92-94 and touched 95. He struggled to locate around the edges but was able to limit the damage nonetheless. He should have at least a few more appearances to improve his command and get stretched out before Aaron Boone makes an official decision on the opening day rotation.

 

Tarik Skubal (LHP, DET, #4 prospect): 3 IP, H, 0 ER 3 BB, 6 Ks

Skubal pitched well on Wednesday, with a 43% whiff rate and 30% CSW on five different pitches. The four-seamer was 92-96 according to Baseball Savant, right on par with his 2020 average. The changeup (82-84) was his out-pitch of choice, though he got more whiffs on both the slider and curve. Five of his first six outs in the game were via the strikeout, which included getting Bryce Harper looking on a 95mph fastball after a lengthy at-bat.

 

Bruce Zimmerman (LHP, BAL, #40 prospect): 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks

Though he may not have the most prospect pedigree, Bruce Zimmerman has been a player I’ve liked since he was in the Braves’ system. He remains under-the-radar in the Orioles system, but has pitched very well this spring and looks like a strong candidate to break camp with the O’s. Though his four no-hit innings this week are not all that notable on the surface, what stands out is that all four innings came in a single outing. Zimmerman has been a starter throughout his career in the minors, though most assumed he was destined for a long-relief role. After a handful of multi-inning outings this spring, this one shows that Baltimore may believe in his ability to start long-term.

 

Alek Manoah (RHP, TOR, #5 prospect ): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks

Manoah was optioned to minor league camp along with a trio of other Jays top prospects, but that did not stop him from continuing his dominance in big league camp. He faced the Yankees for the second time this spring, and though we have nothing but this 1980s-era footage of it, the line speaks for itself. He threw 29 of his 44 pitches for strikes and struck out seven. Between him, Nate Pearson, and Simeon Woods-Richardson (who also pitched vs the Yankees), the Jays’ future rotation looks bright.

 

Trevor Rogers (LHP, MIA, #4 prospect): 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks

Rogers looks like the favorite to win the 5th spot in Miami and fill out a promising young rotation. The lefty pitched well against the Nationals in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Nationals, allowing a run on four hits while striking out five. That included a strikeout of Juan Soto in the first to start a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play to end the inning.

 

Other Highlights

Though we, unfortunately, can’t watch every spring training game on TV, here is an assortment of highlights from other prospects worth noting this week:

 

Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Natan Cristol-Deman

Natan is a California native and current junior at UMass Amherst. His interests include player development, strategy, analytics, and Mike Soroka. You can find him on twitter @natan_cd

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