A look into 6 prospects all from different teams around the league who I believe have some upside as big league players. Some of these guys are names most people are familiar with but some are players who haven’t made the jump to top tier prospect just yet.
INF Yasel Antuna, Washington Nationals
Antuna, a 2016 international signee has developed into a solid prospect in the Nationals system. Injuries in 2018 and 2019 have slowed Antuna mightily, fellow 2016 signee Luis Garcia has reached the MLB while Antuna has just 502 MiLB at-bats. Tommy John surgery in 2019 limited Antuna to just 3 games and 8 plate appearances. During Antuna’s rehab, he’s become bigger and stronger according to Nationals personal. Antuna is not on the Nationals 60 man player pool.
A switch-hitter, Antuna has a smooth swing from both sides with some flashes of plus raw power from the right side. A very loose and quick swing with a rhythm-based load and finish. Antuna has shown some decent plate vision and good discipline on pitches outside the zone, but some swing and miss issue vs better pitching in 2018 led to a sub .300 OBP. 2021 will be a huge year for Antuna offensively to prove he’s added strength and can make consistent contact. Defensively, Antuna has played SS in the past and looks to continue there in the future, with good hands and footwork the only question is his arm, after TJS in 2019. If his arm continues as to be above-average, he’ll be able to continue at SS in the future.
With the tools to be an everyday SS in the MLB, Antuna still needs to put it all together for a couple of seasons before he’ll be looked at as a top tier prospect. For now, he’s a question mark with some potential to be a decent big leaguer. A player you can expect to fit into the Top 20 Nationals Ranks when we have those published soon!
LHP Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds
Lodolo, a 2019 first-round pick, is one of the top LHP prospects in all of baseball. After being picked 7th overall, Lodolo made his pro debut with 30 Ks in 18.1 IP. The TCU alum is a part of the Reds 60 man player pool, practicing at the alternate site and getting good development. The 6’6 LHP has so much projectability left, not so much in his weight but his approach with his off-speed stuff.
Lodolo, tall and lean with sidearm delivery and an aggressive approach to pitching. Extremely competitive, Lodolo will attacks hitters with his good FB that sits 92-94 with life up and down in the zone, he’ll fill up the strike zone with a bunch of strikes. Lodolo projects to have plus command of all his pitches. His off-speed stuff has incredible potential, his CB is already a plus pitch with elite depth and good snap vs LHB, it can sometimes become a slurve with some sweeping actions vs RHB. His CH has the most room for improvement, it currently sits mid to upper 80s with minimal separation from his FB, over time with some work it may become an average 3rd pitch.
Lodolo has everything you’d want in a mid-rotation starter, 2 good pitches, and a potential 3rd, as well as an aggressive mentality on the mound. With good command and good stuff, Lodolo may move quickly in 2021 and become an impact player by late 2021/early 2022. A Top 10 Reds prospect.
SS Dauri Lorenzo, Houston Astros
Lorenzo, a 2019 INT FA signing, was expected to make his pro debut in 2020 but without a season he wasn’t able too. Lorenzo is fairly unknown in the Astros system but with his advanced bat and the intriguing frame he is someone who could rise in a full 2021 season.
At 6’1 160Ibs, Lorenzo has a frame where he can add muscle and get stronger. Lorenzo is a switch hitter with an extremely smooth swing from both sides. He’s shown good barrel control and promising hand-eye skills that translate to plenty of contact from both sides. His swing is very sound, his hands work well, and he has some natural loft in his swing. Defensively, Lorenzo will have to make some improvements quickly, he has an average arm and decent speed, but he doesn’t have the quickness or the actions that a natural SS does. Long term 2B/CF makes sense.
Lorenzo has the tools to be an above-average hitter with both contact and power, his position is still an unknown long term. With the upside and intriguing/projectable frame, Lorenzo has the chance to be a good prospect in a system that develops players well. A player that should find his way into the Top 20 when we have those out!
RHP Ethan Hankins, Cleveland Indians
Entering the 2018 draft, Hankins was viewed as one of the top prep pitchers, but due to arm injury, he dropped and fell to the 35th pick where the Indians selected him. He made his pro debut in 2019 pitching 3 IP in rookie ball, before pitching 60 IP across SSA and Low A in 2019. He was expected to make his 2020 debut back in Low A before the cancellation of 2020.
Hankins is tall and lean, 6’6 205 with impressive athleticism. His FB is his best pitch sitting low to mid-90s with late life, his off-speed stuff has flashed above-average but lacks consistency. With more innings and experience, Hankins should be able to develop his SL and CH into average to above-average pitches. His mechanics are solid and with the Indians’ development staff and track record of success with talented arms, his mechanics/delivery will need to be ironed out and become effective along with his subpar command. Hankins is on the Indians 60 man and has shown off his impressive FB and athleticism
Hankins has so many good starter traits and with the Indians’ track record of success developing arm, it’s hard to bet against Hankins. His upside, athleticism, frame, arm actions, etc are all, reasons why Hankins will be a mid-rotation starter in the MLB if he can continue to improve his command. Our Indians ranks are not yet released, but you can expect Hankins to fit in around the Top 5 Indians prospects
A highly touted prospect coming into the loaded 2017 INT FA class, Garcia made a loud impression in 2018, winning the GCL batting title and recording a .921 OPS. 2019 on the other hand was a completely different story, Garcia struggled in every aspect of the game, his lack of physicality and approach hindered him mightily.
Garcia isn’t too undersized but at 5’11 170 he needs to have more of a contact approach. 132 Ks in 126 Games is not a good ratio. Garcia wasn’t getting blown away or beat, he was struggling to make hard contact and evaluate the ball. He does however have good hands and feet defensively with a strong arm and some range at SS, hell be able to stay there in the future. Garcia is also an average runner. If Garcia can become stronger and continue to improve his all-round game, he has some solid upside.
Garcia has the tools to be an MLB SS/2B, he has good hand-eye and puts together good at-bats but struggles to make hard contact, he will need to continue to add strength and develop a better approach vs tougher pitching.
Casas reclassified from the 2019 draft to the 2018 draft and became one of the top corner infielders in the class. He was selected 26th overall by the Red Sox in 2018 and in 2 years he has become the team’s top prospect. His power and potential plus defense at 1B are intriguing, in 2019 he became the 2nd Red Sox player in 50 years to hit 20HR in a MiLB season.
Casas has some of the best raw power in the MiLB, what makes him so special is that with his power he doesn’t sacrifice his OBP, with 58 BB and a .349 OBP he has shown the ability to be more than just a power hitter. His approach and mentality to hitting are both extremely advanced and impressive for someone so young. Mid-way through 2019, Casas made a batting stance adjustment that helped him cut down on the Ks and create a better overall approach. Casas has long arms and can really play 1B, good range, and a pretty solid arm as well, he’s most likely a 1B long term but 3B isn’t out of question.
Casas has all the tools to hit at the top of the lineup and produce at a high rate. He is on the Red Sox 60 man and has been destroying the ball in ATS games. He’ll likely start 2021 in AA and could be on the big league roster sometime in 2022. Huge upside with Casas.