AL Central Breakout Prospects

AL Central Breakout Prospects

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The AL Central Prospects saw themselves making a big impact during the shortened 2020 season. Luis Robert made his highly anticipated MLB Debut on Opening Day with a splash helping lead the White Sox to the playoffs. Many others made their highly anticipated big league debut from other teams. Some names below to keep an eye on over the next 1-2 years as they climb the system and push their way into being a prospect their team can look at being a key part of their futures.

This series will go division by division. Breaking down 2 prospects per team from multiple analysts: Today, the AL Central. By @JTillinghast27, @d__brack, @DrakeMann4, @MLBUKAnalysis1, each tasked with digging into the back half of each teams farm system to find some high upside prospects that we will be talking about much differently this time next year.

Criteria for the Prospects Below:
Must be ranked 10-20 or unranked in their teams rankings (via Prospects Worldwide ranks)
Prospects we feel will make a big impact in 2021.
Click each players Team Ranking to be directed to their teams Top 20 Prospect Ranks with scouting report attached
Click each players Dynasty Rankings to be directed to our Top 300 Dynasty Prospects List.

INDIANS

1. SS Brayan Rocchio | 20 Years Old
Team Rank: 10th | Dynasty Rank: 122nd

Signed for a measly $125,000 in 2017. When you’re talking about breakout prospects you have to include Rocchio into the equation. He’s one of the more exciting infield prospects in the Indians system and should be a fast riser through the system with his mix of an advanced hit tool that has plus potential and his plus speed.

Rocchio has surprising power for his size and while it has some projection it’ll still be lagging behind his other tools long term. His swing is quick and compact and he controls the zone well resulting in a high on-base percentage. He has a career .348 OBP and what’s fairly impressive is in 2019 as an 18 year old, Rocchio advanced to Class A short-season and put up decent numbers hitting .250/.310/.373 with five home runs and a .683 OPS. Being able to put up league average numbers against competition that’s about three years older than Rocchio just shows how advanced of a prospect he really is.

In terms of defense he has impressive range and quick hands, but with his average arm strength it remains to be seen if he can stick at shortstop long term for the Indians. Rocchio is one of those prospects that gets overlooked among top prospects but this is one prospect that has major potential and could be taking over for Fransisco Lindor once his time in Cleveland is up. Keep your eyes on this stud infield prospect.
– Drake Mann; @DrakeMann4

2. OF Alexfri Planez | 19 Years Old
Team Rank: Unranked | Dynasty Rank: 215th

One of the higher-variance profiles in the Cleveland system, Alexfri Planez has more than enough tools to become an impact fantasy player down the line. Headlined by current plus raw power that projects to potential double plus due to his exciting athletic frame, Planez can truly put on a show in batting practice. He’s grown from his initial listing of 6’2 and 180LBs and is now more likely closer to 6’5 200LBs.

Planez was a bit overly aggressive at the plate in his DSL debut as a 16YO (one of the youngest players in the whole league), posting a minuscule 3.3% BB rate, though the strikeouts weren’t as horrible at 20.3%. Even with the plate discipline issues, Planez still posted an .801 OPS and 125 wRC+ over the full season in 2018, highlighted by his whopping 30 XBHs in 61 games. Just watching him swing, you can see the exceptional rotational ability and the natural loft he is able to create. Planez undoubtedly needs to improve his pitch recognition and swing decisions, though his natural athleticism and barrel accuracy are solid enough to give him a good chance at doing so.
Danny Brackman; @d__brack

ROYALS

1. SS Wilmin Candelario | 19 Years Old
Team Rank: 17th | Dynasty Rank: 249th

Despite being just 17 when making his rookie level debut, he impressed with his offensive output. Averaging .315, his hitting justified his aggressive approach despite the SO rate of 29%. The switch hitter shows an advanced feel from the left side especially, having an OPS of .933 and a BA of .336. It wasn’t as comfortable coming from the right side, averaging just .216, but with emphasis on his swing to shorten it it should allow him to make more regular contact and reduce his SO rate.

Defensively there is no doubt of his qualities, showcasing a plus arm and the potential to be an average infielder. With focus on reducing his SO rate and having a more Conservative approach, he could have a big year in 2021.
– Jake Tweedie; @MLBUKAnalysis1

2. OF Seuly Matias | 22 Years Old
Team Rank: 13th | Dynasty Rank: Unranked

A tough 2019 season followed a promising potential breakout year in 2018. He averaged just .148 and struck out 44.3% of the time. Playing just 57 times could have played a part as he finished the season early with a fractured hand.

From an offensive perspective, he possesses the quality to go long and do so around the field. This is shown by recent clips of him from 2020 that shows he is doing so with more authority. The main issue is making consistent contact to do this on a regular basis. He lacked the ability to recognize pitches and swung at pitches outside of the zone.

Defensively he proves himself to be a quality asset with his pure power and one of the best arms in the organization. He will be looking to re-discover his form from 2018 in 2021, and he if does then he could see his stock rise once again.
– Jake Tweedie; @MLBUKAnalysis1

TIGERS

1. OF Jose De La Cruz | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: Unranked | Dynasty Rank: 162nd

For an organization that contains some of the most promising prospects in all of baseball, the Detroit Tigers have found another potential gem in Jose De La Cruz. One of the most physically impressive teenage prospects you’ll see, De La Cruz appeared to simply be stronger and faster than most of the competition during his DSL debut in 2019. According to a report in The Athletic, De La Cruz was recently listed at 6’1″ 214lbs… at 14% body fat. That’s essentially the body of an NFL tailback. Though his body is close to fully maxed out already, it could help him rise through the lower minors quickly. Racking up a .307/.375/.556 slash with 11 HRs and 16 SBs over 56 games is impressive, no matter if it was coming against inferior rookie-level competition.

Like most teenage prospects, the walks were low and the Ks were high, so there’s one potential hole you can poke in the profile, though I don’t personally put too much stock into a 17YO being a little swing happy until I see it for a more extended period. He already hits the ball hard (90mph avg EV, 109mph max EV) and knows his swing (53.9% pull), showcasing his appeal to the modern game.

There are individuals within the Tigers’ front office who see De La Cruz as a legitimate 5-tool center-fielder, and I’m inclined to agree. This is one of the more explosive talents in a loaded farm that isn’t getting the recognition he deserves.
– Danny Brackman; @d__brack

2. 3B Colt Keith | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: Unranked | Dynasty Rank: Unranked

The Tigers snagged Colt Keith in the 5th (and final) round of the 2020 MLB Draft, capping off a fantastic draft for the organization. Keith, a very strong 2 way talent in HS, but the bat is what the Tigers are signing here, and there is a ton of potential to tap into here.

Keith’s offensive ceiling is impressive starting with uncanny barrel control and bat speed. With a knack for barreling balls up at a high rate into the gaps with an Above-average Hit tool with developing Power that likely can tap Above-average marks down the line as well. Showing that power when he can drop the bat head on balls low in the zone, although he may end up a slight Hit over Power prospect, this type of hit ability is the kind you typically see running into solid HR numbers down the line when they fully develop and tinker slightly with the bat path. Each of which will help Keith reach his full potential.

A fantastic high ball hitter, able to smack line drives into the gaps consistently. Which will suit him well as he advances into pro ball with the new aged pitching philosophy, Keith has the toolset to become a monster in the box for the Tigers and one of the absolute steals of the 2020 MLB Draft when we look back in a few years.
– Jake Tillinghast; @JTillinghast27

TWINS

1. OF Matt Wallner | 23 Years Old
Team Rank: 18th
| Dynasty Rank: Unranked

At a well-proportioned 6’5 220LBs, Matt Wallner gives the Twins some loud tools to work with. While most people are infatuated with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, though for good reasons, it looks like the organization will have yet another opportunity at a lefty middle-of-the-order masher with Wallner.

Drafted late out of high school by the Twins in 2016, Wallner elected to attend Southern Miss and boost his draft stock instead. After destroying 58 HRs, 190 RBIs, and a 1.113 OPS over 189 games, he was selected again by the Twins–this time in the 1st supplemental round of the 2019 draft. He then went on to post a solid .810 OPS between Rookie and A ball, though he struck out a bit more than he was used to (~27% K).

Wallner does a good job at keeping his swing compact and using his strength to generate his 70-grade raw pop, though he’ll still lose his timing or get caught off-balance here and there. He crowds the plate, which helps him cover the strike-zone while adding to his OBP with the extra HBPs. It seems like he should be able to catch up to the heat, though the ability to hit quality secondaries is still TBD. Some project Wallner to develop into a three-true-outcomes profile, though I’m not ready to make that assessment just yet.

Not much info has come out on the slugger recently, but he did participate in instructs this fall. If he’s able to fix his timing issues and get his swing fully in sync, which I believe he will, look out. I’d expect an aggressive assignment for Wallner to start 2021, so keep your eyes open as the MiLB season gets underway.
– Danny Brackman; @d__brack

2. OF Emmanuel Rodriguez | 17 Years Old
Team Rank: 20th
| Dynasty Rank: Unranked

Rodriguez was signed for $2.5 million in 2019, he’s only 17 years old and has a projectable frame at 5’10” 165 lbs . He has loud tools all across the board and has the potential to be a 5-tool talent when fully matured. The one tool that rises above the others is his raw power that he will tap into fairly easily with a small leg kick and smooth lofty left-handed swing that’ll develop consistent flyball contact. He has an act for hitting the ball hard and with his gap-to-gap power he should become an extra base hit machine and a middle of the order bat for the Twins. Rodriguez not only has the talent but a good chance of turning into one of the better young hitters in their system.

While he is athletic enough and has good range in the outfield to be a center fielder his plus arm strength profiles him as a right fielder. Rodriguez, has the highest ceiling among teenage prospects in the Twins system and overall could be a valuable piece for the Twins. 2021 will be the first year we see Rodriguez stateside and he could definitely start flying up the Twins top prospect list with a good first season in pro ball.
– Drake Mann; @DrakeMann4

WHITE SOX

1. OF Benyamin Bailey | 19 Years Old
Team Rank: 10th | Dynasty Rank: 171st

Benyamin Bailey was signed for a measly $35,000 out of Panama during the 2018/19 J2 Signing period. A 6’4 frame that has been filling out well since signing. In 2019, during a short 55 game stint in the DSL, Bailey showed great patience at the plate, 52 BB (21.5%) to 40 K (16.5%). There is clear power potential here with Bailey to go with that impressive plate discipline.

When Bailey was signed he had strong hitability , he had some interesting movement going on with his feet in the box, best I can describe it as, was happy feet, he would take a bit of a step inward or back with his back foot in the middle of his loading phase. The video below was from instructs this fall and seems like the foot is a bit more planted and uses a lot of that lower half to help generate his in game power.

Likely will end up being an offensive LF Profile when finished developing. A cheap, young, and fascinating young OF Prospect for White Sox fans to get excited about.
– Jake Tillinghast; @JTillinghast27

2. OF James Beard | 20 Years Old
Team Rank: 18th | Dynasty Rank: Unranked

Drafted last year for a below-slot bonus of $350k, he struggled in his first test of pro ball, averaging .213 in the Arizona League. Although his SO rate was high (39%), he shows some potential due to his athleticism and making contact with the ball. He may not have faced pro ball pitchers before but with time and exposure he should be able to adjust accordingly.

What he lacks in power and arm strength, he makes up with accurate throws and athleticism in the field. He has the potential to be an above average fielder due to his speed and getting to the ball quickly. If he can refine his swing and focus on improving his pitch recognition, he has the potential to be an average hitter. This coinciding with his speed should give him the threat of being a contact hitter that looks to pick up SBs.
– Jake Tweedie; @MLBUKAnalysis1


Past Articles of other divisions Breakout Prospects:
AL East Breakout Prospects | AL West Breakout Prospects
NL East Breakout Prospects | NL Central Breakout Prospects | NL West Breakout Prospects


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