We continue our march towards Vlad. I always like getting into the 20 to 30 range as we are getting to the real prospects, but they aren’t very well known. But then this is a pretty interesting set of four players.
28. Logan Warmoth, SS, age 23 (DOB: 9/6/1995), last year: 7th
Logan is a right-handed hitting shortstop. He was taken in the first round of the 2017 draft. And he’s taken a big tumble down our list. It’s such a drop, I was worried that I had it wrong and I had to check Matt’s list just to see if I had dropped him too far, but Matt had him at about the same spot.
I went to read Matt’s write-up on him from last year and there was some foreshadowing in his post:
One thing that bugs me: the track record of premium hitting prospects from UNC in pro ball is pretty dismal. Prior to 2017, four have been drafted in the first round this century. Russ Adams didn’t hit. Dustin Ackley was a bust. Levi Michael hasn’t hit, and Colin Moran has been disappointed (prior to perhaps reinventing himself recently). Then again, I was skeptical Trea Turner would and he’s shot the lights out.
After a pretty good first pro season (hit .302/.350/.418 mostly at Vancouver), this year wasn’t good. Logan played 79 games, mostly at Dunedin (with 4 games in the GCL, on an injury rehab assignment). He hit .249/.300/.317, with 1 home run, 9 steals, 32 walks and 73 strikeouts. He missed time with injuries twice. Maybe the injuries cause some of the drop in production.
A first round pick shouldn’t be putting up numbers like that, even in his first full season. Everyone is allowed an off-year, but it isn’t a good idea to have that off-year in your first full season.
Logan played mostly shortstop, with 14 games at second. When he was drafted a number of scouts suggested that he would be an average shortstop but could be a very good second baseman.
I hate to overvalue one bad season, but, of his 73 hits, only 16 were for extra bases. Even a middle infielder has to slug better than .317. It isn’t like he’s someone that is going to steal 50 bases and get away with having no power. Let’s hope this year goes better and he moves back up the list.
27. Trent Thornton, RHP, age 25 (DOB: 9/30/1993), last year: in the Astros system
Thornton came to us in the trade for Aledmys Diaz back on November 17th just prior to the deadline for 40-man additions. We had (have) an overload of infielders and and not a lot of depth at starting pitcher. MLB ranked Thronton as the Astros #24 prospect.
In 2018 Trent had a 4.42 ERA in Triple A Fresno in the Pacific Coast League. In 24 games, 22 starts, he pitched 124.1 innings, with 118 hits, 13 home runs, 31 walks and 122 strikeouts. Fresno ballpark isn’t as strong a hitter’s park as most of parks in the PCL, but it does allow about 10% more home runs than the average PCL park. Trent was pretty good at keeping the ball in the park. He didn’t give up a lot of walks and he struck out almost a batter an inning.
Keith Law tells us that he throws 4 pitches and 3 of them have “spin rates near the top of the range for those pitch types."
He throws mid-90s and can hit 97, so if he doesn’t make it as a starter, he might be a good choice for the bullpen. Talking about his pitches Trent himself said: “Four-seam fastball (91-95 mph), cutter (87-90), split change (77-80), curveball (77-81), and slider (79-84).”
I’m curious to watch him this spring. He has an outside shot at a spot in our rotation out of spring training, but it’s far more likely he’ll start the season in Buffalo and wait for an opening.
26. Elvis Luciano, RHP, age 19 in 2019 (DOB: 2/15/2000), last year: in the Royals system.
It is pretty tough to figure where to put Elvis on the list. Since he’s a Rule 5 pickup, we are likely to see him in Toronto unless the team decides to hand him back to the Royals during spring training.
Elvis turns 19 next week, hasn’t pitched above short season ball, and now he may be spending the season in the majors. Last year he spent most of his season in Burlington of the Appalachian League. He made 11 starts, pitched 56 innings with a 4.82 ERA. He allowed 55 hits, 20 walks and had 56 strikeouts. He also had 11 innings at Idaho Falls, without giving up an earned run (had 1 unearned), allowed 6 hits, 3 walks, with 14 strikeouts.
Not many players have been with three organizations by their 19th birthday. Luciano was signed by the Diamondbacks in 2016 as an international free agent. Last June, he and Gabe Speier were sent to the Royals for Jon Jay going to the Diamondbacks. I’m sure the Royals are pretty choked to lose him, since he was the better prospect of the two Arizona sent in that trade.
Elvis is 6’2”, listed at 180. He can throw hard (93-95, topping out at 97, and everyone says ‘with good sink’) and should be adding muscle as he ages. He has a curve and a change. If you watch the video below, he has a nice looking delivery.
Placing him on this list is a bit of a wild card. What are the odds that he makes it through the season on the Jays roster? If he does, how much does he pitch this year? How much do you dock him for missing a full season of development? If it all works out, we could have a pretty good starting pitcher in 2-3 years. Regardless, this might be his only time on the list — if the Jays keep him, he’ll exhaust rookie eligibility in 2019 and by 20 years old technically be longer considered a prospect. Maybe, like the loophole that made him Rule 5 eligible in the first place, we’ll need a Luciano Loophole to consider him next year.
25. Reese McGuire, C, age 24 in 2019 (DOB: 2/2/1995), last year: 15th
I was really impressed with Reese when we saw him back in September. He looked smooth behind the plate and, of course, he hit very well. In limited at bats: .290/.333/581 with two home runs in 33 PA.
I don’t think we’ll see that kind of offense from him on an ongoing basis. Last year in Buffalo, Reese hit .233/.312/.339 with seven home runs in 369 PA. That’s more what I was expecting from his bat.
The bat isn’t what got him to the majors. Scouts say he’s one of the best catchers in the minors. In his minor league career he’s thrown out 34% of basestealers. He’s solid behind the plate and everyone says he’s a good pitch caller.
Back in 2014 and 2015, Reese was on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect lists, but his bat hasn’t developed as hoped. Sometimes it takes a little long for catchers to figure out the hitting side, he could still find enough power to allow him to be a starting catcher, but it’s more likely that he’ll have a career as a backup.
I’m wondering if he’s the backup catcher to start the season or if the team decides to go with Luke Maile? Both have options. I have the feeling the team would rather the veteran to back up the rookie, but if we are going full rebuild, maybe they will go with the two rookies.
The best professional/MLB career will belong to:
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