Having completed the Top 40 list itself, as in the past we’ll wrap things up with a series of posts of posts going beyond the top 40, starting with prospects who came close to being on the list. What will be a little different is that in the past the just missed lists were an amalgam of two types of players: those who one person was much higher on, and those are were rated similarly but just beyond the list.
This year, these will be separated, with the latter making up a true just missed list today, and the former “pref lists” that will be addressed tomorrow. Each of the players discussed below were in the top 50 on at least two individual lists, and were considered to some degree for the backend of the list though it’s not to say they would have been the next players on the list. Since any difference in order in this range is largely meaningless anyway, the order is simply alphabetical.
Addison Barger, IF, age 20
Barger was drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 draft out of high school in Tampa, Florida, signing at slot for $271,100 to forgo playing at the University of Florida. He didn’t hit much in GCL debut, but got off to a promising start in Bluefield hitting .283/.345/.434 in 13 games. But less than a month into the season he was placed on the restricted list and didn’t play again.
Young players at this level are lottery tickets to begin with, this strange circumstance makes him even more of a wild card. Still, there’s some promising tools including a potential to hit, so assuming he’s back in 2020 he could be a breakout prospect who jumps up the prospect lists. Kraemer was particularly taken with his arm strength: “If you wanna see what an 80 arm looks like, holy moly” (though I think that might be a little overstated, that’s basically top 0.5%).
Hagen Danner, catcher/RHP?, age 21, last year: 21
Danner was selected in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft, signing for a well above above slot $1,500,000 bonus to pass up attending UCLA. Not only was Danner a legitimate two way prospect, but many preferred him as a pitcher who could reach the low-90s, with three pitches and the ability to spin a good curveball. The Blue Jays clearly liked his potential behind the plate enough to invest at a significant opportunity cost, but it’s the intriguing optionality that puts him here.
Danner’s professional career has been marked by big ups and downs. He didn’t hit at all in 2018 debut, which was very concerning because a prospect being totally overmatched is usually a very bad indicator. But he rebounded and showed ability to make good contact with Bluefield in 2018, albeit with a .387 BABIP and elevated swing-and-miss/K%, but nonetheless significantly allaying those concerns that the pre-draft potential wouldn’t translate at all.
Danner had a real rough go moving up to full season ball in 2019, slumping to .170/.254/.369. There’s legit real power when he gets ahold of one, but a 31% strikeout rate from a ton of swing-and-missed a ton as often looked totally overmatched on offspeed pitches. On the plus side, he does elevate the ball, and if can make adjustments to make more contact, there’s upside (though this also explains a very low BABIP).
High school catching is a notoriously tough and risky demographic. I expect he’ll be back in Lansing for 2020, splitting time with Phil Clarke. But absent signs of progress with the bat, it would probably be approaching the point where it’s time to see what he can do on the mound. That’s especially the case with the depth in the system at catcher, after he got crowded out of playing time behind the plate last year, and didn’t play the last month.
Justin Maese, RHP, age 23, last year: 31
Maese has essentially missed the last two years with shoulder problems, but the 2015 3rd rounder was a top prospect before that, placing 11th and 13th on 2017 and 2018. He dominated the low minors with his bowling ball low-90s sinker (touching higher) and slider that piled up ground ball. The issue with extreme ground ballers is they often have shoulder issues, and well, here we are.
At this point, there’s too much risk and unknowns to have him among the 40 given the depth in the system despite the high potential he showed a few year ago. But if he can overcome the injuries and the stuff is at least mostly still there, there’s significant potential even if it’s in the bullpen.
Kevin Vicuna, SS, age 22
Vicuna was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $350,000 (one of the five IFAs signed still in the organization). He’s moved up essentially rung by rung, and despite the fact that 2019 will be his sixth professional season, he just turned 22 a month ago.
On the plus side, Vicuna plays is a very strong defender, perhaps the best defensive shortstop in the organization. That alone may get him to the big leagues in some capacity. The drawback is he hasn’t really hit at all, and with the caveat that he’s been young for the leagues, I don’t see anything in the profile to suggest he’ll have any type of impact with the bat.
Vicuna makes a reasonable amount of contact, though his strikeout rate increased from 14% in Lansing to 18% in Dunedin. The issue is that he’s a contact hitter who doesn’t make very good contact. His ground ball rate has been above 50% the last two years, which leads to almost no power. 50 years ago, this type of punch-and-judy hitter profile would play for a slick middle infielder, but not so much in the modern game. It’s hard for me to see him profiling as more than a role-30 extra infielder.
Logan Warmoth, IF, age 24, last year: 28
Warmoth was drafted 22nd overall in the 2017 draft as a well rounded college infielder who was supposed to hit, but it hasn’t really translated to pro ball. The concern was a lack of carrying tools, being the kind of “safe” college player who climbs draft boards, and that’s basically come to pass and he’s off the list entirely this year after some hope his 2018 struggles were a blip last year.
His bat did show some signs of life in Dunedin in the first half, hitting .292/.380/.423, though with a .394 BABIP and 26% strikeout rate. Then he came back to earth when moved up to New Hampshire (.200/.290/.277 in 254 PA) as the BABIP normalized and the strikeout rate jumped to 29%. He did hit .295/.394/.443 in the Arizona Fall League, albeit with a 30%+ strikeout rate. the contact is ground ball heavy, so it’s hard to see the BABIPs as more than small sample noise as opposed to earned via quality contact.
He’s here purely on the pedigree and potential that had him as a high draft pick. and the opportunity that will afford him.
The highest ranking prospect on the 2021 list will be
This poll is closed
None will be Top 40 in 2021