Big Hype Prospects: 04/29/22 – MLB Trade Rumors

Welcome to Big Hype Prospects. Every Friday, we’ll use this space to review some of the top prospects. Some will already be in the Majors. Others will head for a promotion. And, every once in a while, we’ll catch a guy at just the right time for his debut. Speaking of which, we have one below.

Five Big Hype Prospects

Kyle Bradish25, PS, BAL (AAA)

15IP, 1.20ERA, 10.20K/9, 1.80BB/9

bradish started tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox. The right-hander, originally acquired commercially from Dylan Bundy, features a four-pitch repertoire headlined by a 95mph fastball. Like many pitchers of that time, he worked in the area with his heater. Several reconnaissance reports mention that it is not good at locating lower ground in the area. That’s fine – a tall fastball pairs well with most breaking balls. Bradish throws two – a vertically oriented curve ball and a sweeping slider. Like many pitching prospects, his rate of change is definitely the fourth best offer. Beyond his tricks, a key aspect of his success is a funky delivery (back view and front view). Scouts note that Bradish tends to work deep. We can expect housing starts to be relatively short on average.

Something to watch out for is his ability to generate called and swinging strikes. While the high-profile results of his three minor league starts were golden, the ways in which he succeeded varied. He didn’t take many puffs in the first two starts. His third appearance included numerous misses, but he also allowed three runs. Bradish should be considered to have a wide range of plausible outcomes.

Oneil Cruz23 years old, SS, PIT (AAA)

74 AP, 1HR, 6SB, /197/.284/.318

When Tim Dierkes suggested I write this column last weekend, he didn’t so subtly use Cruz as an example. His brief 2021 debut included a bullet hit 118.2 mph. Only six players have produced a harder-hit baseball – Giancarlo Stanton, Manny Machado, Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Franchy Cordero and Pete Alonso. Cruz only needed five batted balls to join them. His size and batting profile are reminiscent of Judge – if the Yankees slugger could play passable shortstop and steal bases too!

The Pirates broke our hearts when they offered Cruz to Triple-A so he could work on his “outfield defense”. Notably, he only played two games in left field. The rest of his starts have come at shortstop. Which makes sense – the Pirates don’t really have a notable shortstop, and Cruz is a perfectly acceptable defender.

While the defense’s excuse fell flat, it looks like Cruz could benefit from more seasoning. Aside from his six interceptions, he’s struggling offensively. His strike rate of 31.1% is inflated from a swinging strike rate of 12.1%. Often it indicates some type of passivity. I suspect he’s taking too many reachable early count throws. His batted ball data is also odd. I don’t have access to granular information on minor league hit balls, but we can see that he hit 51.2 percent of his contact with the opposite court. Most of the rest is shot with very few balls hit in the middle. Such extremes are hardly ever seen in successful major leaguers. That doesn’t mean Cruz is doomed. On the contrary, his batted ball results will likely regress towards normality. It should also be noted that he is a physical unicorn. Perhaps it will also thrive statistically in a truly unique way.

For the moment, Cruz is on the verge of a promotion. He showed a pulse in the past six days (.231/.286/.385).

Adley Rutschman24, C, BA (A+)

7AP, .167./.286/.333

Rutschman quietly began a rehab mission earlier this week. The FanGraphs prospect team gave him a rare grade 70-FV, essentially stating that they think he’s already one of the best players in the sport. He is a hitter with above average discipline and contact skills. He’s also praised for his defensive chops behind the plate. If his game has any weaknesses, it’s just good power and below average speed. Based on a batting profile oriented towards fly ball contact, he should still drive 20 or more home runs per year in a full season.

The Orioles have two potential paths down. It is expected that once promoted, Rutschman will be in the Majors for good. The club could try waiting until July, avoiding Super Two status. A more likely outcome, based on reviews made by GM Mike Elias, is a rapid rise from High- to Triple-A followed by rapid promotion to the Majors. Prior to the injury, the Orioles signaled their willingness to promote him on Opening Day. The current tandem of Robinson Chirinos and Anthony Bemboom have 10 hits in 71 plate appearances and lack Rutschman’s defensive ability.

Triston Casas22, 1B, BOS (AAA)

88 AP, 4 HR, .225/.354/.437

The 8-12 Red Sox have a bit of an enigma. Casas, their best prospect, got off to a respectable start at Triple-A. Meanwhile, Bobby Dalbec struggled a lot in the Majors. Dalbec is a hot and cold hitter who slumped for the entire first half of 2021 before becoming one of the best hitters in the second half. His power-focused approach is volatile and could possibly benefit from a Triple-A boost.

Casas offers elite plate discipline. The scouts drool over his breaking ball recognition. Curiously, he has a swinging 19.4% strike rate this season, a sign that his vaunted ground recognition isn’t in top form at the moment. Even so, Casas could be shortlisted for the promotion. His approach offers a higher floor than Dalbec’s, which could help the team win more short-term ball games.

Corbin Carroll21 years old, DE, ARI (AA)

79 AP, 4 HR, 5 SB, .344/.456/.641

In Majors, we usually list high BABIPs as the reason a hitter is likely to regress. For a minor league player, it just as often signals that they are done with a level. So Carroll’s .429 BABIP leads me to believe he’s primed for a promotion. Although he’s only the 19th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline — one spot below teammate Alek Thomas — scouts I spoke with think he could be baseball’s number one prospect once Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodriguez, Spencer Torkelson and Rutschman are no longer qualified. The skill set is even more exciting for fantasy baseball fans. Carroll, a southpaw, combines the discipline and contact skills already considered above Major League average with elite speed and gapping power. He is credited with a line-to-line approach, though he can also generate strong, drawn contact.

The current trajectory is that of a high-average, OBP hitter with 15-25 home runs and 25-plus stolen bases. Barring injury or an unforeseen setback at Triple-A, we should see him later this season.

Five Plus

Alexander Thomas (22): While Carroll may be the spiciest prospect, Thomas is already on the verge of promotion to the Majors. He hits .263/.329/.500 in 85 Triple-A plate appearances.

Nolan Gorman (22): Is anyone sexier than Gorman? He has already hit 10 home runs in 77 plate appearances. A strike rate of 32.5%, partly backed by a swinging strike rate of 14.2%, is the only flaw in his .343/.390/.800 triple slash. A Nolan Arenado suspension could be an excuse for a brief tryout.

Grayson Rodriguez (22): The best pitcher in the minors has nothing more to prove in Triple-A. Baltimore carefully manages its workload. He has yet to face 20 batters in a game. He has a 2.45 ERA with 13.75 K/9 and 1.47 BB/9.

Bobby Witt Jr. (21): Even Mike Trout wasn’t great when he started out. Witt Jr. has shown a pulse in his last seven games, hitting .310/.333/.379 with three interceptions in four attempts. Power will come sooner or later.

JC Abrams (21): Abrams skipped Triple-A and it shows. Once Luke Voit and/or Wil Myers are healthy, Abrams could be sent to the farm to get back on track.

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