January 26th, 2016
In my previous post I spoke of some possible changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Negotiations should begin soon. Commissioner Manfred has now indicated that the potential for expanding the designated hitter to the National League may not be as imminent as we may have thought.
Spring Training is a time for players to hone their conditioning and for player evaluations to take place. For the front offices, it is the time to construct the roster that will begin the Major League Championship Season.
Today I take a look at those prospects from National League East teams I feel will make it to the big league club at some point in the 2016 season. There are no guarantees, and of course, I may miss some. All players listed have rookie eligibility.
A brief note here: The Braves have done a tremendous job of collecting pitching. Every trade seemed to focus on building pitching for the future. Some of the arms may be ready now, but 2017 and 2018 will be an awesome time for Atlanta pitching.
Aaron Blair-RHSP-age 23- I see this as the “one that got away” from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has terrific command and control and huge upside IMO. I think we’ll see him pitching for the parent club at some point in 2016.
Evan Rutckyj-RHP-age 24 at the end of this month. A Rule 5 acquisition from the Yankees, if he sticks he will add a left-handed reliever to the Braves pen. He’s from Canada. Another Rule 5 pitcher, RH Dan Winkler (Rockies) has exceeded rookie status.
Mallex Smith-OF-age 22- Left-handed hitting Smith came over from the Padres in trade and may get a call later in the season.
Hector Olivera-LF/3B- age 30- After a trade with the Dodgers, Olivera certainly must figure in the Braves plans. From Cuba, he was highly touted and should see big league action at some point in the season—maybe sooner than later.
Tyrell Jenkins-RHSP-age 23- Big and strong, I saw lots of Jenkins in the Arizona Fall League when he was still with the St. Louis Cardinals. He adds depth as an emergency or spot starter if needed.
Lucas Sims-RHSP-age 21- I’m not sure we’ll see him yet, but Sims gives the club yet another potential arm to deploy if needed. He has good stuff and the poise to win.
Rio Ruiz-3B- age 21- He’s likely not ready yet, but Ruiz is a left-handed hitting third baseman with some power. That’s attractive. Traded from the Astros, if he has a good first Minor League half, it wouldn’t surprise if he gets a big league look at some point.
Chris Ellis-RHP-age 23- A long shot to stick because of the great Braves pitching depth, Ellis may not be ready yet for the big stage. He can start or relieve.
Daniel Castro-2B/SS/3B- age 23- Castro may get a look as a utility infielder due to his versatility. A right-handed hitter, he has some pop and could help as infield depth.
The future: Ps Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, John Gant, etc.
INF Dansby Swanson, Ozhaino Albies, just to name a couple. Yikes!
Kyle Barraclough-RHRP-age 25- He could play an important role as a mid-inning reliever from the right side.
Tomas Telis-C- age 24- A converted shortstop, the switch-hitting catcher gives the club some depth behind the plate. May see some playing time with the parent club.
Xavier Scruggs-1B- age 28- He never made it with the Cardinals, but the right-handed hitter plays a position of need in the game. Adds depth and could help.
Brady Shoemaker-1B/OF- age 28- Also offers depth at first base
Dan Black-1B- age 28- The third in the trio of Minor League first basemen that could see action. Black is a switch-hitter which may strengthen his case.
Austin Nola-SS-age 26- A right-handed hitter, he offers infield depth.
Nick Wittgren-RHRP-age 24- I saw him pitch in the Arizona Fall League and I really liked his stuff as a closer. I think he can translate good command and stuff to the big league bullpen. All he needs is the opportunity.
Austin Brice- RHSP- age 23- Big right-handed starter with a very good fastball. Has to refine the rest of his repertoire. Has a chance to help if called upon.
Nefi Ogando- RHP-age 26- He has a tremendous fastball, but like Brice, he has to refine his secondary pitches. If he does that, he can be a force in the bullpen.
Kendry Flores- RHSP- age 24- A control pitcher, he has a chance to be a back end of the rotation starter.
Brian Ellington- RHSP-age 25- Another big starting pitching option from among a host of Minor League pitchers. He will be available if needed down the road.
Tim Berry-LHSP-age 24- Among all the right-handed pitching depth is lefty Tim Berry. He came over from Baltimore on waivers and could find a home with the Marlins.
Steven Matz-LHSP- age 24- The injury bug caught him last season, but he has rookie status remaining. A terrific starter, he will compliment the outstanding Mets rotation with poise, deception, repertoire, command, control and moxie. A winner!
Ty Kelly-OF/3B/2B-age 27- He’s been around with a few clubs, but the switch-hitting Kelly may be offer help due to his versatility.
T J Rivera-2B,#B, SS-age 27- Rivera has hit well in his Minor League career. He offers infield depth with a nice right-handed bat.
Brandon Nimmo-OF-age 22- Nimmo is a left-handed hitter without much home run power. He does have the ability to make contact and hit the gaps. Plays CF well.
Darrel Ceciliani-OF-age 25- A left-handed hitter like Nimmo, Ceciliani plays left field and offers the team a nice outfield option if needed.
Gavin Cecchini-SS-age 22- Still very young, Cecchini has reached Double-A and may get a late call to bring some help to the shortstop position.
Andrew Barbosa-LHP-age 28- Signed as a free agent, a team can’t have enough left-handed pitching in the organization. He would be helpful in an emergency.
Gabriel Ynoa-RHSP-age 22- Ynoa is among the Mets pitchers that offer spot starting assistance. He has a solid fastball with a good complimentary repertoire.
Dario Alvarez-LHRP-age 27- Alvarez is a nice option to work out of the bullpen. He has tasted the big leagues, but has rookie eligibility remaining.
Tyler Goeddel-OF/3B-age 23- He is a Rule 5 selection from Tampa Bay and will have to stick all year as a bench player if the Phillies intend to keep him long term.
Daniel Stumpf-LHRP-age 25- A Rule 5 selection from Kansas City, Strumpf figures to win a spot as a middle reliever.
Jorge Alfaro-C-age 22-A huge acquisition for the Phillies from the Rangers in trade, Alfaro can really hit. He has a chance to be the team’s catcher for years to come.
I think he’ll get his first call to the parent club later this season.
Brock Stasi-1B-age 26. The left-handed hitter was invited to Spring Training, but I think he is a long-shot.
Darnell Sweeney-2B/OF-age 24- The switch-hitting Sweeney came over from the Dodgers in August and may offer the club a nice fill-in player at times.
J.P. Crawford-SS-age 21- I’m not sure this is the year we see Crawford, but he is the heir apparent at shortstop. When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League he lacked energy and didn’t play with enthusiasm at all. But he has talent.
Roman Quinn-OF-age 22- We may see the switch-hitting Quinn as early as this year. Still very young, the Phillies need offense and he may be able to help.
Nick Williams-OF-age 22- Like Quinn, Williams may offer some outfield help. He hits from the left side and has some pop. He has to find more consistency.
Mark Appel-RHSP-age 24- Who is the real Mark Appel? He has good stuff, but he hasn’t put it all together yet. Maybe a change of scenery from Houston will help.
Once he gets in rhythm he can be a steady performer.
Jake Thompson-RHSP-age 21-At this young age he has been traded from Detroit to Texas and now to Philadelphia. I like his potential as a big, strong right-handed starter. Once he refines his repertoire more I think he’ll find a permanent home.
Zach Eflin-RHSP-age 21- Another trade acquisition, this time from the Dodgers, Eflin has a chance to help the pitching staff as a starter. Not the same upside as Appel and Thompson IMO.
Alec Asher-RHSP-age 24-Asher is pretty far advanced and has pitched for the Phillies. He has rookie eligibility remaining and could figure in as a starter this year at some point.
Trea Turner-SS-age 22- The speedster came from San Diego in a trade and is poised to battle for the starting shortstop position. He can fly. If he gets on base regularly and can cover enough ground, he could retain the position for years to come.
Chris Bostick-2B/SS-age 22- Bostick came over from Texas in a trade. The right-handed hitter could be a fill-in type player at some point.
Wilmer Difo-2B/SS-age 23- The switch-hitter may arrive late in the season if needed.
Brian Goodwin-OF-age 25- A left-handed hitter, Goodwin has scuffled a bit at higher levels. He hit well in Venezuela this winter. He will remain outfield depth for the club.
A J Cole-RHSP-age 24-He may be a year away, but the highly regarded starter will be available if the club feels his development is complete.
Lucas Giolito-RHSP-age 21- I really questioned myself about including him on this list. I think the Nationals have to be very careful with his arm. He’s the highest ranking right-handed pitcher on my top prospect list, and I think the club may do well to wait a bit in 2016 or even until 2017 for his debut. That said, his arrival this year is a distinct possibility. The big righty is a big part of the Nationals future. The Nationals rotation is strong as is, but if Giolito is on board, it becomes even stronger.
Tomorrow: American League Central
Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work here at BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD.
That’s it. I’m done. For now.