“Knocking On The Door”-Part 4-National League Central

Some say the prospect roster is not as great as in the past two years. I totally agree. However, how often do we see players like Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, and Francisco Lindor come along. We still have some very good prospects on the cusp, but not like we have seen the past two or three years.

Today I will share my thoughts on prospects on the verge of making the big leagues from the National League Central. I may miss a few, but it’s tough to get them all correct. Players with rookie eligibility and international free agents are included.

CHICAGO CUBS

Dan Vogelbach-1B-age 23- Vogelbach is in a tough situation. He has Anthony Rizzo in front of him and a host of other young Cubs players that are capable of playing first base already on the roster. So, Vogelbach could be a big trade chip as a left-handed hitter with power. Then again, he’s a great insurance policy for the organization.

Jeimer Candelario-3B-age 22- The switch-hitting Candelario showed some skill at the plate in the Arizona Fall League. I see some room for growth in his defense, but he can help with the bat. Problem? He’s behind Kris Bryant and others right now. He too has excellent trade or organizational depth value. This could be a year too soon.

Albert Almora-CF-age 21- Almora is a talented, athletic guy who needs a chance to play agains quality pitching every day. Like every other Cubs prospect he is in an organization loaded with quality young players. But if given a chance, I think he will be a productive outfielder with hustle and a great feel for the game.

Billy McKinney-CF-age 21- Another in the long line of high draft picks that have a chance to succeed if given the chance to succeed. McKinney, like Candelario, may be a year away. But he brings good speed and good baseball instincts. He will have to get on base regularly to be successful. He has a future but maybe more in 2017.

Pierce Johnson-RHSP-age 24- Johnson is among the Cubs pitchers with a chance to help the rotation in an emergency this season. He may get a call if there is a hole in the starting pitching. He has a very good, complete and reliable repertoire.

Carl Edwards, Jr.-RHSP-age- He has shown an ability to get the opposition out with good command. Pitching to contact, Edwards, Jr. doesn’t get that many strikeouts, but he is reliable and could offer help at some point this year.

Andury Acevedo-RHP-age 25- Signed in the off season as a free agent, he can offer some organizational pitching depth.

Christian Villanueva-3B/1B-age 24- The right handed hitter smoked 20 home runs and drove in 95 last year. He also walked 39 times, showing some plate discipline.
He’s the type of guy that could be a real sleeper for some team’s future.

CINCINNATI REDS

Jake Cave-OF -age 23- A Rule 5 left-handed hitter who came from the Yankees. The club will have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to New York. He hit .278 with two homers last season.

Chris O’Grady-LHP-age 25- Another Rule 5 selection, O’Grady is 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He worked in relief in the Angels organization. If he sticks on the roster he will add a left-handed component to the Reds bullpen.

Yorman Rodriguez-OF-age 23. Rodriguez got a brief look last year. He hit two homers in only 27 at-bats. I think his home park is built for his right-handed swing and he could offer the club some much needed outfield pop. He may get an opportunity.

Jose’ Peraza-2B-age 21- I admit I can’t wait to see the combination of Billy Hamilton and Peraza at the top of the lineup. Peraza can flat-ot fly. Like Hamilton, he will have to get on base to realize his supreme value. Speed kills and he has it.

Jesse Winker-OF-age 22- It may not quite be the time for Winker yet, but I think the Reds have nothing to lose by playing this very good left-handed hitting outfielder either in a platoon or regular situation. He has a sweet stroke and has some pop.

Scott Schebler-OF-age 25- Schebler came over from the Dodgers. He can put the ball of out the park from the left-handed batter’s box and has some real value in a rebuilding Reds organization.

Kyle Waldrop-OF-age 24- Like Rodriguez, Winker and Scheduler, Waldrop offers the Reds real and viable solutions to their outfield issues. A left-handed hitter, Waldrop should be in the hunt for a role on the big league club.

Robert Stephenson-RHSP-age 22- A bit of self disclosure here. While there has always been buzz about Stephenson being a potential ace, I don’t see it. I think he can be a rotation starter, but more at the back end than front. The jury remains out on him.

Tim Melville-RHP-age 26- The clock is ticking on the big 6-foot-4 inch Melville. He was drafted by the Royals and is now a part of the Reds organizational pitching depth.

Matt Magill-RHP-age 26- Magill came from the Dodgers. He, like Melville may be given a chance to crack a spot on the pitching roster with a good spring.

Tim Adleman-RHP-age 28- See Melville and Magill. Adleman will be in Spring Training and can open some eyes.

Caleb Cotham-RHP-age 28- Yet another right-handed pitching hopeful with a chance to help on the mound at some point during the long season.

John Lamb-LHP-age 25- The tall, think former Kansas City Royals prospect will really have a good chance to pitch with the Reds. If he can command his pitches, he has the motivation to use his four-seam fastball to retire hitters without flash and pizzaz.

Ramon Cabrera-C-age 26- Catching is a position of depth with the Reds. The stocky Cabrera has lots of competition, but the fact he is a switch-hitter may help.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Orlando Arcia-SS-age 21- Arcia is among the best defensive shortstop prospects in the game IMO. He is a wizard with the glove. Excellent range, quick feet, soft hands and a fine arm are on display daily. Will he hit enough against quality pitching? I think the Brewers are in a position to let him play. I look for a mid-season call for him.

Colin Walsh-2B-age 26- Walsh was a Rule 5 selection from Oakland. I don’t know if he can stick all year, but the Brewers have a need for depth, and he has a history of being able to get on base.

Zack Jones-RHP-age 25- Jones was a Rule 4 selection from the Minnesota Twins. It may be a reach, but Jones will certainly get his chance to stick with the club out of Spring Training. But don’t the Twins always need pitching? They didn’t protect him. Hm.

Zach Davies-RHSP-age 22- Davies has a legitimate chance to claim a spot in the Brewers rotation. If he has a strong spring he can be a guy that can build up his arm strength and give the team some innings as a back end starter.

Andy Wilkins-1B- age 27- The Brewers are always looking for first baseman. Left-handed hitting Wilkins’ contract has been sitting on the desks of the White Sox, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Orioles, Mariners, Rangers and now the Brewers. All since he signed with the White Sox in 2010. Is this a place he will get his chance?

Yadiel Rivera-2B/SS-age 23- He should be able to provide some organizational infield depth for the club. Doesn’t have the ceiling or tools of Arcia, but can play.

Keon Broxton-OF-age 25- Broxton is a speedy right-handed hitting outfielder with a bit of pop. If he gets his chance, his value will be his good defense and running ability.

Garin Cecchini-INF/OF-age 24- A very tough year at the plate in the Red Sox system and that club’s organizational depth made him available. Now he has new life with the Brewers. But there is plenty of competition in Milwaukee as well.

Jorge Lopez-RHSP-age 23- Lopez is a legitimate top flight pitching prospect who may be able to help by mid-season. The Brewers need rotation help, and he may be ready to offer that assistance.

Adrian Houser-RHSP-age 22- Houser is a big, strong righty with an imposing profile on the mound. I saw lots of him in the Arizona Fall League. If he isn’t quite ready to start the season with the parent club, I think he’ll be there by mid-year. Bulldog presence.

Tyler Cravy-RHSP-age 26- Cravy could be ready for an extended look. If nothing else, he is another organizational arm waiting for a mid-year call.

Tyler Wagner-RHSP-age 25- Wagner completes a group of pitchers that could be called upon during the season.

Josh Hader-RHSP- age 21. Hader is different than the pitchers I listed above. He came over from Houston in a mid-season trade. He has electric stuff and I think he can be a force in the bullpen, if not as a starter. I think he has what it takes to be a huge success on the mound. I hope he gets a chance to strut his stuff. He’s got to command his pitches-but if he does, watch out!

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Alen Hanson-2B-age 23- Hanson can play both middle-infield positions. I think his time has come. The switch-hitter could win a starting role until Jung-ho Kang returns.
I am not as bullish on Hanson as many scouts.

Jake Goebbert-OF/1B- age 28- Goebbert could win a role on the bench due to his versatility. He was signed as a free agent from San Diego.

Elias Diaz-C-age 25- Now here’s a guy I really, really like. He has a gun for an arm and his offense has been improving. He could win a back-up role or be called upon to fill-in. He has a bright future and will make a name for himself at some point.

Josh Bell-1B-age 23- A switch-hitter, Bell is making strides at first base. Not known for power, Bell will have to show he can stand in against top quality pitching. I’m not as sold on him yet, but he has some tools and is still young.

Max Moroff-2B/SS/3B- age 22- A good year at Altoona may give Moroff an extra look this spring. If he continues his fine hitting in development, he may get a late call to the parent club. But he put himself on the map with a .293 Double-A season.

Gift Ngoepe-2B/SS-age 26- A good defender with speed, can he hit?

Antoan Richardson-OF-age 32- A switch-hitter, he has an invite to Spring Training. He came over as a free agent from Texas.

Tyler Glasnow-RHSP-age 22- The cream of the crop in the Pirates organization, Glasnow may get a mid-season look to bolster the pitching. The big guy is 6-foot-8 but and 225 pounds. When he pitches downhill and repeats his delivery, he’s very tough.

Jameson Taillon-RHSP-age 24- The other half of the “twin pitching towers” is 6-foot-5 inch Taillon. He and Glasnow could form a very good one-two punch at some point. It may not be in 2016, but they both have the tools to shine.

Trey Haley-RHRP-age 25- When I saw Haley pitch, he was a dominant back end of the bullpen type guy. The Pirates got him from Cleveland, and I hope they give him a chance. He has a power arm but he needs to keep his control in check. Sleeper.

John Holdzkom-RHRP-age 28- He still has rookie eligibility, but he has to be able to command his pitches better. I’ve always liked his arm and I think he can be very useful in the pen-provided he can become more consistent.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Matt Bowman-RHSP-age 24- Bowman was a Rule 5 selection from the New York Mets. Maybe the Cards are hoping some of the Mets pitching magic will rub off. I don’t see a spot for him in the rotation, but they have to keep him on the roster all season or offer him back to the Mets. I see a deal coming with NY to keep him in St. Louis.

Seeing-hwan Oh-RHRP-age 33- The Cardinals signed him from Japan to assume a role in middle relief on the big league club.

Michael Oilman-C-age 25- He was acquired from Baltimore and has a chance to serve the organization as right-handed hitting catching depth.

Dean Anna-2B/SS-age 29- Anna is a left-handed hitter who came to St. Louis from the Pirates organization.

Jacob Wilson-2B/3B-age 25- Wilson provides infield depth as a right-handed hitter. He is a non-roster player but was invited to Spring Training.

Patrick Wisdom-3B/1B-age 24- Wisdom played in the Arizona Fall League and could serve the Cardinals as corner infield depth. He’s a right-handed hitter.

Aledmys Diaz-2B/3B/SS-age 25- Another Arizona Fall League player. I liked him more than most of my scout colleagues because I saw some quick bat speed, a good hit tool and solid defense. He’s from Cuba and I think he’ll be given a look by the brass.

Charlie Tilson-OF-age 23- Still another Arizona Fall League alum. I must admit I wasn’t as enthused about him, but his left-handed bat could prove helpful to the club.

Jayson Aquino-LHSP-age 23- He came over on waivers from Cleveland and provides an organizational southpaw that could help at some point. Maybe not yet though.

Sam Tuivailala-RHRP-age 23-He may be ready for a role in the bullpen at some point later in the season.

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

This series continues next Monday and Tuesday (February 1 and 2) as I go over the American League West and finally, the National League West.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

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