“Tranquilo” – Five Players to Watch in the California League
Unlike the past few weeks in our circuit around the minors, the California League is fairly shallow in terms of elite hitting prospects. The one big name is Brendan Rodgers and after that most of the guys have lower profiles. However, that is not to say they don’t offer upside. Also, the California League is a notoriously hitter-friendly league so beware of scouting the stat line when looking at these prospects as their numbers are likely inflated by the forgiving stadiums
Age: 20 Bats/Throws: R/R Position: SS Height: 6-0 Weight: 180
Rodgers followed Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman off of the Draft Board in 2015, while the college bats have sped their way to their MLB affiliate, Rodgers is taking a more traditional development path as a prep hitter and been mashing this season. He’s a natural shortstop that has also played both second and third base as a professional, but the Rockies’ view him as a future shortstop. In the box, he’s a polished, disciplined hitter with plus bat speed and juicy power potential that has people dreaming on his future power output at Coors Field.
Age: 22 Bats/Throws: L/R Position: 1B Height: 6-0 Weight: 195
A college catcher at Virginia, Thaiss was drafted sixteenth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Angels for his pure hitting ability but was immediately moved out from behind the plate. An advanced hitter with at least above average power and quality pitch recognition, he’s a stud in the batters’ box. The only question with Thaiss is where he’ll settle in defensively, which looks like first base, but the bat is on the fast track to Anaheim.
Age: 22 Bats/Throws: S/R Position: OF Height: 6-3 Weight: 205
Mr. Fundamental is such a Giants prospect as he lacks a truly outstanding tool but doesn’t have any weaknesses in his game. He’s just a steady ballplayer. He’s a switch hitter that’s had some strikeout issues in the past that have some evaluators worried, but if he overcomes this deficiency his offensive ceiling is an above average hitter with some pop. His defensive ability and well-rounded skill set offer a high floor and the offensive upside offers an above average ceiling.
Age: 19 Bats/Throws: L/L Position: 1B Height: 6-0 Weight: 225
Naylor was drafted 12th overall in 2015 by the Marlins and gained notoriety after a prank gone bad that ended up injuring one of his former teammates in the Marlin’s farm system. Last year he was traded to the Padres who were willing to gamble on his upside in the Andrew Cashner trade. His plus bat speed and eye-popping raw power are what catch the attention of evaluators. However, he has some contact issues and struggles against quality off-speed pitches so the profile is a risky one. The bat will need to carry him because he’s a poor defender at first base but his ceiling is a middle-of-the-order run producer.
Age: 20 Bats/Throws: R/R Position: OF Height: 6-1 Weight: 195
Diaz was a sensation in the Cuban junior national leagues and the Dodgers dished out a hefty $15.5 million signing bonus to sign the young outfielder. He’s a raw talent that presents a typical boom or bust profile but the tools are promising. An excellent athlete with a plus run tool, he has the bat speed for average power but the output has not translated to games. His swing is more focused on a gap-to-gap, line drive approach that allows him to use his wheels and leg out doubles. There is work for Diaz to do in order to reach his full potential but his tools offer promise.
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