Minor League Ball has been taking a position by position look at some of the MiLB prospects we expect to see in 2019. So far, we’ve taken a look at:
Today we turn our attention to the outfield. The outfield, unlike other positions, is tremendously deep. You have corner outfielders, center fielders, corner infield prospects we all know are destined for the outfield, and other sorts to consider. To make a list of outfielders that will debut in 2019 could be an endless task.
So, instead of trying to list every outfield prospect that may see their debut in 2019, here are some we are excited to see at the big league level.
Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox
Most of us were ready to see Jimenez at the end of last season, but alas, the wait continues. His power tool is arguably the best in the minors the past three seasons and without much to block him on the South Side, Jimenez should have a chance to play a lot in 2019.
Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays
Sanchez broke out in 2017 and quickly became an outfield prospect to watch. He began this season looking like the same prospect, but slowed down once he reached the Southern League, where his left-handed bat struggled mightily with lefties, which was odd because of how well he hit them in the FSL. Still just 21, that’s no reason for concern. He blends a nice hit-tool with power all over the field and speed that plays in the field and on the base paths. He should see Tampa at least for a little bit.
Yusniel Diaz, Baltimore Orioles
Diaz was the featured prospect in the Manny Machado trade and with good reason why. The 22-year-old right-handed hitter had a tough road ahead in a crowded outfield that couldn’t find room for Alex Verdugo, but now he has a much clearer path to the bigs. He’s always shown a solid hit-tool, and matched his career high 11 home runs this year, so there is still hope that more power is coming.
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins
This is a bit aggressive on paper. He’s just 20 and hasn’t had an at bat over High-A. But ask yourself where he would be right now if he hadn’t missed all of 2017. Kirilloff owned both the Midwest and Florida State Leagues last year, his pretty left-hand swing combining for a .348/.392/.578 slash line with 44 doubles and 20 home runs. He hit better in his FSL stint, which speaks volumes considering the pitcher friendly ball parks in Florida. We may have to wait until 2020, but as a personal favorite prospect, I hope it’s sooner.
Will they be outfielders? Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds, Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins, and Jorge Mateo, Oakland A’s
Senzel was on his way to the bigs last season when vertigo and an injury derailed his season. The second/ third baseman was headed to the Arizona Fall League to work on his outfield skills but elbow surgery ruined that. He can hit, we know that, it’s just a matter of finding out where he will play.
Mateo was one of the pieces in the Sonny Gray deal and has been bouncing around from positions for the past few seasons. His speed is undeniable, everything else comes with question marks. Like whether he’ll be a big league centerfielder or infielder.
Rooker has nice power and can hit, but is he a first baseman? This is the year we may find out.
Will they meet the draft buzz? Corey Ray, Brewers, Kyle Lewis, Mariners, Daz Cameron, Detroit Tigers
Three guys drafted with plenty of intrigue. Three guys that could very well get a look (possibly very brief) in 2019.
Ray still showed serious swing-and-miss and contact issues in his Double-A debut, but also showed he may have a 30/30 season or two him with that big power and speed. Maybe one day we’ll see a completely healthy season from Lewis, and we can see if all those tools are for real. Cameron was traded in the Verlander deal and looked solid in his Double-A debut this year, but struggled in Triple-A. All three provide plenty of questions and concerns, but they are also getting closer to that debut.
Will a change of scenery help? Dustin Peterson, Detroit Tigers
Ok, so Peterson has two at bats on his resume, but let’s ignore those. He was never going to get a chance to crack the Braves outfield and he’s battled injuries the past two seasons making his regression come with plenty of questions. He should have a chance to answer them with Detroit.
Will he strike out less than 200 times? Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins
Legitimate concerns here. Harrison took a step backwards in 2018. He has the tools, his power is good in the gaps and out of the park, and he can fly on the bases. But if he struck out 215 times in Double-A, MLB pitchers will eat him alive.
Just to hear his name called by an MLB announcer: Skye Bolt, Oakland A’s
Come on. How great is that name? He did hit a career-best 26 doubles and 19 home runs with an impressive .821 OPS in 2018, so why not?