Don’t Overlook These Prospects: American League East
Here are some prospects who are somewhat overlooked but certainly still worthy of your attention. We wrote up the National League Central on Friday and the American League Central on Saturday. We did the National League East this morning.
Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander, OF: Selected from the Cleveland Indians system in the 2016 Rule 5 draft, Santander missed most of 2017 recovering from shoulder and elbow injuries and went 8-for-30 in major league action. The Orioles retained his rights and he’s been quite effective this spring, hitting .292/.309/.538 with four homers in 65 at-bats. Due to his injury time last year he must spend 44 days in the majors to open this season or the Orioles must offer him back to Cleveland. Justifying the roster spot isn’t a problem given his spring performance.
Age 23, the switch-hitter from Venezuela has legitimate 60-power. He lost 15 pounds over the winter in order to improve his defense. His glove should be adequate at a corner but the power is the key attraction here.
Boston Red Sox: Bryan Mata, RHP: The Red Sox spent a mere $25,000 to sign Mata out of Venezuela in 2016. This looks like a tremendous bargain after he jumped from the Dominican Summer League all the way to the South Atlantic League in 2017, posting a 3.74 ERA in 77 innings with a 74/26 K/BB. That’s pretty decent on the surface, but what made it special was his age: just 18. He was the youngest pitcher in the Sally League.
Mata doesn’t turn 19 until this May. He has no shortage of velocity, working at 89-94 in 2017 but up to a reported 94-95 this spring according to Josh Norris at Baseball America. Mata can mix in a solid curveball and change-up and his instincts are very advanced for his age. Red Sox prospects are often over-hyped by the media but Mata may actually be under-appreciated at this point.
New York Yankees: Domingo German, RHP: The Yankees have so many pitching prospects it is easy to overlook any one particular arm. German had a good spring (2.30 ERA in 16 innings, 17/6 K/BB), pitched well in Triple-A last year (2.83, 81/22 in 76), and impressed during a big league trial (3.14, 18/9 in 14). Despite all that he was sent back to the minors on Saturday but he is on the short list for recall when an arm is needed.
Age 25, the right-hander from the Dominican Republic can start or relieve due to a three-pitch arsenal including a 92-96 MPH heater and a curveball/change-up combo that can give hitters fits. His control is erratic but he consistently racks up strikeouts and has nothing left to prove in the minors. If the Yankees can’t use him, he’d make great trade bait.
Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Yarbrough, LHP: Yarbrough was one of the most successful pitchers in Triple-A last year, going 13-6, 3.43 in 157 innings for the Durham Bulls with a 159/39 K/BB. He’s been in top form in spring camp (2.25, 16/5 in 16) and earned his way onto the 25-man roster yesterday.
Age 26, Yarbrough was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round in 2014 from Old Dominion then was traded to the Rays in the January 2017 Drew Smyly deal. His heater has been clocked anywhere between 87 and 95 MPH but even at the lower velocities it plays up due to an excellent change-up. His slider has improved to average and he knows how to keep hitters guessing.
Toronto Blue Jays: Roemon Fields, OF: While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette rightly hog the spotlight in the Jays farm system, Fields has been excellent this spring (.370/.428/.587 in 46 at-bats) and is something of a sentimental favorite among Toronto observers. He was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2013 following college ball at tiny Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Fields pushed his way up the ladder and had a solid 2017 season in Triple-A (.283/.344/.345, 50 steals). He lacks power and is already 27 years old, but Fields has 70-grade speed (some say 80), runs down everything in center, and has worked very hard to refine his game. He is blocked behind other players in Toronto but his skills and tools would work somewhere as a fourth outfielder. And frankly, he’s just fun to watch, like so: