Minor League Baseball’s regular seasons are coming to a close. The playoffs are set to begin. MLB September call-ups have started.
That means it’s time to focus on the all-star autumn ready to take place in Arizona.
Some prospects head to the instructional league with something to prove. Others fly in under the radar and leave stars. Some just need the extra practice. Here is one prospect from each team that you should have your eyes on.
Trent Giambrone, Chicago Cubs, Mesa Solar Sox
I saw Giambrone earlier this summer in Tennessee and he impressed. There is a lot to like about the Cubs second base prospect. Or is he a third base prospect? Or, wait, is he an outfield prospect?
That’s what Giambrone brings to the table. He’s diminutive in stature (just 5’8”) but swings a big bat and is a defensive presence in the field. He won the DII defensive player of the year honors at Delta State before the Cubs snagged him, and although he doesn’t have an elite defensive tool, keen instincts, a nice arm and fancy footwork leave him headed towards a possible super utility role.
He has sneaky power, sometimes leaving his feet to get into a ball, but he makes loud contact and has produced 20 doubles and 17 home runs this season. I’m personally excited to see how he responds to some of the more advanced pitching he’ll see out west.
Others I’m watching: Nico Hoerner, Cubs; Jake Rogers and Daz Cameron, Detroit Tigers
Andres Gimenez, New York Mets, Scottsdale Scorpions
You may have heard about this Peter Alonso fella heading to Arizona on the Mets, but their farm system has others to watch. While I’m interested in seeing how Desmond Lindsay responds after another rather ho-hum season, Gimenez also has me curious.
I saw Jimenez last season with Columbia and was told he was the prospect to watch in the Mets system. While he wasn’t overly impressive last season, he seems to have shown those skills this year in a quick jump from the Florida State League to the Eastern League. He has shown little power since arriving in Binghamton with just nine doubles and no home runs in 36 games, but power wasn’t his calling card. He’s hit well and plays sound defense. With the Mets clearly ready for him to take charge in Flushing, it will be interesting to see what he does this fall.
Others I’m watching: : Lindsay; Melvin Adon, San Francisco Giants
Steven Sensley, New York Yankees, Glendale Desert Dogs
The Yankees are sending some of the more intriguing prospects to Arizona with Estevan Florial, Thairo Estrada and Domingo Acevedo (random fun fact: they will team up with Justus Sheffield’s brother Jordan). But Sensley may be the one to watch.
I had eyes on him a few times this season with Charleston and he’s one of the more intriguing power bats in the system. He has big swing and miss issues and at 22 is still in Tampa. Still, it’s hard to ignore the contact he’s capable of.
Ray-Patrick Didder, Atlanta Braves, Peoria Javelinas
As I told The Platinum Sombrero earlier this season, RPD remains one of my favorite prospects in the system. Though he has yet to find a home defensively, playing the outfield and second and short, he has athleticism and tools that are exciting none the less.
Didder really struggled after his breakout 2016 for the next year and a half in the Florida State League. Since a promotion to Mississippi he has looked a lot more himself. I don’t know that Didder is ever a big-league starter, or maybe even ever a big-leaguer with his propensity for swings and misses, but he blends nice speed and extra base ability that leaves me yearning to see him take the next step. Maybe he breaks out on the big stage in Arizona.
Others I’m watching: Lucius Fox, Tampa Bay Rays
Khalil Lee, Kansas City Royals, Surprise Saguros
Lee became a favorite amongst staffers at Minor League Ball last season, combining sneaky power and nice speed into a nice, toolsy outfield prospect. It’s been a little different this season, but at just 20-years-old, he’s found his way to Double-A.
The left-handed hitter showed big raw power potential in the SAL last season, but there were concerns. He had a very high ground ball rate and led the Sally with 171 strikeouts, both of which seem to be coming into play this season with his power numbers returning to earth. It’s time for Lee to take the next step, and maybe that starts in Arizona.
Others I’m watching: Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks, Salt River Rafters
You have to have an Arizona homer on the Arizona Fall League list or it simply wouldn’t be complete. Smith was the seventh overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft, coming out of Virginia with an almost video-game-like hit tool. He seemed to hate striking out, walking and homering more than whiffing in his final season at Virginia.
It’s been an interesting season for Smith in the California League. He’s shown the same plate discipline (62 strikeouts, 55 walks), but usually hitters with that kind of skills Smith possess explode in the High-A league. At 22 and such an advanced bat coming out of college, I personally expected a fast rise and to see him at the very least in Double-A this year. Though I didn’t have eyes on him this season, I will follow more closely this fall.