Earlier this month I revealed the bottom 5 names for my Top 30 prospect list in the organization. With MLB Pipeline releasing their entire list, it’s time for me to get off my bum and start playing catch-up. I plan to have the rest of the list finished by the 11th of March, so there is little time to waste.
#21: OF Socrates Brito. Brito is an out-of-options player that brings an intriguing toolset but inconsistency and injuries have derailed his development the past two seasons. He has a potential 4th outfielder role and perhaps a starting CF in the future, but the organization seems to be ready to move on. There really isn’t a MLB roster need for him at the time, especially with the signing of Jarrod Dyson. I find it unlikely that Brito is able to carve out a 25-man roster spot on this team unless the organization goes out of their way to keep him around and I doubt he passes outright waivers because he’s a buy-low opportunity for a non-contending club to see what they can get out of him.
#22: RHP Brian Shaffer. Shaffer was the team’s 6th round selection in the previous draft and did well in his summer debut. He pitched to a 3.38 ERA over 24 innings with a 26/1 K/BB ratio between the AZ League and Hillsboro. Shaffer will likely start the year in Kane County’s rotation. His upside is that of a potential back of the rotation starter with three average or better pitches, but there is some work necessary to get there. His fastball and slider are above MLB average, but the change-up will have to develop more into a reliable pitch otherwise his projection is that of a middle reliever. As he goes up the minor leagues, he will have to work on strike zone command on top of his excellent control numbers.
#23: OF Anfernee Grier. Grier’s first full season in the minors was a mixed bag as the power numbers did not manifest itself there like they did in college but there was more good than bad. However, there was also a breakthrough in terms of developing on-base ability as evidenced by a solid 11% walk rate. His offensive skill set may prove to be more limited than I previously anticipated a year ago, but the combination of plus speed and high OBP skills makes him a potential top of the order hitter in the future as he continues to develop in terms of strike zone discipline. I think he showed enough improvement to warrant a promotion to Visalia to face more advanced pitching. He should develop into at least a 4th outfielder with the upside of a starting CF and top of the order hitter who should generate a lot of value with defense and baserunning to compensate for a below-average bat.
#24: LHP Mack Lemieux. Lemieux saw action in the Midwest League in 2017 and there was a mixed bag in terms of results. Lemieux had solid control numbers, but command took a step backwards going into full season ball. Strike zone command is the next step in his development especially with the fastball in order to avoid getting hit hard. I think he has back of the rotation upside if the change-up can develop into an average pitch to go with a low 90s fastball and a curve, but he’s more likely to end up in the bullpen than in the rotation unless the stuff takes a step up in what will likely be his 2nd season in Kane County.
#25: 1B Kevin Cron. Cron is currently blocked at 1B by Paul Goldschmidt from upfront and possibly Drew Ellis and Pavin Smith from behind. Cron had a breakthrough season in 2017, showing improvement in strikeout and walk rates without trading in power. That resulted in him winning Southern League MVP honors and on the doorstep of MLB action. With no path to the starting lineup at 1B, the team has dabbled with the possibility of moving him to 3B where his arm should play. He’ll be biding his time in Reno until an opportunity opens up for him this year.