Kind of a weird one today. The trade deadline put a number of prospect names in the headlines, and I'd like to respond by ranking the most pivotal for our purposes. I'll have to depart from my usual Five on the Verge/Five on the Periphery format to do so, but at least I'll be giving you 14 names instead of the usual 10.
First, though, I must address the elephant in the room. With the media distracted by all the wheeling and dealing happening at the deadline, the Dodgers tried to sneak through some major promotion news Tuesday. At long last, they've called up Miguel Vargas, who I've had as the top prospect to stash in Fantasy basically since Vinnie Pasquantino was called up. Vargas is the better prospect overall, showing the athleticism to play four different positions (left field, first base, second base and his primary third base) and uncommon hitting instincts for a 22-year-old.
I need a place to react to his arrival, but with the trade deadline, all routines have been disrupted this week. So I'm just going to shoehorn it in here, if you don't mind.
One reason for the relative lack of hoopla, in addition to it being overshadowed by all the trades, is that we don't know whether Vargas is here to stay. The Dodgers lineup has only gotten more crowded with the addition of Joey Gallo, and while Justin Turner (abdominal) is on IL, he's expected back at the start of next week.
Manager Dave Roberts is no help. "As far as starting, playing, that kind of remains to be seen right now," he said, while also intimating that he didn't know how long Vargas would be up.
How clarifying, right? In any case, Vargas made his debut Wednesday -- at DH, of all places -- and helped his cause by going 2 for 4 with a double, which you can observe here:
I don't know. He looks kind of like a young Miguel Cabrera to me.
Seeing as he was already my top prospect to stash, now isn't a bad time to take a flier and see what happens. That goes double if you have a need at third base, as so many do. The Dodgers would finally have to relent and remove either Turner or Max Muncy from the lineup to give Vargas everyday at-bats, but it's not like they don't deserve it. And Vargas' potential is such that he could prove indispensable right away.
Now then, back to the deadline deals. Once again, I'll be dedicating this Prospects Report to the 14 most notable prospects dealt. Just so I'm not leaving you in the lurch, though, if you're looking to stash someone in a redraft league, my Five on the Verge would be Corbin Carroll, Alec Burleson, Ken Waldichuk, DL Hall and Enmanuel Valdez
And it just so happens I'll be writing about a couple of them anyway.
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1. C.J. Abrams, SS, Nationals
2022 levels: Triple-A, majors
2022 minors: .314 BA (140 AB), 7 HR, 10 SB, .871 OPS, 8 BB, 25 K
2022 majors: .232 BA (125 AB), 2 HR, 1 SB, .605 OPS, 4 BB, 27 K
Abrams came over from the Padres in the Juan Soto trade. He's only five at-bats away from losing prospect eligibility but is back in Triple-A with the Nationals, where he could stand to develop a little more after the rush job the Padres subjected him to. His hit and speed tools are still top-of-the-scale, but it's his approach that needs to improve, namely identifying pitches to lay off. He's also a little underdeveloped physically at age 21, and the power could play up in time. He'll remain a top-10 prospect next year if he retains his eligibility into the offseason.
2. Robert Hassell, OF, Nationals
2022 levels: High-A
2022 minors: .299 BA (304 AB), 10 HR, 20 SB, .846 OPS, 38 BB, 66 K
Hassell was also part of the Padres' payment for Soto. Despite being a 20-year-old in A-ball, he stands out partly for how safe he is, his plus hit tool and center field profile presenting him with an easy path to the majors. But he's not lacking in upside. Stolen bases figure to be part of his game, so if he can learn to maximize his power output by pulling the ball in the air when appropriate, we're talking about a genuine five-category threat. Already, he's a consensus top-25 prospect.
3. Noelvi Marte, SS, Reds
2022 levels: High-A
2022 minors: .272 BA (346 AB), 15 HR, 13 SB, .816 OPS, 42 BB, 85 K
Marte came over from the Mariners in the Luis Castillo deal. There's more pressure than ever on his bat to perform now that it's become abundantly clear he's going to outgrow shortstop, but fortunately, after a slow start at High-A, he caught fire in July, hitting .384 with seven homers, five steals and a 1.164 OPS. He'll need to stay on top of his conditioning, and you don't hear the Hanley Ramirez comparisons as much anymore. But teenage sensations who achieve this sort of productivity this far up the ladder generally turn out well.
4. James Wood, OF, Nationals
2022 levels: Rookie ball, Low-A
2022 minors: .321 BA (209 AB), 10 HR, 16 SB, 1.004 OPS, 40 BB, 49 K
Of all the prospects left off preseason top-100 lists, Wood, who the Padres also included in the Soto deal, is probably my favorite. He's another 6-foot-7 behemoth who's able to leverage that size for considerable power, but unlike others who've come before him -- Oneil Cruz, Elly De La Cruz and even Aaron Judge -- he's had no trouble putting the bat on the ball, at least not in Low-A. It's rare to find a 19-year-old with his kind of upside whose at-bats are already of such high quality.
5. Edwin Arroyo, SS, Reds
2022 levels: Rookie ball, Low-A
2022 minors: .311 BA (370 AB), 13 HR, 23 SB, .887 OPS, 37 BB, 92 K
Speaking of teenage sensations, Arroyo was the Mariners' latest, and the Reds getting him along with Marte represented a major coup. Defense being his best tool, he might show up even higher on non-Fantasy lists, but the offense has been noteworthy for an 18-year-old playing in full-season ball. Quite frankly, he wasn't expected to be this good of a hitter, but if he's already doing this with so much physical maturity ahead of him, then the ceiling is high indeed.
6. Esteury Ruiz, OF, Brewers
2022 levels: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
2022 minors: .333 BA (291 AB), 13 HR, 60 SB, 1.028 OPS, 52 BB, 65 K
2022 majors: .222 BA (27 AB), 1 3B, 1 2B, 1 SB, .556 OPS, 0 BB, 5 K
Ruiz, who the Padres shipped in the Josh Hader deal, has always earned high marks for his tools, but evaluators had given up on him ever getting the most out of them because of his putrid plate discipline. Everything has turned on a dime this year. He's stopped chasing, becoming more selective, and his minor-league production has genuinely astonished, putting him on a 162-game pace of 27 homers and, yes, 126 steals. He did little in a limited big-league look prior to this trade, and the Brewers immediately sent him back down for more seasoning. Despite the production, it's still in question whether he impacts the ball hard enough to profile as a full-timer.
7. Ken Waldichuk, SP, Athletics
2022 levels: Double-A, Triple-A
2022 minors: 6-3, 2.71 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 76 1/3 IP, 33 BB, 116 K
Waldichuk came over from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas trade. He has an eye-popping 13.5 K/9 rate in the minors the past two years, working his way up from High-A to Triple-A during that time. What he hasn't done is earn particularly high marks from prospect evaluators, with the perception being that he succeeds more on deception than stuff. His velocity continues to tick up, though, having settled in the mid-90s, and his slider has its share of admirers, too. He's less likely to wind up in a relief role with the Athletics and is the sort of oddball prospect they gravitate toward.
8. Enmanuel Valdez, 2B, Red Sox
2022 levels: Double-A, Triple-A
2022 minors: .327 BA (327 AB), 21 HR, 1.016 OPS, 45 BB, 76 K
Speaking of oddball prospects, Valdez, who came over from Astros in the Christian Vazquez deal, certainly fits the description. His production grabs your attention, but it's unlikely power for someone who's 5-feet-9. Valdez also gets overlooked for the same reason so many productive minor-league hitters do: his lack of a clear defensive home. Second base seems like a decent enough place to hide his glove, though, and the Red Sox might need him there sooner than the Astros did with Trevor Story sidelined by a fractured wrist.
9. Spencer Steer, 2B, Reds
2022 levels: Double-A, Triple-A
2022 minors: .269 BA (335 AB), 20 HR, .889 OPS, 42 BB, 66 K
The Reds may have landed a Jonathan India clone in Steer, who was acquired from the Twins in the Tyler Mahle trade. Like India, he's capable of manning second and third base and combines good plate discipline with a swing that maximizes what should be only middling power (i.e., pulling the ball in the air a lot). It's a profile that we already know plays well at Great American Ball Park, and at 24, Steer should arrive there before some of the Reds' higher-impact infield acquisitions.
10. Logan O'Hoppe, C, Angels
2022 levels: Double-A
2022 minors: .275 BA (262 AB), 15 HR, .889 OPS, 41 BB, 52 K
O'Hoppe was acquired from the Phillies for Brandon Marsh in a rare need-for-need trade. The Angels were lacking a franchise catcher, and the Phillies already had one in J.T. Realmuto. O'Hoppe has put himself in that conversation with a breakout season at Double-A in which he's demonstrated patience (.392 on-base percentage) and power (.221 ISO). Catcher prospects sometimes leave their offensive game behind in the minors, which is why caution is warranted. O'Hoppe could be poised to take over next summer, though.
11. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, Reds
2022 levels: High-A, Double-A
2022 minors: .302 BA (348 AB), 25 HR, .987 OPS, 34 BB, 99 K
Encarnacion-Strand joined Steer in the Twins' trade for Mahle. He's been the second Twins third base prospect in as many years to come out of nowhere with some of the best numbers in all the minors, but he's a level behind where Jose Miranda was at this point last year. Still, his numbers have held in a recent move up to Double-A, and he's surprisingly good at hitting off-speed stuff already, which should bode well for him at the higher levels. It's possible his strikeout rate still brings him down, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
12. Nick Frasso, SP, Dodgers
2022 levels: Low-A, High-A
2022 minors: 0-0, 0.74 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 36 2/3 IP, 10 BB, 57 K
Frasso was the key acquisition in the deal that sent Mitch White to the Blue Jays. There's a fair amount of relief risk here, particularly with him being limited to four innings at a time fresh off Tommy John surgery, but he has the size for starting at 6-feet-5, an athletic delivery geared for strike-throwing, and the makings of a three-pitch mix headlined by a high-octane fastball. He also has a 21 percent swinging-strike rate, which is as eye-popping as the number Spencer Strider put together across four levels last year. Plus, the Dodgers just acquired him, which itself speaks volumes.
13. Jordan Groshans, SS, Marlins
2022 levels: Low-A, Triple-A
2022 minors: .247 BA (259 AB), 1 HR, .635 OPS, 36 BB, 51 K
Groshans came over from the Blue Jays in a deal for Anthony Bass. After waiting through four injury- and pandemic-plagued years for him to deliver on his first-round profile, the 22-year-old's first full minor-league season has been a dud. He's continued to put bat to ball at a high rate even against Triple-A pitching, which wasn't a given when you consider how few reps he had gotten in the lower minors, and it's that plate discipline that leaves room for optimism. But he needs to get back to swinging for impact. A .293 slugging percentage isn't going to cut it. We saw him do better at the lower levels, and he was certainly projected for more. Maybe he's playing it too cautiously?
14. Jarlin Susana, SP, Nationals
2022 levels: Rookie ball
2022 minors: 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 29 1/3 IP, 11 BB, 44 K
Susana is another part of the Soto haul. Being an 18-year-old in Rookie ball, he has many hurdles to clear still, but he's been lighting up the Arizona Complex League so far, generating much buzz within prospect circles. Despite his youth, he's already topping triple digits, and his 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame gives him a better chance of holding up to that kind of velocity. He has the makings of three pitches and already a good feel for the strike zone for someone with his inexperience and stuff. If you want to dream big for the long haul, he's your guy.