Midseason Update: Hitters – Up, Down, and Inbetween

Since I am not doing a full prospect list update until August 1 so I wanted to do an update of sorts at the midway part of the minor league season. Yesterday I wrote about players off of the list who will jump on to the list this year. Today is the chance to talk about hitters who have their stock moving up and down so far. Some players will drop on lists through no fault of their own, some will rise because they have changed things, others because they are now closer to the major leagues.

Up:

Scott Kingery, 2B

.263/.338/.410 24 2B 3 HR 16 SB

There were some people who thought Scott Kingery was the best player the Phillies drafted last year. Kingery has not set the world on fire in hi-A and his batting average is still below .270. He is however making a lot of solid contact, near the minor league lead in doubles, and has solid strikeout and walk rates. Kingery is not launching up rankings, but I was not as high on him as others were and that will be corrected in new rankings to reflect that Kingery has the tools to be a major leaguer. A good hot streak might buy Kingery a trip north, and from there it is only a matter of time until he is at the front of the second base line.

Jesmuel Valentin, 2B

.289/.352/.427 12 2B 4 HR 4 SB

Let’s not dance around the issue, Jesmuel Valentin missed most of last year due to a suspension because of his own actions. When he came back on the field he had a solid year for Clearwater. He has built on that this year with a bit more power, a bit more speed, and his usual good contact numbers. Valentin is still fringy as an everyday regular because his tools are not overwhelming, but he can play everywhere on the baseball field and play it well. Valentin is not really a breakout prospect in that he is not about to jump into the upper echelon of Phillies’ prospects, but he is a guy who has improved his stock enough to be looked at as a major leaguer in a short time. If the Phillies decide they want to move on from Cesar Hernandez, Valentin could get the first crack at trying to claim that job.

Dylan Cozens, OF

.279/.361/.566 19 2B 19 HR 13 SB

I have long been the low man on Dylan Cozens because I don’t really believe in his ability to hit vs premium pitching. This adjustment is a reflection of the improvements that Cozens has made this year. Cozens has big raw power, he leads the minors in home runs, and big swing and miss. Cozens has gotten more limber and athletic, which will help him to adjust, but he still needs to make those adjustments. Right now he has huge home/road splits and huge right/left splits. Cozens won’t make my top 10, he won’t necessarily make my top 15, but he has moved up for me this year.

Down:

Carlos Tocci, CF

.264/.325/.331 9 2B 1 HR 10 SB

Carlos Tocci is still only 20 years old, which means he is still very much a prospect despite his struggles. Tocci did not need to light up the Florida State League like he did to the SAL last year, he just needed to get stronger and hit the ball with more authority. Tocci is off to a hot June and he is still a very good defensive center fielder, but he is entering his second year of Rule 5 eligibility and he is still built like a twig. Tocci won’t slide off prospect lists, but he may no longer perpetually be a Top 10-15 prospect until he shows he can hold his own at the plate for a year. Once he gains that strength he will climb back up the list quickly.

Darnell Sweeney, 2B/3B/CF

.238/.304/.363 8 2B 4 HR 6 SB

All Darnell Sweeney has really done between his year in the PCL and his year in the IL is drop his BABIP 40 points. That isn’t entirely true, his strikeout rate is down a little, his walks are slightly up, and his power is slightly down. The truth is that slightly is not good enough if you are 25 years old and in your second AAA season. With Cesar Hernandez struggling in the majors and Emmanuel Burris getting PAs, Sweeney had the perfect opportunity to seize a major league future. Sweeney could still make it, but every day he is not getting better is a day that another prospect is catching him, and that is going to cause his stock to slide.

Steady:

Roman Quinn, CF

.288/.361/.420 10 2B 3 HR 25 SB

Sometimes steady means that the ups and downs balance out. Quinn’s injuries are concerning, he has been prone to soft tissue injuries at a rate that is unsettling. Now these may not continue, but for now they can no longer be ignored. However, at the time of his injury Quinn was tearing up AA, showing speed and defense to along with solid power. He still does not have a lot of power from his right side, but he has become a true switch hitter. If he had staid healthy he would have been among those with stock up, but the injury knocks him down. I refuse to write off a 23 year old as injury ridden for the rest of his career, but it does damper what could have been a strong season for Quinn.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B

.273/.336/.527 15 2B 17 HR

I was much higher on Hoskins than I was on fellow basher Dylan Cozens. This year Hoskins is showing even more power, and unlike Cozens he is showing it both on the road and at home. The problem with Hoskins is the scouting just does not back it up. There is some bat speed, there is power, there is even some pitch recognition. But none of that is to a level that gives enough confidence to say he can do this against good pitching. This year his walks are down, and his strikeouts are up, a gap that has taken his plate discipline numbers from very good to a bit cringy. He does have fairly even platoon splits at their base levels which is good. So while Hoskins’ numbers are up, it is still more of a holding pattern as he continues to face high level pitching.

Every Direction:

Jose Pujols, RF

.233/.280/.440 10 2B 13 HR 5 SB

I have talked to people who think Pujols is a non-prospect who will never amount to anything, that his lack of feel for the game will prevent his great natural tools from coming through. There are others who believe in the tools and think there is a very good prospect inside somewhere. His statistical year has gone along that same line. He leads the South Atlantic League in home runs and is 2 off of tying his career total. His strikeout rate of 34.2 % is among the highest in the minor leagues, and his 5.8% walk rate is pitifully low against that strikeout rate. He is destroying LHPs, but being exposed by righties. He is hitting home runs in one of the worst home run parks in the minors, but is hitting .278 on the road. He has shown a great arm in the outfield and has made some good plays, but has also looked completely lost in the outfield. There is a lot to like about Jose Pujols’ future, but figuring out what the 20 year old will be long term is just as winding a road as one of his outfield routes.

Photo by Baseball Betsy

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

1 comment

  1. Eddie

    “If the Phillies decide they want to move on from Cesar Hernandez,” Please, God, make that “when,” not if.

    Thanks for all this, Matt.

    It seems to me they’re being a little conservative with some promotions; I guess that’s what happens when you actually have multiple prospects in a system. Looking forward to seeing some movement soon — Williams to the majors, making room for Cozens and Quinn at AAA, etc.