Today at the Prospect Stock Watch, we take a look at some interesting players in both A-ball and double-A for the Yankees, Brewers, Pirates and Padres.
Abiatal Avelino, SS, Yankees: Avelino flew onto prospect watchers’ and hardcore Yankees fans’ radars way back in 2013 when he hit .303 with more walks than hits and 28 steals in 32 attempts as an 18-year-old. His outputs over the next four years were pretty ho-hum, though, but the Yankees continues to move up the ladder and challenge him. He has played parts of the last three years in double-A. The 23-year-old infielder spent some time in triple-A this year and held his own (.714 OPS) but was moved back down due to the organizational depth in the system. The biggest knocks on Avelino are A) His on-base rate is strongly dependent on his ability to hit for average; and B) He doesn’t possess much pop in his swing. However, he makes a lot of contact and doesn’t strike out much. And he also runs well, and smartly so, which leads to a healthy number of steals. In another organization, Avelino would probably receive more opportunity and he’ll be eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the year with age on his side, versatility and some intriguing tools. He’s hitting the ball harder over the last two years so I could see him spending some time as a second baseman in the majors or, at the very least, a decent back-up.
Keston Hiura, 2B/DH, Brewers: It’s been a year now since Hiura went ninth overall to the Brewers, which is pretty impressive considering he had an elbow injury and isn’t much of a defensive player at any position. He went that high in the draft because of the value in his bat and not much has changed over the past year. Hiura is a .343 hitter in minors and has shown a powerful line-drive swing. He doesn’t hit for much home-run pop right now but he could mature into a 20+ homer hitter. I’d like to see him tighten up his approach at the plate if he’s going to continue to hit for average in the upper levels of the minors and the majors. He has a 20% K-rate in high-A ball and his walk rate is just 6%. Like Avelino above, his on-base rate is highly dependent on the batting average, which is why the K-rate worries me a little bit. However, he’s still just 21 years old and was promoted to double-A over the weekend. I’m also curious where he fits in with Milwaukee. He’s played just 18 games in the field since being drafted (in part due to the elbow) and he’s not an ideal first baseman because he lacks the height and wingspan that teams like to have at the position.
Calvin Mitchell, OF, Pirates: Just 19, the Pirates challenged Mitchell with a full-season assignment to open up 2018. He has a history of hitting well even as an amateur so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s hitting more than .300 in his first 50 games. Seven home runs may not seem like much but he’s tied for fourth most in the league; the ball just doesn’t carry that well in the early months of the Midwest League. And he currently has an eye-popping 33% line-drive rate. He’s struck out 22% of the time, which is a little too high for my liking, but he’s also walking at a decent clip (8.5 BB%). Mitchell doesn’t run overly well so he’s not a stolen base threat and his limited range also pushes him to a corner outfield spot. His modest arm likely limits him to left field. Despite those negatives on his scouting report, this young outfielder should be found at the top of the Pirates prospect lists.
Cal Quantrill, SP, Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. gets the majority of the attention on the Padres’ double-A squad but Quantrill is a legit prospect in his own right and could help the big league club late in 2018 or, for certain, 2019 — assuming he stays healthy. The right-hander had Tommy John surgery as an amateur but has been healthy as a pro. A first round pick out of Stanford, this Canadian is a cerebral pitcher whose father Paul Quantrill had a very successful career as a reliever. The younger Quantrill looks like a future mid-rotation arm. He has a firm fastball in the low-to-mid-90s and a couple of promising secondary offerings. He throws strikes although his command is a little behind, which leads to leaving too many pitches in the meaty parts of the strike zone at times — and helps explain the 65 hits in 58 innings. People might point to his 4.66 ERA as a sign of issues but he’s also playing in a league that favors hitters. He does a nice job of generating ground-balls and has allowed just four home runs so far this season. Quantrill doesn’t have the ceiling to challenge some of the Padres other pitching prospects but he’s a much safer bet to have a long MLB career.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.