Prospect Stock Watch: Solak, Duran, Romero

Today at the Prospect Stock Watch, we take a look at a hitter from the Rays’ system, and pitchers from both the Diamondbacks’ and the Phillies’ systems.

Nick Solak, 2B/LF, Rays: Tampa Bay is starting to build up some impressive middle infield depth. Joey Wendle has been a decent stopgap at second base but he’s not really an everyday guy and is better suited to being a back-up on a playoff calibre team (which the Rays are not). Solak, who has spent parts of the last two seasons in double-A, is probably ready for the test of triple-A and should be considered the Rays’ second baseman of the future — unless he’s their left-fielder-of-the-future. The former Yankees’ prospect has shown the ability to get on base at an excellent rate (He currently has a .402 on-base average), he can hit for average and he’s showing increased pop. He currently has 10 home runs through 64 games after going deep just 12 times in 130 contests. Solak’s versatility is even more impressive, although he’s not the most gifted fielder at second base (but he has yet to make an error there this year in 32 appearances). He should be ready for full-time MLB duty in 2019.

Jhoan Duran, RHP, Diamondbacks: If you’re looking for a deep-ish sleeper to keep an eye on, Duran is a name to know. He has a great pitcher’s frame but room to continue to get stronger and perhaps pick up even more velo. He’s already in the 94-98 mph range with his fastball, though, and it’s really the secondary offerings (breaking ball, change) that need the most focus. As is, Duran uses his height to create excellent downward plane on his heater and most hitters simply pound the ball into the air. He can miss bats, too, and has whiffed 47 batters in 41 innings since joining low-A ball in early May. The swing-and-miss ability paired with ground-ball tendencies makes him an extremely attractive pitching prospect and this 20-year-old hurler could be a valuable reliever if the secondary stuff doesn’t develop enough for him to be an impact starter.

JoJo Romero, LHP, Phillies: Romero may not be the most imposing pitcher on the mound, standing a hair under 6-feet, but he has a multi-pitch attack that can befuddle hitters. When you count his various fastballs, he has six or seven offerings, which also goes to help explain why he may have had early season struggles with his jump to double-A (Single-A to Double-A is generally considered the toughest jump due to the increase in skill level). The southpaw was pounded in April with 25 hits — including five homers — and 10 walks in 20 innings. He was better in May but homers were still an issue with another six allowed. The problem with throwing multiple pitches is that it takes longer to get a feel for them. Things are clicking for Romero now and he has yet to allow a homer in 18 June innings. He’s also struck out 56 batters in his last 54.2 innings (May and June combined). His heater tops out in the 92-93 mph range but it’s the varying pitches and looks that he gives (including a slight hesitation in his delivery) that throw off hitters. His overall package could make him a successful No. 4 starter in the Majors.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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