The Prospect Stock Watch: With a Futures Game Flavor

Today at the Prospect Stock Watch we take a look at three of the lesser-known prospects to appear yesterday in the MLB Futures Game in Miami.

Jaime Barria, RHP, Angels: It’s becoming easier and easier to find intriguing prospects in the Angels system to write about — after years of mediocrity. This 20-year-old Panamanian pitcher isn’t the most physical but he commands three pitches that should grade out as average or better. He’s struck out 83 batters so far this season with just 16 walks in 95.2 innings of work. His sturdy frame could allow him to develop into an innings-eating, back-of-the-rotation arm with the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.

After beginning the year in high-A ball, Barria has now made five starts in double-A and, if he continues to succeed at the level, he could open 2018 in triple-A with an eye towards a mid-2018 big league debut. The system doesn’t have many near-MLB-ready impact arms and the big league rotation is fragile (both due to health issues and impending free agencies) so players like Barria could be key to the organization’s successes in the near future.

Jairo Labourt, LHP, Tigers: The Tigers organization scored some significant pitching depth when it acquired three pitchers from Toronto for the rental of veteran hurler David Price in 2015. Both Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd have had mixed results for the Tigers but have also provided a lot of innings for the starting rotation. The third — lesser known — hurler in the deal was Labourt. At the time of the trade, he was a hard-throwing but (very) erratic starting pitcher in high-A ball.

Fast-forward two years and the southpaw was still in high-A ball when the year began. A full-time move to the ‘pen, though, saw him strike out 22 batters (with just three walks) in eight games. That earned him a quick promotion to double-A for the first time and his success has continued with another 36 Ks (and perhaps more importantly just seven walks) in 30.2 innings. Labourt, 23, has been equally good against both right- and left-handed hitters. With his plus fastball and potentially-plus slider, he has the makings of a high-leverage reliever for the Tigers — if the command/control improvements continue.

Tomas Nido, C, Mets: New York hasn’t had much luck with catching prospects in recent years. Travis d’Arnaud, a former first round pick, has been injury-prone and inconsistent at the plate. Kevin Plawecki, the 35th overall selection in the ’12 draft, has hit well in the minors but owns a .206 big league batting average. Nido is a far less heralded prospect as a former eighth round selection who came with huge questions about his ability to stick behind the plate but he found himself in the Futures Game.

His defence has improved to the point where he should be at least average in the Majors. Nido’s offence — previously his calling card — has taken a bit of a step back in pro ball, save for a strong 2016 season. On the plus side, though, Nido still makes a lot of contact (11.6% strikeout rate in ’17) and has shown gap pop (21 of his 57 hits have gone for extra bases). This young catcher likely won’t be a star in the big leagues but he could develop into a reliable platoon or back-up catcher.

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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