ESPN’s senior baseball writer Keith Law has finished his deep dive into each team’s farm system. Aside from Keston Hiura and Zack Brown — who made the top-100 prospects — Law takes a look at 13 other prospects within the Cream City Nine’s once deep pipeline.
The top 15 are as follows:
- Keston Hiura, 2B
- Zack Brown, RHP
- Tristen Lutz, OF
- Corey Ray, OF
- Brice Turang, SS
- Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B
- Lucas Erceg, 3B
- Mario Feliciano, C
- Adrian Houser, RHP
- Aaron Ashby, LHP
- Je’Von Ward, OF
- Trey Supak, RHP
- Joe Gray, OF
- Marcos Diplan, RHP
- Payton Henry, C
Law projects the number three prospect Tristen Lutz to be a 25+ home run hitter and solid OBP guy. However, he knocks Lutz’s “heavy feet” and says he’ll be trapped in corner outfield. That doesn’t keep Law from predicting that the 20-year-old outfielder can be a solid regular.
Law may be as low as anyone on Corey Ray after his 2018 resulted in some spectacular counting numbers. It’s Ray’s tendency to sellout his swing for power, which led to 176 strikeouts last season. In 2019, Law is walking back his projection that Ray would be a star and instead projecting a fourth outfielder.
When it comes to 2018 first-round pick Brice Turang, Law is looking at a high-floor shortstop who he says needs to learn to hit. The projection here is a utility floor, but Law says the slow swing could keep him from producing with bat.
Meanwhile, Dubon is Law’s first choice to take over the second base job in 2019, ahead of Hiura.The belief here seems to be that Dubon will require regular at-bats, whether it’s as a regular or super utility player.
Erceg gets some dings on his grade from Law for being “aggressive early in the count.” Law does still have faith in Erceg’s tools and says it will come down to the third base prospect waiting for his pitch. The article also says that Erceg’s defense has declined over the last year.
Feliciano is a prospect Law is hoping suffered from nagging injuries. At 20 years old, Feliciano saw a big uptick in his strikeout rate. The thought here is that a thumb and shoulder injury played a big part of his difficulties in 2018 and he could make up with a solid repeat year at Carolina.
Next, Law looks at pitchers Adrian Houser and Aaron Ashby. He actually posits that Houser can be the next breakout pitching prospect, following in the shoes of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. Ashby meanwhile gets a relievers profile from Law, who says the Brewers could fast track the lefty to the majors by adjusting his role. The only knock here is on his delivery and lack of control.
Je’Von Ward is Law’s system-sleeper pick. Still young and with an improved swing, Ward had a great season at the offense-friendly Pioneer League. The outfielder will need to keep improving on his game habits to keep progressing. The talent’s there, but it must transition to baseball.
Law gives a few quick notes on the final four. He sees Supak as a back-end starter but worries about his conditioning to maintain his effectiveness. Gray gets a write-off for a poor debut because of an injury. Law says he’ll need to improve his swing for his raw power to come to fruition. Diplan is an arm that Law argues should be in the bullpen, where his fastball/change up combo could find more success. Finally, Payton Henry gets a backup catcher projection.