MLB Bold Prospect Hot Takes
Japan is about to give us something we haven’t seen in 95 years
I wrote two months ago about a modern day Babe Ruth. The Babe, as you may have heard, is the greatest player of all time. In fact, he was so good that I’m tempted to believe the stories are mere fabrications. Here is an example of his two-way dominance:
1961 Mickey Mantle 206
1993 Barry Bonds 206
1973 Nolan Ryan 123
1995 Pedro Martinez 123
Babe Ruth career
206 OPS+ & 123 ERA+
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) February 6, 2016
Could Shohei Otani really be as good as Babe Ruth? Well, Otani just turned 22 years old and his OPS (1.104) is 19.3% better than the next best hitter in the league. Only Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth have accomplished that feat in the MLB over the last 115 seasons. Granted, Japan isn’t the top baseball league in the world, but you’ve got to wonder just how much better he will become at the plate as he fills out and matures. Then, you turn to the mound, and Otani may well already be the best righty on the planet. Yu Darvish is undoubtedly on the short list, having already led the AL in both K/9 and batting average against, and what Otani is doing as a 21/22 year old, makes Darvish’s dominance in Japan look like child’s play even despite being several years younger! It has to make you believe Otani will blow Darvish’s MLB numbers away, which would put him in historic territory.
Will Otani ever hit more homers than every team in the league, like Babe Ruth did? No way. He may never even lead the majors in homers. Will he ever toss as many shutouts as Pedro Martinez, like Babe Ruth did? No, probably not, although that one is in reach. So no, Otani is never going be Babe Ruth, but he is almost certainly going to be the first two-way superstar in 95 years, and I am not using the term superstar lightly. Get ready baseball fans, Otani could be coming over as early as this off-season, since he was so talented that he forced a clause into his contract guaranteeing he could be sold to America when he decided it was time, which is 100% unprecedented in Japan.
The Cubs will have the No. 1 Prospect this time next year
Our August top 200 rankings don’t have any Cubs prospects in the top 25 (because they dealt Gleyber Torres to the Yankees), but 19-year-old outfielder, Eloy Jimenez is primed to make a major move up the charts. The 6’4″ slugging righty was an international bonus baby and has done nothing to disappoint. Rather, this season he is batting .336 with 52 extra-base hits in 105 games played. In the same league, Mike Trout knocked just 32 extra-base hits in 85 games. The fact of the matter is, Eloy’s big frame is still filling out so we could end up seeing him grow into a perennial 40-homerun threat with the ability to hit .300 year in and year out. By next summer, many of the top the prospects will have graduated from rankings (Giolito, Bregman, Reyes and Glasnow), and Jimenez will surpass the rest for the top spot.
The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year is not a top 100 prospect yet
We have seen plenty of non-hyped prospects win this award, from Angel Berroa and Jason Bay to Geovany Soto. Don’t think of this as one of those instances, but one where the prognosticators just haven’t been aggressive enough with their rankings on a breakout prospect. I ranked Phillies’ lefty outfielder, Dylan Cozens, No. 75 two weeks ago and he has continued to surge since then. Not only does this 6’6″ mammoth slugger have 33 homers and 105 RBI in just 113 games, but he is also one of the best baserunners in the minors and has a cannon for an arm. Cozens does have defensive concerns and strikes out quite a bit, but should win his opportunity in Philly next spring and may eventually take the offensive mold of Jose Canseco. From day one, he could be a 25/20 type of offensive force in the majors.
The A’s just signed a player who will win multiple MVPs for them
There are many lingering questions about the 17-year-old Cuban outfielder, Lazaro Armenteros, otherwise known as Lazarito. When it was first rumored that he was coming to the states, Lazarito was surrounded with hype, thanks to brilliant stats on Cuba’s prospect teams and a body that would have made a teenage Bo Jackson feel insecure. The reports were all over the place, however, with some scouts claiming he was too strong for baseball or too robotic in his movement. Others, meanwhile, saw his tools and compared him to Willie Mays. There are a few tremendous young players in the MLB, but I don’t ever recall Trout or Harper being compared to Willie Mays. The A’s just nabbed a once in two generations talent and will do everything in their power to ensure he realizes it before he becomes a free agent down the road.
A Rockies pitcher will win the first Cy Young in team history
As impressive as Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson have managed to pitch this season, they are merely the fourth and fifth best pitching assets in a budding Rockies’ rotation. Jon Gray has shown glimpses of how spectacular he can be in any given appearance, but still, his ability is shadowed by recent draftee, Riley Pint, and most notably, prospect Jeff Hoffman, who has been banging at the door for a call-up. The 6’5″ flamethrower was the odds-on favorite to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 draft before he was shut down for surgery and still, the Blue Jays picked him No. 9 before dealing him for Troy Tulowitzki. Next season he will make his presence known, and become the eventual ace that can win 20 games in front of this Rockies’ offense.