Brendan Tuma’s Prospect Report: Jo Adell, Nick Lodolo, Bobby Witt Jr. (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
We’re going with a “news and notes” edition of the Prospect Report this week, following two straight publications that featured some midseason rankings. In case you missed it, my midseason Top 100 can be found by clicking here. There have already been some notable developments since that list came out, so without further ado let’s get into the latest happenings in prospect land.
Reminder to reach out with questions on Twitter anytime – @toomuchtuma.
Orelvis Martinez (SS – TOR)
One of the biggest prospect risers this summer has been Toronto’s 19-year-old phenom. There were reports leading into the trade deadline that the Blue Jays would be comfortable dealing some of their position player depth, mainly Austin Martin and/or Jordan Groshans, because of how impressed they’ve been with Martinez’s development. The apex of the hype surrounding him occurred in a 21-game sample in July where Martinez hit .372 with a 1.417 OPS and 12 homers (!!). Earlier this week he was promoted to High-A Vancouver. Make sure he’s rostered in every dynasty league you play in.
Blue Jays SS Orelvis Martinez has been promoted to High-A Vancouver
19-year-old is still raw but has been one of the biggest prospect risers this season
In 71 games at Low-A he hit .279/.369/.572 with 19 HR + 68 RBI
Must roster in every dynasty league#WeAreBlueJays
— Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma) August 3, 2021
Austin Martin (OF – MIN)
Speaking of Toronto being comfortable with dealing some of their prospect depth, the club did just that at the trade deadline, sending Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson to the Twins for 1.5 years of Jose Berrios. Clubs were seemingly more willing to trade away prospects this summer than they have been in quite some time, and this move was pretty eye opening given the recent landscape in baseball.
Alas, Martin is now a member of the Twins, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports he’ll mainly be developed as an outfielder moving forward. The No. 5 pick out of Vanderbilt last summer, Martin has played both shortstop and center field at Double-A this year, but the Twins want to have him focus on just the outfield for now (though they aren’t ruling out a return to the infield, either). Martin’s arm is considered below average for outfield purposes, so the mission for now will be improving his arm strength. I have concerns about his ability to hit for power (.382 SLG entering Wednesday), but he was still a top-20 guy on my midseason update.
Nick Lodolo (SP – CIN)
The club’s first-round pick from 2019, Lodolo has torn it up for Double-A Chattanooga this year, registering a 1.84 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP in 44 innings (10 starts). The 23-year-old lefty has also put up a 68:9 K:BB during this time, and he sky rocketed to No. 19 overall in Baseball America’s midseason Top 100 update. Earlier this week Lodolo was promoted to Triple-A Louisville. He’s on the verge of a big league debut in the near future.
Keibert Ruiz (C – WAS)
I touched on Ruiz in Saturday’s “20 Things To Watch For In Week 18” piece, which basically doubled as a reaction article to Friday’s wild trade deadline. The 23-year-old has been considered a top 100 prospect for years, but he never really had the offensive stats to back it up. That changed this season, as Ruiz hit .310/.379/.624 with 16 homers and a 27:23 K:BB at Triple-A. He’s always possessed strong bat-to-ball skills, but the change he made at the alternate training site last summer was to become more upright in his stance, and thus tap into more power. He has also maintained his exceptional plate discipline.
Ruiz was blocked in the Dodgers’ system by Will Smith at the big league level, which is why the Dodgers were comfortable moving him. He’ll have a much clearer path to everyday at-bats in Washington, and I’m betting he gets called up before this season comes to an end. To cap it off, Ruiz homered in his Nationals minor league debut on Tuesday.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 4, 2021
Pete Crow-Armstrong (OF – CHC)
The 19-year-old underwent surgery for a torn labrum back in May, so there obviously isn’t anything to report on here from a statistical perspective. Yet I wanted to highlight Crow-Armstrong because the Mets’ decision to trade him for two months of Javier Baez shocked me. This was the type of prospect-for-rental trade we saw frequently back in the early 2000s — not the type of move we’ve seen in recent years. To be clear, the Mets weren’t the only team who I thought parted with significant long-term upside last weekend. It’s clear that this somehow became a seller’s market, at least given our recent expectations.
As for Crow-Armstrong, specifically, this was a major get for the Cubs. He was New York’s first-round selection in the 2020 draft coming out of high school. Already considered an elite defender, the lefty-swinging center fielder will become a high-end prospect if his hit tool develops.
Henry Davis (C – PIT)
The No. 1 overall pick from this year’s draft, Davis made his pro debut on Tuesday in the Florida Complex League. The Louisville product went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double. Despite being the top pick there hasn’t been a lot of buzz about Davis’ long-term dynasty value. This is likely due to a combination of landing in Pittsburgh and being a catcher, which is a position we devalue in fantasy. Still, he was the best college bat in this year’s class, and that archetype typically gets taken highest in first year player drafts. This isn’t an Adley Rutschman-level prospect, but Davis will be a fun one to track down the stretch.
Noelvi Marte (SS – SEA)
The 19-year-old phenom had a monstrous game on Tuesday for Low-A Modesto, belting three homers while driving in nine and scoring five runs. Marte was a big question mark entering 2021 — a talented player who we know little about — but he has answered our questions, and then some, thus far. He’s batting a solid 277/.361/.482 with 15 homers and 15 stolen bases on the year. In my midseason top 100 he checked in at No. 11 overall. He’s at No. 9 in Baseball America’s midseason list.
Vidal Brujan (2B/OF – TB)
Brujan unfortunately flopped in his first taste of major league action back in July, going 2-for-26 with an 8:0 K:BB in 10 games. He wasn’t playing every day and a demotion back to Triple-A Durham made sense. The good news is that since being optioned, Brujan has started hitting again – batting .400/.500/.567 with a 2:6 K:BB ratio. Additionally, he’s 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts during this time. The homer eruption we saw from Brujan back in May might’ve set unrealistic expectations when it comes to his power potential, but speed, combined with a strong average and multi-position eligibility, keep the 23-year-old locked-in as an elite fantasy prospect.
Bobby Witt Jr. (SS – KC)
Since being promoted to Triple-A on July 20th, Witt is slashing .283/.328/.550 with four homers and two stolen bases. We know he has power and can hit the ball with authority, but I was eager to see how he adjusted to the higher level of competition when it came to strikeouts, since swing-and-miss has been an issue for him in the past. After sporting a strikeout rate north of 30% at Double-A in the month of May, Witt has calmed down in a big way. And thus far in Triple-A his K% is a cool 20.3% through 60 at-bats. Of course, I’d like to see him walk more (6.3% in Triple-A), but that might not be Witt’s game. As long as he can keep the whiffs in check he’ll be a fantasy superstar before long.
Jo Adell (OF – LAA)
Lastly, I want to touch on Adell’s 2021 debut. The 22-year-old went 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI, a walk, and a stolen base on Tuesday night. It was a thrilling performance for a talented player who struggled badly in 2020. Despite leading the minors in homers for most of this season, many were concerned with his strikeout rate, myself included. However, it’s pivotal to point out that the K% improved every month — from 34.3% in May to 29.6% in June to 23.2% in July.
I’m beginning to wonder if strikeouts are just always going to be something we talk about when analyzing Adell, and if they’re just a part of his overall package/profile. Regardless, he has the ability to provide both power and speed to fantasy managers down the stretch. We don’t need him to be a league winner in 2021. We just want to see him have major league success.
— Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma) August 4, 2021
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