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Prospect Team of the Month, August 2023
Beck breaks down the prospect team of the month for August.
This is perhaps the most fun group I’ve had in my team of the month all year. A mix of recent draftees, top prospects, and a few who have really impressed over the course of the full season finding their time in the sun. I’m writing much of this on August 31st, so there will be performances from the final day of the month that don’t make it into the total line – including a Drew Thorpe scheduled start I’m looking forward to tuning into.
As a reminder, while this is technically my team of the month, it’s only my team insofar as it’s comprised of prospects that appeared (or will appear) on my latest ranking update. The rest is up to the players. Those who performed the best in August made the cut.
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Honorable Mention: Jett Williams, New York Mets (A+)
August: .318/.469/.580/1.049 with 5 HRs and 9 SBs in 113 PA
Don’t let Jett’s stature fool you into thinking there isn’t a solid ceiling here. He’s racked up 11 home runs and 42 stolen bases 466 plate appearances this year while walking nearly as much as he’s striking out across A and A+. And he’s just 19.
He should not get lost in the shuffle of exciting prospects in the Mets system. He has a chance to be one of the youngest 20-year-olds in AA next year and is demonstrating excellent plate skills. Sure, he probably profiles better in roto where his speed will pitch in the steals category, but they ain’t nothin’ in Fantrax standard – as valuable as a double and no consequences for being caught.
He’s getting pushed up quite a bit in some spaces and I’m not quite there with him yet, but he’ll feature in the top 100 in my next update.
SP: Drew Thorpe, New York Yankees (A+, AA)
August: 2.03 ERA, 41.1% K%, 3.2% BB%, 36.5% CSW in 26.2 IP
I’m writing this before Thorpe has made his scheduled start on 8/31, so it’s possible these numbers get even better on a bigger sample. He’s been simply undeniable since his promotion to Hudson Valley in early August. Three straight starts of 6.1 innings and 9 strikeouts or more, yielding just 3 earned runs in total.
I share some concerns about Thorpe that other evaluators do, namely the change-up first approach with a distinct lack of a plus fastball. Those deficiencies – if you can call them that – may loom particularly large psychologically given the struggles we’ve seen Gavin Stone undergo establishing his repertoire at the big league level this year.
Editor’s note: Thorpe was very good tonight. 5.1 innings with 9 Ks, extending his MiLB lead to 177 this year.
C: Harry Ford, Seattle Mariners (A+)
August: .301/.444/.602 with 5 HRs and 7 SBs in 117 PA
The Mariners have been targeting prepsters in their last few drafts and there are quite a few I like a lot. Ford is arguably the most athletic of all of their prep selections over the last three years. He’s enjoyed success at every stop, including a short stint at the WBC for Great Britain where he went 4 for 13 with two home runs en route to a 1.246 OPS. Small sample, sure, but I bet making a real impact in that setting was huge for his confidence.
2023 has been a bit of a different story. He’s played all year at Everett, a ridiculous hitters’ environment, and it’s been a bit of a slog by his standards. His excellent August raised his season-long OPS to .843 but he had tepid months between June and July. It speaks volumes that I would have expected a little better from a 20-year-old at A+ who has 15 home runs and 24 stolen bases while mastering one of the most difficult defensive positions in the game.
1B: Lazaro Montes, Seattle Mariners (Rk, A)
August: .314/.412/.588/1.000 with 6 HRs in 119 PA
Another Mariner makes the team of the month (I have no affiliation, they just played well). Lazaro has been an excellent development story, cutting his K-rate from 33.2% in 2022 to 24.9% in 2023 without losing any real pop in the bat. He’s listed at 6’3, 210 lbs but I’m not buying that whatsoever. I’d wager he’s closer to 6’5, 235 lbs, which is a real plus for generating power but may inhibit his ability to consistently put bat to ball as he progresses.
He’s going to fly up rankings, or has flown depending on the source, and for good reason. The gains in contact are pretty astonishing. That said, we may need to temper expectations just a little (don’t hurt me). He’s exciting. Very exciting. But he’s still a hulking corner outfielder that may not be able to handle the position at his size, which puts pressure on the bat as a potential 1B/DH profile. I don’t know that there are more contact gains to be had and the pitching he’s yet to face is much, much better than the pitching he’s been exposed to thus far.
He’ll be inside the top 75 prospects in my next rank update for Fantrax Standard but would move down a touch in leagues that penalize Ks.
2B: Thomas Saggese, St. Louis Cardinals (AA)
August: .347/.424/.713/1.137 with 9 HRs and 2 SB in 118 PA
The phonetic pronunciation of Saggese is soo-JAY-see for those similarly challenged by his last name. He was part of the return for Jordan Montgomery, sent alongside org-mate Tekoah Roby at the deadline a month ago. Think he might like being in the Cardinals’ system?
That’s a slugging percentage that starts with 7. I didn’t have expectations that he’d clobber the ball with regularity – in fact, I wrote this offseason that Saggese could be a potential target with the idea that you could sell him after a solid start in the hitter-friendly Texas League. I still don’t think there’s a ton of intrigue here, though he’ll flirt with the top 100 in my next update and could be a good piece in deeper leagues.
3B: Cam Collier, Cincinnati Reds (A)
August: .342/.440/.500 with 2 HRs and 1 SB in 100 PA
Remember Cam Collier? It’s crazy how quickly some folks have written him off for a poor 2023 despite him being younger than a lot of the prep class drafted just 7 weeks ago.
The counting stats weren’t really there but it was still a fantastic month for the youngster. Getting on 50% of the time is an impressive feat over the course of an entire month and was refreshing to see him cut his K-rate to just 17%. I’m not ready to buy back in on Collier as a top-100 guy but I wouldn’t write off the possibility of a bounce back from him in 2024.
SS: Junior Caminero, Tampa Bay Rays (AA)
August: .364/.418/.693/1.112 with 9 HRs and 1 SBs in 98 PA
The crowd goes wild! Caminero was promoted to AA Montgomery on May 30th and fared well over his first 100 plate appearances or so, then had a big slow down in July. Then came August, as it does annually following July, during which Caminero finished tied for second in home runs with 9 in 23 games.
I wrote a Spin for Stars article on Caminero very recently where I waxed poetically about his exit velocities and ability to hit for power to all fields and that’s exactly what he did all month long. He is a bona fide top 5 prospect (#2 for me) and is inside my top 50 for dynasty. It’s too late to buy for any reasonable price and if you’re holding him you’d better hold on tight.
OF 1: Wyatt Langford, Texas Rangers (A+)
August: .324/.457/.622/1.078 with 4 HRs and 2 SBs in 92 PA
The top of this draft was hyped for a reason. They’ve all made good on the hype so far, too. Langford has been among the most impressive and I really wouldn’t argue with anybody who wanted to take him over Crews for a number of reasons: team context, performance, proximity, what-have-you.
Langford’s batted ball data at Florida rivaled the numbers Crews posted. You can make an argument that it was better; he made more contact and had a great peak EV while trailing in chase rate and 90th percentile EV by a hair. The Rangers are in a position to promote him quickly and he’ll slot into a lethal lineup featuring some of the most productive hitters in the game. He could be a frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year, potentially competing with Jackson Holliday for the title as soon as opening day.
OF 2: Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees (AA, AAA)
August: .391/.460/.600/1.060 with 3 HR and 11 SBs in 126 PA
When you hit like this in the upper minors late in the season it just might land you a trip to the Bronx. To be clear, I think the Yankees promoting Dominguez to the big league club is a little premature and I worry about how a slow start could impact him mentally given the astronomical comps that were placed on him as a young teenager. After all, Yankees fans are well-known for their patience and understanding when players aren’t performing.
I’ve held him inside my top 40 all year long, with him finally slotting in at #39 in my August update after being as high as #22. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down year for him, which is largely fine as a 20-year-old in AA and AAA all year, and I think he’s an unfinished product at this juncture so I’m perfectly fine sticking with him as he figures out advanced pitching. He’ll help sell tickets in what is otherwise a lost year for the Yankees who will miss the playoffs and finish at or near the bottom of the AL East.
OF 3: Dylan Crews, Washington Nationals (A, AA)
August: .311/.396/.533/.930 with 5 HRs and 3 SB in 106 PA
I’m still holding tight to Crews as the #1 choice in FYPDs from this year’s draft. He doesn’t make elite contact, which is totally fine because he absolutely scalds the ball and refuses to expand the zone. He’s going to get his pitch and clobber it while reaching base a ton.
The only real knock on him is that he’s going to a rather lackluster Washington Nationals team who have no real incentive to push him outside of the potential for a compensatory pick if he finishes strong in Rookie of the Year voting. It’s possible the Nats push their top position players in unison, bringing in a crop including Crews, Wood, House, and Hassell.