MLB trade deadline: New Oriole Yusniel Diaz among top 25 prospects to watch in trade market
Which prospects might contenders deal away in the coming days? Let's have a look
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches quickly, and we're just as quickly diving teams into buyers and sellers.
Speaking of sellers, let's boldly declare that the following teams will be looking to trade mostly prospects in exchange for veterans in the service of near-term goals (i.e., making the postseason and winning the World Series): Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Astros, Mariners, Athletics, Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants and Rockies. To be sure, not all of these teams are going to wind up making impact moves, and it's entirely possible that current fringe contenders like the Nats, Cards, and Giants will struggle between now and then and opt to sit things out or even re-position themselves as sellers. For now, though, let's go with this.
As noted, buyers tend to trade away prospects, so we're going to the rank prospects in "buyer" organizations who might be dealt between now and July 31 (or even during the August waiver period). We're leaving off prospects/rookies who are making an impact at the highest level this season or are in the active-roster plans of the contending team in question. That means the likes of Gleyber Torres of the Yankees, Juan Soto of the Nationals, Walker Buehler of the Dodgers, perhaps Kyle Tucker of the Astros, and a number of young arms in Atlanta aren't going anywhere (the injured J.P. Crawford of the Phillies may also be in this group). It's also entirely possible that some of the names to follow have been designated as untouchable during discussions. The higher you go in the rankings, the bigger the hypothetical trade. A trade built around, say, one of the top five names to come is probably something close to a blockbuster deadline deal. Move further down (or even off) the list, and you're talking about a trade for less of a needle-moving veteran or perhaps a larger package of "merely" good prospects instead of one or two great ones. You know this drill by now.
So now let's run down some "deadline" prospects who, in the right deal, might wind up being traded to a seller in the days to come. We'll leave it to the general managers in question to determine what kind of swap it would take to justify parting with the names to come. To the rankings:
1. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros
Whitley lost 50 games of the 2018 season to a suspension. Since his return, he's looked strong at the command-and-control level. The 6-foot-7 20-year-old boasts an improbably deep repertoire for someone his age, and his fastball sits in the mid-90s.
2. Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
Robles has been overshadowed by Juan Soto's huge splash in the majors, but he remains an intriguing high-ceiling prospect. He missed time due to an elbow injury this season, but he still has a rare speed-average-power combo.
3. Francisco Mejia, C, Indians
Mejia projects as being a truly special hitter by catcher standards. The question is whether he'll stick at the position.
4. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies
Sanchez has elite velocity and some of the best stuff in the minors, and from a numbers standpoint he's thrived despite being younger than his peer group at every stop.
5. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
The ninth overall pick in 2017, Hiura's gotten past some elbow concerns and is now back to being a regular second baseman. Hiura boasts an excellent hit tool and also has some power. He'll be ready for the bigs in short order.
6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
Luzardo, 20, has three plus offerings and good velocity for a lefty. He's also posted excellent command-and-control and run prevention numbers at every level.
7. Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers
He's got the range for center and the arm for right, and he's also got an accomplished and projectable bat.
8. Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees
Florial underwent wrist surgery in May, but he's back now. He's got elite speed and a powerful throwing arm, and he's expected to grow into his impressive raw power potential. He projects as a dual-threat center fielder.
9. Brendan Rogers, SS, Rockies
Rogers is one of the best infield prospects in baseball. He boasts excellent power, and he may be able to stick at short. On the downside, his plate discipline needs some work.
10. Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
Kieboom has an advanced approach at the plate and the underlying skills to make it last. He may eventually outgrow his current position, but he could wind up as a plus glove at the hot corner.
11. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
The third overall pick from 2016 has a plus fastball and two MLB-quality secondary offerings. The 20-year-old is on his third rung of the Braves' system, and he's yet to be tested. Yes, as you've probably already figured out the Braves can easily package arms to get a big name at the deadline.
12. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, Astros
The hulking lefty slugger has massive power at the plate and a selective approach. He'll have to be careful lest holes in his swing get exploited at the highest level. He's probably bound for first base long-term.
13. Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves
Wright's got good velocity, ground-ball proclivities, and a full repertoire. The former fifth overall pick has struggled with his control at times this season in his first taste of the high minors.
14. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Riley has power to all fields and the willingness to take a walk. The bar will eventually be raised for him, though, as he's likely going to wind up at first base or an outfield corner.
15. Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians
While McKenzie doesn't have great velocity, he does boast one of the best curveballs in the minors. If his changeup comes along, he can be a rotation fixture.
16. Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers
He's got the defensive skills to stick at the catcher position. As for the bat, he's got a shot at being a league-average hitter, but that will require more development time.
17. Kolby Allard, LHP, Braves
Allard's quite polished by the standards of 20-year-old lefties. He lacks plus-velocity, so his future is likely as a deep-repertoire guy -- i.e., not an ace. He's excelled at the Double- and Triple-A levels, so he's ready.
18. Yusniel Diaz, OF, Dodgers (traded to Orioles in Machado deal)
Diaz, who is headed to Baltimore in, profiles as a reliable on-base threat who makes contact and commands the strike zone. He likely won't stick in center, though, and his power right now doesn't project to be anything special.
19. Albert Abreu, RHP, Yankees
Abreu's got a big fastball that touches triple digits with good late life. His curve and changeup also project as solid offerings at the next level, all with good deception coming out of his hand.
20. Corbin Burnes, RHP, Brewers
The overall numbers at Triple-A are ugly at first blush, but Colorado Springs is one of the most difficult environments for pitchers in all of affiliated baseball. Burnes has solid velocity, life on his fastball, and four pitches that project as average or better at the major-league level.
21. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
May has a nice fastball-breaking ball combo. Will his sinker function as a workable third pitch? That's a question at this point. If not, his stuff could play up in a relief role. He's posted excellent K/BB ratios at every stop.
22. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees
Sheffield has excellent velocity for a lefty, but questions abound. Those questions involve health, his secondary pitches, and his command. If he's going to be a starter in the majors, he's going to need to hit on at least two of those.
23. Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals
Kelly's struggled to adapt to big-league pitching across a limited sample. However, the converted third baseman has developed into a significant defensive asset behind the plate, and he's put up strong offensive numbers over the last two seasons at Triple-A Memphis. He's of course blocked in St. Louis by Yadier Molina.
24. Tyler O'Neill, OF, Cardinals
O'Neill for the time being can man all three outfield positions, and he boasts big-time power from the right side of the plate. Since the start of last season, he's hit 50 home runs in the minors. O'Neill's presently on the DL with a hamstring strain.
25. Brett Phillips, OF, Brewers
He's already 24, but Phillips has appeal based on his occasional left-handed pop, speed on the bases, and ability to man center field.
Time will tell how many of these names wind up playing elsewhere by the time the calendar flips to August.
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