Top Prospects Recap; 86-90


Sep 10, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres first round selection

Max Fried

smiles after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our recap of our preseason top 115 prospect list with numbers 86-90:

#90 – Max Fried, left-handed pitcher, San Diego Padres

Height/Weight: 6’4, 185 lbs

Born: January 18, 1994 (age 19)

2013 Stats (A Ball): 6-7, 3.49 ERA, 23 GS, 118.2 IP, 4.2 BB/9,  7.6 K/9, 1.374 WHIP

Heading into 2013… The seventh overall pick from the 2012 June draft, Fried, 19, had a lot of room to grow, both physically and mentally, but already possessed multiple quality pitches. The Padres were unlikely to rush him, but there was a chance he could perform well and reach High-A by the end of the year.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Fried’s 2013 season was rather inconclusive as far as his future value. Sure, his 3.49 ERA was encouraging, but his peripherals left a lot to be desired. He neither commanded his pitches well (4.2 BB/9) or missed a lot of bats (7.6 K/9). The good news for Fried is that he is still very young and in just his first full professional season, and that he can outperform his strikeout and walk rates by getting a ton of ground ball outs.

Looking ahead…. Fried has a number one starter’s repertoire, with mid 90’s fastballs – both four and two-seam – that project to be above average, a 12-6 curve (which is admittedly more of a tight 11-7) that could be a plus pitch, and a changeup that should develop into a league average offering. He will undoubtedly report to High-A to start next season, and could be in the majors as soon as the middle of 2015.

Stock: Even

#89 – Justin Nicolino, left-handed pitcher, Miami Marlins

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 160

Born: November 22, 1991 (age 21)

2013 Stats (Between A+ and AA): 8-4, 3.11 ERA, 27 GS, 142 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 6.0 K/9, 1.282 WHIP

Heading into 2013… Nicolino’s left handedness, projectable frame, and strong peripherals made him a legitimate prospect and passable return in last offseason’s famed Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster. Although he had the makeup, Toronto had been slow to expose him to tougher competition and it would be interesting to see how he fared at the higher levels in 2013.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Nicolino’s plus control allowed him to shut down A+ ball for the first half of the season, as he went 5-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 1.7 BB/9 over 18 starts. After a call up to AA, however, he struggled, putting up a 4.96 ERA over 9 starts, allowing 12.5 hits per nine innings. Overall, his actual performance was probably somewhere in between, as a 2.23 ERA is hard to sustain while striking out only 6 batters per nine, but his 12.5 H/9 was probably equally fluky.

Looking ahead….Some struggles are to be expected when a young pitcher makes the jump from A+ to AA, as it is considered the biggest leap in the minors. Nicolino will repeat AA again in 2014, likely with better results, and continues to project as a possible middle of the rotation starter.

Stock: Up, slightly

#88 – Joey Gallo, third baseman, Texas Rangers

Height/Weight: 6’5”, 205

Born: November 19, 1993 (age 19)

2013 Stats (Between the rookie league and A ball): .251/.338/.623 40 HR, 88 RBI, 15 SB, 50 BB, 172 SO, 111 (467 PA)

Heading into 2013… A first round pick out of high school in 2012, Gallo  absolutely mashed in his first minor league half season. He had potential plus plus power, knocking out 22 home runs and posting a .660 SLG percentage, but his ability to make contact was a looming concern as he struck out 78 times in just 206 at bats.

Now that the 2013 season is over…Gallo stayed true to his pre season projection, becoming the youngest player sine an 18 year old Giancarlo Stanton in 2008 to hit at least 39 home runs in the minor leagues, but also striking out a ridiculous 172 times. That is a strikeout rate of 37%, almost twice the major league average of 18.6% and higher than any rate posted by notorious strikeout leader Adam Dunn.

Looking ahead….Joey Gallo has as much power as any player in the minor leagues, enough to one day hit 50 home runs in the majors, but if he can’t reign in his strikeouts, he’ll find himself with a Mark Reynolds like career at best. He’ll report for his first tour of A+ ball next season, where he’ll look to make just a little more contact.

Stock: Up

#87 – Robbie Erlin, left-handed pitcher, San Diego Padres

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 190

Born: October 8, 1990 (age 22)

2013 Stats (AAA): 8-3, 5.07 ERA, 20 GS, 99.1 IP,  3.1 BB/9, 7.6 K/9, 1.601 WHIP

2013 Stats (MLB): 3-3, 4.12 ERA, 11 G (9 GS), 54.2 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 6.6 SO/9, 1.244 WHIP, .3 bWar

Heading into 2013….Erlin missed much of 2012 with injury, but was effective when on the mound, posting a 2.82 ERA over 14 starts. He’ll look to get healthy in 2013, and possibly earn a big league call up by September.

Now that the 2013 season is over… It was a tale of two seasons for Erlin, as he spent most of the year getting lit up to a 5.07 ERA in AAA, and getting hammered in a couple spot starts for the Padres, but somehow was given a major league rotation spot at the end of August. Since then, Erlin has been lights out, shutting out major league hitters to a .227 batting average against, a 1.97 ERA, and a 1.97 BB/9 over five starts.

Looking ahead….While much of Erlin’s AAA season seemed to promise a move to the bullpen, his recent September success ressurected his future as a starter. He’ll likely start 2014 with a rotation spot at the back end of the Padres’ rotation, and could remain as a #4 starter for years to come.

Stock: Up

#86 – Allen Webster, right-handed pitcher, Boston Red Sox

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185

Born: February 10, 1990 (age 23)

2013 Stats (AAA): 8-4, 3.60 ERA, 21 GS, 105 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 9.9 SO/9, 1.086 WHIP

2013 Stats (MLB): 1-2, 9.55 ERA, 7 G (6 GS), 27.1 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 6.9 SO/9, 1.902 WHIP, -1.2 bWar

Heading into 2013….A high strikeout starter, Webster was the centerpiece of the Dodgers’ package in the mega-deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the dodgers. He was set to report for his first tour of duty in AAA after a good AA campaign in which he struck out 8.9 batters per nine en route to a 3.86 ERA.

Now that the 2013 season is over… Webster had a solid season in AAA, prompting the Red Sox to give him multiple call ups and opportunities at the big league level. Sadly for him, however, his 3.60 ERA and 9.9 SO/9 at AAA did not translate into success at the show as he had an astronomical 9.55 ERA over 27.1 major league innings, walking almost as many batters as he struck out.

Looking ahead….Webster is still only 23, so the Red Sox will likely give him another shot at being a starter before moving him to the pen. That being said, if the Red Sox rotation is full at the end of next year’s spring training, Webster’s fastball/slider combo and high strikeout rates could look awfully good out of the pen.

Stock: Down