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Big Hype Prospects: Moreno, Ortiz, Casas, Perez, Rafaela

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This week on Big Hype Prospects, we’re catching up on some pre-holiday shopping.

Five BHPs in the news

Gabriel Moreno, 22, C, ARI (MLB)
(AAA) 267 AP, 3 HR, 7 SB, .315/.386/.420

Moreno headlined the Diamondbacks’ return to the Daulton Varsho Trade. FanGraphs describes him as “the most athletic receiver since JT Realmuto.” Last season, Moreno continued to show his contact skills. A brief 73-plate appearance try in the Majors yielded a high batting average and strikeout rate of 11.0%. It typically produces modest output velocities with a low contact angle. Clearly, power isn’t a big part of his game, but he’ll still be a valuable hitter. He will need to make substantial adjustments to become a regular 20 homer threat.

There are questions about his ability to handle a full workload considering he’s never topped 350 plate appearances in a season. He is considered an above average defender with enough athleticism to improve. With Carson Kelly still internally, the Diamondbacks may consider placing Moreno between receiver and designated hitter while working on his durability.

Luis Ortiz, 23, PS, PIT (MLB)
(AA) 114.1 IP, 9.92K/9, 2.68 BB/9, 4.64 ERA

The light bulb clicked for Ortiz midway through the 2022 campaign. His command improved as he became more aggressive with his dominating stuff leading to a successful 10-round Triple-A stint followed by 16 more executives in the Majors. Given his lack of Triple-A experience, it’s understandable that the Pirates tried hard to delay Ortiz’s arrival via the signing of Vince Velazquez and rich hill. Ortiz has impressive Statcast metrics. Health permitting, he’s about to land a mighty punch soon with Roansy Contreras in the rotation of pirates.

Triston Casas, 22, 1G, BOS (MLB)
(AAA) 317 AP, 11 HR, .273/.382/.481

Virtually everyone in baseball is ready to see Casas sink or swim as the current and future Red Sox first baseman. The only obstacle entering this offseason was a certain veteran. Deletion Eric Hosmer of the list assures the manager Alex Cora won’t have to juggle tough decisions. Casas had a mixed start with 95 tackles last season, showing power and discipline but posting a low .197 batting average. In this case, his .208 BABIP appears particularly blurry. If anything, his batting profile is that of a high BABIP hitter. Some of his batsmen felt like he was selling for contact (my personal observation, not that of a scout), a common “mistake” among newbie hitters. Look for it to further refine its approach and consistency in 2023.

Eury Perez, 19, SP, MIA (AA)
75IP, 12.72K/9, 3.00BB/9, 4.08 ERA

On the shortlist with Andre Painter for the most exciting teenage pitching prospect, Perez is one of the reasons the Marlins buy Major League starting pitchers. He’s set to arrive in the second half of 2023. Scouts are praising his excellent fastball control and biting slider. It is a one man skyscraper whose sheer size ensures a unique look. The scouts believe that his change can also become a weapon. His curveball is seen as a less competitive offering that can play to the effectiveness of his other pitches.

It should be mentioned that this is the organization that ten years ago blew up a 20-year-old Jose Fernandez straight from High-A to Majors. Of course, none of those decision-makers stay on hand, making it highly unlikely that we’ll see a repeat with Perez.

Ceddanne Rafaela, 22, OF, BOS (AA)
(A+/AA) 522 AP, 21 HR, 28 SB, .299/.342/.539

The Red Sox would buy their prospects for upgrades, with Rafaela being the most popular of the group. Rafaela was not a consensus prospect in the Red Sox system until last season. Now he is widely regarded as their third-best farmhand behind Marcelo Mayer and Casas. He displayed a tantalizing mix of power and speed last season, although there are still some ominous signs with his offensive stats. He lacks discipline and has a high strike rate. Hitters who thrive with Javy Baez’s profile are rare.

If his discipline and smell issues were to get in the way, Rafaela has super utility man potential. He is currently training as a centre-back. He also played 12 games at shortstop last season and has previous experience at second and third base. He is considered an above average outfielder. I have no reports on his keen sense of the infield.

three more

Corbin Carroll, ARI (22): While there was no doubt Carroll would start for the 2023 Diamondbacks, Varsho’s trade pretty much secures a role on Opening Day. A line-driving machine with excellent discipline in the minors, Carroll had a mixed start. His 130 wRC+ in 115 major league appearances belied subpar exit speeds and merely average discipline. Look for these traits to dramatically improve throughout 2023.

Dominic Fletcher, ARI (25): Another “winner” of Varsho’s trade, Fletcher no longer has a whole squadron of outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart. should Alexander Thomas keep fighting and Jake McCarthy suffer a second slump, so Fletcher might just work his way into the Arizona roster. More likely, it will serve as commercial bait. The Diamondbacks still need pitching depth.

Kumar Rocker, TEX (22): Kumar made his Arizona Fall League debut, pitching 14 innings with mixed results. His 18 strikeouts were encouraging, but they were offset by 12 walks and a 4.50 ERA. He appeared in the news last week about Carlos Correait is delayed contract with the Mets. New York selected Rocker in the first round of the 2021 draft to opt out of their deal due to concerns over his physique.

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