Inflation/Deflation Report: April 23, 2024

Rob Gordon (NL) and Jeremy Deloney (AL) will be evaluating prospects every-other week throughout the baseball season. They will provide updates on some of the risers and fallers along with providing injury updates and promotions/demotions.

INFLATION

Cade Povich (LHP, BAL) may be somewhat overlooked due to the massive amount of offensive talent in Triple-A. Regardless, he’s off to an incredible start and is leading the International League in strikeouts (33). In his first four starts, the 6’3” 24-year-old has a 0.83 ERA, 13.7 K/9, and .100 oppBA in 21.2 innings. Acquired from the Twins in August 2022, Povich posted a 5.36 ERA and 10.5 K/9 while in Triple-A in 2023. He’s always been known as a strikeout artist thanks to his deep pitch mix and sweeping slider. With improved control and more consistency with his fastball command, he’s on the verge of a call-up. Given how much he uses his four-seam fastball, the enhancement to his pitch location has paid dividends. He was ranked #11 in the 2024 Orioles organization report.

Edgar Quero (C, CHW) is currently leading the Double-A Southern League in HR and continues to showcase his fundamentally-sound offensive wares. The 21-year-old backstop is hitting .326/.426/.698 with 5 HR, 5 BB, and 9 K in 43 AB. This comes on the heels of hitting only 6 HR in 2023 at the same level. The switch-hitter has a high baseball IQ with the stick in his hands and has above-average knowledge of the strike zone. He makes such easy contact that he can succeed by swinging early in the count if he sees a pitch to his liking. The White Sox could use his bat in the lineup now, however, his defense behind the plate is still a work in progress. 

There hasn’t been a pitching prospect like Paul Skenes (RHP, PIT) in a long time. His unique blend of size, physicality, and plus stuff is just impressive to watch. He has completely dominated in four starts for AAA-Indianapolis. He’s yet to allow a run, giving up just five hits and four walks in 12.2 IP. It is a small sample size, but Skenes has struck out 27 batters with a fastball that has been sitting at 99-102 with a plus change-up and above-average slider. He’s also working on a split-sinker that sits in the mid-90s, but he still doesn’t have great feel for the pitch. The Pirates have him on a strict pitch count to begin the season, but he should start going deeper into games as the weather warms up and he could be in Pittsburgh by mid-season.

The Rockies desperately need help from their farm system. Fortunately, several players have gotten off to fast starts. Chase Dollander (RHP, COL), the club’s 1st round pick in 2023, has looked impressive for High-A Spokane, posting a 2.93 ERA with 5 BB/27 K in 15.1 IP. Look for him to jump to Double-A soon. Jordan Beck (OF, COL) continues to be underrated and he has as much power as anyone in the system. The former Tennessee Volunteer OF is hitting .270/.371/.608 with 6 2B, 2 3B, and 5 HR in 74 AB for AAA-Albuquerque. The Rockies are 13th in runs scored in the NL and Beck could give them a much-needed boost on offense. Zac Veen (OF, COL) has also gotten off to a quick start. He tried to play through a wrist injury last year and the results were disastrous. There is still too much swing-and-miss, but there is also still a lot of upside. He’s gotten off to a nice start in 2024, hitting .342/.419/.632 with 7 extra base hits and 5 SB in his first 11 games for AA-Hartford. Because of the contact issues, he’s not likely to hit for average in the majors, but he does have 20/20 upside.

Ralphy Velazquez (C/1B, CLE) was one of the youngest players in the 2023 draft class and is among the youngest players in the Low-A Midwest League. That hasn’t stopped him from mashing to the tune of .375/.448/.688 with 4 HR in 48 AB. Only 18, the 6’3” 215-pound left-handed hitter knows how to read pitches and put the ball in play. He combines a smooth stroke with natural strength to hit long balls, yet can shorten his swing and push the ball to all fields. The Guardians drafted him with the 23rd overall selection in the 2023 draft and have long believed in his ability to hit. While there haven’t been any reports about moving him from behind the plate, he’s only played 1B in 2024. 

 

DEFLATION

Adael Amador (SS/2B, COL) is off to a horrible start, hitting just .114/.311/.114 in his first 10 games. He has, however, maintained his plate discipline, drawing 10 walks while striking out just four times, and he does have 8 SB. While the slow start is concerning, look for him to turn things around soon.

Roderick Arias (SS, NYY) was ranked #73 on the HQ100 prior to the 2024 campaign and he’s gotten off to a sluggish start. The 19-year-old is in his first full season as a pro and has struck out 27 times in only 56 AB. Thus far, the switch hitter is batting .196/.308/.393 with 1 HR. This comes on the heels of a Rookie ball campaign in 2023 when he hit .267/.423/.505 with 6 HR and 17 SB in 101 AB. Many evaluators see a potential 30 HR/30 SB guy and he has both the primary and secondary skills to be a massive contributor. Some reports suggest he’s being a bit too passive in his plate approach.

Druw Jones (OF, ARI) continues to struggle at the plate after a less than impressive pro debut. Jones is just 20 so there is time for him to figure things out, but the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 draft is hitting just .171/.271/.268 in his first 11 games for High-A Visalia.

Bryan Ramos (3B, CHW) has been brutal in his repeat performance in Double-A. After hitting .276/.369/.457 with 14 HR in 2023, he’s pressing in his first 48 AB at the same level, now batting .104/.204/.104 with zero extra base hits and 18 strikeouts. The White Sox have seen some sparkling starts to the season in the minors, but the 22-year-old isn’t one of them. He’s been chasing too many breaking balls out of the zone in an ultra-aggressive approach. Few dispute his natural strength and talent. Ramos is a sound defender at 3B with plenty of strength in a muscular frame.

Yunior Severino (1B/3B, MIN) dazzled by leading the minors in HR in 2023 when he smashed 35 while in Double-A. The Twins rewarded him with a 40-man roster slot in November 2023, but he hasn’t provided them with much gratitude, hitting 125/.273/.266 with 2 HR in his first 64 AB. Given his inability to make consistent contact, he needs to hit for power to have value. The Twins have been atrocious offensively at the big league level and it doesn’t appear as though the switch-hitter is on the radar for the foreseeable future. 

Carson Whisenhunt (LHP, SF) needs to hit the reset button on 2024. Hitters in the PCL have teed off so far and Whisenhunt has given up 16 hits, 9 walks, and 14 earned runs in just 10.2 IP. The only positive is that he’s also punched out 17 batters, but the end result has been an ugly 11.81 ERA and 2.34 WHIP. Look for him to right the ship soon, but this has been a disastrous start.

 

INJURY UPDATES

Brandon Barriera (LHP, TOR) just can’t seem to find any semblance of health. He started one game before an arm injury put him back on the shelf. There is no timeline for his return.

Junior Caminero (INF, TAM) has returned after missing several games with a quad strain. He’s still poised to see big league action, possibly in the near future.

Drew Gilbert (OF, NYM) has been sidelined since early April with a hamstring injury, but he should be back in action shortly.

Walker Jenkins (OF, MIN) hurt his hamstring in the first game of the season in Low-A and remains on the injured list. 

Spencer Jones (OF, NYY) is back in game action after missing time with a back strain. 

Jordan Lawlar (SS, ARI) tore a ligament in his thumb and will miss 8-10 weeks. Despite the injury and struggles in his MLB debut, the 21-year-old SS remains an elite prospect and should make his way back to the majors by mid-season.

Luis Morales (RHP, OAK), a highly-touted arm, is currently in extended spring training to build up his arm strength before an assignment to a full-season affiliate. 

Jeferson Quero (C, MIL) is out for the season with a torn labrum that required surgery. He was injured in the first game of the season.

Brock Wilken (3B, MIL) was hit in the face with a pitch and suffered several broken bones. He’s out indefinitely.

 

PROMOTIONS

Mike Boeve (3B, MIL) was promoted from High-A to Double-A after hitting a spectacular .553 BA. 

Kohl Franklin (RHP, CHC) made one start in Double-A before he was elevated to Triple-A. 

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