#11 Wes Erickson, CF, HOU – The number three pick overall from the 2017 Rule 4 draft. Erickson’s power is of the Gap (80) variety, but that’s not to say he can’t knock it over the wall too (Power 55). First and foremost, this kid has a monster bat and is worth every penny of the $3.6M the Astros spent on his signing bonus last year. The advanced plate approach coming out of the Georgia Tech baseball program is an amazing thing to see with your eyes. 70 hit tool (Contact), Eye (60) and ability to Aboid Ks (65). He’s every bit as good in the outfield in terms of raw skills (70Rng/60Err/75Arm) even if he needs to work on his routes to affect his overall skill in CF/RF (55). It was almost embarrassing what he did in Rookie ball last year and the Astros probably could have sent him to the Short Season A ball to start. He slashed .350/.430/.512 which are very similar to those college numbers he was putting up, or video game numbers if you prefer. We’ll likely see young Wes in Houston by 2020 if not sooner (sorry Brandon Nimmo).
#12 Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP, STL – He’s filthy and nasty and already a polished product at the tender age of 22. Fastball (60/60)? Check. Insane plus-plus curve (70/75)? You betcha. A change piece (55/55) to keep everybody honest? Uh-huh. The only knock on him so far is his ability to get through the order the third time around. As he develops his stuff (65/75) and perhaps dials in the control a little more as he matures (55/55) you might start seeing the top of the rotation ace form from Big Goots. While the tall Cuban isn’t blowing anyone away with his 92-94mph fastball, he will buckle their knees and send them back to the dugout. Even the lefties have trouble hitting him, which is a testament to his work ethic and pitch sequencing. He’s all business. ETA? Right now. 2018. On the mound at Busch. Get tickets now.
#13 Josh Marshania, 3B, PHI – Josh is a 3B, but his profile currently lists him at 1B – don’t be fooled. The 9th overall pick from the 2017 draft fooled everyone except the Phillies who found him playing his college ball at a JuCo in Pasadena California. Most people didn’t even know they had a team, but Josh was the face of the school. He’s got a strong arm (75) and good-but-not-great footwork over at 3B. What matters though is he can hit. He’s already filling out his power profile (40/60) and the gap power is for real (60/75). He’s said to possess plus bat control (Contact 40/60) as well as a good eye (50) and ability to avoid the strikeout (60). Josh destroyed Rookie ball after signing quickly with the Phillies and was promoted to short-season A ball to round out his season. Look to see Josh in A ball this year. He should move quickly and may be in Philadelphia by the 2020 season.
#14 Raimel Tapia, CF, COL – Tapia is ready to start making his impact felt in Colorado after going .295/.348/.460 in AAA last year for the Rockies farm club. Tapia can play any of the OF positions (60 corners, 40 CF), but profiles best in RF with his arm (70). Tapia has a plus hit tool (60/65) and is still getting better. Tapia is adept at hitting lefties too, so there’s not much concern about a platoon for him. Although there’s not one tool that absolutely wows your socks off, he’s a complete player.
#15 Clarence Bates, 1B, PIT – A 6’7″ 260 pound left-handed hitter. Do you need to know anything else? Plus hit tool (50/70) that’s still developing, light-tower power (55/80), with the gap power already resolved (70/70). The only concern right now is if he can hit enough against lefties at the major league level. Bates was previously the #5 overall pick in 2016 and a two-way player coming out of Central Florida (Orlando) College. He has since ditched the pitching to focus on his hitting and went .299/.342/511 at Altoona last year and accumulated just few enough at-bats to not quite graduate from the Top 100 Prospects list. It’s assumed he’ll likely be on the shuttle this year back and forth from AAA and take over full-time 1B duties in Pittsburgh in 2019 – though with a good camp he may break with the big club.