#46 Andy Walker, RHP, SD – Andy Walker is currently a “middle aged prospect” with the Padres, after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB draft out of Oral Roberts. Roberts immediately jumped into short-season A ball with the Tri-City Valley Cats and dominated after taking only 5 days to come to terms with San Diego. Walker had a 95:17 K:BB ratio between his stops in Tri-City and Fort Wayne in the Midwest League. Walker already features three MLB ready pitches including fastball (60/65) that peaks at 100mph. His primary off-speed offerings are a forkball (55/65) and a change-up (25/65) that’s still very much a work in progress. Walker has also been fine tuning his cutter (55/65) which has good arm side action and runs away from lefties – though he’s still working on his control. Walker should quickly move through his A-ball stops this season and begin pushing into the high levels of the Padres organization by the end of the year.
#47 Li-Jen Chu, C, AZ – On the offense <<<<>>>>> defense spectrum for catchers Chu skews a little toward offensive catching prospect rather than defensive. He has plus grades for his bat-to-ball skills (Contact-60, Avoid Ks-60) as well as his Eye (60). While he’s compiled just average-ish ratings from scouts as a receiver, though reports say he’s been working on his footwork to go with his above-average to plus throwing arm (60). Chu spent all of last season with the Mobile Baybears – the Arizona affiliate of the Southern League. Chu swatted 12HRs in the hitter-friendly PCL, compling a .298/.424/.505 triple-slash line last year. He’s showed he has nothing left to prove at that level and should begin the year with AAA Reno if he doesn’t manage to crack the 25-man roster and stay put in Arizona to start the season.
#48 Gerson Moreno, RHP, DET – I promise by the time you see the bottom fall out of his change-up (70/70) you won’t even question what his parents were doing naming him “Gerson”. Moreno has continued to progress as a prospect, receiving plus future grades for his movement (60) and control (60). The one knock on Moreno has been his curveball which at this point in time is still more of a “show-me” pitch than a potenial major league offering. If he can continue to get ahead with the fastball and get the swing and misses with his change-up he could be a solid middle of the rotation starter for the Tigers in a few years. I’m still of the position that putting him in the bullpen last year was a mistake for his development though he did post a 1.26 FIP and a 0.72 WHIP for the Lakeland Flying Tigers in 2017.
#49 Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, TOR – After struggling during his first stint at AA New Hampshire with the Fisher Cats Lopez found a way to gain a little more control in his 11 starts with the squad this year. He posted a 3.01 ERA (3.56 FIP) and a 1.24 after being promoted to AAA half way through the season. Lopez did appear a little overmatched during his first half-season in AAA last year, getting hit pretty well by both the lefties and righties in that league. He’ll need to progress toward his 60/65/60 (Stuff/Movement/Control) ceiling grades if he wants to find his way up to Toronto by the start of the 2019 campaign. For now the Buffalo Bison will continue to nuture his plus fastball along (65/65) and get him to focus on improving the (35/70) change-up.
#50 Daniel Gossett, RHP, ATL – Gossett joins Henry Hirsch (PIT) as the only two 25-year old pitching prospects on this list. Gossett looked good at AAA Gwinett last year, and as a semi-polished finish product he should see significant time with the Braves big league club in 2018. Gossett has to plus offspeed offerings: a slider (65/65) and a change-up (60/65) to go with his above average fastball (55/60). He can locate adequately, but often times his control (50/50) can get him in trouble and behind in the count. With above-average Stuff (55/55) and Movement (55/55) Gossett should factor into the back-end of a Major League rotation without problems.