This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.
Though the trade deadline is still approaching, we've already seen some big prospects change organizations. The Cubs made a surprising deal with their cross-town rivals, the White Sox, acquiring Jose Quintana for a slew of prospects, including elite outfield phenom Eloy Jimenez and high-upside hurler Dylan Cease. Many felt the Cubs overpaid, particularly with the inclusion of Jimenez, though Quintana fanned 12 batters in his first outing to quiet the doubters a bit.
Meanwhile, the Yankees acquired Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the aforementioned White Sox in exchange for a trade involving last year's first round selection, Blake Rutherford. The Bronx Bombers not only improve their squad in the short term, but also retain Robertson and Kahnle for next season at the very least. In addition, the deal prevented the rival Red Sox from acquiring Frazier. GM Brian Cashman was also determined not to deal any of his elite prospects that were close to the big leagues, like Chance Adams, Clint Frazier and the injured Gleyber Torres. As a result, the Red Sox called up an outstanding prospect of their own, Rafael Devers, to man the hot corner.
In another blockbuster, J.D. Martinez was shipped by the Detroit Tigers to the desert, as the Diamondbacks sent back an underwhelming trio of neophytes led by third baseman Dawel Lugo. It remains to be seen if the Tigers are done dealing, as names like Justin Verlander and Ian Kinsler have recently popped up in trade chatter.
Something tells me the wheeling and dealing is far from finished. Let's take a look at the current prospect landscape in this week's edition of the Minor League Barometer…
J.P. Crawford, SS, PHI – Crawford saw his stock take a nosedive during the first half of the season, as his average plummeted for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. There have since been rumors that he was battling nagging injuries, most notably a groin ailment. However, the 22-year-old has rebounded with a stellar July, including hitting .333 over his last 10 games. Though his overall slash line still is not pretty, Crawford has almost as many walks (52) as strikeouts (62), he is on pace to set a career high in RBI, and should hit double digits in home runs. At just 22 years of age, it would be foolish to completely dismiss Crawford based on half of one season.
Michael Kopech, P, CHW – The hard-throwing righty is still tops amongst the suddenly crowded pitching corps in the minors amassed by the White Sox. Kopech tossed eight scoreless innings in his last start. He did not walk a batter while fanning eight. Opposing batters are hitting a putrid .197 against the 21-year-old righty. Walks remain his biggest concern, as he has issued 55 free passes in 92.1 innings. Still, when Kopech is on, there are few, if any neophytes that can match him. He has 114 strikeouts in those 92.1 innings for Double-A Birmingham.
Jason Martin, OF, HOU – The Astros have a bevy of outfield options, but Martin is one of the more intriguing, albeit lesser known phenoms. After joining the 20-20 club in 2016, Martin could get there again with a late surge in 2017. Between High-A and Double-A, the 21-year-old has 16 home runs and 13 steals. Perhaps most impressively, his batting average has risen at each successive level. He hit .287 in 46 games at High-A, then subsequently has hit .302 in 44 games since being promoted to Double-A. Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher get the pub in terms of outfield prospects, but Houston may have to start giving Martin some recognition as well.
Kyle Lewis, OF, SEA – Lewis is far and away the top prospect for the M's, particularly since they've dealt Tyler O'Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals. He's missed a majority of the season due to recurring knee problems stemming from his 2016 ACL reconstruction, but Lewis may finally have turned the corner. The 22-year-old smacked three home runs in his last two games at High-A Modesto, driving home seven runs in the process. Lewis should be able to take advantage of the hitter-friendly confines of the California League as he continues to round back into form.
Francisco Mejia, P, CLE – A strained right hip has sidelined Mejia for the better part of the last week. Though the injury is not considered serious, Mejia hadn't exactly been raking prior to the injury. The best catching prospect in baseball hit just .212 in the 10 games prior to being shelved. Mejia continues to shine overall, slashing .322/.370/.531 in 66 games for Double-A Akron. While the current injury should do little to dampen Mejia's future outlook, Mejia also spent some time on the Disabled List earlier this season with a groin issue. Another injury could make the Indians extremely hesitant to bring him up in September, meaning his chances of seeing the big leagues in 2017 could be out the window.
Kyle Cody, P, TEX – Cody has not allowed a run in four-straight starts at Low-A, a span stretching 27 innings. The burly 6-foot-7 righty has three pitches, having averaged more than a strikeout per inning during his brief time in the minors. A sixth round pick out of the University of Kentucky last year, Cody has a chance to shoot up the organizational rankings for the Rangers, particularly due to the struggles of fellow Texas hurlers Brett Martin and Alex Speas, as well as the injury to southpaw Joe Palumbo.
Sandy Alcantara, P, STL – After a dismal start to the 2017 campaign, the 21-year-old righty appears to be back on track. Alcantara has allowed just two earned runs over his last three outings for Double-A Springfield. Going back farther, Alcantara has a 3.09 ERA over his last 10 starts. By contrast, he had a 7.09 ERA at the end of May. He still walks too many batters, and his strikeout numbers have dipped this season. However, this will be just the second season in which Alcantara has notched over 100 innings, so he remains rather green. His blazing fastball and suspect secondary offerings could make him a candidate for the bullpen down the line, though.
Touki Toussaint, P, ATL – Toussaint continues to be more projection than substance, though admittedly he has pitched better recently for High-A Florida. The 21-year-old righty has a 3.90 ERA with 65 strikeouts over his last 60 innings, a span of 10 outings. In his last start, Touki was dominant. He fanned 11 batters in eight innings, allowing just one earned run on three hits. Perhaps most importantly, Toussaint did not walk a batter. Toussaint had 10 punch outs in the start prior. It is stretches like these that have scouts salivating, though consistency is the name of the game for Toussaint, who otherwise still battles control problems. Nevertheless, his strikeouts are up, his walks are down, and Toussaint appears to be making strides.
Amed Rosario, SS, NYM – So much for a call-up before August. Rosario had been hospitalized due to the stomach flu, missing a week of game action. He is expected to return to the field this week, though it remains to be seen what type of game shape he'll be in. The stomach bug should also give the Mets all the excuses they need to keep Rosario down the minors for the short term, up to and including the trade deadline. Should the Mets fail to deal Asdrubal Cabrera or Wilmer Flores, then Rosario could stay at Triple-A until September.
Wladimir Galindo, 3B, CHC – The farm system for the Cubbies has thinned out over the past year or two due to graduations and trades, so a player like Galindo suddenly becomes one of the top prospects in the organization. The 20-year-old out of Venezuela has been getting his first taste of full-season ball in 2017, though was recently placed on the Disabled List due to shoulder and leg injuries. Galindo has above-average raw power that the Cubs hope will turn into home runs, though that will likely take some time. Galindo has just four home runs in 44 games at Low-A. Not surprisingly, he also has 40 strikeouts over that span, though is still hitting .290 on the season. Galindo has plenty of upside and room to mature at 6-foot-3, 210-lbs, but he must stay healthy and improve his ability to make contact. Suffice to say, though, he is not on the same level as some notable Cubs prospects of the recent past, showing the "Win Now" mentality of the organization. If that wasn't already obvious with their trades over the past year or so.
Jay Groome, P, BOS – Maybe it's unfair to downgrade the 18-year-old Groome, as he's battled injuries and pitched in just eight games in 2017. Still, the 6-foot-6, 220-lb southpaw was at one time pegged as the top selection in the 2016 draft. He did not fall much further than that, but his first full season in the minors has been inconsistent to say the least. In five starts at Low-A, the opposition is hitting a blistering .348 against him. Groome does have 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings, but he has also walked 11 batters over that time period. He hasn't lasted three innings in two of his last three starts. The sample size is brutally small, and Groome is a teenager with less than 35 pro innings under his belt in full-season ball. Still, this cannot be the year he hoped for.
Marcos Diplan, P, MIL – Diplan got rocked in his last start for High-A Carolina, surrendering seven earned runs on 10 hits in just 3.1 innings. That ballooned the 20-year-old righty's ERA to 5.70, though in fairness his ERA has been pretty high all season long. Opposing batters are hitting .276 against him in 133.1 innings at this level dating back to last season. He's allowed 14 home runs over that span, while walking 63 batters. Diplan continues to miss location, and when he gets beat up in the zone, the results are not ideal. His lack of size as well as his inability to hone his changeup may eventually result in a shuttle to the bullpen, though Diplan is still fanning more than a batter per inning as a starter. In sum, while Diplan is having a rather rough 2017 campaign, the Brewers are not ready to convert him into a reliever just yet.