The Stevedore Apprentice Program – 2019 End of Season

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Updated: March 10, 2014

Written by Stevedores_Fan_Bob, Special to The Record

When last we took a detailed look at the Canton Longshoremen minor league organization, the calendar said February 2018, and the Longshoremen were coming off of their second consecutive sub-.500 finish, having followed up a breakout 2015 season that saw the franchise crack the .500 mark for the first time in history with 71 wins in 2016 and 72 wins in 2017.  With a further fall to 64 wins in 2018, and the ink of a 100-loss 2019 season just drying, there’s no better time to name the organization’s Top 25 prospects than now.  We will also play the “Where Are They Now?” game with the last Top 25, which has graduated 14 players that have appeared in a Longshoremen uniform.

As with the last list, this in-depth look at the Canton Longshoremen player development system is a joint effort of The (Canton) Record and StevedoresFan.com, the preeminent fan blog of your Canton Longshoremen. The rankings are the result of votes taken by an anonymous panel with members of the local and national press, scouts inside and outside of the organization, and performance analysts inside and outside the organization. The narrative description of each prospect and the projections and risks (for the top ten only) were provided by the StevedoresFan.com staff.

The Next Peyton Bishop?

The Next Peyton Bishop?

Top 25 Prospects

#1 LF Gabriel Martínez (previously not in the organization)– Just announced as the organization’s 2019 Minor League Hitter of the Year, the second year pro has rocketed to AAA Allentown after being picked #7 overall in the 2018 draft.  He started 2019 in AA Youngstown, hitting 315/439/467. Injuries at AAA Allentown resulted in what the organization considered at the time to be a premature promotion.  He never was sent back down, hitting 322/395/487 with 9 HR in 84 games and 339 AB. The lefty punished righthanders (337/470/488 in AA and 337/415/543 in AAA) but was far from helpless against southpaws (281/364/421 and 281/343/344). His defense was above-average in left field, too, although he is slightly less comfortable in right field. With Canton expected to non-tender starting LF Pat Deatherage in the offseason, a strong spring could see Martinez in the Opening Day lineup in Canton.

ETA – 2020, maybe Opening Day.

Upside – Perennial All-Star corner outfielder with the ability to annually hit for a high batting average, 40 doubles, 25 HR, and 20 SB.

Risks to projection – Martinez is rushed to the majors and never develops to his potential.

#2 SP Carlos Pérez (previously not in the organization)– A 2017 first round pick of the Aurora Borealis, the Longshoremen acquired Perez in a deadline trade this past season.  Perez has more than held his own at every minor league level despite being rushed up the ladder. His high ranking is based more on proximity to PEBA than upside.  Putting up 5.5 WAR as a 23 year old at his first attempt at the highest level of the minors is eye-popping, even if the peripherals are underwhelming (174 IP, 42 BB, 133 K).  Perez succeeds by keeping the ball in the ballpark and letting his defense do the work.  He gave up only 7 HR in his 174 AAA innings this season.  He has never had a minor league BABIP over this season’s .289, or an ERA over last season’s 3.63.

ETA – 2020, maybe Opening Day.

Upside – Pitch-to-contact mid-rotation starter and innings eater who could ride a stellar defense to All-Star appearances.

Risks to projection – Inability to miss bats or challenge hitters at the PEBA level.

#3 SP António Murillo (previously #10)– This lofty ranking may be a stretch; Murillo has yet to rediscover the consistent excellence that he tasted near the end of 2017 before succumbing to a torn elbow ligament.  At just 24, Murillo still has time to put it back together, and 2019 was a step in the right direction, putting up a 4.27 ERA in 166 IP, with 51 BB and 113 Ks.  Scouts still love his stuff, but 2020 will be an important season for the guy drafted seven spots ahead of new Allentown rotation mate Perez.

ETA – Late 2020, or Opening Day 2021.

Upside – A top of the rotation starter.

Risks to projection – Murillo never recovers from the horrific arm injury that cost him a year of development.

#4 SP Jim Hayden (previously #6) – A breakthrough 2019 that saw Hayden named organizational pitcher of the year put Hayden back on the Canton prospect map.  Statistically, Hayden had the best season of any pitcher in the organization after a dreadful start.  National scouts have always liked Hayden more than the Longshoremen’s internal reports.  Allentown’s rotation should be a good one for prospect mavens to follow, as Hayden, Murillo, and perhaps Perez could provide a potent top 3.

ETA – Late 2020 or Opening Day 2021.

Upside – Anywhere from a top of the rotation starter to a #5 starter with inning-eating chops.

Risks to projection – The last four months of 2019 were a fluke.

#5 SP/CL Su-Shun Yu (previously #19) – Yu is an international man of mystery.  He has thrown only 133 innings over short-A ball, and those at the precocious ages of 18 and 19.  For the most part he has been brilliant, despite ‘meh’ peripherals.  There is an open question as to whether he will be able to start or relieve at the PEBA level.  Two electric pitches, a third pitch that is charitably described as a work in progress, and a fastball that sits in the upper nineties make that question the relevant one, not whether Yu has the stuff to ascend the organizational ladder.

ETA – 2022? 2023?

Upside – A lights out closer in the mold of Julian Olivares or an ace starter.

Risks to projection – Youth, TINSTAPP, health.

#6 C Jeff Summers (previously unranked) – A switch-hitting catcher with All-Leather chops as the #6 organizational prospect shows that the organization must be doing something right. Summers has two back-to-back seasons of above-average offensive performances at AA Youngstown under his belt, and is sure to break spring in AAA Allentown in 2020.  With some pop (40 HR in three AA seasons), Summers appears to have nothing to prove in Youngstown.

ETA – 2021, although there are some in the organization who believe that he is the organization’s best catcher right now, and fully developed.

Upside – A perennial All-Leather catcher who provides above-average offense and some pop from both sides of the plate.

Risks to projection – Catchers who hit in the minors don’t always translate well to PEBA.

#7 Alfonso Romero (previously not in the organization) – The #3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, this is a lofty ranking for a 21 year old who is 14 starts removed from his senior season at the University of Cincinnati.  Debuting in full season A ball, Romero held his own, but didn’t dazzle statistically, going 5-3 in 14 starts for Middle Bass with a 4.50 ERA, and a 36/58 BB/K ratio in 76 innings.  The organization hopes to teach Romero a third pitch to solidify his preferred path as an ace starter.

ETA – 2024.

Upside – A durable top of the rotation starter.

Risks to projection – TINSTAAP, failure to master a quality third pitch.

#8 LF Bill Carter (previously not in the organization) – A surprise pick at #18 overall in the 2019 draft, Carter had a career 356/496/691 line in college at Marshall.  He is a scout’s dream with plus-plus power, but also hints at having a good approach at the plate.  At 6’2”, 230 pounds, Carter looks lumbering, but is actually an adept corner outfielder and base stealer.

ETA – 2023

Upside – A middle-of-the-order hitter who can hit .300, while getting on base at a .400 clip while hitting 30+ home runs.

Risks to projection – Carter is a very raw prospect at this point, who has yet to translate his physical skills to success on a professional field.

#9 RF Richard McGowan  (previously not in the organization) – A bit of a mystery, the Longshoremen drafted the high school graduate despite him being kicked off of his high school team.  In 303 at bats for short season Akutan Island, McGowan did better than college draftee Bill Carter, hitting 274/322/347 with 5 HR.

ETA – 2025

Upside – A fourth outfielder or platoon DH with some pop and a decent batting eye.

#10 CF Greyson Roe (previously unranked)– The last spot on the top ten is reserved for a guy that scouts have never liked (he was drafted in the 10th round of the 2017 draft after an undistinguished college career at UCLA).  All Roe has done is hit. Well, and pitch, but that much less successfully.  Scouts still turn up their nose at the 24 year old center fielder, but his statistical resume is impressive: 305/371/439 batting line in 488 AA at bats, 340/367/574 in 47 AAA at bats, and two minor league Gold Glove awards for his work in center field.  His hitting and defense in center field moved him up the organizational ladder so quickly that his nascent pitching career has been abandoned, but the organization thought highly enough of his arm that he got eighteen starts combined between short season A, full season A, and AA.

ETA – 2022

Upside – A perennial All-Leather Award winner in center field who can hit better than José Camacho.

#11  SS John Barker (previously #11) – Barker occupies the same spot on the Top 25 that he did nearly two years ago, and not much has changed as he has moved up to AAA at the end of 2019.  He still profiles as a potential All-Leather shortstop who has shown just enough offensive promise at each level to continue to move up the ladder.  He will never win a Silver Slugger, but with his defensive chops, he could hit 220/320/340 and still be an asset at the PEBA level.

#12 MR Will Montero (previously not in the organization) – A waiver claim from division rival Kalamazoo, Montero is a former 2nd round draft pick who will never be a start, but could spend a lot of years as a reliable contributor in a PEBA bullpen.  A control specialist, Montero has only walked 50 batters in nearly 280 minor league innings.

#13 LF Joe Oliver (previously #20) – An organizational soldier, the 25 year old supersub can play an above-average corner outfield, and stand around without embarrassing himself in center field and at first base and third base.  He can also hit a little, too, putting up nearly identical lines in full season A (280/376/468) and AA (280/369/434).  He will never be a star, but he can check off a lot of roster wants.

#14 3B Jesus Lopez (previously not in the organization) – Picked in the supplemental round of the 2018 draft, Lopez has impressed with the bat and the field, winning the AMAL’s Glove Wizard award at 3B while hitting 310/403/451 with 10 home runs in 2019.

#15 Lionello Macciocchi (previously #18) – After an ill-advise and too-soon injury cascade-induced promotion to AAA in 2018 (5.99 ERA, 100 IP, 71 BB, 76 K), the Argentine Michigan Wolverine righted his prospect ship with a return trip to AA Youngstown in 2019, going 9-7 with a 3.89 ERA while making 24 starts.  He walked 67 and struck out 113 in 145 innings.  He still throws hard, but has started to harness his stuff.

#16 Quinton Field (previously unranked) – A 2018 draftee, Field’s peripherals as a professional have been strong (82 BB and 232 K in 229 IP), but run prevention mostly hasn’t followed.  Field has good enough stuff, however, to make the AA rotation something to watch next season.

#17 Billy Mills (previously not in the organization) – Performance enhancing drugs have never been suspected in the PEBAverse, but Billy Mills’ early professional career might raise questions.  Mills hit 4 HR in his entire college career at Seton Hall. . . but has hit 24 HR in his first 700 at bats.  Those aren’t eye-popping, but they are a surprise for a guy that was a 6th round selection.

#18 CL Jason Campbell (previously not in the organization) – What do organizations look for in the last round of the draft? Personality? A winning attitude? A winner’s experience? In the last round of the 2017 draft, the Canton Longshoremen looked for speed, specifically, radar readings.  A bit over two years later, and that Mr. (23 picks away from) Irrelevant is a full-fledged bullpen prospect, having racked up 15 saves in 54 innings at full season A Middle Bass in which he struck out 71 guys and walked 39.

#19 C Cliff Mitchell (previously not in the organization) – The fourth member of the draft class of 2019 on this list, Mitchell arguably had the best professional debut of any of them, hitting 313/432/488 with  13 HR for Akutan Island. Next season could see him join former East Carolina teammate Jason Campbell in full season A ball.

#20 SPJesus Sandoval (previously not in the organization) – The Longshoremen’s 2019 3rd round draft pick, high school hurler Jesus Sandoval, had an impressive 11 start debut in short season A-ball, where he went 3-2 with a 4.38 ERA and a 19 BB / 52 K ratio in 611 innings.  The southpaw projects as a mid-rotation starter, or better with more speed on the fastball.

#21 CL Colin Jameson (previously not in the organization)– Another 2019 draftee, Jameson’s head turned in the waning moments of the draft when the Longshoremen announced him as a closer rather than as an outfielder, the position that he had played exclusively in high school, and played well, to the tune of a career 347/417/410 batting line for the South Caldwell Spartans and two high school Glove Wizard awards as a high schooler.  The 11th round pick had a bumpy introduction to pro baseball, going 0-8 with 11 saves and a 4.80 ERA for short season Akutan Island, but for someone who had not pitched competitively since Little League, those numbers don’t look horrible.

#22 C Michael Wilkinson (previously unranked) – Although scouts don’t love the former 8th round pick, and a crowded depth chart ahead of Wilkinson has meant a slower promotion track than most in the organization, 800 plus professional plate appearances generating an OBP of well over .400 has to be worth something in a self-proclaimed sabremetric organization, doesn’t it?  Wilkinson’s defensive reputation is less than sterling, so he will need to continue to impress with his bat and batting eye when he gets a chance at the upper levels of the organization.

#23 SP Nelson Encarnacion (previously unranked) – Signed as an undrafted free agent from Seton Hall after the 2017 draft, Encarnacion, like Wilkinson, will have to prove himself once he gets a shot at the upper minors.  A torrid four months at Middle Bass led to a respectable end of year stat line of 5-3, 3.26 ERA, with 40 walks and 77 strikeouts in 88 innings.

#24 SS Roberto Castaneda (previously unranked) – Patience has been the hallmark of Castaneda’s prospectdom.  Drafted way back in 2014, Castaneda is a glove first SS with some on-base skills.  The guy who many see as a poor man’s version of John Barker hit 273/350/353 in full season A-ball as a sixth year pro, and put up a 296/349/398 line in an end of season call-up to AA Youngstown.

#25 1B Matt George (previously not in the organization) – What do you do with a guy who hit 5 home runs in a pedestrian college career, but slugs 6 home runs in short season A ball after being drafted? You rank him last on the prospects list.  George hit 343/417/452 in 361 at bats and exhibited a much better eye for the strike zone than was expected given his college career.

The Graduates

The last Top 25 list graduated 14 players to the Longshoremen roster, with mixed results, but more hits than misses:

#1 2B Héctor Prado

What we said: .Sometimes a bat is so good, that the lack of a true fielding position is overlooked.  .  . Upside – Position-less slugger who could challenge for batting titles. . . Risks to projection – Power never develops, making Prado a tweener at 1B/DH, and fielding at PEBA level is too horrific to contemplate innings at 2B or 3B.

What has happened: With a career batting line of 243/279/314 at the PEBA level, it’s safe to say that Prado won’t be challenging for a batting title any time soon.  Through hard work, Prado has managed to transform himself into a league-average defensive second baseman.  Still just 25, Prado’s age 26 season could make or break his career with the Longshoremen.

#2 RF Peyton Bishop

What we said: Line-drive machine. . . A skilled basestealer, if Bishop can translate his on-base skills to the majors, he might be a top 5 lead-off man. . . Upside – A potential .400 OBP, 30 SB table-setter. . . Risks to projection – spotty defensive performances lead to sub-par outfield defense.

What has happened: Boy howdy! Bishop has become all that prospect mavens have hoped for and more.  Bishop followed up an impressive rookie season (299/345/434, 32 steals) with a 2019 that saw him overcome a cold April and May to challenge for a batting title.  He ended with a breakout 322/376/463, 60 steal season, and is a favorite to win the All-Leather Award in right field.  He is one of the most exciting young players in the game today.

#3 CL Pat Miller

What we said:  Prototypical college closer. . . meteoric rise through the Canton system. . . A slider-cutter specialist, Miller could be an above-average reliever in Canton right now. . . Upside – All-Star Closer. . .Risks to projection – TINSTAAPP.

What has happened:  Miller has emerged as one of the best young relievers in the game today, throwing 123 plus relief innings, going 8-1 with 6 saves and a 2.98 ERA.  He will have a shot to close in 2020 if, as rumored, All-Universe closer Julian Olivares is converted to a starter.

#4 C Yeijiro Kojima

What we said:  Catching prospects are notoriously difficult to project. . . Upside – League-average catcher, which is nothing to sneeze at. . .Risks to projection – TINSTAACP.

What happened: Kojima spent the whole 2019 season in Canton, hitting 15 home runs while hitting 231/279/396 in 424 at bats.  Given his history in the minors of breaking out during his second full season at a level, Kojima will be a popular auction end game pick in PEBA rotisserie baseball leagues this spring.

#7 C Chris Ridsdale

What we said:  Yet another catching “prospect”. . . offensive profile very un-Longshoremen like, as his plate discipline is just so-so, while his ability to make contact is a plus. . .odd (for the Longshoremen, at least) low walk/low strikeout player. . . defense is a question mark. . .Upside – League-average offense at the catcher position. . .Risks to projection – The front office’s visceral hatred of empty batting averages.

What happened: Ridsdale has essentially split the catching job with Kojima for the past two seasons, mostly winning the battle in 2018 and mostly losing it in 2019.  His career line of 277/311/369 is perfectly cromulant for a back-up catcher, less so for a starter.

#8 SS Terry Rasmussen

What we said: Above-average defensive SS, pop, high strikeout totals. . .left-handed hitter in a park (Svab Memorial Stadium) that is theoretically favorable to lefty hitters. . . Upside – 20 HR SS who could sniff an All-Leather Award. . . Risks to projection – He may prove to strike out too much to hold down a major league job, even for the K-happy Longshoremen organization.

What happened: A tale of two seasons, as Rasmussen K’d his way out of PEBA when C-Rod came back to reclaim the 2018 starting shortstop job, but returned down the stretch when C-Rod was traded at the deadline.  His rookie line of 236/277/365 in 449 at bats paled in comparison to a 2019 performance of 278/354/465. Barring a free agent signing, the still-just-24 Rasmussen will return as the incumbent starting shortstop, perhaps as the big side of a platoon with a right-handed hitter.

#9 LF Domingo Bravo

What we said:  A plus-plus defender in left field. . . Upside – 300/375/450 left fielder with legitimate All-Leather potential. . . Risks to projection – Longshoremen fans sincerely hope that Peyton Bishop will hold down the left spot in Canton for a long time, and Bravo has never seemed comfortable in center or right. Bravo will likely be asked to put up a 500 AB season for the first time in his career in 2018.

What happened: Bravo burst onto the scene as an injury call up with a 307/322/417 June and July, but ended with a 178/196/200 August and September.  Barring free agency and a Gabriel Martinez opening day roster spot, Bravo is expected to open 2020 as a fourth or fifth outfielder in Canton.

#12 LF Gunner Slagle:

What we said: A plus-plus fielder in the corner outfield who doesn’t embarrass himself in center field.

What happened: As a testament to how weak the Longshoremen organization was at the start of the 2018 season, the #12 prospect used the season to play his way out of PEBA, “hitting” 227/280/340 in 194 Canton at bats. He was released after the 2018 season and failed to sign with anyone for 2019.  His career is likely over.

#13 RF Mike Bean

What we said:  Bean has hit, and hit, and hit. . . organization sources believe that he is fully developed. . . more ready than Peyton Bishop, and a more complete player at this point in their careers.

What happened: It’s laughable that Bean was once considered a more complete player than Peyton Bishop, but good corner defense and a good batting eye won Bean 313 at bats in the two seasons since he was ranked the 13th best prospect in the Canton organization.  A torn labrum robbed him of the last half of 2019, which he started by hitting 225/349/303 in 89 at bats.  He is a good bet to be non-tendered, but could stick as a fourth outfielder.

#14 MR Emerson Rose:

What we said: Someone’s fifth starter. . . four hundred plus innings at AAA have left him nothing to prove. . . performance at the PEBA level was atrocious last season.  . .Spring training may be his last chance to prove that he belongs on a major league roster.

What happened: Same song, fourth verse for Rose in 2019.  Again he was awful in Canton (5-6, 5.60 ERA) and good in AAA Allentown (6-6, 3.42 ERA).  Like Bean, he is a prime candidate to be non-tendered.

#15 2B Eugene Baker:

What we said: A utility player if everything breaks right. . . powerless middle infielder who isn’t great with the glove, but youneverknow.

What happened:  Rewarded for yet another solid AAA season where he hit 266/355/399 with 28 stolen bases and 8 home runs, Baker went 2 for 20 in a September call up to the bigs.  Versatility and speed may save him from a non-tender, but – wait for it – youneverknow.

#16 MR Eric Lambright:

What we said:  Could easily hold down a role near the bottom of the Longshoremen bullpen in 2018 or 2019.

What happened: Lambright is a card-carrying member of the LOOGY union.  Unfortunately for his career numbers, he was so successful against portsiders that the Longshoremen turned to him when injuries decimated the bullpen.  He ended the season with a 4.99 ERA, a 4-4 record, and 2 saves, but left-handers hit only 253/289/335 against him.

#17 LF Ryan Smith

What we said: No power and a suspect glove. . . no more than 4th/5th outfielder material for an outfielder-poor organization.

What happened: He made the majors, and got his first hits and home runs during 2019.  He’ll also likely be looking for employment with another organization after non-tender season after hitting 265/273/368.

#22 CL Guillermo Mejía

What we said:  Fastball touches 101 mph. . . Iffy control and bouts with gopher ball-it is. . . one day get the chance to sink or swim in a major league bullpen.

What happened: He sank, but not without promise.  Mejia has a career 5.86 ERA in 138 PEBA innings.  A lefty fireballer, he showed some promise as a rookie when sent back down to AAA Allentown for parts of 2019.

Voted Off The Island

#5 RF/SP Juan Márquez

What we said: Ranking is probably too high. . . But, c’mon, he’s a two-way player!. . . pitching may not have been successful. . . peripherals were pretty impressive (30 IP, 8 BB, 25 K). . . scouts love the 21 year old’s power potential. . . decent athlete. . . projects to be an average (at worst) corner outfielder who could develop the bat to play there. . . ETA – Opening Day 2020? 2021?. . . Upside – 30+ HR power. . . adequate corner outfield defense. . . ability to provide a few mop-up innings of relief when the major league bullpen needs a blow. . .Risks to projection – It’s a long way from Akutan Island to Canton.

What happened: Marquez is still on the prospect radar, and truth be told, he still could probably make the above list on promise alone, but stats are stats, and a 3-7 record and 6.83 ERA in 19 AA Youngstown starts and a batting line of 231/341/381 in 268 at bats is nothing to write home about.  Scouts still love Marquez’s hitting abilities and are even more positive about his pitching abilities despite an iffy 2019 on the mound.  At just 23, Marquez will likely repeat AA in 2020.

#21 SS Jesús Lemus

What we said: Lost playing time to John Barker down the stretch. . . masking breakout season.

What happened: Now a third baseman, Lemus has been long since been passed on the depth chart by John Barker.  At 23, he’s still young, and hit an age-appropriate 274/344/311, but will probably be left off of the 40-man roster, daring some team to stash him on a major league roster for a season.

#23 1B Nelson Díaz:

What we said: Scouts aren’t wild. . . tweener first baseman. . . not a power hitter.

What happened: Always a fringy prospect, Diaz was non-tendered after the 2018 season and has not played professional baseball again.

#24 RF Pedro Figueroa:

What we said:  Figueroa’s power potential. . . Four hundred-plus at bats would go a long way toward the organization figuring out whether Figueroa is worth keeping.

What happened: Figueroa has yet to take 400 at bats in a season, and his 300 AAA Allentown at bats in 2019 (233/304/420 with 15 HR) likely weren’t enough to be rewarded a 40-man roster spot this offseason.

#25 SP Ángel Vargo:

What we said: Everyone loves Ángel Vargo – teammates, managers, coaches, scouts, and. . . opposing hitters. . . mediocre at best. . . downright bad at times. .  reputation as a bright, funny, hard-working gamer. . . benefit of the doubt when moving up the organizational ladder. . . If he could only break a pane of glass with his fastball. . .

What happened: Good looks and charm carry you only so far. Some scouts still think there’s a there there, but not even the most optimistic scout would grant Vargo a spot on a 40-man without a significant step forward after a repeat performance in AA saw Vargo regress to a 5.80 ERA in 139 innings. Vargo has just one more season to prove that he deserves to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.