National League East Prospects to Watch
Continuing onto the second part of the “MLB Prospects to Watch 2020”, this installment will focus on the National League East. The National League East is likely going to be the most competitive division in all of baseball this season.
Therefore, the role of prospects for nearly every team besides the Miami Marlins will be critical. Prospects might open the season with their big league team out of Spring Training or be called up at a later date. Regardless, the impact of some prospects is going to be significant. That’s why it’s important to identify one prospect to watch for all five National League East teams below.
Furthermore, MLB Prospects are heavily valued in the game of baseball today and many fans know more about their team’s prospects than some big league players. Today, many teams would rather build their roster with internal options instead of making a trade. That is what has caused there to be such a lull in the trade market this offseason.
The Atlanta Braves are in a clear win-now window and their chances of winning the division are very good heading into the coming season. Atlanta has a very strong core group of players at the big league level and some intriguing pitchers as well.
One reason why the Braves have been competitive over the last few years and will be for the foreseeable future is due to their farm system. The Braves have built up their farm system with a lot of promise and high-upside prospects. In turn, that should help them stay competitive for a while.
RHP Ian Anderson
The future ace of the Atlanta Braves starting rotation could very well be right-hander, Ian Anderson. Anderson possesses a very high-ceiling and has the stuff to be that frontline, lockdown guy for Atlanta during their current window. The Braves have been very hesitant to trade Anderson and that’s a big reason why. Of the Braves Top 30 Prospects, Anderson ranks third overall.
Anderson features a pitch repertoire made up of three different pitches. According to scouts, his most well-known pitch is his fastball which averages from the mid-to-high 90’s. Scouts say that Anderson can generate a lot of ground balls with that pitch which in turn translates to outs. Overall, his fastball ranks the highest of the three pitches at 60 on the scouting scale.
If there was one thing Anderson could focus on, it’s his overall walk rate. Scouts note that he should be able to improve in that area with more command on his pitches and experience in high-leverage situations. It would not be a surprise to see Anderson as part of the big league rotation as soon as this season.
The Miami Marlins will likely be in yet another season of full-rebuild mode. Miami is going to have their eyes set towards the future this coming season but should add a few more wins to their record from last year.
Last season, the Marlins finished with a 57-105 record. However, with the addition of some notable veterans like first baseman Jesus Aguilar, middle infielder Jonathan Villar, and outfielder Corey Dickerson, the Marlins should tack on some more wins. Despite that though, this will be another season of trying to identify who the core group should be moving forward.
Prior to the conclusion of this past July 31st Trade Deadline, the Miami Marlins acquired shortstop, Jazz Chisholm from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for starting pitcher, Zac Gallen. It was a trade that was received with a lot of praise throughout baseball. Chisholm is a highly regarded piece of the future for the Miami Marlins – ranking fourth overall on their Top 30 Prospect list.
One of the most exciting aspects of Chisholm is his ability to swing the bat from the left side. Scouts note that Chisholm has a lot of exit velocity on his swing from that side and the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. That’s why Chisholm earned a grade of 55 on the scouting scale in the power category.
What makes Chisholm a true shortstop is his athleticism and quick hands. Chisholm has a very good feel of the position and the ability to compete with the best defensive shortstops around baseball on a yearly basis. If everything goes right, Chisholm may very well be the next Francisco Lindor or Trevor Story.
New York Mets
Looking ahead to the coming season, the New York Mets will be focused on trying to win the National League East. The Mets have a talented team anchored by one of the top starting rotations around baseball. If the Mets are going to contend, the starting rotation will need to live up to expectations.
Given that there necessarily isn’t one area of need for the Mets, it’s hard to identify a part of their roster where an impact prospect can step in. Despite that though, their farm system still possess plenty of intrigue.
LHP David Peterson
Coming in at number seven on the Mets Top 30 Prospects list is left-hander, David Peterson. Peterson has the potential to be a number 3 or 4 starting pitcher in the coming future and it could be as soon as this year. Depending on if the Mets have an injury or trade from their rotation, Peterson could be the guy to step in.
Something that has caught the scout’s eye about Peterson is the sink he possesses on his fastball. Furthermore, Peterson had the third-best ground ball rate in the minors last season at 64.5%. Another intriguing pitch in his repertoire is his slider. The slider rates as a 60 on the scouting scale – the highest of Peterson’s four pitches.
As scouts note, as long as Peterson continues to stay focused on his mechanics and inducing ground ball contact, he should have a great future. That is good news for the New York Mets who already have a strong starting rotation capable of winning the National League East.
As the team with the highest payroll in the division, this will be yet another season that the Philadelphia Phillies believe they have the means of winning the division. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Phillies have a projected 40-man payroll of $202.6 million dollars. That would certainly put them in the Top 10 in all of baseball.
1B/3B Alec Bohm
Easily the most exciting prospect coming up through the Phillies system is first baseman/third baseman, Alec Bohm. Bohm is the organization’s top prospect and has an extremely high-ceiling coupled with a bright future. Right now, the organization has a clear need for an impact third baseman.
The biggest takeaway about Bohm’s game is his hit skills and overall raw power. Scouts are very impressed by both qualities and believe that Bohm has an excellent eye for the strike zone. As such, Bohm has the ability to walk quite a bit and that could translate very well at the big league level.
Probably the most exciting idea for the Phillies is that Bohm could occupy third base alongside shortstop, Luis Garcia in the future. When you couple the defensive and offensive skills of both, they could very well be one of the best future duos on the left side of the infield in all of baseball.
The World Series Champion Washington Nationals will be a very strong team once again this coming season. The Nationals are focused on becoming back-to-back World Series Champions and despite losing Anthony Rendon, they feel like their roster is still very strong.
When you look at the Nationals, the most likable thing about their team is the starting rotation. Headlined by a powerful threesome in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin, the Nationals have as good of a rotation as anyone in baseball.
2B/SS Carter Kieboom
Carter Kieboom is going to likely be the one guy on this list that opens up the season as part of the big league roster. As it stands right now, the Washington Nationals view Kieboom as their impact third baseman of the future. Despite the fact that he is a natural second baseman or shortstop, the Nationals feel like Kieboom has the ability to play a very good game at the hot corner.
One of the most intriguing parts of Kieboom’s game is his ability to hit for power and to do it from foul pole to foul pole. On the scouting scale, Kieboom received a 60 grade in the hitting category and a score of 55 in the power category. That’s how good of a hitter scouts expect Kieboom to be in the future.
If there is one part of his game Kieboom should address, it is his overall defense. Last season, scouts noted that Kieboom had about league average defense. However, with age and experience at the big league level, Kieboom could easily improve in that area very quickly.
In the end, the National League East is likely going to be the most competitive division in all of baseball. There are four teams that have everything to win the division itself and the Miami Marlins should be better than they were last season. Although, Miami is realistically still three or four years away from being a true threat.
Regardless of that, it should be a very exciting season overall throughout this division. There are some very intriguing prospects in each team’s farm system and it will be exciting to watch the ones identified on this list as the year progresses forward.