Bernie on the Scene: More Reader Requested Prospects

Bernie on the Scene: More Reader Requested Prospects

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

Today I will continue responding to reader requests for prospect profiles. I have enough requests to do a few more columns on these. If you haven't seen a response to your request yet, please be patient. I have to review video and check my own scouting reports on each request.

Pedro Leon, SS/OF, Houston Astros
5-10, 170
Bats: Right
Age: 22
Signed by the Astros out of Cuba for a bonus of $4M.

For most observers, Pedro Leon is one of the most dynamic young prospects on the planet. He has incredible, top-of-the-chart speed and arm strength, two terrific tools that can support his development for the future.

Leon also has some amazing raw power from a rather modest frame. But he will gain more power and depth, as he is still only 22.

Leon has already made it to Triple-A in the Astros system. He is the heir apparent to a player like George Springer, whom the team lost to the Blue Jays in free agency. But I wonder if the Astros aren't rushing him too fast through their system?

Leon has not really produced the type of statistics stateside that he will at maturity. He has shown some power and that amazing speed, but he's still raw and has to refine virtually every phase of his game.

Some have compared Leon to fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. I don't think so. Puig had a much more powerful frame and was aggressive in his approach. Leon is of

Today I will continue responding to reader requests for prospect profiles. I have enough requests to do a few more columns on these. If you haven't seen a response to your request yet, please be patient. I have to review video and check my own scouting reports on each request.

Pedro Leon, SS/OF, Houston Astros
5-10, 170
Bats: Right
Age: 22
Signed by the Astros out of Cuba for a bonus of $4M.

For most observers, Pedro Leon is one of the most dynamic young prospects on the planet. He has incredible, top-of-the-chart speed and arm strength, two terrific tools that can support his development for the future.

Leon also has some amazing raw power from a rather modest frame. But he will gain more power and depth, as he is still only 22.

Leon has already made it to Triple-A in the Astros system. He is the heir apparent to a player like George Springer, whom the team lost to the Blue Jays in free agency. But I wonder if the Astros aren't rushing him too fast through their system?

Leon has not really produced the type of statistics stateside that he will at maturity. He has shown some power and that amazing speed, but he's still raw and has to refine virtually every phase of his game.

Some have compared Leon to fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. I don't think so. Puig had a much more powerful frame and was aggressive in his approach. Leon is of slighter build and has further to go to meet the goals of a major league All Star quality player.

Leon may end up playing center field or shortstop for Houston, which speaks to his athletic ability. Much of Leon's future could depend upon what the Astros do with current shortstop Carlos Correa

Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: He's a keeper-league stash, but I would tamper my expectations on his future. We have to see him through all of 2022 before deciding to put him in the Hall of Fame. Sorry, but I think he will only be an above-average player and not a super star as billed.

Luisangel (Jose) Acuna, SS/2B, Texas Rangers
5-10, 181 
Bats: Right
Age: 19
Luisangel Acuna is the younger brother of Ronald Acuna. Did the baseball genes enter his body? The younger Acuna brother signed out of Venezuela when he was only 17. He received a $425,000 signing bonus.

Like his brother, Luisangel is an aggressive hitter. He packs a punch in a solid swing, getting the most from a frame that is probably a bit slighter than listed. Some say he is really only 5-8, a huge difference of two inches from the way he is listed.

Offensively, he hits the ball hard off the barrel and can make some very loud noise with his bat.

Acuna's a good athlete but not that good a defensive shortstop, so scouts see his future in center field. I can see that as well. He has speed and good initial reactions to finding the baseball.

In his first full season stateside, Acuna is playing at Class-A. He his holding his own, hovering about the .270 mark in batting average. He has hit double-digit homers and has driven in close to 70 runs. This season he has stolen 43 bases as I write this, but he has been caught 11 times.

I think he can become "Ronald light" in his future. He has the ability, but he has to refine his game and not try to be the same guy as his brother. He could be a very, very good baseball player when he gets out of his teens and progresses in the Rangers system. 

Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: We have no idea yet who or what Acuna will be when he develops. But I would say draft him in keeper leagues and stash him. 

Miguel Vargas, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
6-3, 20
Bats: Right
Age: 21
Miguel Vargas was signed by the Dodgers out of Cuba for $300,000 in 2017.

Vargas played at both Class-A Advanced and Double A this season, hitting for both average and power. He is a prototypical third-base prospect, with power but a lack of speed. Ultimately, like many third basemen with little range and a lack of mobility and bad footwork, he could end up at first base.

Vargas is capable of hitting .300 against quality pitching and can probably hit 25 homers a year.

His swing is measured, although he has enough loft in his swing to carry any fence or wall in the big leagues. I do like his bat control and his ability to find the barrel. He has the ability to spray the ball or hit loud line drives to all fields. 

Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: I see Vargas' defensive limitations as a possible issue, but he can hit. He can find the barrel well enough to earn a regular job and fit right into a Dodgers lineup that will use his power and hitting ability well. It is only his lack of speed and average defense that keeps his grade at major-league average.

George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians
5-11, 185 pounds
Bats: Left
Age: 20
The Indians signed Valera out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3M in 2017.

To say Cleveland needs outfield help is an understatement. But what they need is power, and I'm not sure Valera is any different in that category than the countless outfielders the team has given tryouts to in the past three years. However, the Indians like Valera, and they think he will add depth to his frame and increase his power potential in the next couple seasons.

Valera played at Class-A Advanced and Double-A this season. He has hit 17 homers and driven in 62 runs, not a bad run. He's also stolen 10 bases in 15 attempts. 

Scouts have always liked Valera's left-handed swing. They feel his hitting mechanics flow well and that he has a good eye at the plate. I see the swing. I see the good eye. I'm just not persuaded that will transfer to finding the barrel consistently.

Scouts are convinced that he will hit plenty of homers with that sweet, sweet swing. I hope so. I'm just not convinced yet.

Valera's contact had been an issue early in his career, but that is improving. He is selective at the plate, and he knows the strike zone. I'm not sure, however, if he will be able to handle all the breaking balls he'll see as he advances through his development and into the big leagues.

While he doesn't have the frame and body of a slugger, he does project to use that stocky frame to power the ball out of the park. I'll believe that when I see it, as he advances. For now, he remains a work in progress. 

Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: For me, Valera is very much like the crop of Cleveland outfielders that have come along in the past few years. I hope he shows more power than they have given the team. But he is draftable in keeper leagues, for sure. The team likes him. He'll get a chance to play.

Anthony Volpe, SS, New York Yankees
5-11, 180 pounds
Bats: Right
Age: 20
The Yankees signed Volpe, a 2019 first round draft pick out of Delbarton School in New Jersey, for $2,740,300.

Volpe has soared to the top of the Yankees prospect charts. He is very smooth and very refined in both his fielding and hitting mechanics.

He has played this season at both Class-A and Class-A Advanced. He has a combined .295.,421/.611 line as of this writing. He has had a great season, hitting 25 homers and driving in 83 runs. Volpe has stolen 31 bases in 40 attempts. Lots to like.

Volpe has a short stroke and can find the barrel with relative consistency. One has to wonder if this season is a fluke, or does he really have that much power? 

Many scouts felt that Volpe was a "reach" by the Yankees as a first-round pick. They didn't see any one major tool to carry him. Well, this season has changed many minds.

Volpe's frame isn't going to scare many pitchers. However, he has such good hitting mechanics and such good baseball instincts, he will get the most from his body.

Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: I don't know if this year was a fluke or if Volpe is a Grade 60 player, capable of taking over as the Yankees shortstop in the future? For now, I'm hesitant about buying in. But what he does next season will be very telling, as he'll advance in classification and the same or more will be expected. I'm not jumping in quite yet.

Michael Harris, OF, Atlanta Braves
6-0, 195 pounds
Bats: Left
Age: 20
Harris was drafted in the third round by the Braves in 2019. He received a $548,000 signing bonus.

Harris was viewed as a potential major-league quality pitcher when he was drafted by the Braves. However, Atlanta has used him as a left-handed hitting outfielder, feeling his tools should be able to work for him as an everyday position player.

Harris has very quick hands, and his bat speed is consequential. He should be able to hit big-league pitching, with very good bat-to-ball skills. 

Coaches have worked on getting his hitting mechanics in sync, as he was inconsistent in his approach. They recognize the lighting quick bat speed, but they have to get him to repeat that measured swing. 

Not showing much power yet, Harris does not project to be a home run threat. In fact, in this entire season at Rookie Ball and at Class-A, he has hit only two homers.

I don't see how Harris will be much different on offense than Cristian Pache, who is a good fielder but can't hit big league pitching. So, if the Braves already have Pache, where does Harris fit in the future? Both play center field.

Harris is still very young, and I don't want to be overly harsh. He's a terrific athlete with outstanding potential. We'll have to see if he develops any power in that sweet swing. But for now, his athletic ability is good enough to make him a better than average bet. 

Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: We have to wait and see progress in 2022 before we decide if we want another Braves light-hitting outfielder on our rosters. But he may surprise and really start pounding the ball.

HEADING HOME:

The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held last Wednesday, in the middle of the week. I think that was an insult to every Hall of Famer, especially to the new inductees and to fans.

Some people believe MLB runs the Hall of Fame. They don't. The Hall of Fame Museum is a private entity. MLB does not own or operate the Hall of Fame Museum — or the induction process.

But of course, they have their hand in every decision.

Seriously, wasn't there some way to get the induction done on a weekend? 

Derek Jeter was not a unanimous selection. Only his former teammate, Mariano Rivera, was unanimously selected to the Hall of Fame. Jeter used the induction speech to make a point of stating that one writer didn't vote for him. He said, "Thank you to the baseball writers — all but one of you — who voted for me." My take: Mr. Jeter's enormous ego couldn't take the snub.

I don't have a Hall of Fame vote. I don't want to get into that. I've written many columns about the Hall of Fame. My basic beef: There are no criteria for entrance. What are the standards? What does a player have to achieve to gain entrance? To qualify? Why do only a select few baseball writers get to vote? In fact, I know of baseball writers who have the vote and don't go to games anymore. Why not TV and radio media members? Why not guys like me who are in the press box at least 100 times a year at Fall League, spring training and regular season games? Why don't we get to vote?  

For me, voting for the Hall of Fame is far, far too subjective. Don't like a guy's personality? Don't vote for him. You and a player get along well and are "friends"? Vote for him. Again, there are no standards. No critera. Too subjective. Too much a popularity contest.

Would I have voted for Jeter? Yes. Larry Walker? Yes. Harold Baines got in by being buddies with members of the select veterans committee. For me, Harold Baines was a good baseball player. A Hall of Famer? No way. That was the final straw for me. The "select" committees of buddies and friends on veteran selections committees is a bridge too far. Those committees have watered down the Hall of Fame.

Today's question: Who are the first five pitchers you will target in Fantasy Baseball 2022?

Thanks for reading. And you can still request player profiles for the future. I'll be doing a few more of today's type articles. List your requests in the comment section below. But know that I may have recently profiled your requested player. They are all available to be reviewed in my archived articles.

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

Stay safe and healthy.
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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