Big Hype Prospects: Rafaela, Amador, Langford, Madden, Caissie

Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s get to it.

Five Big Hype Prospects

Ceddanne Rafaela, 22, OF, BOS (MLB)
(AA/AAA) 485 PA, 20 HR, 36 SB, .302/.349/.520

Rafaela is the latest top prospect to earn a promotion. The defensive wunderkind has posted impressive hitting stats, albeit without much support under the surface. For instance, Rafaela has 14 home runs in 219 Triple-A plate appearances, an impressive power display by any measure. However, he’s done this with a 25.9 percent HR/FB ratio and below-average exit velocities. The guys who maintain high HR/FB ratios do it by crushing baseballs on the regular. Rafaela also has both poor discipline and serious swing-and-miss issues. That he succeeds despite these flaws indicates a path forward in the coming years. For now, consider him a glove-first option with an explosive but exploitable bat.

Adael Amador, 20, SS, COL AA)
(A+) 259 PA, 9 HR, 12 SB, .302/.391/.514

Though he’s no Ethan Salas, Amador is still one of the youngest players in Double-A. As yet, he only has two games at the level. He’s gone 2-for-8 with a walk and two steals. Amador is a switch-hitting middle infielder with a Kwan-like feel for the strike zone and contact. He still sells out for contact a little too much, and too many of his balls in play are on the ground. Even so, he’s trending toward a 2024 debut for a Rockies club in desperate need of a viable leadoff hitter. And that’s exactly what he looks like – a long-term up-the-middle leadoff guy.

Wyatt Langford, 21, OF, TEX (A+)
(A+) 88 PA, 3 HR, 6 SB, .314/.455/.586

A candidate to go first overall in the 2023 draft, Langford “fell” to the Rangers at fourth overall. He tore through the complex in 14 plate appearances before landing in High-A. The right-handed outfielder has more walks than strikeouts and as many extra-base hits as singles – indicating High-A isn’t much of a challenge. The main knock against him is defense. He’s fast enough to be a plus fielder, but he reportedly gets poor reads off the bat. His speed helps him to make up ground. I like to give players with his athleticism a pass on their poor defensive reputations in college. A professional environment without the pesky distractions of college sometimes unlocks an extra hunger to improve.

Ty Madden, 23, SP, DET (AA)
(AA) 103 IP, 10.92 K/9, 3.93 BB/9, 3.84 ERA

Dating back to last season, Madden now has 30 starts at Double-A. He features a classic four-pitch repertoire of roughly average offerings complemented by average or better command. Variety and command have allowed him to miss bats at a high rate. One glaring issue is a hefty home run rate. I don’t have the data necessary to diagnose if those dingers are the result of a simple or complicated issue. Presumably, they’re at least of moderate concern since he remains in Double-A.

Owen Caissie, 21, OF, CHC (AA)
458 PA, 21 HR, 6 SB, .282/.387/.525

Caissie has the Joey Gallo starter kit –plus discipline, 80-grade power, and a 32.8 percent strikeout rate. There’s some cause for hope. Caissie’s 13.9 percent swinging strike rate is well-below even Gallo’s best seasons. Both sluggers spent their age-20 campaign in Double-A. Gallo had a 23 percent swinging strike rate at the time – though he also hit 42 home runs that season. Teams have grown increasingly adept at using players in the situations for which they’re best suited. Caissie appears destined for a highly managed role, one in which he might shine as brightly as baseball’s top stars.

Three More

Robby Snelling, SDP (19): A bat-missing southpaw, Snelling was somehow only the second-youngest player the Padres promoted to Double-A last week (yep, I’m going to keep bringing up Salas). Despite strong results overall, reports indicate Snelling is a long way from a Major League debut. His fastball lacks special traits. Success will depend on his slider, an impressive offering for which he currently lacks command.

Yu-Min Lin, ARI (20): Min earned a promotion to Double-A right around Snelling’s age. He perhaps serves as a cautionary tale since they both feature unimpressive fastballs. Unlike Snelling, Lin has solid command and his primary weapon is a changeup. He’s struggled to a 5.19 ERA in Double-A.

Colton Cowser, BAL (23): One of the hottest first-half hitters in the minors, Cowser struggled to drink from his jumbo-sized cup of coffee. His MLB-hangover has followed him back to Triple-A. Since demotion, he’s batting .250/.348/.500 with a 34 percent strikeout rate in 47 plate appearances.

Did I miss a detail or nuance? DM me on Twitter @BaseballATeam to suggest corrections.

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