Minors | General | 12/2/2019

PG in the Pros: AL West

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Tyler Ivey (Perfect Game)

As part of Perfect Game's recurring PG in the Pros series David Rawnsley will take a look at some of the top prospects in minor league baseball and their impact on the sport prior to their professional careers. This will be done in a six-part series, one feature for each division in Major League Baseball while identifying one of the top prospects for each team. Links are provided below to past installments of the PG in the Pros series for other reports on prospects, both past and present.

Houston Astros

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, Mike Foltynewicz, Lance McCullers
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Brett Phillips, Colin Moran
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Alex Bregman
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Derek Fisher
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Kyle Tucker
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Forrest Whitley

Tyler Ivey, RHP

Ivey found his velocity early in high school as he was already touching 92 mph with a powerful and sharp mid-70s curveball when he received a PG 10 grade before his junior year at the 2013 South Top Prospect Showcase. He had a strong lower half and core that he used to drive his delivery and get downhill from a high three-quarters arm slot. Ivey’s delivery was multi-part and very deceptive and there are plenty of notes in the PG database about how hitters seemed to take plenty of hittable strikes.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander’s stuff plateaued a bit as a senior at Rockwell-Heath High School, still staying in the 88-92 mph range. Originally an Arkansas commit, Ivey switched to Texas A&M and was ranked 224th in the 2015 class in the final PG class rankings.

Ivey spent only one year at A&M, though, going 2-3 with a 3.56 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 43 innings while making 10 starts, fourth on the Aggies staff. He decided to transfer to Grayson JC for his sophomore year and absolutely dominated at the junior college level, going 9-0 with a 2.08 ERA and striking out 122 hitters in only 78 innings. The concerns about command and remaining a starter that had caused scouts to worry about his delivery and high energy release in high school lessened as Ivey walked only 43 hitters in 121 college innings between the 2016-2017 seasons while often working into the mid-90s.

The Astros liked their home-state product the most and picked him in the third round with the 91st overall pick, making Ivey the sixth junior college pick of the draft in what was a rich overall JC class, especially in pitchers. He signed for $450,000.

Los Angeles Angels

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Kaleb Cowart, Randal Grichuk
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Nick Tropeano, Cam Bedrosian
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Joe Gatto
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Matt Thaiss
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Jahmai Jones
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Jo Adell

Brandon Marsh, OF

Marsh was a multi-sport athlete in high school and especially stood out as a 6-foot-4, 210-pound wide receiver with plus speed and outstanding overall athleticism. That multi-sport commitment kept him from playing in many mainstream summer and fall baseball showcases and tournaments while in high school and he wasn’t a well circulated prospect name beyond the local Georgia level heading into his senior spring in 2016.

The lefthanded hitter was ready for his senior year, though, and got off to a fast start at the heavily scouted early spring Perfect Game High School Showdown, showing two 70 grade tools in his running speed and arm strength while collecting multiple extra-base hits. Marsh went on to hit .559-3-25 with 19 steals and 59 runs scored as a senior, clearly showing to scouts that his hitting skills were starting to catch up to his huge physical tools.

Marsh was committed to play baseball at Kennesaw State, but it was pretty clear by that point that he had a strong chance to be a day one draft, with Perfect Game ranking him 37th in the final 2016 high school class rankings. He ended up being the 27th high school player off the board when the Angels picked him in the second round with the 60th overall pick. Marsh signed for a full slot $1,073,300 bonus.

Oakland Athletics

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Addison Russell, Michael Choice, Bobby Wahl, Daniel Robertson
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Matt Olson, Chad Pinder
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Casey Meisner
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Jharel Cotton
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – A.J. Puk
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Jesus Luzardo

Daulton Jefferies, RHP

Jefferies was a two-way standout in high school who physically more resembled a middle infielder than a pitcher and who played both ways at major showcases. Then listed at 6-foot, 170-pounds, Jefferies had quick defensive actions with good hands and lots of arm strength but a contact oriented lefthanded swing that lacked strength and projectable bat speed. It was pretty obvious his future was on the mound.

Without the physicality to really generate fastball velocity as a teenager, Jefferies’ best talents were as a three-pitch starter with excellent command and lots of physical projection. He worked in the upper-80s with his fastball, touching 90 mph before his senior year at the 2012 PG National Showcase and 92 mph after his senior year at the WWBA 18u National Championship. His changeup was his best pitch at that point and he also threw an effective slider. With that type of polish and variety of pitches, it’s not surprising that Jefferies went 18-2 with 242 strikeouts and only 34 walks in 145 innings between his junior and senior high school seasons. He also hit .360 as a four-year starter at shortstop. He was ranked 227th in the PG class rankings and was taken in the 39th round by the Miami Marlins.

Jefferies got stronger during his three years at California while maintaining the same type of command and pitchability. He went 6-5 with a 2.93 ERA and 74 strikeouts versus 17 walks in 80 innings as a sophomore to put himself on the prospect map for the 2016 draft. Jefferies opened up the 2016 spring very strongly, with lots of first round talk, but was shut down after six starts with what was later diagnosed as a shoulder strain. He came back in late May to pitch a couple of games prior to the draft and looked strong and finished the season with a 7-0 record in eight starts to go with a 1.08 ERA in 50 innings.

While the uncertainly about Jefferies shoulder undoubtedly impacted where he was drafted, he still went 37th overall to the Oakland A’s, who signed him for a $1.6 million bonus. 

Seattle Mariners

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Taijuan Walker, Edwin Diaz, Tyler Marlette
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – D.J. Peterson, Austin Wilson
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Drew Jackson
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Tyler O'Neill
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Kyle Lewis
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Joe Rizzo

Logan Gilbert, RHP

Gilbert attended Wekiva High School in Apopka, Florida, north of Orlando, and wasn’t really on scout’s radar except as a follow. Listed at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds at that time, Gilbert threw at four WWBA events the summer before his senior year, then again in Jupiter in October, 2014, for the Orlando Scorpions. He generally worked in the mid- to upper-80s, touching 90 mph a couple of times, to go with a mid-70s breaking ball. Gilbert’s profile picture in the PG database shows a baby-faced young man with a big smile who obviously had plenty of maturing to do physically.

Gilbert was an outstanding student with well over a 4.0 GPA and went to nearby Stetson. Stetson, it should be noted, has had alumni Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom win a combined four Cy Young awards since 2014 so the school has an outstanding record of developing pitchers. It should also be noted that neither Kluber nor deGrom, like Gilbert, were drafted out of high school and deGrom wasn’t even a pitcher when he first attended Stetson.

Working primarily out of the bullpen as a freshman, Gilbert went 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA, although he walked 27 hitters in 49 innings. He blossomed as a sophomore, going a perfect 10-0 with a 2.02 ERA to go with 107 strikeouts in 89 innings. Gilbert then went to the Cape Cod League for the summer and put himself near the top of the 2018 draft rankings, working in the mid-90s with command, touching 97 mph and showing three solid secondary pitches, including a plus changeup and above average slider.

Now a much more mature 6-foot-6, 225-pound athlete, Gilbert mysteriously came out at the start of his junior spring with a grade less raw stuff across the board early in the spring when many crosscheckers got their first looks at him, although it didn’t impact his performance. His stuff gradually improved throughout the spring while he went 11-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 112 innings.

While Gilbert was the second college pitcher selected after first overall pick Casey Mize, he slid to 14th and the Seattle Mariners, who quickly signed him for $3.88 million. Given Gilbert’s dominant full season minor league debut (10-5, 2.13 with 165 strikeouts in 134 innings while reaching AA), there are probably a few teams thinking they may have over valued Gilbert’s early season impressions versus his overall body of work at Stetson.

Texas Rangers

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Roughned Odor, Luis Sardinas, Nick Williams, Joey Gallo
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Alex Gonzalez, Lewis Brinson, Travis Demeritte
PG in the Pros, 2015-16
– Luis Ortiz
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Josh Morgan
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Willie Calhoun
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Bubba Thompson

Sam Huff, C

Huff attended Arcadia High School in the Phoenix area and played in numerous West Coast PG events for the Canyon Thunder early in his high school career. It took Huff a while, though, to fully grow into his long 6-foot-4 frame, both in strength and coordination, and it really wasn’t until his senior year that he began to really develop as a prospect.

Huff’s size, which grew to hold 215 pounds in high school, is large for a catcher but he had excellent fundamentals defensively for his age and did plenty of positive things to stay as short as possible in his actions. He frequently showed plus raw arm strength behind the plate, throwing 82 mph in drills at the 2016 PG World Showcase before his senior year, and his arm played well in games. In addition, Huff was a 7.03 runner who also played corner infield and had the overall athleticism to play other positions well if he did outgrow the catching position as his bat continued to improve.

A righthanded hitter, Huff also had the same type of well-coached elements in his swing that kept his swing short. It probably wasn’t coincidental that Huff’s father, Steve, was a seventh-round pick by the Giants in 1976, although he didn’t sign. If anything, prior to his senior season Huff was sometimes guilty of staying too short and inside the ball for some scouts as you just wanted him to turn the barrel more often and show his power potential.

That’s exactly what Huff did during his senior spring, showing his power in a big way while leading Arizona high school hitters in home runs by hitting .554-14-49 with 29 walks in 30 games and getting plenty of late scouting attention. Perfect Game had him ranked 126th in their final 2016 class rankings and the Rangers took a chance in the seventh round on Huff, who was signed with Grand Canyon. He signed for $225,000 and has continued to see that power blossom as a professional.

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