Minors | General | 12/5/2019

PG in the Pros: NL West

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Jeter Downs (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.

2019-20 PG in the Pros series: AL West
| AL Central | AL East

Arizona Diamondbacks

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Archie Bradley, Chris Owings, Stryker Trahan
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15– Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair, Brandon Drury
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Pete O’Brien
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Anthony Banda
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Marcus Wilson
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Jon Duplantier

Seth Beer, 1B

Originally a member of the 2016 high school class, Beer was very physically mature for his age and also a year older than most of his 2016 peers when he entered high school. He started competing in PG tournaments when he was in eighth grade and was more a primary pitcher early in his high school days than an outfielder, especially since he was already throwing up to 87 mph as a freshman. With his broad-shouldered, long build, it wasn’t surprising that Beer was a two-sport standout as a nationally competitive swimmer as well.

Beer was invited to two PG National Junior Showcases, a rare honor, before also competing at the 2015 National Showcase. His standout tool, not surprisingly, was his big lefthanded power, power that he didn’t always get to consistently but which jumped out when he was on time and squared up.

Due to his age and physical maturity, along with his pretty polished skillset, Beer decided to graduate from Lambert (Ga.) High School early and enroll at Clemson during the spring of what would have been his senior high school year.

Beer’s freshman season at Clemson, when he very well could have still been in high school, was one of the most impressive single college seasons given its context ever. The 19-year old not only hit .369-18-70 in 62 games but walked 62 times versus only 27 strikeouts, giving him an OPS of 1.235. Any early discussions about the 2018 draft at that point definitely had Beer’s name right near the top of the first round.

He hit a combined .300-38-107 with 118 walks over the next two seasons and Beer’s power became increasingly strength based rather than bat speed driven. In addition, his former right field athleticism and tools started to point to a future at first base. There was talk throughout the spring leading up to the 2018 draft that Beer could even fall out of the first round.

Lefthanded power, walks and consistent performance are music to this analytic heavy age in baseball, though, and there is no team more analytics based that the Houston Astros. Houston took Beer with the 28th overall pick and signed him for a $2,250,000 bonus.

Colorado Rockies

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Eddie Butler, David Dahl, Kyle Parker, Trevor Story
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Jonathan Gray, Ryan McMahon
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Forrest Wall
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Ryan Castellani
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Brendan Rodgers
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Colton Welker

Ryan Vilade, SS

Vilade’s father, James is a long-time baseball coach and scout who moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, after his son’s junior year to take an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator position at Oklahoma State. The elder Vilade left OSU earlier this fall to work for the Miami Marlins as an area scout.

Needless to say, the younger Vilade had a strong baseball background and was a regular on the summer circuit during his high school years. He received a PG 10 grade at the 2015 PG Junior National Showcase and was invited to the 2016 PG National Showcase and from there to participate in the 2016 PG All-American Classic. His report from the National Showcase reads:

Tall, athletic, well-proportioned build, has present strength with plenty of room for more. Righthanded hitter, open spread stance, has lots of strength and leverage in his swing, fires his lower half well and creates easy bat speed, swing will get long at times but hand quickness makes it work for him, ball comes off the barrel hard, works the middle of the field to the pull side, flashes lift when he extends through contact. 6.77 runner, has good hands in the field defensively and a quick and easy transfer, tends to throw cross-body, solid raw arm strength, can see him ending up at third base in the future.

Vilade’s best tool in high school was his bat and offensive potential. A strong but still projectable 6-foot-2, 190-pound righthanded hitter, Vilade had a professional swing approach that stayed on plane well and generated very consistent gap-to-gap power. He played primarily shortstop, although he did play second base for the 2016 USA National 18u team due to injuries, but most scouts considered him a future third baseman once he physically matured.

Vilade had a strong spring at his new high school, hitting .410-7-28 and was ranked 36th overall in the 2017 high school class in the final PG rankings. That was consistent with where Vilade landed in the draft as the Colorado Rockies picked him 48th overall and signed him away from an Oklahoma State scholarship for a $1.452,400 signing bonus.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Chris Anderson, Scott Schebler
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Cody Bellinger
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Alex Verdugo
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Walker Buehler
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Gavin Lux

Jeter Downs, SS

Downs was born in Columbia, where his father was a professional baseball players and eventually moved with his family to south Florida. He was named after Yankees great Derek Jeter, who was his mother’s favorite player.

Downs was a regular at Perfect Game tournaments and showcases while playing for the powerful Elite Squad program and was a dominant performer at Monsignor Pace Academy in Hialeah during the springs. He was invited to the 2016 PG National Showcase and showed off his blazing speed and strong arm well.

Compact strong athletic build. Quick-twitch athlete, ran a 6.45 sixty and has a very quick first step. Righthanded hitter, narrow stance with a high hand load, has quick and loose hands, generates lots of bat speed and has plenty of strength for his size, ball comes off the barrel hard, line drive swing path with pull- to mid-field contact. Shows lots of range to both sides on defense, very good raw arm strength, ball jumps out of his hand, can clean up his footwork throwing for a quicker release but his arm strength masks that for now. High level athlete with big tools.

One thing that Downs never seemed to do at Perfect Game events that he did consistently during the spring and at other national level events was hit with power, which belied his level line drive swing path and smaller stature. He hit 21 home runs over his last two seasons in high school and launched a bomb at the 2016 Area Code Games but was more of a gap-to-gap hitter when playing for the Elite Squad.

The power potential, helped by a very strong start to his senior season in 2017, is something that the scouts definitely saw in addition to Downs’ obvious plus speed and middle-of-the-field defensive ability. There was plenty of mid-first round talk on Downs leading up to the draft and he eventually did manage to slide into the back of the round, going to the Reds with the 32nd overall pick and signing for a $1,822,500 bonus. Downs was acquired by the Dodgers as part of a larger trade that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood to Cincinnati.

San Diego Padres

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Austin Hedges, Matt Wisler, Max Fried, Joe Ross
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Hunter Renfroe, Taylor Lindsey
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Colin Rea
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Josh Naylor
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Logan Allen
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – MacKenzie Gore

Luis Campusano, C

Campusano’s father, Genaro, played catcher and first base in the lower minors for five years, mostly with the Pirates, after being signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1989. His son, Luis, inherited many of the same physical attributes as his father, especially the strong and quick lower body so important for catchers defensively.

Campusano’s background in baseball and his early physical maturity enabled him to be a four-year starter at Cross Creek High School in Georgia, and he even hit .403-6-32 as a freshman. He continued to improve throughout his teenage years and was invited to play at the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase where the following report was filed:

Strong compact build, especially in the lower half, Molina Family type physical characteristics and tools. Very good one-spot quickness behind the plate on defense, quick release on throws with very good online carry, 1.84 best pop time, very good blocker who will use his body, competes hard behind the plate. Righthanded hitter, deep hand load with a big weight shift into contact, swings hard and uses his lower half well, hits the ball out front and has barrel control, showed big pull power with loud contact but can also drive the ball to RCF, barrel control stands out. Very interesting young catching prospect.

Campusano’s maturity, energy and polish defensively stood out even when playing with the best catchers in the country but almost as intriguing was his combination of bat speed and barrel control at the plate. He had the ability from a young age to keep his hands and hips loaded until exactly the right time before firing at the ball and his swing path stayed on plane with the ball for a long time. His high school numbers as a junior and senior – 47 walks and only 12 strikeouts – bear this out and his performance across his junior to senior summer, including his appearance at the PG All-American Classic, supported the observation and numbers.

Still, high school catchers are not usually treated well in the draft. Campusano had a huge senior year, though, hitting .622-6-27 with 13 doubles and 25 walks, and was ranked 34th in the final Perfect Game pre-draft high school rankings. The Padres picked him near the top of the second round with the 39th overall pick and signed him out of a South Carolina scholarship with a $1.3 million signing bonus.

San Francisco Giants

Before They Were Pros, 2013-14 – Andrew Susac
Before They Were Pros, 2014-15 – Christian Arroyo, Steven Okert, Clayton Blackburn
PG in the Pros, 2015-16 – Tyler Beede
PG in the Pros, 2016-17 – Chris Shaw
PG in the Pros, 2017-18 – Austin Slater
PG in the Pros, 2018-19 – Shaun Anderson

Joey Bart, C

Bart attended Buford High School in Georgia and played for the East Cobb Astros throughout high school, so he was a regular at WWBA and BCS tournaments between 2012 and 2015, competing in over 25 events including a pair of showcases. Listed at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, Bart was an extra strong and physically mature athlete who had a power/power game as a catcher, meaning a power bat and a power arm. He finished his high school days ranked 120th in the final Perfect Game 2015 class rankings and was selected by Tampa Bay with a token 27th round pick.

Bart’s extensive experience and present strength served him well as a freshman at Georgia Tech, as he played 43 games, hitting .299-1-31. He then went off to the Cape Cod League during the summer and was just as solid with the wood bat, hitting .309-2-21.

Two things happened to Bart’s overall game during the next two years. Most importantly for a catcher, he continued to improve on defense, especially with his overall quickness and athleticism. That aspect of catching is always a challenge for a big catcher and Bart, by then listed at 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, certainly qualified at the top of that scale. Secondly, Bart transformed his approach at the plate, learning to work counts and draw walks while at the same time learning what pitches he could use his strength and bat speed to lift. After hitting only one home run as a freshman, he hit 13 as a sophomore and 16 as a junior and saw his walk total increase from eight all the way to 41 over three years.

That combination of defensive and offensive skills and tools on a polished and very experienced catcher was impossible to miss and Bart started receiving big attention almost immediately during his junior spring. While Auburn righthander Casey Mize was the presumptive No. 1 pick at draft time, it was a complete toss-up who would follow him and in what order. The Giants got the first shot at Bart with the second pick and selected him, paying him a $7,025,000 bonus, at that point the largest bonus ever given a position player.

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