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Hot Prospects To Watch - Mize, Urias, Franco


Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s MLB debut came and went last Friday. So who is next?

It figures to be Reds third baseman/outfielder Nick Senzel, the team's top prospect and No. 5 overall in baseball. It could happen as soon as this Friday, too, as the 22-year-old is now healthy after a sprained ankle in spring training. He'll immediately become Cincy's starting center fielder and needs to be owned everywhere.

In other prospect news, shortstop Bo Bichette will not require surgery on his fractured hand that he suffered last Monday at Triple-A Buffalo. The No. 10 prospect overall will miss extended time, but he's still an option to join Vlad Jr. in Toronto's infield later this year.

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Mize Downright Unhittable

Casey Mize - SP, Detroit Tigers

In his debut for Double-A Erie on Monday, Mize, the team's top prospect and No. 16 overall, threw a nine-inning no-hitter while striking out seven and facing one over the minimum. He did it in just 98 pitches (70 strikes) and didn't even use his full arsenal.

Mize was 2018's first overall pick, and he has shown why so far this year. He extended his scoreless streak to 24 straight innings and has given up one hit or fewer in four of his five starts (35 innings) in 2019. In four starts for High-A Lakeland, Mize was 2-0 with a microscopic 0.35 ERA, 25 strikeouts and one walk in 26 innings while holding opponents to a .085 average.

The 21-year-old obviously has the stuff to compete at the next level, but the Tigers won't rush him. Still, it seems inevitable that he'll be in Detroit's big league rotation this year if he continues to pitch this well. He has done nothing but impress so far in his professional career and has plus command with the ability to induce swings and misses with three pitches (fastball, slider, splitter).

The former Auburn product has an athletic frame (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and clean delivery. Mize needs to be owned in all dynasty/keeper leagues and will eventually headline Detroit's rotation.

 

Friars Looking For Solution At Keystone

Luis Urias - 2B, San Diego Padres

Veteran Ian Kinsler is not the answer at second base for the Padres. The Friars prefer to use Ty France at the corners. Even though Urias has hit .167/.256/.278 with two homers, five RBI and 21 strikeouts in 82 plate appearances at the big league level the last two years, he may get another shot soon.

The 21-year-old batted .429/.500/1.250 with a double, three triples, six home runs, 11 RBI and 11 runs in six games for Triple-A El Paso from April 22-28. Five of his seven long balls came on Saturday and Sunday. Overall, he has a slash line of .373/.439/.941 with seven homers, 13 RBI and one steal in 11 minor league games.

Is it the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League or is Urias really this good? Urias has shown that he's a great hitter all throughout the minors, and his contact-oriented approach should manifest itself in San Diego with consistent playing time over long stretches. He also has more power than his size (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) might suggest.

Urias is an above-average defender at second base and can play third base and shortstop if needed. If Kinsler doesn't pick it up soon, the Padres might be forced to give the everyday job to Urias and see what he can do with it. After all, he's only played in 23 games in the majors so far.

 

Time To Wonder About Wander

Wander Franco - SS, Tampa Bay Rays

Franco was just voted Midwest League Player of the Week and was recently riding a 12-game hitting streak with three home runs. The 18-year-old shortstop is 15-for-38 (.395) over his last 10 games for Single-A Bowling Green.

The Dominican switch-hitter is batting .311 with 23 hits in 20 games this year after hitting .351 with 11 home runs and 57 RBI in 61 games with Rookie-level Advanced Princeton in the Appalachian League. He was rewarded with the league's Player of the Year.

Franco is the Rays No. 1 prospect and is ranked No. 12 overall at his young age. He hits the ball hard from both sides of the plate and has plus potential all around as a hitter as he matures. He hit all but one of his home runs in 2018 from the left side, so he projects to have more power as a left-handed hitter. Franco is also impressive for his advanced plate discipline and pitch recognition.

The ceiling here is All-Star caliber, and Franco has wowed scouts with his hands, range and actions at shortstop, although he could eventually move to either second or third base. There's a chance he could reach the majors before he even turns 20, but even if he doesn't, expect to see him rise through the minors quickly.

With Willy Adames struggling so far in 2019, it's already fair to wonder whether Franco will supplant him sooner or later in Tampa.

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