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Hot Prospects To Watch - Oneil Cruz, Sean Murphy, Jorge Mateo And More


As we close the book on July this week, the biggest thing to watch for is the trade deadline. That comes at 4 pm ET on Wednesday, July 31. There have already been some notable names moved this month -- Andrew Cashner, Homer Bailey, Tyler White, Derek Holland, Eric Sogard, Marcus Stroman, Jordan Lyles, Trevor Bauer, Franmil Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Jason Vargas -- but expect that list to grow by deadline's end, especially with no waiver period in August in 2019.

Most of these trades involve contenders beefing up for the stretch run, but the flip side often includes notable prospects on the move to rebuilding clubs. In some cases, the minor leaguers exchanged could land in a better situation that speeds up their ascent to the big leagues. Cincy's top prospect, outfielder Taylor Trammell, moves to a crowded outfield picture in SD in a three-team deal that also included the Friars' No. 7 prospect in southpaw Logan Allen heading to Cleveland.

Lefty Anthony Kay and right-hander Simeon Woods-Richardson were shipped from the Mets to the Blue Jays in the Stroman package on Sunday. Kay and Woods-Richardson become the No. 5 and No. 7 prospects, respectively, for the Jays immediately. Kay struggled since being called up to Triple-A, but he's closer to a big league debut for a Toronto team already stacked with young prospects.

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Cruz Walks The Plank To Altoona

Oneil Cruz - SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh's No. 3 prospect and No. 62 overall was promoted from High-A Bradenton to Double-A Altoona on Tuesday after he hit .301/.345/.515 with seven home runs, 16 RBI and seven stolen bases in 35 games in the Florida League.

The left-handed hitter fractured his right foot in late April and thus hasn't had as much playing time as hoped, but he's been great when he's been on the field in the minors. Since his return on June 30, Cruz ranked second in Class A Advanced with a .330 batting average and .960 OPS.

Originally signed by the Dodgers, the 20-year-old has been a prospect to watch because of plus raw power and a plus arm on defense. The Dominican isn't your prototypical shortstop, however, standing at 6-foot-6 and 175 pounds. He can run a little bit despite his size, but a move to the hot corner at the higher levels is probably inevitable.

Cruz should gain more raw power as he matures and fills out physically, which makes him a bat to watch in Pittsburgh's organization. Don't expect him to play the 6 in the Show, but Cruz's bat should make him fantasy relevant when he gets the call in a few years.

 

Murphy Making Up For Lost Time

Sean Murphy - C, Oakland Athletics

Similar to Cruz, Murphy missed a big chunk of time with a torn meniscus in his left knee. But he's back now and is hitting .313 with six long balls and 10 RBI in 10 games (seven in the Rookie League), including three dingers for Triple-A Las Vegas last Friday. Overall, he's batting .349/.422/.640 with six homers and 18 RBI in 22 games for the Aviators.

The 24-year-old was a third-round pick in 2016 and is the No. 4-ranked catching prospect in all of baseball. He also performed well at Double-A in 2018, although he was slowed by an injury that year as well. He's an above-average defender behind the plate with an excellent arm. Murphy is probably major-league ready right now with the glove.

With the bat he shows fine plate discipline and makes enough contact to be one of the better fantasy backstops once he's in the big leagues full time. It makes more sense to keep him in the minors the rest of 2019 given his injuries the last two years, but Murphy should be catching regularly for Oakland at some point in 2020, if not sooner.

 

Mateo Enjoying PCL

Jorge Mateo - SS/2B, Oakland Athletics 

What a turnaround it's been for Mateo in 2019. He hit just .230/.280/.353 with three home runs, 45 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 131 games for Triple-A Nashville in 2018, but he's turned it around in the Pacific Coast League for Triple-A Las Vegas to the tune of a .302/.339/.537 slash line, 17 homers, 25 doubles, 13 triples, 72 RBI and 20 thefts in 95 games.

Oakland's No. 4 prospect was acquired from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal in 2017. The 24-year-old has plus speed -- he stole 82 bags in 2015 and 52 in 2017 -- but his lack of plate discipline is a real concern. Mateo struck out 139 times and walked just 29 times in 2018. He's walked 22 times and fanned 116 times in 460 plate appearances this year.

He has plenty of range up the middle and a strong arm on defense, but it's fair to wonder if his hitter-friendly environment in Vegas is a mirage for the underlying concerns with his profile. Mateo's speed and occasional pop makes him an intriguing prospect, but he also has a low floor and may not even develop into an everyday player at the next level.

 

Sixto Numero Uno In Miami

Sixto Sanchez - SP, Miami Marlins

The 21-year-old didn't fare quite so well in two starts at High-A Jupiter to kick off his Marlins tenure (six earned runs in 11 innings), but he's been much better since his promotion to the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Sanchez tossed seven scoreless frames in his last start and is 7-4 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 83 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 innings over 14 starts.

The Dominican right-hander has some of the most electric stuff of any pitching prospect, which is why the Fish demanded he be included in the package that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philly earlier this year. He possesses a four-seamer that can reach triple digits but also induces plenty of ground balls with his two-seamer. If his offspeed offerings develop more, he could be downright nasty at the next level.

Injuries have set Sanchez back a bit, but the 6-foot, 185-pounder is gaining steam and should headline the front of Miami's rotation for years to come, possibly as soon as early 2020. Keep him stashed now in keeper/dynasty leagues. Sanchez is Miami's top prospect in the organization and is ranked as the No. 6 right-handed arm in the minors.

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