MMN 2019 Top 50 Prospects: 40-36 Headlined By Speedy Dirocie

By Roberto Correa

January 17, 2019 No comments

Kevin Smith/Photo by David Barnes

40. Kevin Smith

Position: RP     B/T: L/L     Age: 5/13/97 (21)
Acquired: 2018 7th Round Draft Pick from University of Georgia
2018 Stats (Brooklyn): 4-1, 0.76 ERA, 12 G, 3 GS, SV, 23.2 IP, 0.761 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 10.6 K/9

Drafted out of the 7th round in this recent draft, Smith started to find his role more permanently towards the end of his junior year with the Bulldogs. Smith started a smaller percentage of games than in his previous two campaigns, and with that, started missing more bats while walking fewer hitters. Smith can get his fastball up to the mid 90’s, has a slider for more sweeping action, and has a developing chang-eup. Those pitches are all the more effective because Smith can control them all and throw them for strikes.

Despite starting three games for Brooklyn last year, it appears Smith’s future is as a LOOGY. If he is able to better develop that change-up, it is possible he could be a cross-over reliever.

39. Steve Villines

Pos: RP     B/T: R/R     Age: 7/15/95 (23)
Acquired: 2017 10th Round Draft Pick from University of Kansas
Previous Rank: 43
2018 Stats (Columbia/St. Lucie/Binghamton): 3.11 ERA, 47 G, 66.2 IP, 96 K, 13 BB, 0.885 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 13.0 K/9

The right-handed Villines is a tried-and-true submariner, slinging the ball to the dish from his right hip with a delivery more akin to Steve Cishek than Chad Bradford. He fastball sits in the mid-80s, sometimes ticking it up to 87 or 88 on the radar. Despite the lack of velocity, Villines is successful becuase he  generates a fair share of arm-side run making it more of a true sinker than a straight fastball. He compliments his sinker with a wipeout slider and a slow, fading change-up, all of which he locates with pin-point accuracy. .

While Villines’ delivery and control are interesting enough, one thing which stands out is his strikeout rate. In his career, he has struck out 13.1 batters per nine including 13.5 in Double-A. While his control certainly is a factor in his strikeout rate, his ability to pitch to both right and left-handed batters is also a contributing factor. He has been platoon neutral, which is unusual for a submarine pitcher. It will be interesting to see if he can continue this level of success as he advances to the upper levels of the Mets farm system.

Editor’s Note: We incorrectly had Villines previously listed at No. 43 in the previous write-up. This is the correct spot for Villines, and RHP Jose Moreno is now listed at No. 43 as originally intended. 

Joe Cavallaro/Photo by Ed Delany, MMN

38. Joe Cavallaro

Position: SP     B/T: R/R     Age: 7/19/95 (23)
Acquired: 2017 24th Round Draft Pick from University of South Florida
Previous Rank: 37
2018 Stats (Columbia, St. Lucie, & Binhamton): 10-6, 3.33 ERA, 23 G, 21 GS, 127.0 IP, 1.228 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

Cavallaro showed some excellent excellent results in the South Atlantic League pitching to a 2.09 ERA, 1.037 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and 9.7 K/9 in 77.1 innings with the Fireflies. This earned himself a promotion to St. Lucie where he ran into hard luck. Belying his 4.84 ERA was a .346 BABIP and 64.6 percent left on base percentage. When you look at it further, he had a much more promising 3.28 FIP.

Cavallaro pitches with a deceptive sidearm delivery which hides his pitches well. His fastball sits high 80’s to low 90’s, and his slider and change-up sit in the low 80’s. Cavallaro’s best pitch is his slider, which was marked at 2650 RPM for the 2018 season. With his repertoire, he will likely get an opportunity to stick in the rotation, but if he cannot stick there his slider could make him a good bullpen candidate.

Juan Uriarte/Photo by Ed Delany

37. Juan Uriarte

Position: C     B/T: R/R     Age: 9/17/1997 (21)
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent from Mexico (7/4/14)
Previous Rank: 32
2018 Stats (Brooklyn): PA, K

Uriate lost an entire year of development after fouling a ball off his leg. Details on the injury seem to have been kept fairly under wraps, but whatever the injury was, it was enough to keep him out the entire season. When healthy, Uriarte has power potential and he has also showed good bat-to-ball skills. Behind the plate, Uriarte has received praise from both his glove and arm. The hope is he will be fully healed in 2019 and be able to repeat his 2017 season when he hit .305/.372/.455 and threw out 33 percent of potential base stealers (14 of 42).

(Photo Credit: Allen Greene Photography)

36. Anthony Dirocie

Position: CF     B/T: R/R     Age: 8/24/1997 (21)
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent from the Dominican Republic (10/16/13)
Previous Rank: 47
2018 Stats (Kingsport & Brooklyn):
58 G, 233 PA, 197 AB, 30 R, 13 2B, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB/4 CS, .274/.375/.447

Dirocie is a fast and toolsy outfielder who had been brought along slowly. After a fast start in Kingsport, he was promoted to Brooklyn. Dirocie struggled with Brooklyn with a 27.6 percent strikeout rate and a 48.0 percent ground ball rate. It appears the ground ball rate was an outlier compared to his 28.6% rate in Kingsport, and despite the higher strikeout rate, it didn’t affect his patience as he walked at a very respectable 12.6% rate.

Dirocie’s making better contact was a step in the right direction. Once he is able to readjust and start hitting balls in the air again, we will be able to see him get more out of both his power and his speed.

Editor’s Note: Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, Gerson Bautista and Felix Valerio were all in our original Top 50 before they were traded.

Previous Rankings:

50-46 Led by Michael Paez
45-41 Led by Ranfy Adon