Prospects In Person: Spencer Jones, Blade Tidwell and more

July 21, 2023

With the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline rapidly approaching, it’s interesting to see where both New York clubs lie as potential sellers.

As the injury-riddled and underachieving New York Yankees sit in last place in the AL East, and oft-woeful New York Mets are now 17 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East, it would be hard — albeit not impossible — to see either team making additions on August 1.

Normally, for each, a look at some of each organization’s better prospects this year might provide something of a window into those who might be headed to other teams. Now? Perhaps it’s some insight into players who might get promoted as part of any sort of trickle-up effect with big leaguers being shipped out.

With that said, we were able to take in each club’s High-A affiliate twice this past week, as the Brooklyn Cyclones hosted the Hudson Valley Renegades. Here are some quick thoughts on some of the higher profile names we got to see…


Spencer Jones, OF — Hudson Valley (A+) | Yankees

ORG. RANKINGS: BA 7 | PIPELINE 3 | FSS (preseason) 4

Fresh off an appearance in the Futures Game, the former Vanderbilt standout is a polarizing prospect, with some evaluators far more bullish than others.

At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, the 22-year-old, who went with the No. 25 overall pick in last year’s Draft, provides a very unique and athletic profile for someone his size, as his speed allows him to still handle center field, although some believe he’s best suited for a corner spot down the road. He showed a 4.03 home to first time out of the left side on Thursday night, but concerns over a growing K rate that currently sits at 30.3% remain despite plus power that is inarguably his separating tool. With that said, Jones has “only” 12 home runs in 337 plate appearances — compared to 102 strikeouts — and has shown a tendency to be challenged at times to handle balls on the outer half, although he was able to take one the other way on Thursday night, sitting on an offspeed offering in a lefty-lefty matchup to drive in a run.

Alexander Vargas, SS — Hudson Valley (A+) | Yankees

ORG. RANKINGS: BA N/A | PIPELINE N/A | FSS (preseason) N/A

Vargas has seen his prospect stock dwindle over the years; once considered a top-15 prospect in the Yankees system as recently as 2021 by Baseball America, concerns over his bat dating back to when he signed for $2.5 million during the 2018 international signing period have ultimately been warranted. Lost in the shuffle in a shortstop-rich organization, he also showed why he was once so highly regarded, and also displayed the foundation for how he can work his way back to that status.

A glove-first defender, both his defense and running are plus tools, and he showed the latter in a big way on Tuesday night, going from home to third in 11.33 seconds on this triple. Slashing .211/.257/.342 for the Renegades, the Cuba native is a career .221 hitter, and will have a very difficult time leapfrogging Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza or Trey Sweeney on the depth chart unless that numbers vastly improves.

Kevin Parada, C — Brooklyn (A+) | Mets

ORG. RANKINGS: BA 2 | PIPELINE 1 | FSS (preseason) 3

Parada is universally regarded as a bat-first backstop, currently sitting at a team-best 123 wRC+. According to the team’s game notes, he has an average exit velocity of 88.0 MPH, with a max set of 111.0 MPH earlier this season, which certainly checks out, as last year’s No. 11 overall selection out of Georgia Tech certainly seems to produce consistent, hard contact.

Typically given a 45 on his throwing arm, he can be perplexing behind the dish; he produced slightly over a two-second pop time on Thursday, and lost the ball on the transfer on another attempt. He has largely produced results for his pitchers, however, with his staff having a 3.62 ERA in games he catches. His ticket to the big leagues will still be his bat, although with a 5-11, 197-pound frame, just where that might be in the field would remain to be seen.

Blade Tidwell, RHSP — Brooklyn (A+) | Mets

ORG. RANKINGS: BA 7 | PIPELINE 5 | FSS (preseason) 7

Tidwell was one of the more highly coveted college arms in last year’s MLB Draft, and the Mets ultimately signed him for $1.8 million after taking him No. 52 overall out of Tennessee. Not as bulky as a 6-foot-4, 207-pound frame might suggest, the 22-year-old starter sat between 92-95 MPH on Thursday night, touching 96 early, and then ramping that up to a handful of 97’s and 98’s from the fourth inning onward in a start in which he allowed one run (on a solo homer in the seventh) on four hits and three walks, striking out only four batters along the way, a bit of an outlier in a year in which he’s whiffed 107 in 76 2/3 innings of work, producing a 35.2% K rate.

Again, according to the Cyclones game notes, Tidwell led the team entering that outing with 94 pitches of 96 MPH or over, topping out at 97.9 MPH. He has a 2318 average spin rate on his FB, 2769 on his plus SL that he seemed to find feel of from the second inning on, 2746 on a CB he went to more often the second time through the lineup on Thursday, and 1856 on a CH he didn’t use as much.

He did have several awkward moments fielding his position, including nearly allowing Jones to reach in attempting to get the out at first himself, as seen above in Jones’ video.

Mike Ashmore
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