Top MLB Prospects Who Could Be Prizes of 2019 Blockbuster Trades

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJune 25, 2019

Top MLB Prospects Who Could Be Prizes of 2019 Blockbuster Trades

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    The time may be now for the Houston Astros to trade Kyle Tucker.
    The time may be now for the Houston Astros to trade Kyle Tucker.Associated Press

    The 2019 Major League Baseball trade deadline won't be all about brand-name veterans. Some of the league's best prospects might also change hands ahead of July 31.

    We've pointed to eight specific young talents who are worth keeping an eye on as potential trade chips in blockbuster deals. In some cases, this is strictly speculative. Others, however, have already appeared in trade rumors either in the past or more recently.

    Using MLB.com's rankings, we'll proceed in order from the lowest- to the highest-ranked prospect.

Brice Turang, SS, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Brice Turang
    Brice TurangBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 92

    Although they're still neck-and-neck with the Chicago Cubs in the race for first place in the National League Central, the Milwaukee Brewers have gone just 10-10 in June.

    The Brewers' slide is happening largely because their insistence on carrying a low-risk starting rotation is finally backfiring. Their starters have an MLB-worst 6.59 ERA for the month.

    If the Brewers are going to seek a substantial fix for this problem on the trade market, they might have to ready themselves to part with 19-year-old shortstop Brice Turang.

    Milwaukee drafted Turang out of Santiago High School with the No. 21 overall pick just last year. He's since demonstrated an outstanding hit tool with a .291 average and .395 on-base percentage at the low levels of the minors. He's also a plus runner with the goods to stick at shortstop.

    There are questions about Turang's power potential, however, and it'll be several more years before he's ready for the majors anyway. He's therefore far more expendable than Milwaukee's top prospect, 22-year-old infielder Keston Hiura.

Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Dylan Carlson
    Dylan CarlsonMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 88

    Elsewhere in the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals' own much-maligned starting rotation has turned a corner with a 3.42 ERA in June. 

    Yet the Cardinals must be careful about concluding that their rotation's struggles (e.g., with a 4.48 ERA) through the first two months of 2019 are a thing of the past. Their rotation might not necessarily need depth, but Miles Mikolas' regression does point to a need for a reliable ace.

    As long as the NL Central lead remains reasonably in sight, this is where the Cardinals might be comfortable trading Dylan Carlson.

    The 20-year-old outfielder isn't as well regarded as third baseman Nolan Gorman, but his stock is rising by way of an offensive breakout for Double-A Springfield. Through 70 games, he's slashing .280/.363/.493 with 31 extra-base hits. He also boasts an arm that's racked up 32 assists in four seasons.

    But since Carlson is at best an average runner, he profiles more as a corner outfielder than a center fielder. He's looking up at a somewhat crowded depth chart at those spots, so the Cardinals may conclude that he works better as a trade chip than as a long-term building block.

Dustin May, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Dustin May
    Dustin MayJayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 51

    It's looking like the Los Angeles Dodgers will end up winning their seventh straight NL West title. But after losing the World Series in 2017 and 2018, they're aware that they have unfinished business in October.

    Hence president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman's approach to the trade deadline. According to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, his goal is to find "impact players."

    The last time the Dodgers pursued such a player on the trade market, the Miami Marlins were asking for two of catcher Keibert Ruiz, infielder Gavin Lux and righty Dustin May for J.T. Realmuto, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

    The Dodgers may still hesitate to move any of the three, but it's a safe guess that May is the most available of them. He doesn't loom large in the team's crowd of pitchers, and the disconnect between his great stuff (e.g., his fastball, curveball and cutter) and good-not-great results in the minors allows for some doubt.

    In short, the 21-year-old may be just the guy to move for a replacement for injured starter Rich Hill, or perhaps for a much-needed late-inning reliever to help out veteran closer Kenley Jansen.

Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Minnesota Twins

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    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 50

    The Minnesota Twins have sat comfortably atop the American League Central all season, but injuries and performance issues have recently been killing their buzz.

    Regarding the latter, the Twins know that their bullpen needs a major piece. They went hard after Craig Kimbrel before he signed with the Chicago Cubs, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. He would have been an ideal upgrade over Blake Harper at closer.

    The Twins presumably won't move shortstop Royce Lewis or outfielder Alex Kirilloff. But whether it's for a Kimbrel-esque reliever or something else, they may be amenable to trading right-hander Brusdar Graterol.

    The 20-year-old Venezuela native boasts an impressive 2.51 ERA across four minor league seasons, as well as a 1.89 ERA for Double-A Pensacola this season. These numbers have mainly come courtesy of his spectacular fastball/slider combination.

    The catch with Graterol is how much trouble he's had staying healthy. He's had Tommy John surgery, and he's currently on the injured list now with a shoulder impingement. Instead of waiting on him, the Twins might dangle him as a high-risk, high-reward trade chip.

Esteven Florial, CF, New York Yankees

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    Estevan Florial
    Estevan FlorialMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 47

    The New York Yankees have the AL East lead in hand even though they've only recently welcomed back Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius after long stays on the injured list.

    Lest the Yankees get too comfortable, however, they need to keep their starting rotation in mind. It hasn't been clad in iron at any point in 2019, and it's recently been slumping with a 4.92 ERA in June.

    According to Heyman, the Yankees tried to address their rotation's shortcomings by signing Dallas Keuchel. After missing out on him, Andy Martino of SNY.tv suggests that their preference is to trade in-limbo outfielder Clint Frazier for a starter.

    Yet the market may have more demand for 21-year-old Estevan Florial. His season started late because of a broken wrist, and he's returned to post just a .599 OPS for High-A Tampa. Nonetheless, the Dominican Republic native's power, speed and arm strength give him star potential.

    Since he's the best prospect remaining in their stripped-down farm system, the Yankees won't rush to part with Florial. But if it means a golden chance at their 28th World Series title, they might just do it.

Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Jesus Sanchez
    Jesus SanchezMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 33

    The Tampa Bay Rays have a perpetual need to compete with low payrolls. Since hoarding young talent is the best way to do that, it's no guarantee that they'll soon subtract from their third-ranked farm system.

    Still, this is no ordinary season for the Rays. They were leading the AL East as recently as June 14. If they add a needed slugger or shore up a pitching staff that already has an AL-best 3.24 ERA, they might return to that position and proceed with a deep postseason run.

    Don't expect the Rays to dangle shortstop Wander Franco or left-hander/designated hitter Brendan McKay in trade talks. But as noted by R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports, they've already demonstrated a willingness to move 21-year-old outfielder Jesus Sanchez.

    The Dominican native has above average tools across the board, and he's slashed .304/.348/.471 in a five-year minor league journey. He may not be far from joining the Rays and becoming an All-Star.

    But because Sanchez is an aggressive swinger with a lackluster power track record, there's also room for skepticism about his future. The Rays may be content to let another team worry about that.

Kyle Wright, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Kyle Wright
    Kyle WrightRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    MLB.com Rank: 25

    With their NL East lead growing and Dallas Keuchel now a part of their starting rotation, it wouldn't be the biggest surprise if the Atlanta Braves sat out the summer trading season.

    Alternatively, they could look to dig in their heels by cashing in pieces from their second-ranked farm system. To wit, they arguably need another starter, and they absolutely need an impact reliever or two.

    It's far from a given that the Braves will trade any of their bluest chips. But more so than outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters or right-hander Ian Anderson, they might be willing to swap right-hander Kyle Wright.

    The 23-year-old is ranked highly for good reasons. He comes from Vanderbilt, which has produced pitching stars like David Price and Sonny Gray. With four above-average pitches in his repertoire, Wright has what he needs to follow in their footsteps.

    Yet Wright has flopped in the majors, and he's been hit hard to the tune of a 6.08 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett this season. The time to trade him before his value sinks any lower might be now.

Kyle Tucker, CF, Houston Astros

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    Kyle Tucker
    Kyle TuckerRob Leiter/Getty Images

    MLB.com Rank: 10

    Whether the Houston Astros need to make any big trades is certainly debatable.

    Their lead in the AL West has closed somewhat in recent days, but their dominance of the division doesn't seem in jeopardy. Especially not with George Springer set to follow Jose Altuve's lead off the injured list.

    Still, the Astros might not want to take chances with either their division lead or their outlook for October. They might pursue a third ace after Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, or upgrades for a lineup and bullpen that are already outstanding.

    More so than right-hander Forrest Whitley or outfielder Yordan Alvarez, they might be willing to give up Kyle Tucker in one of these pursuits.

    The 22-year-old outfielder has appeared in trade rumors before, notably in one regarding J.T. Realmuto in February 2018. Yet the Astros have held on to Tucker, who's teased his upside with a .312/.383/.605, 47 home runs and 37 stolen bases at Triple-A over the last two seasons.

    Tucker's first exposure to the majors in 2018 didn't go well, however, and he's going to be part of an outfield logjam for at least a couple more seasons. Such things make him expendable.

                        

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.