There have been four installments of the Helium series this off-season. The 2022 recap can be found here, and the three previous pick posts can be found here, here, and here.
At the end of the last piece, I noted that there would be another write-up along the same lines:
There will be one upcoming article in this vein, highlighting a handful of prospects who are farther away than those featured here, but are showing too much talent to ignore. Call them FOMO picks, for lack of a better term, because I’ll be kicking myself if I bite my tongue and the prospect world catches on before I’ve written up my diatribe.
Welp, cross one guy off the list, because folks have indeed caught on to Josue De Paula, as Chad noted on Monday. While I’m no less high on De Paula than ever, his composite ranking between Baseball America, FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline is 10.3. Yeah, that ship has sailed. I snooze, I lose.
Anyway, now that I’m done crying about it, here are the picks I have left for the 2023 season. As mentioned above, these are prospects who are farther away than have been previously mentioned in the series, with one addition; a guy who have slipped my notice initially, but is closer than the rest of the prospects below, and as such is a normal helium guy. To the picks!
Osorio, who is a shortstop from San Felipe, Venezuela, has shown an advanced approach along with some legit thump for a shortstop, with a walk rate of 20.9% and an ISO of .232. He was the only qualified batter in all of MiLB to post two such figures. The only one.
Still just 17 (Osorio will turn 18 on April 12th), Osorio is already elevating the ball at a decent clip as well, posting a GB/FB ratio of 1.05. As is the case with just about every teenager, he needs to add strength, and that may have him outgrowing short, but there’s too much of an intriguing mix of mature offensive skills to ignore, especially for a guy who will stay on the dirt.
Mairo Martinus is about as statuesque of a teenager as you’ll find. The Curaçaoan, who is currently listed as a shortstop, was listed at 6’3, 175 lbs at the time of signing, and he’s certainly bigger than that now after a little over a year in the org, having filled out his broad-shouldered frame.
The recently-turned 18-year-old is already showing solid raw power, though it comes by virtue of a swing that can get a little violent at times:
Already beating up on the Giants, you love to see it.
As can probably be imagined, an explosive swing with such an aggressive turn has led to some swing and miss, and pitch recognition has been an issue at times. That said, the raw material here is top drawer, so he’s definitely a boom or bust type. The boom potential is — 80-grade name notwithstanding — why he’s here, and he is bound to turn some heads at Camelback this Spring.
Pinales, who is a 6’4, 240 lbs right-handed pitcher out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, made a solid, if unspectacular state-side debut in 2022, with a FIP of 3.64 in 41.0 IP, and a K-BB% of just 14.5%. Results are why Pinales is here … but not these results.
When the Dodgers signed Pinales back in 2019, he was reportedly 265 lbs, and he attacked the challenge to improve his conditioning with aplomb. Taking his newfound physicality and coupling it with a smooth, clean arm action for a pretty big dude, led to his velo ticking up to 94-96 by the end of 2022 (his age-19 campaign). He also has a slider and a curve that show some signs of development, with a changeup (to my knowledge) that’s fringy at best.
As is the case with Martinus, there’s some tremendous clay here, and further advancement with Pinales’ secondaries will give a better indication of his future path. The now 20-year-old hurler should begin the season with Rancho.
I have yet to latch on to a guy who profiles as a reliever only, but Yean is a rare exception. Hailing from Sabana Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic, the 6’4 Yean possesses a fastball that routinely reached 100 miles per hour in 2022 as an 18-year-old, topping out at 101. He also has a slider that has picked up some nods as a potential 60-grade offering, and that combo led to a strikeout rate of 40.2% in his debut campaign.
As can probably be imagined out of an 18 (now 19) year old hucking triple digits, there’s some effort to get there, and there are some command issues. That said, despite the lack of pinpoint command, the arm strength, along with the way El Monstro attacks hitters, it’s easy to envision him
driving us nuts closing out ballgames in the future.
That’s all for the FOMO picks for 2023 — if even one of them pops, I’ll be dancing in the street.
But we’re not done yet, as there’s also the last regular Helium pick for the upcoming season.
Wrobleski, a 6’1, 22-year-old southpaw, was a travelin’ man throughout his college career, as he spent time with Clemson, State College of Florida, and Oklahoma State. He underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring of 2021, and as is often the case, the Dodgers weren’t rattled, popping him in the 11th round of the subsequent draft.
Though Wrobleski sat in the 88-91 range in college post-rehab, he has come out firing as a pro, slinging 93-96 from his 3/4 slot that he was able to locate to both sides of the plate, while showing a sharper curve, a slider/cutter that did something pretty interesting, as well as a changeup:
This is the slider/cutter that caught my eye:
While this may just look like an errant frisbee, it shows some sweeper potential. This stands out to me, especially after reading an article in The Athletic that detailed how the Dodgers identified a slider that showed plus horizontal movement and successfully managed to replicate it. I don’t know that this is the case with this pitcher and with this pitch, but focusing on tiny things like this are part of the exercise, and it will be one of the things to watch for during the upcoming season.
Wrobleski is a relatively low-mileage pitcher for a 22-year-old, as he has logged just a hair under 100 innings between college ball, the Cape Cod League, and pro ball. As such, and with a bit of projection left, it’s possible he ticks up beyond 93-96, which could further sharpen the secondaries. All in all, it’s an intriguing enough starter toolkit to bear closely watching in the upcoming season.
As an aside, we all know “Uggla” means owl in Swedish. Well, “Wrobleski” is derived from the Polish word for sparrow, which will give me life when I’m chirping about this guy all season if he takes flight.
Anyway, that’s all for the Helium picks in 2023.
With Opening Day right around the corner, and the optimism of Spring still within me despite knowing the upcoming regular season is unlikely to be as amazing as the last, here’s to hoping for a season with a finish that’s a sight better than the last one.
Enjoy your Wednesday, folks.