Prospect: Leonardo Rivas
Level: Class A Burlington
Age: Entering Age 20 season in 2018.
Height: 5’10” – Weight: 150 lbs
*20-80 scale. 20 is not existent, Major League average is 50. Good Major League is 60. Great Major League is 70. The best I’ve ever seen is 80. These aren’t given very often.
Floor: Utility infielder and outfielder in major leagues, like Alexi Amarista but with more patience.
Ceiling: A very solid starting middle infielder and leadoff hitter in the major leagues.
Likely Outcome: Super utility player or borderline starting 2B in major leagues, like Maicer Izturis.
Summary: Rivas’ stock continues to inflate, the more others have a chance to take notice of this kid. He was a low profile international signing at age 16 and was really something of an “Angels Special” which is a player that’s smaller in stature that other teams ignore. In his first season in the Dominican Republic, Rivas flashed solid bat to ball skills, great speed and an advanced instinct for the game. As an 18 year old, he came stateside and didn’t disappoint, showing the same skills yet more refinement. This past season as a 19 year old, we saw Leo really begin to blossom. We saw a more steady, confident fielder at shortstop, the ability to make adjustments, and most of all, he took another step forward in the plate discipline department. Rivas is giving Matt Thaiss a run for his money as the prospect with the best strike zone judgment in the system, and Thaiss is a few years older and played in college. Rivas is still a teenager.
And that’s really Leo’s calling card right now, that outstanding ability to reach base. Of course once he’s on base he’s definitely a threat to steal, but more than that he’s a smart, aggressive runner. In the field, Rivas has smooth actions, good range and a fringe average glove for shortstop with enough arm to keep him there. His long term home is at second base, where he projects to be a “plus” defender in every aspect.
Rivas also figures to be the sort of player that can climb the minor league ladder very quickly and be a major leaguer at a very young age. Typically, the largest predictor of future success for a position player is the ability to make adjustments. Consider these facts when evaluating Rivas.
1. In 2016, Rivas has a 39/36 K/BB ratio as an 18 year old. As a 19 year old at more advanced levels, he recorded a 44/59 K/BB ratio. That’s more walks than strikeouts.
2. When Rivas first arrived in Burlington for full season ball to finish the season, he began his stint going 2/21. Over his next 21 games, Rivas recorded a hit in 19 of them.
3. Over Rivas’ last 21 games, he reached base in 20 of them.
4. Rivas recorded a hit in 13 of his final 14 games in A Ball.
5. After hitting .233 and .205 against RHP in his first two seasons, Rivas hit .293 against more advanced RHP last season.
As we can see, Rivas is getting better, not only over longer stretches of time, but also shorter stretches. Pitchers are trying to figure out ways to get him out and Rivas is adjusting.
What to expect: Rivas should return to Burlington next season as a 20 year, but I don’t anticipate him spending the full year there. He’ll likely be promoted to Advanced A Ball in June or July and finish out the season in the Cal League, which would set him up nicely to make his high minors debut at only 21 years old. The big thing I’ll be watching for next season is Rivas’ LD%, how he performs against RHP and in general, his batting average. Rivas is a very average hitter right now. He won’t get the bat knocked out of his hands and he’s a lock to reach base and terrorize opposing pitchers on the base paths. But as far as his ability to hit, it’s only average for now. But that skill really could take another step forward in 2018
Ultimately, I really do expect Rivas to develop into somewhat of a Maicer Izturis type of infielder. One that is technically a reserve, but plays so often he’ practically a starter. Angels fans may remember, Izturis himself was a solid defender and could reach base, no matter where he was batting or what spot in the lineup he was hitting out of.
Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2020, Rivas’ age 22 season.
Grade as a prospect: B-
Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar. Grade B player is a future regular. Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.