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Big Hype Prospects: Ward, Vodnik, Lavigne, Murray, Sikkema

Big Hype Prospects: Ward, Vodnik, Lavigne, Murray, Sikkema

It’s time to shift our attention to the frozen wasteland of the offseason. With luck, the baseball gods will provide us with an amply warm stove to survive this bleak period without baseball. Already, we’ve seen a number of interesting, tinkering-on-the-margins trades. Teams are also preparing for the Rule 5 draft, set to take place on December 7.

Today, we’ll check in on some players who were not protected per MLB.com. By nature, none of these are consensus Top 100 prospects. In some cases, they had a better prospect pedigree in the past. In others, scouting reports don’t agree with the statistical output. Still others are clearly talented but have struggled to stay on the field.

We’ll cover half today and the other half next week.

Five Big Hype Prospects

Thad Ward, 25, SP, BOS (AA)
33.1 IP, 11.07 K/9, 3.78 BB/9, 2.43 ERA

Ward has scarcely pitched in official game action since 2019, accruing just 59.1 innings over the last three seasons due to Tommy John surgery. He appeared in the Arizona Fall League, adding 12.2 innings to his season total. He held opponents to a 2.84 ERA with 15 strikeouts and six walks.

Any team thinking about drafting Ward will have to consider his readiness for a full campaign after so much lost development time. The right-handed starter has a five-pitch repertoire. It’s believed he could play up in the bullpen as a cutter-slider specialist – they’re his best offerings. He also has a sinker, curve, and changeup, none of which are relief-quality offerings.

Victor Vodnik, 23, RP, ATL (AAA)
27.2 IP, 10.73 K/9, 5.20 BB/9, 2.93 ERA

Vodnik is a relief prospect with a cutting fastball. He has an adequate changeup and a work-in-progress slider. He pitched to a 2.93 ERA at Triple-A last season. He had issues with walks but made up for it by inducing over 50 percent ground balls. He’s allowed high BABIPs – a sign he might not have a high leverage future. He appears to be big league ready. Teams can look at him as comparable to the typical non-roster invitee.

Grant Lavigne, 23, 1B, COL (AA)
242 PA, 5 HR, .245/.347/.370

Lavigne had a strong AFL showing, but it wasn’t enough for the Rockies to protect him from the upcoming draft. The left-handed hitting first baseman is a discipline-first hitter. Although he has plus raw power, he doesn’t access it in-game very often. His swing path could use work, especially since his upper-cut hack has yielded a high ground ball rate. Between his size and discipline, a team might…

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