This Prospect Spotlight examines a minor league player on the outside of consensus Top 100 lists. This deep dive works to position the prospect inside of the Top 100. Today’s feature will focus on Detroit Tigers infielder Isaac Paredes.
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Breaking Down Isaac Paredes
Paredes was signed by the Chicago Cubs out of Hermosillo, Mexico as part of the 2015 international class. Hermosillo is also the hometown of notable former big leaguers Erubiel Durazo and Elmer Dessens.
In his debut season with the Cubs in 2016, Paredes shined in stateside AZL rookie ball. As a 17-year-old, he posted a .305/.359/.443 triple slash, earning him All-Star honors that season. Though he hit 1 HR, 34% of Paredes’ hits went for extra bases. Most encouragingly, Paredes showed from his first professional glimpses his ability to make contact at an advanced rate. His K rate of 10.8%, paired with a 7.0% BB rate, was a positive sign of things to come.
The Cubs chapter concluded during the 2017 season, as Paredes played 92 G in full-season A ball in the Midwest League. Paredes began to flash in-game power, as a pull-heavy approach (54.9%) coupled with a jump in FB% (46.8%) resulted in 7 HR and 25 2B.
Exactly two years after the day he was signed, he was traded at the deadline along with Jeimer Candelario for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. At the time, Candelario was a Top 100 prospect and viewed as the centerpiece of the Detroit return. In his own right, Paredes was a highly regarded young hitter who was off to a productive beginning to his professional career.
Paredes swapped clubs in the Midwest League as he came on board in Detroit. His new Tigers affiliate in Grand Rapids, MI is just a two-hour drive directly north from the Cubs affiliate in South Bend, IN. Despite the proximity, Paredes was slower to warm to his new surroundings. He produced a .217 AVG, the lowest of any stop in his professional career to date. On the positive, Paredes did post a 13 K: 13 BB ratio. He also socked 4 HR in his 32 G stint in West Michigan.
An important next step, Paredes transitioned to winter baseball in his native Mexico. For the last three offseasons now, he has donned the uniform for Yaquis de Obregón. Obregón is under a three hour drive from his hometown of Hermosillo. In his first winter, Paredes slugged his way to a .370/.426/.556 triple slash, along with what became a common theme: a 5 K: 5 BB ratio.
The momentum carried over into the 2018 campaign, where Paredes had a solid offensive run in 84 G at High A Lakeland. But Paredes really came alive after his midseason promotion to AA Erie. Now in the high minors, Paredes hit his way to a .321 AVG with a .406 OBP in 39 G. He boasted his signature neck-in-neck 22 K: 19 BB.
Paredes in 2019
This past season, Paredes played the duration of the season at AA. In 127 G, he was top 10 in many offensive categories in the Eastern League: 2nd in H (135), 3rd in BB (57), 3rd in TB (199), 4th in HBP (11), 5th in RBI (66), 7th in R (63), and 10th in OBP (.368).
Paredes steadily improved over the 2019 season. His OPS climbed every month (.656 in April, .739 in May, .760 in June, .829 in July, and .906 in August). The most torrid stretch saw him put together 7 straight multi-hit games between July 27-August 3. Paredes’ 57 BB were 3rd in the Eastern League, even more impressive that it was against only 61 K. Coupled with 37 XBH (23 2B, 1 3B, and 13 HR), Paredes showcased a unique blend of power output with very strong contact and on-base ability.
Futures Game and Arizona Fall League
Paredes joined fellow Tigers Matt Manning and Jake Rogers represented Detroit in the 2019 Futures Game in Cleveland. He stroked a solid line-drive double to right-center, showcasing how he can drive the ball the other way. That exact moment highlighted Paredes’ all-fields hitting ability, where 2019 saw him post the highest opposite-field hit percentage of his career (31.8%).
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 8, 2019
The swing above highlights so many of the aspects that make Isaac Paredes a potentially special hitter. He goes with the pitch and uses his strength to drive the ball with authority. Paredes is solidly built, particularly in the lower half, and uses his body efficiently in the swing. When he goes the other way, he gets good hip rotation while keeping his front shoulder on the ball.
Paredes capped off an excellent season with a tour in the Arizona Fall League. Though he had a .208 AVG in his 69 PA, he still had an excellent .377 OBP. Again, he had a nearly identical 13 K against 12 BB. Against more advanced minor league pitching, Paredes held his own and put impressive swings that show his pull side power.
Isaac Paredes, 2-run bomb. The 20-year-old from Hermosillo, Mexico grinded til the count was full, then unloaded on Reiss Knehr. One of the best @tigers prospects, Paredes hit 13 homers in 127 games at Double-A, where he was 4 years younger than the average player 💪 pic.twitter.com/QcDyyAU3nK
— Jacob Zweiback (@TheReelJZ) September 22, 2019
Paredes Outlook in 2020
Transitioning to this season, Isaac Paredes had a brief 6 PA in Spring Training before play was suspended due to the global pandemic. Paredes’ return was delayed in Summer Camp due to a positive COVID test, but he was able to see game action earlier this week. He looked good physically and was able to beat out an infield hit. Paredes’ stance looked slightly more open than earlier footage, but he should continue his development in the Tigers’ alternate training site this season. With the Tigers unlikely to field a competitive squad in the shortened season, Paredes will be looking at a 2021 debut in all likelihood. He could put together professional at-bats for the Tigers right now. But the reality is that he should be brought along slowly given the competitive window and Paredes’ late arrival.
Paredes in Dynasty Leagues
Isaac Paredes is a player that should be getting more respect in dynasty leagues and considered a consensus Top 100 prospect. From an offensive perspective, his low K rate paired with his hit/power profile is relatively unique. His plus hit tool and approach could make him a potential future batting title candidate. Paredes has that kind of ability to make contact, in addition to taking a BB at a double-digit rate. Because of how he can drive the ball, Paredes should factor in a prominent lineup position once he debuts. Depending on his ultimate power output, Paredes could factor in the 2-6 spots in the lineup for years to come in a developing Detroit offense.
Paredes defensive home should ultimately settle in at 3B, where he played 81 G in 2019 at AA. He also played 32 G at SS. Paredes has plenty of arm for either position. Additionally, Paredes is a good athlete who is more sturdy than thick. He could contribute also at 2B, though he hasn’t played there since 2018. Paredes could be a sneaky source of versatility in his early seasons, which the Tigers are apt to do for the right player to get their bat in the lineup.
As for pure 3B, Paredes gets overlooked as a hit-first prospect at a position where raw power is the ticket up rankings. It’s true that he’s a hit-first prospect, but only because his hit tool is so stellar. Watch any highlight of Paredes and he can blast a ball right alongside the raw power names. It’s also significant that he can walk at a good clip too, meaning that he will be equally viable in OBP formats. I even like Paredes to chip in a few SB each season for the first few years of his career. There’s a reason that Paredes is still at SS sometimes: he has the athleticism to play there. Running will never be a carrying tool, but he did swipe a career high 5 SB in 2019. There’s no reason he can’t chip in at least that many for the foreseeable future.
If you consider 3B dynasty prospects, the group in the Top 100 right now consists of a few players who should graduate in 2020: Alec Bohm and Carter Kieboom. The position received a boost in the 2020 draft class on paper with Spencer Torkelson (a likely future 1B) and Austin Martin (a likely future CF). Heading into the offseason, we’re looking at a group headed by Nolan Jones, Nolan Gorman, Kody Hoese, and Josh Jung. Isaac Paredes should slot right alongside those names, especially as he’s set to make an impact in 2021. The 3B position is not very deep at the moment, but the reality is that plenty of SS will transition there in their development.
Paredes has many factors working for him as a prospect that should make you buy-in. He’s close to the majors, and in an organization that makes headlines with its pitching prospects. He’s hit with eye-opening consistency throughout his career. Though he doesn’t have the alluring toolshed qualities of some other tantalizing prospects, he has a high probability of being a very good hitter. Whether you are a contender or a rebuilder, Paredes fits the bill on most any dynasty team.
For more prospect insight from Ben check out his full archive.
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