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2019 Community Prospect Projections: Jonatan Machado

A highly paid international signee whose numbers have yet to match his scouting reports.

St Louis Cardinals v Houston Astros Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Jonatan Machado’s minor league numbers are not good. In his three years of professional baseball, he has posted a cumulative line of .250 / .308 / .327. In almost 100 PAs in Peoria last year, the highest level he’s reached, he slashed .185 / .208 / .228.

But I always say that the two most important numbers for any minor leaguer are age and level, and for a 19-year-old Machado to reach A-Ball, he was still 2.5 years younger than his average competition. That is good.

As you may recall, Machado was the highest priced acquisition of the Cardinals 2016 International Spending spree. The 16-year-old Cuban was signed for a club record $2.35 million bonus.

So if we’re adding up the reasons to be bullish on Machado, the fact that he’s young and the club spent a lot of money on him are high on the list. That’s not especially satisfying. Last week, I profiled Elehuris Montero, who has posted monster stats at every level he has played. That tangible evidence of performance engenders a lot more confidence, and it’s one reason Montero will be ranked higher on every prospect list.

But such are the vagaries of development that I wouldn’t rule Machado out yet based on his stat line.

Machado is very fast. I’ve seen scouts peg him for a 70 speed tool. And with those kind of wheels, it’s not surprising that scouts grade him as an above-average defender in center field.

With the bat, Jon Jay is the comp that I most often see. Machado has excellent contact skills, though not much in the power department. Listed at 5’9” and 155lbs., we probably shouldn’t expect much in the power. That said, his consistent line-drive contact can produce doubles in the gap. In a very small sample, short season Gulf Coast campaign in 2017, Machado managed a .435 SLG with that kind of Doubles Power.

Even if his overall offensive numbers have been poor, his low strikeout rates do support the contact tool that scouts credit him with. It’s okay for a prospect like Machado to still inspire scouting reports that exceed his stat lines... but it won’t be for much longer.