2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #70 Todd Isaacs

The 2017 prospect countdown continues with another interesting lower level outfielder who shined in limited action with Short-A Mahoning Valley last year and has created some additional opportunities and raised his prospect value in the process...

70. Todd Isaacs - Outfielder

Born: 05/22/1996 – Height: 5’11” – Weight: 175 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right

Facts & Info: Isaacs was selected by the Indians in the 19th round of the 2015 Draft out of Palm Beach State College (FL). He was originally drafted out of high school by the Blue Jays in the 22nd round in 2014. He played one year of junior college at Palm Beach State in 2015 and hit .330 with 7 extra base hits, 30 RBI, 31 stolen bases, .743 OPS and 34:12 strikeout to walk ratio. Last season at Short-A Mahoning Valley, even with reduced playing time, he tied for 9th in the NY-Penn League in home runs (6) and tied for 12th in stolen bases (14). He fell 38 plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league leaderboard, but to show how strong of a season he put together, had he qualified he would have been 1st in batting average (.333), 8th in on-base percentage (.384), 2nd in slugging percentage (.514) and 1st in OPS (.898).

Offense: Isaacs is a dynamic offensive player who has a lot of explosiveness, strength and speed to impact the game in many ways. His hit tool is only average and his approach needs a lot of work, but he shows an ability to impact the baseball when he makes contact. The power is below average but he flashes some average to above average pop at time. He has made some strength gains and has some good bat speed where it could grade out as average down the road if he is able to get to his power more consistently because of a more improved, consistent approach. He really showed some growth last season with his preparation by keeping track of how pitchers attacked him in an at bat so that he would be more prepared and have a better idea of what to expect the next time he faced them. He also spent a lot of time observing how pitchers pitched to other teammates which helped him put together a better plan when he stepped into the batter’s box. While the game still tends to speed up on him at times when he is at the plate, he showed an ability to adjust and keep things in more control.

Defense: Isaacs is a very good athlete who shows the ability to play all three outfield positions. Over his first two years in the organization he has mostly played left field (47 games), but has played some right field (15 games) and center field (11 games). He has proven to be a solid defender with the upside to be more because of his speed and athleticism. His great speed helps him cover a lot of ground and cover up some of his inconsistencies with his reads and jumps, and his throwing arm is solid enough where it can play in right field on an occasional basis.

Speed & Intangibles: Isaacs’ speed and defensive potential is what drew the Indians to him in the draft. His plus-plus run tool is his best asset as he ran a 6.1 second time in the 60 yard dash and grades out as a true 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. While he is underdeveloped in other areas, it was the speed and the ability to develop it that really intrigued the Indians. He is a high energy personality who gives it his all each time he steps on the field and is very excitable.

Focus: Isaacs is still very raw and will need a lot of development to smooth out a lot of the rough edges to his game. Even after a great showing at Mahoning Valley last season, there is still a long way to go with him and the numbers likely won’t stay that good unless he gets much better with his approach. He has just 9 walks in 288 career plate appearances for a very low 3.1 BB% and he has 72 strikeouts for a career 25.0 K%. A strikeout to walk ratio of 8:1 is very poor and is something which is eventually going to catch up to him as he moves up the minor league ladder and faces better pitchers with more advanced stuff and the ability to locate better. While he made some strides at the plate last season, now comes the hard part, which is to improve that poor 4.8 BB% and 27.3 K% from last year to get the walks into more of the 7-10% range and the strikeouts down to the 18-22% range. Also, he has to prove that his season at Mahoning Valley was not a fluke as his .442 BABIP suggests, which shows his performance is not sustainable and that he played well above his performance. It is just not realistic to believe he will be anywhere close to a .450 average on batted balls in play going forward, so a step back in performance is expected.

Isaacs is still adjusting and learning how to hit against higher quality pitching, something he didn’t do a lot of when he was in junior college.  The Indians believe his approach and offensive consistency will improve as he continues to learn to use his speed, control the strike zone and how to get on base by spraying the ball around and playing a short game. The key for him will be what strides he can continue to make with his plate discipline. Not necessarily to walk more or strikeout less, but to improve the overall quality of his at bats by working deeper into counts and waiting for a pitch he can drive. He also needs to develop his pitch recognition skills as he has a tendency to chase a lot of breaking balls in the dirt. He has a hard time picking up spin, so if he is able to better recognize spin out of the pitcher’s hand the Indians believe that his chase percentage will go down considerably which will lead to less strikeouts and more quality at bats. These are hitting characteristics he will need to develop and improve upon as well as make some fundamental tweaks to his setup, load and swing in order to be a more consistent offensive performer down the road. As a baserunner, he is still learning to read pitchers better and the Indians want him to be more aggressive stealing bases to show off his world class speed. Defensively, he’s learning how to more efficiently use his speed in the outfield with getting better jumps, positioning and route running. On the mental side of things, the Indians want him to take a step back and play under more control as he gets overexcited which leads to some bad swings and chase.

Future: Isaacs was someone who intrigued out of the 2015 Draft because he was from the Bahamas and carries a high speed grade, but the question coming in was whether he would ever hit enough to be able to showcase that speed as well as use all of the other athletic gifts he possesses. To his credit, after a rough pro debut in 2015, he worked hard in the 2015-2016 offseason and really worked to refine his approach at the plate and become a more intelligent hitter. He was not a full-time player and only played about 60-70% of the time – which shows lower priority level - but when given an opportunity to play he made the most of his opportunities and opened some eyes in the process. His performance last season brings about an interesting quandary when it comes to looking at prospects and truly evaluating their performance, whether the numbers will translate and their prospect status. He had a great year, but the sample size so far is limited, especially when you consider his rough 2015 showing. His true offensive potential probably lies somewhere in the middle of those two seasons.  Even so, with his speed and defensive skills, when you see the bat start to come alive like it has it begins to stir some excitement that the Indians may have something brewing with him as a prospect and that he could be the next hot prospect to climb up through the system if things continue to click. He was a project when he was drafted and the Indians will just continue to be patient and see where his skills take him. As it often does with position player prospects, it will come down to how he refines his approach and if he is able to take it to the next level. He should open the season at Low-A Lake County.

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